We're all having to live with the sad fact that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 has been delayed until 2023, but if it means we get the best possible version of the game, then that's how the cookie (which was baked on a big curved pan over an open fire) crumbles.
One of things that's got me most excited about how the new game will develop the original's formula isn't Nintendo's increasingly vague teasers, but rather how modders of the first game have tweaked it over the years.
There's no official mod support for Breath of the Wild, so this is all achieved through emulation or modded Switch consoles – but as is always the case, the modding community has some brilliant and original ideas, and there are some that I really hope Nintendo is actually working on some version of for BotW 2.
Here's just a handful of mods I picked out with ideas that excited me a lot, and wouldn't guarantee BotW 2 a spot on top of the list of the best Switch games. As if that isn't expected to be the case anyway.
1. Multiplayer mode
We just reported that this is coming to the BotW this summer through a mod – soon, you'll be able to explore Hyrule with someone else. Nintendo has a poor history with online gaming, even if Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon are bright spots, but this feels like a slam dunk for Breath of the Wild's vibe: what's better than exploring a strange land where anything can happen? Sharing that experience of the time you accidentally set a camp of bokoblins on fire or killed a cyclops with a tree missile with someone else.
You could work together to reach difficult secrets by combining powers, or use distraction tactics to take on a lynel you're barely equipped for.
2. More ways to manipulate objects
There's a mod called Stasis Enhancement (opens in new tab) that enables you to use the Stasis rune to make an object bigger or smaller while it's locked in time, and I couldn't love this idea more. Half of the delight of playing Breath of the Wild for the first time is realising just how many ways you can screw around with the world, cheesing sections or creating weird challenges for yourself.
Being able to play with size would add a whole new dimension to the shenanigans you could pull off. Imagine the great shrine challenges Nintendo could come up with! And if the image above doesn't make you desperate for this to be a power in the game, then you and I are speaking different languages.
3. New Game+
There are two halves to this suggestion, but the core idea is the same: once you've been through the adventure and collected all this health and great equipment, wouldn't it be fun to see what different approaches you can take to the game from the start with all that extra power? Breath of the Wild is made for you to tackle it in disordered and unpredictable ways, and this just adds to the options, once you've finished the game once.
There's one simpler New Game+ mod (opens in new tab) that's a bit of a crude cheat to achieve it, but the principle is good – it works by just giving you save file that's at the start of the game, but you have full health, full stamina and tons of outfits, though the equipment isn't upgraded yet, so there's still more to do.
The second half of the idea is a mod called Relics of the Past (opens in new tab), which isn't a New Game+ concept in itself, but is more like an Advanced mode: it gives you tougher enemies from the start, more and harder enemies all over the map, but also stronger equipment from the get go. It's made for experienced players, and I love this idea for a New Game+ – keep all your equipment and health and so on, but the world is just more dangerous.
4. Darker nights, and a wearable lantern
This might need to be optional, but I think it's a great concept. The mod Wearable Lantern, Brighter Lights & Darker Nights (opens in new tab) introduces the idea of pitch black night time to Breath of the Wild, where you may not be able to see anything unless there's a light source nearby. So it also offers a wearable lantern to cast some light nearby… but not too far.
I love the idea of how this could make exploring at night a double-edge sword. If you can't see anything, neither can the creatures all over the map, so you could sneak right by some dangerous enemies in theory to steal treasure… except you might not be able to see where you're going. So you could wear the lantern… but now you're a beacon to any nasties nearby, glowing in the blackness. Roads could have illumination all the way along, similarly making them both safer and unsafe at the same time, since you can see what's coming at you, but so can would-be ambushers.
5. Ray-tracing and realistic reflections
This isn't possible on the Switch anyway, so it would entirely depend on whether there really is a Switch Pro in the works, and whether it would include ray-tracing hardware… but wouldn't BotW 2 be gorgeous with super-realistic lighting? The sun passes from behind a mountain and dazzles you, dancing off the snow at your feet. The jungle casts crisp striped shadows from the canopy of leaves above you. Pools of water on the floor after rain reflect perfectly the group of moblins mobbing towards you…
Breath of the Wild mods on PC – including this gorgeous one (opens in new tab) – can make use of that hardware to add ray-tracing, and I really hope Nintendo is able to offer it in the next-gen Switch.
6. No music mode
I have absolutely nothing against the music in Breath of the Wild, but having played the game a few times, I love the idea of Henriko's No Music Mod (opens in new tab), which… well, it takes away the music, but leaves the sound effects. It's all about the atmosphere – Nintendo actually already does a fantastic job of balancing when you want some music and when you just want to soak up the sounds and vistas of the game, but if you really just want it to feel like you're out in the wilderness, being able to turn off the music totally and focus on the footsteps, wind and clanging swords feels like a cool option to have.