9 Zelda-esque Switch Games to Play While You Wait for ‘Breath of the Wild 2’

9 Zelda-esque Switch Games to Play While You Wait for ‘Breath of the Wild 2’
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I like video games, but I love Breath of the Wild. I’m a fan of everything: the story, the music, the open world exploration. Many of my play sessions involve aimlessly riding a horse around the map, or climbing random mountains to see what’s at the top. After five years of adventuring around Hyrule, I’m desperate for Breath of the Wild 2, which made last month’s announcement that the game has been delayed until 2023 all the more painful.

Though it can be hard to find games that scratch the same itch, Breath of the Wild isn’t the only Zelda-esque game around. Here are nine alternatives that will help tide you over until next Spring.

(Though Elden Ring has been spoken of as the next great open world game, I’m limiting this list to games you can play on Switch. That said, for Elden Ring-like games that might appeal to the Zelda fan in you, check out Brendan Hesse’s excellent list here.)

Breath of the Wild Expansion Pass

First thing’s first: if you haven’t picked up the DLC for Breath of the Wild, open the eShop and get going. Why wait for Breath of the Wild 2 when you haven’t finished all that Breath of the Wild has to offer?

The Expansion Pass includes quite a bit of new content. The main focus is the two DLC packs, The Master Trials and The Champions’ Ballad. The Master Trials features The Trial of the Sword, 54 “floors” of challenges designed to test the abilities you gained throughout the main game; Master Mode, a more difficult version of Breath of the Wild; Hero’s Path Mode, which gives you the ability to view the steps you’ve taken through the game on your map; the travel medallion, allowing you to set a fast-travel marker wherever you’d like; as well as new armour.

The Champions’ Ballad is a more in-depth experience on its own; it offers some additional story, but, more than that, it’s a clever challenge that asks you to traverse the entire open world in order to complete it. And because we needed the extra challenge, the game doesn’t explicitly tell you where to go. You’ll need to rely on your existing knowledge of Hyrule and its map in order to complete the various quests. Your reward for completing The Champions’ Ballad is the Master Cycle Zero, which is technically a Divine Beast, but also a motorcycle. It’s silly, and awesome.

The Champions’ Ballad also adds nine additional armours, plus the ancient bridle and ancient saddle, which are helpful accessories for your horse.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Breath of the Wild was the game fans were looking for…in 2011, when Nintendo released the polarising Skyward Sword instead: not an open-world Zelda adventure, but a linear, artsy game, this time with awkward motion controls. Skyward Sword was met with its fair share of criticism and praise from reviewers and players alike, but 11 years and a Switch port later, the game remains worth every Zelda fan’s time.

Skyward Sword won’t offer you as vast a world as Breath of the Wild, but that doesn’t mean it lacks a sense of exploration. In fact, you’ll visit certain areas of Hyrule seen in Breath of the Wild as they existed thousands of years in the past as you go trekking through forests, deserts, and volcanos. Plus, you have both Skyloft and the entire sky to fly through. Speaking of which …

We know very little about Breath of the Wild 2, but, from what we do know, the sky is an important part of the map. While I don’t know any more about the game than you, I wouldn’t be surprised if Skyward Sword’s story has some impact on the plot of that upcoming Zelda epic. It’s possible that’s why Nintendo prioritised Skyward Sword’s port on the Switch over other titles like Wind Waker or Twilight Princess.

If you never picked up the original on the Wii, I highly recommend giving the Switch remake a shot. Nintendo ironed out some of the annoyances with this iteration, and the joy-cons work well as replacements for the Wiimote and nunchuck set-up. It features a great story and an awesome soundtrack, and should scratch that Zelda itch as you wait for Breath of the Wild 2.

Where to buy The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Amazon Australia ($69) | Big W ($69) | Catch ($63.95)

Pokémon: Legends Arceus

For a surprising Breath of the Wild-like experience, Pokémon: Legends Arceus has you covered. The latter unapologetically takes inspiration from the former, with similar landscapes, environments, and score. From the trailer, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking Nintendo simply made a Pokémon game set in the Zelda universe. If you like the sound of that, and you enjoy both of these properties, Arceus should be up your alley.

That said, the world here isn’t as polished as Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule. One of the main complaints from critics here is the game’s sparseness, as well as problems with pop-in textures. Fans counter these points, however, as the existence of the open-world coupled with the unique gameplay makes for the most original and refreshing Pokémon title in years.

At the end of the day, this list is about games with a focus on exploration. Arceus definitely delivers on that front. If you happen to like Pokémon, that’s a huge plus, but the radical departure from the franchise’s norms makes this one intriguing for non-fans as well. If you really don’t like Pokémon, it might not be the game for you, in which case, I’d especially recommend the last game on this list.

Where to buy Pokémon: Legends Arceus

Amazon Australia ($64) | Big W ($69) | Catch ($64)

Skyrim

If you’re an avid gamer, you’ve probably played Skyrim before, maybe on more than one platform. For anyone that hasn’t played the game, however, it could be just what you need to get you through to 2023.

Remember what I said about Zelda fans wanting a game like Breath of the Wild back in 2011? That’s because Skyrim originally came out that year. While I love Skyward Sword, there was a sense of disappointment seeing what Skyrim achieved compared to a new Zelda game following old Zelda formulas.

But now it’s 2022, and we’ve been playing our “Skyrim” Zelda for the last five years. If you decide to dabble in Skyrim, make sure to keep your expectations in check: The game is 11 years old, after all. While it’s still fantastic, parts of it are showing their age. Plus, it’s running on the Switch, so the visuals won’t be as good as they could be on a more powerful system.

That said, its sense of exploration will more than hold your attention. The game is huge, and truly open: Pick a direction, walk, and see what you find. There’s a reason people are still obsessed with this game after more than a decade of playing. It should give you plenty to do for the next year, anyway.

Where to buy Skyrim

Big W ($69) | Catch ($62)

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Let’s forget open-world for a second. If what you’re looking for is more of Breath of the Wild’s world, whatever the game, check out Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. The game is a soft prequel to Breath of the Wild, letting you play through the battles that precede the main game’s story by 100 years. You can play as Link, of course, but there are also 17 other playable characters, including Zelda, Impa, and the Champions.

This one isn’t an open world adventure; rather, it’s a “Warriors” game. These titles are focused on combat, wherein your character fights hordes of enemies all at once. It’s chaos in the best way, especially after playing Breath of the Wild for so long. While you used to tackle enemies like Bokoblins one or two at a time, here, you’ll be vanquishing dozens in an instant. Even better, the game supports split-screen co-op, so you can grab another Breath of the Wild fan and crack some Lizalfos skulls together.

While it’s great to experience the events of the war which set Breath of the Wild’s events into motion, reception to Age of Calamity’s story was mixed, so don’t set your expectations too high. No spoilers, but the way the story is designed sets up the possibility Age of Calamity doesn’t even exist in the same timeline. Likewise, the game struggles to run well on the Switch, likely due to the sheer volume of things happening on screen at once. Don’t be surprised if you experience some frame rate dips, even in handheld mode.

All that aside, if you like this type of combat, Age of Calamity is a great game to turn to after Breath of the Wild. From the familiar UI, characters, environments, and more, you might feel you entered a secret battle mode in the original game.

Where to buy Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity

Amazon Australia ($69) | Big W ($69)

Ashen

Ashen is more soulslike than q Zeldalike, which is to say the combat is hard. While there are many enemies in Breath of the Wild that aren’t necessarily a cakewalk, don’t be surprised if you die a lot more in Ashen than in Zelda.

But Ashen is worth many Breath of the Wild fans’ time, if for nothing other than its impressive open world. You’ll feel right at home running through Ashen’s intriguing forests and vibrant villages, where you’ll be sure to encounter foes able to quickly end your life. With enough time, effort, and luck, you’ll beat them, and feel a similar accomplishment to besting a lynel for the first time.

The game is also aesthetically closer to Zelda than something like Elden Ring or Dark Souls. While Ashen doesn’t share the same distinct style as Breath of the Wild, sporting a more muted colour scheme, it is certainly much more cartoony than FromSoftware’s dark, realistic graphics.

Where to buy Ashen

Nintendo eShop ($53.99)

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga might not seem like an obvious Breath of the Wild 2 holdover, but it just might be the best option for the Zelda/Star Wars fans out there.

The team behind Skywalker Saga put a huge emphasis on exploration with this game. While you do experience a linear story and are thrown into iconic battles from the nine Star Wars films, you also have the option to go off the beaten path and explore the many different planets of a galaxy far, far away. Cruise around deserts, explore alien cities, and complete side missions and odd jobs for the locals you meet, all the while experiencing the charm that has defined Lego games for years.

Where to buy LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

Big W ($79) | Catch ($73)

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

Xenoblade Chronicles was originally released for the Wii in Japan only, sparking a campaign to have it and other similar region-locked games ported elsewhere. “Operation Rainfall” was a success, and, since then, the game has been made available on Wii, New Nintendo 3DS, and, now, the Switch.

This one’s a JRPG, so it’s certainly different than a more action-adventure title like Breath of the Wild. For example, you’re going to be dealing with a party system rather than worrying about Link alone. You’ll need to adjust your play style depending on the character you’re using, as well as upgrade your characters’ skill trees. It’s a different type of combat system, but if you have any RPG experience, it shouldn’t be too unfamiliar.

Its world is enormous, even if it isn’t one interconnected area as you’d find in a traditional open world game. As you run through grassy fields or up mountain pathways, you feel tiny, almost swallowed up by the world at large. Oh, and the open “worlds” you’re on are actually the corpses of two giant beasts, in case you needed any additional reminders you aren’t in Hyrule anymore.

This Switch version revamps Xenoblade with an HD upgrade, quality of life enhancements, a new epilogue that was cut from the original, among other goodies. Best of all, if you play Xenoblade Chronicles and enjoy it, you can move on to Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Plus, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is right around the corner — it’s set to come out July 29 of this year, making the trilogy one of the best ways to power through as you wait for Breath of the Wild 2.

Where to buy Xenoblade Chronicles

Amazon Australia ($66.51) | Catch ($68)

Immortals Fenyx Rising

Immortals Fenyx Rising is Breath of the Wild meets Greek mythology, using the gods and stories from the Greek religion rather than an entirely invented setting like Hyrule.

When you play the game for the first time, you might be surprised by its Zelda-esque qualities, from its lush, mountainous open world, to similar mechanics like stamina climbing and gliding — though instead of a sailcloth, you have wings. The open world is certainly beautiful, but the game does hold your hand considerably more than Breath of the Wild. While that game essentially leaves you open to explore every nook and cranny on your own, Fenyx instead places markers on the world, letting you know what secrets lie in each direction. If you’re used to the feeling of blind exploration, that change might come as a disappointment.

There are also plenty of puzzles throughout your journey, which is always welcome in a non-Zelda game. The downside is these puzzles can be a bit simplistic, such as your standard block-pushing and door-opening challenges. That said, the game really shines in its story, as well as its colourful, comical characters.

I think the best approach here is to set your expectations accordingly: you aren’t getting a perfect Breath of the Wild clone in Fenyx, and that’s ok. Instead, you’re getting a fun, open-world adventure that checks enough of the boxes Zelda inspired to keep you happily playing for hours.

Where to buy Immortals Fenyx Rising

Amazon Australia ($39) | Big W ($39) | Catch ($39)

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