Is Breath of the Wild 2 Coming to PC?

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Breath of the Wild promo art
Credit: Nintendo

You might be surprised to hear that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the most popular entries in one of Nintendo's most beloved franchises, is not only playable on PC but it plays best on PC. With each passing year, though, Breath of the Wild gets a little older and hype for Breath of the Wild 2 builds. So, in this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about Breath of the Wild 2 on PC.

Breath of the Wild on PC

Breath of the Wild promo art
click to enlarge
+ 4
Credit: Nintendo

First off, no, Nintendo never officially released a PC port for Breath of the Wild, but thanks to the love, drive, and ingenuity of modders, fans, and developers across the world, the community has created a better way to play Breath of the Wild on PC than even an official port could provide.

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On PC, you can play Breath of the Wild with unlimited FPS, in whatever aspect ratio, and at whatever resolution you want. You can push out graphics settings far beyond the detail and draw distance of the Switch. You can even install, with just a couple of clicks, a wide variety of mods. Plus, you won't need powerful hardware to do any of this.

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This is all thanks to emulation, but not the kind of emulation you might think: Nintendo Switch emulators, like Ryujinx or Yuzu, do exist and can play Breath of the Wild, but performance isn't great, there aren't many features, and these emulators themselves are still relatively early on in their development, so they aren't super stable, either.

What you may not know, however, is that Breath of the Wild isn't a Nintendo Switch game. Breath of the Wild was ported to Switch, not developed for Switch. Breath of the Wild was developed for the Wii U as the Wii U's major Zelda installment Nintendo tends to release at least one of per major console release.

Breath of the Wild promo art
click to enlarge
+ 4
Credit: Nintendo

Because the project took much longer than expected to finish, though, by the time development would wrap up the Switch would release soon after, so Nintendo decided to launch the game on Wii U as well as Switch. And because the Wii U was Nintendo's worst-selling console in decades, not many people ended up playing the game on it.

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On the other hand, the Switch exploded onto the market with many fascinated by the hybrid nature of the console, and on launch day, the only big new game to play on Switch was Breath of the Wild. Plus, even if you had a Wii U, there wasn't much reason to play Breath of the Wild on it because the game looked and ran significantly worse on Wii U than it did on Switch.

Breath of the Wild ran so much worse on Wii U because the Wii U came out in 2012 with the relative power and performance of an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. When Breath of the Wild launched in 2017, gamers had been playing on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for years, and PlayStation 4 Pro had already been out for months. Suffice it to say the Wii U was old.

While bad news for games running on Wii U hardware, Wii U emulation benefited a lot from how old and slow the Wii U actually was. Development of emulators like Cemu progressed rapidly, and games quickly performed better on the emulator than they did on the console. With Breath of the Wild's release, gamers fell in love with the game, so an incredible amount of time and energy was funneled into Cemu's development, particularly surrounding Breath of the Wild.

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This brings us to today where Breath of the Wild runs essentially perfectly with emulation on PC, bringing all the features you'd want with an actual PC port with it. Plus, it takes only a little more time to get up and running than downloading a game on Steam does.

Breath of the Wild 2 on PC

Breath of the Wild promo art
click to enlarge
+ 4
Credit: Nintendo

Breath of the Wild 2, unfortunately, is not coming to PC, or to be more specific, it's not coming to PC for a long time. And to be clear, no, Breath of the Wild 2 will never be 'officially' ported to other platforms.

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The comparison between Breath of the Wild and Breath of the Wild 2 might seem striking at first, but there's more to it than you might think. Yes, Breath of the Wild 2 is releasing likely 5 years after the Switch launched, which is when Breath of the Wild launched in relation to the Wii U, but Switch emulation is a very different beast.

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For any console more modern than the Wii U, Xbox 360, or PlayStation 3, it's exponentially more difficult to emulate these kinds of systems than it is older consoles. Gaming consoles have become much more powerful and much more complicated in a very short timeframe. Even systems like the PlayStation 3, because of their unique engineering, are incredibly hard to emulate today.

The PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One currently don't have emulators capable of actually running games, and Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 emulation is still a very much ongoing project nowhere near totally complete. The Switch released years after these consoles, and though it's less powerful than them, its design is extremely modern.

Breath of the Wild promo art
click to enlarge
+ 4
Credit: Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch emulators of today, namely Yuzu and Ryujinx, are technical feats in of themselves, being as performant as they are considering what they're trying to emulate, and you can play games on them, just not usually well.

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Depending on your game, your personal rig, and how much time you're willing to spend tweaking settings, you can get games up and running, but it's a far cry from how easy, performant, and feature-rich Breath of the Wild is on Cemu. Even games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Switch, an extremely simple game, are impossible to get running in a perfectly stable state as of writing.

Breath of the Wild 2 will absolutely be supported by Switch emulators, and there's little doubt the release of the game will galvanize many to contribute work to the project, but there is little evidence to suggest the game will do everything you'd want from a PC port anytime soon.

Maybe by 2027 there'll be a completely perfect PC version of Breath of the Wild 2, but if you're looking for a stable experience you dn't have to tweak and fiddle with just to get running about as well as it can on Switch, or worse, you'd better just play it on Switch.

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