Very few games live up to the term legendary, and yet it only feels fitting that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild not only achieved that accolade but in many ways exceeded all expectations. Its sense of exploration and wonder and the concept of "what's over that hill" has arguably never been executed to a greater degree.
With so much critical acclaim and the highest number of sales in the series' history to date, it's no surprise Nintendo is working on a follow-up. As one of the most anticipated games in development right now, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has quite a mountain to climb if it hopes of reaching the heights of the first Breath of the Wild. If anyone can pull it off though, it has to be Nintendo.
Since being announced to the world three years ago, everyone has been obsessed with what exactly the new sequel will bring. Will it even follow the same template laid out by the original? Or will it be more linear with a darker story about Hyrule and the fall of the hero from 10,000 years ago? To make sense of all of this, we've scoured the web to compile everything there is that you need to know about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
We'll also be updating this feature regularly right up until the release of the game, so make sure to check back in for the latest news.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – release date
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is currently scheduled to launch on May 12th, 2023, exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Following years of speculation, the official title and release date were both confirmed in a Nintendo Direct in September 2022.
Since The Legend of Zelda first made its debut on the NES all the way back in 1986, there have been over 26 games in the mainline series (including remakes). If we just address mainline Zelda games that launched on console, the most common dates range between November and December. Most recently, The Legend of Zelda Game & Watch launched on November 12, 2021.
- The Legend of Zelda – February 21, 1986
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – January 12, 1987
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – November 21, 1991
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – November 21, 1998
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask – April 27, 2000
- The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – December 13, 2002
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – December 2, 2006
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – November 18, 2011
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – March 3, 2017
- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – May 12th, 2023
Regardless, now that Tears of the Kingdom is launching in May, there's no clear pattern and Nintendo will just launch the game when it's good and ready.
Due to the global pandemic, numerous games around the world have been delayed as a result and it's only set to continue to affect the industry for the next few years. Zelda games also have a history of being delayed time and time again, so when 2022 was slated as the current date, we were still a little apprehensive. Let's hope no further delays occur.
Originally announced at E3 2019, Tears of the Kingdom was first scheduled to launch sometime in 2022, however, was pushed back to Spring 2023. Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma confirmed the delay in a video announcement made in March 2022:
"I have an update to share on the launch timing of the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," said Aonuma. "We previously announced that we were aiming for a 2022 release for this game. However, we have decided to extend our development time a bit and change the release to Spring 2023. For those of you who have been looking forward to a release this year, we apologise.
"As previously announced, the adventure in this sequel will take place not just on the ground as in the previous game but also in the skies above. However, the expanded world goes beyond that, and there will be an even wider variety of features you can enjoy including new encounters and new gameplay elements," he continued.
"In order to make the game's experience something special, the entire development team is continuing to work diligently on this game, so please wait a while longer."
The Legend of Zelda series producer, Eiji Aonuma, has an update to share about the launch timing of the sequel to The Legend of #Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Please take a look. pic.twitter.com/7OhayhiuM9March 29, 2022
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – trailers
The first trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom debuted during Nintendo's E3 showcase in June 2019. Amazingly, it's now been more than 1,000 days since its announcement. While only 86 seconds long, there's plenty to discuss.
It begins with a number of green symbols (Twilight magic?) circling a corpse in the darkness. Link and Zelda are then seen riding an elephant-like mount through a cave before finding the figure. Red smoke (known as Malice) follows and this is where all hell breaks loose, as it appears that a ritual is being performed to bring presumably Ganon (or Ganondorf) back to life.
We then get a flash of light showing the figure's shadow alongside a mysterious hand reaching out, a shot of Link with green magic surrounding his own hand and a look at the temple outside ever so briefly. The corpse then wakes with glowing red eyes before the location is revealed to be taking place underneath Hyrule Castle. The structure lifts into the sky, ending the trailer.
One theory (that I previously outlined for our sister site, TechRadar) is that flash of the figure's shadow is actually Demise, not Ganon. For anyone that's unaware, Demise the Demon King is the main villain in Skyward Sword and the manifestation of all evil that has ever come to threaten Hyrule.
As Nintendo chose to remaster Skyward Sword for the 35th anniversary of Zelda, instead of any of the much more popular games available, there has to be a reason behind this (aside from monetary value). That reason could be Demise.
Shown off during Nintendo's E3 presentation in June 2021, the second teaser begins with the same Malice engulfing the screen before brief shots of Link, the corpse and Zelda falling are shown. Triumphant music blares over the blank screen until what is thought to be Link (more on that later) is seen falling and paragliding through the clouds. He is then seen sporting longer hair, sprinting across a sun-drenched land with islands floating in the sky.
Various new and returning enemies are now shown, including Bokoblins riding on the back of a Stone Talus. Link's arm is then seen covered in green magic, potentially giving access to new powers, as the next shot introduces a new revamped Statis ability being used to reverse time by sending a giant spiked metallic ball back up a mountain to defeat a pack of Bokoblins. We then get Link using a shield with a dragon's face attachment, which breathes fire onto a new unknown enemy.
Finally, a water droplet is seen being reversed in motion (time travel?), while Link then pushes through solid rock as part of one of the islands in the sky. Something really cool is that if you play the music background it's the same main theme from the original game. Once again the trailer ends with Hyrule Castle rising into the air with Malice spreading from underneath the structure.
While not strictly a trailer, a video for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom arrived in March 2022 alongside the game's delay to 2023. Again we see Link falling through the clouds as well as the footage shown from previous trailers.
Most interestingly, we get a glimpse at Link standing in front of a mysterious glowing yellow orb and what appears to be a damaged Master Sword. How this all ties into the story is up for speculation.
The latest trailer was premiered during a Nintendo Direct in September 2022, where it was finally confirmed that the sequel to Breath of the Wild will be called The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and a release date of May 12th, 2023 was unveiled.
Once again, only a sliver of gameplay was shown off with the trailer lasting a mere 96 seconds. There's still a lot to speculate from it, though. Namely the deity-like figure that appears to have seven symbols that quite possibly could be the "tears" as referenced in the title. Zelda has a history with the number seven. Most notably, in Ocarina of Time, the player must find the Seven Sages to help defeat Ganondorf and save Hyrule.
Aside from this, Link is seen opening a huge stone doorway before leaping off into the clouds. For the first time, we are also introduced to a mechanical flying creature of some kind, likely connected to the Guardians. No doubt, air traversal will play a major part.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – location and map
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is expected to take place in Hyrule at the end of the Zelda timeline, following the conclusion of the death of Ganon at the end of the first game.
While little is known about the location officially, fans have been piecing together footage from the trailer. An educated guess would say that the ginormous map from the original game (an open-world Hyrule) is returning but with everything being updated or changed in some way.
It's also been confirmed that "the setting for the adventure has been expanded to include the skies above Hyrule." This is set to take inspiration from Skyward Sword, so potentially the floating isles of Skyloft may return. Time travel is another aspect that may play a part in the story, with evidence shown for this power in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – where to pre-order
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom pre-orders are now open across various retailers globally. We wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo announces its own Tears of the Kingdom bundle nearer the time, so keep an eye out for that.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – news, rumours and leaks
Every month there are dozens upon dozens of new rumours breaking across the web, fuelling more speculation about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. This section will be used to address any rumours actually worth considering, or potentially just including because it's that out there that we needed to share it with the world. Either way, we'll do our best to only bring you the most relevant bits of information.
Is Link the protagonist?
One prevalent rumour that has not stopped since the second teaser was revealed is that Link is not actually the protagonist in the game. This all stemmed from the character's face purposely being hidden in the teaser trailer with some believing that you will actually control series antagonist Ganondorf.
Kinda Funny's Barrett Courtney uploaded a compelling theory video outlining how this could be true, highlighting Breath of the Wild's hero from 10,000 years ago, the reason the title is being kept so secret and the decision to port Skyward Sword to Switch in favour of more popular Zelda titles, such as Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. It's well worth a watch.
Keeping with IGN and Nintendo Treehouse’s Bill Trinen told the outlet that the real name for Breath of the Wild 2 is being kept secret for the time being, as fans may be able to work out what happens in the game.
"As for why we’re holding back on the name, you’ll just have to stay tuned because, obviously, Zelda names are kind of important," explained Trinen. "Those subtitles… they start to give little bits of hints about maybe what’s going to happen."
The title was officially confirmed as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom in September 2022.
Patents point to new powers
A number of patents filed by Nintendo reveal a bit more information about the powers in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. As reported by Gamereactor, the three new features appear to allow Link to go through a suspended platform from below its surface (just like in the second teaser trailer), utilise a "Rewind" feature on objects and shoot bow and arrows while free falling. All of which could set up some extremely exciting encounters.
Tears of the Kingdom running on Switch Pro?
Following the delay of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom in March 2022, tech analysis experts Digital Foundry sat down to discuss the news with the group believing the footage shown off as part of the announcement is not running on a native Nintendo Switch.
"This trailer was interesting because the image quality seemed quite good. I was a little bit surprised by how sharp and clear this looked compared to the original in general," said John Linneman. "It's up for debate whether it is actually running on the normal Switch hardware," added Richard Leadbetter.
The question of whether the footage was running on a Nintendo Switch was then posed to Alex Battaglia: "I honestly don't think it is, just because we have seen so very rarely volumetric clouds on Switch and these are like not breaking down super obviously," he said. "Another thing that was really obvious in the trailer was camera cuts have, like, perfect anti-aliasing, which is even rare for an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 game. I don't know what that means necessarily, it could be the next Switch..."
It's worth noting that Nintendo confirmed (via Nikkei) that it won't release any new hardware until the next fiscal year. This means there is no chance of a Switch Pro launching until after March 2023.
Regardless, you can watch the full conversation below, beginning at the 24:28 mark.
Wind Waker and Twilight Princess
Two games from The Legend of Zelda series – Wind Waker and Twilight Princess – might finally be coming to Nintendo Switch later this year, making up for the absence of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. That's according to several comments made by VentureBeat journalist Jeff Grubb during an episode of his Last of the Nintendogs podcast.
"They want to have a Zelda thing every year, they've been holding onto this. Why wouldn't they just put it out this year? And if they don't put this out, or some other Zelda thing this year instead of just waiting for Breath of the Wild 2, I will just not understand," he said.
"I do believe it actually does come out in October. I think we get Metroid Prime one remaster in November and then I think we get Advance Wars 1 + 2 in December," added Grubb.
With both games subsequently absent in the Nintendo Direct for September 2022, it seems unlikely any ports will take place this year. Still, we hang to hope for a release sometime soon.
New Game Plus and Sheikah Slate return
Another supposed leak in June 2022 surrounded the return of the Sheikah Slate and the addition of New Game Plus – a first for the Zelda series, if true. This originated from the Chinese social media application Weibo (via Reddit) with a user claiming to be working on 3D animation for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
The main things noted that the user worked on "roaring dragon and flying dragon animation" as well as animation on the first time the player picks up the Sheikah Slate. This has further fuelled speculation that Zelda will be playable as Link's arm seems to replace the Sheikah Slate in the trailers we've seen so far.
Congratulations you made it to the end! Just imagine hearing the iconic treasure chest opening sound as your reward. We'll likely hear more in the coming months, so make sure to come back for the latest The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom updates.