Feature Article

The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom - Everything We Know

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom hits Nintendo Switch on May 12. Here's everything we know about it ahead of its highly anticipated release.

The long-awaited follow-up to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is finally almost here. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (informally known as Breath of the Wild 2) is coming May 12, 2023. For as close as we are, though, there's a lot we still don't know. Nintendo is notoriously secretive about its games before launch, and it seems especially inclined to keep this anticipated Zelda game--and its story in particular--under wraps.

Of course this hasn't stopped us from speculating and making some pretty interesting guesses about what might really be going on. And, with the help of the game's trailers and various Nintendo showcases, we're beginning to feel like we might have a pretty decent grasp on the upcoming title. For those looking for a bit of a primer before they dive in, here's everything we know about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Release date

At E3 2021, Nintendo announced that the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel was scheduled for release sometime in 2022. However, this was later changed to Spring 2023.

During September 2022's Nintendo Direct, the studio revealed the game's official release date: May 12, 2023. That presentation was also where Nintendo debuted the game's official title, Tears of the Kingdom.

Nintendo also confirmed the pronunciation of the title, stating that it's intended to be pronounced "/tir/" as in the liquid produced by crying. As such, the melancholic title refers to a kingdom in mourning or sorrow and follows the previous game's format of "bodily-function-plus-setting" as a naming convention.

As for exactly what time you can start playing Tears of the Kingdom, a listing on Nintendo's website states that digital software also sold physically for Switch will "usually" be available starting at 9 PM PT the night before the official release date. If this applies to Tears of the Kingdom, then it looks like players can jump in starting at 9 PM PT on May 11 and 12 AM ET on May 12. GameSpot has contacted Nintendo in an attempt to confirm the precise launch time for Tears of the Kingdom's digital release, but has yet to receive a firm time.

How to preload Tears of the Kingdom

If you're anything like us, we're sure you're very eager to get to playing Tears of the Kingdom. One of the best ways to ensure you get to play the upcoming release as soon as possible is to preload the fairly sizable game onto your Switch. Fortunately, preloading for the game has officially begun. To preload the game, you must purchase the title and then proceed to download it as if it were already out. While you won't be able to play until May 12, the game will be essentially ready to play as soon as your download finishes up.


While Breath of the Wild was released simultaneously on Switch and Wii U, Tears of the Kingdom is only coming to Switch. Many fans have no doubt hoped the rumored Switch Pro would be out by the time of the game's release--the original Breath of the Wild notoriously had frame rate issues in certain areas--but so far there's been no word on the status of the supposedly enhanced Switch model. With the release only days away, and a Tears of the Kingdom-themed Switch OLED currently available to purchase, it seems extremely unlikely that Nintendo will launch a new high-powered platform anytime soon.


Nintendo dropped the first trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom during its E3 2019 presentation. The cryptic video follows Link and Zelda (who notably sports a new, shorter hairstyle) as they make their way through a mysterious underground cavern. As the pair explore, tendrils of darkness can be seen creeping through the cavern. Link and Zelda eventually come upon what appears to be the source of the darkness: a mummified male corpse dressed in Gerudo jewelry and attire, Ganondorf.

Clutching the corpse's chest is what appears to be a hand made of light. A series of rapid, out-of-order shots follow, showing Link removing the hand, the floor around Link and Zelda crumbling, the mysterious hand of light catching Zelda by the wrist as she's falling, and the corpse seemingly returning to life. The trailer then ends with a clip of Hyrule castle beginning to rise into the air.

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Nintendo offered another look at the Breath of the Wild sequel during its E3 2021 presentation. The trailer confirmed that you'll be able to explore Hyrule and the skies above, further expanding the scope of locations you'll get to visit. The trailer below also contains other clues about what to expect from the much-anticipated sequel, including various tidbits of story and gameplay mechanics. Have a look for yourself and start theorizing. We compiled things we think the game will have in our detailed trailer breakdown.

In September 2022, Nintendo revealed not only Tears of the Kingdom's official title and release date, but a short-yet-compelling trailer, as well. The trailer begins by scanning over some ancient ruins depicting a godly-looking being surrounded by seven tear-shaped runes--perhaps the ones referenced in the title. It then shows what appear to be the goblin-esque monsters from the first Breath of the Wild, and Princess Zelda embracing a man's hand. The trailer then pivots to gameplay, as we follow Link leaping into the air and traversing a ruined looking Hyrule.

The final pre-launch trailer for Tears of the Kingdom was released on April 13, just a month before the game's May 12 release date. The trailer, cheekily titled "You Can Do What?", features brief glimpses at the features revealed in Tears of the Kingdom's April showcase as well as a sizzle reel of story beats. Based on this footage, it seems likely that large-scale dungeons and more-intense and varied boss battles will be making a return to the series. Perhaps most importantly, however, it also gave us a closer look at hot Ganondorf.

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As of right now, we don't know too much about Tears of the Kingdom's story. However, for those looking for something a bit more linear than Breath of the Wild, it seems as if the upcoming release is eager to deliver that experience. Based on the most recent trailer, there will be a lot more emphasis on companions, villages, dungeons, epic boss battles, and the relationship between Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf than we've seen in recent years. Though the game follows a Hyrule falling into despair, the land also seems more alive than in the previous entry, and Link, more involved.


While Tears of the Kingdom's gameplay looks largely similar to Breath of the Wild's, we do know of a few new features that are sure to change up the way players explore.

In Nintendo's Tears of the Kingdom showcase, Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma shared 10 minutes of gameplay and four new abilities: Recall, Fuse, Ultrahand, and Ascend. Recall works by allowing Link to select an object and reverse its path through time. This can come in handy when trying to reach high areas, as Link can board on a falling rock and then reverse its trajectory through time to ride it up to the location where it first fell.

Fuse, on the other hand, allows Link to merge two objects together, allowing players to experiment with weapon creation and enhancement in entirely new ways. Ultrahand is fairly similar to fuse with its major difference being that it allows Link to combine several objects together to create more complex things, such as vehicles. Lastly, the Ascend ability permits Link to phase through ceilings, giving him an option to quickly clear vertical challenges.

For an even more in depth look at the material featured in this showcase, be sure to check out our expert breakdown of the footage.

Adding to the game's enhanced survival-crafting elements is a new quality-of-life feature culinary-minded players are sure to love: a recipe catalog. Rather than having to memorize, write down, or quickly Google how to cook up a certain dish (though by all means, please visit GameSpot's guide center if that's your preference), the game will remember dishes you've cooked before and create a recipe card for them that you can view in the game's main menu. Considering how often a hot meal can mean the difference between life or death in Breath of the Wild, this addition is extremely welcome.

Our first impressions

On April 26, GameSpot was permitted to share a bit about our time spent with Tears of the Kingdom so far in a hands-on preview. In this article, Steve Watts wrote:

"Combat is as engaging as you would expect from a sequel to Breath of the Wild, but the Fuse ability adds a new dimension of experimentation… While the demo showed off the massive scope and versatility in just a few small areas, it feels like I've barely scratched the surface. My demo included absolutely no story content, I didn't explore any shrines, and I'm no closer to answering the question of whether Tears of the Kingdom will include more traditional Zelda dungeons. There's a lot of mystery left to uncover, even after receiving a much better sense of the new building tools.

That mystery, like the brain-bending amount of customization and creativity that will surely extend from these tools, will be something players will have to explore together when the game launches on May 12. Starting then, just like the first game and perhaps even more so, the community of Zelda fans will get to plumb its depths together. Tears of the Kingdom looks to be Nintendo inspired by its own fans' creativity, and next month, that cycle will start all over again."

Will Tears of the Kingdom have weapon degradation?

It's no secret that Breath of the Wild's weapon degradation system is a major point of contention in the Legend of Zelda community. While some players praised the series' new direction and implementation of survival crafting mechanics, others weren't too thrilled by the idea of their beloved blades, clubs, sticks, and axes becoming disposable.

Thankfully, Tears of the Kingdom seems to be taking both sides of the debate into consideration, creating a new system that feels both more creative and forgiving. By using Link's new Fuse ability, the hero of time can combine weaker weapons into more durable ones, granting players a bit more time with a weapon before it breaks. Whether its combining a pitchfork with a pole to create a powerful pike, attaching a boulder to a stick to form a makeshift hammer, or adding elemental attributes to projectiles, Fuse not only powers up weapons and gives players another opportunity to think outside the box, but also reduces the stress that comes with frequent weapon breaks or feeling resigned to using low-damage dealing weapons.

Why is Nintendo making a sequel to Breath of the Wild?

According to Aonuma, Nintendo is making a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild because it had "too many ideas" for DLC for the game. As Aonuma explained at E3 2019:

"When we released the DLC for Breath of the Wild, we realized that this is a great way to add more elements to the same world. But when it comes down to technical things, DLC is pretty much data--you're adding data to a preexisting title. And so when we wanted to add bigger changes, DLC is not enough, and that's why we thought maybe a sequel would be a good fit. Initially, we were thinking of just DLC ideas, but then we had a lot of ideas and we said, 'This is too many ideas, let's just make one new game and start from scratch.'"

Where does Tears of the Kingdom fit in the Legend of Zelda timeline?

The Legend of Zelda's timeline, with its various branches and universes, has always been a bit tough to follow. While we know Tears of the Kingdom takes place just after Breath of the Wild and features elements and locations explored in Skyward Sword, how it fits into the series at large is a bit more complicated. Fortunately, GameSpot has created a deep-dive video essay examining the series' many timelines and overall mythos to create a cohesive overview that fan theorists are sure to enjoy.

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How big is Tears of the Kingdom?

If we're talking about how much room you need to clear on your Switch to be ready for Tears of the Kingdom, it's looking like 16 GBs--approximately a gig and a half more than Breath of the Wild--is the magic number. In terms of how that translates to map size and total playtime, Nintendo has yet to come forward with either of these numbers.

If Tears of the Kingdom is anything like Breath of the Wild, you can expect the story to take around 30 hours to finish, with completion requiring well over 100.

Preorder details

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is now up for preorder at various retailers. You can find out where you can guarantee yourself a copy of the game in our preorder guide.

If you are planning to pick up Tears of the Kingdom, be aware that the Nintendo exclusive is the the company's first first-party title to receive a $70 price tag. Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser said the game justifies its high price with how "immersive" it is.

"I think fans will find this is an incredibly full, deeply immersive experience," Bowser said earlier this year. "The price point reflects the type of experience that fans can expect when it comes to playing this particular game. It's actually a fairly common pricing model either here or in Europe or other parts of the world, where the pricing may vary depending on the game itself."

A $130 Collector's Edition is also available. However, if you're looking to spend a bit less on the game, you can also utilize Nintendo's game voucher system.

Oh, and for those of you looking to upgrade your Switch to an OLED model before the game hits shelves, you can still purchase the limited-edition Tears of the Kingdom-themed Switch at most electronics retailers.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.


Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch mainly writes news.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

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