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 (which had been informally known as Breath of the Wild 2) is coming in May 2023. That's not much longer to wait for the sequel to one of Nintendo's most beloved games. Even 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 under wraps.
That hasn't stopped fans from speculating, making some educated or at least interesting guesses about what might really be going on. In case you need a refresher, here's a primer on everything we know--and everything we suspect--about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
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.
As an aside, Nintendo also confirmed the pronunciation of the title. Since "tear" is a heteronym, the title could have referred to the "salty liquid produced by the eyes" or to "the damage from being torn." Nintendo confirmed after the September presentation that it's intended to be pronounced "/tir/" as in the liquid produced by crying. So the melancholic title refers to a kingdom in mourning or sorrow. This follows the prevous game's format of "bodily function plus setting."
Interestingly, the company chose not to air the presentation live in the United Kingdom, presumably out of respect for the then-recent passing of Queen Elizabeth.
While the first Breath of the Wild was released simultaneously on Switch and Wii U, the sequel 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 months away now, it seems unlikely that Nintendo will surprise-launch a new high-powered platform, though anything is possible.
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, presumably 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.
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.'"
Deep in the realm of speculation, a wild fan theory makes the case for Ganondorf being a playable character. Barrett Courtney of Kinda Funny thinks that the more rugged-looking Link in the new E3 trailer could, despite appearances, actually be Ganondorf.
Courtney theorized that part of the game would be playing the fall of Ganondorf, which begins the cycle of a hero battling a corrupted Ganon that happens in every game. He thinks that the hero from 10,000 years ago that has been teased is Ganondorf and that the character with the corrupted arm in the trailer isn't Link but in fact Ganondorf, as well.
"This game will be learning about the fall of Ganondorf the man and then saving him from the evil that has been ruling over him for generations. And in doing so, we’ll break the cycle started by Demise," Courtney wrote. Demise, of course, is the Ganon we encounter in Skyward Sword, which makes the recent remaster of the game potentially very timely and definitely adds weight to this theory.
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.
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