In development since 2017, the open-world adventure takes place after the events of the critically lauded The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Players will once again assume the role of Link, an elf tasked with protecting Hyrule and its imperiled princess Zelda from evil forces.
With new previews sending fans into a frenzy, and a slew of gameplay previews and cinematic trailers offering up a taste of the game’s aerial theme, it’s time to get hyped. Here, we break down everything you need to know about Link’s epic new adventure.
What is Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom about?
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the latest mainline instalment in Nintendo’s long-running Zelda series, which began on the Nintendo Entertainment System console in 1986.
The new entry features a mixture of new and familiar elements from 2017’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild, itself a massive leap forward for the game. They include an open world that you’re free to explore from the get-go – though your skill level (including stamina) may limit how far you can journey at the start – and a unique combat system with weapons that take damage and eventually break.
You can also expect to terrorise and take on a range of new and returning enemies, including the previous game’s big boss, Calamity Ganon.
This time, however, you’ll be able to take to the skies high above the kingdom of Hyrule to explore floating islands, home to new threats and oddball allies. Arguably the best thing showcased in previews so far is the ability to skydive from the heavens to the ground below. And, to use your paraglider to sail between the airborne archipelagoes.
What are the first reactions?
Take heart, fans: reactions for Zelda have been overwhelmingly positive. The embargo for previews passed this week, releasing a slew of new content onto the internet. The game, like its predecessor, is open-world and promises even more ways to combine and create random items than before.
The Guardian’s Keza MacDonald called it a game that “rich with creative potential – and fun”, adding that “every time I asked “what if I …?”, the game rewarded me with a fun answer.” In Tears of the Kingdom, it appears that Link has several new abilities to fuse items, including the telekinetic Ultrahand: hybrid weapons can be built with practically anything (which enhances their durability), and the game rewards creative puzzle solving. Here, Link can use items lying around to traverse floating islands, kill enemies or even create flying cars. There are meat arrows (created by fusing a steak with an arrow), homing arrows, bushes full of bomb flowers (as per The Verge) and more.
IGN said that the upcoming publication “is going to be an absolutely massive video game with a staggering amount of things to do and see”, praising the creative freedom it offered. “With every puzzle and conflict having such a ridiculous array of solutions, the results will likely be endlessly astonishing and entertaining, especially if you look at what hardcore Breath of the Wild players have already been doing for years in a game where it often feels like you weren’t supposed to do those things,” it added.
Either way, this seems to be an improvement (if such a thing is possible) on Breath of the Wild’s gameplay, giving fans the same basic controls (run, jump, attack) and a whole new toolkit for mischief. In addition to Ultrahand, Link also has access to Ascend (which lets him fly skywards), Fuse and Recall (which sends items flying backwards along their earlier trajectories) in his Rune slate. Plus, as if that wasn’t enough, he can also build new high-tech gadgets with Zonaite, a new material dropped by high-level enemies.
Though we’re still a little light on the details of the plot, Tears of the Kingdom promises hours of fun regardless: we can’t wait to get started.
What do the trailers show?
Since the game was announced in 2019, Nintendo has released four previews that tease Zelda’s gameplay and storyline.
Based on the clips, we know that Link will eventually face off against his long-time enemy Demon King Ganondorf in his quest to find Princess Zelda. But, this time, he won’t be alone: Link will have back-up in the form of returning characters Zora Prince Sidon and the Gerudo Chief Riju.
It also looks like he’ll be searching for the game’s titular tears, which appear throughout the game’s third and final trailer. In the video, multiple characters, including Zelda, are shown holding ancient, tear-shaped Japanese beads known as magatamas.
As for the gameplay, we’ve already seen special elevator stones that shuttle you to floating islands, new fusion weapons and even fusion vehicles, such as boats and hovercraft, not to mention the already teased drone-style aircraft.
On display were special elevator stones to shuttle you to floating islands, new fusion weapons and even fusion vehicles, such as boats and hovercraft, not to mention the already teased drone-style aircraft.
A previous trailer hinted that Link might be getting a robotic arm – and, in a new steampunk twist to the franchise, he’s shown riding a car, hot-air balloon and flying machine around Hyrule. Outside of the aerial shenanigans, you’ll also venture underground into caves and chasms, where you’ll fight enemies on minecarts.
When is the Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom release date?
Though the new Zelda was initially slated for launch in 2022, Nintendo later pushed it back to the second quarter of this year.
It revealed the official release date at the Nintendo Direct presentation last September. You’ll finally be able to play the new Zelda on May 12, 2023.
It’s doubtful there will be any more delays as Nintendo recently announced that development on the game was now complete.
How much will Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom cost?
The game can currently be pre-ordered from Nintendo and costs £59.99. Those who purchase it in advance of its release date will receive a bonus collector’s coin and luggage tag.
Can’t get enough Zelda? Nintendo is also releasing bundles with a collector’s medal for £67.99 and a notebook for £64.49 – or you can grab both for £72.49. All bundles are available on the My Nintendo Store.
A collector’s edition of the game will also launch on May 12 and will include a physical copy of the game and artbook, SteelBook, Iconart steel poster and a set of four pins. An amiibo of Link will also be released.
Fans interested in the collector’s edition had to register their interest on Nintendo’s website but the option no longer appears to be available.
A The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom themed Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Carrying Case will also launch alongside the game on May 12th. pic.twitter.com/5MeIIwciYn
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) March 28, 2023
Nintendo has also revealed that a Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom edition of the Nintendo Switch will be available on April 28. This will be the pricier OLED model of the console, with gold and green colouring and custom patterns from the game.
A Zelda-themed Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Carrying Case will also launch alongside the game on May 12.