Get to know Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom before playing

Link holding the Master Sword in Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will likely go down as the biggest game of 2023. 

Breath of the Wild set the standard for Nintendo Switch games and is widely held among the best open-world games ever. The game enjoyed strong sales and positive reviews to the point where Nintendo made the rare decision to create a direct sequel to the game rather than hitting the reset button. Tears of the Kingdom expands upon the world and gameplay of Breath of the Wild, letting players climb even higher and get even more creative.

While it was kept relatively lowkey by Nintendo ahead of its release, the game launched to an explosive response in May 2023. It became an internet darling thanks to both its rock-solid gameplay, as well as the absurd uses players discovered for the game’s construction mechanics.

Is Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom a sequel to Breath of the Wild?

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild. Before it was known as “Tears of the Kingdom,” the game long had the tentative title of “Sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” on its official website and that wasn’t just for show.

The game takes place in the same post-apocalyptic Hyrule that was ravaged by rogue mechanized Guardians. Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom picks up after the events of Breath of the Wild and follows the same Link and Zelda. The story reintroduces Ganondorf to the world, and expands upon the world of Breath of the Wild by adding islands in the sky and a series of enormous underground caverns.

Every Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was first announced in 2019 as the “Sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” In the years that followed, news came on a slow drip in the form of trailers at Nintendo Direct or other large gaming events. Here is every trailer that was released for the game before its launch.

Reveal Trailer (E3 2019)

The first trailer came at E3 2019 and was a radical departure from Breath of the Wild. Though the previous game had some heavy subject matter in the story, the first trailer for its sequel was downright spooky. It shows Link and Zelda traveling through a cave where they encounter what seems to be a corpse that suddenly snaps to life.

Teaser Trailer (E3 2021)

Two years later at E3 2021, fans got another proper look at the game. This trailer revealed some of the key gameplay and environmental elements, including the flying islands that hover over Hyrule and one of Link’s new abilities.

Official Trailer #1 (September 13, 2022 Nintendo Direct)

The “Sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” finally got a proper name during the September 13, 2022 Nintendo Direct. A new trailer officially named the game Tears of the Kingdom and teased new gameplay elements and another one of Link’s abilities.

Official Trailer #2 (February 8, 2023 Nintendo Direct)

After two generally whimsical trailers, the February 2023 Nintendo Direct event gave fans another spooky one. This showed the destruction of Hyrule, but not the Guardian-led calamity that set the stage for Breath of the Wild. There was still quite a lot of mystery regarding the events shown, but things became clearer with the reveal of the final trailer.

Official Trailer #3 (April 13, 2023)

The final Tears of the Kingdom trailer officially revealed Ganondorf, who was conspicuously absent from Breath of the Wild. It also touched upon new enemies and field bosses. Finally, different uses for Link’s new abilities were shown off and gave fans an idea of how different combat would be between the two titles.

What console is Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom on?

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is exclusively available on the Nintendo Switch. Though rumors persist about a successor to the Nintendo Switch or some manner of Switch Pro, none has been confirmed.

Previous Zelda titles Breath of the Wild and Twilight Princess have pulled double duty on Nintendo platforms. Twilight Princess was developed for GameCube but was also released as a launch title for Nintendo Wii. Breath of the Wild received similar treatment for the Wii U and Switch.

Though there was speculation that Tears of the Kingdom would serve as a launch title for a Switch successor, this did not come to pass. Nintendo may port it to its next console, or it could receive some sort of software update with upscaling options similar to the PlayStation 5 upgrades for PS4 games like Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Resident Evil Village. It’s impossible to guess what the situation will be until more details on the next Nintendo platform arrive.

Does Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom have multiplayer or co-op?

There is no multiplayer of any kind in Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

While multiplayer elements are becoming increasingly common in open-world games and the Zelda series has dabbled with cooperative multiplayer on a few occasions, Tears of the Kingdom is strictly a single-player experience. The game is likely to receive DLC at some point but it’s unlikely that a radical gameplay addition like that co-op multiplayer would be part of that.

When does Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom come out?

The release date for Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is May 12, 2023.

The first trailer for Tears of the Kingdom came out all the way back in 2019 and details on the game were very slow to follow. It took years before the game even received an official name, with its official title being “Sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” for a long while. Fans were rewarded after the long wait with a critical hit that took the gaming world by storm.

How is Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom different from Breath of the Wild?

Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has a much larger world to explore and a different set of abilities for Link to use.

Though Tears of the Kingdom is a sequel to Breath of the Wild, it introduces a number of new concepts to both the gameplay and the world. Many of Breath of the Wild’s familiar locales have changed, and there are now flying islands above and deep caves below Hyrule.

These flying islands aren’t just for show. Breath of the Wild forced Zelda players to think vertically, and Tears of the Kingdom takes that to the extreme. Players need to reach places hundreds of feet in the air. This requires players to use some of Link’s new weapons and abilities. 

The biggest differences between the games are Link’s new Ultrahand ability and the introduction Zonai Devices. Link can use Ultrahand to put together items, and Zonai Devices offer mobility and functionality to these creations. Players can chop down a tree and attach wheels to it to create a car, or stick fans onto a grate to create a flying machine. There is an incredible amount of freedom given to players, with creations ranging from missile batteries to actual laser-shooting mechs.

Link boasts a number of new abilities in Tears of the Kingdom. As with Breath of the Wild, Link gains most of these abilities at the start of the game and has to find creative ways to use them in order to progress. 


Recall is an ability that manipulates time, moving objects back to where they were. The demonstrated use for this was Link hopping on top of a piece of a flying island that fell to the surface, then using Recall to put it back in place. This offers quick and easy access to high areas, without having to worry about climbing.


Link has the ability to combine objects with weapons using the aptly named Fuse ability. This can be used to create new weapons, like picking up a branch and fusing it with a rock to create a hammer. The Fuse ability is also usable topically with the bow. Players can combine arrows with crafting materials to get different effects like fusing a Keese Eyeball with an arrow to get a heat-seeking missile or adding White Chuchu Jelly to get Ice Arrows.


In Breath of the Wild, Magnesis allowed players to pick up and move around objects and combine them. Ultrahand is similar, but allows Link to pick up anything and stick it onto other objects. The demonstrated use for this was combining logs and fans to create an airboat, but the possibilities are endless.


Ascend allows Link to jump through a ceiling above him, and climb through to reach the level above. This was actually the first ability confirmed by Nintendo, appearing in some of the early trailers for the game. While it’s made explicit that “there are restrictions” to this ability, players can potentially enter a cave at the base of a mountain, Ascend through the ceiling, then emerge at the summit.


Autobuild allows users to instantly rebuild one of their creations, or build prefabricated constructs using blueprints found during the course of the game. While the main draw of Autobuild is its quickness and convenience, another key benefit is the ability to replicate objects using Zonaite, a resource found across the game world. This makes it so players can create parts like wooden planks and rocks without having to source them in the world.

Is Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom an open-world game?

Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is an open-world game. As with Breath of the Wild, Link will need to run, climb, ride, and glide his way around Hyrule. There is plenty to do outside the main objectives, with a dense world full of treasures to collect and areas to explore.

Breath of the Wild allowed players to go right from the tutorial area to the final dungeon if they desired, and Tears of the Kingdom isn’t far off. Players have the ability to get very creative with their exploration thanks to their ability to construct devices that let them sail on the seas and fly through the sky. While there were few restrictions regarding how players progressed through the game in Breath of the Wild, Zelda: TotK affords even more freedom. 

Should I play Zelda games in chronological order or release order?

Fans should tackle the Zelda games based on their release order, not their chronological order.

Zelda transforming the Master Sword in Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

While most Legend of Zelda games are classics and some are held among the greatest games ever, the games aren’t known for their stories. Though there is a Legend of Zelda timeline that encompasses all mainline Zelda titles, most of the games don’t have any sort of connection to each other.

Even in cases like the Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask where the games are direct sequels, fans don’t need to play one to enjoy the other. Players can ultimately pick out any Zelda game they feel like and enjoy it on its own merits. 

Should I play Zelda: Breath of the Wild before TotK?

Players should play Breath of the Wild before playing Tears of the Kingdom.

The two Nintendo Switch Zelda titles have very similar gameplay, with Tears of the Kingdom setting itself apart by expanding on some of the previous titles’ mechanics. Alongside that, TotK’s story is a direct sequel, with many characters returning from the previous game. Without playing BotW, players may miss out on a lot of the context for the game’s sidequests and story beats.

All that said, narrative takes a backseat to pure gameplay. Players will still be able to have a great time in Tears of the Kingdom, even if they haven’t yet touched Breath of the Wild.

Is Zelda: TotK any good?

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom received overwhelming critical acclaim after its release. Though it retains much of the gameplay of Breath of the Wild, it differentiates itself by introducing a new set of abilities that force the player to explore a similar world in very different ways.

The game enjoys a review average around 95% according to aggregators. It was the top-rated game in the first half of 2023 while facing tough competition such as Diablo 4 and Street Fighter 6.

There’s a strong likelihood that Tears of the Kingdom will be showered with 2023 Game of the Year honors. There are a number of potential contenders on the horizon including Final Fantasy 16 and the upcoming Bethesda title Starfield. Still, the latest installment of Zelda is positioned well to rake in awards.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2. His work has previously been featured by Bleacher Report and The Washington Post, and he was an Assistant Editor at You can follow him on Twitter / X at @srondina.

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