Breath of the Wild 2 is currently in development and it’s undoubtedly one of the most eagerly awaited Nintendo Switch exclusives there is. It’s even got an official title now — The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
These high levels of excitement are partly down to the fact that Tears of the Kingdom is the sequel to 2017’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Being the Nintendo Switch’s biggest launch title and still widely considered one of the best Switch games ever – which is quite a feat given there’s no shortage of excellent Switch games – Breath of the Wild set the bar high.
Understandably, then, expectations for Tears of the Kingdom are pretty high but, despite that, we still don’t actually know a huge amount about it. While September 2022’s long-awaited Nintendo Direct finally gave us a release date and new name, Nintendo is in no hurry to release further Tears of the Kingdom details before it’s ready. As a result, we’re still waiting to learn more about the game’s story and gameplay.
While we wait for more official news, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about Tears of the Kingdom right here, including details on its delay, what we’ve gleaned from trailers so far, and all the latest news and rumors.
Breath of the Wild 2: cut to the chase
What is it? The upcoming sequel to 2017’s Breath of the Wild
What can I play it on? Nintendo Switch
When can I play it? May 12, 2023
Tears of the Kingdom release date and platforms
(Image credit: Nintendo)
Thanks to September 2022’s Nintendo Direct presentation, we’ve learned that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom launches on May 12, 2023. Unsurprisingly for a first-party Nintendo game, that’ll be exclusive to the Nintendo Switch console family.
We initially thought that Tears of the Kingdom would release sometime in 2022 but in March of that year Nintendo pushed the date into 2023, with series producer, Eiji Aonuma, telling fans it was out of a desire to “extend out development time a bit”.
Tears of the Kingdom trailers
Nintendo Direct September 2022 trailer
We got a brief new look at Breath of the Wild 2 during the latest Nintendo Direct, only we learned it’s officially called The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. While we didn’t get a particularly in-depth look at gameplay, it appears to show seamless travel across Hyrule, alongside a new glider. You can watch that in full below:
E3 2021 trailer
We got our best look yet at Tears of the Kingdom during the E3 2021 Nintendo presentation, with a trailer showing off the vast, expansive world of Hyrule – expanded even further with navigation into the skies, despite the more dungeon-crawling feeling of the original 2019 teaser.
There’s some paragliding up in the clouds, along with more a freefall mechanic that seems ripped right out of Skyward Sword, and a new glove that looks to be taking the place of the Sheikah slate for Tears of the Kingdom.
There’s even a short clip of a splashed puddle… reverting in time? We’re not entirely sure, but it’s clear that some new mechanics will be introduced into the Zelda formula, while one of the first game’s sentient boulder enemies (that’s Stone Pebblit to you) is shown with a Bokoblin fort on its back for Tears of the Kingdom, suggesting even more dynamic interplay between the game’s many enemies.
Take a look below…
We got our very first glimpse of Tears of the Kingdom at E3 2019, with this spooky trailer that shows Zelda and Link exploring an underground chamber – with some mysterious runes, glowing hands, and a brand-new haircut that has set the internet on fire. Suffice it to say we’re excited.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailer that first revealed the game is just 82 seconds long and there’s no dialogue whatsoever, but there are some clues to be gathered from it.
It features a torch-carrying Link and Zelda traversing a dark dungeon beneath Hyrule (no big surprise there). Spirit-like tendrils creep around the musty tomb they’re exploring, with the pair riding a large elephant-like beast. Something shocks the pair, and then we cut to what appears to be the resurrection of some long-dead (and creepy looking) warrior. Could this be the return of Ganondorf?
The video then cuts to a long shot of Hyrule Field, with Hyrule Castle in the distance. There’s a tremor, the castle is smothered with dust… and that’s the end. The clip finishes with a message that reads: “The sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in development.”
We wouldn’t usually expect so much animation to be done so early in development, but it probably helps that Nintendo already has the in-game engine from Breath of the Wild.
Tears of the Kingdom news and rumors
A new glove item may take the place of the Sheikah slate in Breath of the Wild 2 (Image credit: Nintendo)
Nintendo tells clears up confusion around the title
During its September Direct, Nintendo finally announced that the game will be called The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, not Breath of the Wild 2 as it was long unofficially called. However, fans were still left with a question: is that ‘tears’ or ‘tears’? As in, should our confusion be making us tear our hair out, or should our eyes be filling up with tears?
Fortunately, Nintendo stepped in to clear things up, confirming to Eurogamer (opens in new tab) that it’s crying tears. That is at least one mystery around Tears of the Kingdom mopped up.
Nintendo has done a very good job of keeping spoilers around Breath of the Wild 2 quiet but a potentially major plot detail for the game might have been leaked by Pietro Ubaldi, the Italian voice actor for Daruk in the original game.
Do be wary of spoilers for Breath of the Wild and, potentially, Tears of the Kingdom below.
ResetEra user Alexander_Wand (opens in new tab) recently spotted that the Zelda-focused YouTube channel Lega Hyrule (opens in new tab) posted an interview with Ubaldi who claims to have voiced Daruk in the sequel and the Goron character’s ancestor.
Given the ending of Breath of the Wild, the appearance of Daruk in the sequel is a little odd but the claims around an ancestor character are very intriguing and some wonder if this could see Tears of the Kingdom playing with time – specifically an ancient past – which wouldn’t exactly be unprecedented for a Legend of Zelda game.
Nintendo is, of course, staying quiet in the meantime and we won’t know about any Tears of the Kingdom plot details for sure until they’re officially announced.
Too good for the Switch?
The most recent gameplay footage for Tears of the Kingdom is impressive. But is it too impressive to be on the Nintendo Switch? According to tech experts Digital Foundry (opens in new tab) Tears of the Kingdom includes a number of graphical features that the aging original Nintendo Switch would struggle to run.
The latest trailer for the Breath of the Wild sequel apparently runs at a higher image quality than we’re used to seeing on Switch, features graphically taxing volumetric clouds, and also includes an increased draw distance that may be too much for the original Switch hardware to handle.
It’s a thrilling thought that Tears of the Kingdom could be made available on a new Switch console but we’ll have to wait for some kind of official announcement from Nintendo before we can be certain.
Patent hints at Tears of the Kingdom mechanics
Three recent patents filed by Nintendo could give us an insight into the gameplay mechanics of Tears of the Kingdom. As spotted by GameReactor (opens in new tab), the three patents have been registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Each patent contains a diagram of what could be Link abilities for Tears of the Kingdom, with the connection being drawn between what’s shown in the patent and what we got to see in the game’s E3 2021 trailer (that’s embedded above if you need a refresher).
The first patent (opens in new tab), for instance, describes the ability “to perform a special action” while a character is falling such as “a shooting action of shooting a predetermined object.” The diagram in the patent shows a character falling through the air with their arms wide and it’s a strikingly similar pose to Link’s at around 25 seconds into the E3 trailer.
While it looks as though these abilities made an appearance in the trailer, none of these mechanics have been confirmed by Nintendo so it’s best to treat this with a pinch of salt at the moment.
(Image credit: Nintendo)
BOTW 2 and those Majora’s Mask comparisons
Nintendo’s Treehouse is always a great place to find new info on upcoming Nintendo games, and Tears of the Kingdom is no different. Bill Trinen, Senior Product Marketing Manager of Nintendo of America, spoke of Tears of the Kingdom in a recent broadcast with IGN, and its much-noted comparison to the relationship between the N64’s Ocarina of Time and its sequel, Majora’s Mask.
“I would say it’s an easy comparison or conclusion to jump to at this point in time, just given what’s been shown so far and given the nature of it being a direct sequel. So I understand people making that conclusion, but at the same time – and I don’t want to delve too much into it – but this is its own game”.
However, whereas Majora’s Mask reused lots of assets, Trinen wanted to make it clear that this is indeed a true sequel. “I think as we start to show a bit more of the game over the coming months to the next year or so, it’ll probably start to be a bit more apparent where this game stands on its own and what makes it so unique”.
“The way that [Breath Of The Wild 2] builds on Breath of the Wild, which already was such an expansive game with so many layers of Link’s abilities and layers to the gameplay… I think this is going to layer quite a bit more into that”.
(Image credit: Nintendo)
All the DLC that never was
In an interview with Kotaku (opens in new tab), Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma said there were originally plans for more DLC content for BOTW, after The Champion’s Ballad and Master Trials add-ons that came in 2017.
“Initially we were thinking of just DLC ideas,” says Anouma. “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.’”
Tears of the Kingdom will be a darker turn for the series
All we really know at this point is how little we know. But boy, are there rumors. The unexpected trailer sparked a huge amount of speculation, hopes and hot takes on what the next mainline Zelda title might include.
We’ve heard from Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma that the game is going to have a darker tone than Breath of the Wild, and will even be “a little bit darker” than Majora’s Mask (via IGN (opens in new tab)).
The trailer certainly supports this, with what looks like Ganondorf’s corpse being resurrected by a disembodied hand, and seemingly imagery from 2006’s Twilight Princess, which saw Hyrule turned into a bleak shadow realm – largely in response to the far cheerier and cartoonish The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. That said, it won’t be all doom and gloom – visually at least – as the E3 2021 trailer has at least indicated that we’ll take to the skies and explore amongst the clouds.
(Image credit: Nintendo)
The Twilight realm
The glowing blue hand in the trailer is the biggest clue that we’ll be seeing more of the Twili – shadow people descended from Hylians who tried to take the power of the Triforce for themselves. The hand is wrapped in twisting shapes reminiscent of Twilight architecture, while the swirling magic could remind some of the portals that let Twili invade Hyrule in the 2006 game.
We know that BOTW’s dev team originally toyed with the idea of an alien invasion, and seeing shadow creatures teleport out of the sky could well have been what they have planned this time around.
A clue in the audio
Showing just how far some Zelda fans will go, reddit user u/ReroFunk (via Inverse (opens in new tab)) pieced together a pretty convincing theory regarding Twilight Princess villain Zant, a Twili who served Ganondorf in the game. If you listen to the trailer’s audio in reverse, there are certain notes that seem to echo the music played during your final encounter with Zant – who, while defeated, is adamant he’ll return through the power of his “god”.
u/ReroFunk also suggests we could see the demon king Demise return for the next Zelda game. Demise was the final boss in Skyward Sword, and revealed to be the original form of Ganondorf. The below still from the Zelda trailer also looks a lot like Demise when you think about it.
(Image credit: Nintendo)