Video Games

Do You Need to Play Breath of the Wild to Play Tears of the Kingdom

answer do you need to play the legend of zelda: breath of the wild to play tears of the kingdom no thanks to character profile

Nintendo rarely does direct sequels within its franchises. Within the Legend of Zelda series, it is incredibly rare for a Zelda game to be a direct sequel to a prior installment. Yet here we have The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which is a direct continuation of the previous Zelda game, Breath of the Wild. But if you’re a newcomer who has heard about all of the hype leading up to the release of Tears of the Kingdom, you may be wondering if you need to play Breath of the Wild in order to understand what’s happening in Tears of the Kingdom.

You Do Not Need to Play Breath of the Wild to Play Tears of the Kingdom, but It Helps

The answer is not really, but it would help. The story of Tears of the Kingdom is technically a direct continuation from Breath of the Wild, but it creates a brand new threat and challenge for Link and Zelda to face. The mysteries that are posed by the return of Ganondorf don’t require you to be familiar with what happened in Breath of the Wild since the conflict is primarily rooted in the present, while Breath of the Wild’s narrative was told mostly in flashbacks as Link recalled the events that had brought calamity to Hyrule. At least in the beginning of Tears of the Kingdom, no mentions are made about the deceased Champions that you allied with previously, Daruk, Mipha, Urbosa, and Revali, or how Calamity Ganon corrupted the Guardians.

However, because it is a sequel, there are plenty of returning characters that will pop up and will directly talk to Link about the events of the last game. For example, in the prologue, Zelda talks about how a series of caverns opened up underneath Hyrule Castle after Calamity Ganon was destroyed, with the caverns containing murals that flesh out the history of Hyrule and expand upon the Zonai, a group who were briefly referenced in the last game. Later on, you’ll encounter side characters from Breath of the Wild who will talk extensively about how the world has changed since the events of that game and comment on your actions against Calamity Ganon.

Fortunately, there is a new Character Profile feature accessible from the menu to provide key information on each important character, specifically added by the Tears of the Kingdom developers “so it’s easy to understand the relationship between characters, even without knowledge from the previous title.”

The focus of Zelda games has never really been on telling a thought-provoking and in-depth story. The focus usually is on crafting a well-polished gameplay experience. Granted, there are some Zelda games that have wonderful plots that I love, like Majora’s Mask, but Breath of the Wild was a game that was light on plot in order to put the focus on the grand world you were exploring. You could have ignored the plot entirely and still had an absolute blast.

Now, the plot is taking more focus and prominence, but even if you’ve never played Breath of the Wild or haven’t touched the game since it was released back in 2017, you’ll manage just fine. There may be assorted references that you won’t understand or may have forgotten, but the game is still completely playable without prior context. So, you definitely do not need to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to play Tears of the Kingdom, but it could help with some plot details. (BotW is also just a phenomenal game in its own right.)

About the author

Jesse Lab
Jesse Lab is a freelance writer for The Escapist and has been a part of the site since 2019. He currently writes the Frame Jump column, where he looks at and analyzes major anime releases. He also writes for the film website Jesse has been a gamer since he first played Pokémon Snap on the N64 and will talk to you at any time about RPGs, platformers, horror, and action games. He can also never stop talking about the latest movies and anime, so never be afraid to ask him about recommendations on what's in theaters and what new anime is airing each season.