OpinionVideo Games

So It’s Weird That We’ve Seen So Little of Tears of the Kingdom, Right?

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom releases for Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023, but we still know very little about the game.

We’re less than two months away from the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which is starting to break my brain. The six years since Breath of the Wild makes this the longest gap between original Zelda games in the franchise’s storied history. And yet, it feels like we’ve seen so little of what this next adventure has in store for us, which got me thinking – what’s the right amount of a game to show off before launch?

With Tears of the Kingdom, it’s impossible not to compare it to Breath of the Wild, considering it’s a direct sequel using the same setting and framework. But at E3 2016, nine months before BotW was released alongside Nintendo Switch in March 2017, Nintendo made it the centerpiece of its entire show. Not only were demos and breakdowns a big part of its streams that week, but folks at the convention were invited to go hands-on with a chunk of the game set on the opening Great Plateau.

In all my years of going to E3, this was probably the demo that held the longest lines of any game I’d ever seen. Nintendo had so much confidence in its game that it was fine with dropping thousands of people into its micro open world to explore at their leisure for the brief duration of their demo. And every person I talked to who played it that week came away gushing about their different experiences and amazing little adventures they found throughout their time on the Plateau with the Sheikah Slate and the game’s playful physics and chemistry system.

Each person’s excitement became a part of the game’s marketing in the months leading up to launch, and even if you didn’t get a chance to play it, there was enough written and video coverage out there to give you a sense of what the primary loop would be like. However, Nintendo knew that what it had shown off was essentially just from the game’s tutorial. It was keeping a vast majority of its secrets close to the vest, meaning that the surprise of discovering things like Eventide Island, the dragons, and the countless nods to Zelda’s history would be fresh for folks to discover on their own.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom releases for Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023, but we still know very little about the game.

Cut to almost seven years later, and it’s a different story with Tears of the Kingdom. Since its reveal teaser in 2019 as “the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” we’ve gotten a scant handful of glimpses from the game. This included another teaser at E3 2021, a short video explaining that the game would be delayed to 2023, then a pair of official trailers that showed off the new name, as well as a series of brief snippets of gameplay mechanics, characters, and scenarios. And apart from a handful of official screenshots that Nintendo keeps recirculating on its social channels and an unfortunate art book leak, that’s pretty much it.

While I have zero doubt that Nintendo will be holding a Zelda-centric Direct at some point in the coming weeks, it feels odd that we’ve seen so little from the game yet, given how we’ve seen so much from all of the other major AAA games releasing around its orbit, including Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, Redfall, Diablo IV, Final Fantasy XVI, and Street Fighter 6.

Breath of the Wild is closing in on 30 million copies sold, which is a staggering number. With the Switch as popular as ever, maybe Nintendo doesn’t really see a reason to bombard us with details on a game that it knows is going to sell just fine. And considering that BotW is probably my favorite game of the past decade, I was sold on this new game the second the reveal trailer dropped in 2019.

But I am seeing a lot of chatter online regarding just what the hell Tears of the Kingdom actually is. With so much of what Nintendo’s shown off featuring familiar enemies, locations, and mechanics from Breath of the Wild, there’s a not-insignificant amount of folks who are wondering just how different this game will be from its predecessor.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom releases for Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023, but we still know very little about the game.

Now, I’m almost certain that Nintendo has only shown off the tip of the iceberg in the same way it did with that E3 demo in 2016, but not everyone feels the same way. There’s also the elephant in the room, being that arguably the biggest game of 2023 is releasing on six-year-old hardware that honestly had a bit of trouble keeping up with the ambitions of the original game back in 2017, so there’s that.

It can be tough to find a sweet spot for when and how much to show off from a project before its release. There are games like Forspoken that felt like it had such a long cycle of trailers, previews, and info dumps that, by the time it finally released earlier this year, a lot of folks had already made up their mind to ignore the game.

On the flip side, we have something like Hi-Fi Rush, which was released one day after Forspoken, but to the complete opposite effect given its shadow drop. Yes, one game was significantly better than the other, but Tango’s game avoided any chance of audiences becoming apathetic from countless showings by letting them play the game and judge it for themselves.

The Resident Evil 4 remake Chainsaw Demo shows that Capcom understands the right tone that made the original survival horror game a classic.

There’s also a problem I’ve seen in some publishers like Square Enix and Capcom of showing off too much in the final trailers leading up to launch, including 2020’s Final Fantasy VII Remake and the upcoming Resident Evil 4 Remake. Yes, it might seem silly to complain about showing too much from a pair of remakes of undisputed classics, but both had trailers that highlighted major elements where the remakes deviated from the originals, which felt like things that would’ve been nice to experience fresh during your playthrough.

Ultimately, there’s no right answer when it comes to how much of a game should or shouldn’t be shown off before release. Some players don’t want to see a single bit of a thing once they’ve made up their mind that they’re going to play it. Others need a lot more convincing as to whether or not they’ll spend their hard-earned time and money on a thing. And then there’s the entire cottage industry of YouTubers who break down every single frame of footage and weave intricate theories based on the wording of tweets. Won’t somebody please think of the YouTubers?

There’s a happy medium to be found somewhere here between showing concerningly little from a game and showing so much that the audience is spoiled or, worse, just stops caring. Let’s hope Nintendo and Tears of the Kingdom discover the sweet spot in the weeks leading up to Zelda’s release.

About the author

Marty Sliva
Marty Sliva is the Deputy Editor of The Escapist. He's been writing and hosting videos about games, movies, television, and popular culture since 2011, and has been been with The Escapist since 2019. In a perfect world, he'd be covering Zelda, Persona, and the hit TV series Lost on a daily basis.