The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is one of the most anticipated games of 2023, despite or maybe because trailers tend to be highly cryptic about its narrative and certain gameplay elements. However, we’re not completely in the dark about what to expect from Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, so let’s break it all down.
What We Should Expect to See and Experience in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
While we have seen little about the story, we did get a peek at an eerie crypt containing a mummified Ganon, suggesting that Tears of the Kingdom could have a significantly darker storyline than its predecessor, Breath of the Wild. That’s not to say BotW wasn’t properly post-apocalyptically sad and somber, but the scene in question plays out more like a horror film, with skeletal jump scares and dissonant piano chords ramping up to a sense of pure terror rather than an evil you must stop.
Ganon’s role will be another major new addition to the Switch-era Zelda. Unlike the kaiju-sized Calamity Ganon in the previous title, this Ganon does have many of the traditional staples of his Ocarina of Time Ganondorf look, from the long red hair to the Gerudo jewelry. And in his macabre mausoleum, he is oozing purplish gooey and airy corruption, with some of this viscera connecting with Link’s arm, leaving it scarred with a dark series of tattoo-like marks. While BotW’s villain was more a force of nature, it appears we will get a Ganon who once more has insidious plans in development — unless he’s just… dead.
Yet for as grim as the initial trailers might be in spots, Tears of the Kingdom simultaneously feels hopeful and liberating as it takes to the skies to explore a now airborne Hyrule. Whether falling through the clouds while triumphant orchestral music blasts, or discovering levitating ruins, players of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom can expect plenty of aeronautical exploration opportunities.
And there’s a number of new abilities Link has uncovered for help soaring to waypoints and distant floating islands, including what appears to be a flying manta ray machine, a vertical elevator-like addition to the Sheikah slate moves, and seemingly a sort of interdimensional hookshot that not only lets Link pass through the bottom of solid rock, but appears to be an ability stemming from that newly corrupted arm.
There are some notable improvements coming to the ground world of Hyrule as well. While common enemies like Bokoblins have made their return, they will team up, setting up moving encampments on bosses like Stone Taluses, adding an extra level of challenge and expanding on Breath of the Wild’s impressive combat mechanics. Abilities like Stasis also appear to retain great utility, like being able to redirect massive projectiles like a rolling steel ball of doom into a herd of enemies.
What Questions and Hopes Do Fans Have for Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?
Many fans’ biggest concern at this point is if Zelda is going to be a major part of the story, let alone alright. So far trailers have shown her plummeting into a dark abyss, along with an ancient etching showing the princess in what appears to be a sacrificial state. After thousands of years in Breath of the Wild of keeping Calamity Ganon at bay, the royal magic user deserves a break, but it doesn’t look like she’ll be able to enjoy that newfound freedom.
Questions surrounding Link’s new altered arm also have fans wondering if he’s been cursed. Breath of the Wild pulled plenty from the classic Ghibli masterpiece Princess Mononoke, and with direct comparisons to Ashitaka’s cursed arm, will Link be on a similar path trying to cure a monstrous corruption wound? It only makes sense Tears of the Kingdom would expand upon this Miyazaki inspiration as a sequel.
Also, with clear inspiration from Skyward Sword for the game’s sky exploration, Tears of the Kingdom might expand upon the lore and history of Skyloft. Breath of the Wild included classic Hyrule Kingdom staples like a decrepit futuristic version of Lon Lon Ranch, so it only makes sense that exploring upwards could bring Easter eggs or direct references to the hero from the skies.
From a gameplay perspective, many wonder if Tears of the Kingdom will reintroduce more traditional Zelda dungeons. Breath of the Wild had the Divine Beasts instead, large robotic figures that acted as giant puzzles with a boss at the end. Time will tell if Tears of the Kingdom will return to more classic locational dungeons and bosses of old.
Similarly, it’s unclear whether Tears of the Kingdom will bring back the Shrine system, which had players tackling small-scale futuristic bunkers found throughout underground Hyrule. These acted as miniature bite-sized dungeons, which were engaging and exciting, but again a major breakaway from the huge temples explored in the likes of Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess.
And while we’ve seen expansions of specific Sheikah slate abilities, will we see the return and expansion of Cryosis, Magnesis, and bombs? We’ve also gotten a brief glimpse at some new items like a flamethrower and other new swords, but what other new weapons will Tears of the Kingdom offer?
Whatever happens and regardless of what we expect, there is a lot to be excited for in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Whether it chooses to take dark story tactics like in Majora’s Mask, bring back those classic dungeons we loved in Twilight Princess, explore the islands in the sky like players did in the Great Sea in Wind Waker, or revisit the beautiful floating world of Skyward Sword, one thing is for certain. There are going to be plenty of reasons to be excited for Tears of the Kingdom.