Everything we know about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, as of April 2022
I’ve updated this! See the April 2023 roundup.
I’ve also posted this on Reddit.
This post tries to summarize everything we know about Breath of the Wild’s sequel. It’s arranged by time.
As much as I love rumors and speculation, I tried not to include those.
In an October 2017 Creating a Champion interview, Eiji Aonuma said that “development of the next Zelda has already begun. I think it’s safe to say that there is another Zelda because of the kind of world we were able to create for Breath of the Wild.”
This means that the game has been in development for more than 4 years.
(Note: this interview was in October 2017, but the book was published later.)
Monolift Soft, a subsidiary of Nintendo, started “large-scale recruitment” for work on the Zelda series.
E3 2019 brought the first big news about the sequel. The first trailer was shown on June 11. Obvious things it revealed:
- The game is a sequel to BotW
- It will be released on Switch
- The return of BotW Link and Zelda, exploring what appears to be an underground cave
- A mummified figure which most assume to be Ganondorf
- A mysterious green energy hand
- Hyrule Castle “taking off” into the sky
There’s lots more in the trailer, but those are some high-level beats. If you’d like more, there are plenty of trailer breakdowns.
Other information was revealed through interviews in the following days.
- A June 11 Game Informer interview revealed:
- The game revisits the same Hyrule. Aonuma said that “one of the reasons we wanted to create a continuation was because I wanted to revisit that Hyrule again and use that world again, while incorporating new gameplay and new story”.
- BotW’s director, Hidemaro Fujibayashi, will also be directing its sequel.
- “Aonuma also confirmed that players will not need an expansion pack to play the game, as they did for Majora’s Mask on the Nintendo 64 saying, ‘It will be a continuation, and it will come in full form as it is. [laughs]’”.
- Aonuma discussed the Majora’s Mask comparison in a June 11 IGN interview: “The new Breath of the Wild or the sequel to it, it’s not necessarily going to be related to Majora’s Mask or inspired by it… What we showed you currently is a little darker”.
- In a June 12 Kotaku interview, Aonuma was asked whether Zelda would be playable. “I can’t tell you,” he replied. He gave a similar non-answer to IGN about co-op play.
- A June 18 Kotaku interview revealed that the game was originally planned to be BotW DLC, but it grew in scope and became its own game. The interview also had a few other small tidbits about button customization, accessibility, puzzle design, and staffing, but nothing I found notable.
- A June 21 IGN interview discussed the sequel’s inspirations. Red Dead Redemption 2 was mentioned, and Skyrim was mentioned as an influence for the original BotW.
Nintendo listed contract job openings for terrain designers to work on the sequel.
Nintendo published an interview with members of BotW’s environment team as part of their recruitment process. They mentioned that they were recruiting landscape designers but were tight-lipped about specifics.
Nintendo listed Scenario Planner and Level Designer contractor positions for the upcoming sequel.
Nintendo updated their job recruitment site with pictures showing motion capture for the game, as well as partially-rendered screenshots and concept art. Monolith Soft continued to recruit as well.
In Nintendo’s May 7 financial statement, the game’s release date was listed as “TBA”.
In a shareholder document, Nintendo gave a general update about the production of their games in the face of the pandemic:
“While product development is a little behind schedule in some areas due to the impact of COVID-19, game releases planned for this fiscal year are currently not affected. However, if the impact of COVID-19 is prolonged or becomes more severe, we may not be able to release future titles in line with existing plans.”
I wasn’t able to find anything about the coronavirus’s impact on BotW2. Wikipedia’s “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the video game industry” has a good summary of the pandemic on video gaming at large, including Switch production issues.
In the February 2021 Nintendo Direct, Aonuma said:
“Unfortunately, we don’t have anything to share [about the sequel] right now. We apologize. Development is proceeding smoothly, and we should be able to bring you some new information this year. For now, we’ll have to ask you to wait just a bit longer.”
Skyward Sword HD was announced immediately afterward, and was released the following July.
A few months later, the second trailer was shown at Nintendo’s June 21 E3 presentation. It showed:
- Zelda falling into a pit
- New sky island environments and other shots of Breath of the Wild’s original Hyrule
- New powers: the ability to reverse time for an object; the ability to pass through floors; shooting fire
Again, check out the numerous trailer breakdowns for more details.
They said that they were “aiming for a 2022 release”. This release was later delayed (see below).
A small amount of additional information was revealed in later interviews.
- IGN interviewed Bill Trinen who does marketing for Nintendo of America.
- Trinen revealed a bit about the sequel’s lack of public title. “As for why we’re holding back on the name, you’ll just have to stay tuned because, obviously, Zelda names are kind of important … Those subtitles… they start to give little bits of hints about maybe what’s going to happen.
- Trinen acknowledged the sequel’s comparisons to Majora’s Mask, but wanted to highlight that it was its own game. “‘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,’ Trinen explained. ‘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.’”
Also, the game became available for preorder the same day.
Gamereactor found three Nintendo patent filings that seem to closely match mechanics shown in the second trailer:
- A design for players to pass through “terrain objects”, such as floors. This idea was shown at the end of the second trailer.
- A design for players to rewind time for objects. This idea was shown midway through the second trailer.
- A design for players to perform “a special action including a shooting action” while falling through the air, and changing “the posture of the player character that is falling”. This idea has not yet been shown, but people speculate that this fits with the aerial shots of the game.
If you want to learn more, YouTuber Monster Maze has in-depth analyses of each patent: phasing through ceilings, rewinding time, and skydiving mechanics.
Please note that the patent news is speculative. IGN said it well: “while the mechanics seem to match up alongside actions performed by Link in the trailer pretty closely, it’s important to note that Nintendo hasn’t publicly commented on their purpose.”
Nintendo showcased showcased many of their 2022 releases at the 2021 Game Awards, including the sequel. No additional information was shown, but they maintained that the game would be released in 2022. Commenting on Nintendo’s relatively quiet Game Awards appearance, IGN boss Peer Schneider spoke confidently about a 2022 release. Again, the game was delayed a few months later, and this would no longer be true.
Nintendo’s February 2022 financial report reaffirmed a 2022 release year but did not offer more information. (It was later delayed the next month.)
On March 29, Nintendo announced that the game would be delayed until Spring 2023. Aonuma said the following:
“We previously announced that we were aiming for a 2022 release for this game. However, we have decided to extend our development time a bit and change the release to Spring 2023.”
Reuters reported that this announcement caused Nintendo’s stock price to drop by 6%.
Aonuma also alluded to some new features:
“As previously announced, the adventure in this sequel will take place not just on the ground as in the previous game, but also in the skies above. However, the expanded world goes beyond that, and there will be an even wider variety of features you can enjoy, including new encounters and new gameplay elements.”
The announcement also included about 6 seconds of new footage, showing Link with a glowing hand and a damaged Master Sword.
I think that’s everything we know about BotW’s sequel so far!