Everything we know about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, as of April 2023
This long post summarizes everything we know about Tears of the Kingdom. It’s arranged by time. It may contain spoilers.
Since my February 2023 roundup:
- Aonuma’s gameplay video
- The OLED Switch
- The art book that leaked
- Some preorder bonuses (and those Chu Chu gummies)
- A Master Sword ad seen in Famitsu
- A marketing survey that some people claimed to receive
- A small statement from Aonuma
- PAX East
- A trademark application for some art
- Game ratings in Brazil and Japan
- Some reaffirmed release dates
I love rumors and speculation, but I try to limit those here.
2017: high level info
Development has begun
In an October Creating a Champion interview, producer 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.”
(Note: this interview was in October 2017, but the book was published later.)
December interviews reveal broad details
In a December 2017 interview, Aonuma spoke broadly about the direction for future titles:
“…for me, especially just in terms of the Zelda series, the incredible freedom that this game offers you and how well that’s been received…to me, it means that freedom, that level of freedom is something that needs to be maintained in Zelda games going forward. My eyes have been opened to how important that is.
“So one of the things that we definitely consider is that we always wanted to make sure the player could understand what their challenges or what their hurdle is. We always wanted to make sure the challenge could be challenged. So we always wanted to make a linear way of [overcoming] a hurdle.
“So for example, if there was like, ‘you can’t do this because you don’t have the right tools’ or ‘you don’t meet the certain requirements,’ players are going to not want to do that anymore. So we wanted to very much incorporate that.
“Going forward, I think we would definitely consider that way of thinking when we create something in the future.”
In another interview, director Hidemaro Fujibayashi acknowledged that people wanted to pet the dogs in BotW.
Another December 2017 interview had some details about the kinds of things the leaders admired about Mario Odyssey, which may indicate the kind of thing that won’t be in the game:
“I think for me, [my favorites are] the parts where you’re able to go from 3D into 2D and go into the wall and it becomes the old school style,” Fujibayashi told IGN about Mario. “I especially liked where it looks like there’s nowhere to go, but then the walls curve around. It was super unique. It actually reminded me a bit of Zelda.”
“That’s the kind of thing that we wouldn’t be able to do in a game like Breath of the Wild,” he continued. “It’s something that only fits in the wackier Mario world. So I thought that was really cool.”
“Mario can put so many ideas in. I’m kind of jealous of it,” Aonuma added jokingly.
GamesRadar asked Fujibayashi what he thinks his lasting mark on the series will be in another 2017 interview. He wasn’t sure, but Aonuma had an idea: losing all of your stuff and starting from scratch.
“[…] in Breath of the Wild there’s an island where you get stripped of all of your items and you start out naked. And we were kind of thinking, ‘Wait, there was something similar to that in Skyward Sword and Oracle of Ages.’ So we were thinking maybe that’s his kind of trademark.”
2018: another high-level interview
In a promotional interview, director Fujibayashi and producer Eiji Aonuma were asked various questions about Breath of the Wild’s second DLC.
The final question, “what’s next for the Zelda franchise?”, was answered by Aonuma:
“I think The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was all about breaking conventions and re-thinking what was natural and normal for Zelda titles. Now that we’ve had this great new reaction to this, we start to think, ‘Well, uh-oh, is this going to be the new convention?’
“I think we want to keep creating new things in the game, by creating fresh, new, unique ideas. But at the same time, we don’t want to erase what was successful with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild too. That’s why I think keeping that balance is something we want to stay focused on.”
2019: the reveal year
In March, Monolift Soft, a Nintendo subsidiary, started “large-scale recruitment” for work on the Zelda series. Monolith is best known for their work on the Xenoblade series and also helped with some other Nintendo games like Breath of the Wild.
Most of the listings reveal little, such as “In-game Animator”. However, “Designer for Main Character” appeared, allowing for some speculation.
The reveal teaser
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 lifting up out of the ground, seen from BotW’s Great Plateau
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.
The trailer was uploaded by Nintendo of America, UK, Australia, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Russia, Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong. Future trailers had a similar international spread.
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. Fujibayashi also directed some earlier Zelda games, such as Minish Cap.
“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.
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.
In July, Nintendo listed contract job openings for terrain designers to work on the sequel.
In September, 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.
In October, Nintendo listed Scenario Planner and Level Designer contractor positions for the upcoming sequel.
In December, 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.
2020: a quiet year
In Nintendo’s May 7 financial statement, the game’s release date was listed as “TBA”.
In a July 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 TotK specifically.
2021: the second trailer
Skyward Sword HD
In the February 2021 Nintendo Direct, Aonuma told fans that development was going smoothly, but had nothing to share:
“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.
The second trailer
A few months later, in June, 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 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 to May 2023 (see below).
A small amount of additional information was revealed in a later interview with Bill Trinen:
- 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.”
- He also 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 from some retailers the same day.
In December 2021, 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 seems to have been shown at the end of the second trailer.
A design for players to rewind time for objects. This idea was also seen 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”.
If you want to learn more, YouTuber Monster Maze has in-depth analyses of each patent: phasing through ceilings, rewinding time, and skydiving mechanics.
IGN said this 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.”
Maintaining the release date at the Game Awards
Nintendo also 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.
Both Nintendo’s showcase and IGN’s boss were wrong, and the game was delayed until 2023.
2022: the title reveal year
Still planning to release in 2022…
Nintendo’s February 2022 financial report reaffirmed a 2022 release year but did not offer more information.
…just kidding! Spring 2023
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.
In April, news circulated about another Nintendo patent that could be related to TotK, relating to preventing “the clothes object from merging into the character object when the character object performs an action.”
The patent was originally filed on August 9, 2019 (in both the US and Japan) and it was published in February 2021, more than a year before the news surfaced.
Daruk’s Italian voice actor, Pietro Ubaldi, was interviewed by YouTuber Lega Hyrule. From the video’s English translation:
Lega Hyrule: “You said you voiced the ancestor of Daruk…”
Ubaldi: “Yes, whose name I don’t remember, unfortunately…but it was a bit more serious Daruk, more…”
Lega Hyrule: “Darunia, perhaps?”
Ubaldi: “No…Lately the names…I don’t remember them very well.”
Lega Hyrule: “So the dubbing is [finished]?”
Ubaldi: “It’s recent, it’s a game that has yet to come out. I think…or a version to be released…”
The video has some other details, such as claims that the actor voiced Daruk as well. GameXplain has a short followup video with some additional details and some speculation.
This is a rumor, but the filmed interview convinced me enough to include it here. (Maybe I’ve been hoodwinked!)
Financial reports reconfirming dates
Nintendo’s yearly financial report was released on May 10. The report reaffirmed a Spring 2023 release window. This was again restated in August 2022 in another financial report.
A third patent
A new patent, similar to the first one mentioned, was found. It details new falling positions, and shows various states a player can be in. This was later seen in trailers.
The September 13 Nintendo Direct finished with a trailer that showed:
- A release date of May 12, 2023
- The title, “Tears of the Kingdom”
- A mural depicting various events
- Link again in the sky islands above BotW’s Hyrule
- A mysterious item on Link’s hip
As with previous trailers, check out the numerous breakdowns for more.
An official website and store page, showcasing art and a short description of the game, were revealed the same day.
The word “tears” is a homograph, and some people have been unsure whether it’s “tears” as in teardrop (rhymes with “fears”) or “tears” as in ripping (rhymes with “bears”). Eurogamer reported that it’s the former, as in teardrop.
A promotional statue
Nintendo Live, a promotional event in Tokyo, showed off a life-size statue of Link as seen in TotK. Players saw a detailed look at Link’s hand, the Master Sword, and more.
A voice actor implies…something?
Podcast KIWI TALKZ interviewed Sean Chiplock on November 5. Chiplock voiced Revali, Teba, and the Deku Tree in the English versions of BotW. A snippet from the interview:
Chiplock: “I am very excited for Tears of the Kingdom. I’m happy for people that have been waiting so long. I will definitely, you know, keep an eye out for videos so that I can be…knowledgeable about what happens in case any of my characters happen to come back. I still have no idea if that’s going to happen.”
KIWI TALKZ host: “DLC, maybe.”
Chiplock: “Yeah, that’s mainly what I’m looking at. But outside of that, I don’t know. Time will tell.”
This implies that Revali, Teba, and the Deku Tree will not be returning, but there are other possibilities: Chiplock may have been unable to speak about it, be genuinely unsure, was replaced as a voice actor, or something else.
Just over a month later, Chiplock tweeted that he’s managed “to book/record one new bird character a year as part of my portfolio”, including 2023. He didn’t say anything else about this character (other than a smiley face), so this may have nothing to do with Zelda.
May 12 is still the plan
Nintendo’s November 8 financial report reaffirmed a release date of May 12, 2023.
A month later, Nintendo of America tweeted another confirmation of the release date after winning Most Anticipated Game at the 2022 Game Awards.
Latin American Spanish
In an end-of-year promotional video on December 14, Nintendo of Latin America announced that the game would be fully localized in Latin American Spanish, including text and voices. This was the first official confirmation that the game would have voice acting.
They also reiterated the May 12 release date.
In December 2022, photos of a TotK-branded Switch OLED leaked. This rumor would be officially confirmed months later, in March 2023.
The game began to receive ratings in late 2022.
- ESRB (serving North America) rated the game “E10+” according to Nintendo of America’s website. The game contains “Fantasy Violence” and “Mild Suggestive Themes”. This all matches BotW, except that “Use of Alcohol” was also in the first game and not this one. I first saw this reported on on December 21.
- PEGI (serving Europe, Turkey, and Israel) rates the game “12”. This is like BotW.
- Nintendo of Japan rates the game CERO B, which is effectively “age 12+”. It includes markers for “sexuality”, “violence”, and “crime”.
- Nintendo of Australia lists the game with a “Mature (M)” rating, with the subtitle “fantasy themes and violence”. For comparison, Breath of the Wild had the same rating.
- GRAC (serving South Korea) rated the game “12+” on November 18. According to the agency, the game contains mild violence. It does not contain sexuality, fear/horror, strong language, alcohol/tobacco/drug use, crime, anti-governmental messages, or gambling. All of this matches their rating for the original BotW. An automatic translation describes the game as “a role-playing game for Nintendo Switch in which the stage of the adventure to find Zelda expands into the sky.”
- SMECCV (serving Mexico) rates the game “12+” on Nintendo’s Mexican store page. Its rating otherwise matches the ESRB. Nintendo lists BotW with the same rating, though this was probably retroactive because this rating system is new to Mexico.
- Brazil rates the game “10” with “Violence”
- USK (serving Germany) rates the game 12+, according to Nintendo’s German store page
In Russia, the age category is “not announced”.
2023: it’s this year!
An internal product ID
Nintendo uses an internal ID called an “NSUID” for their various products. In late January, fans noticed that the website’s code added a NSUID for the game, as well as for the long-delayed Advance Wars remake.
Reaffirming the release date
On February 1, Nintendo UK tweeted “100 days to go”, further reaffirming the May 12 release date.
On February 7, a Nintendo earnings report also confirmed the release date.
On February 8, a new trailer was shown at the end of a Nintendo Direct. It showed:
- Vehicles, such as a makeshift car and helicopter
- An antagonist’s voice, presumably Ganondorf
- New monsters and locations
- Reaffirmed release date
As usual, refer to the many trailer breakdowns for further analysis and speculation.
New details after the trailer
A press release following the Direct described the new trailer and offered a small amount of additional detail: “Gameplay footage of Link’s massive adventure included the islands floating above Hyrule, never-before-seen weapons and mysterious vehicles.” Later, they say that “an epic adventure across the land and skies of Hyrule awaits. In this sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you’ll decide your own path through the sprawling landscapes of Hyrule and the mysterious islands floating in the vast skies above. Can you harness the power of Link’s new abilities to fight back against the malevolent forces that threaten the kingdom?”
The game’s suggested retail price is 69.99 USD. Other prices were revealed in other currencies.
A collector’s edition of the game will also be sold. This includes the game, an art book, a poster, four pins, and some special cases. The suggested retail price is 129.99 USD.
Some additional media, including screenshots and artwork, was shown. New screenshots appeared on store pages. Zelda’s Japanese Twitter account posted art of Link in his updated design, Zelda with short hair and a device that looks similar to the Sheikah Slate, and Bokoblins with a big version. Nintendo of Europe posted some additional art of Link, the decrepit Master Sword. (Other regions, like Nintendo UK, also posted many of these.)
A new Link amiibo will also be sold, also launching May 12. “By tapping this amiibo, you can receive weapons and materials, as well as a special fabric for Link’s paraglider.” Other existing Zelda amiibo have similar effects.
Several Nintendo store pages list the game’s size at 18.2 GB. This is larger than BotW’s 14.4 GB.
Store pages also list the game as single player.
The supported languages will be Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.
On February 10, several Reddit users claimed to receive marketing surveys about TotK. One user posted a French version of the survey and another in English. If these are legitimate, they suggest that Nintendo is trying to decide how to market this game.
Japanese Master Sword ad
On February 16, someone posted a Famitsu magazine ad for TotK, highlighting the game’s decayed Master Sword. Steve Bowling translated and confirmed the authenticity of the ad.
Preorder bonuses and weird gummies
Preorder bonuses were shown across various regions and retailers. Some examples:
- Spanish customers get a coin, a luggage tag, and some stickers
- Gamestop, in the US, offers players a plaque
- Japanese players get a spoon
Relately, promotional Chu Chu candy gummies were sold in Japan.
Art book leak
On February 20, the game’s art book to be sold with the collector’s edition, leaked. Many new areas, items, enemies, characters, and implied mechanics were shown. The book has more than 200 pages, so there’s a lot there. However, there were no obvious spoilers for major game events—for example, it’s not as if there was a spread showing the final boss fight. Plenty of speculation followed but there were few concrete discoveries.
Like the trailers, I think other people have recapped the books better than me.
It’s unknown how many of these things will show up in the final game. It’s also possible that this is an elaborate hoax. (If it is a hoax…good job!)
Small statement from Aonuma
After TotK won “Most Anticipated Game” at some Famitsu awards on March 18, Eiji Aonuma said the following:
“In the previous title Breath of the Wild, you were able to experience a new world of Zelda with the ‘freedom to go wherever and do whatever you want.’ In the sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, the player’s free imagination will be filled with new gameplay that will bring about changes to the game world.
“I think that everyone who voted will feel pleasantly surprised and I hope you can enjoy the unknown Hyrule as you like.”
Nintendo had a presence at PAX East in late March. Though the game did not appear, a life-size statue of Link was shown in front of a large screen showing the key art. This statue looked very similar to the one shown in Tokyo in 2022.
Art trademark application
On March 23, Nintendo applied for a trademark on some art for the game, showing the decrepit Master Sword surrounded by various symbols.
Gameplay and OLED video
On March 28, Nintendo published a video with about 10 minutes of gameplay and an ad for the TotK-branded Switch OLED.
The gameplay showed four new magical abilities:
- Recall lets you reverse time for an object. In this video, Link used it to ride a block up to the sky islands.
- Fuse combines weapons and materials. We saw it in action in various forms, including makeshift weapons, homing arrows, and smoke screens on shields.
- Ultrahand lets you manipulate objects and stick them together. We saw Link build a makeshift speedboat.
- Ascend lets you shoot up at a ceiling and “swim” through the solid surface to the other side.
We also saw some new creatures called Constructs, a look at skydiving, the updated HUD, and more of Hyrule.
Notably, most of these features were of no surprise to eagle-eyed fans. Though the specifics were unknown, past materials had shown many of these elements.
Aonuma also mentioned that the game’s development was complete.
Nintendo published higher-resolution screenshots of many moments in the video. The Japanese Zelda Twitter account also posted some art of a Construct.
As usual, refer to trailer breakdowns for more details.
The rumored TotK-themed Switch OLED was also announced. It will be available for purchase next month, along with a carrying case and Pro Controller.
Just a little over a month until release!
I might not do another one of these before the game comes out. I’ve been doing these since December 2021 and it’s been a lot of fun. I hope you enjoyed reading and that it was helpful!
- SunnyLaurels for help translating the GRAC posting
- carlitox13 for a correction about Latin American Spanish