The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom: What to Know Before Playing
Nintendo hasn’t had a brand new Zelda game since 2017, when breath of the wild debuted alongside the launch of the Nintendo Switch. The newest Zelda game, Tears of the Kingdom, is just around the corner: it’s available May 12. Not only is it the sequel to what is considered one of the greatest games of all time, but it’s one of the few times that two new Zelda games have arrived in the lifetime of a single Nintendo console. This will be the most important and must-have Nintendo Switch game since Animal Crossing.
You might want to avoid spoilers on the new game, but not everything has been revealed. Zelda games tend to have an aura of mystery. That being said, there are already several Tears of the Kingdom trailers – the latest one is embedded below – and a 10-minute gameplay video to peruse. Plus, most Zelda games can be enjoyed without playing the previous adventures, though Tears of the Kingdom feels so much like a companion piece to Breath of the Wild that you might want to play it (again) now to warm up.
How much does it cost?
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom costs $70 for the standard game in physical or digital format, which is $10 more than any other standard first-party Nintendo Switch game. It’s pricey, but considering Breath of the Wild’s huge play value, that’s understandable. It could be a game you spend hundreds of hours in.
There’s also an Enhanced Collector’s Edition, which includes a steel case, art book, poster, and pin set, if you find one available. Pre-orders in most places are sold out.
A discount suggestion: Switch Online members can be pre-purchased eShop game vouchers which cost $100 for two games. These vouchers work with Tears of the Kingdom orders, which would equate to a $20 discount on the digital version, as long as you also go and buy another game at full price.
What is Tears of the Kingdom about?
Nintendo has already shown off a good deal of what the game looks like via a handful of trailers and gameplay videos. Much like Breath of the Wild, the game seems to span a terrific open world. But, this time, the sky is also filled with floating islands and destinations. It’s a return to focused flight Zelda: Sky Sword (an old Wii game also available on Switch).
The latest trailer shows even more glimpses of the seemingly vast world, and it looks like many of Hyrule’s citizens will join forces in an attempt to defeat Ganon. Zelda will be there, but it’s unclear to what extent. Here’s that gameplay video I mentioned, featuring series producer Eiji Aonuma.
Crafting is an even bigger part of Tears of the Kingdom. Along with food and elixirs, there are new skills for fusing weapons and items, as well as building vehicles and other machines. Several trailers showed rockets, wagons, cars, boats and more.
Listen, I could try to break it all down even more, but really, you can watch these videos and try to find some clues for yourself too. What I take away from what I’ve seen so far is a much bigger sense of space, a lot more surprise gear and devices, and hopefully more dungeons (but that’s is perhaps wishful thinking).
Do you want my advice? Enter Tears of the Kingdom fresh and open-minded. Try not to think too much about previous games. Enjoy the ride. This is how I play Zelda games.
Should I play Breath of the Wild first?
Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a fantastic game, so in general, yes, you should play it. You usually don’t need to play previous Zelda games to enjoy new Zelda games. In fact, the kind of dreamy nature that repeats history from the Zelda games, where Link never seems entirely up to speed on his previous adventures, means the cold can work in your favor.
Still, Tears of the Kingdom’s mechanics and gameplay look incredibly like Breath of the Wild at first glance, so familiarity with the previous game might be a good idea. It never hurts to play old Zelda titles and enjoy how the new games intersect.
Will there be a demo?
We don’t know yet, but I hope so. As we get closer to the release, we’ll find out.
Is it good for children?
Zelda games aren’t terribly violent, but Breath of the Wild was a very in-depth and at times very difficult open-world RPG. Lots of kids play Zelda games, but if you’re looking for a great choice for young kids, Link’s Awakening is an easier start. That being said, Tears of the Kingdom will be what almost everyone with a Switch will dive into this summer. This is a single player game, and while game saves are like Breath of the Wild, it can only support one active game at a time.
Will the Switch run the game well, or is it time for a Switch 2?
The Switch has already been six years into its lifespan, and Nintendo has often programmed new consoles to debut new Zelda games. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, barring some kind of jaw-dropping last-minute surprise. While Nintendo’s graphics capabilities now seem to lag considerably behind what the PS5 and Xbox Series X can do, Nintendo has always been smart about optimizing games to get the most out of aging hardware. Some Pokemon games don’t look so good, but all of the Tears of the Kingdom images shown so far look at least as smooth and detailed as Breath of the Wild…but Breath of the Wild was released in 2017.
An interesting future possibility: maybe Nintendo will create future DLC Tears of the Kingdom that could support a more graphical version Next Generation Switch in the years to come? It’s total speculation, but not impossible to imagine.
You don’t have to worry about which Switch to play Tears of the Kingdom on. The switches all run the same type of graphics, although the OLED shielded switch has the largest portable screen with vivid colors. Nintendo has a limited edition Zelda themed OLED switch for sale available April 28, if you can actually find it.
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