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Monday, May 27, 2024

This Is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Trailer We Were Waiting For

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There’s been an undercurrent these past years when it comes to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Not that any Zelda fan would skip out on a sequel to one of the best, or at the very least biggest, Zelda games of all time. But there was a sense that after each new Tears of the Kingdom reveal everyone was looking at each other asking, “And?”

Today, Nintendo delivered the “And” and much more with a nearly four-minute trailer full of breathtaking details. But more importantly, potential. Each of the previous trailers revealed a small snippet of Tears of the Kingdom — focusing on specific elements like the darker tone, or the sky — but never synergizing them in a way that made players feel like they were actually seeing something new. In the end, each new trailer was a reminder that we were simply heading back to the world of Breath of the Wild with a few adjustments. The popular criticism was to call the sequel “DLC.”

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The first few Tears of the Kingdom reveals have relied heavily on a sense of mystery. Why is Link dressed the way he is? What happened to his arm? Where’s Zelda? Is that shriveled corpse Ganon? Nintendo seemed intent on focusing on the sequel’s dark atmosphere to attract the interest of players, but a dark Zelda sequel is nothing new thanks to follow-ups like Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess, and even The Adventure of Link.

When Tears of the Kingdom was simply called “Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” Nintendo released a teaser at E3 2021 that also briefly glossed over some new mechanics, like the ability we would later come to know as “Ascend” where Link can shoot straight up and pass through ceilings. But for the most part, the teaser still showed us more of what we knew from Breath of the Wild. The Great Plains, Bokoblins, and the reveal that Nintendo will be utilizing the sky for Tears of the Kingdom, similar to The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword.

Meanwhile, the first major gameplay reveal went in a different direction, focusing on what appears to be the sequel’s core mechanics, a crafting system capable of building large vehicles like hovercrafts or ridiculous weapons like boulder spears — or in the latest trailer, a shield-sword. While the first couple of teasers shared details about the sky and underground caverns above and below Hyrule, the gameplay reveal focused exclusively on the crafting mechanics that canonize the many homebrewed vehicles and tools players created using the existing abilities in Breath of the Wild.

With each new trailer and reveal the main question remained: Why should we revisit Breath of the Wild?


The main takeaway from this years-long campaign was that this was going to be a darker sequel, with a focus on creativity. These aren’t uninteresting, certainly, but whichever way you looked there was a prevailing sense that it was more of the same, which is never really a good thing for a sequel. Funny enough, the reason why most sequels are often disappointing is that creators often take a “give fans more of what they loved about the first one” approach which ironically leads to tiresome bloat. But Tears of the Kingdom’s trailers, up until this point, did something else and gave fans just a bit more on top of what they loved about the first one.which isn’t all that exciting either. Is this too demanding of fans? Possibly, but I only have so much time to devote to games these days and I’ve already played Breath of the Wild.

Watching the older trailers I was reminded of the reported reason why Nintendo created Super Mario Galaxy 2, which was that there were too many ideas left on the cutting-room floor from the first Super Mario Galaxy and so Nintendo compiled these unused ideas into a sequel. This seemed to be the case for Tears of the Kingdom as well, only this time Nintendo saw what the community was creating with Breath of the Wild and decided to create a sequel with a gameplay focus centered on their ideas.

This isn’t to discredit the developers at Nintendo. The company famously only goes forward with games they truly believe in and it’s not as if Zelda fans weren’t already lining up to play Tears of the Kingdom. The assumption would be that Nintendo was being extra secretive about the sequel, and once the game is finally in the hands of players, all kinds of secrets will be revealed. Faith in Nintendo and the Zelda brand is not unearned, but relying on blind devotion does not make for good marketing materials.

With each new trailer and reveal the main question remained: Why should we revisit Breath of the Wild? Especially for players who never really got into crafting wild contraptions? And what about the players who actually missed the more linear Zelda games with proper dungeons? What reason was there for the lapsed fans to look at Tears of the Kingdom with excitement? An entirely new Zelda concept, at least, is a chance for fans, new and old, to buy into a different vision for the series, which changes from iteration to iteration. But a direct sequel has the burden of trying to appeal to fans who didn’t completely vibe with the first game.

With less than a month left until Tears of the Kingdom, it’s been hard to find a concrete reason why fans were excited for Tears of the Kingdom other than it’s a new Zelda game, and that it was a sequel to the last one, which was really good! But with this trailer, there are finally things to point at directly and name. I’m excited to try creating my own mech using a large cinderblock and some wheels, and I’m deeply curious about the armada of sky ships partway through the trailer. Do I see hints of actual dungeons returning, and how bad will it be if Link misses one of those platforms thousands of feet up in the air?

This is a trailer that gets the heart racing and the mind spinning.


On the story side of things, the new trailer also brings into focus the scale of this sequel. Already we’re seeing moments that could be from two distinct timelines, opening the possibility of an adventure that spans across an expansive timeline, not just an expansive world. The time-crossing possibility would call back to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and not just its darker sequel. And with the new trailer revealing Sidonis and the descendants of the Four Champions, it’s a reminder that Breath of the Wild was more than just cool crafting and skydiving. These were characters we loved and missed, and seeing them again instead of just a feral Link or emaciated Ganon, had an immediate impact on what made this newest trailer so successful. In four minutes Nintendo showed fans something concrete, real, and new.

The new Tears of the Kingdom trailer that was released today takes many of the elements from past trailers and gameplay reveals and combines them to say “This is why we’re revisiting Breath of the Wild.” The trailer serves as a statement to players and fans that this isn’t just a retread but a full-blown, new experience. It does double-duty in both making fans eager to revisit Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule and remember again just how much potential that was there to begin with to dive headlong into making a sequel. Along the way, you remember that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is better than the first.

The eye test online already tells me that folks agree on the latest trailer as a reason to be genuinely excited for Tears of the Kingdom. This is a trailer that gets the heart racing and the mind spinning. An “I want to play this right now” kind of trailer that maybe should have come earlier, but I’m glad it came at all. Now, finally, with a month left to go until Tears of the Kingdom, I am hyped.


Matt T.M. Kim is IGN's Senior Features Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.

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