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Link floats to the surface of Hyrule using his paraglider in a screenshot from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Image: Nintendo

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Everything to know about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Link’s next Nintendo Switch adventure takes him to a bigger Hyrule

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild ends with Link and Zelda vowing to restore Hyrule’s majesty — bringing it “even beyond” what it originally was, Zelda says, even though her power is diminished. Though The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been described as a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, Nintendo’s been quite secretive about where and how the story picks up. Nintendo even kept Tears of the Kingdom’s name secret for years, revealing it only in 2022 because the company said its reveal might “give away too much.”

In the time since Nintendo’s Tears of the Kingdom announcement, the company has strategically released new information through a series of trailers. In analyzing those trailers, there is some information we can glean about the game ahead of its release date. As we approach the May release date, Nintendo’s dropping more and more details, including a 10 minutes gameplay demo. Here’s what you should know.

When’s the Tears of the Kingdom release date?

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is coming to Nintendo Switch on May 12. It’ll cost $69.99, the first first-party Nintendo Switch game to carry that higher-than-normal price. A $129.99 collector’s edition will be available on that day, too. It includes a physical copy of Tears of the Kingdom, an art book, SteelBook case, an Iconart steel poster, and four pins.

When Breath of the Wild was released in 2017, it launched on Nintendo Switch as a launch title as well as Wii U. Tears of the Kingdom will only be released on Nintendo Switch.

Where can I pre-order Tears of the Kingdom?

We put together a whole guide on where you can pre-order Tears of the Kingdom, whether you want the base version or the pricier collector’s edition. Check that out for the full details, but here are a few links if you just want to pre-order now. There are several different pre-order bonuses, too, most different across country lines.

Will amiibo work with Tears of the Kingdom?

Yes, although we have a suspicion that Nintendo hasn’t shared all of the details on amiibo Tears of the Kingdom compatibility. We know that scanning certain Zelda amiibo will change the design of your glider, but perhaps there will be other functionality announced closer to the game’s release date.

Nintendo will also release a new amiibo figure of Link as he appears in Tears of the Kingdom, and you can already pre-order it.

What’s the story of Tears of the Kingdom?

When it comes to Zelda games, Nintendo is not very forthcoming about the plot. The same is true of Tears of the Kingdom, which Nintendo describes as an “epic adventure across the land and skies of Hyrule.” Players will “harness the power of Link’s new abilities to fight back against the malevolent forces that threaten the kingdom,” Nintendo says. Much of the story is intentionally vague, and trailers don’t reveal much. If anything, some of what Nintendo has shown feels like misdirection.

Visually (and tonally), Tears of the Kingdom is much darker than Breath of the Wild — at least in parts. Trailers for the game show Link and Zelda in dark dungeons, with malice forcing its way into the world, but also show bright lightness as Link glides between airborne islands. It seems to be a game of balance, and we’ll see how the joy of exploration, so essential in Breath of the Wild, mixes with the brooding storyline.

In a trailer released in February, we see what looks to be Ganon’s corpse, maybe in its Ganondorf form, awakening. Malice spreads, pushing Hyrule Castle into the sky, and even attacking Link — his arm appears to be rotting with malice, all burnt up. The Master Sword is impacted too, corrupted and melted.

Who are those new and returning characters?

On April 13, Nintendo shared a new trailer — the final one before Tears of the Kingdom’s May 12 release date — and revealed a whole bunch of new characters. There are a lot of characters you’ll recognize, too: Lady Riju, Prince Sidon, Ganondorf, and (maybe) Tulin. But the new characters are intriguing. The trailer introduced an elf-like princess who looks like Zelda, including the same jewelry. Then there’s a mysterious robed figure — maybe a Zonai king? — and the potential debut of a new race of creatures.

Is the gameplay the same?

Nintendo hasn’t shown much extended gameplay of combat or puzzles, but we have seen new and expanded ways to travel through Hyrule. Link has a number of new weapons in a series of axes, swords, shields, and bows seen in the trailers so far, used to fight both familiar and new enemies. (Weapons can be fused together now, too!) In Tears of the Kingdom trailers, Link has a powerful, glowing green arm — the one that looks burnt in the February trailer. Nintendo hasn’t shown exactly what his arm does or how it works, but it does appear to have powers that will let players solve puzzles, manipulate the environment (and time itself), and use other special abilities, just like Breath of the Wild’s Sheikah Slate and Runes did. As always, fans have theories.

Polygon reviews editor Mike Mahardy went hands-on with Tears of the Kingdom in late March and toyed around with the limits of game; the opportunities to exploit and challenge its systems seem endless. There wasn’t much, if anything, that Tears of the Kingdom stopped Mahardy from doing over the hour-long play session. The downside to that, it seems, is that there are a lot of systems and controls to learn, some of which take time to get used to. All of Link’s new abilities were readily available during the preview event, which may not the the case in the beginning of the game; it’s likely Link will earn each ability one at a time, as is tradition in games like these, and so players will have a bit of time to get used to each new mechanic.

What are Link’s new abilities?

Nintendo’s March gameplay demo provided an in-depth look at Link’s new abilities — and they could change everything. These abilities impact both combat and traversal: Recall, Fuse, Ultrahand, and Ascend. Recall rewinds object movement, handy for traveling to Hyrule’s sky islands; weapon fusing lets you make new weapons out of objects, like fusing a stick and a rock to make a hammer; Ultrahand, which glues objects together, can be used to make vehicles; and Ascend is a tool allowing Link to move through ceilings.

Is Tears of the Kingdom set in the same Hyrule?

It’s set in Hyrule, but it’s not entirely clear what’s changed, or whether it’ll use the same map and terrain from Breath of the Wild. What we do know is that Tears of the Kingdom expands Hyrule upward into the skies above the land. The first trailer showed Hyrule Castle emerging from the ground, and the second showed towers crumbling as malice — like a poison — forces the castle into the sky.

But before the castle erupts, Nintendo showed Link gliding, both with his parasail and without, through pillows of clouds. Chunks of Hyrule are pulled from the ground as if they were carrots, suspended in air closer toward Hyrule’s earth. There are quite a few views of the changed world, showing the expanse of Hyrule now disjointed into several different levels.

How will Link get around?

Link will still journey through Hyrule by paraglider and horseback like in Breath of the Wild, but it looks like he has a few upgraded rides in Tears of the Kingdom. The third trailer shows Link on a land vehicle that looks like an open-air car, a hovercraft that looks like a huge drone, and a hot air balloon. (Oh, and he’s also seen shredding some gnar on what looks to be his shield, using it like a skateboard.)

Nintendo revealed during its March gameplay demo that these vehicles don’t necessarily exist in Tears of the Kingdom. Using an ability called Ultrahand, Link can actually create vehicles, like that car or hot air balloon. The opportunities for creating vehicles truly look to be endless.

These different methods of transportation suggest that Tears of the Kingdom’s map will be big — perhaps bigger than Breath of the Wild’s map — and the air vehicles are helpful to access the sky islands above Hyrule.

Do weapons degrade and break in Tears of the Kingdom?

Yep, weapons break. Nintendo snuck the detail into its March gameplay demonstration — a stick that Link picked up broke, and pretty quickly at that. It was a brief look, so we don’t know the details. Link can combine weapons using a new fusion ability, which may increase durability. Weapon durability and degradation in Breath of the Wild is contentious. Weapons break a lot — all weapons. Some players like it, calling it a boon to Breath of the Wild’s storytelling that keeps players in touch with the cruel reality of Hyrule. Others think it forces players to try out a whole bunch of weapons, maybe some they’d never pick up on their own. But for others, constant weapon shifting — and breaking in the midst of a battle — is grating, especially when it’s a weapon you’ve worked hard to acquire, leading to pointless weapon hoarding.

The short answer here is yes, weapons will break. But the details? We can’t say just yet.

Do I have to play Breath of the Wild before Tears of the Kingdom?

It certainly wouldn’t hurt, but you should get started now — Breath of the Wild is a huge game! Because we don’t know much about the story, it’s hard to say whether new players will be confused or come into a story in medias res. If you don’t want to play Breath of the Wild, there’s no shortage of YouTube videos outlining the game and its story. But if you want to speed up your journey, check out Polygon’s extensive guides for Breath of the Wild for some help.

What’s Tears of the Kingdom’s file size?

Per Nintendo’s listing for the game, it’ll come in at 16 GB. While there have been several Switch games with far larger install sizes, this is one of the biggest games that Nintendo itself has released for the Switch. In other words, make sure you grab a microSD card for more storage, if you need one.

Update (May 2): The install size for Tears of the Kingdom is no longer 18.2 GB, as its eShop listing originally indicated. This post now reflects that it’s 16 GB in size.

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