The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom: What to Know Before Playing – CNET

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 right around the corner: It’s available May 12. Not only is it the sequel to what’s considered one of the greatest games of all time, but it’s one of the few times two brand-new Zelda games have arrived in the lifespan of a single Nintendo console. It’ll be the Nintendo Switch’s most important, must-have game since Animal Crossing.

You may want to avoid spoilers about the new game, but not all that much 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 is embedded below — and a 10-minute gameplay video to comb through. Also, most Zelda games can be enjoyed without playing previous adventures, although Tears of the Kingdom looks so much like a companion to Breath of the Wild that you might want to play that (again) now to get warmed up.

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How much does it cost?

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom costs $70 for the standard game in physical or digital formats, which is $10 more than any other standard first-party Nintendo Switch game. That’s expensive, but considering the tremendous play value of Breath of the Wild, it’s understandable. This could be a game you spend hundreds of hours in.

There’s a step-up collector’s edition, too, which includes a steel case, art book, poster and pin set, if you can find one available. Preorders at most places have sold out.

One discount suggestion: Switch Online members can get prepurchased game vouchers for the eShop that cost $100 for two games. These vouchers work with Tears of the Kingdom orders, which would equal a discount of $20 towards the digital version, as long as you were going to buy another full-price game as well.

What’s Tears of the Kingdom about?

Nintendo’s already shown a fair amount of what the game seems to be about via a handful of trailer and gameplay videos. Much like Breath of the Wild, the game seems to span a tremendous open world. But, this time, the skies are filled with floating islands and destinations too. It’s a throwback to the flight-focused Zelda: Skyward Sword (an older Wii game also available on the Switch). 

The latest trailer shows off even more glimpses of the seemingly vast world, and it looks like many of Hyrule’s citizens will be joining forces to try to defeat Ganon. Zelda will be there, but it’s unclear to what extent. Here’s that gameplay video I mentioned, with series producer Eiji Aonuma.

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Crafting is an even bigger part of Tears of the Kingdom. Besides food and elixirs, new skills allow fusing weapons and objects together, and also building vehicles and other machines. Several trailers have shown off rockets, wagons, cars, boats and more.

Look, I could try to break down everything even more, but really, you can watch these videos and try to figure out clues for yourself, too. What I’m getting from what I’ve seen so far is that is much larger sense of space, a lot more surprise contraptions and devices, and hopefully more dungeons (but maybe that’s wishful thinking).

Do you want my advice? Go into Tears of the Kingdom fresh and open-minded. Try not to think too much about previous games. Enjoy the ride. That’s 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 don’t need to play previous Zelda games, usually, to appreciate new Zelda games. In fact, the sort of dreamy history-repeating nature of Zelda games, where Link never seems to entirely know of his previous adventures, means coming in cold may work in your favor.

Still, the mechanics and gameplay of Tears of the Kingdom do look incredibly similar to 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 appreciate how new games intersect. 

Will there be a demo?

We don’t know yet, but hopefully yes. As we get closer to release, we’ll find out.

Is it OK for kids?

Zelda games are not terribly violent, but Breath of the Wild was a very in-depth and sometimes very challenging open-world RPG. Lots of kids play Zelda games, but if you’re looking for a great pick for younger kids, Link’s Awakening is an easier start. That being said, Tears of the Kingdom will be what nearly everyone with a Switch will be diving into this summer. This is a one-player game, and if game saves are like Breath of the Wild, it may only support one active game at a time.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Edition Switch

Yes, there’s a Tears of the Kingdom Switch.


Will the Switch run the game well, or is this a moment for a Switch 2?

The Switch is already six years into its lifespan, and Nintendo has often timed new consoles to debut with new Zelda games. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, barring some sort of jaw-dropping last-minute surprise. While Nintendo’s graphics capabilities now feel like they lag significantly behind what the PS5 and Xbox Series X can do, Nintendo has still been clever about optimizing games to make the most of the aging hardware. Some Pokemon games haven’t looked so good, but all the Tears of the Kingdom footage shown so far looks at least as smooth and detailed as Breath of the Wild… but Breath of the Wild came out in 2017.

One interesting future possibility: Maybe Nintendo makes future Tears of the Kingdom DLC that could support a more graphics-boosted next-gen Switch in years to come? That’s total speculation, but not impossible to imagine. 

You don’t need to worry about which Switch to play Tears of the Kingdom on. Switches all run the same type of graphics, although the OLED-screened Switch has the biggest, most vivid-colored portable display. Nintendo has a limited edition Zelda-themed OLED Switch for sale available April 28, if you can actually find it.

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