Nintendo has released the final pre-launch trailer for the megaton blockbuster Switch exclusive The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Tears is the follow-up to Breath of the Wild, one of the most critically-acclaimed video games ever made. As such, it has some pretty huge shoes to fill. And from what we’ve seen in the trailers, Nintendo was up to the task.
Some fans had started to grumble about the game’s lack of marketing. Others had compared it to a glorified downloadable expansion, not a full-retail title worthy of its hefty $70 price tag. This trailer put those fears to rest with flying colors.
The latest trailer showcases everything from brand-new characters to new looks for some of our returning favorites. Oh, and Ganon’s back. And he’s looking absolutely terrifying. So, the trailer showed off many new details–but how many juicy secrets did you miss? Here are a few observations to help you get caught up with the whirlwind of reveals in this short teaser.
One of the coolest blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments in the trailer is the return of a longtime Zelda enemy, Gleeok. The three-headed dragon made his first appearance in the original Legend of Zelda as the fourth boss. There, he guarded the “Snake” dungeon and reappeared as a mini-boss in dungeon six, “The Dragon.” He also, strangely, serves as the main boss for dungeon eight, “The Lion.”
Each time Link faced the creature in the first adventure, Gleeok grew more heads. He started with two in “The Snake” and eventually sprouted a third and fourth. The hydra-like monster went on to appear in two other Zelda games: Oracle of Seasons and Spirit Tracks. While he was a welcome site for longtime players, he was much weaker in these outings, boasting only two heads in each battle.
He’ll be back in Tears of the Kingdom with his iconic design intact. The creature looks like it’ll be a recurring enemy, a type of “overworld boss” that players can encounter throughout Hyrule. One variant of the boss, “Flame Gleeok,” appears briefly in the trailer. It’ll be interesting to see how Tears of the Kingdom introduces other classic monsters from previous Zelda entries.
Link’s allies were a critical plot element in Breath of the Wild. Flashbacks introduced players to the “Champions,” a group of four knights who fought alongside Link in the ancient past. Other characters, like Prince Sidon, briefly join Link as he battles some bosses in Breath of the Wild. However, outside of a few scripted events, the player is mostly on their own throughout the journey.
This situation might change in Tears of the Kingdom. In one clip, we see Prince Sidon fighting alongside Link against what appears to be a standard enemy. This section resembles a clip from the action game Hyrule Warriors, which sees groups of playable characters battling vast hordes of enemies. In another, Link can be seen pulling a wagon full of humanoid NPCs.
Is it possible that Tears might include a new companion system? RPGs often allow the player to bring their allies along to make challenges easier to overcome. Maybe Link will have a handful of new options for recruiting friends like Prince Sidon to accompany him for portions of the adventure.
The trailer opens with a distant shot of two enemies battling on a sky island. This scene could suggest that enemies can get into brawls in the overworld even when Link isn’t involved. The closest comparison to this in Breath of the Wild was throwing the chicken-like cuckoos at enemies to encourage them to swarm the unsuspecting monsters.
If enemies can get into turf wars with each other, players will have even more tools to spread chaos and solve problems. Maybe Link can trick two enemy factions into thinking the other is responsible for some mayhem, thus luring them into a fight. Then the player can swoop in once the dust settles, clean up the stragglers, and claim all the spoils for themself.
Breath of the Wild is widely considered a masterpiece partly because of its open-ended design. Players can experiment with their environment, solve puzzles with out-of-the-box solutions, and trick enemies into ambushes. This freedom makes for a free-wheeling, creative experience that ensures each player has a unique experience when playing the game. It looks like Tears of the Kingdom will double down on that open-ended exploration by giving players even more tools to impact Hyrule.
Everyone’s favorite princess is sporting a new look. Some fans have pointed out that it’s probably an old look. Zelda’s outfit in the trailer looks like clothing from the ancient era of Hyrule. Could this be a hint that the game takes place in the ancient past? After all, the series director, Eiji Aonuma, noted that Hyrule would look very different this time around but wouldn’t say why this is the case.
Zelda could also be a playable character this time around. Some eagle-eyed fans pointed out that she seems to be carrying the Sheikah Slate in the trailer. That’s the tablet-like device Link used in Breath of the Wild to access the “runes,” the superpowers that helped him solve puzzles in his last adventure. Maybe players can use the first game’s rune again in sections involving Zelda.
The princess also briefly carries the Master Sword in the trailer. Link claimed the legendary weapon from the Kokiri Woods during the events of Breath of the Wild. As such, it’s strange that he’s not still carrying it. This situation underscores the core mystery of Tears of the Kingdom: why is Link back to square one in a changed version of Hyrule? Again, time travel seems to be the prevailing fan theory.
We see a handful of brand-new characters in the trailer, too. One looks like a princess–she wears similar regal garb to Zelda and has ornate jewelry. She pops up in an area surrounded by floating debris and wears a freaky mask. She might be an evil-aligned member of Ganon’s new empire. Or, this could be a red herring in the trailer, and she could turn out to be a new friend for Link and Zelda.
In another moment, a new character addresses Zelda. He notes that the people of Hyrule rely on “her knight” and “that legendary sword he carries.” Tears of the Kingdom seems to emphasize Link’s role as the protector of Hyrule’s populace. It will be exciting to see how these new characters interact with Link and Zelda and what new storylines they’ll bring to the table.
Players are also eager to see how Hyrule has fared in the aftermath of Calamity Ganon’s defeat. One gripe players had regarding Breath of the Wild is that it didn’t allow players to explore Hyrule after beating the final boss, instead just dumping Link back into an instance moments before he dives into Ganon’s lair.
The new entry might have dungeons again. Dungeons are a critical element of Zelda that fans sorely missed in Breath of the Wild. The Divine Beast sections served as pseudo-dungeons but had a very open design that somewhat bucked the tradition of linear, puzzle-based levels for which the series became famous.
The trailer shows Link in several structures that could be more accurately called dungeons. Unlike the shrines or Divine Beasts, these areas have unique assets and gameplay hooks that seem to make them more bespoke experiences.
Many fans were disappointed with the lack of linear challenges in Breath of the Wild. Maybe Tears of the Kingdom can address their complaints without diluting the open-ended exploration that made Breath such a revelation upon release.
Fans of anime and Dungeons and Dragons might have noticed an iconic voice coming from the new Demon King. That’s right: Matt Mercer is voicing Ganon this time around. The beloved voice actor is well-known for his roles in anime and as the host of actual-play D&D show Critical Role. His gravelly baritone makes this new iteration of Ganon all the more imposing when he preaches about his “new empire.”
Demon King Ganon is a more classic take on the character than the “Calamity” variant seen in Breath. Calamity Ganon was less of a character and more of a force of nature. The Demon King has design elements that mirror those seen in the character’s Twilight Princess and Ocarina of Time outfits. In fact, he also looks like he’s from the ancient past–just like Zelda does in the trailer. This design means there’s ample evidence that Tears of the Kingdom could include time travel as a significant plot point.
If so, fans might get to interact with the Champions again or even return Link to his original time period so he can see his friends and family again. One thing is sure, though: Tears of the Kingdom will be one of the biggest games of the year and could be another all-time classic.