The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: Release date, gameplay, trailers and more

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom keyart
(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, formerly known as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2, is almost here. Initially slated for a 2022 release, Nintendo pushed the game back, finally settling on a release date in the first half of 2023 instead. As a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom has an incredible — and perhaps impossible — task ahead of it. How can you improve on what was essentially a perfect game?

While we won’t know the answer to that until the game comes out, we actually do know quite a bit about Tears of the Kingdom. We know when the game will debut; we know how you can secure your copy right now; we know a few key details about the story. And we've even seen several minutes of gameplay. 

Read on to learn about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s release date, pre-order details, gameplay footage, trailers and more.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: Release date

nintendo direct

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Let’s start with an easy one. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s release date will be May 12, 2023. The game will be on the Nintendo Switch, as well as the Nintendo Switch Lite and Nintendo Switch OLED variants.

Over the past few years, the game’s release date has been all over the place. Initially, Nintendo announced that the game would be out in 2022. Then, the company delayed Tears of the Kingdom until Spring 2023. During a Nintendo Direct in September, the company finally confirmed an exact date for the game. All that’s left now is to wait until it launches.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: Pre-orders

nintendo direct

(Image credit: Nintendo)

If you’re looking for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom pre-orders, you won’t have to look too hard. You can already pre-order the game with most of the usual suspects, including Amazon (opens in new tab), Best Buy (opens in new tab) and GameStop (opens in new tab). If you prefer to shop at a different electronics store, just search for Tears of the Kingdom and see if it comes up. If it doesn’t now, it likely will soon.

If you prefer to purchase your games digitally, you can also pre-order Tears of the Kingdom on the Nintendo eShop (opens in new tab). However, considering that digital goods never run out of stock, you may want to wait on reviews before committing your hard-earned money. 

It should also be noted that Tears of the Kingdom represents Nintendo's first foray into more expensive first-party games. The latest mainline Zelda game has been confirmed to sport a $70 price tag. Sony and Microsoft already charge $70 for many PS5 and Xbox Series X games, so the move is hardly unprecedented, but it's the first time that Nintendo has increased the price of a Switch exclusive to match its rivals. 

If you're a very committed Zelda fan, you might want to consider The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Collector’s Edition. This lavish version of the game includes several knickknacks: an art book, a steelbook case, a steel poster and a set of pin badges. Stock is quickly running out though, so if you're interested be sure to lock in your preorder as soon as possible. See our preorder guide for all the details. 

Nintendo is going all out for the release of Tears of the Kingdom, as a Zelda-themed Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and Carrying Case are also releasing alongside the game. Plus, there will be a new Link amiibo figure as well, which will unlock exclusive extras including a new cosmetic skin for the glider tool.  

If all that wasn't enough, a special-edition Nintendo Switch OLED console has just been confirmed. This special model of the console includes a unique set of Joy-Con Controllers, a docking station garnished with golden elements and the back of the Switch unit itself has also been decked out in a Zelda decal. The Nintendo Switch OLED Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Edition will retail for $359, and is available to preorder now.  

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: Trailer

There are a handful The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom trailers, all of which you can find at the official Nintendo of America YouTube site. Be aware that “Tears of the Kingdom” is a relatively recent subtitle, so if you want older trailers, you’ll have to look for “Breath of the Wild 2” or “Breath of the Wild Sequel.”

The most recent trailer debuted in September 2022, and is entitled “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Coming May 12th, 2023 – Nintendo Switch.” It’s a relatively muted affair, with a lot of ancient paintings and atmospheric music, although there’s a pretty good chunk of gameplay right in the middle. We’ve embedded it below, if you want to take a minute-and-a-half to watch it for yourself:

Since the game’s May 12 release date is still more than a month away, we imagine Nintendo will release at least one more substantial trailer between now and then. We’ll post that one, if and when it comes out.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom gameplay

A recent gameplay demonstration (opens in new tab) by series producer Eiji Aonuma has given us our best look yet at The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. You can watch the full presentation above, but there's plenty to unwrap here. 

For starters, we see Link traverse the open world of Hyrule on horseback, before clambering onto a lump of rock that has fallen from the sky. Using an ability called Recall, Link is able to rewind the movement of the rock and ride it up into the clouds like an elevator. 

From here, Link glides onto a floating island that Mr. Aonuma informs via voiceover is called a "Sky Island", and after a brief encounter with a new enemy type, we're introduced to another new feature: Fuse. This power lets Link combine items together to make powerful weapons and tools. The examples shown include fusing a boulder and a stick together to make a hammer-style weapon and attaching an eyeball to an arrow to create a projection that homes in on enemies. 

We also go to see Link's new Ultra Hand in action. This metallic limb can be used to construct vehicles in the game such as a sailboat or a motorized car. In this gameplay video, the ability is used to make a simple boat to cross over a small lake, but it's hinted that the possibilities will be much bigger in the full game. 

The gameplay demo wraps up with Link being blown off the Sky Island by an enemy and skydiving back to the surface. It's a short but very rich presentation that highlights the ways that Tears of the Kingdom is evolving the formal established in Breath of the Wild. 

It's definitely got us itching to play the game for ourselves, although it does appear to confirm one of our worst fears: Tears of the Kingdom really does look limited by the aging Nintendo Switch hardware. 

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: Plot

breath of the wild 2

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Even though we’ve had at least three trailers for the game, we still don’t have a great idea of what The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s plot will be. So far, we’ve seen Link and Zelda exploring an ominous set of ruins, Link traversing islands in the sky, and a malevolent force spreading throughout Hyrule.

All we can say definitively is that Tears of the Kingdom is a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, which is relatively rare in the Zelda canon. Most Zelda games are standalone, linked by mythic themes and recurring legendary items, more so than specific characters and locations. Link and Zelda vowed to set off on a new journey at the end of Breath of the Wild, and it looks like Tears of the Kingdom will start with them doing just that.

For those who didn’t play Breath of the Wild — well, you might want to, considering that it’s an incredible game, and that Tears of the Kingdom will follow it directly. But if you want a refresher: Link awakens after 100 years in suspended animation, to find that Calamity Ganon threatens all of Hyrule, and that Zelda’s power to keep the realm safe is weakening. From there, Link must explore the world, solve 120 devious puzzle Shrines, reawaken the four Divine Beasts, reclaim the Master Sword and find a way to destroy Calamity Ganon once and for all.

The wait between Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom is the longest we’ve ever gone without a new Zelda game, so fans are understandably pretty excited about the next entry in this storied series. We’ll update this page with new information as it becomes available.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi. 

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