NOTE: This article was written before the premiere of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s final pre-launch trailer.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is only a few weeks away, and as of right now, we know shockingly little about it. Nintendo is holding cards close to the chest, but it keeps alluding to it having a more significant story than the franchise, especially its immediate predecessor, is known for. Based on everything we have been shown and told so far though, it’s impossible to know what form that might take.
A look at all the officially released information and media for Tears of the Kingdom suggests multiple tantalizing and intriguing plot elements and narrative threads that could develop in some extremely exciting and interesting ways. They just happen to be, as of right now, seemingly completely disconnected to each other, with their being no way that we can tell to reconcile everything we know into one coherent narrative.
How the final game will do that – or if it even will, given the Zelda series and Nintendo’s propensity to de-emphasize the story – remains to be seen, but for now, here are all the various plot threads that Tears of the Kingdom seems to be hinting at, but giving us no further information on.
Let’s start with, well, the beginning- or at least what we think will the beginning. Interestingly, Nintendo may have given us a pretty clear idea of how the game begins in its first two trailers, back when it wasn’t even called Tears of the Kingdom. In the very first trailer, we saw Link and Zelda in an underground location, where they come upon a the mummified remains of what the entire Zelda fanbase is assuming is Ganondorf, the series’ big bad. Things happen, the corpse is seemingly revived, and at the very end, we see Hyrule Castle getting lifted above the surface. Meanwhile, in the second trailer, we see Hyrule Castle floating above the surface again, while the early bits of the trailer also show Zelda and Link underground once again, with Zelda falling into an abyss.
So what’s going on here? Our guess is that this is the game’s prologue, so to speak, which might show Link and Zelda going underground beneath Hyrule Castle to investigate something as part of their ongoing efforts to rebuild Hyrule after the events of Breath of the Wild, and that during this investigation, they end up witnessing the return of Ganondorf.
And let’s face it, unless Nintendo is introducing a new villain in Tears of the Kingdom, it’s very likely that the mummified corpse we’ve seen is indeed Ganondorf. The last we saw of him was in Twilight Princess nearly two decades ago, and series fans have been begging for more of him for some time now. More importantly, given the fact the Ganon was the main threat in Breath of the Wild, it makes sense to keep that narrative thread going in its sequel. In the game’s most recent trailer, we also hear a brief voiceover of the villain commanding his servants to rise and destroy Hyrule “and all of her allies”- which sure sounds like Ganondorf to us.
The Sky Islands are obviously going to be a big part of the experience in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but looking at them from a narrative perspective, there are several questions that are worth asking. For instance, where the hell did they suddenly come from? The most obvious connection that one can draw is to Skyward Sword’s Skyloft, and that does seem to be a popular theory, that the Sky Islands we’re traversing in Tears of the Kingdom are remnants of the ancient sky kingdom that have somehow reappeared.
We think the story is going to go in a different direction though- maybe the Sky Islands actually came from beneath the ground. As we’ve mentioned a couple of times now, the initial trailers for Tears of the Kingdom showed Hyrule Castle being lifted up from the ground- could that be how the Sky Islands are made? But wait- it’s become clear after the game’s recent gameplay showing that the Sky Islands were definitely part of Hyrule once, given that they have entirely new structures and even vegetation that we never saw anywhere in Hyrule in Breath of the Wild.
So maybe they were what existed beneath Hyrule. Going back to the game’s very first trailer, when we saw Zelda and Link underground, they weren’t just in any dingy old cave- they seemed to be exploring what looked like a massive, labyrinthine location, complete with bridges, underground rivers, and ancient, ruined structures, to the extent that it could be an entire city of its own. So maybe the Sky Islands were originally these forgotten underground locations that got lifted up, through the ground, and into the sky, triggered by the awakening of Ganondorf?
This could also tie into the Zonai, an ancient and extinct civilization of barbarians that was referenced in Breath of the Wild here and there but never really came to the forefront in any real way. We’ve also seen much more direct references to them in Tears of the Kingdom’s showing, primarily its recent gameplay demonstration- so maybe the underground kingdom was the domain of the Zonai back when they were at the peak of their powers?
THE MASTER SWORD
Now this is a real mystery. The Master Sword has been a core component of Zelda stories for as long as we can remember, but it seems like Tears of the Kingdom is going to use it in a very different manner. At the end of Breath of the Wild, Zelda mentions to Link that she can no longer hear the voice that resides within the sword – which, of course, is a direct reference to Skyward Sword and Fi – suggesting that the sword’s powers may have left it.
More recent hints dropped by Nintendo suggest, however, that things might be even worse for the sword. Brief tidbits dropped through a Famitsu article and a tweet by Nintendo itself have confirmed that in Tears of the Kingdom, the Master Sword is completely broken down. It looked sort of rusted and chipped in Breath of the Wild, sure, but here, it’s literally a stump, shattered and half, and the decay is much more prominent. Perhaps restoring the Master Sword will be a big part of the story? But then again, how the hell did it even get to this point? And why could Zelda no longer hear Fi at the end of Breath of the Wild?
The Legend of Zelda as a franchise has often made time travel a significant part of its stories, and there seem to be plenty of hints pointing towards that being the case with Tears of the Kingdom as well. The biggest of those, interestingly enough, is Link’s appearance. Throughout the game’s showings up to this point, Link’s hair in particular has caught the eye of many because of how it keeps changing its look. Sometimes, he’s wearing a bun, sometimes it’s longer and untied, and sometimes it’s incredibly long and has a shaggy look to it. That seems to suggest immense passage of time- maybe even to the extent of a pretty significant time skip at some point in the game.
It’s also worth pointing out that Tears of the Kingdom’s logo is very reminiscent of an ouroboros pattern, which generally tends to go hand in hand with suggestions of the cyclical nature of things. Combine that with the Zelda series’ own love for cycles and how convoluted its timeline has become over the years, and we might possibly looking at a game that ends up making it even more convoluted thanks to some more time travel shenanigans.
SO WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?
Well, it’s hard to say. As we said at the beginning of this feature, Nintendo has been almost too cryptic about what it has chosen to reveal for Tears of the Kingdom so far, especially when it comes to its story and even its basic narrative setup. From the game’s basic premise to Link’s main goal to even who the villain will be, there is nothing that we can say with absolute certainty about the game right now. And there are still so many questions that we haven’t touched on yet. For instance, what is up with Link’s arm? And what is the significance of the murals we saw in the game’s first two trailers?
The good news is that Tears of the Kingdom is not long away now, and soon enough, our questions will be answered. It seems like the game is going to be much more story-focused than its immediate predecessor was- but you can never really tell with Zelda, or even with Nintendo in general.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.
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