Promotional image for The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom

Zelda Herself Will Be Playable in the New ‘Legend of Zelda’ Game Coming This Year!

On the eve of the June 2024 Nintendo Direct, my partner asked me what I wanted to see. “Oh, I don’t know,” I replied. “Tears of the Kingdom just came out a year ago, so we won’t get a new Legend of Zelda game.” It was a safe assumption with sound logic, but I’m glad to be wrong!

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There’s usually about three or four years between new mainline Zelda games. There were six years between Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom (though the pandemic likely helped there). I assumed we would finally hear about the Twilight Princess and/or Wind Waker remasters that Zelda fans have been asking for, if anything. But a new Zelda game? No way. Too soon.

Dear reader, I was so wrong.

Right in the middle of the Nintendo Direct, Nintendo rolled a trailer with Link running into a cave. The art style is the same as the 2019 remake of Link’s Awakening, and we watch Link have a very classic-looking battle with the original classic-looking model of Ganon. Naturally, I assumed it was another remake, maybe the of the very first Zelda game.

But then, Link sinks into a void in the floor. Just before disappearing, he unleashes an arrow that cracks a crystal Zelda is trapped in. Then, Zelda runs out of the cave, and in a landscape shot eerily similar to Breath of the Wild’s, we see a title card: The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom.

Not only are we getting a brand new Zelda game, but it comes out in September—just three months from now. What’s even more, Link’s out of the picture. The protagonist is Zelda!


The saga of playable Zelda

Fans have been vocal about their desire for a playable Zelda in a mainline Legend of Zelda game for years. The calls became especially strong leading up to Tears of the Kingdom, because that particular version of Zelda was incredibly fleshed out, and so resonated with players. The desire was so strong that there’s a mod for Breath of the Wild that simply allows you to play as Zelda instead.

Yes, you can play as Zelda in Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which are both fun games, but they’re not mainline Zelda games. A mainline Zelda game hits different. They’re the centerpiece, the entrée at Nintendo’s grand feast. We’re greedy. We want the entrée.

The question of whether a playable Zelda is on the table had gotten so popular that it had reached series producer Eiji Aonuma himself several times. Here’s what he said on the matter in an interview with Vanity Fair right after the release of Tears of the Kingdom, in May 2023:

We feel like what takes most priority is this idea of gameplay. If it turns out that the particular gameplay we’re trying to bring to fruition would be best served by having Zelda take that role, then it’s possible that that could be a direction we could take. With that said, of course, because we are not sure what the next gameplay experience is going to be, we can’t say what Zelda’s next step is going to be.

Vanity Fair

In retrospect, after the release of the trailer for Echoes of Wisdom, it’s obvious that Aonuma is playing coy here. The conceit of Echoes of Wisdom is that instead of playing as Link and slashing your sword, you play as Zelda, wielding a staff that can create “echoes” of almost any item (or monster) in the game. Aonuma knew what we had in his back pocket. He just wouldn’t tell us about it for over a year.

Delirious joy

In some ways, Echoes of Wisdom is a fascinating gamble—the simple swing of a sword in a Zelda game is arguably one of the most satisfying motions in all of gaming. Zelda has always had a lot of environmental puzzles, and Echoes of Wisdom seems to be leaning even harder into that for the combat itself. Instead of Zelda fighting a monster herself, she can summon the “echo” of a monster to fight on her behalf and sit back as they all duke it out, which seems delightful.

Do I wish that you could just swing a dang sword as Zelda? Yes. Am I currently too deliriously happy to care? Also yes.

That delirious joy exploded across social media, too. The deluge of fan art was immediate. There was so much here: the ultimate wishlist item of a playable Zelda being granted, the fact that the entire gaming world taken so off guard by an announcement they weren’t expecting, the impossible reality of it coming out so soon.

“The Legend of Link,” referring to the swapped places of the series’ heroes, is trending on Twitter/X. The words “screaming and crying” come up a lot when you search this game on socials right now. I, myself, literally did both within the span of the nearly five minute announcement.

Dreams do come true, folks.

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Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.