Let’s Break Down the New Details in ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of The Kingdom’ Trailer! Also, I’m Screaming.
Linky, you can drive my car.
I figured the February 8 Nintendo Direct would close out with a new trailer for Breath of the Wild sequel The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and I’m delighted to tell you that I was correct. When I recognized Death Mountain in the distance of that landscape shot, my hands went right to my face and my jaw dropped open. I stayed that way for the whole two-plus minutes. The trailer was the longest one we’ve gotten yet, featuring new hints about both lore and gameplay. I will gladly tell you what’s new once my heart stops screaming.
Zelda fans have been awaiting more details about this game hungrily. A direct sequel to Breath of the Wild was announced during E3 2019, but we didn’t even have a name for the game until last fall. Hell, we still don’t know if the titular kingdom is Hyrule or Skyloft or related to the Zonai or what. All I know is that I am beside myself with anticipation. Why isn’t May 12 right now?
There is a lot in this trailer. I would like to break it down in absurd detail, because this is my long-awaited time, goddammit. And so—the biggest thing you’ll immediately notice about the new trailer is that it’s the first to incorporate voiceover. (If you play the game in Japanese like I do, here you go.) The female voice is undoubtedly Zelda. But the male voice is probably …
Ganondorf, is that you??
Back in the first teaser, which announced the game, we saw a humanoid mummified figure beneath Hyrule Castle. Most fans assumed this mummy was the version of Ganondorf sealed beneath Hyrule Castle in Twilight Princess. The voiceover at the beginning of this trailer seems to straighten that argument considerably. A male voiceover ruthlessly tells his “servants” to “sweep over Hyrule” and “leave no survivors,” before we see some of Ganon’s malice shoot out from beneath a Blood Moon. So, yes, I do think that mummy we keep seeing is Ganondorf.
By the way, yes, the Zelda games do run on a continuous timeline—or, rather, they run on a continuous timeline which branches into three timelines in Ocarina of Time. You can watch this handy timeline explainer I wrote several years ago. I reference it all the time myself, because my brain can only carry so much at once.
Another question you may have: What’s the difference between Ganon and Ganondorf? Long story short: Ganondorf is the Gerudo human. Ganon is the monster that human became due to the influence of the Triforce of Power. Dealing with both Ganon and Ganondorf in a continuation of the same game, post-Ocarina, is new territory for the series. In this case, you wonder if the “Ganon” fought at the end of Breath of the Wild was merely a manifestation of the malice of this Ganondorf mummy.
Breath of the Wild hasn’t been placed on the Zelda timeline officially yet, and one popular hypothesis is that it takes place so far in the future that it re-incorporates all three timelines. So that’s wild to think about.
What happens to Zelda?
One of the previous teasers for Tears of the Kingdom shows us a series of ancient carvings. Centrally featured in these carvings is some kind of deity (or monster) that we have yet to meet. Featuring alongside this carving is another, which features a woman who looks a lot like Zelda falling. To me, this fall feels very similar to the fall seen at the end of the new trailer.
This is particularly interesting because, during one of Zelda’s voiceovers, there’s a woman in a white dress on a sky island who extends her hand to Link. We don’t see her face. But it’s probably Zelda, right? I almost wonder: What if Zelda dies during that fall and is resurrected on the sky islands as the incarnation of the goddess that she canonically is? Breath of the Wild’s tutorial came from the ghost of the King, so it could happen!
Also, who is Zelda entreating for help in this trailer’s voiceover? Could it be Fi, the spirit inside the Master Sword who we haven’t seen since Skyward Sword? Could it be the spirit from those carvings? Could it be … THE ZONAI?!
The Zonai, by the way, are the ancient tribe whose ruins are scattered throughout Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule. They seem very important, but we know next to nothing about them. Wondering if something from Tears of the Kingdom harks back to the Zonai has almost become a meme of a theory, because it’s so easy and tempting to make that jump. But also—it’s tempting for a reason.
Vroom, vroom baby!
Okay, first of all: CAR. CAR! YOU CAN DRIVE A CAR?? Hell, it’s possible you can even make a car?? My only complaint about Master Cycle Zero in the Breath of the Wild DLC is that it came too late for me to really take advantage of zooming around Hyrule. So, having Hyrule’s version of Mario Kart early in the game is ridiculously exciting to me. And if you can craft a car? I’m done. All I want is to craft a beautiful car for my beautiful boy and watch the wind blow through his beautiful hair. Such beautiful hair.
But it’s not just the car!! I was so excited about the car that I neglected to realize that we see a freaking hot air balloon right afterwards! And then a hovercraft, which appears to run on the same kind of ancient electricity that you see so often in Breath of the Wild’s shrines. And don’t forget the giant airplane/glider thing we saw in the last trailer. There appears to be a lot of new travel methods in this game. We’re only getting tiny little tastes.
Also, it seems like there might now be some kind of track or rail for shield-surfing. This is critical. This is important. This is good stuff.
A changed landscape
Look at the image above. Have you played Skyward Sword? Tell me these sky islands don’t look suspiciously like Skyloft. Tell me that right to my digital face. I dare you. I think it’s the ruins of Skyloft.
This would be ridiculously significant if I’m right. It would mean that the game which is, according to theory, the last game on the current timeline would be addressing lore from the origin point of Hyrule itself—all while the current Hyrule is falling apart. I sometimes have a disturbing, fleeting thought: “Is Tears of the Kingdom the last Zelda game?” I choose to quickly bat this thought away, every time.
I’d also like to point your attention to what I’m going to call “crop circles” until I get a better word to describe it. You can see them in some of the grassy landscapes, particularly at 1:25. Could it be Zonai-related?!
Throughout the trailer, you can also see the Towers lit up from the bottom, like a Hollywood movie theater on premiere night. Even more intriguingly, you can see various glowing amorphous domes as well. Could these be this game’s version of shrines?
We also see some new enemies. There are flying enemies for the first time! And they’re pretty dang big! And there’s a real big ol’ Boss Bokoblin! It also seems like our frenemies from last time—Lizalfos, Bokoblins, etc.—can get covered in malice now, which probably powers them up, right? And, amazingly, critically, there looks to be some kind of three-headed fire-breathing dragon guarding a bridge around the 30-second mark. What the actual hell? What did I do to deserve this?
And what new tools does Link have at his disposal to deal with these new enemies? Well, we definitely see a homing arrow at work in this new trailer, which is quite exciting, but the biggest new asset is going to be Link’s new arm, which seems imbued with ancient technology. Actually, it very much seems like the abilities accessed through the Sheikah Slate in Breath of the Wild will now be triggered with Link’s new arm. In fact, the Sheikah Slate seems missing from Link’s hip during the little bits of gameplay we’ve seen, and The Legend of Zelda’s official Japanese account pointed attention towards a different ancient tech device that Zelda is using. It almost looks like a Sheikah Smart Phone.
It seems that Link’s arm conundrum happens during gameplay, almost certainly in the confrontation with mummy Ganondorf that provided so much fodder so that first teaser. At the end of the new trailer, you can see Link’s arm already looks ashen by the time he jumps after Zelda. We know that the Master Sword gets corrupted as well—both sword and arm, presumably, by malice.
We’ll learn more and more, in little drips, until The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom officially drops on May 12. If someone wants to put me in the Shrine of Resurrection until then, I’d be fine with that.
(featured image: Nintendo)
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