The wait for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been agonizing, but we’re slowly approaching its release. Nintendo hasn’t revealed much about the upcoming game, leaving fans to speculate about its features, story elements, and mechanics. Even so, there have been plenty of rumors and leaks to drum up excitement for the forthcoming sequel. With that in mind, these are eight Tears of the Kingdom leaks, rumors, and theories we hope are true in Nintendo’s upcoming epic.
8. A Zelda-themed Switch OLED
A leak points to the existence of a Tears of the Kingdom-themed Switch OLED system, which would certainly make sense, given Nintendo’s history with special edition systems. The images, as posted by Nintendeal on Twitter, look convincing, and even feature iconography from the newly announced Collector’s Edition. The pin case from the Collector’s Edition features the same art as the supposed Joy-Con included in the rumored Switch OLED system.
This has further fueled the discussion about the Switch OLED’s existence, as the leaked images were shared well before Nintendo showed off the Collector’s Edition with the matching art. If this system is coming, Nintendo will likely announce it during the big Tears of the Kingdom blowout ahead of its release.
7. Playable Zelda?
The damsel in distress trope is a tired one. To make up for years of this cliché, Nintendo should make Zelda playable in Tears of the Kingdom. We’ve had Link as the sole protagonist for far too long, but Tears of the Kingdom could mix things up by adding Zelda as a second playable character — not necessarily replacing Link, but serving as another playable hero. Ideally, she’d function much differently from Link, with both complimenting one another in a satisfying way.
This – if executed the right way – could add a smart layer to the game’s puzzles and dungeons, perhaps offering multiple ways to complete objectives. Since this game is a follow-up to Breath of the Wild, expectations are no doubt through the roof, so having Zelda as a playable character could be enough to separate it from its predecessor.
6. The Return of Traditional Dungeons
While Breath of the Wild is easily one of the most beloved games of all time, it’s sometimes criticized for its lack of traditional dungeons, which were a series staple for over 35 years. Instead, Breath of the Wild featured Shrines, which functioned similarly to traditional dungeons, but on a much smaller scale. It also included Divine Beasts, which felt dungeon-like, too, but it’s clear many players considered them wildly different.
As shown in the September 2022 trailer for Tears of the Kingdom, art depicting seven orbs seems to allude to the inclusion of seven dungeons. It’s assumed that each dungeon will reward you with an orb upon completion, which could be the driving force behind the game’s plot. It’s unconfirmed if this will, in fact, be a feature, but it would certainly make sense.
5. Time Travel
The Zelda series is no stranger to time travel, and that feature may very well come to Tears of the Kingdom. According to Italian Tears of the Kingdom actor Pietro Ubaldi – who voices Daruk – the game will highlight an ancestor of Daruk. This ancestor, whose name hasn’t been revealed, will apparently interact with Link, implying that you’ll have to travel back in time to meet them. Of course, this hasn’t been confirmed, but since time travel is such a major Zelda staple at this point, it would certainly be a welcome, yet familiar addition.
If time travel is, indeed, featured, it’s unclear if it will only happen during specific scripted segments, or if you’ll be able to turn back (or forwards) the clocks on the fly. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how this beloved feature will work if Nintendo does implement it. Time travel would also help differentiate Tears of the Kingdom from its predecessor.
4. Zant as Antagonist
What good is a Zelda game without a notable villain? Ganon was the main antagonist in Breath of the Wild, but Tears of the Kingdom might bring back the villain from Twilight Princess known as Zant. Before it was called Tears of the Kingdom, the game’s initial reveal trailer during E3 2019 featured mysterious music, that when played backward, sounds similar to the audio during a particular encounter with Zant in Twilight Princess.
It was also theorized that the initial Tears of the Kingdom trailer features a corpse that is posed a lot like Zant (instead of Ganon) — and a hand that could be Zant’s, as well. Of course, it’s not quite clear who the main villain of Tears of the Kingdom will be, but we hope to get some callbacks to older games like Twilight Princess.
3. Link to Twilight Princess
Speaking of Twilight Princess, there are a few theories that tie that game to Tears of the Kingdom. One theory is that the aforementioned Zant has come back to Hyrule from the Twilight Realm and is seeking to destroy the land. But at the end of the trailer from February 2023, Zelda can be heard saying “Please, lend him your power,” presumably asking for someone to help Link.
It’s possible Zelda is seeking help from a Twilight Realm inhabitant: None other than Midna, your trusty sidekick from Twilight Princess. Having a sidekick wouldn’t be unusual, as many recent Zelda games have utilized this feature. Given Tears of the Kingdom’s spooky vibe, it would make sense to harken back to one of the most beloved games in the series by reintroducing Midna.
2. New and Upgraded Abilities
Champion abilities like Revali's Gale, Daruk's Protection, Mipha's Grace, and Urbosa's Fury will likely return in Tears of the Kingdom, but we’d like to see enhanced versions of them, as well as brand-new abilities. Tears of the Kingdom will supposedly feature a modified version of Revali's Gale, which, in Breath of the Wild, would allow you to trigger a gust of wind, launching you into the air. The new game will apparently let you propel through solid objects when using Revali’s Gale, according to YouTuber Mike Odyssey.
To differentiate from its predecessor, it’s likely Tears of the Kingdom will include entirely new Champion abilities as well, especially since this game has an emphasis on verticality.
1. The End of Link?
Ending on a sadder note, it’s possible Link could perish in Tears of the Kingdom. While it’s unlikely, this would be such a bold move, something Nintendo isn’t typically known for. It’s clear that, while Link is a fine character, he doesn’t have much of a personality, and has had very little character development over the years. Tears of the Kingdom could implement a Metal Gear Solid 2 switcharoo, pulling out the rug from under us, and allowing us to play as another character entirely.
This almost certainly won’t happen, but it’s an interesting thought. What’s more likely is that Link might be dispatched in some way at the end of the game, blowing the doors open for a potential sequel, without being restricted to any previous timeline or story. This would no doubt ruffle some feathers, but considering Link has been the protagonist of Zelda games for nearly 40 years, it’s high time someone else steps into the role.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023.