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The Legend of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom Is All About Hyrule’s Tragic Past

Breath of the Wild 2 finally has a name! The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is coming to Nintendo Switch on May 5, 2023. It has a date, a new trailer, and so much fresh information for us to delve into. The new footage barely surpasses 90 seconds in overall length, but as expected there is a mountain of potential lore to theorize about and several new gameplay mechanics that will no doubt fold into moment-to-moment action.

Link is capable of hopping aboard floating rocks to take to the skies, which itself is populated with floating islands to discover and puzzles to solve. When he reaches a certain point in the air it appears a new bird-like vehicle can be summoned in order to land safely, creating a natural connection between the Hyrule we know and love from the first game, and a new kingdom floating above which will likely play a major role in the narrative set to unfold.

I’ll delve further into gameplay ramifications in another article, but for now I want to analyse all the little storytelling crumbs left behind by the newest trailer. Casual players might not glimpse much at all from it, but look a little closer and some dots will start to connect. Ever since the reveal we’ve seen this ethereal green energy emanating from all manner of different objects. Ganon’s corpse beneath Hyrule Castle and the world itself also seem ripe with the stuff, as if it is not just a source of magic, but the lingering presence of a world that has ceased to exist for centuries. Literal tears of the kingdom finally letting themselves fall now that the world is saved and civilization has finally begun to repair itself.

Our new trailer opens with what appears to be an ancient tapestry depicting an unknown goddess surrounded by seven individual symbols – I imagine these will represent bosses or dungeons – as two opposing armies do battle alongside her. Ganon, or possibly another character, is being held aloft as if they are preparing to sacrifice his life, while a previous incarnation of Princess Zelda can be seen exuding her power to either aid the ongoing ritual or put a stop to it. The camera cuts off before we can see the entire picture, likely deliberate, so we are kept in the dark just enough not to figure things out. Ganon’s sacrifice does align with his decomposition beneath Hyrule Castle, and how his discovery puts in motion yet another sequence of apocalypse happenings for Link and Zelda to contend with. Perhaps the Hylians put him there in the first place, hoping he would never be discovered.

The mural displays a blight taking over the landscape as an almighty goddess ascends to the skies, or is simply residing in the airborne civilization she calls home. This event took place so long ago that to our heroes it is nothing but a fable, a forgotten relic of history their ancestors sealed away and never thought to bring up. As the title suggests, it’s very much a legend, and Tears of the Kingdom could delve into a past we have never seen before. The series has always explored legacy, or past iterations of kingdoms who either failed to uphold themselves or fell to ruin as a consequence of sudden tragedy or overwhelming hubris.

I believe this new world in the sky is what Hyrule used to be, or a neighbouring kingdom that was sealed away after the Hylians discovered exactly what their people are capable of. Such a conclusion would explain so much, including how Link becomes infected with an unknown power and how there appears to be two incarnations of the character found throughout the trailers. At first, I thought the one with shaggy hair and a green tunic was confined to the sky, but that has now been disproved. It is a new costume, an alternate power set, or maybe even a new version of our favourite twink brought forth from a long dead civilization. It will no doubt fold into a melancholic prophecy the plot will delve into. I have so many questions.

Link also enters a door in the trailer bearing the exact same insignia from the game’s logo, leading me to believe that the ‘Tears of the Kingdom’ doesn’t refer to Hyrule, but instead this new place amidst the clouds that is slowly piecing itself back together in the wake of this new discovery. We will need to uncover the dark history behind its existence, and possibly even realise that Hyrule was responsible for its downfall in the first place.

I and other fans have long speculated that Ganon will not be the villain this time, but instead a sympathetic figure whose presence as a Calamity will be brought into a far more understandable context. Once again, it would explain so much, and immediately cement the validity of this sequel and Nintendo’s decision to build so succinctly on what came before.

I’d be here forever delving into all the details, but to me, it’s already clear that Tears of the Kingdom is eager to subvert our expectations for the series. Breath of the Wild reinvented what it means to be an open world game, so it only makes sense for its successor to take that perception even further with a more nuanced story, deeper characters, and an evolution of its world that brings everything we believe into question. Bring on another masterpiece.

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