To inaugurate their new console, the Switch, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The game revitalized and reinvented the entire Legend of Zelda franchise and even the open-world genre. Countless games, including Genshin Impact and Elden Ring, have since channeled the same open-world design energy, but fans didn’t know how Nintendo would follow up their milestone achievement of a game. Would the company continue what Breath of the Wild started or return to the classic Legend of Zelda design for their next Zelda title? More importantly, would Tears of the Kingdom live up to this franchise’s incredibly high standards?
For the most part, Tears of the Kingdom expands on what came before in Breath of the Wild. The game is an open-world adventure that lets players explore Hyrule at their leisure, but this time, players can use new abilities that expand Link’s arsenal and open up new avenues of exploration. Tears of the Kingdom polishes much of what fans loved about Breath of the Wild while also pushing the experience above and beyond the previous game, both figuratively and literally thanks to its floating islands. Even better, it seems that Tears of the Kingdom will tell one of The Legend of Zelda‘s biggest, most impactful, and, hopefully, best stories yet.
So does Tears of the Kingdom live up to its incredible hype? We’ll all get the chance to find out soon, but here is what some of the game’s most notable early reviews have to say.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Reviews
Tom Marks, IGN
“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is an unfathomable follow-up to one of the greatest games ever made, somehow improving upon it in nearly every way – be that with simple quality-of-life improvements, a genuinely exciting story, or wildly creative new building mechanics that make you rethink what is possible. It both revamps old ground and introduces vast new areas so immense it somehow makes me wonder if Breath of the Wild was actually all that big, with an almost alarming number of tasks to complete, mysteries to discover, and delightful distractions to keep you from ever reaching that place you naively thought you were headed. Nintendo has followed up a triumph with a triumph, expanding and evolving a world that already felt full beyond expectation and raising the bar ever higher into the clouds.”
Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, Eurogamer
“Tears of the Kingdom is a direct sequel, for all its changes, and Zelda tends not to go in for those: it used to wipe the slate clean each time, casting the last game’s baggage aside like so much surplus equipment, and setting out for the horizon. I’d like the next Zelda to do that again. But that’s a problem for tomorrow. All told, Tears of the Kingdom is an astonishing, quite literally top-to-bottom sequel, adding complexity and splendor to the Breath of the Wild formula without sacrificing its enchantment.”
Steve Watts, Game Spot
“Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a canvas for your own creativity, a book to write your own stories, a world to create your own legends. It gives you back as much as you put into it, and beckons you to soar, burrow, engineer, solve, adventure, and explore.”
Alana Hagues, Nintendo Life
“It’s impossible to talk about everything that makes The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom so incredible, and making many of those discoveries yourselves is part of the magic. It’s also impossible to overstate just how much there is to do in Hyrule this time around. Much like its predecessor, this is your playground for the next however many years to come, with a little sprinkling of that older Zelda fairy dust mixed into Breath of the Wild’s formula. It’s a glorious, triumphant sequel to one of the best video games of all time; absolute unfiltered bliss to lose yourself in for hundreds of hours. We can’t wait to see what the world will do with the game.”
Kyle Hilliard, Game Informer
“Video game sequels are often iterative on what came before them. It looks a little better, plays a little smoother, retains important mechanics while introducing new ones, and continues the story. Tears of the Kingdom checks most of these boxes, but getting rid of the Runes from the first game and giving players new ones to use in exploring a familiar but undeniably new world is ingenious. Nearly every encounter, whether puzzle, traversal, or combat, must be reconsidered. It makes you think in new ways. I didn’t get the same goosebumps exploring Hyrule as I did in the past, but I did experience new emotions both on a granular level from solving individual puzzles and on a larger scale by going back to one of my favorite video game locations. They say you can never go home again, but I adored returning to Hyrule with all new tools.”
Jordan Middler, VGC
“We’ve already spent 80 hours in this world and want to get back to it as soon as we can. Can you build a rocket that sends you from the starting area straight to the conclusion? Probably. Just how far can you fly across the map on a rocket-propelled glider? What ridiculous weapon combos have we yet to stumble upon? All of those questions are what make Tears of the Kingdom a phenomenal experience, if one that holds the potential to achieve even more once it’s in the hands of the whole world.”
Keza MacDonald, The Guardian
I feel as if I will never finish this game. Every time I think I’ve got a handle on it, it reveals a new expanse. I haven’t even mentioned the depths, the particularly dangerous pitch-black underground world that exists below Hyrule. (Man, I do not like it down there.) I am walking around looking at all the clutter in my house and imagining ways that I could fuse it together. I invite my kids on to the sofa with me to watch Link’s adventures, and we all scream as I’m pursued by a terrifyingly fast gloop-monster made of grasping hands. In an airport recently, surrounded by bored people staring at their phones, I was so absorbed in a labyrinth I’d found at the edge of the map that I nearly missed my boarding call.
Chris Carter, Destructoid
“I loved nearly every minute of Tears of the Kingdom. From zooming up into the sky to spelunking in the depths, there’s way more to explore here, and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface outside of the main story and some key sidequests. But the real kicker that helps separate Tears from Breath of the Wild is its big swing power set. I felt like I was in control at all times, and had the ability to create my own path. For a series known for sequence-breaking that’s not just a perk; it’s a strong argument for why Tears of the Kingdom will be talked about for years on end, and may even top some favorite Zelda lists.”
Alex Donaldson, RPG Site
The mad lads actually did it. Tears of the Kingdom is actually better than its predecessor – something that seemed inexplicable to me even as I played it until, about six hours in, the weight of its quality became insurmountable. It’s one of the best games in years – and a masterclass in how to build a smart sequel.
Rob Leane, Radio Times
“This is a game that puts player freedom above all else, and does a really great job of creating fun experiences in a world that you can approach from any direction, with any method that you please. Everything from the puzzles and combat to the the collectables and characters will keep you engaged for hours on end. Here’s hoping Nintendo’s next console has better battery life, so we never need to stop playing on the go!”
Ollie Barder, Forbes
Overall, Tears of the Kingdom is a genuine improvement and evolution over Breath of the Wild. While I still think the Link’s Awakening remake has been the best Zelda game on the Switch thus far, Tears of the Kingdom comes very close to that. The story is also a lot more poignant than many of the other games in the series and consequently Tears of the Kingdom feels a lot more considered. So get ready to go back to Hyrule, because it’s all very new again and entirely massive with it.
Ash Parrish, The Verge
“When the first gameplay showcase for Tears was released, I wrote that the game, because of its sheer depth, was going to ruin lives. I still feel confident in that assessment, so clear your social calendars. But if you’re like me and were hoping for this game to, like Breath of the Wild, inspire a sorely needed feeling of wonder in our increasingly grim world, then the kingdom won’t be the only one shedding tears.”
Stephen Totilo, Axios
“Tears’ scale, complexity and references to its predecessor may be intimidating to some players, but it stands apart as a stunning adventure full of surprises. Some of those are placed by the developers but many will be concocted by the players themselves as they push the game’s elaborate new toolset to the limit.”
Mike Mahardy, Polygon
“With The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo has receded even further into the background. Director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, producer Eiji Aonuma, and their team have crafted a layered world in which self-driven experimentation is paramount in traversal, combat, and discovery. If we interacted with Breath of the Wild on a micro level (scaling cliff sides, setting fire to the brush outside an enemy camp, collecting arrows that were embedded in our shield, to name a few examples), Tears of the Kingdom goes even deeper; after nearly 70 hours, I feel as if I can control its very molecules.”
Joel Franey, Games Radar
“You make the vehicles you want, fight with the weapons you choose, and explore whatever section of the world appeals to you. Sometimes your tinkering is a success, and sometimes you fail spectacularly, but it never stops being fun. Tears of the Kingdom sets a standard for immersive gameplay that most major games don’t even try to achieve, let alone match. So yes, though almost intimidatingly big at times, Tears of the Kingdom manages to keep focus and provide a rich, robust experience that builds on what came before. I’ve basically done nothing but play the game for two weeks, and even now I have no intention of stopping any time soon. What better recommendation could a person give?”
At the time of publication, Tears of the Kingdom currently has a 97 Metacritic score.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is out on May 12 for the Nintendo Switch.