BOTW 2: What "Tears of The Kingdom" Means For Its Story

The official name for Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the sequel to Breath of the Wild, has finally been revealed, and it's opened up a number of questions about what it means for the story. "Tears of the Kingdom" sounds rather ominous, and has some worrying implications for Link, Zelda, and indeed all of Hyrule. Along with the official title, the BOTW sequel's release date confirmed via trailer to be May 12 of next year, so it may be some time before players see exactly what TOTK's story holds, but more trailers released in the interim will hopefully help shed some light on it.


Ever since its announcement, most everything about Breath of the Wild's sequel has been shrouded in mystery. Certain details such as a withered mummy buried deep underground, a strange covering or replacement for Link's right arm, and parts of Hyrule floating suspended in the air have been known for some time, while other elements - particularly the details of the story - still haven't been revealed. Until recently, one of the most highly anticipated aspects was the name. Titles like Destiny Abound were theorized for some time, but ultimately proved false.

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Zelda: TOTK's pronunciation was clarified by Nintendo to be tears as in crying, not as in ripping something, according to Eurogamer. The title seems to indicate some kind of great tragedy or disaster, though the exact nature of it is difficult to predict. There are a number of different ways Tears of the Kingdom can be interpreted, however, and the title's relationship with the game's story could be something completely unexpected. It could also be meant completely figuratively, and correlate to some aspect of the world or gameplay instead of the story, the same way that Breath of the Wild's title represents its vast open world.

Is Tears Of The Kingdom Foreshadowing Zelda's Death?

Zelda in the Breath of the Wild 2 trailer

One possibility for Tears of the Kingdom's meaning is that Zelda, the princess of Hyrule, will die. After the events of the first game, Zelda presumably is hard at work rebuilding BOTW's ruin of Hyrule, helping the people who inhabit it as she wished to in the game's final cutscene. As such, it stands to reason that she would be beloved throughout the land. Tears of the Kingdom could refer to Hyrule mourning her after her death. Since Zelda falls into a crevice in the E3 2021 trailer and has not appeared in any footage outside the cave where she and Link find the withered mummy, this is a terrifyingly real possibility.

Zelda's death can affect Tears of the Kingdom differently depending on whether it happens during the beginning or end of the game. If it's at the beginning, when she falls into the crevice, it's possible that she'll return as a spirit and become a companion to Link as she is in Zelda: Spirit Tracks. She could inhabit Link's new arm in BOTW 2, and be the source of some of the new abilities that it's shown to grant him such as returning objects to a previous position and phasing through solid stone. Part of the main quest may even involve reviving Zelda via the Shrine of Resurrection if this is the case. On the other hand, if she were to perish during the ending of the game, the gameplay may not change overly much, but it could make for a very somber ending if she were not shown being revived.

Will Hyrule Be Corrupted In Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom?

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild 2 Trailer Comparison Link Hyrule Castle

Another possibility is that Tears of the Kingdom refers to Hyrule itself crying out in pain. Hyrule Castle was lifted into the air due to the Malice from the withered mummy in the cave, which is shown pouring out in waves before Link and Zelda stumble across it. With this, it's not impossible that the Malice is spreading and growing stronger, perhaps even to the point where it will corrupt the entirety of BOTW 2's open world as well as the beings that inhabit it. In the latest TOTK trailer, Malice is shown erupting from Death Mountain, which could be another indication that it will be much more widespread and do more damage that it did in BOTW.

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If Hyrule is indeed enveloped by Malice in Tears of the Kingdom, it could change the game drastically. Just like it corrupted the Guardians and Divine Beasts in BOTW, Malice may turn regular animals such as boar and deer into hostile monsters, and may do the same to sentient species like Hylians and Rito. It's established that Malice has the capability to do this since it happened to Naydra in BOTW, and in the very first TOTK trailer, it flows over a rat, which could be another hint that it will corrupt the various inhabitants of Hyrule in BOTW 2 and turn them into powerful enemies and bosses. If this possibility proves true, the game may be much harder than BOTW was due to a lack of people to work at shops and inns, though it's still possible for these services to be present.

Zelda Tears of the Kingdom art

Yet another possibility for Tears of the Kingdom is that Hyrule will be destroyed outright instead of corrupted. The Malice that's unleashed at the beginning of the game may cause another event on the scale of the Great Calamity, leaving the land and its people in ruins rather than turned into monsters. Though the landscape seems to be relatively intact in the various trailers, the Malice may only target civilized areas like Zora's Domain and leave wild ones full of monsters alone. BOTW 2's transformed skies also may offer a twist on this; it's possible that Malice will completely cover the surface in a toxic flood, forcing players to flee to the safety of the floating islands. TOTK's free open-world format makes this unlikely, however, except perhaps as a temporary occurrence like BOTW's Blood Moons.

It may not even be the Hyrule players are familiar with that gets destroyed. Time and time travel are prominent elements in the Zelda series, and BOTW is not an exception. There's decent evidence to indicate that Link will be sent backwards in time in TOTK, perhaps even as far as the first Great Calamity 10,000 years before the events of BOTW, in which case it could be the event that brings the kingdom to tears. Little is known about this era aside from a story told by Impa, so there's a lot of potential for TOTK to show Calamity Ganon's origins and other events from that time such as the battle between him and the fabled hero and princess. What exactly Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom's name means for its story is too early to tell, but there are a great many exciting possibilities.

Source: Eurogamer, E3 2021/YouTube, Nintendo/YouTube (2)