The 'Tears of the Kingdom' Release Is Days Away — Can You Play It Early?

As one of the most anticipated games to release this year, eager 'Tears of the Kingdom' fans will be curious to know if they can play it early.

Anthony Jones - Author

May 9 2023, Published 2:19 p.m. ET

'Tears of the Kingdom' Links looking down at Hyrule on a sky island.
Source: Nintendo

Without a doubt, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will be Nintendo's biggest title in 2023. It's a long-awaited sequel to Breath of the Wild that many have been vying to play for years.

Link will feel familiar yet different due to his new abilities, allowing him to reach the mysterious sky islands dotted over Hyrule and fuse weapon amalgamations to defeat foes. The crafty nature of the prequel is a prominent design beacon in Tears of the Kingdom.

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It will offer opportunities for players to assemble flying contraptions and controllable boats out of wood and Zonai technology to explore new and well-known landscapes.

These aspects and others have hiked up the hype around the sequel as we slowly get closer to its May 12 release date. But while we're only a few days away, some fans wonder if they can play Tears of the Kingdom early on Nintendo Switch. Well, we've got good news for you.

'Tears of the Kingdom' Zelda holding a destroyed Master Sword.
Source: Nintendo
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Can you play 'Tears of the Kingdom' early?

For years, gamers have taken advantage of time zones to manipulate when a game unlocks digitally, and Tears of the Kingdom is no different.

By setting your time zone to New Zealand on your Nintendo Switch, you can actually play Tears of the Kingdom around a day earlier in most regions. This time zone trick does have some caveats, though.

On any other console besides the Nintendo Switch, players could adjust their time zone and immediately gain access to a game as soon as it went live, but the Switch requires a bit more setup. In fact, you'll need to make a new Nintendo account and use a registered New Zealand card to utilize the time zone trick.

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How to setup a New Zealand account to play 'Tears of the Kingdom' early.

If you can't wait for the May 12 release, setting up a New Zealand account is the best route to play the game early.

As mentioned, you must create a new Nintendo account but set your location to New Zealand. Sign in with this account on your Nintendo Switch, use a New Zealand debit card to purchase the game from the eShop, and begin installing its pre-load data.

'Tears of the Kingdom' Link running through a field of golden grass.
Source: Nintendo

Tears of the Kingdom will become available in New Zealand at midnight on release day, which lands at 5 a.m. PST or 8 a.m. EST for US players on May 11.

If you're down to go through all the trouble of setting up this account, you'll get about an entire day's worth ahead of most players before the official release in the US.

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