Do I Need to Play 'Breath of the Wild' Before 'Tears of the Kingdom'?

Jon Bitner - Author

Apr. 26 2023, Published 3:41 p.m. ET

Link falling through the sky in Tears of the Kingdom.
Source: Nintendo

Nintendo is gearing up to launch The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom on May 12, giving fans a chance to once again explore Hyrule as they fend off a mysterious threat. The game will serve as a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild — but do you need to play Breath of the Wild before Tears of the Kingdom?

Here’s a quick look at whether you should play the hit game from 2017 before diving into the upcoming blockbuster.

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Do I need to play 'Breath of the Wild' before 'Tears of the Kingdom'?

While Tears of the Kingdom will likely feature plenty of familiar faces and places, there’s no need to play Breath of the Wild before checking out Link’s latest adventure.

Nintendo is keeping the Tears of the Kingdom storyline tightly under wraps, so it’s unclear exactly what to expect when it launches in May.

Link gliding above the clouds in Tears of the Kingdom.
Source: Nintendo
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However, Zelda games historically serve as standalone experiences, with little need to play prior games before checking out a new entry. And while Tears of the Kingdom will share a lot of similarities with Breath of the Wild, the game will almost certainly give every important character a proper introduction (meaning there’s no need to have played Breath of the Wild to understand what’s happening).

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is arguably one of the best games on Switch, so it is highly recommended for anyone who owns Nintendo’s hybrid console. If you have time to play it before Tears of the Kingdom arrives, you’ll likely be able to pick up on smaller bits of lore you might otherwise miss.

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Link running through a field with a shield and bow on his back.
Source: Nintendo

If you’re interested in getting an overview of Breath of the Wild, consider checking out this lore recap video, which condenses the lengthy adventure into a digestible 11-minute clip. This will introduce you to all the important characters and concepts that might make a return for Tears of the Kingdom.

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Conversely, it might be a good idea to not play Breath of the Wild. Tears of the Kingdom looks to take place in a version of Hyrule that’s very similar to Breath of the Wild — and if you pick up Breath of the Wild today, you might be burnt out on Zelda by the time Tears of the Kingdom arrives on May 12.

Breath of the Wild is also still listed for $60 on the Switch eShop, so the idea of dropping $130 on Zelda games in just a few weeks might be too much for your wallet to bear.

Whatever the case, just know you’ll be able to dive into Tears of the Kingdom without having played any previous Zelda games. Folks who played through the old title might be able to pick up on small references scattered throughout Hyrule, but anything that's important to the new story should be covered during your time with Tears of the Kingdom.

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