February's Nintendo Direct must go big on Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom artwork
(Image credit: Nintendo)

The subreddit for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been having a tough time. I check in there, maybe once or twice a week, just to get a sense of what the community is talking about or what the kookiest new fan theory looks like. But in the last couple of weeks, one refrain has reared its head: Where are the details?

If there's a game coming out this year that doesn't need a traditional marketing run, it's Tears of the Kingdom. Its predecessor, Breath of the Wild, was the game of its year by a country mile, and makes a solid stake for the equivalent generational and decade-long titles too. It's the long-awaited follow-up to one of the best-selling, longest-running, and most-beloved franchises in video games. If ever there was a game that people were prepared to buy sight-unseen, it was this one.

The passion of its audience means that Nintendo has had plenty of room to have stayed quiet on Tears of the Kingdom. And it's done so - we've had little more than a handful of teaser trailers in the 3.5 years since the game was first announced - but that near-silence has led an already deeply invested community to become desperate for more information. With launch barely three months away, we still know next to nothing about how Tears of the Kingdom will look, play, or follow-on from Breath of the Wild.

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That has to change with tomorrow's Nintendo Direct. Nintendo has made clear that the showcase will be focusing on games launching in the first half of 2023. There's plenty on the Switch's slate, but comparatively little of it with a release date locked in for the next five months; Octopath Traveler 2 is just two weeks away; Advance Wars 1+2 is a safe bet after its delay last year; Pikmin 4 rumours suggest a May release; a handful of remakes and titles from external IP make up the brunt of what's on Nintendo's slate, but it's fair to say that Tears of the Kingdom remains the dominant force.

Unless Nintendo has a surprise array of Mario, Pokemon, and Animal Crossing games up its sleeves that it's ready to announce tomorrow in time for a release by June, that means that Tears of the Kingdom is the game that has to carry tomorrow's Direct. Fan expectations are at an all-time high, and the timing is right for the traditional marketing campaign to kick off in earnest. We already know that Nintendo isn't heading to E3, reportedly because it doesn't have enough to show off for the second half of the year. The company's not in dire straits, but it does need to start actually leveraging the game that's supposed to be its killer app of 2023.

The Big Three - Nintendo, Sony, and Xbox - all have that app for this year. For Xbox it's Starfield, a game that, while also long-mired in secrecy, has had one lengthy gameplay introduction and has a full, dedicated showcase on the horizon. For Sony it's arguably Marvel's Spider-Man 2, a game which has already offered up plenty in terms of its setting, characters, and antagonists. Nintendo, on the other hand, has told us almost nothing about what Tears of the Kingdom even is; a sequel in a franchise that doesn't do sequels, with a narrative that we don't yet understand and a world fractured beyond all recognition. I'm starting to understand why fans have spent so much of the last few years trying to unpick every last thread of detail - Tears of the Kingdom is a fascinating enigma in and of itself, and the lack of information makes it even more interesting.

There is plenty that Nintendo is likely to show off tomorrow. Kirby, Bayonetta, Minecraft and plenty more substantial names are also hitting Switch in the next few months, and will almost certainly warrant a meaty trailer each. Perhaps we'll have a few left-field options; Pokemon Scarlet and Violet DLC; another beloved JRPG finally heading West; maybe even an adorable farming simulator! But there are 40 minutes of time to fill tomorrow, and if Tears of the Kingdom doesn't take up a healthy double-digit chunk of that time, Nintendo will be making an entirely unnecessary blunder.

For more on the big show, why not check out our Nintendo Direct predictions – because Nintendo surely has more to share than a deep dive on Breath of the Wild 2.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.