A relatively small detail from previous trailers for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has gotten much more prominent in the latest reveal, and fans are once again asking: what's the deal with Link's dead arm?
To start, we've gotta go back to the very first trailer for Tears of the Kingdom, from back at E3 2019 when it was still simply known as the 'sequel to Breath of the Wild.' This is the trailer that featured Link and Zelda exploring a spooky cave where a hand glowing with green energy held a mummified corpse in place. In brief flashes, we saw that energy enter Link's own hand, while some apparent disaster had the cave collapsing and the corpse breaking free of its seal.
In the second trailer, it became clear that this energy will remain in Link's arm for the majority of the game, and that it will be the source of the abilities you previously activated through the Sheikah Slate in Breath of the Wild. We also saw that Link's arm was covered in runed braces.
While there wasn't much development in the arm saga in the trailer that revealed the Tears of the Kingdom title, the appendage is very prominent in the new trailer from this week's Nintendo Direct. In a close-up, we see that the fingers are long and bony, with lengthy nails - not a match for Link's own arm. We also see a brief bit that returns to the cave-diving segment of the original trailer, with Link holding his arm as it appears burnt nearly to cinders. In another shot, he's holding what looks like a corrupted Master Sword with the hurt arm.
So, to pull all this together with a bit of speculation, it seems clear that the cave-diving bit with the mummy from the first trailer is the game's prologue. Something bad happens to Link's arm as the mummy breaks free, but he's saved by the intervention of the glowing energy. That energy then inhabits Link to allow fun gameplay powers like those we had in Breath of the Wild.
The question I have is whether it's actually Link's arm throughout the rest of the game. Since that close-up of the hand doesn't match Link's anatomy, I wonder whether a different arm - perhaps the one holding the mummy in place - is grafted on, either physically or magically. I could certainly see a world where a Navi or Fi-style companion joined Link's journey by literally becoming his right hand - and personally, I'd love to see the return of one of Metal Gear Solid's wildest plot contrivances.