Ever since the initial teaser for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom dropped back in 2019, one question has popped up time and again: Will Zelda be playable? From her shorter hairstyle to her appearance in trailers, speculation has continued to circulate, with some even pointing to new artwork as evidence that the princess may at last be a playable character in the upcoming Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild sequel.
Apart from anything else, it speaks to just how much demand there is to have the opportunity to be Zelda in a mainline adventure. Sure, you can choose Zelda in Super Smash Bros. and Hyrule Warriors – and even control her to an extent in Spirit Tracks on the 3DS – but after three decades, fans are pinning their hopes on a playable Zelda in Tears of the Kingdom.
The latest trailer shows off what could be the potential return of old school dungeons along with the appearance of Ganondorf (who fans are thirsting over), and much more. It has also once again reignited the debate surrounding the question of the princess's involvement. While some believe it offers further proof that Zelda will be a playable character, others are even less convinced. So, it begs the question: Does this trailer make us think Zelda will be playable in Tears of the Kingdom? GamesRadar+'s Austin Wood and Heather Wald have differing opinions on the topic.
I believe playable Zelda will happen
"I'm more convinced than ever that Zelda will be playable in Tears of the Kingdom"
"I know why I am here. It's something only I can do." As soon as I heard these words from Zelda in the trailer, the beacon of hope I've long since held that she will be playable began to blaze anew. Listen! I'm fully prepared to put on my clown makeup over this, but I'm more convinced than ever that Zelda will be playable in Tears of the Kingdom… at least for a segment of the adventure. While I do think we'll be filling Link's shoes for the majority of the sequel, I'm betting on a holy crap moment at some stage in the story that will let us switch roles for a portion of the game.
Early on in the trailer, we see Zelda fall down away from Link. While we have no way of knowing at what point this occurs just yet, the trailer overall seems to imply that the pair will be split up once again, with Zelda calling for Link to find her. Now, you could argue that this will put the princess out of the picture, but I'm inclined to think this means that Zelda will have an important role to play in a location only she can access. While Link's gallivanting about the place in Hyrule at large, we see Zelda looking towards what appears to be a shrine of some kind, with giant rotating cog wheels on either side, and a fixture that appears to slowly open on the wall before her. I don't know about you, but I think this could easily serve as the backdrop of an area we explore and perhaps puzzle our way through as the princess.
When she says the words that fill me with hope, Zelda is holding a tear-shaped object in both hands over the Master Sword. There's already speculation that this is a literal tear of the kingdom, but what this actually is or does remains to be seen. Still, it seems significant, and with the sword in the scene, I can't help but wonder if Zelda will play a key role in affecting its form. Perhaps – if I were to let my imagination run wild – this could be a turning point that sees her play a more active part. We've seen her in adventure garb that's just like Link's, after all, so I'm still banking on a pivotal moment that will see us become her.
Maybe I'm just seeing what my heart wants to see, but the words "something only I can do" have reinforced my belief that I will get to play as Zelda for the first time – even if it's just for a short time. At the very least, I would love to see Zelda have a more involved role in Tears of the Kingdom's story, and from what we've seen so far, it certainly looks set to be the case that the princess has an important part to play. As optimistic as I am, I'll keep my clown makeup on standby for the release date.
I want to, but I don't think we'll get to play as Zelda
"I'm sadly confident we won't after seeing the game's final trailer."
Let me be clear: I want to play as Zelda in Tears of the Kingdom, and I'm excited to see her assume a more active role in events rather than being in a magic coma for 100 years or whatever. But I don't think we'll get to play her, and more to the point, I'm sadly confident we won't after seeing the game's final trailer.
I admit, I was on this train at the very start. Zelda's adventure outfit seemed like a promising hint. Caving with Zelda? Nah, how about caving as Zelda. But that's not the vibe I get anymore. To me, Zelda's part in the new trailer just screams cutscene, and I fear that's the only way we'll really see her. She's clearly actively engaged with Link's quest and the kingdom's plight, which is great, but her part sounds to me like far-removed set-dressing. I'd be thrilled to see Zelda have her own side story, but I think it will be just that – something on the side.
Part of my pessimism comes from the fact that if Zelda were playable, she surely wouldn't copy Link's abilities exactly, which means she'd need a kit of her own. But there's been no convincing evidence for that kind of gameplay in any of the footage we've seen. It's possible Nintendo hid all the Zelda stuff very carefully, but with the way Breath of the Wild was built and how Tears of the Kingdom seems to be expanding on it, it seems inelegant to chuck an alternate character into a world with systems and rules designed specifically around Link. As you've said, Heather, it could be a Zelda offshoot with unique puzzle gameplay, but frankly that just sounds less fun than playing as Link with all the cool new runes at my disposal, so on reflection I'm not even sure I actually want that.
"Link, you must find me," Zelda says at the end of the trailer. My read here is that Zelda is working on some Seriously Mystical Stuff somewhere in the margins of Hyrule and needs Link to reach her in order to finish this stuff, or perhaps return from this stuff, or maybe stop this stuff if it's gone awry. Whatever it is, I reckon it'll be our golden boy at the helm, once again rescuing the princess in some way. And this has been The Legend of Zelda's formula for 37 years, so I don't believe it's going to change anytime soon. At least you can play Zelda in Cadence of Hyrule, too!
Here are 9 cool details you might have missed in the Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom trailer.