Zelda: TotK
Image: Nintendo Life

It’s hard to believe that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will finally be launching on May 12th, nearly a full four years after its initial announcement during E3 2019. We don’t know about you, but we’re already sharpening our Master Swords and ironing our green tunics in preparation; it’s going to be a fun Summer, that’s for sure!

Now, if you’re anything like us, you might want to spend the coming months preparing for the release of a new Zelda title by… well, playing more Zelda. It’s a tricky proposition, however, because you certainly don’t want to play too much and find yourself completely burned out by the time Tears of the Kingdom rolls around.

We've already discussed which is the best game to play if you're new to the series, but assuming you're a Zelda veteran, which titles might be worth a replay in preparation? The most obvious choice is to simply barrel your way through Breath of the Wild again and be done with it, but we thought we’d look at a couple of other options that might prove illuminating and make the most sense to experience before you dive into Tears of the Kingdom. If you have any different suggestions of your own, then be sure to let us know with a wee comment.

For now, let’s dive into which Zelda games you might replay before Tears of the Kingdom…

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Let’s start off with the obvious one. Tears of the Kingdom is a direct sequel to this game, no less. If you’re looking to dive into the new game armed with prior knowledge of the world, lore, and characters, then yes, we’d highly recommend you make your way to Hyrule Castle and take down Calamity Ganon once again to give yourself a bit of a refresh.

Of course, at this stage, we still don’t really know what Tears of the Kingdom will be about, which secondary or tertiary characters will appear, or indeed whether we’ll even be playing as Link for the duration of the game. Nintendo will want as many people as possible to experience and enjoy its latest Zelda entry, whether they’ve played Breath of the Wild or not, so we wouldn’t put it past it to take the story in a completely different direction. That said, a foundational knowledge of what came before is sure to give you an elevated appreciation of what comes after.

What’s more, Tears of the Kingdom will undoubtedly share many gameplay elements with its predecessor. We’ve already seen tentpole abilities like sprinting and climbing in previous trailers, along with iconic items like the paraglider. What better way to prepare for Tears of the Kingdom than by reacquainting yourself with some of its most basic gameplay features?

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Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (Switch)

Another obvious choice, though one that’s perhaps not quite as essential as Breath of the Wild. Prequel adventure Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity depicts events that take place 100 years prior, providing players with key background information behind what led to the downfall of Hyrule, along with the franchise’s main antagonist, Ganon.

Of course, the biggest sticking point here is that Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity isn’t really a Zelda game in the strictest sense. Yes, it looks similar and features many of the same characters as Breath of the Wild, but this is ultimately a hack-and-slash musou title that shares little in common with its sibling in terms of explorative gameplay — it's all about giving armies of enemies a sound thrashing on the battlefield.

Also, trying desperately not to spoil any narrative points for new players while still addressing the Vah Ruta in the room, Age of Calamity and BOTW don't run together as seamlessly as you may think given its 'prequel' status. It's full of great character moments and relationship context but, from a story perspective, it's not exactly a straight line from one to the other.

So while we wouldn’t recommend going into this one expecting to get the quintessential Zelda experience, it’s definitely one worth (re)investigating if you want to get all of the character backstory before Tears of the Kingdom.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD (Switch)

Does Skyward Sword share anything in common with Breath of the Wild or Tears of the Kingdom in terms of plot? Difficult to say at this stage. Looking at the franchise’s timeline, Skyward Sword represents the very beginning of the story, whereas Breath of the Wild supposedly takes place long after the events of all prior titles. There are some theories that Skyward Sword, Breath of the Wild, and Tears of the Kingdom represent a “trilogy” of sorts, but we honestly reckon this is a bit of a stretch.

So why do we recommend you replay Skyward Sword? Well, because it offers up the foundation that would ultimately flourish and grow into Breath of the Wild. Regardless of your opinion on the game — there are those that deem it to be one of the weaker 3D entries, after all — there’s no denying that some of Breath of the Wild’s key gameplay mechanics such as the stamina meter and the climbing (sort of) got their start in Skyward Sword. If you’re looking for something that has that signature Breath of the Wild flavour but stands as a more "traditional" dungeon-filled Zelda experience, Skyward Sword has you covered.

Not only that, but one of Skyward Sword’s main draws is the fact that much of the game takes place in the sky. You’ll spend much of your time leaping off ledges and soaring through clouds before landing on the back of your trusty Loftwing. Now, while Tears of the Kingdom may not feature Loftwings (at least, we don’t think so), the biggest change it represents from Breath of the Wild is its skyward setting. We’ve seen Link free-falling through clouds in previous trailers and even Hyrule Castle itself seems to be rising up from the ground and into the sky. It's easy to imagine Tears of the Kingdom taking even more inspiration from Skyward Sword for this new direction.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)

Our final pick is a game that almost definitely shares nothing in common with either Breath of the Wild or Tears of the Kingdom, and that’s Majora’s Mask. That said, if you’re looking for what a direct sequel in the Zelda franchise should look like, then Majora’s Mask is the place to be.

Sure, you could try A Link Between Worlds or maybe even Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, but we reckon Majora’s Mask is still the strongest and weirdest direct sequel in the franchise to date. We like it a lot.

It shares a lot in common with Ocarina of Time in terms of basic gameplay and visuals, but Majora’s Mask takes the story and its structure in a wildly different direction, resulting in a polarising experience that some find to be superior to Ocarina.

We’re personally hoping that Tears of the Kingdom goes equally wild with its own story: Nintendo needs to go big with this sequel or it will simply pale in comparison to its older sibling. We want to be surprised, we want to be thrilled, and yes, we’d quite like to be a bit disturbed, too. What better game to take inspiration from than Majora’s Mask?

So there you go, those are our picks for the games to consider replaying before Tears of the Kingdom launches in May. Have a different Zelda game in mind? Then let us know your picks with a comment down below!

Which Zelda game will you be replaying before Tears of the Kingdom?