Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Image: Nintendo Life

For those who have never played 2017's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the thought of having to go through a 40+ hour storyline before taking on the behemoth of Tears of the Kingdom must be a daunting one.

Of course, as the sequel to one of Nintendo's most successful games of all time, TOTK was always going to carry certain aspects of its predecessor over, but is it really necessary to play through the entirety of the first game just to understand what's going on in the second?

That is precisely what we are here to answer. If you are desperate to play Tears of the Kingdom after hearing about it from the millions who bought it during the opening weekend but you have never touched Breath of the Wild, then this guide will let you know whether you can dive straight in, or if you will have to do your research first.

Here's everything that you need to know.

Do You Need To Play Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Before Tears Of The Kingdom?

The Short Answer

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Link Shock
Image: Nintendo Life

This is entirely a matter of personal taste, but we would say no, you do not need to play BOTW before TOTK.

Before the game's release, series producer Eiji Aonuma stated in an 'Ask the Developer' interview that prior knowledge of the series was not a requirement and that "first-time players can rest assured that this game is easy to get into".

That's standard language for any company looking to sell their latest game to the widest possible audience, but have to agree. There is a full control tutorial at the start of the game, so even those who have not played Breath of the Wild will be on the same technical page in no time, and various steps have been taken to ensure that everyone can catch up with the first game's story such as with the addition of new character bios upon meeting a familiar face.

Of course, there will be some aspects of the story that might pass you by if you have skipped Breath of the Wild, but these are more Easter egg-level in nature and you will never feel lost as to what is going on.

That's not to say that playing the previous game won't have its benefits — primarily that you get to play Breath of the Wild, which is an outstanding video game! The basic controls are the same in the sequel, too, so BOTW veterans will naturally hit the ground running quicker in TOTK.

So, no, you don't have to play Breath of the Wild before Tears of the Kingdom. However, if you're a video game fan, Breath of the Wild is a brilliant one and you probably should play it sometime. Maybe come back to it after TOTK?

What Happened In Breath Of The Wild?

Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Image: Nintendo

If you do want to be completely up to date on your Hyrule knowledge prior to playing Tears of the Kingdom, then you could always just read up on the events of Breath of the Wild instead.

We have assembled the Breath of the Wild story recap to give you a rundown of what's happened up until this point, which you can use if you don't want to put 40+ hours into another title before diving into Tears of the Kingdom.

With all of that out of the way, you will be ready to take on the next chapter in the Zelda series. If you are after any more assistance while playing, be sure to check out our Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom walkthrough for all the tips and tricks you could possibly need.