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Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom Fan Theories We Can't Wait To Investigate

"The Legend of Zelda" has inspired a number of series-changing fan theories over its multi-decade history. Though 2013's "Hyrule Historia" established an official "Zelda" timeline, it turns out the creators designed this work to provide "more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules" (to borrow a phrase from "Pirates of the Caribbean"). Details have shifted in the years since the tome's release, and so too have the efforts of players to make sense of the implications of each new franchise entry.

Much like "Breath of the Wild" before it, "Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" has inspired devotees to invest dozens of hours into pouring over its promotional materials for clues. These efforts have spawned numerous discussions via mediums like Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube, along with some promising theories about what the sequel has in store. Some of this speculation relates to the core gameplay loop, while other hypotheses delve into geographical changes and the themes the game will explore. All promise a compelling investigation of the elements that have helped make "The Legend of Zelda" such an iconic IP.

The disappearance of Korok Forest and Hebra's great vortex

Nintendo has not been shy regarding the fact that "Tears of the Kingdom" will delve into some darker subject matter. One way this tone might manifest involves the destruction or warping of landmarks of the title's overworld at the hands of Ganondorf and his minions. Thus far, fan theories have pointed to two key locations that may experience the antagonist's wrath: Korok Forest and Hebra Peak.

Based on footage from the March 2023 gameplay demo, fans believe that the Korok Forest may have burned down. This fire, possibly set by servants of Ganondorf in an effort to eliminate Hyrule's allies, could have taken the Great Deku Tree with it. Numerous Koroks may have found themselves displaced in the aftermath of this tragedy. As put forth by YouTuber RMFH, other possibilities regarding the fate of the Great Deku Tree exist. The being could have gone into hiding, possibly accompanied by the Korok Forest and Master Sword. It might have accomplished this by moving to another part of Hyrule or even ascending into the sky to avoid Ganondorf's influence.

Hebra Peak may have also suffered an attack from Ganondorf's forces. In addition to some other changes, the concept art for "Tears of the Kingdom" shows the presence of a massive tornado in one corner of the map. Content creator Monster Maze theorized that the cyclone covered the Hebra Mountains area based on its location in the illustration. This could have major implications for the avian Rito who make their home nearby.

The legacy of the Zonai

"Zelda" fans have puzzled over the nature of the Zonai, an ancient, warfaring tribe, since "Breath of the Wild." Thanks to references scattered throughout Hyrule and the companion book "Creating a Champion," players know that the Zonai possessed strong magic and revered animals. The latter even extended to their interpretation of the Triforce, which they visualized as a Boar (Power), Owl (Wisdom), and Dragon (Courage). Based on the promotions for "Tears of the Kingdom," fans believe the Zonai will play an even bigger role in the sequel.

Since "Breath of the Wild," the Zonai have been associated with a distinct green energy and spiral design. These elements have figured prominently in both the trailers and art for "Tears of the Kingdom," including the game's official logo, the pattern seen on Link's hand, and his new abilities. The March 2023 gameplay demo also shows off the new Construct enemy type on one of the sky islands, which drops an object identified as a Zonai Charge. All of this points to the involvement of Zonai magic in the title's story and mechanics. The tribe may even have imprisoned Ganondorf and created the sky islands.

Some fans think that more than just Zonai magic will make an appearance. In fact, they've suggested that it's possible that we'll encounter members of the mysterious tribe. "Tears of the Kingdom" might accomplish this through some manner of time travel mechanic, with similar features showing up in past titles. Alternatively, the Zonai may have simply hidden away or entered some manner of magical slumber and could reemerge now that Ganondorf has escaped the ritual keeping him trapped in place.

The ouroboros and the Goddess of Death

One of the more intriguing theories regarding the "Breath of the Wild" sequel centers on its primary themes. As documented by YouTuber Xenogamer, much of what Nintendo has revealed regarding "Tears of the Kingdom" appears to center on a cycle of "death and reincarnation." Perhaps the biggest hint at this focus comes from the game's logo. Beyond the link to the Zonai suggested by the stylistic choices, the prominent symbol, which shows two dragons in an endless rotation, mirrors the real-world ouroboros. Typically, this symbol shows a single "serpent devouring its own tail," a motif commonly associated with infinity and rebirth.

Taking this a step further, Xenogamer suggested that a mural shown in the September 2022 trailer depicts the Zonai Goddess of Death. He tied the image to the ouroboros, stating that one dragon represents Hylia, "Goddess of Time and Life," while the other embodies "Death and Eternity." Based on this theory, he indicated that the spectral hand in the 2019 First Look trailer that keeps Ganondorf's mummy imprisoned and later bonds with Link belongs to this death deity.

The mural depicting the figure also shows seven tear-shaped objects arrayed around it, likely the "Tears of the Kingdom" referenced in the title. Xenogamer put forth that the title also represents the grief of the denizens of Hyrule, possibly brought about by the death of Princess Zelda at the start of the game. Keeping with the theme of rebirth, he theorized that players would have to collect the seven tears of the Death Goddess to bring Zelda back to life.

Repairing the Master Sword

The trailers have not shied away from depicting what happens to the Master Sword in "Tears of the Kingdom," likely in the early moments of the story. One sequence shows Malice enveloping the blade and Link's arm, presumably damaging both in the process. A separate shot reveals that much of the weapon has disintegrated. A similar fate likely befell Link's appendage as part of the same attack, which would explain why he makes use of the glowing Zonai hand in other parts of the footage. The sequel's logo shows a repaired Master Sword bearing the familiar green Zonai pattern, indicating that the pursuit of this goal will play a major role in the core gameplay loop. Once again, the imagery points to the ancient tribe's involvement.

The process of restoring Link's iconic weapon could tie into collecting the seven tears depicted alongside the mysterious figure (possibly the Goddess of Death) in the mural. However, fans have also suggested that "Tears of the Kingdom" could use a similar system to the one from "Skyward Sword," which saw Link powering up the Goddess Sword with Sacred Flames. The hero seems to encounter a similar item in the 2022 trailer, though this circular flame boasts a golden hue, which hasn't turned up before.

Whether players end up fixing the Master Sword using tears, Sacred Flames, or another method, many fans hope that the developers have tied the pursuit to the more classic dungeon setups seen in previous entries. The lack of this type of challenge in "Breath of the Wild" served as one of its biggest pain points.