Forget Playable Zelda, I Just Want Zelda to Have Her Own Storyline In ‘Tears of the Kingdom’

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With “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” rapidly approaching, fans are clamouring for the chance to finally play as the titular Zelda. It’s one of the more far-fetched theories, but there’s at least some evidence pointing towards it, and that’s enough for lifelong fans. Personally, as much as I’d like to believe that we’ll play as Zelda in “Tears of the Kingdom”, I would be happy if the game passed a much, much lower bar: please give Zelda her own storyline.

The Legend of Zelda? I Don’t Even Know-da

Despite being the namesake of the entire franchise, Zelda has never been the main character in any “The Legend of Zelda” game. The first entry in the series, titled simply “The Legend of Zelda” and released in 1986, followed Link on his mission to rescue the princess from Ganon. In the 37 years since, that’s pretty much been the plot of every Zelda game.

Even “Breath of the Wild”, which was much more progressive than previous games — Link was redesigned to look gender neutral so all players could more easily relate to him — relegated Zelda to flashbacks and a post-credits cutscene. Once again, you play as Link and spend the majority of the game searching for the princess. One hundred years ago, Zelda sealed herself inside Hyrule Castle to prevent Calamity Ganon from escaping and wrecking havok on the kingdom. Her powers dwindling, and Ganon’s strength growing, it’s up to Link to recruit allies, assault the castle and, yep, save the princess.

Zelda is essential to your victory in “Breath of the Wild”, but she’s kept neatly tucked away for the majority of the game. She’s a damsel in distress who appeals to the player’s ego; she’s an emotional reason to keep playing, without any emotions of her own. And that would be fine if it wasn’t part of a pattern that’s been repeating itself for 37 years. Now “Tears of the Kingdom” has a chance to disrupt the pattern, but I’m worried it will squander the opportunity.

It’s Time for Zelda to Find Herself

The marketing for “Tears of the Kingdom” has given a lot of fans hope that they’ll be able to play as Zelda. The announcement trailer showed her exploring an underground cavern with Link. Notably, she was wearing adventurer’s gear almost identical to his. She looked every bit the hero as Link did. Fans speculated that this was a clue that we’ll be able to pick between playing as Zelda and Link at the start of the game, which is still one of the most popular theories about “Tears of the Kingdom” so far.

And in the final “Tears of the Kingdom” trailer, there’s a moment where Zelda says, triumphantly: “I know why I am here. It’s something only I can do.” Fans went nuts for it.

However, there’s another moment in the final trailer that gave me pause.

The trailer ends with Zelda sitting atop a plateau, alone. Now she says: “Link, you must find me.”

On its own, this would be innocent enough. Zelda and Link are (apparently) a team, and this is their biggest challenge yet. Of course they’d need to be together to defeat Ganondorf! But it sounds all too similar to Zelda’s storyline in “Breath of the Wild”, which began and ended with her being trapped inside a castle waiting for her knight to rescue her and defeat the big bad evil, which she wasn’t strong enough to do on her own.

Couple that with Nintendo’s track record of every other mainline Zelda game, and I’m concerned that “Tears of the Kingdom” will be about Link finding and rescuing Zelda once again.

The Zelda timeline is cyclical, but that doesn’t mean every game has to follow the same narrative structure. It’s time for Zelda to break the mould and have her own storyline. Even if we don’t play as Zelda, I hope “Tears of the Kingdom” finally gives her due credit as the hero of her own franchise.

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