The story in Zelda Tears of the Kingdom is somewhat outside the boundaries of Zelda games that have come before it. Today I want to have a closer look at the story in the game, plus look at the ending in some detail and explain what it means.
Before we get into things today, this is a spoiler warning for the story in Tears of the Kingdom. I’m going to be discussing the story, plus its ending, so if you haven’t played the game to its conclusion yet, click away now otherwise you will be spoiled.
Depending on how you played Tears of the Kingdom, the ending could be very confusing as the story goes all kind of places. The Dragon Tears questline is one of the main routes to getting all the story and lore, plus at key moments in the game you’ll get additional flashbacks. The story goes into some detail about where Princess Zelda is, the Master Sword plus adding some detail onto Ganondorf’s backstory. If you missed any of the memories or the cutscenes, you can catch up here.
As you approach the end of the game, Link jumps down into the Chasm below Hyrule Castle to take on Ganondorf one on one. Ganondorf was originally sealed away by King Rauru (Who helpfully gave Link his new arm at the start of the game) and six other sages, before Ganondorf was able to escape being sealed away at the very start of the game, where we saw Link and Zelda exploring underground.
Playing through Tears of the Kingdom’s main questline takes us to the four corners of Hyrule, and helping out with anomalies with each race; Rito, Goron, Gerudo and Zora. By helping out each race we gather our own set of sages, descendents of heroes past, to help Link take on Ganondorf in the present time, calling back to an ancient battle against The Demon King Ganondorf.
After diving into the depths and exploring some time, we face off against Gaondorf’s army. Once Link and the Sages dispatch them, it’s time to meet Ganondorf face to face. At first, he’s in his mummified state, but he’s able to cast a spell and return to his regular form. One you have beaten back Ganondorf in his regular form, he levels up through the power of the secret stone into The Demon King Ganondorf. The fight gets much harder at this point, plus you’ll have to face off against copies of Ganondorf, which is where the Sages really come in handy. Defeat this form of Ganondorf, then the story take a wild turn.
This is where we have to go back to the main Dragon’s Tear questline to understand what is going on. It was a forbidden act to consume a secret stone, as the person who does this then turns into an immortal dragon, but you lose yourself; your memories, who you are, gone in an instant. Ganondorf understands he’s not going to be able to defeat Link, so he eats the stone and turns into his dragon form, taking Link with him high into the sky for the final battle.
Link isn’t alone to take on Dragon Ganondorf, The Light Dragon (or Princess Zelda) swoops in to help Link in his final battle. This part of the story can be a little confusing. If you unlocked all the memories by visiting all the glyphs, then you’ll get an addition memory to explain what happened to Princess Zelda. The Secret Stone Princess Zelda found at the start of the game sent her back in time, all the way back to the time of the first king and queen of Hyrule, to the time of the Zonai.
Once there, Zelda helped King Rauru and the Sages face off against Ganondorf, eventually sealing Ganondorf away in the Imprisioning War. The broken Master Sword was also sent back in time to meet Princess Zelda, where over the centuries it would heal itself bathed in the sacred light provided by the Princess. Zelda didn’t know how to get back to her time, other than eating her Sacred Stone and turning into an immortal Dragon herself. She was warned that she would lose her mind, and would no longer be herself, but this was the only way to repair the Master Sword and get it back to Link, where he could then take it and use it in the battle against The Demon King Ganondorf.
This means Princess Zelda has been flying around in the sky as The Light Dragon this whole time, for potentially thousands of years. She most likely will have been flying around in the sky during the events of Breath of the Wild, although perhaps she was flying too high. We get confirmation of this story, as the story is carved in stone before the events take place. At the start of the game we see the story of Rauru, Sonia, Ganondorf and Zelda carved into stone, but when we go back for the final showdown against Ganondorf, we can remove the rocks covering the other mural, revealing Zelda taking the Master Sword and turning into the Light Dragon.
I would imagine most players get the Master Sword at some point throughout the game in preparation for the final battle, but if you don’t get the Master Sword then The Light Dragon still swoops into and allows Link to take the sword before the final moments of the battle, where he plunges the Master Sword in the middle of Dragon Ganondorf’s head, through the secret stone and defeating Ganondorf once and for all.
The main issue after Link defeats Ganondorf is Princess Zelda is still a Dragon. Rauru and Sonia then appear as spirits to channel their powers through Link. Rauru has the power of Light, Sonia has the power of time, and Zelda has a little bit of both, and somehow this all combines to turn the Light Dragon back into Princess Zelda, therefore saving Hyrule and saving Princess Zelda once again.
There’s one final story moment if you completed all the main story quests before the final showdown with Ganondorf. Link, Zelda, Pura and the sages gather together at the Temple of Time on the Great Sky Island. Mineru, Rauru’s sister, and the Spirit Sage, says she has been keeping her spirit alive since Rauru and Zelda sealed away Ganondorf in the Imprisioning War, but now it’s finally time for her spirit to rest, and with Ganondorf defeated her spirit fades away once and for all. That’s it. Ganondorf is defeated, Hyrule is saved and Princess Zelda is a Hylian once again, having restored the Master Sword over thousands of years. Plus we have a new era of Sages to protect Hyrule.
I think it’s down to personal taste whether you liked the story in Tears of the Kingdom. I’ve seen reports of people loving it, I’ve seen reports of people hating it. I’d love to hear what you think.
Whatever you think about the story overall, I think there are some unforgettable moments in Tears of the Kingdom. That opening, with Princess Zelda and Link exploring underground, where Zelda revealed the links to the Zonai, then they continue their exploration only to find the mummified version of the Demon King trapped under Hyrule Castle. Pulling the Master Sword is a highlight of every Zelda game, but particularly in this one, it’s a great adventure, finding the Light Dragon, landing on it’s back and pulling the reocvered Master Sword from the Dragon itself is a moment I won’t forget. When we first realise Princess Zelda IS the Light Dragon was another wow moment, and then finally the showdown with Ganondorf himself. There are holes to pick in the story for sure, but overall I enjoyed it.
Let me know what you think of the story in Zelda Tears of the Kingdom.