Tears of the Kingdom: Global Release Time and Preload Date

Here's exactly when you'll be able to play and download The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom
Photo: Nintendo

The closer we’ve gotten to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the more we’ve heard about the game. There’s been early copies and even emulations the average player can’t access, and it’s hard to look for news about Tears of the Kingdom without unearthing a leak. The sooner the game releases, the better. We’ve known Tears of the Kingdom will release on May 12 for quite a while, except that isn’t exactly accurate. It all depends on where you live.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is scheduled to be released at the following times: 9:00 AM PDT (May 11), 10 PM MT (May 11) 11 PM CT (May 11), 12 AM ET (May 12), 5 AM BST (May 12), and 1 PM JST (May 12).

As you can see, Tears of the Kingdom‘s release is based on a global schedule. This is standard practice for Nintendo, as an FAQ states digital copies of games are generally released at midnight EST. However, since Nintendo titles hit digital storefronts across the globe at the same time, some regions will technically receive copies early (at least as far as daily schedules are concerned). Since the East Coast is three hours ahead of the West Coast, audiences in the PST time zone can start playing Tears of the Kingdom at 9 pm their time.

Ironically, this release schedule comes at the cost of gamers who can normally play titles before the rest of the world. Technically, the New Zealand Standard Time zone reaches midnight before every other time zone, so audiences have learned they can trick servers into thinking they live in New Zealand to play games early. However, this technique, known as the New Zealand Time Zone Trick, only works when a title follows a staggered release window and launches in each time zone as it reaches midnight. Since Tears of the Kingdom is launching worldwide while also tied to the United States’ East Coast schedule, New Zealand players will receive the game last at 4 PM NZST. Japanese players will also get the short end of the stick, barely beating New Zealand’s launch with a 1 pm JST release.

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As usual, all the above information only applies to digital copies. If you pre-ordered a physical edition or plan to buy one on release day, you will have to wait until retailers open their doors on May 12th or attend a midnight launch party. And if you pre-ordered a copy through Amazon, you will just have to wait until the delivery truck rolls around.

Now, knowing when a publisher plans to release a game is one thing, but knowing when you can actually play it is something else entirely because you usually can’t play the title until it’s done downloading (and after you’ve installed a Day One patch). This unfortunate reality of gaming is made all the more painful by ballooning install sizes, but thankfully Tears of the Kingdom won’t take up too much space. According to GameSpot, the title clocks in at only 16 GB. Comparatively, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is only 13.4 GB, or 15.7 GB with DLC. That isn’t a huge increase in required storage space, but even if it was, it wouldn’t matter since if you pre-ordered Tears of the Kingdom, you can pre-load the game right now and start playing as soon as it is officially launched.

Everything we’ve heard about Tears of the Kingdom suggests it will live up to the hype and offer an absurd amount of content. That being the case, it won’t be a bad idea to get a start on the game as early as you can if you’re hoping to see as much of it as possible. Once you have spent a little time with the game, be sure to drop by and let us know if it lived up to your expectations.