If you've managed to save Hyrule but aren't done adventuring yet, just know that there are plenty of board games and tabletop RPGs like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom to keep you going. Although you won't find an official adaptation of Link's world, these fill the gap very nicely.
In addition, some of them pop up in lists of the best board games and best tabletop RPGs anyway. Even if you weren't looking for board games and tabletop RPGs like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, they'd still be worth checking out thanks to compelling gameplay and worlds that deserve exploring.
Longtime tabletop fans may roll their eyes at us including the most popular tabletop roleplayer in this list, but hang on. The OG Legend of Zelda was based on its creator's childhood wanderings in the woodland around Kyoto, and few games capture that sense of discovery better than D&D. Because it takes place in its players' imaginations, you can go literally anywhere and do almost anything. Think of it like an interactive ghost story, told around a campfire; one of you leads the narrative, but everyone else gets to decide what their character does in response. The result is unlike anything else.
Although you can easily create a Hyrule-esque world of your own using the advice found throughout Dungeons and Dragons books, there's no need to modify it for awesome dungeon-delving. As the name would suggest, this is D&D's specialty. It was born out of exploring fantasy ruins filled with monsters and loot, and there are countless pre-written missions that allow you to do exactly that. Some provide tips on how to introduce puzzles, too.
It's true that D&D doesn't always play well with certain genres (stealth-heavy experiences come to mind) and requires a lot of work from whoever's running it, but it just so happens to be an excellent fit for everything that's great about Zelda. It's incredibly well-supported too, so you won't struggle to find something that can inspire you. As an example, playable races like the Aarakocra bird-folk and deep-sea Tritons are a good analogue for the Rito and Zora respectively.
Seeing as it's openly inspired by The Legend of Zelda, this indie RPG is an excellent place to start if you want adventures beyond Tears of the Kingdom. From its use of hearts as a health system to the focus on exploring ruins guarded by monsters that can be defeated using relics found inside, it's the closest you'll get to Hyrule without booting up your Switch.
What's more, these monsters (AKA 'Guardians' with randomly- generated attributes you roll for) affect the environment around them just like in the most recent Zelda game. For example, Forgotten Ballad's preview features a scenario with the spirit guardian 'Pho Iva' causing a ceaseless rain for two weeks. Players must descend into the Moon Shrine to free it from a nameless Enemy's influence. Frankly, I'm not sure how you can get any more Tears of the Kingdom than that.
Just remember, this is currently being crowdfunded so isn't available in its full form yet. Until it is, you'll have to make do with the free PDF version on creator coolwayink's Itch.io site (though there's still enough to get through at least a couple of sessions). Happy to wait? You can pre-order it from publisher Bloat Games.
If The Legend of Zelda is all about Shrines and dungeon-delving for you, this sequel to the original Clank! board game should be on your radar. It challenges you to explore forbidding - and randomly-generated - ruins in search of treasure, so captures that sense of descending into the unknown perfectly.
Rather than using a classic board, Catacombs has you laying down tiles to create the dungeon as you go (much like Betrayal at House on the Hill, which is one of the top board games for adults if you ask us). That means it's different every time you decide to go on an adventure, so you never know exactly what's waiting in the depths. As we said in our Clank! Catacombs review, "when you step off the edge of one tile, there’s a delicious moment of terror." Throw in numerous monsters - ranging from skeletal dragons to ghosts - and you have a quest with all the trappings of classic Zelda.
Plus, its deck-building system is excellent. Curating your card collection feels both strategic and rewarding, leaving us with an adventure game that occupies the sweet spot between tactics and old-fashioned fun.
Want to blend dungeon-crawling with the whimsical species populating Hyrule in Tears of the Kingdom? Bardsung is just right. Putting you in control of a party ranging from tortoise druids to crow rogues, its creativity sparkles from the off. Yes, you're still tackling monster-infested ruins as per cooperative board games like Gloomhaven. But the tone feels lighter. More optimistic, somehow. In fact, it isn't hard to imagine these characters wandering across the plains of Hyrule.
That's not to say it doesn't have depth, though. Much like Zelda, you'll be steadily improving your stats and finding ever-better gear as you make your way through a story featuring adventures penned by guest writers like Rhianna Pratchett (of Tomb Raider, Overlord, and Mirror's Edge fame) or Ian Livingstone (who helped launch Warhammer and penned many Fighting Fantasy books).
Because it uses a system very similar to D&D, players of that game should feel right at home too. Bardsung relies on a lot of the same language and mechanics, so hopping from one to the other shouldn't be difficult - if you've ever played a tabletop RPG, it'll feel intuitive.
While this system is less about swords and sorcery, it leans hard into an aspect the more recent Zelda games excel at - exploration. As noted by developer Possum Creek Games, it's a pastoral experience "filled with grassy fields, mossy shrines, herds of chubby bumblebees, opossums in sundresses, salamanders with suspenders, starry night skies, and the most beautiful sunsets you can imagine." If that doesn't sound like the Hyrule in Breath of the Wild, we don't know what does.
Crucially, it's cute as a button. You'll play as animal folk traveling the world of Hæth from village to village, as depicted by gorgeous artwork scattered throughout the book. And seeing as it takes place in a post-war setting that's doing its best to recover from the scars of conflict, it's ideal if you've ever wondered what Hyrule looks like after you've saved it.
In a heartwarming twist, it places greater stock in empathy than your sword arm as well. Kindness and helping others is what this game is really about, tapping into that sense of compassion Zelda has always strived toward.
This tabletop RPG was built out of love for franchises like Zelda and Final Fantasy, so it's the perfect fit if you've finished Tears of the Kingdom and want to keep those feelings of adventure going for a little bit longer. In fact, flipping through its pages is enough to transport older players back to the days of SNES or N64 instruction booklets that were crammed with lore.
While the Ghibli-style visuals are set-dressing (like all pen-and-paper roleplaying games, Break!! takes place in your mind's eye), the monsters look and feel as if they've been pulled straight from Zelda. Whether it's pig-like warbeasts, colossal creatures that tower over the battlefield, or robots that are very similar to Breath of the Wild's Guardians, we're in endearingly familiar territory.
However, just bear in mind that Break!! isn't officially out yet beyond a digital preview. The PDF version is due to land sometime in June, so you may have to wait a hot minute for it to arrive. Until then, you can check out our conversation with the book's creators.
Want more recommendations? Don't miss these board games and tabletop RPGs like Diablo 4. You can also find cool new additions to your collection with these board games for 2 players and essential Star Wars board games.