A Final Look at The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The new Legend of Zelda game is almost here, and it has quite the expectations tied to it. Breath of the Wild was titled one of the best games of all time, which has set quite the bar for Tears of the Kingdom. But early impressions suggest that it has outdone its predecessor.

May 10, 2023 | The Legend of Zelda

An image from the new Legend of Zelda game.

Image by Nintendo

From jumping off floating islands to treading through waters in makeshift rafts, the new Zelda game has it all. But above all, the game wants you to brainstorm and meld stuff together.

Early “reviews” of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom — anticipated to be the biggest game of the year — have made clear indications that the title looks to add another trophy to Nintendo’s decades-spanning series.

  • Although the game is scheduled for a May 12 release, Nintendo recently allowed certain media personnel to get a hands-on experience of the open world — and there’s no shortage of interesting reactions.
  • NPR’s Natalia Fidelholtz highlighted the game’s performance, stating that it “looks and runs great for a Switch game. The visuals seem much improved,” adding that she experienced no “stutters or rendering issues”.
  • Washington Post’s Gene Park, who had 70 minutes with the game, writes that his experience “washed away any fear that this is a mere update to 2017’s critical and commercial hit ‘Breath of the Wild’.

Despite allowing journalists a first-hand experience of the game’s capabilities, Nintendo kept them from revealing much about the game’s unanswered questions (which we touch upon later).

New Mechanics.

Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma’s 10-minute gameplay demonstration showcased Link’s newfound abilities in the post-Breath of the Wild period, and they’re a real game changer.

With the release of the game’s third (and final) trailer, Nintendo made it clear that TOTK does not serve as a modest improvement over its predecessor. Instead, it will take the series’ whole puzzle-solving and crafting aspect to a whole new realm.

The four new abilities introduced are called ‘Ultrahand,’ ‘Fuse,’ ‘Ascend,’ and ‘Recall’ — and are accompanied by what Nintendo calls the “You Can Do What?!” campaign.

  • TOTK may draw some inspiration from the pandemic-hit Animal Crossing: New Horizons by allowing the players to DIY different recipes – crafting hammers, homing arrows, a “Mad Max car,” or an absolutely bonkers tank.

The basic idea is to reward creativity over all else in this open-world setting.

What Every New Ability Means.

  • Fuse might be the one that will see the most intuitive uses, as the ability opens up the possibilities for crafting nearly endless weapons and shields — and even things like a rocket.
  • With Tears of the Kingdom, the creators have decided to reinvent the wheel — deciding to use ‘Fuse’ to take blacksmiths out of the equation. It even leaves the durability of the weapons in the player’s hand.
  • Ultrahand allows you to manipulate items from a distance, while Recall allows you to move an object back in time — including something you might have recently manipulated.
  • The least intuitive of all might be Ascend, which allows Link to pass through roofs and ceilings to pop back out on the other side. But well, at least it’s functional.

The Zelda games have always rewarded creative insight and intuition, and Breath of the Wild’s open-world game design allowed the player to move beyond some “plot restrictions” — a major attribute to the game’s success.

  • The series has long emphasized exploration, an idea that was rather unheard of in the mid-80s — but has since then become a hallmark of modern gaming.
  • BOTW’s fully-realized world with complex, multi-layered challenges allowed the 2017 game to sell nearly 30 million units — becoming the 4th best-selling Nintendo Switch title.

Yes, but: Complex game mechanics lead to somewhat muddled gameplay — something Gene Park highlighted.

  • “With all these features, Link is also considerably more difficult to control,” adding, “It’s probably going to take a few hours before tasks feel like second nature.”

Beyond the game mechanics demonstrations, Nintendo has largely remained hush about the story details in this post-BOTW world.

The new Legend of Zelda game has several questions to answer.

The Zelda series has always attracted people with its captivating stories and the lore of an endless curse — tying a hero and goddess to a cycle of reincarnation — only to face their nemesis over and over again.

  • The trailers building up to the game have left several questions unanswered, such as when the events occur, how much of a change Hyrule has undergone, and why Ganondorf is back.

Another feature on several wish lists has been a playable Princess Zelda, which has always eluded fans of the mainline series. Nintendo has made no statements regarding this seeing as the game is just around the corner.