My favourite food is salad. I love a good salad with a really nice vinegar-heavy dressing. Love me some crunchy yellow iceberg lettuce or some endives, romaine, doesn’t matter. I like every type of lettuce. My salads are simple and I don’t really need a lot in them to make me happy. Just lettuce with some olive oil, salt and vinegar makes me thrilled. I also really love a Greek salad with some feta, red onions, cucumbers and peppers. I am easy to please when it comes to salad. But I looooove to indulge in some extra vinegar/dressing. Some restaurants skimp out on the dressing though, which always frustrates me as I’m just left with dry vegetables. So when I’m home, I like a lot of dressing, and when I’m out I always ask for extra. There was this restaurant called Spago that my friends and I would always go to back when we were all in college. Spago had THE best salad dressing I have ever had. The lettuce was crisp and stunning and each bite was coated in dressing. There was no skimping there. They had made my favourite salad not only in Windsor, but in the world. Sometimes I’d just order two large salads instead of getting any pasta or chicken.
One day… I had an idea. What if I asked them to add red onions, feta and extra dressing? The salad is already drenched in dressing, what if there was more? I saw the server coming to the table with this big huge perfect salad. My first bite had feta and a big piece of crunchy red onion on it with a ridiculous amount of dressing on it. That bite was transcendent. It felt like I was floating. They took my favourite salad ever made and added some extra stuff that I love to it. What I had just eaten was better than the salad I had already known as my favourite salad. THAT salad with red onion, feta, and a ridiculous of amount of dressing on it is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. That first salad I had already loved that brought me bliss? It was the beta. It was already everything I wanted. It was already perfect and monumental. But with quality of life changes and new mechanics, Nintendo had turned it into a towering pulchritudinous colossus of perfection.
To call The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom a “highly anticipated title” is massively undermining what the hype for this game was. Ten million copies sold in three days is absurd. That’s more copies than most games have sold in their lifetime. However, this is no real surprise to me. This is a mainline Zelda release. This is likely to be the last Zelda game released in this console generation. All Nintendo needed to do was put “The Legend of Zelda” on a game’s box and it would sell. Everyone had their eyes on Nintendo because their marketing for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was a lot more quiet and close to their chest in comparison to how they had previously marketed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Nintendo only recently decided to show us that Link could attach objects together with some mysterious green glue and that you could attach a boulder to a stick and create a makeshift hammer. TOTK was only a bit over a month away and we were only just finding out the major differences between it and the game whose shadow it lived in. Many people chimed in on Twitter saying “oh it’s BOTW but you can make boats. This could have been a DLC.” But that video had me swayed. Not that I had any lack of faith. It’s Nintendo. They have the best first party games and their hit rate on the Zelda franchise is nearly flawless. But I knew after seeing that video of Eiji Aonuma showing off Link’s new abilities that I was seeing something that would literally change the game.
None of Link’s abilities from BOTW carry over. The only ones that are similar are Ultrahand and Magnesis. Magnesis allowed you to lift up anything made of metal. That’s it. Ultrahand allows you to pick up metal objects, wooden objects, koroks, weapons, items, trees, boulders, the list goes on. If it isn’t nailed down to the ground, you can pick it up. Ultrahand allows Link to pick up anything around him and it opens up the creativity that you’re allowed to have in this open world physics sandbox. Ultrahand also allows you to fuse items together. The crazy thing? Everything you build just works as expected. You want to build a boat? Cool. How about a car? Sure. How about a Korok rotisserie? GO FOR IT.
You can really build anything as long as you have the materials. Oh my god, the materials. There are a LOT OF THEM. Rockets, fans, wings, wheels, lasers, steering wheels, flamethrowers, cannons, springs, balloons, and like 20 other ones. I’m not even 100% sure I’ve seen every building material yet. You can attach any of these items together and make a futuristic laser shooting robot. But, you can also glue some logs together and some little wooden wheels and make a super long hotdog car. My personal favourite is attaching two fans to a steering wheel and fashioning a hover-bike. Everything in this game just works the way it’s supposed to. Your creativity is only limited by the very high item attach count. I’ve seen videos of people making an army of droids to fight hordes of Bokoblins without Link even having to touch his sword. You can play TOTK however you want.
Ultrahand is definitely the star of the show when it comes to the new abilities, but the others are not to be dismissed. Each ability Link possesses could be the star of their own games. Recall allows you to rewind the actions of basically any interactable object. The fact that the previous actions of every object is being calculated while everything else is happening on the screen and in the background in the code is mind-numbing. I don’t make video games, but I have read many tweets from game devs talking about how impossible TOTK feels to make. That also applies to another ability which is called Ascend. Ascend really messed with me for my first 20 hours of gameplay, or so. I would be deep in a cave, or staring at a wall in a shrine, and I’d sit around thinking to myself “how do I get up there?”
In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you could climb the wall, but not in the rain or in a shrine. You’d probably have to use Stasis on something and then hit it to ride the momentum of the object you just launched into space. But in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, you can just walk up under a ceiling and click A. Next thing you know, Link is swimming through the void and then pops up on the floor above. Video games have never asked me to think like this before. Think of the escape rope in any Pokemon game. What’s nuts is how this works in caves and wells.
There was one mission where I was told to sneak into a shed. Problem is the door was locked. I noticed a well nearby and thought that there might be a ladder down there. I went into the well and discovered a series of caves that spanned the underneath of the town. I couldn’t find a ladder or breakable wall that’d let me get inside the shed. Then it hit me. A fleeting thought of “could I Ascend into the shed from below?” Of course I could. I wound up inside the shed from underground. Everything just works. If you can think of it, odds are, it can be done. The lady who had given me the quest said “I can’t believe you got in there! The door was locked!” I can’t believe it either.
The last ability I am going to discuss is Fuse. Not only can you fuse logs and wheels together with Ultrahand, but you can fuse your weapon or shield with any sword, spear, Claymore, stick, barrel, mine-cart, or goat butter you find. All the weapons in Hyrule have become decayed due to the events that kick the game off known as only “The Upheaval.” Because all the weapons are decayed, their damage on average is much, much lower than they were in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Because of this, you are encouraged to use Fuse. Want a sword that deals some more damage but only have a Claymore laying around. Attach a Claymore to your sword and give it extra damage and longer range. Want a super long spear? Attach two spears together. Gotta get through some rocks and don’t have any bombs handy? Find a rock, fuse it to your sword and bam! Now you’ve got a hammer to smash the rocks with. Based off of my testing, the weapon durability remains whatever the initial weapon’s durability was. If you’ve got a skeleton arm that only lasts four hits, it’ll still last four hits if you attach a boulder to it. But, it’ll have new properties and higher damage.
Fusing is not only great for offence, but it also makes for super interesting defence. You could attach a rocket to a shield for some height when needed, or attach a spring to a shield for a huge bounce to escape danger. If you want to take on danger, you can attach a laser emitter to the shield and have a portable laser cannon. If you’re a Tony Hawk fan you can fuse a mine-cart to your shield and turn it into a custom skateboard. Fuse is very useful and pretty fucking cool.
My biggest issue with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was that the main bosses of the story were all different variants of Blight Ganon. Only a couple of those fights were interesting, and they were all fairly easy and didn’t take much thought. I am so delighted to say that each of the Temples (and yes they’re called Temples again) have unique bosses. I have only beaten the Water and Lightning Temples so far, but they both had very exciting and blood pumping boss fights. The boss who was causing the Gerudos a lot of turmoil might just be one of my all time favourite Zelda boss designs. Not only are the bosses a lot better, but the overall enemy variety is insane. I found BOTW didn’t have a ton of enemies to fight other than the few variants it’d throw at you. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is constantly throwing new creatures at you. Many of these new enemies are present in older Zelda titles and are completely redesigned; Like-Likes, Gibdos and Gleeoks all make appearances. There is also a new take on the classic Floormasters that scare me unlike any Zelda enemy has ever scared me. Each time I see them I am filled with dread.
New bosses, new enemies, new mechanics, AND new areas to explore! The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom takes place in the same Hyrule we got to explore in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. While that might not seem like a great thing on paper, it’s actually a genius way to re-examine a world we’ve already become insanely familiar with. Due to the Upheaval, there are now floating islands in the sky. These sky islands are where you start your adventure. The opening island feels similar to how BOTW starts with you on the Great Plateau. Don’t know how to get back to the sky islands once you get to the ground? Walk around until you see a giant stone fall from the sky. Stand on the stone and use recall to send the stone careening back into the sky. Often those stones will lead you into the clouds, but sometimes they’ll bring you right to an island for a reward. I often find myself just looking into the sky and thinking to myself “how can I get up there?” That is a thought I had to myself many times playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The best part about that thought is there are like 8 different answers to that question. The sky is the limit…
…is what I would say if it really was the limit. If you don’t want to be spoiled, look away and scroll down to the last two paragraphs. This is your only warning.
The Depths are the limit.
Nintendo was very secretive about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for a long time. They had shown off these incredible floating islands in the sky, all these new things in Hyrule and a bunch of new toys to play with. But what we didn’t know is that they were hiding something from us. Littered across Hyrule, you can find these chasms that seem to drop endlessly. If you are brave enough to take a leap, you’ll find yourself in The Depths. Think Blackreach from Skyrim but on an even more insane scale. Remember riding the elevator in Elden Ring and seeing Nokron for the first time? That was a magical experience. But nothing could come close to the experience I had seeing The Depths for the first time. It is PITCH BLACK. You have to light the way yourself by throwing brightblooms. These little plants explode in light as they are tossed and will permanently light the way for you. You can also find Lightroots which act as fast travel points. They light up massive areas for you and adjust what is visible on your map. The nutty thing about The Depths is that it is the exact size of Hyrule. Everything is inverted. The lakes and rivers in Hyrule are massive mountains in the depths. Shrines on Hyrule’s surface are Lightroots down below. I have found myself spending hours underground just seeing what’s going to try to kill me.
Exploring in an open world game has never felt so rewarding and so fun. Knowing that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is not twice the size of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but THREE times the size is baffling. How this game fits into 18GBs is nothing short of wizardry.
I don’t know how to stop talking about this game. I could genuinely write for a few more hours and feel like I still have dozens of things I haven’t talked about. My input is nothing new. You’ve read the reviews, you’ve seen the scores, you know this is a special game. I didn’t even know how to start talking about this game either as evident by the first two paragraphs being about my love for salad. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is proof that Nintendo can make something feel so familiar, yet so new. In many ways, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom feels like an expansion of Breath of the Wild, a game that showed that creativity was the best way to approach every minute of gameplay.
I never thought anything would top my initial playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and how unbelievable it felt to me. I was doing things I had never done in a video game before, and even six years later, people around the world were still discovering new things you could do. Well guess what? There are hundreds of things you can do in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom that you couldn’t do in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild… or in any other game for that matter. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in comparison feels like a test product. It’s going to be hard for me to ever go back to that game because in every way imaginable, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has surpassed it. For me, it is undeniable…
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the greatest game I have ever played.