The Legend of Zelda is a sprawling open-world video game created by Nintendo. As a sequel, the core gameplay loop remains the same with some welcome improvements and new features. With a vastly improved weapon system, a story that is entertaining yet remains the same, and an expansive open world, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has the potential to be the best videogame in the decade, if not ever.
The game revolves heavily around exploration relying on environmental cues and subtle storytelling to guide the player through the world. As video game designer Todd Howard said, “You see that mountain? You can go to it,” when he revealed Skyrim for the first time. Tears of the Kingdom takes that idea and multiplies it, allowing you to fly, walk, run, build and glide to virtually any location.
Also there are a massive range of locations to explore, especially since the game’s map has been expanded to include new sky-islands and an underground depths location that spans the entirety of the main game world. It truly is an insane amount of content to explore for a singular video game.
The game does away with the powers of the previous game, instead opting for new ones. Although I did miss a few of the powers from the last game such as bombs and ice blocks, I still had fun with them, especially Ultrahand.
Ultrahand allows players to pick up any two objects in the world and stick them to each other, allowing players to build practically anything, the only limit being their imagination. In combination with the new Zonai Devices, Ultrahand lets you build anything from cars to automated robots that attack enemies for you.
The Fuse power is Nintendo’s answer to the criticism they received in the previous game. That being the fact that weapons broke so easily in Breath of the Wild, requiring players to constantly scavenge for weapons. Fuse allows players to combine any two objects to the hilt of any weapon. I think that this vastly improves the game as players are able to spend less time worrying about weapons and more time exploring.
Not to mention that the new Fuse system actually incentivizes combat. Most of the time, tougher enemies drop better horns that can be fused to weapons, creating new ones. As the enemies get tougher, the attack power of the horns that they drop increases, which actually gives players a reason to fight tougher enemies rather than just skipping past them like I did many times in the prequel.
The story this time around more or less adopts the same storytelling strategies as the last game in my opinion, although there is a bit more content than the last time around. The game gives players bite-sized chunks of the story as they complete dungeons, yes, dungeons are back, more on that later! Which is fine, but each bit of story at the end of the dungeon is practically the same thing, at least for the first four anyway.
The developers must have realized this and took the same approach as they did in the last game, requiring players to roam the map in search of collectibles that will flesh out the story more. It is entirely optional and is practically the same as the memories that players collected in the last game, although this time around they are called dragon tears.
One of the few criticisms that the previous game had was its lack of actual dungeons that have been a staple in Zelda games since the very first one. Nintendo decided to address that feedback by bringing them back. Although they don’t give me the same feel as previous games in terms of puzzle and design, I have to say that I was genuinely impressed with how the developers were able to make each one feel unique, while keeping them as open-ended as possible.
I think that was why they were omitted from the previous game. If you think about it, dungeons conflict with the overall design of the rest of the game. That being open-endedness and exploration, while dungeons enforce a linear path with specific requirements that need to be met in order to complete them.
Shrines are back this time around too, with nearly 150 to complete, a step up from the 120 shrines in the last game. While the developers essentially slapped a fresh coat of paint without changing too much, these bit-sized dungeons still provide micro-dopamine rushes that keep me playing the game after finishing the main story. For some reason I am dead set on completing every single one.
Although I have completed the main story I still have so many reasons to keep playing this game and I don’t think that I will be seeing the sun for a bit. From the shrines, new powers, side quests, side adventures, collectibles and secrets, there are a resounding amount of things to do. All of these features are going to keep me playing for the foreseeable future. I have played for close to 60 hours and have only scratched the surface of what this game has to offer. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is truly a masterpiece to behold.