3 ways ‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’ is as cool as it looksReading Time: 5 minutes
High on Hyrule.
I got to play The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for a little while and it’s killing me that I can’t keep playing more. I guess I’ll just write about it instead.
Nintendo hosted a little media get-together for its biggest game of the year, which included roughly 70 minutes of hands-on time with Link’s latest adventure. It was a very limited demo that included absolutely nothing in the way of story content or dungeons (if this game even has those), but I did get to learn exactly how cool Tears of the Kingdom is shaping up to be.
Let’s not waste any more time. Here are all the ways that Tears of the Kingdom seems like it will be exactly as cool as it has looked in all the trailers.
In a tantalizingly brief gameplay clip Nintendo posted a few weeks ago, we learned that one of the major new mechanics in Tears of the Kingdom involves fusing weapons, shields, and arrows to other things. I realize that sounds vague, but that’s because the possibilities seem functionally endless.
The way it works is simple enough: Simply activate the fuse ability (similar to how you’d activate bombs or magnesis in Breath of the Wild), point at something you want to fuse to whichever weapon or shield you have equipped, and press the corresponding button helpfully laid out on-screen.
If you played Breath of the Wild, that level of intuitiveness is familiar. Like its predecessor, Tears of the Kingdom synthesizes very complex systems into mechanics that even children can understand. For what it’s worth, this will also make the game much easier in one respect: Any weapon or shield that gets fused not only gets a durability reset, but it also gets a buff to its endurance. That means they will break far less often, as long as you keep on fusing.
That video showcased some very basic stuff, like fusing a rock to a stick to create a janky hammer. In my time with the game, I tried my best to get freaky with it. I fused a box to a shield, which didn’t appear to do much of anything beyond increasing the shield’s strength, but it did make it look like Link was carrying a box around on his back like Death Stranding.
Explosive barrels, flowers that produce a blinding flash on contact, and even other weapons or shields are all eligible for fusion. Hell, it kind of seems like anything that isn’t bolted to the ground works. Moreover, everything does something. Fusing a spear to another spear will produce an extra-long, more powerful spear. Fusing meat to an arrow makes any animal you kill drop more meat than they would normally. Enemies will even drop items that exist for the sole purpose of adding a huge damage boost to a fused weapon, so there’s a lot of incentive to try fusing anything and everything.
It’s really fun, and that’s only the surface of the goofy experimentation that awaits in Tears of the Kingdom.
Hyrule Grand Prix
InTears of the Kingdom, Link can use a new ability called ‘Ultrahand’ to create vehicles by slapping parts like wheels, propellers, and rockets onto inanimate objects. Whether by ground, sea, or air, Link is now the master of Hyrule’s elements in a way he never has been before.
The way this actually plays out in-game was something I had been worried about ahead of the demo. I wasn’t sure if vehicle parts would be scarce or abundant, nor did I know if said parts would only appear in places where Link obviously needs some to solve a puzzle. After playing Tears of the Kingdom, I can say with some confidence that you’ll be able to use vehicles a lot in this game, all over the place.
For starters, there’s no dearth of the aforementioned vehicle parts in this world. There are literally giant gumball machines full of them (you have to sacrifice some items in your inventory to power these) around Hyrule. They can be carried in your inventory, too. If you ever need propellers or rockets, it feels like there’s a good chance you’ll always have a few on hand.
Beyond that, they can be attached to whatever you want. There are certain objects like floating platforms and big wings that make for natural vehicle bases, but if you want to attach a balloon and a rocket to a boulder, there’s nothing stopping you.
This kind of freedom blended beautifully with modern-day Zelda‘s ‘solve this puzzle however you want’ mentality in the short demo I played. One section had me trying to get from one sky island to another in sequence. There was the intended route, which involved an island in the middle of the chain with its own puzzles on it. And then there was the route I used.
I attached a balloon, a flame emitter beneath the balloon, a couple of rockets, and a steering wheel to a platform. This quickly went awry, leaving me stuck on a floating cube underneath the island I was trying to get on top of. However, thanks to vehicle parts in my inventory, I was able to carefully navigate out of there and get to the final island in the chain without ever setting foot on the island before it.
This is a bigger, better sandbox
Based on my brief time with it, Tears of the Kingdom looks to be another fascinating sandbox with a much wider set of toys to play with than Breath of the Wild. Every time I wondered if I could do something, the answer was yes.
I turned a shield into a flamethrower. I also turned a shield into a personal rocket. I fused a piece of ore to an arrow, which somehow insta-killed both me and the enemy I was fighting. In any other game, that’d be a frustrating moment of friction. Here, it was a hilarious bit of slapstick humor. That was the secret sauce that made Breath of the Wild so great, and it seems to be fully intact here.
I’ve also spent the days since that demo thinking about all the things I didn’t try. I don’t know yet what happens when you fuse a rocket to a sword, or attach propellers to an exploding barrel. All I know is that you can do those things.
Of course, there are plenty of unanswered questions about Tears of the Kingdom. Will all of these handy new powers make the game too easy to exploit? There were stiff challenges in the demo, to be sure, but maybe they won’t be as stiff after 60 hours of experience.
More importantly, will players use all of these new means to ultimately reach the same ends as Breath of the Wild? While it’s not reasonable to ask Nintendo to revolutionize a flagship series twice in a decade, it is reasonable to want something more than the tower-climbing, shrine-hunting gameplay loop of Breath of the Wild. If you’re doing all of the same things, just with different tools, that could be a slight bummer.
We’ll all have plenty of time to find out the answers to these questions and more when The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom launches on Nintendo Switch on May 12.
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