Three Weeks Later, We’re Still Not Done With Tears of the Kingdom

To those who played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild back in 2017, it’s hard to imagine any other game being able to replicate the same level of immersion and freedom that the first title brought to its players. Fast forward six years later, its sequel is somehow more expansive and creative than its predecessor in almost every way.

At the point of writing this, I am 80 hours deep into The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Having just completed the Rito and Gerudo main quests and revealed about half of the map, I feel like there’s no better place to press pause and share my thoughts so far.

In many ways, Tears of the Kingdom is exactly like Breath of the Wild — just more. The game takes place in the same map as the first game, but with a new story and unique mechanics that invites players to view this familiar world through fresh lens. The game walks the line between nostalgia and novelty masterfully; many moments bringing me back to the experience of picking up Breath of the Wild for the first time, while presenting enough new discoveries and encounters to keep me excited to explore.

Three weeks down the line, I’m still finding new things to enjoy about Tears of the Kingdom every time I sit down to play it. If you’re still considering whether to get the game yourself, here are a few reasons why you should — or shouldn’t.

Its mechanics are classic Nintendo ingenuity at its finest

Compared to the combat-heavy Sheikah Slate abilities in Breath of the Wild, the new set of abilities take a more tactical and crafting-heavy approach; answering the demands of many players who were already exploiting the mechanics to the fullest in the first game. The Ultrahand ability is the biggest game changer, giving players the power to combine materials and machine parts to build virtually anything into existence.

That’s where your experience with the game begins to evolve. If you’re a creative player, there is no end to the number of hours you can sink into Tears of the Kingdom. The game gives you the freedom to bring your wildest ideas to life, whether its building an enormous laser cage or recreating a literal Metal Gear in game.

However, the game still works no matter what level of complexity you prefer. As the type of gamer who avoids sandbox and creative modes like the plague, I found myself pleasantly surprised by its user-friendly and intuitive design. Each ability is simple enough to pick up, but has a seemingly endless number of applications; adding layers upon layers of depth that outclasses the first game’s abilities by a long shot.

At this point, it is worth noting that Tears of the Kingdom caters to a specific type of player more than others. Those who embrace a sense of wonder and creativity will get the most out of their experience, especially considering the game is known for its flexibility and lack of linear solutions. But if you’re the type of player that prefers to stick to the straight and narrow, the game can turn into a grind-fest pretty quickly.

It’s the simple give and take of this franchise: Granting players the power to control their playthrough to this level of flexibility, also means that players can limit themselves as much as they want to. In this case, Tears of the Kingdom is nothing if you don’t ask the question, “what if?”

A bigger experience, three times to be precise

Although the new abilities are the shining star of the game, the addition of two new areas comes in at a close second. The Skies above the clouds and The Depths underground add whole new dimensions to gameplay, offering different types of challenges that we don’t get to experience on The Surface.

The Skies are the most sparsely populated of the three, but it pushes our engineering skills to the limit. Travelling from one Sky Island to the next is impossible using your hang glider alone, and you’ll need to build everything from vehicles to floating platforms to get to your next destination. With the threat of gravity at your feet, quite literally, this is the most exciting place to experiment with new vehicle designs.

The Depths are intimidating in scale and challenge, essentially adding a dungeon-crawling element to Tears of the Kingdom. Not only is everything pitch black down there, damage taken is also permanent until cleansed. This area is especially unforgiving in early portions of the game, but provide valuable resources that will help with boss fights down the line.

Having said all that, The Surface isn’t the same as we left it in Breath of the Wild either. There is plenty to be explored in the form of shrines, caves, labyrinths, and new boss fights. Although the biggest quality of life upgrade is the addition of a home base, where players can sleep, shop, cook, and upgrade Link before heading out into the wilds again.

Amidst the baffling amount of new ground to cover, Tears of the Kingdom still captures the pure joy in exploration that made its predecessor so special. Players will never run out of moments where you’ll ask yourself, “what is that in the distance?” To fans of the open world genre, there’s no greater feeling than this.

A franchise that has outgrown its hardware

Ironically, the biggest problem I have with Tears of the Kingdom is the Nintendo Switch itself. The hardware limitations of 720P and 30FPS are hard to ignore, especially compared to the standards set by other AAA games in the market. Even with the game locked at 30FPS in both handheld and docked mode, there were multiple sections of the game where the frame rate began stuttering — most annoyingly during combat sequences.

Considering the technical feats that have gone into developing this game and fitting it on the Nintendo Switch in the first place, it’s a shame that the game is limited by its console of all things. Unfortunately this is something that Nintendo fans will have to put up for awhile longer, and until then, we can dream about what Tears of the Kingdom would be like on a more powerful console.

The Verdict: 9/10

Tears of the Kingdom is just like Breath of the Wild, but better. The sequel adds more than enough to be a completely new experience, but familiar enough to feel like coming back to an old friend. The new abilities are an absolute technical feat, adding countless hours of creativity and innovation unlike any other title in this genre — even if the hardware constraints of the Nintendo Switch leaves room for improvement.

This review copy was provided by Gamers Hideout. Check out their online store for more Nintendo Switch games, accessories, and exclusives!

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