A new mainline Zelda game’s launch is always nothing short of a special occasion that the entire industry sits up and takes notice of, and as a direct sequel to what it is widely regarded as one of the greatest games ever made, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has even more of our attention than it would under ordinary circumstances. More than six years on from the launch of Breath of the Wild, its sequel is almost upon us, and though Nintendo has been quite tight-lipped when it comes to talking about it, it has shared some pretty significant details on it over the last few weeks. So as we count down the days to its release, here, we’re going to go over some key things that you should know about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Very rarely do we get direct sequels in Zelda games, especially in its mainline series, but Tears of the Kingdom is going to serve as a continuation of Breath of the Wild, being set in the same Hyrule and featuring the same core cast. Presumably, some time has passed since the defeat of Calamity Ganon, but Hyrule now faces a new threat that is once again threatening to destroy the kingdom. There isn’t much that Nintendo has said about the story, but from the trailers, we can infer that Link and Zelda are going to get separated again, and the Master Sword is once again going to be central to Link’s efforts to save Hyrule.
One crucial piece of information that Nintendo did recently unveil about Tears of the Kingdom is that it’s going to feature a very familiar villain- Ganondorf, who returns in his Gerudo form for the first time in a mainline Zelda game since 2006’s Twilight Princess, as opposed to the ethereal form he had taken in Breath of the Wild. Incidentally, this is also going to be the very time that we’re going to get voice acting for Ganondorf, with veteran voice actor Matt Mercer set to play the role.
The core trio of Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf will, of course, form the bulk of Tears of the Kingdom’s narrative backbone, but there will be a sizeable cast of secondary characters as well- including some that are returning from Breath of the Wild. Sidon and Riju were both showcased in the game’s final pre-launch trailer, and interestingly, they’re both looking older than they did in Breath of the Wild. Tulin has returned as well, and he, too, looks older, but curiously, Nintendo has said nothing about whether his father Teba will be coming back. Another character whose absence has been noted in all that we’ve seen of the game so far is Yunobo. Meanwhile, the pre-launch trailer also offered brief glimpses of a couple of completely new characters, on whom we have next to no information.
CHANGES TO HYRULE
Tears of the Kingdom is going to be set in the same Hyrule as Breath of the Wild, which means the 2017 game’s open world map is being brought over into its sequel- which, again, is something of a rarity for Zelda games. That said, the map isn’t going to be exactly as it was before. Nintendo has said that Tears of the Kingdom’s Hyrule is going to change things up from its predecessor map quite a bit, though exactly how it will do that remains to be seen. From all that we’ve seen of the game so far, it looks like the old shrines and towers are gone- though it’s likely that Tears of the Kingdom will have its own equivalent of those as well.
While there isn’t yet much clarity on how much Hyrule will have changed in Tears of the Kingdom, what we do know for sure is that there is still going to be plenty of new areas and locations to explore in the game. Countless floating islands known as Sky Islands will be scattered throughout the skies above Hyrule, and are clearly going to have a big role to play in the game. Hopefully, the Sky Islands will sport the same kind of ingenious level design and density as the surface world.
Zelda has done the whole “sky islands/surface world” idea before with Skyward Sword, but its implementation in Tears of the Kingdom is obviously going to be quite different. Nintendo has said that going from the surface to the sky and vice versa will be completely seamless- which is especially impressive given the hardware limitations of the Switch, especially for a game of this size and scale. So far, we’ve also seen how that will affect traversal, from skydiving to railgrinding and much more.
Tears of the Kingdom is going to introduce a whole new set of abilities, with Breath of the Wild’s ability set presumably being retired, and of the four new abilities that have been revealed for the open world sequel, the one that is going to change the gameplay experience the most is undoubtedly Fuse. It does exactly what its name suggests, and allow you to fuse multiple objects together to create something entirely new. As you might imagine, that’s going to have a significant impact on the game in several areas- including combat. Speaking of which…
Tears of the Kingdom will ask players to get as creative and experimental as they can in combat by essentially letting you Fuse weapons together- and it seems like you can make all sorts of things. You can fuse a sword and a shield together, you can combine a stick and a rock to make a makeshift hammer, you can fuse a pitchfork with a long stick to make a hilariously long spear. Not only will fused weapons have unique properties, they will also have enhanced durability. Meanwhile, Fuse can be used to your advantage in combat in other areas as well- like attaching a Puffshroom to your shield so it explodes in a cloud of smoke to blind your enemy when you block an attack, or fusing a Keese eye to your arrow so that it automatically homes in on an enemy without requiring precise aiming.
It’s not just weapons that you’ll be fusing together in Tears of the Kingdom– using the ability called Ultrahand, you’ll also be fusing objects in the environmental together to make all manner of things, including cars, rafts, flying machines, and much more. We’ve seen a fair few types of vehicles that players will be able to build and traverse the world with using Ultrahand, while the game’s pre-launch trailer even showed other applications- like using it to make a horse cart, or even to make a rudimentary mech that you pilot yourself. If Tears of the Kingdom takes mechanical depth and player agency as far as Breath of the Wild did, the creativity and freedom that the Fuse and Ultrahand abilities will enable will be through the roof.
In Breath of the Wild, Link could freeze objects in time with the Stasis ability, and in Tears of the Kingdom, he’ll be able to reverse their motion by using Rewind. Its uses in combat are easy to imagine – like rewinding an incoming projectile attack – while it’s also confirmed that Link will be able to use Rewind on debris falling from the sky to be able to quickly get to the Sky Islands from the surface.
The fourth and final new ability Nintendo has revealed for Tears of the Kingdom is Ascend- which, again, does pretty much what its name suggests. Upon using Ascend, as long as there’s a roof of some sort above you, Link will be lifted through into the air, through the roof, and come out the other end. So if you’re in a cavern, you can use Ascend to go straight to the top of the mountain its within. If you find yourself trapped in a cage, you can use Ascend to go through its roof and set yourself free.
A lack of enemy variety is one of Breath of the Wild’s bigger issues that players have called out plenty of times in the years since its launch, though based on what Nintendo has shown of Tears of the Kingdom so far, it seems like there will be much greater variety in the enemies you will fight. New enemies like Gleeoks, massive stone titans, and mechanical Constructs have been shown so far, while we’ve also seen new glimpses of some returning enemy archetypes, like Moblins, Bokoblins, Lynels, and more.
POTENTIAL DLC SUPPORT
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild saw quite a bit of post-launch support, including a full-fledged expansion in The Champions’ Ballad, and while Nintendo has yet to confirm whether it has similar plans for Tears of the Kingdom, it seems like at least some post-launch support is planned. That, incidentally, is as per mention of post-launch DLC on the game’s official website. Nintendo has released DLC for the vast majority if its first party titles on the Nintendo Switch, so it wouldn’t surprise us to see something being announced for Tears of the Kingdom in the aftermath of its release.
This is something that’s attracted some controversy. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is going to cost $70, marking the first time ever that a Nintendo title is releasing at that price. The $70 price point has, of course, become increasingly prevalent in recent years, but while those have all been for games on new-gen consoles, Tears of the Kingdom is releasing for a system that was underpowered compared to its peers even when it came out over six years ago. Nintendo has tried to assured fans by promising an experience that will justify its higher price point- here’s hoping that turns out to be true.
You don’t usually expect Switch games to have hefty file sizes, but Tears of the Kingdom certainly will- by Switch standards, at any rate. The game will require 18.2 GB of free storage space, as compared to the 14.4 GB storage size of Breath of the Wild. Interestingly, Tears of the Kingdom has the largest file size for a first party Switch game to date.
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