Nintendo’s been pretty stingy with the details it’s given out on The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but it did, to be fair, reveal a pretty extensive demonstration of the highly anticipated sequel recently, showcasing over 10 minutes of new gameplay footage. The primary focus of the gameplay reveal was the new abilities Link will have access to in the game and the different ways he’ll be able to use them, while we also got a pretty good look at what’s probably going to be the starting area of the world and the Sky Islands that will be floating above it. But while there was plenty to dive into even on the surface, there were potentially even more things shown in the gameplay demo that Nintendo didn’t directly call attention to that some may have missed. Here, we’re going to go over a few of those hidden details.
At the end of Breath of the Wild, after defeating Calamity Ganon, Link and Zelda set off to rebuild Hyrule and help the kingdom recover from a century of desolation, and it seems that might come into play in Tears of the Kingdom’s core gameplay loop in a big way as well. At certain spots in its recent gameplay trailer, we can see what look like mini construction sites scattered about on the surface. We can see one close to the beginning of the demonstration, and another close to the end right next to the beach where Link lands- small platforms with wooden plans and what looks like other construction material lying around.
These, of course, were nowhere to be found in Hyrule in Breath of the Wild– so what purpose could they serve? This is just us guessing, but to us, it looks like players will be building new structures and buildings here. The Ultrahand ability, which will allow players to glue materials and objects in the environment together to craft all manner of things, is obviously going to be a big part of the experience in Tears of the Kingdom, so it wouldn’t surprise us to see it being used to rebuild Hyrule in more tangible ways as well. Breath of the Wild sort of flirted with this idea with the side quest that saw Link overseeing the establishment of Tarrey Town- could Tears of the Kingdom take that several steps further and make that a much more mechanics-focused part of the experience?
In fact, it’s not just the surface world where it seems like players will have the ability to change the environment using the Ultrahand ability. At one point in the gameplay reveal, when Link is looking for objects to make his raft with which to craft the river, we can actually see in the background that small floating platforms and parts of the Sky Islands themselves are highlighted the same way as the logs and the fans, suggesting that they could be manipulated and glued together for using Ultrahand as well. Early on in the demonstration, we can see plenty of fallen debris from the Sky Islands on the surface as well. Could parts of the Sky Island and the fallen debris be used to craft elaborate structures? After all, if Link can use Rewind on debris to get to the Sky Islands as shown in the gameplay demo, it stands to reason that he could use other abilities on it as well, right?
TOWERS AND SHRINES
The towers and shrines powered by Sheikah technology that were scattered throughout Hyrule were, of course, a crucial component of the experience in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but it goes without saying that they’re very unlikely to return in any meaningful form. The technology that was powering them seems to have fizzled out, and more importantly, Nintendo is probably not going to reuse the exact same mechanic, especially with the game already reusing the same Hyrule map (at least on the surface world).
That said, it does seem like Tears of the Kingdom is going to have its own versions of towers and shrines. The former are pretty easy to spot throughout the recent gameplay demo. At several points, we can see distant towers jutting out of the ground with four beams of white light surrounding them. Visually, they’re pretty distinct, and though they don’t have the orange (or blue) glow of the towers in Breath of the Wild, the light they emit seems to be serving the same purpose of attracting players’ attention even from a distance.
What about Tears of the Kingdom’s version of shrines, then? Throughout the gameplay reveal, there are some curious recurring objects that can be spotted in the background, shaped like enlarged onion bulbs. Interestingly, only one of these – the one spotted close to the beginning of the demo has rings of what seems to be bright smoke billowing out from the top. Perhaps that’s what happens when you haven’t completed one of these shrines and activating them as a fast travel point on the map, in order to make them easy to spot from a distance? Functionally, that would be pretty similar to the orange glow of the shrines in Breath of the Wild.
It looks like Nintendo is making some interesting changes to how the minimap will be presented in Tears of the Kingdom. For the most part, from what we’ve seen so far, the game’s HUD is going to be pretty similar to what players will remember from Breath of the Wild, but specifically where the minimap is concerned, there are a few granular details that are worth taking note of. The one that you’ll likely spot right off the bat, and one that can be seen throughout the trailer, is that you can now see coordinates on the minimap, showing Link’s X, Y, and Z coordinates- which makes sense, since this is clearly a world that’s going to have plenty of verticality.
What’s also interesting is that the minimap seems to be functioning a little differently when you’re on the Sky Islands, in that it’s got much greater information that can be gleaned. In fact, all the time while Link is making his raft, if you pay close attention to the minimap instead, you’ll spot plenty of interesting icons. A number of caves are marked on the map, while some of them also have checkmarks next to them, possibly suggesting that those are the ones that have been discovered by the player. Caves being a prominent fixture in Tears of the Kingdom as opposed to Breath of the Wild makes plenty of sense, given the fact that the former introduces the new Ascend ability.
You can also spot a battery icon on the minimap, which, of course, is similar to the icon that appears on the screen when Link activates the fans he uses for his raft by hitting them. Clearly, there’s going to be plenty of battery operated objects in the game’s world that players will be able to use for the purposes of crafting using Ultrahand, and batteries will be found scattered throughout the world, and marked on the minimap as well.
On the map, you can also spot a glowing blue icon, which likely points to one of the shrines we spoke of earlier. Based purely on the colour scheme used in Breath of the Wild, we’re assuming blue means finished, which means the blue shrines marked on the map are the ones that have been completed and have been activated as fast travel spots. Interestingly, the minimap has no topographical details when Link is shown to be on the surface as compared to when he’s on the Sky Islands, which, of course, means that he hasn’t activated any of the towers we spoke of earlier. But does that mean that there will be no similar mechanic attached to the Sky Islands, and their maps will be filled out right out the gate? That remains to be seen.
There are a few other smaller details worth noticing in the gameplay reveal as well, which we’ll go through here quickly as we wrap this up:
- When Link is falling from the Sky Islands to the surface, you can see a massive pattern on the ground that resembles the shape of an animal. As Zelda fanatics will be aware, six out of eight dungeons in the original The Legend of Zelda on the NES had their layouts shaped like animals. Could these patterns represent where the game’s dungeons are?
- Something else that you can see while Link is skydiving is certain points of the map being engulfed in what looks like Ganon’s Malice, like tendrils of darkness floating outward. Could these be the dungeons instead, or are they something else entirely?
- Throughout the time that Link is shown to be on the Sky Islands, you can see grindrails scattered everywhere in the background. We saw a glimpse of this in the game’s most recent trailer in February as well, and clearly, they will be used as a means of travel between Sky Islands. Of course, there doesn’t seem to be as many of them in the background as something like, say, Sonic Frontiers, but railgrinding is clearly going to be big in Tears of the Kingdom.
- Early on, one of the Sky Islands shown in the distance is covered by a thick cover of dark clouds, with lightning sparking within. Perhaps some Sky Islands will be blocked off, requiring players to get certain abilities or specific clothes if they want to make it past weather-based obstacles?
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