Players of 2017's Breath of the Wild
were treated to a lush and expansive open world full of enticing and creative paths of gameplay. It was a game that captured the spirit of previous games in the franchise
, harkening so far back as the first game
by showing you the starting line and the finish line, then saying, 'Whatever you do in between these lines is completely up to you. Go have an adventure.'
You could say that Tears of the Kingdom
is more of the same. The game shows you the ropes, tells you what you eventually have to do, then nudges you off the ledge to literally dive into the world. Exploration, puzzle-solving, quests, side quests, the whole shebang. It even reuses the exact map from Breath of the Wild
, so great swaths of the gameplay experience even look and feel the same. Clinically one could say that of course it's a different map because of the obvious additions but look-and-feel-wise, it's more like Breath of the Wild 2: This Time There Are Caves and Shit
The reason this is so damn impressive is that these changes make it feel like an entirely new game. This isn't glorified DLC, this isn't laziness; this is reinvention. Breath of the Wild
is still the best-selling Zelda
game with a ten-million-copy lead on Tears of the Kingdom
and a twenty
-million-copy lead on the third-best-selling game (Twilight Princess
), so the 2017 rendition of Hyrule is, by now, a thoroughly-explored and familiar territory for a lot of people. They told us all to explore it and we did. Then they took the same map
and gave it every reason to explore it again
The Sky Islands and Depths are the biggest additions, but the Upheaval opened up dozens (hundreds?) of caves in what you can consider the 'surface' map. Regular old mountains and hills now have new things to explore. I don't know about you, but I always found it conspicuous that all the wells in Breath of the Wild
were conveniently filled in. Well (ha), now they're not. There's stuff down there, and plenty of reasons to go interact with it. Towns have changed, familiar characters have changed, and many of them have little side-quests to compel you toward finding out why.
Mechanically the skill wheel of the Sheikah Slate has been replaced with a new palette in the form of the Ultrahand. I won't spoil exactly how that happens, but you have five fun new abilities that change the way you engage with puzzles and enemies. Again, no spoilers, but all I will say is, 'All hail Recall. May Recall be with you, so say we all.'
There are even little quality-of-life things from Breath of the Wild
that they fixed here. Dropping weapons from the quick-change menu, dropping items when you open a chest and find one you want more, saved cooking recipes, that kind of thing. I almost don't want to spoil it, but they added items and clothing to counteract one of the biggest BOTW
annoyances, even for those of us who loved that game.
Nothing this big comes without its flaws, of course. You get used to the building mechanics, but that doesn't change how cumbersome it is. Like getting used to the N64 controller, which is a reference for the elderly people in the room. You also get the ability to fuse certain items to your weapons, but you can't do that conveniently when the item is already in your inventory. I won't say what it is, but this game's version of Champion abilities also leaves a pretty wide margin of error. Aside from being more things you just get used to, these gripes are just as small as BOTW
's in comparison to the magnificence of the game.
I am continually amazed at how much there is to do, and how they took a new approach to a lot of the fundamental aspects of the game. Everywhere I go, I'm looking for more little details and things to do. Zelda
is still handing you a world and telling you to go have an adventure, and it is downright incredible that they manage to make that adventure spellbinding with such a familiar canvas and palette.
The divine beasts weren't even bad though, it has always just been a point of criticism for die-hard Zelda fans specifically die hard fans of the OoT-TP era who missed the same old small key, boss key, dungeon setups from that era.
And I don't consider myself particularly slow/I've been using fast-travel a bit more than I should these past few days.
Once I realized that the depths map correlated to the overworld map, I used pins on my map to locate where the next shrine was gonna be and then used the shrine sensor to figure out whether it was gonna be in a cave or a crystal one.
depths exploring also came kinda naturally. I actually did most of it on foot I was just fast I guess. I didn't use the old maps from the sky because I realized you can spot where there's a grove/old canyon mine on the map if you look for the right spots (trees with chests in groves look like horseshoes so you can spot them on the map pretty easily) At that point once I figured out all the tricks to finish the game it felt more like chores and the game started to lose its fun for me.
But I'm speaking as someone older than The_Prep, he may actually have discovered MM recently so the nostalgia bias doesn't apply. Having replayed the two N64 Zeldas this year, they're still great games but they have aged quite a bit honestly, as so many early 3D games have. I can't imagine discovering them with a totally fresh mind today being as impressive as it was back then, but I may be wrong.
The ones in this game are distinctive again in terms of design and gimmicks and have distinct bosses, but as far as relative to the other 3D Zeldas go, they're a cut above Wind Waker's dungeons, which were the most simplistic in any 3D Zelda. That game also had partner escorting mechanics for its last two dungeons, although handled in a more restrictive way than the partner abilities here, which function like Zelda items in the past.
Luckily there's a lot more to the game than that that has kept me playing for over 100 hours, but this is my two cents on the four main dungeons.
Lightning > Fire > Air > Water