Like millions of other games, I’ve dug into Zelda Tears of the Kingdom. There’s no doubt in my mind that Zelda Tears of the Kingdom GOTY is a lock. After learning to love Breath of the Wild, I knew I’d play the sequel, but didn’t realize it would be this good.
The magic the new Ultrahand, Ascend and Fuse powers bring is unbeatable. All the devices available to build spawned a whole Youtube category. I’ll definitely spend tons of hours in this game.
Zelda Tears of the Kingdom Abilities Raises the Bar
Sure there’s a story about an ancient evil or whatever, but that’s not the real strength of the game. Even Breath of the Wild’s story took a back seat to the great gameplay. Where Zelda TOTK raises the bar to GOTY level is the new abilities.
Trying to climb to new heights was often tough in Zelda BotW. The stamina system remains in TOTK, but offers the Ascend ability as another option. If there’s an ceiling, there’s a good chance Ascend is available to use. I was relieved to be able to activate it and watch Link basically swim through the surface overhead to immerge on top of it.
Sure there’s still required climbing in spots, but high vantage points no longer always require a ton of stamina. I love that Link is now a human elevator with the new ability.
The Recall ability is another genius idea. If I found an object that fell, I could jump on and basically rewind the motion. When I’d find fallen rocks from the sky islands, I jump on and use Recall to take it back up like an elevator.
I also found it useful to use recall to launch rocks or object monsters throw at me right back at them. The larger ones that like to throw huge boulders are no match for this ability. I’m sure I’ll find similar uses later on.
The stamina meter that quickly ran out was an annoyance in BotW, but not nearly as much as the weapon durability system. Finding a great weapon was a mix of emotions. I’d want to use them, but knew the more I did, the quicker they’d break. This was especially bad when handling rarer weapons. Sure it forces experimentation, but then you can’t hold onto favorite weapons. I personally hated it.
Zelda Tears of the Kingdom’s Fuse ability is a great compromise to solve the issue. Weapons still have durability ratings and will eventually break, but Fuse makes it easier to create that weapon again. Now a simple stick can fuse with a rock to create a club. Great for breaking up rocks and monster skulls.
The system is not restricted just to melee weapons, shields and arrow heads are available to to fuse. Between items in the environment and in my inventory, it’s fun to experiment with different fuse combos. When I find a combo I like, it’s fairly easy to reproduce that weapon, at least so far.
I enjoy fusing spears with the flame emitter for an extended flamethrower. Even more fun was fusing a shield with a minecart. Combine that with shield surfing and it’s like a skateboard, complete with the ability to grind on rails. For arrow heads, my favorite combinations are with a monster eye to home in on targets and the bomb flower for explosive arrows.
It’s an amazing game mechanic, yet still not the best.
The real star of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom is the Ultrahand ability. It’s basically the Zelda version of Legos. Activating the ability allows me to pick up building materials, move them around and attach to other materials. Now building long bridges, ramps, boats and other basic contraptions are possible.
There’s even a ton of Zonai devices in the game to really launch that creative side. There’s glider wings, fans, wheels, springs, flame emitters, control sticks, rockets and so much more I didn’t discover in my game yet. If you search Youtube for Zelda TOTK devices, there are some amazing builds daily. Besides the obvious cars and aircraft, people are even building battle mechs. It’s nuts.
The Zonai devices all run primarily off of Link’s battery belt. There’s a whole upgrade path for that and charges to replenish it for longer journeys. Ultrahand cements Zelda Tears of the Kingdom GOTY, but it’s only part of a bigger package.
Zelda Tears of the Kingdom Secret Weapon, Autobuild
Where Ultrahand is great for building machines simple and complicated, they don’t save. When I died or loaded a save, any machine I built was gone. Not a big deal in the beginning, since I only have enough battery for small stuff, but imagine that happening to those battle mech builds.
Good thing Nintendo thought of that and added Autobuild to the game. Now that I found that ability in the Depths, I can easily recreate anything I’ve built, as long as the materials are nearby or in my inventory. When I eventually spend hours building things, which I will, I can store my favorites.
The ability includes both a recent builds list and a favorites list to bookmark the keepers. There’s even collectible schematics with prebuilt designs. Only one I have so far is a glider with triple fans, which is not kind on my small battery capacity right now. More devices draw extra power. I imagine the same goes for bigger or more powerful devices too.
I look forward to building an efficient death machine I can easily rebuild when hunting the large monsters. Seriously, Zelda Tears of the Kingdom GOTY.
Three Times the Map with Land, Sky Islands and the Depths
Zelda Breath of the Wild was full of mountains, valleys, forests and more. All with plenty of treasures and surprises to find. Even years later players discovered new things. The land map size of Tears of the Kingdom is just as big, but the game is really 3 times the size with Sky Islands and the Depths.
Promos for the game celebrated the new Sky Islands. Now the highest mountains were no longer the highest point. Some of the new abilities are essential for exploring these new land masses in the sky. It’s up there where most of my tutorial took place. It’s one of the main locations to acquire resources for the new machines also.
It adds to the challenge and necessity of the new abilities to navigate these new heights. So far, I’ve played around with fan powered gliders, rockets and hot hair balloons, but I know there’s much more. I’m looking forward to seeing what Nintendo did with the possibilities of this high altitude gameplay.
I’ve found plenty of Zonai device vending machines to gather portable fans, cannons, cooking pots, gliders, balloons and more. I’m really hoping to find the one with control sticks so I can actually steer my machines with ease. I’ll definitely upgrade my battery at every chance I get, as well.
The Sky Islands are a great addition alone, but the game practically triples in size with the addition of The Depths. I knew there were caves and dungeons to explore, but I didn’t realize the map basically had a basement. The depths area I’ve explored so far is huge.
Not only does it seem to stretch across the entire map, but it’s also very high. Most areas are actually large enough to fly gliders through. The sheer size of the explorable area and its monsters is not the only challenge.
I like that part of the The Depths gameplay involves lighting the path. There’s a new Brightbloom flower that grows on impact and lights a decent sized area in all directions. The game makes it clear you can attach them to arrows, but I highly prefer throwing them by hand to conserve those precious arrow.
There’s plenty of ore related to powering Zonai machines. I see a lot of farming resources at various levels of the map in my future.
Zelda Tears of The Kingdom will Win Game of the Year
Just based on what I’ve seen so far, Zelda Tears of the Kingdom GOTY is certain. Starfield, Diablo 4 and Spiderman 2 likely win nomination. I just don’t see any of them offer the creative that Zelda’s abilities offer. The size of the game and amount of hours it demands is intimidating. I look forward to soaking it all in.