As you almost certainly know, Nintendo shared more gameplay of the Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom earlier today. In this video, they had Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma play the game, with a focus on demonstrating the new mechanics implemented in the title.
Here’s the video in question:
And it’s an interesting one to say the least. Why? Because despite showing us more of the moment to moment gameplay than ever before, the footage actually raises even more questions than it answers.
So let’s go through it, look at what’s been demonstrated in the video, and try to work out how it all fits together…
Starting with the first ability demonstrated: Recall. It’s a crazy ability that rewinds time, letting you ride the rocks back to the floating islands they fell from or send enemies right back at them. In most games this would be about as ridiculous as it gets, and there would probably be a huge focus on it in the video…
But that’s not the case here. We’re told it exists, shown how to use it to reach the sky, and that’s it. Kinda underwhelming for how much it could possibly do.
Yet not particularly surprising given the other stuff shown in the video. Like Fuse, the next major power demonstrated in this video.
This is absolutely insane.
Why? Because it lets you basically build your own weapons and items by taking weapons and objects, and fusing them with materials. So, you can make a hammer by grafting a rock onto a stick you find…
Make a shield that confuses enemies by adding a mushroom that releases a huge cloud of spores…
Or even make fancy arrows by adding things like Chuchu Jelly or Keese Eyeballs to them, giving them elemental powers or homing abilities in the progress.
It’s incredible really, and with such things as being able to make a longer spear by fusing two spears together, or add literally anything in your inventory to the item if you have it (meat included), you have to wonder exactly where the possibilities even end here. Do we make Ancient Arrows by fusing Zonai or Sheikah gear with arrows? Do gemstones make shields or weapons stronger?
How exactly do things like Star Fragments factor into this?
Honestly, it’s impossible to tell, but it makes us excited for the game nonetheless, and goes a long way to explaining where some of these 6 years of work went.
As does the next ability here, Ultrahand.
That’s because where Fuse merges materials and items, this one merges objects in the overworld instead. As a result, you can do things like create rafts by attaching multiple logs to each other…
Then add an engine by taking a fan and attaching that to the logs. It’s again, rather incredible to look at, and (as mentioned in the video), lets you create everything from flying rafts to hot air balloons to cars and planes with enough originality.
And it also makes us wonder what the limitations are here. Can you make a tank or plane out of these components, using the cannons from near Goron City? Can you build a full blown mech, kinda like that boss someone made in Super Mario Maker? What sorts of crazy contraptions are future players gonna be coming up with when the game launches on May this year?
Honestly, we’re not sure, but we’re very excited to find out.
With the same being true of the last ability shown too. Namely, Ascend.
Yeah, this is the one that lets you warp through ceilings. And, as you can guess… it’s a pretty damn powerful ability overall.
That’s because it seemingly goes through any ceiling you can reach the top of, including entire mountains. So, by merely finding a cave in the right location, you can scale a whole hillside in seconds.
So ability wise, it looks interesting. You’ve got 4 new abilities, they’re all incredibly powerful in what they enable from the player, and they all completely shake up the land of Hyrule here.
But they’re not the only addition. No, we also see a new type of enemy too. Namely, this Zonai robot called a Construct.
They’re a neat concept, and their design certainly looks menacing to say the least.
Yet the actual mechanics of them seem a tad… uninspired. Indeed, based on what we’ve seen here, they’re based Sky Bokoblins in everything except name, with their abilities being merely attacking Link with basic weapons and dying in a matter of seconds.
So it’s a tad less exciting than the design would suggest here. Ah well, at least the drops seem interesting, with one of the items being literally referred to as a ‘Zonai Charge’. Maybe that will actually come in useful for crafting down the line.
Finally, we got to see how seamlessly the two worlds connected too. Why? Because the sky diving at the end lets Link go straight from the sky islands to the ground whenever he likes here.
Yeah, it’s pretty neat, and a huge step up from how Skyward Sword did it back in the Wii era.
Worries and Thoughts
So that’s all the Tears of the Kingdom info. It’s certainly promising to look at, and it definitely appears to be a lot more complex than we originally gave it credit for.
But there are a few things that worry us nonetheless. For one thing, how is game balance going to work here?
Because the abilities we got shown are incredibly powerful in the hands of a skilled player, and seem like the kind of thing that would utterly trivialise any of the original game’s dungeon or quest design. Seriously, imagine how short the Zora’s Domain trek would be with sky islands or flying vehicles! Or how insanely easy the shrines would be if you could ascend through ceilings or fuse objects into giant mechanical monstrosities like this.
Hence the game really needs to add some things to take advantage of the power boost. Tougher and more interesting enemies, more complex dungeon puzzles, quests that can’t be completely trivialised by taking a vehicle to them. That sort of thing.
And we haven’t really seen that in the footage so far (whether in today’s video or the previous trailers). Instead, we’ve seen enemies that go down about as quickly as a Bokoblin would, puzzles you can basically sleepwalk through, and a world that can seemingly be traversed in record time as a result of it all.
So here’s hoping Nintendo has thought this out there. That the Redeads and Gleeocks and giant block golems and other new enemies seen in the trailers put up a good fight against these new abilities, and that the final battle against Ganondorf is less of a snoozefest than the one against the ‘Calamity’ and its cutscene esque final form was.
We’re also rather worried about the similarites in the world design too. Since well… it doesn’t really seem all that different here.
Okay, the sky islands seem to be somewhat fleshed out with places to go (including towns if the mini map is to be believed!), and there are hints in previous trailers that the caves underneath Hyrule have a large amount of things to see and do as well…
Yet the surface of Hyrule itself feels a tad samey to me. Oh sure, the Sheikah tech seems to be gone, and the placements of enemy camps and things seem to be a tad different here…
But you can tell the basic geography is all the same. The towns and stables are in the same locations, landmarks and trees are in similar locations, and even the music feels very much the same as the last game here.
So we do worry there. That perhaps one of the reasons we have such awesome abilities and fast travel possibilities is because Hyrule doesn’t have much new to see there, and that the ground based portions of the game will feel like a retread.
Regardless, we’re optimistic nonetheless. The new content looks good, and the new abilities do seem to add a decent amount to the experience. It’s just the question of how much else has changed with it.