The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild might be remembered as the era-defining videogame for the Nintendo Switch, being unlike everything else before it. And six years later, Nintendo had to follow it up. How do you follow up on something like Breath of the Wild? If you’re Nintendo, the answer is apparently “Just surpass it”. If Breath of the Wild struck gold, then Tears of the Kingdom is the entire goldmine that came from that first strike.
Tears of the Kingdom has a very solid case for being the single most anticipated title on the Switch, in no small part because of the massive success of its predecessor - and like a real legend, it lives up to the hype and then surpasses it. There is a world full of content and many stories to explore - from the sky above, to the depths below, and everything in between.
The Good- Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Tears of the Kingdom is everything that Breath of the Wild was, cranked up to 11. Everything has been expanded on to the point where it has become common to hear that Breath of the Wild feels like a demo, while Tears of the Kingdom is the complete game that it should have always been. And it’s easy to see why: every positive aspect that Breath of the Wild had is still present in Tears of the Kingdom in a more robust and interesting way.
It’s hard to get started on talking about the positives of the game because…There are just too many! And I mean that in a very literal way: there is so much content in the game. Tears of the Kingdom features a plethora of side quests, extra objectives, collectibles, upgrade possibilities, enemies, minigames… the list goes on! It’s overwhelming and very exciting.
And the variety is worth mentioning in spades. Breath of the Wild was big, but things such as enemy variety were on the scarcer side, and the gameplay felt very focused on just a few elements - but now? If you don’t want to fight or explore, you can build, play minigames, create your own house, take pictures of an expanded list of monsters, skydive, listen to a musical troupe, race…The sky isn’t even the limit anymore.
The variety of content means that no matter what, there’ll always be something to do in Tears of the Kingdom, even if you aren’t in the mood to explore. But if you are in the mood to explore, a special mention has to be given to the depths.
The Depths of Hyrule is one of the most engaging areas in the entire franchise to explore, being as massive as the entire regular map, with its own set of challenges, story beats, and secrets. It is a microcosm of the entire game, with the perfect forebodingly mysterious mood to make conquering it all the more rewarding.
The marketing might have been focused on the Sky Islands, but after playing the game, it’s undeniable that for sheer fun, the depths of Hyrule earn the highest scores - and still are only one-third of the map!
- Enhanced every positive of the previous title
- MASSIVE amount of varied content
- New areas that are ridiculously fun to explore.
The Bad - And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!
Tears of the Kingdom is incredible gameplay-wise, but on the story front, it has a couple of fumbles. Nintendo is well-known for putting gameplay first, but for those like me who really enjoyed the simple story of Breath of the Wild and its more memorable aspects… Some of the magic is lost in this sequel.
Almost everything that was significant story-wise in the previous game is nowhere to be seen - the Divine Beasts, Sheikah Towers, Sheikah Shrines, and all guardians are gone and go almost entirely unmentioned. The Champions and their connections to Link are also deliberately avoided, which is a bitter pill to swallow when the four of them left such a great impression.
That extends to the antagonists and other story aspects as well. Calamity Ganon and his Malice might as well not have existed despite the fact that there are many obvious similarities to the Gloom in this game. It’s perfectly fine to want to move on to the next story without banking on the previous one, but with everything else being a direct sequel, the lack of acknowledgement of the past title makes parts of the story in Tears of the Kingdom extremely jarring.
The gameplay choices for some of Link’s new abilities also don’t feel as exciting as the previous ones. Link is given a helping avatar for each of his companions to help in battle and use abilities, but they’ll only use them if Link is directly in front of them. Want to make use of support during a fight? You'd better be fine with disengaging and chasing your buddy around the battlefield.
And finally, the building mechanic. It can be fun to make all sorts of contraptions, but the building aspect takes a lot of time and feels very separate from the entire rest of the game. Stopping to build vehicles took too long and actually took me out of the exploration, and recurring building puzzles didn’t feel worth the time and trouble.
I’d spend a good 10-15 minutes figuring out the best way to align a wheel or wood plank, only to realise that I could have saved time - and had more fun - had I just moved on with the game instead. The idea of building is excellent, but the process of building isn’t: it’s too slow, methodical, and monotonous for a game all about exploration and action.
- A disappointing lack of acknowledgement of the previous plot and characters
- Unintuitive, annoying mechanics for core power-ups
- Building doesn’t mesh well with the pace of the game
Final Score: 9/10
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is good. It is actually really hard to put into words how much of an absolute gem it is because, as I said before, there is just so much to it. This is the type of game that deserves large essays written about it, in the best way possible. The internet has been flooded with explanations as to why so many of its system mechanics are ground-breaking and how incredible it is - and they are all correct.
Tears of the Kingdom has done the impossible: it has fully lived up to its own hype, and we all know how huge that hype was.
The only thing keeping it from a perfect score is the fact that its few negative points are very much connected to its most front-and-center positives as well; but make no mistake, Tears of the Kingdom is, without a doubt, at the very top of any “must play” list for the Nintendo Switch throughout its entire lifespan.
Thank you for checking out our The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Switch review, thank you to Nintendo AU/NZ for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: