After first being teased at E3 2019, without an official name, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is out now for the Nintendo Switch. As a sequel to the critically and commercially acclaimed Breath of the Wild, which reimagined the modern open-world formula, it introduces several new mechanics to the established formula. Considering how well its predecessor holds up, what are some of the biggest differences fans can look forward to in the sequel? Let’s check out 16 of them here.
Hyrule Changes and Sky Islands
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild introduced us to a brand new version of Hyrule, one where players could go anywhere and climb just about anything. Many of the series’ familiar races, like the Zora, Goron, Rito, and Gerudo, appear along with the Hylians.
Though Tears of the Kingdom takes place in the same Hyrule, it’s after the first game’s events and sees Link investigating a strange new gloom. The world has changed, from the Sky Islands appearing over the surface to changes in familiar locations. Players begin their journey on the Sky Islands and judging by the screenshots and gameplay shared thus far, you’ll be skydiving a lot.
One of the more divisive mechanics in Breath of the Wild revolved around weapon durability. Aside from the Master Sword, which “recharges” after some time, every weapon could break with enough usage. In Tears of the Kingdom, weapon durability is still a thing, but you can now use Fuse to mitigate some of it. Fuse lets you combine items with weapons, creating a sword on a stick for extra range, Keese Eyes on arrows for tracking, etc. Not only does this reinforce weapons, making them more durable, but increases their damage.
The first game gave you quite a few options for traversal. You could use horses as mounts, slide down a slope on your shield, and use the Paraglider. Other methods included Stasis on a boulder, hitting it enough times for momentum, and then jumping on top to go flying. That last one seems up for debate since Stasis doesn’t look to be in Tears of the Kingdom (barring some massive twist).
However, players can combine different objects to create vehicles, bridges, and more, courtesy of the Ultrahand ability. You can craft gliders, hot-air balloons, and more to travel around. There’s also Ascend, which allows for passing through the ceiling of an area and emerging into the space above. It has a lot of potential for puzzle-solving, and from what we’ve seen thus far, it helps save stamina when climbing rocks. Of course, you still have mounts and the Paraglider for getting around, so don’t worry.
Another interesting new ability in the sequel is Recall. While Stasis in Breath of the Wild allows players to freeze an object in place, Recall rewinds the path of an object. So if rocks fall from the sky, you can cast Recall and hop on to ride them back up, as seen in the 10-minute gameplay preview with series producer Eiji Aonuma. It’s also a great defensive tool – if an enemy chucks a boulder at Link, use Recall to send it back at them.
Towns and Settlements
The first game had its fair share of towns and settlements, including familiar hubs of activity like Kakariko Village and Hateno Village. While it’s unknown how places like Gerudo Town, Goron City, Rito Village and Zora’s Domain have changed in Tears of the Kingdom, a recent trailer has shown Hateno, which looks different from before. Nintendo also confirmed on the game’s official page that new towns have emerged, so there will be new havens to seek shelter in.
Side Quests and Activities
We don’t know much about all the new quests and activities in Tears of the Kingdom. However, Koroks return, and one such side quest sees players trying to reunite a Korok with their friend instead of simply finding them in the environment. It also seems possible for settlements to face attacks, with Link riding around the battlefield to assist characters against monsters. You can even pull carts with horses and ferry NPCs to different places. These weren’t in Breath of the Wild, and we can’t wait to see what else is in store.
Skyview Towers vs Sheikah Towers
Breath of the Wild’s Sheikah Towers were noteworthy parts of the landscape, not just because they presented interesting platforming challenges but also for unlocking that region on the map. They also wouldn’t shower you in icons to explore so much as provide vantage points to scope out the terrain and paraglide off of. The Towers are seemingly absent in Tears of the Kingdom, but recent previews have showcased a Skyview Tower. Enemies guard it at the ground level, but there seems to be an elevator that takes you up. However, its function is unknown at this point.
Caves and Chasms
In addition to new settlements, Skyview Towers and altered locations in Tears of the Kingdom, Link will also venture into caves and explore chasms which have suddenly sprung up through Hyrule. Nintendo didn’t provide too many details on the latter, but it’s an interesting new addition to the world compared to Breath of the Wild. There are undoubtedly some new secrets and threats that await within.
Throughout Hyrule, monsters would set up camps that Link could clear for crafting materials, weapons and food. They were pretty straightforward, but in Tears of the Kingdom, the Bokoblins have a few upgrades. The third official trailer showcases a Bokoblin camp with a device that fires lasers outward while spinning (which Link can trigger). It also sees them constructing a rudimentary base on top of a Stone Talus, readying to battle Link on his shuffling contraption.
Constructs vs Guardians
One of the new enemy types in Tears of the Kingdom is the Constructs, mechanical beings that seem somewhat akin to the Guardians from Breath of the Wild. While they can also wield multiple weapons at once, perhaps their most unique ability is also being able to wield fused weapons. Slaying them also grants materials for obtaining new Zonai Devices, while the Guardians’ materials can craft powerful weapons, armor and arrows.
As previously noted, the Stone Talus returns in Tears of the Kingdom, encountered in the world as a separate boss. However, we have seen other massive enemies that could be bosses. A large Construct made of blocks is visible in the same trailer, while an even larger, mech-like Construct can be seen in the third (though it’s unconfirmed if this is actually a boss). There’s also this massive three-head hydra-like boss with fire present in the world.
New Beasts (?)
The trailers for Tears of the Kingdom have also showcased some massive creatures, not unlike the Beasts from Breath of the Wild. We see Link and a new Rito character in what seems to be a tornado while a massive centipede-like monster emerges from beneath them. Are they brand new Beasts or just new bosses that Link must defeat? Does this mean that we’ll encounter new Dungeons, and how will they work in the larger context of the world? Will they be optional, like in Breath of the Wild? As always, time will tell.
As noted in recent previews for Tears of the Kingdom, players can obtain Zonai Charges from defeating Constructs. By placing these in dispensers, they can net Zonai parts in little capsules, which can be deployed to construct things at any time. Yes, it’s gacha, but more of the fun kind, instead of the “lose your life savings” kind. There was no such gacha in Breath of the Wild, so score one for the sequel (we think).
Ganondorf vs Calamity Ganon
The third trailer for Tears of the Kingdom essentially confirmed what many had suspected – that somehow, some way, Ganondorf has returned, voiced by Matthew Mercer of Overwatch and Baldur’s Gate 3 fame. Not Calamity Ganon, who plagued Hyrule in Breath of the Wild but Ganondorf, in the flesh. He has a weird ability that engulfed Link’s arm, but the full extent of his powers is unknown.
$70 versus $60
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a $70 title, the first from Nintendo’s first-party developers in the Switch era (and maybe previous ones). Breath of the Wild retailed for $60, but it didn’t seem all that shocking considering PlayStation and Xbox have embraced the same pricing structure. However, Nintendo assured that game prices were determined on a “case-by-case basis” and that this isn’t the trend for all its titles. Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser also felt that the price reflected “the type of experience fans can expect,” and that it would be “incredibly full” and “deeply immersive.” So there’s that.
When the Nintendo eShop listing for Tears of the Kingdom first went live, it was revealed to be a whopping 18.2 GB, the biggest of any first-party release on the Nintendo Switch. It then updated to 16.3 GB, which is smaller, but still more than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which is 14.4 GB. Either way, it’s looking to be a massive experience.