Last night’s Nintendo Direct gave us what might well be our final look at The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom before the game finally arrives. It’s a fascinating trailer, and what’s most fascinating, perhaps, is the way it raises so many questions.
We got together this morning to work out what we all made of it. Here are some of our thoughts. What do you reckon?
What does it all MEAN!?
I’m equal parts disappointed that we didn’t get a deep dive into what Tears of the Kingdom IS exactly, and elated that it’s still keeping secrets. There were teases of new mechanics, powers, areas, a darker tone, and Ganon even got a voice – but what does the full package look like? What’s it like to play the sequel to one of the best games ever made? Show me!
Then I think of all the theories I’ve spent days of my life getting sucked into, and I’m happy we just got another tease. Will smarter fans than me finally translate the Zonai language? Was there even new Zonai words in this trailer? Is Zelda playable? What other unused Breath of the Wild concepts have creeped into the sequel? As good as I think Tears of the Kingdom is going to be, it’s never going to live up to the extraordinary hype surrounding it (has any game?), so maybe it’s a good thing we still know very little about it three months before release.
I don’t know what a slice of proper gameplay looks like just yet, but that’s okay. I can extend those days of watching theory videos to weeks now. It’s almost as good as playing a new Zelda game…almost.
Sequels sure love moons!
“Rise, rise my servants!” says the deep voice of…Ganondorf? The blood moon rises and enemies fall like meteors from a darkened sky. This latest trailer for Tears of the Kingdom is hinting at a welcome darker tone that I cannot wait to experience. Sequels love moons I guess.
Beyond that, the gameplay shown seems to tweak the existing basis of Breath of the Wild with a handful of new additions: homing arrows, rail grinding, and flying vehicles. The previous game has thrived for years due to its engine that rewards experimentation and in this new trailer it looks like Nintendo is baking more of that into the gameplay. What’s more, the emphasis on flight, floating islands, and Link frequently gliding through the clouds is taking the open air vibe of Breath of the Wild to stratospheric new levels.
I’m still left wanting though, but that’s a good thing. Each new trailer has layered on the mysteries – here, is the hand Link reaches for that of the strange figure in the previous trailer? Is that Hylia? And when Zelda cries “lend him your power!” who is she speaking to? Hylia? The other Link we’ve previously seen? Someone else entirely? While I don’t think it’s an indication of playable Zelda as some have speculated, if that’s not included Nintendo are surely missing a trick.
I almost don’t feel I’m ready for a new Zelda
The new Zelda looks absolutely wonderful, and I’m fascinated to see what Nintendo does with it. It’s going to be really interesting in part because Breath of the Wild was such a fresh approach to a series that had historically brought so much from the past along each time, I’m fascinated to see what the designers keep from the new model and what they ditch.
But when I watched the trailer, a tiny part of me was thinking: good as this looks, I’m weirdly not actually ready for it yet. Don’t kill me. I think this is down to the fact that Breath of the Wild is such a vast game – vast in scale, but also sort of conceptually vast. It’s a game I never really felt I got a proper foothold in regardless of how much I played. So while I’ve actually played 100 hours of it, I don’t actually feel like I’ve got that kind of ownership of it that Zelda games are often so good at creating in players. There’s still so much to see! And yet here’s an entirely new game coming along behind it! Good problem to have, I know. And I’m sure I will feel differently when the new game is on the shop ready to buy.
The sense of mystery is still somehow intact
Part of me was expecting a big blowout on Tears of the Kingdom last night – a deep dive into the new mechanics, the long-awaited confirmation that yes, Zelda will be playable in this instalment and a bit more besides. I’m absolutely delighted, though, that Nintendo didn’t choose that path, instead offering another short trailer that teased rather than offering any concrete answers.
Perhaps there will be a big Treehouse-like event nearer release, but right now I’m impressed that just months before its out Tears of the Kingdom maintains its sense of enigma. That sense of the unknown is part of the magic of the Zelda series, and unravelling what looks like a knotty, mechanically intricate take on the formula looks like a core part of Tears of the Kingdom’s appeal.
It’s going to be a strange Zelda, that’s for sure – more aligned with Skyward Sword or Majora’s Mask, which is no bad thing at all really. Weird Zelda is good Zelda, after all. There’s one take that’s tickled me more than any other so far, when Digital Foundry’s John Linneman pointed out its resemblance to Sonic Frontiers – like Sega’s recent open world opus, it’s Breath of the Wild’s landscape with some odd videogame furniture placed haphazardly on top. That’s kind of fascinating of itself, with the dungeon elements of the original now exposed, and with a different take on Skyward Sword’s premise of the entire overworld being a puzzle. It’s one I cannot wait to solve for myself in a few short months.
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