Eiji Aonuma himself presented gameplay today for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. He starts off with some big news – development on Tears of the Kingdom is complete, finally.
When he begins this brief glimpse of gameplay, we’re shown Link riding a horse through Hyrule, tattoos like Ashitaka’s corrupted arm in Princess Mononoke in full force across his body. In the video above, Zelda Team’s director showcases changes to the map, how to navigate to those mysterious new locations in the sky, the evolution of weapon durability, and exponential growth in customizable gameplay through new spells and mechanics that will wholy differentiate Tears of the Kingdom as a long awaited sequel from Breath of the Wild.
While at first glance, the game looks exactly like footage of Breath of the Wild, Aonuma notes the map has been changed immensely, and if we were to cover those changes we’d be here all day. One thing that could have easily gone unnoticed is new pinpoint markers, expanding on the point of interested system introduced in Breath of the Wild. He then points out those monolithic land masses in the air: these are Sky Islands. He looks up with the camera to a rubble structure falling from the sky. If you find them once they land, you can use Link’s new ability and rewind time to scale back up to the sky island. The ability is called “Recall”
You can use the paraglider to move between clusters of sky islands. He hints at several methods of reaching sky islands across the map. The sky islands have unique structures and environment design. New enemy encounters are shown against a creature called a Construct; it seems to have a Sheikah eye on its face, and has glowing energy between its joints reminiscent of the glowing green power on Link’s arm in the first trailers of this game.
Weapon durability is back, as demonstrated in whacking this Construct with a tree branch. Link picks up a Soldier Construct Horn and a Zonai Charge, likely similar to the Guardian and Monster parts collected in Breath of the Wild. The weapons durability system not only has returned, but Nintendo and Zelda Team have doubled down on it with the newest feature shown next in the demo: Fuse.
“Fuse” combines objects together such as a wooden branch and a boulder, to create new weapons. Aonuma also shows a combination of a long stick and a pitchfork. This works with arrows as well. He points out the birds above, and they’re out of reach for a normal arrow. He uses Fuse to combine a monster eyeball and an arrow to home in on the target. Aonuma then fuses a mushroom to his shield, showing its use as a sort of defensive smoke bomb. This gameplay uses the Minecraft like elemental combinations and cranks it to 100% with these tools.
Some enemies are equipped with fused weapons, so even if enemies are the same as last time, they’ll have a massive variety of weapons to attack you with. Link is then thwacked off the cliffside of a Sky Island, and transitions seamlessly into skydiving down to Hyrule, doing a Fortnite halo jump with a classic “where we droppin boys?” rush down into a lake.
Another new ability, “Ultrahand,” is then demonstrated to build a boat: combining logs to build a raft. While it floats, it has no propulsion, so he takes a nearby fan and attaches it to the back of the new raft. Aouma shows a new traversal ability called Ascend. As long as there is a ceiling, Link can phase through it. Even in a dense cave ceiling, but ascent allows Link to swim through the stone and up to the top of the cliff above.
The presentation concludes with a reveal of the rumored Switch OLED model for Tears of the Kingdom with green and gold joy con controllers and a theme skinned dock for the Nintendo Switch. The Switch OLED model is releasing on April 28th ahead of the game’s release on May 12th, 2023. On the game’s launch day are other exclusive accessories, such as a Tears of the Kingdom themed Pro Controller.
Featured Image Credit: Nintendo