A New Quest
Zelda's Tears of the Kingdom is Finally Here
I, like so many out there, are collectively doing one thing right now: playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (TotK). It is rare for so many to play the same video game, but this is easily one of those moments.
Aside from friends with kids who I see playing either Fortnite or Animal Crossing, every single person on my Switch friends list is playing TotK. I've been waiting a year for this game. I talked in previous posts about my issues simply trying to pre-order the Collector's Edition. So now it's been a bit over a week and how is it?
In one word: Amazing.
The Zelda series has been going strong since its American debut in late 1986. This new entry is a direct sequel to the groundbreaking installment titled Breath of the Wild. That was a Switch launch title and has an insane-to-believe nearly 1:1 attach rate to all Switches bought at launch. That game broke the traditional convention of what a Zelda game could be. Personally, I loved it. Until Animal Crossing, BotW was my most-played Switch game, clocking in at a bit over 140 hours.
Sequels are dangerous territory though. Regardless of the medium, it is a delicate balance of giving people the same thing but differently. You have to capture that lightning again but make it new enough that people enjoy it. This balancing act is the main reason why "Insert Movie Here" 2 and Spinoff TV show aren't as good as the first. Tears breaks away from this and is incredibly good.
Nintendo decided to go all in on the Z-Axis and turn the sky into a major part of the game. Instead of running to mountain tops simply to jump off to explore, you find ways to soar above the clouds into an entirely new realm. These "Sky Islands" hold secrets and endless exploration. They're also quite hard to reach, making each venture skyward a special event.
In true sequel fashion, everything I loved about the prior game is there but with some Quality of Life tweaks to make things a bit easier (the Ascend ability is clutch). It only took me a few minutes to re-learn all the controls and get back into the game. Of course, it didn't hurt that the game goes right into the story and ramps up quickly with some incredible story-building and fantastic music.
Nintendo has outdone itself with this game and I am truly impressed it is as good as it is. The prior game had its critics, some with valid points. TotK may not be for everyone, but it is for most people. Just like BotW, it embraces a "You must save the world!! But do it whenever you're ready" pace. You know from the outset what is asked of you, but that's where the urgency ends. I love that I set my own pace and can allow myself to get endlessly sidetracked. It turns the game's progression into one that's uniquely mine. And that is the core strength of Tears.
The only question left is if it'll end up being first, second, or third in my all-time playtime of Switch games.
Before You Go…
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