5 Things To Know Before You Play “Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” is one of the biggest video game releases of 2023. The sequel to “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” widely considered one of the best video games of all time, “Tears of the Kingdom” was released on May 12 for the Nintendo Switch. If you’re just about to dive in, here’s what you need to know about Nintendo’s most important game in years.

1. You don’t need to have played “Breath of the Wild” to play “Tears of the Kingdom”

While “Tears of the Kingdom” is technically a sequel to “Breath of the Wild,” you need not have played the first game to enjoy the second. “Legend of Zelda” games have always been pretty loose with their stories and, while “Breath of the Wild” and “Tears of the Kingdom” have plots more notable than any past games in the series, they’re entirely standalone.

With that said, if you did play the first game, you’re in for a real treat. The events that kick off “Tears of the Kingdom” cataclysmically reshape Hyrule. Giant cracks in the Earth have reshaped many areas of the map and give you access to a gigantic underworld called the Depths; Sky Islands add a whole new dimension to the game; and there are dozens of smaller changes, too. For example, Lurelin, a fun little beachside village in the first game, has now been raided by pirates.

2. “Tears of the Kingdom” gets wild

“Breath of the Wild” could be a pretty chaotic game. In many quests, you were able to take whatever approach you wanted. Attack from afar with arrows? Sure. Lob some bombs, then close in with an axe? Absolutely. Or just go back to classic “Zelda,” and slash and parry with the Master Sword.

But “Tears of the Kingdom” takes things even further. There’s a new power called Fuse that allows you to attach anything to a weapon—and we mean anything. You can Fuse a boulder to a stick to make an improvised weapon that does more damage and lasts longer, or you can Fuse an enemy eyeball to an arrow to make a homing arrow or even Fuse a fire emitter onto the end of a spear to make a flamethrower. Really, the only limit is your willingness to experiment with all the different possible combinations. (Best of all, if you hated having your weapons breaking in the first game, Fuse means you can extend their lifespan just by attaching more things.)

Another new power called Ultrahand also totally changes up the gameplay. It allows you to solve puzzles in temples, create bridges to cross areas and even build vehicles like carts and gliders that can be powered by rockets and fans to make getting around the world easier.

Look, we weren’t lying when we said this game is wild—and these are just some of the bits we can talk about without spoiling things too much. But if you enjoyed the sheer randomness of “Breath of the Wild,” the good news is “Tears of the Kingdom” absolutely doubles down.

3. These tips and tricks will help you out

While we don’t want to give too much away or spoil anything important, here are a couple things to keep in mind as you start playing “Tears of the Kingdom.” It’s a massive game and should take 70 to 100 hours just to finish the main storyline, so getting things off to a good start is essential.

  • Don’t go too fast. Some of the early areas of the game, like Great Sky Island and Lookout Landing, have characters that can help you, plus important items to find. If you rush to get to the rest of Hyrule, you might miss some things that will make the game a lot easier.
  • Grab plenty of Zonai Devices. When you find a Zonai Device Dispenser, grab a few items. They’re important for building your wild and wonderful creations with Ultrahand.
  • Experiment, experiment, experiment. There is no one way to play “Tears of the Kingdom.” With powers like Fuse, Ultrahand and Rewind (which reverses objects through time), as well as countless different weapons and a giant open-hand map, your options are basically limitless. Play around and see what works for you.
  • Go vertical. With the Sky Islands and the Depths, powers like Ascend and tools like the paraglider, “Tears of the Kingdom” is a very vertical game. Don’t be afraid to try and go over or under obstacles as you explore.
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4. The reviews are great

When a series is as beloved as “The Legend of Zelda,” the latest game is a sequel to one of the best action adventure games of all time, and fans had to wait six years for this sequel, so there is understandably a lot of hype. The good news is, it’s not overblown.

With a 96 on Metacritic and perfect (or near-perfect) scores from all the major gaming publications, “Tears of the Kingdom” is not a game to miss. It looks set to be one of the best Nintendo Switch games ever made.

5. You can find help online

Like the first game, “Tears of the Kingdom” has a huge amount going on and doesn’t really hold your hand. If you hear about a quest you want to do nearby, you have to open your map and place a pin yourself. This is a far cry from most other open-world games like, well, “Far Cry,” that give you a map filled with things to do. In “Tears of the Kingdom,” you have to explore and find things out for yourself.

And while that’s certainly fun, it can also be a real pain. If you don’t catch what an NPC says, forget to place a pin or just take a break for a few days and can’t remember where you were meant to go, you can be totally at a loss. That is, without the internet.

Like “Breath of the Wild,” “Tears of the Kingdom” looks set to have a huge online fan community sharing tips and tricks, fan-made maps of important locations and lots and lots of YouTube videos guiding you through the hardest parts of the game.

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