Originally posted on Wordpress on 15 May 2023

I took a lot of care to avoid spoilers for this game. I didn't look at any of the leaks; all I watched were the official trailers and gameplay footage videos from Nintendo. I didn't even read any of the reviews once the embargo was up. I wanted to go into Tears of the Kingdom completely fresh in order to see how well it built (or didn't) on Breath of the Wild.

I preordered this game, which I typically don't do. Most games go on sale a couple of months to a year after release and I can pick them up for cheap while I chip away at all the games on my backlog. However, I'm 99.9% sure main series Zelda games don't go on sale, so preordering was a way to make sure I could actually pick up a physical copy. And Nintendo games tend not to have the bugs and issues that plague so many new games nowadays, so I wouldn't have to wait for bugfixes to make the game playable. Also I didn't want spoilers, which would get increasingly more likely the longer I waited to play the game.

Now on to actually reviewing the game...

Zelda thinks the ruins were made by the Zonai.

Zonai confirmed, in case you missed Aonuma's gameplay video back in March.

You're thrown into the plot immediately. Breath of the Wild didn't have much of a plot in comparison to other Zelda games, which was one of the major criticisms of the game. I liked Breath of the Wild overall, but the lack of plot was probably the biggest flaw I had with the game. I'm still very early into Tears of the Kingdom, but it already seems like the story will be a larger part of the game than in Breath of the Wild.

The controls are largely the same as Breath of the Wild...except for one thing. In Breath of the Wild, the "Up" arrow on the D-pad allowed you to access the runes on the Sheikah slate. The equivalent abilities in Tears of the Kingdom are accessed with the Left button. I don't think I've gotten this correct on the first try yet. I haven't played Breath of the Wild since 2019, but the controls are still ingrained into my muscle memory.

A cave on the starting sky island.

Yes, I'm making this mistake constantly even though it says "L" right there on the screen.

Visually, the game isn't too different. It's a sequel using the same engine and reusing a lot of assets, so this is to be expected. That isn't to say that Hyrule looks the same as in Breath of the Wild. It doesn't! I've haven't explored very much of the overworld, but there's a lot that's changed. Not to mention that there are islands in the sky (one being the tutorial area) and an underworld. There's a lot of new stuff to look at and explore. I've only experienced a little bit of lag, and it was limited to the tutorial area.

Also, arrows. There are so many arrows in this game! I keep getting arrows from everything! I remember arrows being hard to get in Breath of the Wild, so this is something I'm quite happy about.

The inventory system is massively improved...with the exception of one thing. You used to be able to hold down the right or left buttons and scroll through each category. You can't do that anymore; you have to press the button for each category to get to the one you want.

A potential missing poster for Zelda.

I think this is a missing poster for Zelda.

Just like in Breath of the Wild, there are shrines in this game, and they allow you to get more hearts or expand the stamina wheel. I've only done 11 of the shrines, but they seem to be easier and less obnoxious than the ones in Breath of the Wild. Maybe I've simply gotten better at puzzles these past few years.

When you bring a wild horse to a stable to register it, something I didn't expect happens: you can import the horses from your Breath of the Wild save - if you played Breath of the Wild on the same Switch.

Imported horses from Breath of the Wild.

My old horses! And Sable, which is the horse I caught in Tears of the Kingdom.

Like I mentioned before, I'm in the very early parts of the game. There is so much I've encountered so far that wasn't in any of the trailers or gameplay videos. Did you know that there are wells all over the place that you can explore? And poes in the underground that you can trade to a shopkeeper for rewards? And an underground that's quite extensive and different from anything I've seen in a Zelda game before? And trees that uproot themselves and walk around and make me jump every time I see them? I could go on and on for another 800 words and not be done.

I am definitely going to have fun playing this game and discovering what else there is.