The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Review – Better than Breath of the Wild?

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the ambitious follow up to the 2017 hit, Breath of the Wild. That game is widely heralded as one of the best games of all time. It won the Game of the Year award and developed a devoted player base. It was truly a once in a lifetime game. The game was clearly destined to have a sequel, though. The Legend of Zelda franchise has gone on throughout the years, ranging from 1987 to 2023 now. There’s no reason Nintendo would stop at arguably the highest peak any franchise has seen.

Zelda ToTK

Source: Nintendo

Sure enough, six years later, Tears of the Kingdom has arrived. When it first released, it received 10/10s from nearly every major video game review outlet. Could it really be as good or even better than its industry-changing predecessor?

How good is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?

What Tears of the Kingdom does is expand on Breath of the Wild in nearly every way. It’s bigger. The entire Hyrule map is back and while it’s not exactly the same, it’s only a third of what the developers included. There’s an expansive sky system with plenty of islands and things to do. That part was revealed in the trailer, but the depths were not. Nintendo added full worlds above and below the existing map. So much for this being a $70 DLC.

Tears of the Kingdom

The game has a full sky map, the original map and a full depths to explore

Ignoring the fact that they did that, there is perhaps some qualm to be had about keeping the same map from the original game, but it’s not the same map. The layout is the same, but it has to be in order for it to be set in the same place. There are new shrines, new terrain, new items and new enemies all over the map. It’s the same land, but it feels like an entirely new game. Unless one had memorized the entire original map, the new one won’t feel like it’s even remotely repetitive.

What do people want from a sequel?

A sequel is supposed to take what works from a game (or other form of media) and expound on it. Make it bigger and better. That’s exactly what Tears of the Kingdom does. It’s a much bigger map and it has much better aspects. People may be frustrated initially with having to use Ultrahand and Fusion instead of Cryonis and the Remote Bomb. However, making them different is what makes it feel even more like a totally new game. You can’t just pick up with your Breath of the Wild knowledge and go from there. Side note: The Ascend ability is the best ability anyone has put in a video game in a long time.

Technical masterpiece

The word masterpiece is thrown around for Tears of the Kingdom a lot. There’s good reason for that as it is likely a shoo in for Game of the Year. However, from a technical standpoint, that word might not do it justice. The Nintendo Switch is known for its exclusive games and its innovation (i.e. being handheld and docked). It is not known for being a powerful console. It’s not up to the current standards that Xbox and PlayStation are putting out.

However, what this game does is a marvel. The Switch isn’t powerful, yet the game is able to do some impressive things. It records everything that every item does on the off chance that players will use the rewind ability on it. It allows players to go through any ceiling they find. Tears of the Kingdom has pretty good graphics for a Switch game, too. Anything that players find, they can fuse it to a weapon or combine it to another item on the ground. These things shouldn’t really be possible on a 2017 Switch, but they are.

Can Tears of the Kingdom really be better than Breath of the Wild?

For many, Breath of the Wild is the best game of all time. It was highly acclaimed, redefined the genre and showcased what an open world game could be. Players sunk hundreds of hours into it without even realizing. How could Nintendo outdo themselves? It seems like they have. Tears of the Kingdom is bigger and expands upon every aspect of its predecessor.

It’s got more to do. It’s got more to explore. The storyline is cohesive and follows sensibly from the original. Many would argue that the new story is even better than the original and that was an excellent story. If a sequel routinely excels and does better than the original, it’s really hard to argue against the sequel being better. Even if the original is an all-time great game, it’s impossible to ignore how well they’ve done this time around.

In 2017, Nintendo arguably had their magnum opus with Breath of the Wild. Inconceivably, they may have their true magnum opus in 2023. One shudders to think how good a theoretical third game in this vein of the franchise could be, but one thing’s for sure. Do not count out any future Zelda entries because others are on such a high pedestal. That’s a challenge Nintendo will take and arguably ace.

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