The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Potential Game of the Year or a Breath of the Wild 2.0?


For a total of 6 years, casual and avid Nintendo fans alike have been waiting for the newest Zelda game – Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Exclusive on the Nintendo Switch device, it was released on May 12, 2023. It was one of, if not the most anticipated video game this year because of the success of its predecessor. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild swept up the gaming community with near-perfect reviews and one of the prestigious video game awards, Game of the Year in 2017. Still, many fans were worried that the publishers were releasing the same game for an increased price of $70 because Tears of the Kingdom (TOTK) started as DLC, or an expansive pack, for Breath of the Wild (BOTW). However, anyone who has picked up both games knows from the first few minutes that despite taking place in the same setting called Hyrule, everything has changed.

Both games take place in the land of Hyrule, with notable landmarks being Death Mountain to the northeast and Rito Village from the west of that. Still, even those prominent places have changed with Death Mountain no longer erupting, removing the need for fireproof armor, and Rito Village covered in snow, causing difficult travels. Even a plain field is different because parts of the Ruins that have risen are present on ground level. The villages and characters themselves have been extremely changed, like becoming chief, retiring, and creating a newspaper due to the time skip of 6 or more years. Fan favorites like Beedle are the same but there are not to be new favorites that players will encounter throughout their new journey of Hyrule.

Quests are a central part of BOTW and it has much more importance in TOTK. At every stable, there is a quest involving the Lucky Clover Gazette. There’s also a series of quests in Hateno without the need for much combat which offers a dive into the head of a new trend in Hyrule and the town from which it started. Even finishing just one quest in a town brings forth major changes, like the ability to buy cheese, being able to buy new gear for a reasonable price, and restore relationships. With how much the game has expanded, there is a greater need for rupees which can be easily figured out by solving the people of Hyrule’s problems!

The skills present in BOTW are nowhere to be seen in TOTK. Although there are similarities with skills like magnesis and ultrahand, the mechanisms that have to be learned are new. The availability of all the skills, especially being able to go through the ceiling, is greatly reflected in the overworld design in both the dungeons and the new landscape alike. Played right, and they are more broken and enjoyable than what the skills from BOTW could have achieved.

Although BOTW is a beloved game, the enemy varieties were underwhelming as harder enemies were simply of a different color. It should be acknowledged that BOTW did a fantastic job in providing different options to defeat enemies, but eventually, it became the same rhythm of button presses. Along with the addition of two new layers, there are new enemies to fight. Some will consume the bright bloom seeds used to brighten up the pitch-dark Depths, while others will attempt to attack Link as he is diving from the sky. Additionally, bosses from the regional phenomena are ‘re-fightable’ as they live in the Depths. Due to the Fuse mechanic, bosses drop items that aren’t always collectible but are meant to be fused to weapons or shields. These objects are the strongest in the game and create an incentive for players to refight bosses as it’s no longer just for the money. Refightable enemies from BOTW are back, except for the widely beloved and feared Guardians. They are nowhere to be seen in TOTK but there’s another enemy which, without much spoilers, makes the players miss Guardians.

Tears of the Kingdom is an extraordinary game where players can invest hundreds of hours and still have new content and surprises. While the core elements of Breath of the Wild that players loved stayed the same, the landscape, characters, music, and all changed. It is a strong contestant of Game of the Year and a product of art that will further raise the standards of the next generation of video games available to both children and adults alike.