Is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom a disappointing Zelda?

Note: This article has been translated from Italian by ChatGPT and may contain errors.

As the number one fan of The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild was a chapter I loved less than its predecessors. Perhaps that’s why my hype for Tears of the Kingdom was practically nonexistent. Despite not particularly wanting to step into Link’s shoes again, I clearly purchased the game on day one. Several phases marked my new adventure in Hyrule. Here’s how it went.


The initial hours bored me. The opening stages failed to captivate me in terms of gameplay, allowing my attention to focus on the now almost anachronistic aesthetic aspect. Graphically, Tears of the Kingdom is virtually identical to Breath of the Wild (which I played on the Wii U). This is not a compliment, because after six years and a new console, one would expect something more. Sure, we all know that Nintendo now focuses on everything except graphics, but it’s a bit disappointing because the thought arises of how a Zelda of this kind could be with comparable visual quality, for example, to that of a major Sony exclusive. Perhaps it’s time for Nintendo to concentrate on graphics again (and I repeat: ALSO), just like it did in the days of the Nintendo 64/GameCube. Nevertheless, graphically, Tears of the Kingdom remains pleasing.


After the prologue, once I descended from the sky and reached Hyrule, I entered phase two: Tears of the Kingdom is more of the same as Breath of the Wild. I thought this about The Last of Us Part II and God of War Ragnarök, so why should Zelda receive special treatment? Yes, okay, we knew from the beginning that it was a sequel, but once in the actual experience, this was my impression and sensation. Ultimately, if we think about it, it’s an event that has never happened before in the series. Apart from the 2D chapters, since Ocarina of Time, the series has renewed itself from chapter to chapter. While maintaining the same basic structure (up to Breath of the Wild), it has always offered entirely different and new experiences: from mechanics to the game world, which has never been recycled. In Tears of the Kingdom, something unusual for a Zelda happens: the map and mechanics were traced from Breath of the Wild. This has diminished the sense of discovery and adventure that the previous chapter provided. True, the developers worked to diversify the settings compared to the past, but there’s no escaping it; Hyrule is what it is and what it remains, thus returning a sense of “easy recycling” and bitterness. Everything, truly everything, follows the pattern set by Breath of the Wild: from certain points of view, Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are exactly the same game, only with a story and modified missions to introduce a touch of novelty. The new powers of Link don’t count for much… for several hours, I couldn’t shake this thought from my mind.


However, the further I progressed in the adventure, the more I was captivated by the genius of some gameplay solutions, the continuous stories encountered, the myriad secrets and mysteries to uncover, the novelties that renew the experience (the three-tiered map, the powers, the small additions, and the countless details). Tears of the Kingdom conquered me like only a few works can. I found the quality of a Zelda, the pleasure of exploration, the sense of discovery and freedom in a living world. It’s not a classic Zelda and, alas, there will probably be more like it, but what we have in our hands now is simply an exceptional game. Going back to Breath of the Wild seems difficult, a sign that we’re facing something more than a mere more of the same. Each session offers new discoveries and there are some remarkable peaks. An example? The entire process of regaining the Supreme Sword: it’s absolutely mind-blowing! Tears of the Kingdom forces the player to engage their brain, to always be curious, and the experience isn’t as chaotic as in other open-world games where it’s often unclear what you’re doing, why, and for whom. Tears of the Kingdom is crystalline, clean, orderly, clear; everything remains impressed in the mind. There are some annoying repetitions in the main story due to its free nature (sitting through “the same” cutscene four or five times isn’t that great) and in side activities (as is the tradition of the genre), but it’s impossible not to be overwhelmed by the quality of the content. The continued disappointment is the lack of dungeons worthy of the name (I really miss them…). The “dungeons” are much closer to those in Breath of the Wild than to those of the old chapters, although the result is perhaps superior (including bosses). In my opinion, the story is significantly better than that of Breath of the Wild, and at one point, I was almost moved. The plot, in short, is interesting, and the final battle with Ganondorf is much more epic than that of the previous chapter. The only drawback is… where’s the Triforce? What happened to it? The Triforce should remain a cornerstone of Zelda and yet it has been completely ignored. What a shame.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom takes much, so much, from Breath of the Wild, but it’s also a more refined, larger, renewed experience, and yes, better; truly better. Full of content, novelties, secrets, and activities, Tears of the Kingdom is a rich, beautiful, captivating, satisfying, exciting, epic work and, in certain aspects (such as the three-tiered vertical map, the ingenious gameplay, the physics, the absence of bugs, and the clarity of the content), it surpasses any other game. Is it a disappointing Zelda? Under some specific aspects like the “dungeons” and the “recycled” map/structure/soundtrack, yes, but overall, no; it’s just another “different” Zelda. Perhaps, to not “long for” the old glories, super-mega-ultra-fans of the series like me will have to play a few more chapters to fully adjust to this new formula. In any case, we are faced with a title of rare quality, at times extraordinary, capable of surprising the player multiple times. An adventure not with a capital A, but colossal. And at the end, the heart warms, welcomed by the warmth of a special work that invites you to do one thing and one thing only: enjoy it as much as possible.

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