The launch of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been a momentous time for all Zelda fans, and I’ve loved watching the fanbase at work — whether they’re roasting koroks alive or building a tank in a cave with a box of scraps. But when I picked up the Switch, I found that Tears of the Kingdom just wasn’t doing it for me. Instead, I wound up playing and thoroughly enjoying an older game — Breath of the Wild.
Tears of the Kingdom kicks off on a series of sky islands, similar to the Great Plateau in BOTW. Players will learn how to navigate Link, earn skills like Fuse and Ultrahand, and ultimately enter the temple and have a quick spiritual Skype session with Zelda. Unlike when I was getting used to the Great Plateau, I spent far too long beating my head against the tutorial section in Tears of the Kingdom. The vertical nature of the world, combined with the ambition of the game’s new tools, left me constantly lost.
This is largely due to my own personal weaknesses in spatial awareness and physics puzzles, sure, but it’s still aggravating. I needed to go back to basics and do something like the famous Rocky training montage. Breath of the Wild was the perfect arena for that. While you absolutely don’t need to play Breath of the Wild in order to jump into Tears, I figured it would be a good way to reorient myself.
Instead of playing a couple of hours of Breath of the Wild and then returning to Tears, like I intended, I have fallen in love with the older game all over again. While I spent my first few hours in Tears of the Kingdom struggling to make a car, in Breath of the Wild, I rolled a big rock down a hill and smashed some naughty bokoblins. Sure, it’s simple, but seeing a bokoblin get smeared by an unexpected boulder is also very good.
You can also roll a rock down a hill in Tears of the Kingdom — but that’s just one of many options. You could also tie a rocket to it, or use the rock as part of an elaborate trebuchet device. The possibilities are endless to the point of being distracting, especially since I lack a suite of engineering skills.
After just a couple of hours in Breath of the Wild, I was having a blast shield-surfing and shrine-solving. I needed that 101 course before I could really appreciate the nonsense you can pull off with Tears of the Kingdom. I’ll return to TOTK soon — I’m excited to combine my stronger fundamentals with the truly ridiculous tools Tears affords its players. But for now, I’m enjoying my nice, basic trip through Hyrule. I never defeated Calamity Ganon my first time around. Maybe this is the playthrough where I finally save the kingdom.