By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Close

DISCLAMER: This is going to be a long post, so prepare yourself for some TotK insights not suitable for anyone who's not ready to discuss with passion the mechanics and philosophy of the game.

With all the love being thrown to the most recent Zelda title, I found rather difficult to express my somehow convoluted feelings about Tears of the Kingdom. No doubt it is a hell of a game, bigger in scale (both "physically", in terms of extension, and "mechanically", in terms of gameplay) than anything that has been done previosly. And, however, as it usually happens to me whenever a new Zelda arrives, I can't help to feel a little (medium?) dissapointment with all the "not so round" edges of the title.

I have already mentioned in other posts how the lack of diving/underwater exploration and Hyrule reconstruction (village ruins restoration) prevented both BotW and TotK from developing their whole potential, since the world they had created easily paved the ground, with all that enormous masses of water and all that diverse abandoned settlements giving the developers the perfect oportunity to expand the already gorgeous world and gameplay in these directions. Along with some smaller absences, like the lack of classic, beloved enemies (Darknuts), items (Hookshot), animals (Cats and Pigs... they were in TP and WW, why not here!?), more traditional, item centered, miniboss filled and linearly progressed dungeons, more enemy variety, etc., these "lacks" prevented both titles from being a 10/10 for me.

After finishing Tears of the Kingdom, however, I've found some more negative points more related to the actual design choices and direction of the game than to the previously mentioned underdeveloped potentials, which have definitely hindered the experience for me. First of all, I have to clarify that I have completed every mainline Zelda title since the original, which I played and finished several times during the 90's, and have lived the evolution of the series since then. Maybe because of that, the steps backs of the two latest titles (and, specially, of TotK) became so obvious for me. Moreover, The Legend of Zelda is my favourite videogame series ever, with Majora's Mask (and proly BotW) sitting at the top of my favourite videogames of all time, so I am far from being a "Zelda/Nintendo" hater, or somehow "Nintendo Biased" in the bad sense of the expresion.

So let's start with the most obvious problem for me: the return of the (almost) exact main map. Yes, there have been some (minor) changes to Hyrule. And yes, The Sky, the new cave systems and The Dephts (SPECIALLY The Depths, where the exploration and sense of wonder really shines in this title), provide new maps and experiences that prevent TotK from being just a revisit of Hyrule. But the fact that Hyrule remains mostly the same, with some changes in some villages and chasms and sky ruins here and there, totally banish the feeling of discovery while exploring the surface in which BotW excelled. Except for the mentioned appearance of a new cave, well or enemy encampment, and aside from Lookout Landing (the only new "village" in the game), all the main locations in Hyrule remain essentially the same. There is a new layer of snow in Rito Village and its surroundings, some dirt and a couple new monuments in Zora's Domain, Mushroms in Hateno Village and a rail and circuit in Tarrey Town, but these don't make enough changes to awake the sense of surprise and even wonder that visiting them in BotW caused in the first place. The rest of the surface remains, saldy, almost the same as it was in the first game. There are 2 great exceptions: Death Mountain, where the lack of lava opened the way for an almost unrecognizable landscape, and Gerudo Town, where the extensive and cool underground refugee, and the actual restoration of the upper town when you finisht their main quest, truly provide a new experience. These 2 were the only places where I really found surprise and joy of exploration in the surface. The rest, sadly, became a matter of revisiting places I already knew only to realize I wouldn't find anything too new, too changed or too interesting to consider the map an improvement over what BotW delivered. And, since you spend more than 50% of the game traveling and exploring the surface, this definitely hinders the experience for me.

Another VERY NEGATIVE issue is the lack of proper rewards. BotW already suffered from this problem: you spend a lot of time exploring or solving puzzles only to receive a chest with an item that you can easily find mining or cooking, or a Weapon/Shield that won't last more than 2 o 3 battles, which totally breaks the feeling of true accomplishment in the gameplay loop. How can I feel rewarded by getting a Topaz over an over again, when I can find that exact item by hitting some rocks in any cave or mountain...? The only good rewards are Armor Pieces, since many of there are cool, useful and don't break with use but, still, you don't use nor change between most of them often, and not having more varied and better rewards (such as more unique and way more durable weapons/shields) makes the joy of exploring and solving puzzles a little disapointing... Even armors can become a dissapointing reward when, after completing an enormous 3 parts labyrinth, all you get is a piece of an armor you already got in BotW... -.-'

...what takes us to another field where "variety" becomes and issue: enemy diversity. Not because it doesn't exist, but because of the abuse of a small group of enemy tipes. I am SO bored of fighting Bokos, Moblins and Lizalfos over and over again (specially after doing it for hundreds of hours in BotW) that the otherwise brilliant combat mechanics have become painfull for me. All these 3 tipes of enemies are just sparrings even in their diferent versions. This is a problem that, with less enemies, BotW also shared, but the inclusion of more varied and more difficult enemies in TotK doesn't solve it, since the inmense majority of enemy settlements, encounters and, in conclusion, fights, occur just with these 3 tipe of basic enemies. I felt extremely dissapointed when, after battling hundreds of Bokos, Molblins and Lizalfos, someone told me that pirates had invaded certain places of the kingdom. "Oh, pirates!", I thought, thinking that maybe I would face a new tipe of enemy, or even actual pirates like the ones we saw in Skyward Sword... Just to find that AGAIN an anoying horde of Bokos and Moblins were waiting for me over a otherwise cool pirate ship in a shore or a river. Frustrating, specially when BotW and TotK have delivered the best combat mechanics, the best enemy of the series (Lynel) and the best battle encounters EVER (again, with the Lynel) of any Zelda title, wich proves that there was room to deliver a lot more in terms of enemy variety, behavior and challenge. I think Great Bokos and their interactions with normal Bokos are a great addition, BTW.

And speaking of enemies, I can't help but to mention the bosses. The blights of BotW where all too similar and all to... unspired? And then, the bosses in TotK have become the complete oppossite: extremely varied, but also extremely uneven. Even if I'm not 100% conviced of some design/artistic choces, I find some of them (for example, the ones in the Wind and the Water Temple) extremely funny and enjoyable to fight. I'd go on to say that some of them (including some miniboses, like the Frox), although eventually easy, have become some of the funniest and more enyojable battles in the entire series for me. But others (like Gohma and the Gibdo Queen) are simply a forgetable obstacle/routine that pale in front of previous bad boys/girls of the series. We can agree that titles such as a OoT and Majora's had a very consistent roaster of bosses and minibosses. But these last 2 main Zeldas have failed to challenge the quality and quantity of previous Zelda bosses/minibosses (except, again, for the Lynel, wich reigns over all we have faced in the Zelda series and even in most other adventure/rpg games). Specially, sadly, in terms of the final boss. As spectacular as they are in terms of design, both BotW and TotK have failed to deliver a great final battle vs Ganon. In BotW the lack of actual, more traditional Ganon, the weirdness of the 1st phase and the dissapointing 2nd phase totally destroyed the epicness of the final battle. In TotK, the design of all the Ganon phases is ashtounding, but the actual battle is just a repetition of moves, attacks and mechanics you have already seen when fighting other particular enemy that lurks both the surface and the dephts, and the last phase, as epic as its setting and design are, doesn't provide the challenge and excitement of an actual one to one battle... So this is a field where I found there is a lot of room to improve to reach the levels of the more traditional/classic titles.

And last but not least, MINIGAMES. SO uneven, too... OoT, MM and even TP and WW had great minigames: great shooting galleries/minigames, horseback archery, horse races VS actual competitors, diving minigames... Both BotW and TotK explore new ways to develop minigame around these mechanics, but lack the greatness and enjoy of traditional minigames. I really miss competing against something else that the clock, like actual horsemen. I really miss minigames built around shoting arrows to something diferent than Korok Ballons, and specially doing it with time contrains and trying to improve my scores... (specially if it's done over a moving platform/vehicle, sucha as in Horseback Archery in OoT or the Koume and Kotake swamp circuit in MM... And BotW and TotK had such a great, unused place that would have been a perfect fit fot this in Necluda! -.-'). Courage Island challenges are great, but flying or crossing rings AGAINST some Ritos would be way better... At least this time we have been given proper, awesome colosseums where we can fight enemies over and over if we want some battle challenges. But, in general, minigames is a field where I expect lots of improvements for the next Zelda entry.

And... that's almost all of it. That's why I can't feel that BotW and, specially, TotK are the definitive Zelda experience for me. They deliver awesome things, but with them also come a lot of unexplored potentials and possibilities that make the experience not completely round for me. And building stuff is not enough joy to forget the lack of actual rebuilding of the ruined towns and villages of the continent of Hyrule  =P

So here is it. I had to say it. And you... what are your not so popular thoughts on BotW and TotK...? (Maybe some day I'll make a post about all the things both titles do well, very well even... But most of them have already been said in the hundreds of reviews praising these masterpieces  =P ).

P.S.: Have I mentioned how ANOYING are the new battle companions, how dislikeable are Yunobo and Tulin compared to Darunia and Revali/Teba, and how I miss essential abilities like Mypha's Love and Revali's Gale...?

P.S.II: I forgott to mention another terrible design choice. In BotW, they purposely built the world so players wouldn't go from tower to tower in a straight line avoiding the game essence: exploration and experimentation. In TotK, however, towers bouncing you to the sky cause the completely opossite effect: you are somehow inclined to reach the next "objective" (be it a new Tower, Shrine or Point ot Interest) in the easiest way possible: flying in a straight line from point A (a Tower) to point B (your objective), often missing all the wonder that BotW provided in form of landscape exploration during your ground travels from place to place. With TotK I feel Nintendo has made a step back in terms of game progression, being now much more similar to these Ubisoft titles where you simply choose an icon in the map and go straight for it. In TotK you still don't have so many icons in the map, but the new Towers make you do the same: pick a goal in the distance and go straight for it glidding from the air. A step back from what BotW achieved (but otherwise, in some terms, logical, since having the same map would make walking the same paths way too familiar/repetitive for these who already spent hundreds of hours in Hyrule).

Last edited by Zarkho - on 30 June 2023