Tears of the Kingdom officially releases
It’s May 12, Zelda Day. The official release date for the latest Legend of Zelda title from Nintendo, Tears of the Kingdom. The long awaited sequel to Breath of the Wild.
I enjoyed Breath of the Wild, and was amazed by its mechanics, but by no means was Breath of the Wild a perfect game.
Recounting the flaws and shortcomings of Breath of the Wild is difficult, given the vastness of the game.
BOTW: The Good
- Vast, incredibly gorgeous world
- Diverse landscapes and climates
- Adaptive procedurally mixed OST soundtrack
- Game physics systems are extremely well integrated with each other
- Lots to do. Everywhere you go, there’s something to do, look at, or discover.
BOTW: The Bad
- Unintentionally existential purposelessness. Everything resetting every Blood Moon makes nearly everything you do in game seem pointless.
- Weapon breaking system is too unrefined, with weapon durability being too weak to seem realistic. Weapons break all too frequently, and losing a favorite weapon kind of sucks, especially with the very rare or unique weapons which still have only a limited lifespan.
- Too much sameness. Despite the huge world packed with a huge variety of climates, immense exploration and puzzle solving opportunities and other types of challenges, after a while they all sort of begin to feel too similar and repetitive.
- Temple challenges are too brief/simple, and offer little replay value. They also offer little in the way of reward, since most items are temporary due to the weapon breaking system.
- No dungeons a la traditional Zelda games, to offer deeper, more satisfying challenge. This is a frequent complaint, but actually there are numerous areas of the game that feel dungeonlike, but aren’t obviously dungeons per se: the four Divine Beasts, which are perhaps the closest thing to a Zelda Dungeon, but aren’t really very large, the Labyrinths found in several places on the world map, the Yiga Clan hideout, Hyrule Castle, which is very satisfying, and, with a very honorable mention to the Eventide Island challenge, which although not technically a “dungeon” in the traditional sense, has that aspect of being self-contained, and provides an excellent and novel challenge…
- Enemy variety. The enemy roster is good, but small (albeit with many variations of each major type), with many of the classic Hyrule denizens missing: No Darknuts, Like Likes, Peahats, Tektites, Pols Voice, Gibdos, Goriya, Dodongo, Gleeok, etc., etc. BOTW took a “less is more” approach, focusing on making fewer enemy types excellent, rather than trying to include everyone’s favorites from all the previous Zelda titles. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the lack of variety does contribute to the sense of sameness and repetitive nature due to the vast size of the world.
- Combat system, while innovative and more advanced than previous games, is rife with exploitable bugs that turn it into a mockery in the hands of a player. Even a low skilled player can spam bombs and exploit the terrain to turn combat into a snorefest. Advanced players can chain together bullet time and combo attacks to make even the toughest enemies trivial.
- Enemy AI is too dumb, never learns, always falls for the same tricks.
- Lack of urgency. The mainline quest seems secondary, almost an afterthought, while an ADHD Link constantly diverges from his Mission to perform endless trivial side quests, almost all of which have no actual impact on the world or serve to further the mission. If you forget what you’re supposed to do or get lost, there’s little in game to put you back on track.
- Final boss is a letdown. If you get to Calamity Ganon after playing through the full game, you’re going to be so overpowered that it’s a piece of cake… but you can walk right up to him without playing any of the game if you want a real challenge. So wouldn’t it have made sense that if you take so much time to build up your power, Ganon would have also gathered his strength and become more challenging as well?
Although my “bad” list is longer, the strengths of the “good” list far outweigh the bad things. Breath of the Wild is a great game. I’m not in any way saying that BOTW sucks. But I’m pointing out that the game was not without its flaws.
I love to just hang out and chill in the beautiful landscapes of Hyrule and gaze at the amazing views. For being on a world saving mission where there is supposedly immanent peril in the form of The Calamity, the game feels completely non-urgent and relaxing, apart from the occasional random wandering monster spawn events.
Due to the vast size of the game and its endless patience for the player to complete it at their leisure, these encounters rapidly become rote and routine, with no real variety or challenge once you learn how the combat system works and how to exploit it so that enemies present no threat whatsoever. And even before you get to that point, you can always run away from enemies and easily evade pursuit, so there’s never really any sense of danger. Only a sense of having to do a mildly annoying chore, or perhaps a mild sense of amusement, like what a bored cat must feel when they manage to find a mouse that can briefly occupy their sadistic attention for a time.
Looking forward to TOTK
I expect more of the same from Tears of the Kingdom, with more features and more polish, and hopefully a lot of these minor complaints about what wasn’t perfect with BOTW addressed.
I’m picking up my copy later today, and looking forward to diving in to the new adventure, blogging my progress, and posting my thoughts.