Gaming

I’m Already Creating Spectacular Chaos in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Ever since Nintendo revealed The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom with an exciting 10-minute gameplay demo, my mind has been buzzing. I couldn’t stop pondering its innovative crafting system that allows Link to create unique weapons and makeshift vehicles using the Ultrahand ability. Every time I thought about it, I found myself asking one question: What other incredible possibilities are there?

I had the chance to discover the answer firsthand during a 70-minute demo of Tears of the Kingdom. Although I only had access to a limited portion of the game, confined to a select set of sky islands, it was enough time to push the boundaries of the crafting systems and uncover just how imaginative—and sometimes foolish—I could be within an hour. Even with a whole month to dream about what I would do when I finally got my hands on the game, I couldn’t have imagined the absurdly entertaining antics that awaited me.

From the small portion I played, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom felt like a fusion of an educational engineering tool and an improvisational comedy show. Despite the somewhat complex controls, it didn’t take long for me to complete quests in increasingly unconventional ways, leaving me on the floor laughing at my audacious experiments. This sequel offers a unique experience, distinct from Breath of the Wild, as it transforms into a freeform traversal puzzle game where experimentation is handsomely rewarded.

The Cable Car Solution

The initial 20 minutes of my demo served as a guided control tutorial, during which a Nintendo representative walked me through each new tool, starting with the Ultrahand and Ascend. It was a lot to absorb at once. If you thought the controls in Breath of the Wild were intricate, Tears of the Kingdom takes it a step further by adding a crafting layer that surfaces through numerous submenus. For example, if I wanted to attach a Keese wing to an arrow, enabling it to fly further, I had to aim my bow, press up on the D-pad while it was drawn, navigate to the item, and release to equip it. I had to repeat this process for each individual arrow, as there was no option to craft arrows in bulk during the demo.

By the end of my session, I hadn’t fully mastered the controls, occasionally mixing up the menus. Rotating objects grabbed by the Ultrahand proved to be even trickier. To rotate an object, I had to hold down the right bumper and use the D-pad to spin it. The objects didn’t snap to specific angles, making it challenging to align them precisely with only four directions. However, since I was thrown into the game without a proper tutorial, I believe the full release will introduce players more smoothly to each system. Nevertheless, I anticipate that mastering the controls might be a common challenge players face.

Link straps a rocket to a box in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While the controls may not be immediately intuitive, the crafting process itself is remarkably straightforward. Within seconds, I was already causing chaos by gluing wooden planks onto a Korok’s backpack (yes, the lovable creatures and their collectible Korok seeds make a return in this game). From there, I immediately found myself solving traversal puzzles using my imagination. On one occasion, I needed to reach another island connected by metal tracks. After my unsuccessful attempt at constructing a fragile wooden contraption, I grabbed a minecart, placed it on the tracks, attached a fan, and rode it across.

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Many of the vehicles I constructed revolved around new items known as Zonai Devices. These electric components can be attached to almost anything. During the demo, I used fans to propel static objects, placed rockets on platforms to launch them into the air, and utilized a fire igniter to activate a hot air balloon. Among the other Zonai Devices I encountered were a one-time-use mobile cooking station and a steering column that enabled Link to maneuver the vehicles. The twist here is that all these devices rely on electricity, which is represented by batteries—a new stamina-like resource. All Zonai devices activate simultaneously when Link strikes his invention, and they only operate until all the batteries are depleted. Battery power naturally regenerates over time, and a Nintendo representative hinted that there might be a way to upgrade the total number of batteries Link has.

Link crafts an airship in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Once I had mastered the basics of vehicle-building, I began experimenting more boldly when faced with another set of tracks. This time, I stumbled upon a large metal hook lying in the grass and hung it off one of the rails. I then attached a minecart to the hook, effectively transforming it into a cable car. I could sit inside the cable car while a fan propelled it up the track. In that moment, I felt like an engineering genius—a hypothesis turned into an experiment that proved successful. Tears of the Kingdom ingeniously integrates the scientific method as a core gameplay mechanic, creating an experience that feels reminiscent of old-school bridge construction simulators rather than a traditional Zelda game.

After just 20 minutes, I already felt intoxicated by the power I had at my disposal. I was determined not to end my demo without creating an unforgettable moment of chaos.

Chaos Theory

The best way to illustrate how Tears of the Kingdom unfolds is by recounting a few anecdotes rather than dissecting individual systems. Most of my playtime revolved around a relatively straightforward questline. Starting on the ground in Hyrule, I had to infiltrate a moblin base surrounded by spikes, ascend to the sky, navigate across a series of floating islands, retrieve a stone, and then return it to a previous island to complete the quest. Little did I know just how many different approaches I could take. And that’s an understatement.

I began by taking the conventional route—charging through the front gates. However, upon entering, I encountered a trap straight out of FromSoftware’s sinister playbook: a massive metal ball hurling down the ramp toward me. I skillfully dodged it and immediately seized an opportunity. Using my craft tool, I attached the ball to a stick, fashioning an immense morning star. Then, I affixed an exploding barrel to my shield. When two bokoblin swung at me, I raised my shield, triggering a powerful explosion that took them out. I then stormed into the base and launched into the sky.

Link faces off against enemies in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Later in the demo, I asked the Nintendo representative to rewind to a save point before my entry into the base. I wanted to test a stealthy approach. I stealthily scouted the perimeter until I stumbled upon some wooden planks lying about. Swiftly, I assembled a rudimentary airship, equipped with masts protruding from each side like oars. My plan was to fly over the fence and land directly behind the bokoblin, bypassing any confrontation and launching straight into the sky. I added a hot air balloon and a steering column to the front of the ship for enhanced flight control. Then, I had a brilliant idea—what if I strapped two rockets onto the back to accelerate my ascent?

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That’s when hubris took over.

As soon as I grabbed the steering column, all the Zonai Devices activated, propelling my wooden vessel straight up into the sky. There was just one critical detail I hadn’t considered—the flammability of my ship. The rockets swiftly ignited the vessel, forcing me to abandon it and glide over to a tower in the base. Unmanned, my ship crashed back down, plowing into some red barrels and triggering an enormous explosion that eliminated the bokoblin waiting to ambush me with their metal ball trap. Mission accomplished, I suppose?

Before my demo, a Nintendo representative jokingly referred to Tears of the Kingdom as “Yes, And: The Game,” alluding to the improvisational comedy rule of escalating a joke. At that moment, I experienced precisely that. Yes, you can create an airship, but it will catch fire immediately. And it will crash into enemies. It was a hysterical moment that convinced me Tear of the Kingdom will undoubtedly be the most amusing game of the year.

The Flying Stone

Once I ascended to the sky islands, I had the opportunity to put all my newly acquired skills to the test. Confidently, I devised various ingenious methods to leap from one island to another. For instance, to cross a gap, I attached a rocket to my shield, activated it, and soared into the sky, gliding toward the next island where I gracefully descended. On another occasion, I maneuvered an electric contraption to the edge of an island, then jumped off at the last moment, grabbing hold of the rocks and scaling my way up like a daring Mission: Impossible stunt. In doing so, I accidentally bypassed half of the island.

Yet, my greatest triumph was yet to come.

Once back on solid ground, I encountered what seemed to be a straightforward puzzle. I needed to traverse a small circular island, reach a final island, retrieve a stone, and carry it all the way back. To achieve this, I had to use Ultrahand to grab a floating ball that would rotate the middle island. I quickly noticed a bridge protruding from one side. So, the initial part of the solution seemed simple: create a bridge connecting the first two islands.

Link rotates a rock puzzle in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

However, it dawned on me that there were multiple bridges attached to the middle island, something I hadn’t initially observed. If I had realized this, I could have rotated the island in a way that connected all three islands, allowing me to walk the stone across effortlessly. Unfortunately, I had already taken off to the third island, leaving me with no passage to tread. Had I trapped myself? Absolutely not. I simply had to devise the most audacious invention of all.

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I attached a hot air balloon to the top of the stone, enabling it to ascend into the sky. To propel it forward during its ascent, I affixed a fan to the back. Anxious about the stone sinking too low during the flight, I added two more fans on either side, pointing downward. The combined power of these fans counteracted some of the stone’s weight, assuring it remained afloat. One last issue remained: How would I cross with it? After pondering for a moment, I chopped down a nearby tree and attached it to the row of fans, creating a platform for me to stand on.

By this point, several Nintendo representatives had gathered around, completely astounded by the spectacle unfolding before them. I had managed to transform a stone into a flying car—a solution that undoubtedly defied everyone’s expectations for completing the quest. As I prepared to activate all the Zonai Devices with a decisive whack, everyone braced themselves for a catastrophic failure. But, I swear, it worked flawlessly. The weight distribution was miraculously perfect, allowing the airship to sail straight back to the first island. When I hovered above it, I deactivated the devices with another strike, gently landing below. I placed the stone in its designated spot, completing the quest. Instead of finishing the task in a mere minute or two by rotating a ball a few times, I transformed it into a 20-minute test of ingenuity—a testament to the remarkable sense of accomplishment that Tears of the Kingdom can evoke.

Link flies into the air with a rocket in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

And don’t forget, I achieved all this within the confines of a very limited demo. I hadn’t even begun to explore Link’s rewind ability, only utilizing it to rewind the metal fortress ball back into the gates, thereby crushing some bokoblin in the process. I hadn’t even delved deeply into weapon crafting, although I did attach a fire igniter to a spear, causing it to shoot a fireball every time I thrust it forward.

Those 70 minutes I spent in Hyrule felt truly boundless. I can’t fathom that anyone else in the room had the same experience as me, even though we all had access to the same inventory. I’m confident that if I had spent hours replaying that short demo, I could have tested a dozen different solutions using only the resources at hand. If Tears of the Kingdom can deliver this sense of limitless creativity on the same grand scale as Breath of the Wild, we may be looking at a game that continues to surprise us for years to come.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom launches on May 12.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best games of 2023 so far: Tears of the Kingdom, Resident Evil 4, and more
  • Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is almost perfect, but it could use these tweaks
  • Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s new update removes item duplication glitch
  • Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s sequel should go full Death Stranding
  • Zeldas: Tears of the Kingdom players are creating an industrial revolution

OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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