The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom released in May 2023 and is the long-awaited sequel to the widely beloved Breath of the Wild.
As more and more players pick up copies and get started on their adventure, we thought we’d share some of the basics with you so that you’re perfectly prepared to take on any challenge that Tears of the Kingdom throws your way.
The Story: What’s Changed?
At the end of Breath of the Wild, Link finally reached Zelda in the centre of Hyrule Castle and helped her defeat Calamity Ganon. Assuming you completed all of the game’s main quests, Link got help in the final battle from the Champions’ spirits and their Divine Beasts. Afterward, Zelda sets off on a journey to restore Hyrule, with Link, her trusted knight, at her side once more.
It isn’t clear how much time has passed between the end of Breath of the Wild and the start of Tears of the Kingdom. Link’s hair has had time to grow out significantly, at least. Conservative estimates suggest that between one and five years have passed. Others go so far as to say it’s been seven or more years. Regardless, Hyrule isn’t how you remember it, and familiar characters will remark that they haven’t seen you in a while.
Beware some spoilers for Tears of the Kingdom‘s introduction from here on out.
The game starts with Link and Zelda investigating some underground ruins. It seems that Zelda has been continuing her studies as she works to heal Hyrule. They discover and photograph a few ancient murals, which Zelda says depict an ancient race called the Zonai.
The pair proceed to wander into a chamber where a mummy is suspended in midair. As they approach, it snaps to life and starts to attack with dark energy. Link defends Zelda, but his right arm is badly injured. The pair attempt to escape as the earth fractures around them, but Zelda falls and disappears with a burst of yellow light. Link is barely saved by a magical arm that had been suspended above the mummy.
Link’s New Powers: What They Are & How To Get Them
Link’s saviour was the spirit of a Zonai named Rauru. He explains to Link that his arm was beyond saving. Luckily, the magical arm was Rauru’s own mummified hand, and Rauru was able to graft it onto Link in replacement. This gives Link special new abilities, which are discovered throughout the game. There are five altogether.
It’s hard to argue with a name like that. Ultrahand allows Link to pick up and move items around from a distance. It’s a lot like Magnesis in Breath of the Wild, except everything is magnetic. If it glows when you activate the power, you can grab it with Ultrahand.
Its secondary perk is that Ultrahand allows you to “attach” items. Anything you can grab will stick to anything else you can grab. Fans have had a field day with this one, quickly working out how to build genuinely unbelievable contraptions.
Ultrahand will be the first power you unlock. It’s obtained as part of the tutorial; you just need to enter the Ukouh Shrine. It’s found on the Great Sky Island, just west of the Temple of Time. Rauru will give you the ability and explain how it works so you can use it to complete the puzzle inside.
Fuse takes the ability to attach things from Ultrahand and applies it to your gear. With this power, you’ll be able to combine objects in the world with your weapons, shields, and arrows.
You’ll use this a lot as you navigate Hyrule. Attaching a rock to a weapon will allow you to break through cracked boulders blocking your path. Fusing Keese Eyeballs with your arrows grants “a homing quality” to them.
Fuse is the second ability you receive during the tutorial. Rauru shows you how to use it when you enter the In-Isa Shrine on the west side of the island, south of the large lake.
Ascend feels like cheating. This power will allow you to move upwards through solid objects and emerge on the other side.
Are you in a cave? Don’t want to be in a cave? Ascend will have you out of there in no time. Trying to climb a tall cliff or mountain? If you can find a place where it dips in a little bit, like an overhanging, you could be up a significant part of that sucker before it knows what hit it.
Of course, the developers know what abilities were put in the game, so the open world is designed so that it doesn’t work everywhere. But when it does, you better believe there’s no greater feeling.
Ascend is the third power you’ll get, also given during the tutorial. Enter the Gutanbac Shrine, high on a snowy cliff in the eastern part of the Great Sky Island, and Rauru will teach you.
Recall is the answer to Breath of the Wild‘s Stasis ability. Stasis lets you freeze time for an object, meaning it would experience anything that happened to it all at once when it left Stasis. Recall also plays with time, but this time you’re reversing a particular object through time. The applications are pretty self-explanatory; you can turn wheels in the wrong direction, make objects fight the flow of running water, et cetera.
This is the fourth and final power you earn during the tutorial. First, collect the other three and go to the Temple of Time. Rauru explains that you have one more Shrine to visit and marks the location on your map. Return to the Room of Awakening and use your Ascend ability to reach it. Rauru gives you Recall upon entering.
Autobuild is there to take some of the menial labour out of the game once you’re sufficiently advanced. You can use it to remember designs you’ve built with the Ultrahand power (yes, literally anything you build can be remembered) and make it instantly, so long as you’ve collected all the necessary parts in one place.
Autobuild is the only one you don’t learn in the tutorial section. To get it, you need to visit the Great Abandoned Central Mine in the Depths. You’ll naturally go to this place if you keep helping out Robbie and Josha in Lookout Landing, eventually getting the quest “A Mystery in the Depths.”
However, if you’re eager to get Autobuild, it’s entirely possible to get to the temple on your own and earn the ability without the quest. You should know, however, that this is following the Yiga quest line for this game and earning the ability will activate the boss fight with Master Kohga.
To get to the Great Abandoned Central Mine, start from the Iayusus Lightroot, where you find Robbie has run off to. Going south from there, you’ll run into the Nihcayam Lightroot, and then the Nogukoyk Lightroot. The Great Abandoned Central Mine is just a stone’s throw south from there.
The map: All three levels, explained
This is where you start the game after being separated from Zelda. The first sky island is called the Great Sky Island. There are a number of others dotted across the map. To reach them, you have a few options.
The Sky Towers will rocket you up into the air, so from there, you can glide to nearby islands.
You’ll also notice that some other islands have boxes and boulders falling from them. If you use Recall and jump on, you can ride them back up where they came from.
Your final option is to use your new abilities to build yourself a hot air balloon or a rocket (yes, they’re both possible). Those will have you sailing among the clouds in no time.
The Surface level is fairly self-explanatory. This is what Hyrule looked like in Breath of the Wild, plus or minus a few giant chasms and missing chunks.
The Depths is an underground level that exists beneath Hyrule. To enter it, you’ll need to find Chasms on the surface, big cracks where you can jump in and glide down. This will happen naturally as part of helping Robbie, if you pursue that questline.
Once there, you’ll quickly notice that it’s pitch black. There are two ways to fix this. First, use a Brightbloom Seed. Leaving one on the ground and striking it, or attaching it to an arrow and shooting it, will cause the Brightbloom to take root and give off substantial light. Second, activate Lightblooms. These giant plants will give off an extraordinary amount of light when activated, allowing you to see clearly for a distance and revealing part of the map.
To escape, just fast travel to somewhere on the surface or sky levels.
Essential Know-How: Cooking, Paragliding, & Zonai Devices
Cooking is critical to your success in Tears of the Kingdom. While it’s possible to beat the game without this mechanic at all, it would be an unnecessary exercise in testing your own patience and self-restraint.
Start by gathering ingredients! These are found all over Hyrule, from the enemies you kill to the mushrooms you forage. You can also scan an Amiibo to instantly get resources. Then, you need to find a Cooking Pot: a large metal bowl suspended over a fire. The rest is easy from there: enter your inventory, choose up to five ingredients to hold, then return to the pot and toss them in. Be careful to read the description of each ingredient; it will give you an idea of what kind of ability it will provide once cooked.
Cooking this way allows you to create two types of things: food and elixirs.
Foods are made with food ingredients, no monster parts or creepy crawlies (lizards, bugs, etc). Elixers are made exclusively with monster parts and creepy crawlies (lizards, bugs, etc). If you do try to combine a monster part or creepy crawly with a regular kind of food, like an apple, you’ll wind up with Dubious Food that is literally blurred out. It only restores one heart, and Link clearly has a hard time eating it.
The advanced Guardian technology from Breath of the Wild has been overshadowed in Tears of the Kingdom by the Zonai, an advanced, ancient race that left behind its constructs in its wake. Combined with your new powers, these devices will become extremely valuable. Zonai technology is powered by the Energy Cell on Link’s belt that can be upgraded to last longer.
Some important devices you will encounter in the first few hours of the game include:
- Fans, which blow wind
- Planes, which fly, can be steered based on where you stand on the device, and can be improved with the addition of other Zonai devices
- Flame Emitter, which shoots fire as long as its active and has power
- Portable Pot, which can be added to an existing fire so that food can be cooked on it
Zonai devices are often lying around in the world, but they can also be found contained inside orbs that fit in your inventory. You can pay the Zonai Machine with parts to spit those out for you.
If you played Breath of the Wild, or saw trailers for Tears of the Kingdom, you may be anticipating the return of the Paraglider. It allows Link to cut through the air and fall great distances without much worry (except the Stamina bar).
You won’t receive your Paraglider until after the tutorial section on Great Sky Island.
Once you’re free of the tutorial, follow the main quests to meet Purah at Lookout Landing. She’ll ask for a favour, so do as she says until she asks you to meet her at the Skyview Tower. Once you interact with her there, she’ll hand over the Paraglider happily, right before blowing you sky-high (literally).
For more on Tears of the Kingdom, check out our review.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is now available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. It can be purchased from Amazon, The Source and Best Buy for $89.99.
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