To Meet Sky-High Expectations, Tears of the Kingdom Goes Vertical

When Breath of the Wild released in 2017, it saved The Legend of Zelda, a video game series that was becoming obsolete due to its predictable gameplay loop of dungeons and fetch quests. The game re-emphasizes freedom, allowing players to experiment with the dynamic physics system in ways even the developers didn’t fully anticipate.

Its direct sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, had its own weight.

Many wondered how series producer Eiji Aonuma and director Hidemaro Fujibayashi could outdo themselves with a sequel to Breath of the Wild. often quoted As one of the best games ever made.

But they almost succeeded, with an experience almost three times the size, full of caves, chasms, and islands in the sky. New abilities will allow players to manipulate virtually any object and build rickshaws and railcars. A classic dungeon returns in the form of a multi-tiered temple with interlocking puzzles.

The New York Times met with Aonuma and Fujibayashi this week to discuss how Tears of the Kingdom, which released for Nintendo Switch on Friday, differs from its predecessor.

The idea of ​​exploring the skies began with Fujibayashi’s first mainline Zelda game, Skyward Sword for the Nintendo Wii. The game was criticized partly due to the loading screen between the sky world and the ground world. But in Tears of the Kingdom, players can magically leap over ceilings and glide through the air.

“When I proposed the idea of ​​seamlessly exploring the world vertically from top to bottom, I knew I was making a ridiculous request,” said Fujibayashi, noting that his original idea Many acknowledged that “Tears of the” came to fruition. Kingdom.

Aonuma added that Skyward Sword may have left his colleagues with a “frustration that something was incomplete.”

Tears of the Kingdom feels like the first Zelda game to fully grasp the three-dimensional space the franchise first explored in its acclaimed Nintendo 64 effort, Ocarina of Time. Perfect the way players interact with the sky island. High islands are like garbage,” said Aonuma, but this required a lot of trial and error.

“Gravity feels a little different when you’re in the sky. We wanted to optimize the gameplay experience,” says Fujibayashi. “To decide where to draw the line, I personally dived into many sky islands to see what felt good.”

Sky Island appears after an event called Cataclysm that the inhabitants of the game’s fictional kingdom of Hyrule unfold in the game’s opening scene. Princess Zelda accidentally discovered the mummified body of Ganondorf, the demon king sealed ten thousand years ago. Her seal is broken, and her loyal knight Link shatters her holy sword while protecting her. The hero loses consciousness. The princess disappears in a time warp.

One of the main narrative themes of Tears of the Kingdom is the concept of legend. The Imprisoned War was mentioned in the 1991 Super Famicom release Link to the Past, but was never explained in detail until now. Aonuma said creating a new story often requires drawing on the Zelda mythos that fans have spent considerable time studying to create the timeline for the franchise.

“It’s like archaeology,” Fujibayashi added. “Rather than correcting history, we make new discoveries.”

Tears of the Kingdom sees Ganondorf in his traditional role as the series’ villain, but doesn’t add much depth to his character. Some fans expect the game to follow GameCube’s Wind Waker, with Ganondorf’s hatred of Hyrule being explained as the result of enduring the suffering of his brethren in the arid desert. I was.

“Going forward, it’s very likely that we’ll see further character development and personality changes as the series continues,” Aonuma said, adding, “Ganondorf is an element we use to complement the gameplay. ‘ added.

After 40 hours into the game, it’s clear that most of the content has yet to be seen. Aside from combat and puzzles, there are a number of side quests for him, such as intervening in a controversial mayoral election or helping an investigative reporter for the local newspaper get the scoop.

Fujibayashi said one of his favorite side quests involves a forest spirit called Korok who tries to reunite with him. In a nod to the game’s flexibility, some Nintendo employees strapped Korok to a rocket and sent it flying into space, while others treated it gently. Aonuma’s quest to reunite the traveling band and revive the great fairies was outstanding. He said he had been fascinated by Irish drums ever since they were featured in The Wind Waker.

Similar moments of joy, or shock, are sprinkled throughout Tears of the Kingdom.

When the player’s makeshift rocket ship falls apart, Link swoops back to Earth like Wile E. Coyote. Attach a steak to an arrow to lure your enemies into a delicious meal. In one playthrough, caving in a deep chasm ended abruptly when a giant frog appeared. I could tell by the only glowing eyes and the sound of sucking Link in.

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