- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom offers an expansive open world with hours of exploration and secrets to uncover.
- The game breaks away from the segmented format of previous Zelda games, allowing races and societies to mingle and collaborate, making the world feel more cohesive.
- This could mean future Zelda games will handle the races of Hyrule in a more interconnected way, rather than dividing them geographically.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom deploys an expansive open world. This map offers dozens of hours of pure enjoyment, encouraging players to explore every nook and cranny to uncover all of Hyrule’s secrets. It’s a significant shift for a series that has found success with decades of a tried-and-tested format that millions have come to know and love.
That nonlinearity is a big strength of Tears of the Kingdom, in more ways than one. An overlooked benefit is that not races aren’t locked to their specific zone, waiting for Link to pay them a visit. Now, they can mingle, interact, and collaborate, making the space feel less segmented than ever before. It’s something that the future could look to explore more.
One Armor Piece in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Suggests It’s Time to Change Link
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom allows players to change Link’s appearance somewhat, but one item could be the spark for more customization.
Hyrule is a Diverse, but Segmented Place
Often in previous Zelda games, the races that litter Hyrule are a means to offer diversity in storytelling to go with the change in environments. The Gerudo being from somewhere hot and sandy contrasts the Zora’s water focus, and so it ensures that the narrative and characters feel as varied as the areas that Link travels to in each new game. The same can be said of Breath of the Wild, which has a handful of main settlements that feel unique to one another, but the map offers the chance for a less segmented approach.
Breath of the Wild doesn’t feel like it’s laid out in specific zones, but rather one space where unique areas and cultures blend into one, vast world. It’s one of that game’s main strengths, and Tears of the Kingdom upholds this philosophy beautifully. The Rito, Gerudo, Goron, and Zora each have a place to call home, but there are often chance interactions scattered all over Hyrule to show that the cultures aren’t completely isolated from one another.
Tears of the Kingdom’s Lookout Landing is a Breath of Fresh Air
The main thing in Tears of the Kingdom that contributes to the feeling of unity is Lookout Landing, a settlement in the center of the map that overlooks Hyrule Castle. It’s used as a safe haven for Link and the rest of the good guys, but the diversity of the characters and races that can be found there show that Zelda‘s races can coexist and work together. Link teams with characters from a lot of different races throughout the game, but Lookout Landing is the biggest indicator outside the story that mingling isn’t off the table.
Mingling in Zelda Presents a Problem
It might pose a problem for progression, however, as the way that Zelda games are segmented is a means to keep the pacing steady, and the time feeling like it’s being used productively. The nonlinear nature of Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom dampened the potential negative impact, as players can truly take on the challenge at their own pace, but should the future of Zelda go back to something more akin to previous entries, the pacing may suffer.
In an interview at the Game Awards in 2023, Eiji Aonuma seemed to allude to Zelda leaning into nonlinearity moving forward: “Why do you want to go back to a type of game where you’re more limited or more restricted in the types of things or ways you can play? But I do understand that desire that we have for nostalgia, and so I can also understand it from that aspect.”
If this is the case, Zelda will have to find a new way to push the story forward that doesn’t involve traveling to new places to meet new civilizations, which is a challenge in and of itself. Thankfully, the series has plenty of races, from Kikwi to the Picori, that have gone underused and could be ripe for more screen time. To bring Zelda races together means to blur a typical line of progression, which could be a risk worth taking.
Tears of the Kingdom Has to Force Change in the Future
This diversity is something that should be championed in future games, as it brought a feeling of unity and togetherness against Ganondorf’s threatening presence. Hyrule is left in a place of real harmony with the banishing of evil. While it might pose some challenges, the mingling of races in Tears of the Kingdom could be the catalyst for more storylines in future Zelda games.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
- May 12, 2023
- Rated E for Everyone 10+ for Fantasy Violence and Mild Suggestive Themes
- How Long To Beat
- 59 Hours