The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is massive. Not only is it arguably the biggest open-world game on Nintendo Switch, it easily surpasses Breath of the Wild with all the things you can see, do, and discover. It’s colossal, and aside from a handful of mission makers and some occasional helpful character dialogue, it mostly avoids pointing you in specific directions.
Thanks to this, you’ll be figuring out a lot of its mechanics and mysteries for yourselves, and likely won’t stumble across certain things until long after you’ve needed them. Here’s a list of things I wish I’d known before jumping into this new vision of Hyrule, whether it be folks you need to meet or precious items that can change a playthrough if you get to them early on.
Updated May 20, 2023 by Ryan Bamsey: With new tricks being discovered daily by the players of this wonderful game, we decided to add a few of them to this guide to help you along with your adventure.
Take Your Time
Much like Breath of the Wild before it, Tears of the Kingdom doesn’t let you into the world properly until you’ve proven yourself. The game opens with Link and Zelda exploring beneath Hyrule Castle as part of an unskippable story sequence. After discovering the husky remains of Ganondorf, Link loses his arm, Zelda travels back in time, and you black out for goodness knows how long. After coming to, our hero has a snazzy new arm and a voice in his head.
The next couple of hours - at least on your first playthrough - will be set entirely amidst the sky as Link converses with Rauru, First King of Hyrule, about the place he finds himself in and the powers needed to escape. All of these are found within tutorial-driven shrines, but don’t feel like you need to rush off and complete them without stopping to smell the roses.
Hyrule isn’t going anywhere, and the Great Sky Plateau is constructed in a way that naturally draws your eye to interesting enemy encounters and puzzles that not only test your skills but also introduces how all of these new systems work in both unknown and familiar ways.
Head Straight For Lookout Landing
Immediately following your quest markers in Breath of the Wild was considered a big no-no, but Tears of the Kingdom doesn’t hand over quite a few essential items unless you do. When finishing up the tutorial island, you’ll be asked to skydive towards the land below, landing with a splash in a pond only a few hundred metres away from Lookout Landing. Don’t waste time - head there without delay.
This hub area is essentially a base of operations that evolves alongside you throughout the campaign. New characters will come and go, and given it sits close to Hyrule Castle, a now aged-up Purah uses it to house all of her precious research.
The Paraglider and Camera can both be earned by completing two of the early main quests situated here, and good luck navigating Hyrule without either of these gadgets. Earning them is relatively trivial, and will open up further quest opportunities to explore The Depths before it becomes a main player in the story. Tears of the Kingdom teases a huge world and doesn’t give you much direction after setting you free, but be a good little hero I promise it’s worth it.
Loot Is Way More Plentiful This Time Around
Taking part in non-essential combat encounters throughout the previous game became a bit of a needless chore, largely because it was a drain on resources you would never get back. Weapons could break, meals would be eaten, and arrows are fired into oblivion because you keep missing your shots.
Tears of the Kingdom is less passive, often encouraging Link to jump into the fray in exchange for ample rewards.
Breaking the majority of wooden crates and other containers amidst Bokoblin dens will net you several arrows and some food, alongside decayed weapons that can be fused to enhance your arsenal. Rupees seem to be easier to come by as well, either by selling your goods or finding them beneath rocks, so spend them instead of hoarding them.
Octoroks Can Repair (And Upgrade) Your Weapons
Despite the above point, there may come times where you really want to hang on to a weapon. Well, if you come across an Octorok, that's something you can do without merely saving the weapon for a rainy day!
If you throw a weapon near an Octorok - not at - it will likely suck it up when it next uses its inhale attack. While it will then shoot the weapon at you, angrily, it will be a fully-repaired version of that weapon, and can even end up being granted an extra ability, such as sped-up charging times! This is something to keep in mind when you encounter Octoroks.
Don’t Forget About Your New Powers
Tears of the Kingdom invites creativity at every turn, although its foundation can be similar enough to Breath of the Wild that some players might forget about utilising their new powers, thanks to them feeling so alien.
It took me almost a dozen hours to get into a solid cadence of using abilities like Recall and Fuse are best used in the middle of combat, and figuring out how to turn enemy projectiles against them with time travel or slip through environments using Ascend to gain a higher vantage point will reap huge rewards.
It can be so easy to stick to old habits, but try your best to break them. Don’t waltz into every battle with a basic weapon and eagerness to Flurry Rush. Take a moment to analyse your surroundings and set up a dastardly set piece.
You could fuse an opposing weapon to your own before they even have a chance to pick it up. Alternatively, fire an arrow fitted with a blinding fruit to incapacitate a horde of baddies before raining bombs down on them. There are so many possibilities, and most of them will go over your head without you even noticing.
Instantly Orient Objects With Ultrahand
Of Link's new powers, Ultrahand can be the most finicky - rotating and placing objects precisely can be an annoying task, especially when they aren't shaped logically. Luckily, there's a feature that the game doesn't explicitly spell out to you - Reset.
When carrying an object with Ultrahand, hold the R button to enter rotation mode, and then hit the ZL shoulder button. This will instantly orient the item in a default position that makes it far easier to rotate how you want it. This is an easily missed mechanic.
Do Every Shrine You Come Across, Or At Least Activate Them
Shrines are easier to locate in Tears of the Kingdom, emblazoned with flowing green energy that can quickly be spotted from a distance. They’re closer together, better positioned, and always found near general points of interest like towns and stables.
Even if you don’t fancy completing them in exchange for Light Blessings to improve your health and stamina, at the very least activate them so you’re in possession of a new fast travel point. You can hit them up later this way and not have to trek to previously visited locations a second time around.
I’d emphasise this when it comes to shrines in the sky, mostly because it’s easy to get lost up there and not stumble across a repeated shrine or puzzle for hours. Consider shrines as little points of interest on your map to be ticked off whenever you see them.
Take To The Skies
As my review tagline states (which you should definitely read), Tears of the Kingdom is all about surrendering yourself to the sky. Multiple characters will remind you in dialogue that jumping into a Skyview Tower and shooting into the clouds is an ideal way to navigate your environment and discover things that previously were impossible to comprehend.
There is also so much to do on land that the sky islands frequently take a backseat. If you ignore them, you’ll suddenly be greeted with an entire section of the game you didn’t even realise was there.
Lookout Towers And Geoglyphs Are Essential
Your map will be completely blank upon starting Tears of the Kingdom, and you’ll need to discover Skyview Towers to fill in the blanks. These replace the Sheikah Towers from Breath of the Wild as a means to uncover the map. I’d recommend you find all of these quickly, or at least once the opportunity arises, so you aren’t leaving entire bits of the world shrouded in mystery. Flying out of them also opens up further opportunities, and getting them unlocked and running normally involves either walking or conquering a puzzle.
Geoglyphs are this game’s version of Memories, and can be found across the open world drawn across environments. You’ll only see the big picture from the sky, as well as shining pools of water that must be discovered to view the cutscenes hidden within.
While viewing them isn’t essential to completing the game, they provide valuable context while also developing Zelda’s character and eventually pointing you towards the Master Sword.
Similar to Shrines, do them as you see them to save a lot of future headaches.
Build Your Dream Home In Tarrey Town
Zelda has taken up residence in Link’s Hateno Village abode, so you’ll need to construct a new home in Tears of the Kingdom. However, unless you abandon the beaten path this can be very easy to miss. Head on down to Tarrey Town near Lake Akkala to begin your architectural journey.
You‘ll need to complete a quest for the Hudson Construction company before procuring a chance to purchase your own plot of land, and once that’s done, you can purchase individual parts and assemble a living space made up of all the everyday amenities you can imagine. It can get expensive though, so bring plenty of rupees and imagination before getting started.
Turn Link Into A Social Butterfly
Tears is more alive than its predecessor, with the majority of locations filled with eager locals dishing out optional side quests or just random nuggets of valuable information. Talk to them all, and take up their missions even if you don’t plan on finishing them.
This is especially true for stables which feature an overarching quest line focusing on a Bird Journalist searching for Princess Zelda on behalf of a local publication. Completing all of these will earn you armour that allows Link to climb on surfaces, even when it’s raining.
Dig Into The Depths
The Depths are terrifying and covered in pitch darkness, so I don’t blame you for being a bit suspicious of actually heading down there. It’s worth it though, and will prevent pulling of teeth later on when a main quest suddenly asks you to hop down into an underground world bigger than the surface and sky biomes combined.
You can take it slow though, even if that means only dipping into each chasm you stumble across, activating a Lightroot and warping back out. This will lay the groundwork for future excursions, and at least give you a decent idea of what awaits below.