What’s that about QOL improvements?
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the follow-up to 2017's hit Breath of the Wild, drops on May 12 for the Switch. Reviews are publishing online and, as you’d expect, they’re overwhelmingly glowing—and for good reason. Nintendo has crafted a sequel that’s reportedly even better than its predecessor, particularly because it makes several welcomed quality-of-life improvements.
A continuation of BotW, TotK picks up shortly after the first game’s events. Link, our gender-fluid Hero of the Wild, has to contend with a Rehydrated Ganon and his corrupted army in a much more expanded Hyrule Kingdom. To do that, you’re given an arsenal of new abilities, including Fuse and Recall, to battle the many mobs littered above and below The Great Plateau. There is also an assortment of changes and fixes that TotK makes over BotW, some of which address annoyances and make for a more streamlined experience.
Fast travel is way less restrictive
Swerving through The Great Plateau.
One of the best changes in TotK is fast travel. Yeah, it was in BotW, but you were relegated to jumping between specific points of interest, like shrines and towers. The Travel Medallion lets you fast travel anywhere in BotW, but you could only acquire it after you picked up The Master Trials DLC from the Nintendo eShop. Now, though, the Travel Medallion is just part of the main game, letting you plant a waypoint anywhere on the map and fast-travel to it whenever you want. This makes traipsing the big open world less tedious, especially if you have to backtrack and there isn’t a shrine or tower in the immediate vicinity. Cool.
Inventory management is more convenient
In BotW, whenever you approached a chest with a full inventory, you’d have to exit the chest, open your bag, choose what to discard, then open the chest again to add the item to your inventory. That’s a lotta steps when most games make this level of minute bag management easy to do. TotK does just that, as you can now drop items from your inventory while standing in front of a chest. No longer are you stuck watching the opening animation ad nauseam.
You don’t have to remember recipes anymore
BotW, for some ungodly reason, forced you to memorize recipes. So, if you went to cook something but couldn’t remember the order of ingredients, you might end up with some, ahem, inedible abomination that could lead to indigestion. That’s not the case in TotK. This time around, every meal and elixir recipe you find in the massive game world is saved to the menu for your perusal. You don’t need to consult a wiki or, IDK, Link’s grandma—does he have one? (Editors’ note: she’d be dead.)—to get reminded of how to cook a certain dish.
Cooking can be done anywhere in Hyrule Kingdom
Hollup, lemme cook.
Adding to the above quality-of-life improvement, TotK now allows Link to pick up portable cooking pots so you can cook whenever you want, wherever you want. As a warrior survivalist, this is a godsend for our enby Hero of the Wild.
The ‘shrine alert’ sound isn’t as annoying or loud now
We all like a good audio cue, especially in open-world games where exploration and travel are prominent gameplay elements. However, in BotW, the shrine alert sound wasn’t particularly great. Sure, it indicated when you were approaching any of the 120 shrines, but the ping had atrocious audio levels. That’s been done away with in TotK. As Axios reporter and former Kotaku EIC Stephen Totilo demonstrated on Twitter, the new sound effect is much more subtle, blending nicely with the chill vibes present in Link’s latest adventure.
Some may scoff.
How, they will say, could Zelda: Breath of the Wild be improved?
I will submit: For Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo changed the shrine alert sound https://t.co/LMWQbjki0S pic.twitter.com/sJuiG3u3Pn
— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) May 11, 2023
Almost every in-game item is throwable this time around
Previously, you could only throw weapons, which did significant damage but also left your equipment in a breakable state. In TotK, you can pick up and throw just about everything you find in Hyrule Kingdom. Apples, jelly, flaming objects like fire fruits—whatever Link can get his hands on can be tossed at the many enemies you’ll encounter. While you’ll still have to dull your weapons to eliminate mobs, you can now use more of the environment as a weapon. Nice.
This is just a small sampling of the known quality-of-life improvements Nintendo made in Tears of the Kingdom. As folks get their hands on the game when it officially launches on May 12, Kotaku included, I’ve no doubt we’ll learn more about just how much the sequel has changed over Breath of the Wild. Regardless, it seems Nintendo has yet another masterpiece on its hands.
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