Of all the things I was expecting to see in our final pre-release glimpse of Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, a series known for its beautiful, highly-stylized art and elegant mechanics, the very last thing on my list was janky-looking homemade vehicles.
Everything else in the trailer hit the mark for me. In contrast to the excitement I felt towards the breadcrumbs of some dark, in-depth lore, our hero Link looking pretty worse for wear, and some clear gameplay distinction from Breath of the Wild, the vehicles felt like a plunge into an ice pool when you’ve just been sat in front of a warm hearth.
While Link isn’t a stranger to transportation – riding his horse Epona since Ocarina of Time, captaining his own ship in Wind Waker, and even mounting a motorcycle in Breath of the Wild DLC – these vehicles looked like they were hastily assembled from odds and ends. And, as the trailer went on, it looked like this was exactly what they were.
Get in loser, we’re killing Moblins
The offending clips come towards the end of the trailer, beginning when we see Link use his creepy dark arm to pull a round, wheel-like object from a muddy pool (Spoiler alert: it is, in fact, a wheel).
At first, I thought it was just an object for a shrine puzzle using a similar mechanic to the magnetic rune from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but in the very next clip, we see Link at the helm of… a car?
This car is just funky looking; there’s no way around it. Its chassis is made with wooden debris, large stone wheels and mechanics of a tribal design that seem to be hot glued on with green gunk. Most jarringly, it’s even complete with headlights, which nearly made me spit take.
We were barely given time to process this new, slightly out-of-place feature before being introduced to two more vehicles: a hot air balloon and a large hoverboard-esque steerable platform.
While the balloon aesthetically and contextually seems to fit better, the hoverboard and car were both blocky, oversized, and just a little awkward looking, which only added to how unorthodox these modern technologies seem in a post-apocalyptic Hyrule.
While the motorcycle in Breath of the Wild’s DLC, the Champion’s Ballad, stuck out like a sore thumb, it’s an end-game quest reward that can disrupt the main game's immersion. And, in design, the vehicle at least uses the same Sheikah tech as the Divine Beast machines you encounter in the story.
My real worry with these new vehicles is that Nintendo is overextending itself for the sake of mechanics nobody really asked for. We already have a paraglider, and it’s fair to assume we’ll have quick travel again. So, it’s pretty hard to tell what these vehicles will be used for in the wider gameplay.
Just a game theory
Without hyper-analyzing, there’s absolutely a chance that these vehicles make contextual sense.
Breath of the Wild introduced us to the Zonai, an ancient war-like tribe that worshipped Farosh, and the trailers so far seem to be leaning heavily on the iconography of the Zonai. Intriguingly, the green-tinged magic seen throughout the trailers and around the underground Zonai caverns seems to reference the Twili, who were banished from Hyrule to the Twilight realm for abusing this magic, leading fans to draw connections between the two lost people.
In the most recent trailer, this green magic is everywhere, and with some of the car components matching Zonai architecture and motifs, they may well have a logical place in the new Hyrule laid out by Tears of the Kingdom.
There’s lots of exciting potential unleashed in adding these vehicles to the gameplay, and with the world of Hyrule seemingly split into three layers – underground caverns, a surface world, and floating islands in the sky – they could play a significant role in unlocking the verticality of the three-layered map. Efforts seem to have been made to make them feel relative to the Legend of Zelda’s lore, but until I’ve seen them in situ when the game releases on the Nintendo Switch on May 12, 2023, I’ll stick with my MVP, Epona.
Get daily insight, inspiration and deals in your inbox
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Josephine Watson (@JosieWatson) is TechRadar's Managing Editor - Lifestyle. Josephine has previously written on a variety of topics, from pop culture to gaming and even the energy industry, joining TechRadar to support general site management. She is a smart home nerd, as well as an advocate for internet safety and education, and has also made a point of using her position to fight for progression in the treatment of diversity and inclusion, mental health, and neurodiversity in corporate settings. Generally, you'll find her watching Disney movies, playing on her Switch, or showing people pictures of her cats, Mr. Smith and Heady.