The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom beginner’s tips

Link running away from a monster
(Image credit: Nintendo)

These The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom beginner’s tips are little pointers to help you get the most out of your adventures in Hyrule. From a couple of general rules for puzzle solving, some handy recipes to get you out of a bind in combat, and a few bits of good sense, this guidance won’t spoil the open-world game for you, but it may save you some frustration.

I’ve already played more than 70 hours of the Nintendo Switch game for our The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review, and in that time, I discovered things I wish I’d known earlier. One, in particular, would have saved me hours of searching in caves – *cough* Don’t sell your items *cough*.

Before playing, read The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom beginner’s tips below. You won’t find any spoilers for the story, but you may save yourself a lot of grief in the game. 

Don’t forget Ascend 

Ascend is one of the most useful, yet rarely used, of Link’s abilities in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The power has a simple function – if there is a flat surface above Link’s head, he can rise through it to reach the top of the object. That could be traveling from the inside of a house to the outside through the roof, from the underside of a platform to the top, or from the caverns below Hyrule to the peak of a mountain. You'll travel the whole way easily if there’s a straight line from bottom to top.

However, because you don’t use it in combat and there are many places in Hyrule where you are out in the open with no low-lying flat surfaces above you, it can be easy to forget the Ascend power exists.

When you are stuck on a puzzle, look around before cracking your Joy-Con in two and see if Ascend will solve the situation.

Don’t sell your items 

There are characters across Hyrule who suggest selling your items for rupees. Don’t listen to them. After adventuring for a few hours, you’ll pick up some valuable gems, diamonds, opals, and big piles of amber you can sell for a phat stack of cash. But you will be shortchanging yourself later when you need those resources to upgrade your armor.

You are awarded rupees for completing side quests, but while it can be tempting to fast-track your way to a new set of trousers by selling items to get them, when you can’t upgrade those trousers without searching caves for amber deposits, you’ll wish you hadn’t squandered the pile you had in your pockets earlier.

Use the map 

The Kingdom of Hyrule is a huge place. It was big in [Breath of the Wild], and now there’s an entire gloom-filled world below the earth and a sky of floating islands in the air above. It can be easy to lose track of things in a world that big, especially when Nintendo primed it for discovery. You’ll often be on your way to a place only to stumble across a shrine and be torn between continuing your quest and investigating this new curiosity.

Nintendo has given you a great tool to keep track of everything, but it requires a bit of manual labor to use well. However, keeping on top of your map is worth it.

In games like Assassin’s Creed, when you climb a vantage point and reveal the map around you, the game auto-fills in all of the points of interest in the region. Nintendo doesn’t do that in Zelda. When you reveal a region by ascending a lookout tower, you only record the shape of the terrain. It’s for you to fill in.

You can use your binoculars to drop pins on your map, planting a great glowing flag to home in on. However, you can only have six pins active at once. However, there’s no limit to the stamps you can place.  I’d recommend using your binoculars to place a pin on anything you intend to explore, and then replacing the pin with a stamp. This way you can accurately locate the place on the map from a distance but don’t have all of your pins in use all the time.

Also, remember to delete stamps from the map after they’ve served their purpose so you have a clean map to work with.

Zelda holding the Master sword

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Keep a hammer in your pocket 

While Tears of the Kingdom has limited inventory space, you should always keep a rock hammer. They’re easy to make; simply fusing any weapon with a boulder makes a hammer to break open boxes, mineral deposits, and rock walls. They’re so easy to make and so regularly used that you’ll kick yourself whenever you find yourself without one.

Rocket Shield 

You can make a lot of great Zonai device creations using your Ultrahand ability. Weld some odds and ends together, and in moments, you can build flamethrower-armed gliders, fan-driven minecarts, and lava-proof tanks. The complicated machines open up the world of Hyrule, but one of the simplest creations is also one of the most useful: the rocket shield.

Slap a rocket on a shield with your Fuse ability, and when you hold up your shield with the ZL button, the rocket will fire and launch you into the air. As soon as the rocket burns out, Link opens his paraglider.

While not much use in combat (though, it has its moments when you need to get airborne quickly), the rocket shield is a dream for exploration and climbing tall cliff faces in a hurry.

Search under villages and towns 

The caverns beneath Hyrule are vast, dark, and full of toxic gloom. It’s easy to get lost in the pitch-black and, perhaps more worrying, walking right past great riches is possible. Not just ore deposits and chests of rupees and crystalized Zonai, there is unique loot in the darkness, including some of the best armor in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. But it’s easy to miss if you don’t know where to look.

While some quests will lead you to items, and you can find notes hidden in the overworld that will add a cross to your map, a good rule of thumb is that you will find something valuable under the towns and villages on the surface.

Reverse time elevator 

As you walk across Hyrule, you will sometimes see a great chunk of rock fall out of the sky. The size of a wagon, these rocks show how unstable the floating islands in Hyrule are. But the boulders are also a key to exploring the surface world.

Stand on a fallen rock and target the boulder with your reverse time ability. The stone will fly back into the air with you on it. Not only does this give you a great perch to paraglide from, but stones often fall next to things you need to be high up to access, such as difficult-to-reach shrines, geoglyphs, or simply tall cliff faces that would be a slog to climb.

Julian Benson
Contributor, TechRadar Gaming

Julian's been writing about video games for more than a decade. In that time, he's always been drawn to the strange intersections between gaming and the real world, like when he interviewed a NASA scientist who had become a Space Pope in EVE Online,  or when he traveled to Ukraine to interview game developers involved in the 2014 revolution, or that time he tore his trousers while playing Just Dance with a developer.