Tears of the Kingdom turns Hyrule into Lego

Zelda and Link explore a ruin
(Image credit: Nintendo)

A recent gameplay demonstration for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, revealed a host of new mechanics for the upcoming game. 

I never thought that Tears of the Kingdom would let me build a hovercraft, but boy is it a pleasant surprise. Over the course of the 13-minute gameplay trailer, Legend of Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma revealed several tantalizing new features which seem poised to take Tears of the Kingdom’s open-world gameplay to the next level. 

In his upcoming adventure, set to release May 12th on Nintendo Switch, Link will be able to Fuse items together to create inventive new weapons. He’ll also be able to use his new Ultrahand ability to cobble together vehicles and items out of objects in the game world. Lastly, the Ascend and Recall abilities have been added to Link’s repertoire, allowing him to more easily traverse the world.

The crafting options afforded by the Ultrahand feature are particularly intriguing. In the gameplay trailer, we see Link cobble together a raft and a hovercraft. Aonuma also explained that the stills of vehicles from the previous trailer also depicted crafted vehicles. It would seem that players will be able to fashion hot air balloons and even cars out of the game’s range of interactable objects. 

The trailer also showed off the Fuse system, whereby Link can combine objects in the game world to forge makeshift weapons, sometimes with powerful effects. For instance: by attaching a large stone to a stick, Link was able to create a deadly mace. Some of the combinations, like the shield and puffshroom, look extremely promising. 

Honing your craft

Breath of the Wild offered Zelda fans an unprecedented open-world experience that meaningfully innovated on the series’ established formula. In this latest Tears of the Kingdom trailer, it looks as though Nintendo is attempting to push the envelope once again, by embracing an experimental and innovative crafting system more reminiscent of Minecraft than traditional Zelda titles. 

The trailer heavily implies that the world of Tears of the Kingdom is full of building blocks that a creative player can harness to their advantage. In the right (ultra)hands, a series of fallen logs can become a boat and a mushroom can become a deadly combat implement. It may seem silly, but Zelda games have always been about fostering creative solutions to problems, be they puzzles or monsters. Tears of the Kingdom seems to be taking this emphasis on player agency to its logical conclusion. 

There are limitations on the new crafting mechanics, however. Savvy viewers will notice the appearance of a battery gauge when Link builds his fan boat during the trailer. It would appear that Tears of the Kingdom’s vehicles can’t run indefinitely. Though this may disappoint some players, it’s important to remember that, without meaningful constraints, these kinds of mechanics are at risk of undermining a game’s balance. 

I was also pleased to see the arrival of the Ascend feature, which looks to be a much welcome quality of life improvement. No longer will players have to trudge their way out of dark caves. Instead, Link can just jump through the ceiling. It’s a neat traversal mechanic, and I’m excited to see where it leads. 

All in all, Tears of the Kingdom seems to be attempting to meaningfully iterate on the Zelda formula, and I couldn’t be more excited to see where these new iterations will lead us.  

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.