Nintendo dropped a wild 10-minute look at the anticipated sequel, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (TotK), on Tuesday. We saw new abilities, the Sky Islands our Himbo of Time can ascend to, and the enemies he’ll encounter in Hyrule. We also learned weapon degradation has made a return, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Link can create killing tools this time around, too.
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Tears of the Kingdom is the upcoming sequel to 2017's smash hit, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW). Launching on May 12 for Nintendo Switch, TotK expands on many aspects of its predecessor, like allowing for better traversal via vehicles and implementing new vertical exploration. The game also retains many elements from its predecessor, such as its open-world setting and combat mechanics. Weapon degradation is also back in TotK, much to my chagrin, but Link now has some new abilities to alleviate that frustration.
Producer Eiji Aonuma sat down to play about 10 minutes of TotK in a video uploaded to the official Nintendo of America YouTube channel. While he showed off some new features, like the rune ability Recall, Aonuma also engaged with a brand-new enemy known as a construct. Similar in aesthetic to the guardians from BotW, Aonuma battled the construct with a branch Link just picked up. As you might expect, the durability of the wood didn’t last long as it shattered into a million wood chips right before Link’s eyes during combat.
Aonuma scooped up another branch and killed the construct, but not before the new branch was “badly damaged,” text I absolutely hated reading while playing BotW. Once done with the fight, Aonuma showed another of Link’s abilities.
After exploring more of the Sky Island, Aonuma came up to a boulder sitting on a cliffside. With the “badly damaged” branch in Link’s hand, Aonuma highlighted the boulder and fused it with the piece of wood, creating a “makeshift hammer.” This Fuse ability is a new option in Link’s toolkit, allowing him to stick objects together to create new weapons with various effects. Aonuma took that MacGyver’d hammer and bludgeoned two other constructs with it, noting that this new weapon had “much better durability.” That’s good.
So you could, for example, take a short weapon and make it much longer. Or, as in Aonuma’s other example, fuse a long stick with a much longer pitchfork to create a weapon that lets you poke enemy’s from a great distance away. You could also combine arrows with items in your inventory to make things like homing arrows and ice bolts, which makes the Fuse ability perfect for in-game hunting. Aonuma hinted that the possibilities are expansive and open up new gameplay opportunities and methods to approach difficult combat situations.
While I don’t find the weapon degradation mechanic particularly exciting, it always did introduce an element of freneticism and inspiration, forcing you to think on your feet in the heat of battle. Something like Utlra Age had a smart way of incorporating weapon breaking into its core gameplay mechanics, so it’s cool seeing Nintendo iterate on the divisive feature for Tears of the Kingdom.