Aerial Combat Innovations in The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom

Link takes to the skies in Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom, and a whole new range of aerial combat is about to open up to us. New enemies, new weapons and new gameplay mechanics are all likely features in the sequel to Breath of the Wild, and today I want to take a closer look at it all through the trailers we’ve seen and the gameplay patents we know about.

Before we get into today’s topic, let me know in the comments what you want to see from aerial combat, and how you see it playing out. Do you want to fight on the back of gliders in the sky against enemies? What type of new weapons and enemies do you want to see, and how will they be adpated for the sky?

The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom is going to have much more verticality when it comes to exploration, dungeons, almost every aspect of the game, and combat is going to be no different. This is going to mean new enemies, new weapons and new game mechanics too.

The first trailer for Tears of the Kingdom was set underground, with Link and Zelda exploring the catacombs of Hyrule Castle. Since then the sky has had a major role in the promotion for the game with Link skydiving, exploring sky islands, using his glider, plus we get a glimpse of a new wooden ‘wing’ transportation device, which is similar to a sky mount, allowing link to get from A to B via the sky. Traveling, exploring, and fighting in the sky is going to be key to our adventures in Tears of the Kingdom.

Even though we defeating Calamity Ganon in Breath of the Wild, Hyrule isn’t safe just yet. It’s undergone a massive transformation since the first game, with pieces of Hyrule floating up into the air creating a complex network of Sky Islands for us to explore. We have seen Malice pouring out of the corpse under Hyrule Castle, which appears to have a direct link with these sky islands appearing.

So far in the trailer’s we’ve seen Link skydiving, looking very similar to Skyward Sword, plus floating through the sky with the help of his trustry glider. We’ve also seen Link traveling upwards too, with the help of some kind of time rewind device, although the features of this device aren’t really clear just yet. We’ve seen Link push a spiked ball back up a hill, and in the latest Tears of the Kingdom trailer we see Link traveling up, almost like Link is catching a ride upwards into the sky.

We have seen Link use another new mechanic, traveling up via a droplet of water, and moving through solid stone. Is this somehow connected to the Tears of the Kingdom, or is that just a coincidence? Either way, Link is freely and easily able to travel up and down, making Tears of the Kingdom vastly more complex than Breath of the Wild.

The final scenes of the latest trailer offer some tantilising clues as to what aerial combat could be like. Link falls from the sky, and lands sfaely on his feet on a huge wooden winged device, which looks like a huge glider in the sky, almost like the Green Goblin from Spider-man.

The importance of the Sky Horse

This glider could be key to Link’s new aerial combat abilities. This is much better than the old glider, because Link’s hands are now free. This means he could easily use a bow to take out enemies, drop bombs or throw other dangerous weapons. I’ve been thinking of this wooden glider much like a horse, but in the sky.

In Breath of the Wild Link fights on horseback successfully against other enemies, he’s able to dual with others also on horses, plus run down enemies and smack them with a sword. We’ve been using horses in Legend of Zelda games for years since we first rode Epona in Ocarina of Time, but now it could be time to take it to the skies and open up a new world of possibilities. Hopefully Link will be able to skydive and call this ‘sky horse’ at will which then leads to easy and fast travel across Hyrule.

The ‘sky horse’ opens up a range of potential new features, including new weapons, new enemies and new combat abilities too. One of the big pieces of feedback from the audience related to Breath of the Wild was the lack of enemy variety. Nintendo could use the sky as a catalyst for creating new enemies that operate in 3D space, flying varieties either with vehicles of their own, or physical wings. There are plenty of flying enemies from previous Legend of Zelda games Nintendo could call on like varieties of keese, Winged Octoroks, Aeralfos, and Kargaroks. new enemies means new danger for Link too, if he’s going to be fighting on the back of a winged transport in the sky, there’s a risk he could fall off and crash to the hard hyrulian ground.

New weapons could be developed for Link if he’s going to be fighting in the sky. I can imagine new bows and arrow specifically designed for the sky, and other throwing weapons. Many of the weapons in Breath of the Wild were melee focused weapons, but Link may have to resort to thowing or aiming weapons, meaning smaller knives or daggers could be used.

New varieties of Bombs would be good for aerial combat too. Traditional Zelda bombs are thrown, there are a few seconds to wait and the bombs detonate. I’d like to see them detonate on impact, or Link have smaller clust bombs or homing devices. He could really cause some damage flying the in the sky throwing bombs off the edge. I can imagine the Hook Shot returning too, grabbing an enemy right out of the sky and pulling them towards link.

Link’s arm is likely to come into play too. We’ve seen this new arm be used to rewind time, and it could open up other abilities for Link too. We’ve seen the concept artwork for Link’s arm that didn’t make it into Breath of the Wild, it seems like Nintendo are going to explore those concepts more in Tears of the Kingdom. Different arm attachments could mean new weapons and new ways to interact with the world, and affecting the physics in interesting ways. If we’ve going to play in the sky, this opens up a world of possibilities. So far Nintendo has held off from telling us too much about this in trailers, but I would guess we’ll get something very soon.

Aerial Battles

We haven’t seen footage of this yet in trailer, but I am confident we’re going to see it soon. Nintendo patended a new type of arial combat suggesting Link can shoot arrows while skydiving, opening up the potential for battles in the sky. It’s one thing to battle on the back of this winged device, it’s another thing to battle while falling.

Looking at the patent we have three states. Vertically downward, with the character diving and pointing the bow and arrow directly down. We have a second state where you are diving diagonally down towards a target. We then have a third state where the Link is upward relative to the reference direction. I think that’s a complicated way of saying shooting relatively normally while falling from the sky.

In Skyward Sword, we could battle in the sky while on the back of the Loftwing, but this mechanic opens up the potential for big sky battles and points to more of Breath of the Wild 2 taking place in the sky as well as on the ground in Hyrule. We have known for a while that we’re going to be travelling between the ground on Hyrule and the floating islands in the sky. This patent points to potential gameplay elements in the space between the ground and the sky islands and having to battle our way downwards.

Let me know what you think of Aerial Battles in

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