Tears of the Kingdom looks to be building on much of what made Breath of the Wild great, and one of Link’s new abilities is going to allow him to piece together items found in the open-world to form vehicles, and maybe even larger structures… and that ability is Ultrahand. Today I want to take a closer look at Ultrahand, look at the implications for gameplay, quests, traveling around Hyrule, and potentially even rebuilding key locations in The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom.
Before we get into it today, let me know in the comments what you want to build with Link’s new Ultrahand ability.
We first got hints at Link’s new Ultrahand abilities in Tears of the Kingdom Trailer 2. Link could be seen riding new vehicles, but these looked different. They appeared to be cobbled together from parts. We saw Link driving across Hyrule, then we saw him flying in a hot air baloon, and finally flying high among the sky islands on another flying machine.
In the gameplay showcase, Nintendo unveiled their name for this new ability, and that’s Ultrahand. This ability is named after a toy made by Nintendo in the 1960s, and allows Link to piece together parts found in the open world to create vehicles and possibily even structures. We’ve only seen vehicles so far in the trailers, but there are hints found in the original Breath of the Wild that point to building more than just machines that will allow us to get across Hyrule.
Ultrahand looks incredibly easy to use. In the gameplay trailer we see Link standing infront of a river, and he needs a boat to get across because the river is too large to swim across. He spots 3 logs and a couple of fans, and starts to assemble a make-shift boat using his new Ultrahand abilities. First of all, standing next to a log the A button turns to a ‘grab’ action, and once he’s grabbed the log, the action button then switches to ‘attach’, allowing Link to join the log to another log. You can see in the UI a couple of different actions. Up and Down on the d-pad alow to move the item back and forward while grabbed, you can rotate using the R button and you can cancel the selection using B. Link then puts together a 3rd log to create a solid base for the boat.
Needing a motor, Link finds a couple of fans near the logs, and by hitting them you can turn them on, which creates wind, and when placed correctly at the back of the boat, this creates a motor, allowing Link to get across the river without having to swim. Aonuma refers back to trailer 2 and says these vehicles won’t immediately be available in the game, so perhaps we’ll need to upgrade Ultrahand or the individual parts won’t be available immediately. As we progress throughout Tears of the Kingdom we’re going to be able to build an array of vehicles with Ultrahand, and use them to travel far and wide across Hyrule.
As well as vehicles, there is the prospect of rebuilding Hyrule itself. In Breath of the Wild we got a taste of this type of gameplay in Tarrey Town. Once you buy a house for Link the questline opens up and you meet a construction crew member called Hudson. He then invites Link to another building site near Lake Akkala. Rebuilding Tarrey Town is made up of lots of little quests that involve gathering items all across Hyrule, working with the Rito, Goron, Gerudo and Zora, all races of Hyrule coming together to rebuild this one town. Infact, they all move to Tarrey Town, open shops, plus there’s a wedding at the end between Hudson and a Gerudo who moved there. It’s one of th emost intricate quests in Breath of the Wild, but could point to an element of gameplay in Tears of the Kingdom.
Rather than a series of side quests, rebuilding Hyrule is likely to feature in the main story in Tears of the Kingdom. Ultrahand is going to be important for building vehicles that allow Link to get high in the Sky, or get across large bodies of water, that otherwise we wouldn’t be able to get to. Ultrahand could also allow Link to help rebuild Hyrule after the most recent Calamity. We can see in the gameplay trailer that there are large amounts of building materials waiting for Link to use, and while we can use these to build ourselves cars, boats and flying machines, we could also contribute to the rebuilding of towns and camps in Tears of the Kingdom.
It’s been reported that Nintendo developers were playing Red Dead Redemption 2 while working on Tears of the Kingdom. In Red Dead 2, Arthur and the crew have to build camps and settlements to set up temporary accommodation in the game, given their gang is often on the move. Given we can grab logs and stick them together to form rafts, then perhaps we could build bigger structures like buildings, and even place these buildings together to form small towns.
The Hyrule found in Breath of the Wild is dilapidated, therefore going around various parts of Hyrule and rebuilding towns could be a nice post-campaign activity. Not to mention the speed running community and what they are going to make of Ultrahand. The physics features found in Breath of the Wild were one of the reasons why fans kept playing Breath of the Wild for years after release, and this new Ultrahand ability is going to breath life into speed running, and give the post-campaign activities a much needed boost.
It’s going to be great to see just how far the community push this feature and what they can create. We’ve seen vehicles that Link can drive on land, plus hot air baloons and flying machines. I’d love to see someone create a tank. In Breath of the Wild we could create bombs out of thin air, and while we haven’t see this former sheikah slate ability yet in Tears of the Kingdom, can you imagine rocking up to Hyrule Castle gates in a full blown tank. That would be very cool. I imagine we’ve only seen a few of the parts we can put together. We’ve seen the logs, the planks, and some fans to create a simple boat. On the car we see in Trailer 2, the wheels at the front of the vehicle look like they have dragon heads, pointing to Zonai technology. We’ve seen Link fish larger wheels out of the water, so I imagine the sky islands are not only holding secrets, but also vehicle parts we can put together.
Before we go today, I wanted to look back at the original Ultra Hand toy from Nintendo, which provides inspiration for the name of Link’s new ability in Tears of the Kingdom. Ultra Hand was made by Nintendo in the 60s, and was created by Gunpei Yokoi, who would go onto create the d-pad and work on the Game Boy. Ultra Hand was made up from many connected plastic pieces. One end has scissor-like handles, extending when the handles are pinched together. On the other end of the Ultra Hand are grips, and you can grab objects when it’s fully extended. It was seen as a commercial success, selling more than one million units. It was also the first toy developed by Yokoi, and contributed to saving Nintendo from financial trouble. The Ultra Hand has also featured in other Nintendo games like Wario Ware, Mario Power Tennis, Splatoon 3 and Mario Kart SUper Circuit, plus is was featured in it’s own Wii Ware game called Grill Off with Ultra Hand, where you esseentially used the Ultra Hand Toy as tongs.
Let me know in the comments what you think of Ultrahand in Tears of the Kingdom, and let me know what you want to build.