10 Ways Tears of the Kingdom Changed The Zelda Series

Breath of the Wild was a huge departure for the Legend of Zelda series introducing an open-world Hyrule, breakable weapons and interacting with the story in any order. Tears of the Kingdom once again shook up the franchise introducing many new features and breaking the Legend of Zelda mould. Today I want to look at the ways Tears of the Kingdom changed the Zelda series.

Before we get stuck into things, beware of spoilers for Tears of the Kingdom’s story. If you haven’t played through the game and experienced the story first hand, then I would recommend coming back to this later. For those who don’t mind being spoiled, or those who know the details of the story‚Ķ let’s continue.

Zelda’s Active Role

In previous Zelda games Princess Zelda has been someone to save. In Tears of the Kingdom she takes a much more active role in the story, taking the fight to Ganondorf in the past, taking part in the Imprisioning War. Zelda is transported back to the ancient past by the power of her Secret Stone, she meets Rauru and Sonia, battles against The Demon King himself, before eating a Secret Stone and transforming into a Dragon. Zelda then waits hundreds of years before teaming up with Link once again to take down Ganondorf in the epic finale.

Reused Hyrule Map

Originally started as DLC for Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom reused the entire Hyrule map, albeit with some significant changes. It’s rare, but reusing certain parts of the games has been done before. Majora’s Mask used a lot of Ocarina of Time, plus A Link Between Worlds used the map from a Link To The Past, but much like Tears of the Kingdom these games were sequels too.

Land, Sky, Underground

Breath of the Wild had us exploring every inch of Hyrule, however, Tears of the Kingdom introduced two new areas to explore; The Sky Islands and The Depths. Much was made of the Sky Islands before Tears of the Kingdom released, and somehow the Depths were kept secret untiul launch day. Both new areas are very different. The Sky Islands are scarce, hardly filling the sky, but offering some great puzzles and battles. The Depths on the other hand introduced a dark and dangerous new world, the same size as Hryule above. Having to light up the Depths with Lightroots was a very clever way to expose the area, similar to finding the Towers on the surface. Plus that first time going down into the depths and discovering a whole new area to explore is unforgettable.


Mechs have been introduced a couple of ways into Tears of the Kingdom. Not only do we build a mech as part of the story, but we can build our own structure to wage war against Ganondorf’s armies of darkness. Building a mech as part of the secret 5th temple in the game is one of Tears of the Kingdom’s highlights, aleit a small mech. However, if you want something a little bigger you can put together larger vehicles yourself with Ultrahand.


Ultrahand was introduced in Tears of the Kingdom, which gave Link the ability to piece together wheels, wood, lasers and rockets. This is by far the biggest game changing ability added to a Legend of Zelda adventure in years, allowing Link to build vehicles and weapons. Traversing across Hyrule became more than riding a horse, now Link could piece together boats, cars and flying vehicles, vastly improving getting from A to B. It’s going to be difficult to go back to what it was before Ultrahand, and this ability to build alkmost anything dramatically improved Link adventures.

Companions in battle

For a short time in Tears of the Kingdom we get to fight alongside companions around Hyrule as we attempt to complete Temples spread around Hyrule. Whereas Breath of the Wild was a lonely game, with Link battling on his own for much of the adventure, fighting alongside the new sages in Tears of the Kingdom was a welcome feature. After we complete the temples we can then summon the shadows of these sages, being able to use their abilities to help us on our adventures. Personally I would love to fight side by side with Zelda, however, that wasn’t to be, but fighting alongside our sage companions did change Tears of the Kingdom for the better.

Magical powers

We’re used to magic being used in Zelda games, with Link using various wands and magical powders in previous titles like A Link To The Past. Here in Tears of the Kingdom we got to use very strong abilities, in Recall and Ascend. Recall was the ability to turn an object back through time, a power given to us via Princess Zelda and her secret stone. Ascend was the ability to traverse through solid matter, allowing us to get out of caves quickly. Combining these powers in Link’s whole repetiore of abilities made Link super powerful, and also made oru adventures around Hyrule much easiser.

Fusing Weapons

Weapon durability was a feature added in Breath of the Wild, which meant weapons would break after using them for a short period of time. This was a dramatic departure from previous Zelda games, which had Link using one or two swords throughout his adventures in Hyrule. Now, Link could pick up any weapon he found or took from enemies, and use them to his advantage. To alliviate the weapon durability, Nintendo introduced Fuse, an ability to allow Link to fuse weapons together, plus items together too. Two swords could be fused, two shields, even items added to arrows. Fused weapons not only had more durability, meaning they could be used for longer, but also increased their damage output making Link even more dangerous than before.


The HUD was dramatically improved for Tears of the Kingdom, including many new features that helped Link on his adventure. The mini-map displays latitude and longitude, along with altitude, which is useful given how much time Link spends in the air. Up on the d-pad now allowed for easy access to materials, which was great when fusing items to arrows. Icons for caves, together with checkmarks if the caves were completed, were another great addition. Finally, the radial menu for Link’s abilities allowed for quick and easy access, which was a vast improvement over Breath of the Wild’s UI.


Skydiving is perhaps one of the most satisfying elements of Tears of the Kingdom, and changed the way Link travels around Hyrule. The Sky Islands combined with the Towers that shoot you up into the air, and then Link can either land on a sky island to explore, or skydive down to the ground, or even below ground if the player chooses. If Breath of the Wild was all about climbing any surface to help exploration, then Tears of the Kingdom is all about taking to the skys. The addition of the wing suit makes this even better, given through upgrades you can completely negate fall damage. Perhaps more was made of the sky in the marketing materials prior to the game’s release, it’s still breathtaking jumping off the Great Sky Island and gliding diving to the ground, opening your paraglider at the last second to gently land on the ground.

Let me know in the comments what you think about the ways Tears of the Kingdom changed the Zelda series.

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