Tears of the Kingdom Repeats One Mistake from BotW
One notable problem could hold this game back.
We don’t have long until The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is released worldwide. In the meantime, several outlets — including Inverse — played early preview segments of the game.
As expected, the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive. While many previews praise Tears of the Kingdom’s emphasis on player choice and creativity within the new Ultrahand mechanics, one common complaint has surfaced: Overcomplicated controls may just make the game inaccessible for certain players and/or alienating for others. Breath of the Wild’s controls were already finicky, but it seems like Tears of the Kingdom’s additional mechanics have only added to the frustration.
The sheer amount of things you can do in Tears of the Kingdom cannot be overstated. The new mechanics such as Fuse (which lets you combine weapons to make them more powerful) or Ultrahand (an ability that allows you to rotate and stick objects together) are highlights, but it seems Nintendo hasn’t made it easy to utilize them.
Some outlets that previewed the game shared criticisms of the game’s controls: “What’s not so great is that rotating larger objects and wrangling the camera can make construction with Ultrahand rather fiddly — and almost certainly an accessibility barrier for some players,” wrote Jen Glennon in the Inverse preview.
This could lead to frustrations with the game’s new mechanic, which is supposed to be a core selling point for the new experience. Mastery of Ultrahand will all but certainly be required to progress and complete the game. With seemingly no options to rework controls, this could be a major flaw.
Though, as IGN’s Brian Altano points out, players will likely get used to the controls: “The building process was slightly cumbersome at first, but I suspect it’s something that will come second nature after some extensive play time,” wrote Altano. “You’ll probably still hit the horse whistle button by accident.”
As part of the two-hour preview, much of the time was spent learning the ins and outs of the controls and new mechanics. “[Tears of the Kingdom] is NOT easy to control,” wrote Gene Park of The Washington Post. “The game is packed with so many features, even 70 minutes wasn’t enough to get used to the buttons.”
Jason Schreier of Bloomberg said that “rotating and maneuvering objects can feel very finicky,” while Stephen Totilo of Axios said, “It's hard to assess how cumbersome the controls will be without being gradually taught them by playing through the game.” Totilo’s analysis is perhaps the most important to remember. The previous game can take upwards of 100 hours to complete, and many of the nuances to the game’s controls and mechanics are gradually taught to the player over time. Jumping right into a mid-game preview segment of the game must be disorienting, to say the least.
Clunky controls also aren’t new for the Zelda series. Breath of the Wild famously felt cumbersome in many ways, particularly with its motion control sections, which never quite felt as precise as you’d expect. Despite the issues, Nintendo never improved Breath of the Wild’s controls, so it’s unlikely Tears of the Kingdom will change in this regard, especially two weeks before launch. That said, Zelda games always seem to take advantage of the more nuanced control mechanisms of the various Nintendo consoles, so maybe that means there won’t be as many surprises this time around.