Tears of the Kingdom Made Me Learn to Finally Love Breath of the Wild

I know I'm late to the party!

Breath of the Wild official valentine's day art

I have a confession to make: I have never played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Before you yell at me, let me explain ... not that there is a good explanation. I was busy doing other things and playing other games! People told me it was the best game ever. I wasn’t exactly skeptical, but I just didn’t feel the need to see for myself. It is a game that has sat on my backlog for six years, and after such a long time, I was ready to just give up on ever going back to experience its wonders, especially considering its renowned runtime.

But then I played The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Tears of the Kingdom is in many ways a sequel that renders its predecessor obsolete. Those I know who weren’t morons like me and played Breath of the Wild have told me as much. Hyrule is a grander world in Tears of the Kingdom thanks to the addition of the Sky Islands and The Depths, while gameplay is improved with Zonai Devices and the endless potential of new abilities like Ultrahand and Fuse.

Breath of the Wild is simpler but equally magical as its sequel, and I’m happy I know that now.


My first dozen hours with Tears of the Kingdom solidified that this was indeed a fantastic game (shocking, I know) which piqued my curiosity about Breath of the Wild. My FOMO took over and made the decision that I needed to play Breath of the Wild and see its grandeur for myself.

So, six years late, I bought Breath of the Wild.

Which is still $60 digitally! Come on Nintendo, what’s up with that?

Before long, I had awoken Link from his slumber, traversed the shrines of the Great Plateau, gotten a paraglider, and was set free into the world. I immediately was struck by how similar yet different this was to my experience with Tears of the Kingdom, in which I did roughly the same tasks but over a much longer period of time. Getting off of the Great Sky Island in Tears of the Kingdom took roughly twice as long as getting out of the Great Plateau in Breath of the Wild. These are games about freedom and Breath of the Wild gave it to me faster.

Now having spent roughly a dozen hours with Breath of the Wild and more than double that with Tears of the Kingdom, I am stricken by how much I still like the former. Tears of the Kingdom is still a great game, but there are parts of it that I struggle with fundamentally.

I’m not very good at using Ultrahand.


I am not someone who usually enjoys games that require you to build your toolset. Ultrahand is the primary ability in Tears of the Kingdom, and much of the game’s fun comes from building contraptions and solutions with it. It is fun, but (and I know how this sounds) it is too complex for me to enjoy. That goes for the plethora of abilities as well. I find myself switching between two abilities at most the majority of the time when playing Tears of the Kingdom. I will go hours without even thinking about using an ability like Ascend or Recall. Breath of the Wild simplifies that moment-to-moment gameplay, and it is just right for me.

The parts I have loved most about Tears of the Kingdom are moments of discovery in this vast open world. That is the key pillar of Breath of the Wild. More than anything, what makes it special is that the player truly gets to have a unique experience driven by curiosity and exploration. It is why Breath of the Wild was groundbreaking. It is also why Tears of the Kingdom had to pivot slightly to distinguish itself.

While Breath of the Wild is about discovery, I think the key pillar of Tears of the Kingdom is creativity. Instead of a world to explore and discover, Tears of the Kingdom’s Hyrule is a sandbox. The player can test the limitations of their imagination and ability to manipulate the new gameplay systems, all in a land that should be familiar geographically thanks to Breath of the Wild. It is a smart pivot. The player can’t have that same sense of discovery and wonder twice just through exploration. So the wonder comes in mechanical discovery and the interesting new facets that have reshaped the land.

For now, I am enjoying my time exploring the farthest corners of Hyrule in Breath of the Wild. But Tears of the Kingdom stays right beside its predecessor on my Switch, offering me a different way to interact with the same world. They are perfect companion pieces and I don't think I could appreciate Tears of the Kingdom to its fullest without having spent time with Breath of the Wild. Even if I was way too late to the party.

Related Tags