Breaking down Eiji Aonuma’s recent showcase of 13 minutes of gameplay from the upcoming Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Nintendo fans are eagerly awaiting the release of Tears of the Kingdom, the sequel to the 2017 masterpiece The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Originally set for a 2022 release, the game was delayed to allow for additional development time to make the game’s experience “something special.” The game is now set to release on May 12th, and a recent 13-minute mini Direct has given players a sneak peek at Link’s new abilities.

One of the standout features of Tears of the Kingdom is Link’s new Fuse ability, which allows him to combine everyday objects to create weapons. During the presentation, producer Eiji Aonuma demonstrated how Link could create useful weapons on the fly, such as a homing arrow by fusing a monster eyeball with an arrow.

Weapon degradation, a gameplay mechanic that received mixed feedback from players, will be returning to the Breath of the Wild sequel, with a twist that may assuage returning players. In the sequel, Link’s Fuse ability will allow the player to create new weapons on the fly, which enables players to create higher durability weapons out of existing materials.

This potentially solves the issue that many players had with weapon degradation— you defeat powerful opponents to receive powerful weapons but they are impermanent. This led many players to hide powerful and shiny weapons in the back of their inventories to never be used out of fear of breaking them.

Now, players have the freedom to create their own weapons, which expands on the weapon modifier system from Breath of the Wild. It will essentially put creative freedom into the hands of the players. This puts anything you find within the world on an even playing field and, ideally, will cause a shift in the player’s mindset to use items creatively, rather than conservatively.

In addition to weapon creation, Link can also use his Ultrahand ability to craft larger objects such as boats and flying contraptions using junk found around Hyrule. Ultrahand, like Fuse, seems to be a natural extension of the previous game’s existing mechanics in a way that spawns many branching options for the player.

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The game’s world seems to have undergone a vast transformation, with large landmasses appearing in the sky. To reach these sky islands, Link is presented with many options in this new Legend of Zelda installment. Link can use the new Recall ability to rewind objects back up to the sky islands from whence they came.

Using Ultrahand, Link can also craft flying vehicles of many shapes and sizes, theoretically providing another method for the Hylian to reach the skyward islands. The game also features the Ascend ability, which acts as an escape rope, allowing players to swim upwards, through the ceiling above them, up to the surface above.

Tears of the Kingdom appears to be combining the openness of Breath of the Wild with the infinite possibilities of Link’s new abilities. The game’s level of detail is impressive, and fans are eagerly anticipating exploring all the new possibilities. Aonuma teased that this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as new additions to the game.

Some fans were concerned that Tears of the Kingdom would merely be an expansive Breath of the Wild DLC or Breath of the Wild 1.5. The gameplay elements introduced within this new 13-minute feature look to shatter that expectation, as long as performance and stability can hold up within the final game.

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