Legend of Zelda Fans Keep Setting Themselves Up For Disappointment With Tears of the Kingdom

Tears of the Kingdom is nearly here, but some fans seem to want it to be a completely different game than the one we've seen so far.

Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom
Photo: Nintendo

Nintendo finally released a proper gameplay preview for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and it looks…really good, actually.

The preview was only ten minutes long, but it showcased a few key gameplay additions that will seemingly help define the much-anticipated title. Link’s versatile (and hilarious) ability to “fuse” items together was the obvious highlight of the preview, though Link’s ability to “ascend” throughout the game to reach new heights will undoubtedly play a major role in this game’s apparently very vertical world. Elsewhere, we saw much more of how players can forge some surprisingly elaborate vehicles out of common objects. I wasn’t expecting the next Zelda game to double as a dream K’nex Toys adventure, but here we are.

For as much as there is to say about what is in Tears of the Kingdom, though, it seems telling that this preview immediately sparked quite a few conversations about what we haven’t seen of the game. While there is almost certainly quite a bit of TotK that has yet to be revealed, it’s clear that some fans seem to be setting themselves up to be disappointed by what this game probably is.

For instance, one of the most popular theories about Tears of the Kingdom at the moment is the idea that the game secretly contains updated versions of those classic Zelda dungeons that were notably missing from Breath of the Wild. Mind you, nobody from the TotK team has even hinted at the return of traditional Zelda dungeons, but there is a surprisingly large section of the fanbase that seems to think a lack of information is all the information they need in this instance.

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Running alongside that idea is the equally popular suggestion that Tears of the Kingdom‘s new overworld is not only much larger than Breath of the Wild‘s overworld but is filled with incredible narrative and gameplay secrets. Those who subscribe to that theory suggest that those secrets are the reason why Nintendo hasn’t showcased much of TotK‘s world so far. Clearly, they’re trying to hide some incredible spoilers that would ruin the game if we saw them ahead of TotK‘s May 12 release date.

Of course, there are also those theories that suggest Tears of the Kingdom will completely shake up significant aspects of the Zelda lore/timeline and deliver the kind of Zelda narrative that will leave devoted franchise fans talking for years. We’ve covered some of those theories in the past, but there are many of them out there, and most of them are strengthened by how little Nintendo has said about the game’s story so far.

That’s the point we keep coming back to, isn’t it? So many of these fan theories about what Tears of the Kingdom really is are based on the idea that Nintendo is intentionally not telling us about what would seemingly be some pretty major parts of the game. While it’s true that there is still so much about TotK we simply don’t know, the idea that everything that hasn’t been said is a tip-off to some incredible secret feature yet to be revealed seems like dangerously wishful thinking at this point.

Based on what we do know about the game, Tears of the Kingdom seems to pick up pretty much where Breath of the Wild left off in terms of its gameplay design, world, and narrative. Both are open-world Zelda adventures that emphasize survival, crafting, exploration, and experimentation while downplaying (or removing) some of the elements that have defined more “traditional” Zelda games.

Honestly, that seems to be the problem. For as successful as Breath of the Wild was, there were quite a few fans who simply did not like it. They didn’t like its open-world design, they didn’t like the crafting and weapon durability mechanics, and they didn’t like its lack of hallmark franchise features. It’s not a coincidence that so many of these supposedly “hidden” features in Tears of the Kingdom match the wishlists of those who were underwhelmed by BotW. Those underwhelmed fans are seemingly leading this charge by suggesting that TotK is actually this kind of ultimate dream Zelda title that combines BotW mechanics with missing Zelda tropes. Nintendo is clearly just withholding the latter aspects to ensure fans are properly blown away when they appear in the final game.

Yet, everything we have seen of Tears of the Kingdom so far suggests that the game is actually doubling-down on many of the elements that defined Breath of the Wild. For instance, those creative solutions to complex problems that players loved to discover and share in BotW are clearly being catered to via TotK‘s Fuse system and vehicle crafting. Pretty much everything we’ve seen of TotK so far has been designed to highlight the ways it will expand the core BotW experience. It seems to be designed to appeal to those who did love BotW, which, again, does seem to be the heart of the problem for other franchise fans.

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Mind you, this isn’t just a case of hopelessly optimistic fans feeling left out of the fun. Tears of the Kingdom does look good, but it also looks strangely similar to Breath of the Wild in many ways. Large parts of the world look similar, the core gameplay is all there, and even the graphics look largely familiar. For a game that may very well be the last major Switch exclusive (as well as a game that Nintendo says will be worth its controversial $70 price tag), TotK does feel a bit closer to an elaborate expansion of BotW than even fans of the latter game may have expected. It looks like the kind of direct Zelda sequel we honestly haven’t seen a lot of throughout this franchise’s history. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but expectations being what they are, it’s easy enough to understand much of the speculation that’s going around.

We don’t know what the final version of Tears of the Kingdom has in store for us, but everything we’ve seen so far suggests that the only thing we can safely expect from the game is a bigger (and likely better) version of BotW. While the game may end up being more than that, anyone expecting significantly more from TotK this late in the game may be setting themselves up for some kind of disappointment.