Tears of the Kingdom’s Fuse Ability Is One of Zelda’s Best (and Funniest) Features Ever

Tears of the Kingdom's Fuse feature dares to ask why you need a stronger, more durable weapon when you can just slap a boulder onto a stick.

Tears of the Kingdom Fuse
Photo: Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom can’t get here fast enough. Sure, the game recently went gold, but its launch is still a month and a half away. Of course, that wait now feels just a bit longer thanks to the introduction of what is probably the greatest feature in any Zelda game and certainly one of the most hilarious.

Earlier today, the producer of Tears of the Kingdom, Eiji Aounuma, walked audiences through a long-awaited gameplay demonstration of the upcoming title. Gamers already knew much of the information he displayed (such as floating islands and the ability to swim through ceilings), but Aonuma was kind enough to show off two new abilities: Fuse and Ultrahand.

The difference between these skills is one of utility (that, and the fact my brain keeps wanting to call the Ultrahand ability “Godhand“). Judging by the gameplay demo, Fuse will let players combine weapons with items both in the world and their inventory for a variety of results. Ultrahand will allow players to stick objects together to produce makeshift structures and vehicles. If you recall the previous Tears of the Kingdom trailer, you might remember seeing Link pilot a medieval buggy and hot air balloon. It turns out those were built using Ultrahand. In fact, it turns out that trailer also stealth-teased Fuse at the 1:26 mark. As much as I anticipated Tears of the Kingdom when Nintendo first teased the title, the full reveal of that Fuse ability makes me want the game even more.

In the demonstration, Aonuma only fused a few items. Those include a stick fused with a pitchfork, a mushroom fused with a shield, and a Keese eye fused with an arrow. In each instance, the combination completely changed how the base items behaved. For instance, the stick pitchfork formed a ridiculously long weapon that looked hilarious when stored on Link’s back. The mushroom shield spouted a smokescreen when hit, and the Keese eye arrow homed in on enemies.

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At the very least, many fused items are bound to make gamers burst out laughing (I know I did). Other Zelda fans were certainly quick to pick up on the pure comedy potential of this feature.

However, think of the potential utility of that ability. Thanks to Aonuma, I now know that I can significantly alter arrows by fusing them with enemy materials, but what happens if you combine a boomerang with a Keese eye? Can you turn a sword into a fire-element weapon by combining it with Red Chuchu Jelly? Fuse is the closest the Legend of Zelda franchise has ever gotten to a full-scale item or weapon crafting system, and the possibilities look as freeform as the rest of Tears of the Kingdom. However, the uses of Fuse apparently might not end there.

Let’s address the Divine Beast Vah Ruta in the room: Tears of the Kingdom still has weapon durability. Yes, the worst (or most divisive) feature of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will transfer over to its sequel and probably be that game’s worst feature as well. However, judging by the gameplay demonstration, Fuse will act as a counterbalance to the durability mechanic since it can seemingly repair weapons (at least partially). Sure, players will still probably have to (or want to) collect new weapons to replace worn-out ones or experiment with new combinations. But, if Fuse works the way it seems to, players can keep their favorite blades alive nigh-indefinitely by continually combining the base weapon with a new random item now and then.

Granted, that is just a theory, and Nintendo might implement checks and balances to keep things like that from happening. Maybe certain items can’t be fused, or maybe fusing only holds off weapon degradation for a brief time. Moreover, Fuse could act as an excuse to include fewer weapons in Tears of the Kingdom. If players can turn regular arrows into elemental bolts depending on the flavor of ChuChu Jelly slathered on top, what need does the game have for merchants that sell Fire, Ice, or Shock Arrows?

While the concept of Ultrahand doesn’t excite me (or make me laugh) quite as much as Fuse, I freely admit Ultrahand has as much potential. I’m sure you’ve seen videos of clever Breath of the Wild players turning rafts into airboats with nothing more than a Korok Leaf, the Stasis ability, and several armfuls of Octo Balloons. Well, Ultrahand is an expanded version of that same basic concept. What you can create is potentially only limited by the materials available and your imagination. No longer will players who never completed the Champion’s Ballad DLC (or didn’t buy it) feel like they are missing out on the Master Cycle.

As with the Fuse ability, much of Ultrahand’s potential is strangely amplified by the showcase of those canned examples and a general lack of information. Aonuma showed two examples of rafts, both of which used turbines, and he explicitly stated that the buggy and flying contraptions from previous trailers were created with the Ultrahand. However, will that system let players craft any vehicle of any size, or will underlying systems limit potential creations to wide platforms that Link can stand on (thereby restricting anything as thin as the Master Cycle)? Will Tears of the Kingdom’s game engine even be able to support everything players think of without dropping frames? Most importantly, what about horses? Trailers have shown Link riding around on horseback, yet Ultrahand emphasizes the ability to craft any medieval vehicle or structure players can imagine. Will each method of travel include pros and cons, or will Ultrahand vehicles make horses obsolete? So much of the excitement surrounding this game right now is based on not knowing exactly how these things will work.

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Admittedly, I was hoping a Breath of the Wild sequel would keep the open-world exploration but include more classic Legend of Zelda items this time around. However, Tears of the Kingdom looks like it is going in a different direction, and it’s exciting to watch it slowly unfold. I can’t wait to see what wild and wacky contraptions and weapons I and other players can dream up when the game releases later this year, especially if they one-up Aonuma’s extra-long pitchfork,