I have never played a Legend of Zelda game in my life. While I watched my older siblings play them, among other games, I didn’t have the same desire to try them out. For as long as I can remember, I mainly played on my computer, with the occasional Mario or Kirby game thrown into the mix for some shenanigans.
That is until I tried out Tears of the Kingdom. After spending decades never touching the franchise, I decided to hop on this one and see what the excitement was about. Yes, I skipped Breath of the Wild, and no, I don’t regret it, but I have a lot to say about Tears of the Kingdom as a first-time LoZ player. This isn’t a formal review but a not-so-quick chitchat about it.
While I will avoid spoilers about the game’s story and quests, some location and gameplay spoilers are incoming, so be careful!
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Is My First Ever Zelda Game and It’s a Wild Ride
Let’s go back to May 12, when the game first launched. As I hopped on my Switch and saw most of my friends playing Tears of the Kingdom, I already knew they were having a blast and that I probably would too. In the first hour, I was curious about what I was getting myself into. Let me tell you, those first few hours were great.
Well, until I discovered snow. I got used to it, but it ate up several hours of my playthrough and frustrated me more than you can imagine. Don’t worry – I did recover.
TOTK’s Weather Confused Me at First
I’ll be blunt here; I spent nearly the entire first day figuring out how to navigate snow. Do I make a bridge? Do I try to make potions? I had several ideas but wasn’t entirely sure how to properly execute them. On the one hand, I loved having several possibilities for how to deal with this relatively minor issue. However, this didn’t quite outweigh my frustration over encountering this two hours after starting my playthrough. I got so frustrated that I wrote an entire page just for how to climb ice walls in TOTK so I could share my wacky journey with everyone.
I’m also the type to skip tutorials and wonder why I’m struggling with basic game mechanics. This becomes a recurring theme throughout this adventure, and I do not fault the game for it. Tears of the Kingdom’s tutorials are decent, and I wouldn’t recommend skipping them.
Fortunately, after spending several hours trudging through the snow, freezing to death dozens of times and figuring out how it all worked, I reached what I consider the fun part of the game.
Tears of the Kingdom’s Map Is Huge and I Was Not Prepared
The second I dropped onto Hyrule’s mainland, I knew this was where the adventure really began. Now, there’s a massive open world to explore, people to meet and Koroks to find. Sure, it took me two IRL days to get here, but hey, better late than never. I was finally ready to enjoy the game and share my excitement with everyone I knew.
The main issue? I still wasn’t entirely sure what was going on.
Since I skipped Breath of the Wild and have zero familiarity with it, I went into Tears of the Kingdom completely blind. This made, and still makes, the experience enjoyable and exciting, especially when minor things happen that surprise me.
However, this lack of familiarity also initially left me overwhelmed, not really knowing anything about major landmarks or towns. Hateno Village? Gerudo? Korok Forest? Even now, as of writing this, there is a lot I don’t know about these places despite visiting them multiple times in TOTK now. While many of my friends had approximate routes and roadmaps for where to go, I was a bit stranded at first.
After some time, though, I turned this into a challenge for myself. I ran all around the map, looking for towers and towns, until I found them all within a few days. Once I finished this, I finally started to appreciate the game in its full glory.
I Spend Most of My Time Flying Around
I love using the glider. The second I unlocked this, I was happier than anyone could imagine. Even now, I still enjoy the convenience of flying places instead of running around or riding on horseback! Considering my frustration on Great Sky Island, though, this was a blessing that I did not ignore. Once I got the glider, I spent more time than I’d like to admit flying around the sky islands and regions in the game. While, yes, stamina did prevent me from going all-out, I still appreciate it for what it is.
Fast forward to the present, and honestly, I still spend most of my time flying around the map and just looking at the scenery. Hyrule is beautiful, and I like exploring it even if I’m not progressing through the story or collecting any resources. These moments are among the highlights of my playthrough.
What’s another highlight to talk about? Shrine puzzles.
I’m Not Very Good at TOTK’s Shrines
I’ll admit it; I’m not the best at solving shrine puzzles. In my defense, a lot of these are pretty challenging! While I had a good time with Great Sky Island shrines, the rest are another story entirely. Sometimes, I get mildly frustrated at them, especially if I die repeatedly. Still, for the most part, it’s very satisfying to complete them after spending so much time figuring it out.
As of writing this, I have yet to explore many shrines, as I’ve been enjoying quests and other content on the side. The ones I have attempted have been fun, and although I sometimes quit and move on to another, I appreciate their challenging aspects. I would rather them be too difficult than too easy, after all!
This First-Time Zelda Player Enjoys Tears of the Kingdom
Generally speaking, Tears of the Kingdom has been a great experience and a fun way to introduce myself to the Legend of Zelda series. While I had some frustration at first and still struggle with shrine puzzles frequently, that’s part of the fun! I’ve played enough games that held my hand the entire time and didn’t provide any challenge. Here, there’s a solid amount of challenge, and if I get frustrated, I can just teleport somewhere else and progress elsewhere before returning later. It’s a great feeling, and it’s one that I’m pleasantly surprised to experience.
Does this mean I will never play Breath of the Wild or other Legend of Zelda games? If anything, it means the opposite. Tears of the Kingdom sparked some curiosity in me that I didn’t expect to feel, and it’s made me consider trying previous games to see how they compare. While I don’t think this game is perfect, it holds my attention more than I initially expected, and I have zero regrets about trying it.
If you’re like me and struggle to figure out what’s happening in the game, learning how to increase health and stamina in Tears Of The Kingdom is a great place to start and is something I appreciated in my first few days of playing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play it some more.