‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’ review: A comforting welcome back to Hyrule

'The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom'



“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” has finally arrived on Nintendo Switch, and it’s shaping up to be the game of the summer. The sequel has expanded upon its predecessor in several meaningful ways. Wondering if it’s worth your time? Read on for our thoughts on the latest entry in the “Zelda” franchise. 

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”, $70 

Why I love ‘Tears of the Kingdom’

In “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” the kingdom of Hyrule has been beautifully reimagined, offering players a new quest that pushes the boundaries of open-world exploration. It still has all the same gameplay elements from the first game, but adds fresh landscapes, new abilities, and a dizzying amount of gameplay to complete. This time around, the Hero of Time himself, Link, must take up arms against the evil Ganondorf, the Demon King, before he conquers Hyrule and its inhabitants. 

Much like stepping into a well-loved book, seeing what Hyrule has to offer this time around feels nostalgic. The same sprawling grasslands, the familiar combat system, and even the game’s structure are a comforting welcome back. However, subtle differences begin to emerge as you delve deeper. 

New towns, reimagined ruins and unexpected dangers lurk around every corner, making this second journey through Hyrule feel exhilaratingly fresh. The world of “Tears of the Kingdom” feels more vibrant and lived-in. The Sky, where your adventure begins, presents a stark contrast to the Surface, housing mini-challenges and puzzles across a vast expanse of islands.

But one of the most thrilling aspects of the game remains hidden beneath Hyrule. Dubbed the Depths, this darker, more menacing underbelly forces players to test their navigational skills and survivability. A new status effect there, Gloom, reduces your maximum health, adding an extra layer of challenge. 

Luckily, there are several new abilities to help make traversing Hyrule, above and below, a bit more manageable. They offer innovative ways to overcome obstacles, with mechanics that feel exciting and manageable — especially when you add in the Vows received from the powerful Sages you meet along the way. They act as passive “phantoms” that can aid Link with elemental magic, flying powers and more.

While the game does suffer from occasionally poor performance, that’s more the fault of the six-year-old Switch than the game itself. And instead of full voice acting, most NPCs make unintelligible exclamations instead of the words they’re speaking onscreen. These are mostly minor issues, however, and not enough to mar the experience.

Everything else amounts to a well-crafted journey that will take dozens of hours to complete. For those who dove right into “Breath of the Wild” and came up for air wanting more, “Tears of the Kingdom” is another three-course meal of a game with a little something for everyone on offer. It’s an enchanting sequel that fans will likely lose themselves in for hundreds of hours, and well worth the admission price. 

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” 

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom


Key features of “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”:

  • Has a brand new, massive version of Hyrule to explore
  • Plenty of new puzzles and abilities to tackle them
  • Features a variety of additional lands to investigate
  • A worthy follow-up to the 2017 game that started it all on the Switch
  • Great for new and old players

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”, $70  

The best new video games in May 2023

The best games of May 2023 range from high-flying adventures as Link in “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” to adventures as a fledging witch or wizard in “Hogwarts Legacy.” Jump into one of these high-profile releases as summer creeps in.

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” 

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom


The Switch-exclusive follow-up to 2017’s “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” has been years in the making, and it’s finally set to debut on Friday, May 12. It promises to offer Link an even larger world to explore while building on the massive land of Hyrule from the previous game.

Link must once again take up arms to fight a new threat plaguing the land. This time around, he’ll have a whole suite of abilities to do it with. This game is set to be the biggest Switch release of the year, so locking in an early copy is a good idea. 

“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”, $70 

“Hogwarts Legacy”

Hogwarts Legacy


This immersive “Harry Potter” adventure finally lands on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 after its initial next-gen console debut in February 2023. Now, players on older systems can join others in the Wizarding World. “Hogwarts Legacy” is the biggest “Harry Potter” game yet, with setpieces anyone who enjoys the books and films can get lost in for hours. These ports of the game are available now. 

Set in the late 1800s, a century ahead of the “Harry Potter” books, “Hogwarts Legacy” follows a new student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as they go from fledgling magic user to a full-fledged witch or wizard. While doing so, players will uncover an ancient secret found nestled deep within the world of magic. 

Hogwarts Legacy (for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X), $60 (reduced from $70)

“The Lord of the Rings: Gollum”

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum


Fans of “The Lord of the Rings” can explore Middle-earth as the sniveling Gollum in a game that takes place between the events of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”. It follows an original story about Gollum that takes place ahead of the War of the Ring.

Players will journey beyond the land of Mordor and meet a variety of “Lord of the Rings” characters while occasionally using stealth tactics, scrapping with enemies and completing puzzles to move forward. “The Lord of the Rings: Gollum” is set to release on May 25. 

“The Lord of the Rings: Gollum” (Xbox Series X), $60 

“The Lord of the Rings: Gollum” (PS5), $60 

“The Lord of the Rings: Gollum” (Switch), $60 

Everything you need to play ‘Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’

So, you’re definitely getting “Zelda” this month, right? Want to have the best experience possible? This is everything you need to prepare to play “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” and then some. With these goodies (and the game, natch), yon’t have to worry about anything standing in your way when the game launches.

Nintendo Switch – OLED Model – The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Edition

Nintendo Switch OLED - The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Edition


The new Nintendo Switch Zelda collector’s edition console is the perfect companion for your journey. You’ll appreciate the OLED model’s upgraded features over the original Switch, like the standout 7-inch OLED screen that brings every game’s magnificent landscapes and characters to life with more vivid colors and sharper contrast. Improved audio makes for a more immersive experience, too. 

With a storage capacity of 64GB, you’ll have plenty of room for game downloads, updates and extra material. The adjustable wide stand improves stability, which means you can play comfortably in tabletop mode at home or on the go. 

This Amazon purchaser said the OLED model is worth the upgrade even if you own another Switch: “As someone who came from a Switch Lite, this was definitely a great upgrade. Although it seems small, the OLED screen and dimension size change was different enough to justify the $50 increase. Great for handheld use.”

Nintendo Switch OLED – The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Edition, $360 

‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild + Expansion Pass


“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” is a must-have for those looking to embark on an epic adventure in “Tears of the Kingdom.” With its open-world exploration, captivating narrative and innovative mechanics, the game revitalized the Zelda series and remains one of the highest-rated games of all time. Plus, if you want to know what’s going on in the sequel, you’d better start here. 

“Breath of the Wild” will prepare you for “Tears of the Kingdom” by immersing you in the vast world of Hyrule, introducing you to key characters and familiarizing you with the game’s mechanics. You’ll travel through various environments, solve complex puzzles and engage in thrilling battles against formidable foes, honing the skills required for success in the sequel.

This Amazon buyer says the game is good even for people who don’t typically game: “My husband loves this game. This is his first Zelda game ever and he really enjoys it. He is not a gamer so he isn’t that familiar with the characters or anything. It’s beautiful graphics and good storytelling”

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild + Expansion Pass, $80 

Game Traveler ‘Zelda’ Nintendo Switch Case

Game Traveler Zelda Nintendo Switch Case


This carrying case protects your Nintendo Switch with some serious Zelda flair. Inspired by the iconic Sheikah Eye symbol, it’s a convenient way to keep your console safe while showing off how much you love the game series. Its rugged hard-shell structure protects your console from drops, while the soft inside lining keeps the screen from getting scratched. It features separate compartments for your Switch, Joy-Con controllers and extra game cartridges. It also has a rubberized handle to make everything easier to carry.

This Amazon customer appreciates the case’s build for the price: “I do like this case! Very well constructed! Fits my OLED Switch perfectly, along with several games and memory cards. Hard enough to protect the screen and unit, but not overly rigid like a plastic case. Worth the money!”

Game Traveler Zelda Nintendo Switch Case, $20 

Hori Nintendo Switch Horipad (Zelda Edition)

Hori Nintendo Switch Horipad (Zelda Edition)


This Horipad Zelda Edition controller. eatures the iconic Hylian Crest and a chic gold finish. It also boasts a comfortable, ergonomic design that lets you play for long periods of time without straining your wrists and hands. It has a responsive D-pad, nice, clicky buttons, and programmable rear triggers. It’s wireless, so you can play and charge it up when you’re ready for another round. Plus, it charges via USB-C, so you don’t have to add yet another charging cord to your arsenal. 

This Amazon customer says the product is one of the best third-party controllers: “Works great! We tried a few of the “knock off” brands, none worked longer than one day, if even — most had sticky buttons or the would just stop working all together. But this gem worked immediately out of the box – perfectly. After several months of use (charging and heavy playing, mostly Fortnite), it still works perfectly. Holds a long charge (sometimes for days!). Buttons work flawlessly. Has a good feel. No complaints – would definitely purchase this one again.”

Hori Nintendo Switch HORIPAD (Zelda Edition), $85 

SanDisk 1TB microSDXC Card

SanDisk 1TB microSDXC Card


Boost your Nintendo Switch with the SanDisk 1TB microSDXC UHS-I Memory Card designed to improve console performance. Add this to your system so you have plenty of space for game installations, software updates, and other content. With its fast read and write speeds. Plus, you’ll have reduced load times and 1TB of storage, which means storing effectively over a hundred Nintendo Switch games. And if needed, just pop it out and into another Switch instead. 

This Amazon buyer says their entire game library fits on the card with a ton of space left over: “I wanted to go all out when upgrading to the OLED, and this is definitely worth it. I was able to download my entire game library with most of the space still available.”

SanDisk 1TB microSDXC Card, $150 

Do I need to play ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ before ‘Tears of the Kingdom’?

With “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” right around the corner, you might be wondering whether the previous game, “Breath of the Wild”, is required to truly appreciate the upcoming game. Although it’s not technically required, playing “Breath of the Wild” before tackling “Tears of the Kingdom” has many advantages, namely the storyline.

“Breath of the Wild” introduces the expansive world of Hyrule, allows you to meet key characters, and sets the stage for the next installment in the series. Its groundbreaking open-world exploration and innovative gameplay mechanics will deepen your understanding of the “Zelda” universe and its mythology. So when you start “Tears of the Kingdom”, you won’t be totally lost as to what’s going on. 

Also, playing “Breath of the Wild” helps you sharpen your combat, puzzle-solving, and exploration skills, making sure you’re well-prepared for the challenges in the sequel.

However, if you don’t have time to play the first game (which is every bit of 40+hours), there will likely be a recap in “Tears of the Kingdom” for you to catch up on the plot so far. 

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