Yes, 'Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom' Probably *Is* the Best Game Ever

The world is totally open. Maybe too open…

  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the sequel to 2017's Breath of the Wild.
  • It's so inviting that even non-gamers should try it. 
  • The new Ultrahand tool is leading to some unexpectedly weird player behavior. 
The Sky Islands in 'Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.'


Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (TotK) might not technically be the best game ever made—how would you even measure that anyway, between this and Tetris? But it is already becoming a cultural phenomenon. 

The new Zelda (for Switch) came out last Friday, and many of us have been unable to stop playing it ever since. It's the latest in a long line of Zelda games, and a direct sequel to 2017's 'Breath of the Wild', sharing the same game map, control system, and overall art style. Breath of the Wild was already regarded as (another one of) Nintendo's masterpieces, and yet the consensus is that Tears of the Kingdome improves on the original in almost every way. 

"I personally think even this early on, it is by far the best Legend Of Zelda game by a long shot.  Is it the best game ever made, however?  Honestly, I can’t really say yet," Mark Cruz, proprietor of the retro-gaming YouTube channel The Retro Mark Cruz, told Lifewire via email. 

Do Literally Anything in 'Tears of the Kingdom'

I grew up playing video games that you loaded into a computer from a tape, and I always dreamed of a game where you could wander the world and interact with pretty much anything. In Zelda, that's exactly what you can do. In fact, you could pretty much make up your own game within a game, building a house, keeping a horse, and foraging for dinner every day. But that's getting ahead of ourselves. 

Everything in Tears of the Kingdom has been upgraded. The basic contours of the world are the same, but the world itself has grown and changed. New characters join existing ones, and of course, there are new missions to complete. The world has also expanded up into a shoal of Sky Islands and down into underground cave systems. The visuals are better, the character dialog improved, and the world feels more populated and real. 

But the biggest change, and the one that takes this game over the edge, compared to any other game, and will turn Zelda from a game into a meme machine, is the Ultrahand.

TotK Ultrahand and Korok Torture

The Ultrahand is an update to BotW's Magnesis, a special power that lets you use a magnetic beam to lift and toss around metallic objects of any size. The Ultrahand extends this ability to pretty much everything around you. Use the beam to lift, turn, and otherwise manipulate fallen tree trunks, apples, swords, boats, and more. And here's the neat part. You can use the Ultrahand to glue things together. 

Link using the Ultra Hand in 'Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.'


The Ultrahand is essential to completing some puzzles, and you can use it to do practical things like sticking wheels to an old wooden board and attaching a fan to make a car or repairing broken machinery. 

But the possibilities are endless. I built a wooden screen on wheels that I rolled past a huge creature sleeping on a bridge, so it wouldn't see me behind it. And other players have gotten a little darker with their creations. One created a giant phallus from a tree trunk and a pair of rocks and used it to beat a creature to death. Another popular pastime, apparently, is torturing Koroks.

Koroks are cute little woodland creatures, and in Tears of the Kingdom, one diversion has you reuniting separated Koroks. Usually, this involves the Ultrahand, which can grab Koroks because they are wearing backpacks. And players are torturing them, crucifying them, tying them up and dragging them behind horses, cooking them on automatic (player-built) rotisseries, and attaching them to rockets. 

It's grim stuff, but it shows the creativity possible inside the game. You could literally build a hut by a lake, go fishing, and start obsessively counting things, like in Henry David Thoreau's Walden. In some ways, it's like a basic version of Minecraft, set inside an existing game world. Although given that one person has recreated 'Breath of the Wild' in Minecraft, it seems that Minecraft will still have the edge. 

A screenshot from 'Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.'


"My daughter is mostly about taming all kinds of horses. She also finds out glitches to lead her horse into deep water and stuff," said Zelda player and parent Dr. K in a forum thread participated in by Lifewire. 

Even if you're not into building things for the sake of building them, this single new dynamic totally changes how you inhabit the world in Tears of the Kingdom. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some shelves to put up. 

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