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Someone managed to beat Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom without visiting the Surface

Apparently Colgera was the hardest boss

An image of Link gliding across the world in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been out for several months, but players keep finding inventive ways to push the limits of the game. This time, a Reddit user named Black_Hand_Gotthard has beaten the game without having ever visited the Surface of Hyrule. The dedicated player found ways to travel the world — even without the help of exploration-critical items like Link’s paraglider or the completed map sections from the Skyview Towers.

Black_Hand_Gotthard said they completed the run because they “smoked a little too much Sundelion and got a (at the time) brilliant idea.” They shared the feat via a Reddit post on Thursday with screenshots showing the ending cutscene and a screen that showed the maps for the Depths and the Sky Islands unlocked, but no map for the Surface. In the replies, the user fielded questions from curious commenters who asked how they pulled it off. The run heavily relied on navigating the Sky Islands floating above the Surface by using Zonai technology.

Finished the game without ever visiting the surface.
by u/Black_Hand_Gotthard in tearsofthekingdom

Black_Hand_Gotthard explained the general process of beating the game. First, they traveled from sky island to sky island and finished all the shrines. Those shrines gave them enough health to go get the Master Sword and fight Ganondorf in the Depths. Throughout their journey, they mitigated fall damage using fairies.

While the general approach seems simple enough, the actual run is riddled with important details that could make or break a successful playthrough like this. For example, if you don’t visit the Surface, you don’t get Link’s paraglider, so you need to find another way to get around the vast swathe of open Sky. To this end, Black_Hand_Gotthard said they used a combination of Zonai wings and hoverbikes fueled by lots of Zonai charges to get around.

Additionally, navigating presents a challenge, since the Skyview towers on the Surface fill out the map for both the Surface and Sky layers — meaning Black_Hand_Gotthard had to navigate without a complete map. “At first I just used the binocular from the Purah Pad to mark close islands. After getting like half of the shrines I used a complete map so that I know where I need to go approximately,” Black_Hand_Gotthard said.

On top of all of this, there is the matter of the four temples. We won’t discuss spoilers, but completing the temples and their sage quests on the Surface is helpful, but not a requirement for beating the game. Black_Hand_Gotthard skipped the quests and navigated directly to the two temples located in the sky, as indicated by the orange temple icons on the final screenshot. Out of the bosses, Black_Hand_Gotthard had the biggest challenge with Colgera, from the Wing Temple. Usually, a normal player who visited the Surface would use the paraglider to soar through the sky and fight it with Tullin. However, that wasn’t an option in this case.

“Colgera was the hardest because I did not have a paraglider,” Black_Hand_Gotthard said. “You can use normal slime for water against Mucktorok. You can hit the seized construct against the walls with a full combo of your weapon or with bomb flowers.”

Unfortunately, players unlock the Hero’s Path by visiting Robbie on the Surface, so we won’t be able to see Black_Hand_Gotthard’s exact path. Still, it’s an impressive feat that’s inspired others in the Reddit thread to try it for themselves.