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10 things to know before starting Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Hyrule has never been so daunting

There are multiple things to know before starting your odyssey in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Regardless of your previous experience in Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the sequel will constantly surprise you with tricks up its sleeve. From terrain changes to a myriad of new foes to face, you’ll need every piece of advice you can get.

After spending dozens of hours diving from the skies and fusing swords with bananas, we’ve gathered a list of things you should know before diving into Tears of the Kingdom’s pool of challenges and mysteries.

Adjust these settings

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom doesn’t have an extensive list of options to tweak, but there are some settings worth trying. If you head over to System and open the Options menu, you should consider changing the following:

  • Lock minimap to north: The minimap is an essential tool, but it’s easy to get lost with it rotating all the same. This setting makes it so it’ll always face north, regardless of where Link is looking, so you can keep your orientation in place and avoid confusion. Characters tend to give you directions based on cardinal points, too, so this option will help to stay on track.
  • Message-window transparency: You’ll see pop-up messages all the time, some of which can have extensive text blurbs. If you want some added clarity to help with legibility, setting the message-window transparency to Dark can help. Sadly, there isn’t a way to increase font size, but having a solid color in the background for dialogue can help during long nights of playing, especially if you’re sitting far from the TV and playing with your Switch docked.
  • Aim with motion controls: This option comes down to personal preference, but unless you’re used to motion controls in games like Splatoon 3, I recommend turning them off. Drawing your bow in the midst of combat or throwing items across the room are actions that demand precision, and you won’t always be in an ideal position for a quick shot depending on how you’re holding your console playing handheld or your joy-cons while docked. In short, landing an arrow on a Hinox’s eye is daunting enough, so use the option that best suits your preferences.
Link uses Rewind to froze a massive wall into place inside a shrine in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Rewind is (basically) a Stasis replacement

There is an array of new abilities to learn and experiment with in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. While you might miss some of the ones from Breath of the Wild, such as Stasis, it’s worth knowing that Rewind gets fairly close.

In essence, it’s likely that you’ll be primarily using the Recall action of the ability to throw rocks and other hazards back at enemies. But Rewind can also freeze objects if you, for example, grab one with Ultrahand and keep it somewhere in place for a few seconds, and then you let it go.

Using Recall, the object will return to that holding position to repeat your action. This can be of help when going through shrines, for example.

Open your scope while diving down from the skies

Placing pins in the world to signalize places of interest remains a central mechanic in Tears of the Kingdom. Of course, you can do this at any time by pressing down the right analog stick — but especially in the early hours of the game, there’s only so much you can mark down from ground level.

Whenever you’re diving down from a Sky Island, I recommend opening your scope. This freezes Link’s movement, so take your time and pin away. This can also be helpful to plan your landing ahead of time, and double-check that you’re not about to fall into a dangerous situation.

The only caveat: While Link will stay in place, it doesn’t mean the game is frozen. If there are flying enemies nearby, they might attack you. And if you’re diving in an area with extreme weather conditions, you’ll continue to be exposed to the elements, potentially losing health if you’re not careful.

Grab every bomb flower you see

I can’t stress enough how useful bomb flowers are. The item has inherent potential, of course, but even more so now that you can combine it with arrows. Throwing bomb flowers is useful if the distance is short enough, but if you want to get a head start in a combat encounter, a few explosive arrows will give you a huge advantage.

What’s more, once you start exploring Tears of the Kingdom’s many caves, you’ll quickly encounter rock walls that impede your progress. There are multiple ways to destroy them, but bomb flowers can be useful in these cases, too.

Fuse weapons often and freely

Yes, increasing your inventory isn’t an easy ordeal, especially early on. You’re likely to run out of space fast, which can be frustrating. But instead of leaving multiple weapons behind every 20 yards, remember that you can Fuse them together.

The act of Fuse will always enhance the weapon you’re using, to a lesser or higher degree, so Fuse often! If you’re torn between two or more options when you don’t have any inventory slots left, try fusing them and experimenting with that combination.

If you want some ideas, we have a dedicated page for the best early Fuse combinations in the game.

Cook elemental resistance meals and elixirs

Even if you’re wearing clothing that helps with elemental resistances, there are places around Hyrule where the weather can be unbearable for Link. You’ll get an alert on the bottom right corner of your screen when it happens, and unless you either exit the area or use a consumable to help, you’ll slowly lose hearts.

As such, prepping meals with spicy peppers, or creating elixirs that can counter specific weather conditions will go a long way. If you’re ever in doubt, open your character screen and take a peek at your current resistances. If you only have one bar instead of two, you’re going to need some extra protection before embarking into the desert or the peak of a mountain.

Stock up on Zonai Devices

Zonai Devices can be overwhelming to parse through, but are quite essential for the adventure at large. You should always stock up on them whenever you come across a Zonai Dispenser.

If you’re stumped on a puzzle or can’t get inside a cave, you can usually use some sort of Zonai Device. That said, if you happen to build something using Zonai Devices or materials from the environment, and you’re defeated, that construction you created is reset. (Yes, even if you reload an autosave prior to that instance!)

Having capsules from a Zonai Dispenser in my inventory has gotten me out of trouble more times than I can count, as I could always rebuild what I needed after loading a previous save. If you spot a Zonai Dispenser, make sure to grab a few of them — not having to depend on what’s around you in order to build is always a plus.

Link uses Ultrahand on a spike ball, while other objects up for grabs are highlighted in orange in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Scan for chests with Ultrahand

Ultrahand is a complex ability with a few secondary uses beyond its ostensible purpose. If you see a chest stuck in the ground, you can grab it and hold the analog stick up to retrieve it. This also applies to items that might be far from Link’s grasp, such as bomb flowers on walls or ceilings. Instead of climbing to them, you can just use Ultrahand and bring them closer to you.

What’s more, don’t underestimate Ultrahand’s potential as a scanner for the environment. It will highlight any object that you can grab with a brighter color tone. Whenever you’re near a lake or a waterfall, scan your surroundings. Who knows? You might spot a hidden chest.

Explore small Sky Islands when you can

As you trek through Hyrule in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, you’ll come across plenty of Sky Island rocks falling to the ground. While you might not be interested in a detour to a large island, it’s worth taking a look at the sky and seeing if it’s a small island.

Small Sky Islands often have a chest, which can have anything from a treasure map indicating leads to armor sets like the Barbarian Armor, or useful Zonai-related items. You’ll also find no shortage of lootable materials. And if you see a Fairy, sneak up on it by crouching and moving slowly — they’ll bring you back on your feet by reviving you after a fatal blow.

The Purah Pad has hidden features to unlock

The Purah Pad, the definitely-not-a-Switch device that Link carries, might seem a tad barebones at first. This is because there are some hidden features that you need to unlock through quest progress.

Robbie, who can be found in Lookout Landing alongside Josha, knows his way around the Purah Pad better than anyone. If you want the device to have a sensor to pinpoint shrines in close proximity, as well as a few other returning mechanics from Breath of the Wild, make sure to progress through his quests. Luckily for you, paying Robbie a visit is one of the things to do first in the game.