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Should you get hearts or stamina in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?

Choose between heart containers or stamina vessels

Heart container or stamina vessel in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Graphic: Julia Lee/Polygon | Source images: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo
Johnny Yu (he/him) is a guides writer at Polygon. He has written about games such as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Diablo 4, and Fire Emblem Engage.

Once you have four Lights of Blessing in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, you can exchange them for either a heart container or a stamina vessel, but which should you focus on? Hearts or stamina?

Heart containers will provide you with an extra heart in your health bar, letting you survive longer and take more hits. Stamina vessels, meanwhile, will provide you with one-fifth of a stamina wheel, allowing you to safely glide longer distances and climb to higher elevation.

Both options have their pros and cons and there is no definitive correct answer here, but we can help you make a decision. Learn more about whether or not you should invest in heart containers or stamina vessels in our Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom guide.

Hearts or stamina in Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?

There are many benefits to exchanging your Lights of Blessing for heart containers or stamina vessels. If you’ve played Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you may have a few preconceptions as to where you should allocate your Lights of Blessings, but with the new additions from Tears of the Kingdom, you may have to recalibrate your expectations.

Choose hearts over stamina

At the start of the Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, you’ll have three hearts, which isn’t much to work with. Early on, enemies won’t deal as much damage to you, but will grow stronger as you defeat more enemies. Even one or two hearts can save your life and prevent enemies from killing you in one hit — a common occurrence in the game’s early hours.

For those who do not see themselves as a Gamer, a higher health pool will give you more room to work with when fighting enemies, and make your battles a little less anxiety-inducing.

Link dead on top of gloom with depleted hearts in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

With the addition of the Depths, heart containers become a valuable resource. In the Depths, you’ll find gloom, a dark substance that depletes your hearts. Once your hearts are depleted, you won’t be able to freely heal with your standard food or elixirs. You’ll need to either consume a dish made with sundelions or visit a lightroot to restore your hearts back to normal. If you don’t have sundelion dishes and get hit by gloom enemies, your maximum health pool will slowly dwindle down with every hit.

New additions to Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom minimize your need to rely on stamina. Skyview Towers will launch you into the air, allowing you to glide to nearby areas and reach higher heights — lowering your need to sprint and climb. Creating vehicles with Ultrahand, and sometimes Fuse, allows you to travel around Hyrule however you see fit — again lowering the necessity to burn stamina.

Link standing hunched over in front of a large door with a low health pool in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Lastly, you’ll come across a door on the Great Sky Island that you need four hearts to open. We know of one other door where you need 10 hearts to open it, but since we’ve found another door, there is a chance you’ll find more heart doors scattered around Hyrule.

Choose stamina over hearts

Alternatively, you can exchange your Lights of Blessing for stamina vessels to leisurely traverse Hyrule. You may not have many hearts, but you’ll learn how to dodge as if your life depends on it — because it really does.

At the beginning of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, you’ll have one stamina wheel — which gives you little room to sprint, swim, climb, or glide. Although some of the additions to Tears of the Kingdom minimize the need to prioritize acquiring stamina vessels, the large range of verticality in the game increases your need to rely on gliding. After launching out of a Skyview Tower or diving off of a sky island, you’ll soon realize that gliding depletes your stamina wheels fairly quickly. With extra stamina, you’ll be able to safely reach far-off destinations.

Link gliding over Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Stamina also affects your combat prowess — affecting how long you can aim a bow mid-air or perform charged attacks. You spend a lot of time in the air and face a lot of swift enemies in Tears of the Kingdom, making the slow-motion bow-and-arrow technique extremely useful. As you fight more and more enemies, you’ll become more accustomed to their attack patterns. You’ll have more experience in dodging attacks and avoiding damage altogether.

There are more methods to restore your health than there are to replenish your stamina. To heal, you can eat a variety of food or ingredients, sleep at an inn, or even rest in a hot spring. Restoring your stamina wheels, however, is slightly more difficult: You’ll need to search for specific ingredients to create dishes and elixirs before using your stamina.

[Editor’s note: Spoilers follow for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.]

The last, and most important, reason to increase your stamina is that you need at least two full stamina wheels to get the Master Sword. You’ll need to dedicate 20 shrines to stamina to retrieve the iconic weapon, which you can get as soon as you get the required stamina. If you decide to dedicate all of your Lights of Blessing to stamina vessels, you can get the Master Sword fairly early in your playthrough.

What we recommend

For beginners, we suggest that you focus on getting six to eight hearts before increasing your stamina gauge. This will help you learn how to fight against enemies and get you acclimated to how Tears of the Kingdom plays. If you’re having a hard time after increasing your hearts, continue to increase your hearts to a more comfortable health total. For those who have a lot of experience playing the predecessor, Breath of the Wild, challenge yourself by increasing your stamina wheel instead.

Horned Statue found in the Emergency Shelter at Lookout Landing in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Graphic: Johnny Yu/Polygon | Source images: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo

Keep in mind, you can always change your mind later on! You can convert your hearts into stamina or vice versa at the Horned Statue at the Emergency Shelter in Lookout Landing.

Head to Lookout Landing after completing one of the temples in the main villages to find a hole in the wall on the north side of the Emergency Shelter. Head inside the hole, break a few rocks, and turn right to find the Horned Statue that will let you convert your hearts or stamina at the cost of rupees. When you first meet the Horned Statue, it will take a heart away from you. Interact with it again to receive a stamina vessel in return. From that point on, you must trade in one of your hearts or one-fifth of a stamina wheel for 100 rupees to then receive the opposite for 120 rupees. In total, you’ll spend 20 rupees to convert a heart container into a stamina wheel or vice versa.