Tears of the Kingdom has been a massive success in terms of both sales and critical reception. However, it wasn’t created in a vacuum. TOTK is the 20th game in the mainline Zelda series and draws a lot of its core concepts from that backdrop of games. As the direct sequel to Breath of the Wild, though, it also moves away from a lot of what classic Zelda games were about—and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by longtime fans of the series.
There’s no denying that TOTK‘s changes to the Zelda formula have brought the series to a new level of popularity, but many fans who have been around since the early days of the franchise can’t help but feel that not all those changes are for the better. While gamers will love and hate different games for purely subjective reasons, older Zelda fans have a more nuanced list of criticisms of TOTK that stems from their expectations of the Zelda franchise as they’ve come to know and love it.
10 TOTK Has Too Much Building
Ultrahand is an awesome new mechanic that completely leans into the aspect of creativity that BOTW‘s awesome physics engine allowed. The possibilities are seemingly endless, but for many older Zelda fans, it’s a little bit much.
For many gamers that play Zelda more for exploration, puzzling, and combat, they may even go through the majority of the game entirely avoiding using Ultrahand whenever possible. Unfortunately, there are many points throughout the game where using it is impossible to progress, so unlocking the Autobuild feature early can be a make or break for older Zelda fans’ experience with TOTK.
9 TOTK’s Dungeons Are Still Lacking
The temples in Tears of the Kingdom are an objective step up from the Divine Beasts in BOTW, even if their overall design follows much of the same methodology. Dungeons have always been central to the Zelda series, so it should come as no surprise that longtime fans take them seriously.
Older games followed a much more linear style of exploration which also lent itself to complex puzzle-solving that had definitive answers. In contrast, TOTK is more rewarding to players who approach each obstacle with open-minded creativity to try something new. It’s a welcome format for the open-air style of game, but it’s one that doesn’t always make players feel as accomplished in solving puzzles compared to previous titles.
8 TOTK’s Newer Games Are Too Long
Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are both open-world games in the most literal sense of the word; as a result, they are largely games that can go on forever if players let them. Like many modern games, the experience is not restricted to the main story, and that isn’t something that all players will appreciate equally.
Zelda fans are used to playing the game to follow the main storyline, save Hyrule, and rescue Princess Zelda, so this newer format isn’t equally appealing to everyone. Alongside this is the fact that Koroks and Shrines are back, which Zelda fans really had a hate/love relationship with in BOTW as well. Between the grindiness of collecting items, saving Koroks, and completing shrines, TOTK can easily require hundreds of hours worth of gameplay to collect and beat everything, and the core fan base that grew up with these games just often doesn’t have that kind of time to put into it.
7 TOTK’s Fuse Didn’t Really Fix The Weapon Durability Problem
One of the biggest qualms players had with BOTW was the weapon durability mechanic, an entirely new mechanic that hadn’t been present in Zelda games before. With TOTK, the developers sought to fix that issue with Fuse, but that ability brought with it some new problems of its own.
Not only does Fuse only slightly increase the durability of weapons, but it also added the issue of spending even more time in menus selecting Zonai parts, fusing weapons together, and firing fused arrows. Fuse is a really awesome concept that is a true marvel in game design, but fans miss the days when the Master Sword would let Link fight indefinitely without running out of energy every 30 hits.
6 TOTK’s Narrative Is Poorly Delivered
Zelda games have always been more about the gameplay than the story, but story was still an important aspect of the games that helped immerse players into the world of Hyrule. Tears of the Kingdom had an interesting story and some of the best characters in the series, but it was sadly presented in a non-linear format that all but ruined any of the impact the story could have had.
Not only was the story poorly delivered through gameplay in TOTK, but it also had plenty a lot of plot holes that were never fully addressed. What makes this more glaring than in past Zelda games is that the story is clearly put into the forefront, yet doesn’t deliver its most emotional moments quite as well as in other games that took a more story-oriented approach like Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.
5 TOTK’s Place In The Timeline Is Pretty Convoluted
If there’s one thing Zelda fans love, it’s theorizing about the LoZ timeline. Unfortunately, TOTK leaves plenty of room for interpretation in that department, and some fans aren’t pleased about its amorphous nature.
Between what seems to be a new “Imprisoning War,” Ganondorf being sealed beneath Hyrule Castle, and a new story of the founding of Hyrule, Tears of the Kingdom certainly doesn’t make itself easy to place on the pre-established official Zelda Timeline. As if that weren’t enough, fans have to contend with the plethora of Easter Egg references to past games in The Depths—which may or may not be related to the actual storyline.
4 TOTK’s Puzzles Aren’t Difficult Enough
One of the core aspects of The Legend of Zelda is puzzle-solving. While the new abilities that come along with Rauru’s arm are interesting and fun, they can often make puzzling exceedingly easy to “cheat” at.
While it isn’t technically cheating as long as the game allows it, players can’t help but feel that the shrine and dungeon puzzles often walk a thin line between creativity and cheapness. It’s an ongoing gag in the fandom that most of the shrine puzzles can be cheesed using a combination of Ultrahand and Recall, and this is unfortunately an extremely accurate analysis.
3 TOTK Is Missing Iconic Dungeon Items
Aside from his classic sword, shield, and bow, Link is generally known for using iconic items like the hook shot, boomerang, and bombs, to name a few. These items have become synonymous with Link as a character, but BOTW and TOTK have moved away from many of Link’s most recognizable equipment.
Some items have been appropriated into other aspects of gameplay like the magic rod and boomerang being used purely as weapons, and the bomb flower making a reappearance. Additionally, Link doesn’t need the roc’s feather or cape since he can already jump and glide with the paraglider. Still, while the Sages were a cool idea, the fact that Link has to run into them to use their powers during battle is less intuitive than the more classic dungeon items of old.
2 TOTK’s New Armor System Is Too Complicated
Armor has never been an issue for the Zelda series. Pre-BOTW, Link would always don his classic green tunic, and he would receive other tunics throughout his quest that gave him access to new areas as he progressed further in the game.
In TOTK, though, players get a plethora of armor pieces that have varying effects and which require leveling up at Great Fairy Fountains. While giving players the power to change Link’s look and give him new abilities are awesome changes, Zelda fans can’t help but miss the simpler days when they didn’t have to farm for key items in order to make their equipment strong enough to withstand more than one attack from Ganondorf.
1 TOTK Is Easier Than the Old Games
Between puzzles that can be cheesed through, dungeons that are relatively straightforward, and enemies that are predictable, TOTK is pretty easy compared to older games in the series. In fact, it often seems that the further back players look at the Zelda franchise, the harder the games get, and Zelda’s 1 and 2 are largely viewed as the hardest in the series.
Still, games like Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess had their own level of difficulty that came as a result of the necessity for solving puzzles and quests linearly in the exact way the game required. The new emphasis on open-ended exploration and puzzle solving is a great thing, but it inevitably makes the games easier to beat in the process.
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