Disclaimers: The following article contains minor gameplay spoilers for Tears of the Kingdom. The interview that is being covered was conducted via translators and was edited by Polygon staff members for clarity.

The abilities in Tears of the Kingdom seem quite silly when you simplify them, with one of them being magic, endless green glue that sticks things together. Ultrahand, however, is one of the many ways in which Tears of the Kingdom excels in promoting the freedom of the player. Overcoming obstacles are not dependent on one solution you can do, but the many situations you could manufacture to get to the end result. Although it can get quite complicated, developers say that the success of the gameplay is due to them aiming for simplicity when it comes to the abilities themselves.

In a recent interview with Polygon, Hidemaro Fujibayashi and Eiji Aonuma said the following:

[Polygon] You’ve talked before about aspects of multiplicative design in Breath of the Wild — giving players the freedom to stack multiple systems atop one another and see what happens. Tears of the Kingdom goes even deeper in that regard. How do you account for all of that player agency?

Aonuma: When it came to making a sequel, it’s really Mr. Fujibayashi and the ideas he had. And a lot of those ideas centered around this concept of giving the player more and more options, and the freedom to try to do different things. And I thought, you know, Well, if we’re going to take that approach, keeping the world the same would help with that proposal. But I’ll let Mr. Fujibayashi talk about that in detail.

Fujibayashi: This idea of multiplicative gameplay really adds a lot of factors to the equation. It really expands the possibilities. And there was a lot of experimentation done, and we were faced with the challenges of what to leave out and what to leave in. And really, in that process, we decided on a guiding principle: Keep it simple and to the point. Try to avoid too much complexity. In experimenting, we found that things were becoming a lot more complex. And we wanted to make sure that the system itself is simple enough that anybody can pick it up and play without too much issue. The more we weed out complexity upfront, the more versatility and freedom there is to provide options [later].

My personal favorite of Tears of the Kingdom‘s five abilities — Ultrahand, Ascend, Recall, Fuse, and Autobuild — would have to be Ultrahand, but it’s a difficult decision considering the wide range of usefulness of each one. When asked which of the abilities are their favorite, Aonuma and Fujibayashi answered like so:

[Polygon] If you both had to pick a favorite from the four new abilities, which would it be?

Fujibayashi: I’d probably have to go with Recall. It seems very, very convenient. [laughs]

Aonuma: I guess for me, it’d have to be Ascend. I’m somebody who, you know, if I can find a way to cheat, I like to do that kind of gameplay. And so once I had the Ascend ability, I really was looking for all sorts of different places to make use of it.

[Polygon] Did that come up during development? The fact that you’re basically giving players cheat codes, 10 minutes into the game?

Fujibayashi: You know, that reminds me — and I don’t think we’ve shared this anywhere else, but — the Ascend ability was actually the result of a debug feature that we have in the game. When I was exploring the caves, I would get to the destination where I was trying to get to, and once I checked it out, I would just use the debug code to get to the top. And I thought, Well, maybe this is something that can be usable in the game. And it was right around that time that Mr. Aonuma said, “It’s a pain to go back.” And to be blunt and honest, cheating can be fun. So that’s why we decided to drop it in there.

Aonuma: But coming up with these cheat code-style abilities, it did create some issues for us. For example, if you give someone the ability to just pass through a ceiling anywhere, there are all sorts of possibilities to account for. We need to make sure that people can continue to play the game properly. We need to make sure there aren’t locations where you’ll pass through the roof and find nothing there because of some data-loading issue or something like that. So while giving people cheats like this is fun, it takes a lot of time to implement. This is one issue that enjoying this type of gameplay myself may have put into the development process.

Ascend in particular is the first time in a Zelda game that players are able to phase through solid matter without taking advantage of an accidental glitch. Tears of the Kingdom welcomes with open arms things that speedrunners have been trying to do for years in more linear Zelda games. Developers thus created a playground for all to enjoy, with toys and tools that make even the professionals giddy.

What do you think? What is your favorite new ability? What question would you ask Hidemaro Fujibayashi and Eiji Aonuma if you had the chance? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Polygon

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