Zelda Dungeon Presents: Our Final Hopes and Wishes for Tears of the Kingdom
Posted on May 06 2023 by Andy Spiteri
It’s a moment years in the making.
It seems like an entire lifetime ago that we saw our first footage of what was then billed as “the sequel to Breath of the Wild.” It was a time of promise, of hope; a time when the world had no idea what was in store for them over the next several years. We all know what happened next. The Covid-19 pandemic stalled any and all momentum that “Breath of the Wild 2” had. Over the next several years, things would be quiet. The promise and hope turned to confusion and indifference. But eventually, after a slow and agonizing wait, we finally started to have the curtain pulled back, although admittedly not at a fast enough pace for this writer. The hope returned. The buzz started to grow. And then the final trailer dropped, and we were off to the races.
Tears of the Kingdom has a lot to live up to. Not only does it need to live up to the high standard of quality set by this incredible series over the last 36+ years, but it needs to carve out its own unique identity from its predecessor. When the Switch launched, there was real concern about the future of Nintendo as a hardware publisher, and the new portable console was almost akin to a Hail Mary. Some games rise to meet the moment, while some moments transpire to make the game. Somehow, Breath of the Wild did both. Tears of the Kingdom definitely has a tall task ahead of it.
With the moment of Tears of the Kingdom‘s release just around the corner, we went and polled our Zelda Dungeon staff to ask them what would make Tears of the Kingdom the absolute best Zelda game it could be. Although we’ve covered similar ground before, it seemed appropriate to ask again, with the journey to get to this game about to reach its end point.
So, one last time… come read our final hopes and wishes for Tears of the Kingdom!
(Note: we have not seen any of the leaked footage or story elements, and will not factor that into our list. Any comments discussing leaked spoilers will be immediately deleted.)
Leslie Jacobson: Zelda, a Goddess Reborn
At the end of Breath of the Wild, after Link defeats Ganon and meets Zelda, the princess asks Link, “Do you remember me?” If you found all of the memories, you are treated to an extra cutscene. While it’s very sweet, it’s not a perfectly happy ending. Zelda mentions that she can no longer hear the voice inside the sword, wondering if her power has dwindled in the last 100 years. She says she can accept that. To me, it felt like a letdown after she had failed at preventing the Calamity and then bounced back spectacularly from that failure to seemingly lose her power. I can be happy for her, but I thought it was sad to take away something she had toiled over for so long.
My wish for this game is that, at the end, Zelda is fully realized as the true, powerful, reborn goddess that she is supposed to be, and that she is happy with where she is at the end of Tears of the Kingdom. Whether that means her original power, a new power, or just being content with who she is as a brainy scholar, I want Zelda and Link to be happy together.
John Piland: A Game With Permanence
At first, I wanted to say a chance to rebuild Hyrule, but as I began playing through Breath of the Wild again, a new idea struck me: permanence. That is, permanence for Breath of the Wild’s side stories. From Tarrey Town, to a Guardian-obsessed girl, to a quintet of Rito children, I want to see lasting effects from the previous games’ side quests. A lot of heart was put into the words and characters in Breath of the Wild, and it’d be a shame to see everything the player worked for cast to the side and forgotten. As far as continuity is concerned, let’s assume all the quests are completed in canon. I want to meet familiar faces and see what they’ve been up to.
What’s the state of Link’s house? — Did Zelda move in? Did he give it up? — Did Hudson and Rhondson start a family? How did things turn out between Wabbin and Perda from Lover’s Pond? I want to see these stories continued and built upon; I want to see these characters grow with the world and the story.
Chakell Herbert: A Story To Remember
As much as I love Breath of the Wild’s story, it was a bit tedious to have to piece it together through memories. Although that mechanic worked for the open world, I think it could have been better in some ways. My hope is that Tears of the Kingdom will expound on Breath of the Wild and blow those past issues from its predecessor out of the water! I adore the storytelling in the Zelda universe, and with Tears of the Kingdom being a direct sequel to a game filled with characters and areas we’ve already grown to know and love, I can only hope that it manages to have a fantastic, engaging, and memorable story that rivals favorites like Ocarina of Time or Skyward Sword.
I want more relationship development between Link and Zelda (maybe a little nod to romance if it’s not too much to ask), a fantastic build-up and epic showdown between Link and Ganondorf, and way more cutscenes than we got in Breath of the Wild that explore Link’s personality and interactions with NPCs and the new Champions. I want a story that truly speaks to my soul, makes me week, and makes me feel like I’ve gone on an epic journey. And from the looks of the trailers, I think we are bound to get a masterpiece.
Judy Calder: Subrosians and Picori
One of the many wonderful things about Tears of the Kingdom‘s predecessor was its iteration of existing races we’d seen in other Zelda installments. Some races looked almost exactly as expected under the game’s artistry, such as Gorons, while others appeared with an entirely new look, like the Rito.
I would be delighted to see races including Subrosians and the Picori appear in Tears of the Kingdom. While Subrosians would likely be a simple and predictable design with their peeking eyes and long cloaks, I think the Picori might have more elaborate features, especially the older and more chiefly tribe members. I’m thinking of long, flowing hair and intricate garb of many colors. Of course, the excitement of including existing races in Tears of the Kingdom doesn’t just stop at their physical design. With these races comes their towns and/or cities! We know there is some form of underground exploration in this title, which feels like the perfect opportunity to discover Subrosians in their own habitat. And who knows how Link might stumble upon the Picori’s homes, but it would be pretty cool to find a tiny town tucked away in some corner of Hyrule.
Heather Beard: A Battle For The Ages
Since finishing Breath of the Wild on Master Mode, I have come to the conclusion that Calamity Ganon and Dark Beast Ganon were not the final challenge that I had been hoping for from a game like Breath of the Wild. Don’t get me wrong: they were challenging, but Dark Beast Ganon felt like a cake walk in comparison to past final bosses in the Zelda series.
My one last hope for Tears of the Kingdom is a boss fight that gets my heart racing. A boss fight where the stakes are high, and its Link and his sword against a great evil. Not Link on horseback hitting circles of light. I want a challenge like Demise from Skyward Sword. I remember having to try five different times in order to defeat the Demon King. And as much as I would love to defeat Tears of the Kingdom’s final boss on the first go, I wouldn’t mind it being so much of a challenge that I have to try multiple times.
There’s something about a challenging boss fight that makes finishing a game worth while. There’s a sense of reward in it. So I hope when we come to the end of Tears of the Kingdom’s story that we’re standing with Link as he fights to defeat Ganondorf once and for all in what I wish to be the most challenging Zelda boss fight yet.
Sean Gadus: Blacksmiths and Forges
One of my biggest hopes for Tears of the Kingdom is tweaks to the weapon durability system introduced in Breath of the Wild. Whether you liked the concept or not, breakable items play an important role in the exploration and world design of Breath of the Wild. The game is constantly pushing the player to open every single chest and to scavenge for the best possible equipment. The problem with breakable weapons comes in the second half of Breath of the Wild where the player simply wants to maintain the powerful swords, bows, and shields that they have acquired throughout the adventure. After dozens of hours playing the game, it can feel frustrating to have to replace your strong or rare weapons.
While it looks like the new Fuse mechanic will play a significant role in increasing weapon durability, my hope is that the designers still provide some type of blacksmith or repair station for the best weapons in the game. Nintendo already provided players a way to replace key broken items like Urbosa’s Scimitar of the Seven, so it is not a stretch for the designers to develop some type of repair system or blacksmith shop for rare items. Also, let’s not put any limits on the use of the Master Sword in Tears of the Kingdom. The sword is the ultimate symbol of the Zelda series, and it should be the most powerful weapon in the game.
David Lasby: A Fellowship of the Tears
One final hope I have for Tears of the Kingdom is that players will be able to form combat parties. Seeing Link fight alongside Hylians, Gorons, and the new Champions (in the latest trailer) makes me hope that it’s more than cutscenes or special moments in the game.
I know they’re completely different genres of games, but playing Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity really got me excited about the notion of Link leading on the battlefield, charging into combat and boosting morale. I don’t want large-scale battles like Age of Calamity, but small skirmishes would be exciting.
Ideally, players would be able to create a war party of 3-5 characters. Hylians, Rito, Gorons, Gerudo, Zora, (Zonai?!) could each have unique abilities which would be complementary in battle situations. Players could customize and strategize how to comprise the party. I believe this mechanic would fit well with the “explore Hyrule in your own way” mantra that Nintendo has hyped.
Mike Midwood: Less Story, Please
My overriding hope throughout this long wait was that Tears of the Kingdom wouldn’t simply be “Breath of the Wild 2.” While I do maintain that stance, there is one thing from its predecessor that I hope continues into Tears of the Kingdom: a story that is largely optional.
One of my favorite things in Breath of the Wild was the decision to have the majority of Hyrule’s most important events occur before the game actually begins. This more spaced-out presentation gives each moment time to shine, without bogging down the gameplay with stoppages like in many previous entries.
The story has never been a draw for me when it comes to Zelda games, so I was happy to see those elements reserved for moments of major progression such as when completing a Divine Beast. A brief cutscene with high production values can do wonders to punctuate these moments. Having large portions of the game’s story exist only as optional memories or side quests is the best of both worlds. Anyone interested in uncovering that information can do so as they please, and people like me who don’t care can just enjoy the gameplay experience without interruption.
Alex Weber: A Royal Wedding
Tears of the Kingdom looks to be an adventure to satiate all my curiosities. It’s wacky, zany, and absurd, as well as dark and angsty. It’s laced with the kind of conflict that has a great finality to it, and thus, I want Link and Zelda to have a very specific happy ending.
After everything they’ve been through — the separation, the things they’ve lost, the way they’ve likely healed together between the end of Breath of the Wild and the start of Tears of the Kingdom — I want to see them get married. Typing it makes me feel like a little girl playing with her dolls, but the connection between the two is something that already is the emotional heart of Breath of the Wild and, arguably, what we’ve seen of Tears of the Kingdom. I don’t care where the wedding is, I don’t care if it’s as predictable as Tarrey Town or if it’s in the ruins of Hyrule Castle. I just want them to be happy together in the end.
Charles Xavier: Side Quests That Matter
My final wish for Tears of the Kingdom is simply that there is more depth to side quests. I want more character driven interactions akin to Majora’s Mask, but beyond that, I want NPCs to feel real again, like they did in the aforementioned game. Breath of the Wild had this a little bit with a few characters that had daily routines, but it wasn’t utilized like it could have been. Give more NPCs routines, and make some events with characters interweave into proper questlines.
Something very specific that I want in this vein is a follow up to the Balloon Fight side quest with Shamae at Woodland Stable. Shamae is a little girl who has heard tales of an ancient kingdom in the sky, and she desperately wants to see it for herself. I’m hoping that in Tears of the Kingdom there is some new quest with her, maybe to help her explore the sky for herself!
That’s all I really want. I never had doubts the gameplay would be good, or any fear I had of the world being too similar to Breath of the Wild‘s are gone. I’m still unsure how the main story will unfold, but it looks to have a glimmer of promise at least; so I’m banking on an assumption that it will be good. All that leaves is good side content, and the game will have the recipe to totally impress me.
Kieran O’Connor: Exploration Middle-Ground
For Tears of the Kingdom, I’d like to see a mix of classic gameplay elements and new ones introduced in Breath of the Wild. Runes were an excellent idea, but I’d rather have them earned gradually throughout the game, maybe like dungeon items, instead of having them all off the start. Combine those with thoughtful, well-crafted dungeons like we used to have, rather than Divine Beasts that can all be easily cheesed with Revali’s Gale, and I think we’ll have the best of both worlds.
Some people complain about Skyward Sword being too linear, while others complain Breath of the Wild is too open. What I really want is something in the middle, something that lets players on both hands have something to look forward to.
Emi Curtis: That One Signature Track
Don’t get me wrong when I say this; I absolutely loved Breath of the Wild’s adaptive and atmospheric soundtrack. But for Tears of the Kingdom, I really want to see a couple big iconic music tracks. It’s hard to talk about Breath of the Wild’s soundtrack without talking about it as a whole. Definitely not a bad thing at all, but sometimes I just want to take a singular little bop and really vibe in that sound for awhile. Feel what it represents in the narrative.
Iconic songs like “Forest Temple,” “Gerudo Valley,” and “Hidden Village” are some of the hugest connections I have to Zelda when I’m not actively playing the games. I love putting on old soundtracks as I work; and while Breath of the Wild’s soundtrack was really good for when I wanted to chill out, there weren’t any standout moments I could put on repeat. Seeing a soundtrack that mixes the atmospheric approach of Breath of the Wild and the more iconic tracks of the past would really be a best of all worlds for Tears of the Kingdom.
Brandon Schmitz: Go All In On Ganondorf
Tears of the Kingdom marks Ganondorf’s first appearance in a mainline Zelda game since Twilight Princess. That was over 15 years ago! As such, I desperately hope this game takes full advantage of the Demon King’s return.
There’s definitely some value in taking the less-is-more approach with some villains — the less we see of them, the more impactful it is when they do show up. That said, I’m ready for Nintendo to ditch this trend and give Ganondorf the spotlight he deserves. One of my biggest fears regarding Ganny is that — by the end of the adventure — he’ll have, once again, been relegated to roughly ten minutes of screen time.
No more, I say! Let’s expand upon his Wind Waker incarnation and delve deeper into his motivations. How does he interact with characters who aren’t named Link or Zelda? How has the passage of 10,000 years affected him?
I’ll be honest — I’m not expecting the game to take a page out of Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima’s book and give us 45 minute-long cutscenes. But I do think it’s reasonable to hope that Ganondorf will be at least a bit more involved throughout Tears of the Kingdom than he was in his previous three outings. If nothing else, he’s got to make up for all that lost time. We’ve missed you, buddy!
Alexis Anderson: It’s Time. Let Us Play As Zelda
My one last wish for Tears of the Kingdom is that it includes segments in which players get to be Princess Zelda. It appears Zelda spends some portion of Tears of the Kingdom with a new community of people who are relevant to the game’s plot, so it would be fantastic if there are actions she has to perform to push the story forward and players get the chance to complete those as her.
I am not sure how feasible this will be in a mostly non-linear game, but perhaps once Link meets up with Zelda before the final boss players are given the option to play through her experience rather than just get a cutscene of it or hear her explain it. I think it is about time Zelda be playable in a main series Zelda game, and it would be an unexpected innovation for the franchise. Short of that, I hope at least that the story in Tears of the Kingdom sets up some new dynamics or a wellspring of open-ended questions that future plots can plumb.
There you have it. For the final time before the big day, our staffs thoughts on what could make Tears of the Kingdom an all-timer. See anything you agree or disagree with? Anything that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
Andy Spiteri is the Editor-in-Chief of Zelda Dungeon, Host of The Zelda Cast podcast, and Owner of Omega Metroid. Probably drinking a Tim Horton’s Double Double as you read this.