Despite returning to the same version of Hyrule for a second outing, Tears of the Kingdom managed to keep me engaged with its vast amount of new content and ideas, presenting a world that felt much fuller than its predecessor. Exploring the different tiers (yes that pun is intentional) of the world is exciting, and different from everything that has come before.
It feels fantastic to see how characters have grown and changed over the time between the two games and how towns have developed and adapted since the events of Breath of the Wild. The larger main quests felt much more impactful than those that appeared in Breath of the Wild. It felt as if there was a tangible threat to each corner of Hyrule. Story spoilers here, but memories do make their return, and multiple occasions forced me to put my controller down and stop for a few minutes, and... I can’t deny, caused some tears at others.
Link’s new abilities also lend themselves fantastically to the open world exploration of this era of Zelda games. While initial trailers had me slightly worried that things could get overcomplicated quickly with Ultrahand, (an ability to stitch objects together to create vehicles and contraptions) the whole process is incredibly simple and a joy to mess around with.
Enemy variety has also improved from Breath of the Wild, with old foes gaining new abilities and new ones joining the fold too. Finally, the music as ever for Zelda is incredible, building on what was already great in Breath of the Wild, and making it even better. Upon reaching the credits, Tears of the Kingdom has cemented itself as my favourite game of all time (not an easy thing to say as someone who grew up with Mario Galaxy). Eiji Aonuma has worked his magic once again, setting the bar ever higher for this fantastic series, and the industry as a whole.