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On May 12, 2023, Nintendo made waves and history again with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Arriving just six years after the world was taken by storm by the overwhelmingly fantastic Breath of the Wild, its direct sequel is here. As daunting as this game can be, this Tears of the Kingdom getting started guide is here to help.
Tears of the Kingdom is so much more than a reskin of the Hyrule you know and love from Breath of the Wild. It is much more extensive, more detailed, and filled with tons of content and quality-of-life features that build and expand upon what Nintendo initially did in 2017. In some ways, it is even more challenging, puzzling, and complex than the original.
So, whether you dominated Hyrule from Death Mountain to Gerudo Valley or are a newcomer, this Tears of the Kingdom getting started guide is here to help you with this massive and overwhelming masterpiece sequel.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a direct sequel to 2017’s Nintendo Switch launch title, Breath of the Wild. It follows Link and Zelda as they venture into the depths underneath Hyrule Castle to find the source of a disturbing gloom and the events that follow this.
While it initially seems like this is the same Hyrule and game as players already had the chance to check out, that isn’t the case. Tears of the Kingdom is a much larger game with new powers, systems, enemies, characters, and a story that is much more involved this time. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
Before You even Begin Your Journey into Hyrule
Before you ever skydive into Hyrule for the first time, you should consider a couple of key features and elements before you even boot up the game. If you’re downloading a digital copy of Tears of the Kingdom on your Nintendo Switch, this is the perfect time to set your game up for success.
Before you take the role of Link once more in this latest Legend of Zelda game, here are the tips and tricks you can do to get the most out of this game. These are all optional, but will help you on your path to the end credits.
Ensure You Have a Breath of the Wild Save
The first tip I have for you is one that most players will miss for the first few hours of the game, and that is to have a Breath of the Wild save. 2017 was a long time ago (sadly), and there are probably players like me who originally played the previous game on another Nintendo Switch or profile.
If that happens to be you, the goal you should have is to migrate over your Breath of the Wild save to your current system before you start Tears of the Kingdom. The reason for this is two-fold. There are two valuable ways that your original save for the past game affects this title.
Before you ask, no, unfortunately, your items, weapons, and all that won’t have much of an effect in this particular game. That said, what does carry over, surprisingly enough, are your horses. Whatever horses you had boarded in BOTW are present here, including Ganon’s horse, Zelda’s horse, and so on.
I was able to jump into TOTK and go to the nearest stable in the open world area of Hyrule and immediately have access to all the horses I could ever need in this game. The other feature that carries over is a bit more spoilery for those who didn’t play the DLC, so there is a slight warning in place.
If you have the Champion’s Ballad DLC completed on your save file, the picture you took at the end of that storyline will now be placed in your house in Hateno Village when you first there. This takes some extra steps, so you may want to consider finishing that DLC.
Get Some Amiibo
Amiibo plays a massive role in gaining excellent optional items in Tears of the Kingdom once again. Before you ask, no, Wolf Link isn’t in this game right now, sadly. But other than that, you can get the Fierce Deity Link outfit, a bunch of paraglider designs, and more.
I suggest picking up some Amiibo or cheap Amiibo coin collections online. These will get you some instant items right from the start of the game that will help you tremendously on your journey. And help you to look fabulous while you do it.
Brush Up on What Happened Previously
Tears of the Kingdom is the rare direct sequel to a previous Legend of Zelda game, and let me tell you that it certainly picks up right from where the last game left off, even if there is some significant time between. You certainly want to know what happened in the previous game to get the most out of this title.
I suggest either reading up or watching a story recap of what happened in Breath of the Wild so that you are fully prepared for this experience.
Take a Look at Age of Calamity
In the same vein as the last tip, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is an optional spin-off game that tells the story of what happened 100 years before Breath of the Wild, plus some other stuff I won’t spoil. While it doesn’t directly affect this game in the same way as BOTW, I recommend at least watching the cutscenes online.
There are a couple of sweet callbacks and teases that were in that game that I think made me smile a couple of times throughout Tears of the Kingdom.
Consider Motion Control
Tears of the Kingdom settings are pretty thin, not giving you too much control over changing the gameplay. In BOTW, I reduced the UI to the minimum to make the game feel and look more cinematic. I don’t recommend that in this title because it removes the controls for all the new powers, which I highly recommend.
That said, I suggest turning on or off motion controls. Some people love them, especially when moving objects around or shooting arrows, and others hate them. Pick your side in the motion control war and set it before you start to avoid any frustration or surprises.
Your First Day in the Sky Islands
Tears of the Kingdom operates on a day-and-night cycle like the last game, and the chances are that you won’t, technically, do all of this in the first in-game day. But there is spoiler alert, another Great Plateau-style tutorial area in Tears of the Kingdom known as the Great Sky Island.
This area is where you are introduced to everything in the game, and, honestly, it felt like a much longer tutorial experience than in the last game. There is a surprising level of content and intriguing stuff for you to do here in this area. Here’s what I suggest you do and how to get you through this first day in the sky islands.
Grab Your First Few Pieces of Gear
First off, after you do the introductory story stuff that I won’t dare spoil here, you will find yourself in the Great Sky Island area. You’ll learn to climb, dive, and swim around in this indoor area. Once you get to the part where you can leave this structure and venture into the sky islands, there is a chest you can miss to your left.
Grab it so you have your first armor in the form of some pants. Use the Master Sword as your first weapon until you get some tree branches which are lying on the ground. You’ll need them to remove your first enemies, the Constructs, which you can get weapons and shields from.
Speak to the Constructs
After defeating a couple of evil Constructs, head towards the gap in the Great Sky Island where the game leads you. You can speak with a friendly Construct here to continue with the game and gain access to some helpful features.
But this is not the only friendly Construct in the Great Sky Island area. Speak to any and all of them that you find because they teach you mechanics like cooking, how to use various powers, and more.
Head to the Temple of Time
Once you are ready, I suggest heading to the Temple of Time as soon as possible. This is mainly because you won’t leave this area just yet anyway, but it will open up the first shrine for you to visit. Not to mention, you’ll get some fun story stuff that will pave the way for the rest of the game.
To get to the Temple of Time, follow the path in front of you. You’ll need to climb a good bit to reach it through the broken path and face off against a powerful Construct with a sword and shield. Thankfully, you can take its shield after winning to protect yourself.
Complete Your First Shrine and Earn Ultrahand
You’ll unlock your first shrine after you visit the Temple of Time. It is a bit of a trek to reach it, so mark it using your Purah Pad. You’ll have to climb a good bit to reach the shrine on a structure, but once you get there, you’ll enter and unlock the first of the new abilities: Ultrahand, which is arguably the most valuable.
Ultrahand is basically a hand you can use to pick up almost anything in the world and move it around, no matter how big or small it is.
In addition, you can use it to fuse together pieces to create whatever you want, such as a bridge to reach a gap or a boat to get you to the other side of a river. You’ll need Ultrahand and learn how to use it in your first shrine.
Use Ultrahand to Reach the Second and Third Shrines
After completing the first shrine, you’ll unlock two more, which will also give you new abilities. I suggest marking them on your map with the Purah Pad to reach them easily. The game does give you a set path that helps you reach each shrine through some caves, crossing massive lakes, and more.
You’ll need to master Ultrahand to make boats, bridges, minecarts, and more to reach these destinations. The third shrine also requires you to venture through the cold, so I recommend gathering ingredients and making recipes that will help you resist the cold long enough to reach the shrine.
Get Your First Heart Container and Venture into Hyrule
After defeating all three shrines and earning your extra powers, it is time to return to the Temple of Time. Here, you’ll learn and use your fourth power, only to find out you must do another shrine. Teleport back to the Room of Awakening and then use that power to help you reach the area near where you started that you couldn’t access before.
Complete the fourth shrine there, and you’ll finally have enough Light of Blessings to earn your first Heart Container, which increases your hearts to four in total.
With that, you’ll be able to open up the door out of the Great Sky Island, complete the tutorial, and finally dive into Hyrule to do whatever you want from here on out. Good luck, and have fun in Tears of the Kingdom!
Tears of the Kingdom Core Mechanics Guide
As you venture throughout the changed but familiar Hyrule from Breath of the Wild, there are some mechanics you need to know about. Whether you are new to this series or familiar with BOTW, here is a full breakdown of these mechanics that can be helpful for anyone looking to do well in this game.
Weapon Break System
First off, the weapon break system comes back from BOTW. Honestly, I feel like it is worse than in the previous game. I honestly feel like every weapon, from the most powerful to the least, breaks after just a few swings and fights. You really have to be flexible and constantly be switching weapons.
What helps with this is that there are weapons everywhere. Don’t have something to fight with? Take an enemy’s weapon or pick up a branch nearby. Smack a tree until you can find a branch to fight with. Above all else, use Fuse all the time.
This power is invaluable, and so is attaching materials to your arrows, shields, and swords.
Speaking of weapons, combat is essentially the same as before here. You have melee weapons that you use to fight with. You can mash the attack button or hold it down to charge. There is the ability to leap into the air and slam down with an attack on foes.
You can use your shield to block and even parry enemy attacks to then open up the window for a flurry of attacks. In addition to those, you can also use a bow and arrow to launch arrows from afar, which I suggest you get used to, as I found arrows to be a million times more necessary in this game than the last.
There are also other items you can use to help you in combat, such as elixirs that make you move fast or ones that make you quieter so you can move in for a stealth attack that will instantly eliminate some unsuspecting foes. There is also armor, which can up your defensive stats and make it easier to last in fights.
This game also has four main powers, which are pretty different from the BOTW ones. There is the aforementioned Ultrahand, which I use all the time. But there is also spoiler alert, Fuse, which lets you bring together a random item and your weapons (both shields and swords).
Fuse is excellent for adding some extra heft and attack power to your gear. There is also Ascend, which lets you zip through most ceilings and surfaces above you to skip entire mountains even to get to the top.
Finally, there is Rewind, which stops time for a brief second on an object you pick and then reverses it back for some time. Rewind is helpful for puzzles, but it can also be great in boss battles, such as sending a rock an enemy sent at you back at them for some extra damage.
Additional Abilities (Spoilers!)
Here is a massive spoiler alert for the next section right here. You get some additional abilities, similar to the Champion’s powers from BOTW. Move along now if you don’t want to know about any of these. Otherwise, here is what you need to know about these extra abilities.
You’ll unlock the four additional Sage powers as you complete the four main dungeons in Tears of the Kingdom. One lets you charge up and throw a rolling attack at enemies for intense, fiery damage. Another allows you zip through the skies with an extra gust of wind.
There is a power that lets you create an electrifying AOE with your arrows that will decimate all foes caught in its wake and more. These powers can coexist together, but they are a bit challenging to use.
Once you have all four, they are a bit hard to manage, but just be sure to carefully look at which power you are about to use so you don’t mess up in the middle of battle. After all, each of these powers has a cooldown associated with them that ensures you aren’t able to use them constantly.
Movement in this game is primarily the same as before. You can run around as Link, use his stamina circle to climb and sprint, and glide anywhere you want (once you have the paraglider, of course). You can also use a horse to get around much faster.
But there are new mechanics, too, like vehicles you can create from scratch and use to roll around Hyrule and show off to the different citizens.
There is also skydiving, which requires you to hop off from one of the sky islands and lets you seamlessly dive and then glide down to the land below. There is a lot to unpack, so I recommend so trying out movement mechanics as you go.
Weather and the environment once again play a massive role in Tears of the Kingdom. There are snowy areas where the cold will cause your health to go down continuously. There are unbearably hot areas where the heat will cook Link alive. And even the rainy wet locations will make climbing a challenge.
The best way to avoid weather is to either have the armor that defends against that particular condition or consume an item that protects you against them. You can make these food and elixirs using various materials you find.
When in doubt, read the description of random materials you have. Most of the ones that protect against cold, heat, etc., will hint at that in the description. You can then turn around and use it at a cooking pot. There are also other ways to help, such as using torches and even the physics system to avoid the weather.
Best Tips We Wish We Knew on Day 1
To help you out, here are a bunch of tips I wish I had known on the first day I binged playing Tears of the Kingdom obsessively for nearly 12 hours straight. These are tips I’ve learned over the course of my adventure, and they can help you to get started on the right foot.
- Break barrels and crates to occasionally find arrows
- Stock up on arrows constantly (seriously, you’re going to need them more than ever before; I honestly use them more than swords at this point)
- If you see a guy holding a sign up, help him. His sign will fall, so use Ultrahand to build ramps and protection that will keep the sign from falling. This will give you some valuable Rupees and rewards
- Complete every shrine as you go. I find the shrines are fairer and more fun this time around, so there is no reason not to complete a shrine as soon as you see it
- Talk to everyone. Even NPCs without the red exclamation mark for a side quest are worth speaking with. You can learn more about what’s going on currently or even find hints at treasure from them
- Follow the main story quest you have initially to its completion as soon as you drop in Hyrule. This will not only (re)introduce you to certain characters, but it will unlock essential features like towers and the paraglider
- Grab your first horse, either via taming or from a previous save, ASAP to save time and help with certain quests
- Visit every stable to earn the new Pony Points. They come with some great rewards, such as the towing harness, which is necessary for some of the Koroks and side quests. You can also speed up earning points, if you have the Rupees to spare, by paying to spend the night over and over
- Complete the four core dungeons in the different regions ASAP. What you unlock from here and the general repetitive nature of these make the game a whole lot more fun once you complete them
- Do the dragon tears memories in order from left to right (if you don’t know what this is, head to the New Serenne Stable northwest of Lookout Landing and speak with Impa). It is a bit fun to mess around and see certain events first, but stick to the general order
- If you see a creepy gloom chasm, save your game and go ahead and dive into one. It’s worth satisfying your curiosity in this case
- Use Amiibo to get valuable materials and gems that you can sell to grind for Rupees easily
- Take your damaged and decayed equipment to Octoroks (there are many near Death Mountain), lay it in front of them, and let them chew it up to repair it
- Use the duplication glitch (still available as of update 1.1.0) to get infinite diamonds, bomb flowers, etc. The gist of it is to attach the material to your bow, go into the menu, drop the first bow, instantly equip a second, press the menu button twice super fast, drop the second bow, equip a third bow and then exit the menu. Pick up both dropped bows, and you’ll have two materials now instead of one.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
In addition to some tips I have for you to make the most of your time in Tears of the Kingdom, there are also some quick mistakes that I hope you avoid when playing the game. Learn from my mistakes:
- Never leave a shrine without finding the treasure chest there. I find they are much fairer and easier to locate and open in this game, so it’s worth getting the one or two optional chests before completing it. You’ll know you’ve opened all chests when you open your map and see the chest symbol next to the shrine’s name.
- Don’t forget to stock up before going on another adventure or heading to the next dungeon. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself empty-handed without arrows or food in the middle of a dungeon because I didn’t prepare
- Don’t forget about your new abilities. It can be easy to look at a mountain you’re scaling and just try to climb it like normal. But there might be an easier way to get up there, such as building a hot air balloon or finding a cave and ascending your way to the top instantly.
- Don’t feel confined by where the story or a quest is telling you where to go. If you want to head to the northeastern corner of the map and see if the labyrinth is still there or not, do it. Follow your heart and do whatever you think sounds the most fun or interesting at all times
- Never use weapons that aren’t fused. It is so easy to find rocks and other items to connect with your weapons, so always fuse them for the added stats. Plus, if you find a better item to fuse with your weapon, you can remove a fused material in the main inventory menu to switch them out
Long-Term Goals to Consider
Finally, here are some long-term goals to consider for Tears of the Kingdom. Keep in mind there are some spoilers here:
- Set aside at least 1500 Rupees to start building your house
- Decide how you want to split up the Light of Blessings you get from shrines. Do you want to focus on hearts first or stamina? Or a mix of both?
- Head to the Woodland Stable to start your journey to unlocking the three Great Fairies
- Gather up Brightbloom seeds and other necessary equipment for the Depths
- Decide what order you want to do the four dungeons in ahead of time. It’s best to tackle one from start to finish in its entirety rather than start all of them at the same time and slowly progress through them
Question: Where should I go first in Tears of the Kingdom?
Answer: Once you complete the Great Sky Island, you should head to Lookout Landing first, which is where the game is directing you. Complete the story stuff there to unlock the paraglider and the ability to unlock towers.
Question: How long is the tutorial in Tears of the Kingdom?
Answer: The tutorial on the Great Sky Island in Tears of the Kingdom took me around four hours to complete, but you could certainly do it in two to three hours.
Question: How do you do the first shrine in Tears of the Kingdom?
Answer: For the first part of the first shrine in Tears of the Kingdom, use Ultrahand to grab the piece and use it as a bridge to the other side. Then connect the two pieces to make a longer bridge. Then either create a hook connected to a plank to ride the rail to the other side or be crazy like me and use a plank to reach the top of the rail and slowly walk all the way across.
Tears of the Kingdom Getting Started Guide: Dig Deeper into the Horses in Hyrule
There is so much to enjoy in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom that it can be daunting on what to do first.
As I mentioned, your Breath of the Wild save at least lets you carry over all of your fantastic horses from the previous game, so it is worth checking out and registering all of the fantastic unique horses from that game ahead of time to get you well on your way to saving Hyrule once again.