Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Keza MacDonald

Beginner tips for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
A lot to absorb … The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Photograph: Nintendo

If you’ve read the reviews of Tears of the Kingdom before picking it up, you may already feel slightly overwhelmed. Can you really make weapons out of anything? Play the game in any order? Build go-karts out of random parts? It is a huge game, and though it does a decent job of easing you in, there’s a lot to absorb. So to make your first five or 10 hours with the game go more smoothly, have a read over this preparatory guide.

Don’t be in a hurry to get off the first island

You begin Tears of the Kingdom on an island in the sky, as hero Link, who has just had all his power stripped away. This island turns out to be part of a floating cluster, and it’s here that the game guides you through everything you’ll need to know before you dive down into the wider world below. You might be eager to get into the game proper, but there is no need to rush through the Great Sky Island. There’s plenty to do here, and it’s a low-stakes place to try and fail at building basic things like fan-powered rafts and minecarts, and learning how to manipulate objects with Link’s magic arm. Things get pretty real, pretty quickly down on the ground and you’ll soon meet powerful enemies, and find yourself unsure of how to progress. Up here, everything is well within your powers, and you know that if you can’t figure something out, it’s because you’ve not thought of the right solution, rather than because you don’t have what you need yet. So hang out for a while, and enjoy the view.

What can I build?

Note: do not attempt a plane this complicated on your first try
Note: do not attempt a plane this complicated on your first try. Photograph: Nintendo

Anything. Honestly, your imagination is the limit. Only very occasionally did I try to construct some mad thing that absolutely wouldn’t work. Some basic things to try in your first hours:

• A powered raft: use stuck-together logs and a sail, or a fan, for wind.
• A kart: you need a platform for a chassis, wheels, and a Zonai steering device. Powered Zonai wheels are ideal, but you can also use wooden wheels stuck to long planks for axles, and power it with a fan.
• A plane: launch a glider by attaching a rocket to it and see how far you can fly. If you have a steering device, use that. Otherwise, walking around carefully on the glider will adjust its trajectory.
• A hot air balloon: stick a flame emitter under a balloon, attach it to the centre of a platform and hit the button. A really good way to get some height.

How do I find new Zonai devices?

A giant ancient-tech gashapon machine.
Bust them out wherever you like … a giant ancient-tech gashapon machine. Photograph: Nintendo

The powered parts that you can play with in Tears of the Kingdom – wheels, gliders, fans, batteries, all that – are called Zonai devices, and there are more than 20 different kinds. I can only imagine what amazing and complicated things people are going to build with them in the next few weeks. They can be found lying around in opportune places, and also carried about in capsules that you get from giant gashapon-like machines, so you can bust them out wherever you like.

There’s one such machine on the starting island, and you’ll find more on other sky islands and a few down on the earth below. To use them, you need Zonai charges – picked up from defeated robots. Just open your inventory, put one to five of them into Link’s hands, and drop them into the machine, as you would drop ingredients into a cooking pot. Whenever you find a new one, go and use it. It’ll dispense new capsule Zonai devices, and then your in-game map will record where it is and which devices it contains, so that you can go back and get more later.

But remember: often, you don’t actually have to build things

Outside of shrines and dungeons, which have predetermined solutions to their puzzles, there are always multiple ways to do anything in Tears of the Kingdom. If you don’t much like building things, you often don’t have to. You can get around on a horse, or on foot, and via climbing. You can fight monsters with a good old-fashioned combo of sword, shield and bow. So far the game has never forced me to spend hours tinkering with contraptions.

How do I get more powerful weapons?

Want a good weapon? Make your own!
Want a good weapon? Make your own! Photograph: Nintendo

Weapons break in Tears of the Kingdom, so you constantly need to make and acquire new ones. If you’re coming to the game from Breath of the Wild, then you’ll be used to finding powerful weapons in chests, or salvaging them from strong enemies once you’ve defeated them. This is still true, but all the regular weapons in Hyrule are decayed, so you have to boost their power by fusing them together with … well, anything.

Sticks and rocks make hammers, good for smashing rocks but too slow for fighting well. For instant good weapons, use monster parts attached to spears and swords. You can organise your inventory by fuse attack power, letting you see which monster parts will give your weapon the biggest attack boost. Just drop that part on the floor, and fuse away.

You can also fuse weapons to other weapons, creating for instance an extra-long spear-sword. And some materials give objects special powers – try some flame-imbued Chuchu Jelly. Another tip: try attaching a precious gem to a weapon (though be aware, this means you can’t sell the gem). Attaching flame or shock emitters to your shield also has predictably fun results. Playing around with these combinations is a lot of fun, so I don’t want to spoil too much of it.

Don’t worry too much about wasting your materials

I spent the first 15 hours hoarding Zonai devices and monster bits in my inventory, just in case I had greater need for them later. You don’t have to do this. Everything is plentiful in Hyrule; there are always more robots and monsters to defeat for parts, and more plants to gather for food. Cook monster bits and creatures up into elixirs, try out food recipes, fuse random things to your weapons and arrows to see what happens, break out your Zonai capsule toys and use them to build things.

There are only two resources you need to be careful with: arrows and gems. Gems mean money, and money is scarce. And I was constantly running out of arrows in my first hours; I think they should be an infinite resource. The first big dungeon that you’re guided towards, up in Rito Village, is replete with arrows, so head that way and you’ll be able to embark on the rest of the game with a good stock. You can also find them in barrels and crates, if you hack them apart with an axe.

How can I unlock more of the map?

Link in a Sky Tower, looking perturbed
Link in a Sky Tower, looking perturbed. Photograph: Nintendo

Once you’re exploring Hyrule proper, the game will show you how to reveal your map: find sky towers and launch yourself from them, surveying the terrain from above. There’s one of these towers in each area, and though you often have to solve some wee conundrum to open them up, they are thankfully not boring climbing puzzles. I always head straight for these towers when I see them in the distance. Zooming up into the sky once you’ve solved one is one of the best feelings this game has to offer.

Use your map stamps

The map alone doesn’t give you abundant information about what’s out there in Hyrule. If you see something you want to come back to later, like a Moblin fortress or a cooking pot, stamp it. Go into the map menu and you’ll see a little array of stamps with which to personalise your journey.

Always stop at shrines

Once you’re off the opening islands, you’ve got a very, very big world to explore. When you’re out on the road and you spot a shrine, always head towards it if you possibly can. Just activating them gives you a fast-travel point that you can return to later – you don’t have to complete the puzzle within the shrine to save it as a useful shortcut.

How do I get more hearts?

Completing shrines gives you a shard of light. Find a statue that you can pray at, and you can exchange four of those shards for one more heart for Link (or some extra stamina, which is also useful, but at first, definitely go for more hearts). Thing is, those statues are quite few and far between; I’ve only found three. There’s one on the starting island – be sure to mark it with a stamp – and usually there’s one somewhere in any populated town.

How do I get better armour?

You want to find Great Fairies as soon as possible, who can strengthen whatever armour you have. Stop at stables for some hints as to where to find them.

How do I get a horse?

Despite all the new vehicle options, getting around on horseback is the most scenic way to enjoy Hyrule. Plus, horses don’t run out of battery
Despite all the new vehicle options, getting around on horseback is the most scenic way to enjoy Hyrule. Plus, horses don’t run out of battery. Photograph: Nintendo

I found this so much harder than in Breath of the Wild, for some reason. You need to sneak up behind a horse, crouched, and mount it before it notices you, then tap a button continuously to soothe it. Then you can ride it to a stable and save it. Block-colour horses are faster and generally more desirable; I spent 20 minutes pursuing a pink one. Spotted horses are easier to tame and a bit slower. A stealth elixir – brewed from a monster part and a Silent Shroom, Sneaky River Snail or other stealth-imbuing critter – makes this less difficult.

Your horse knows where to go

A good way to explore is to get your horse on to a road, then let it follow its nose. Unless you guide it away, your steed will stick to the road, and you can simply look around for somewhere interesting to head towards.

Head to stables to hear the gossip

Stables always offer leads on where to go next, mini-quests, interesting caves nearby, and other tempting diversions. Be aware that they’re not fast travel points, but there are always shrines nearby. If you lose your horse, or abandon the poor thing because you saw something that caught your eye off the beaten path, you can recall it to any stable.

How do I earn money?

Quickly, you will find areas where it’s very hot or very cold, and buying appropriate clothes is much less annoying than cooking heat- or cold-resistant food for Link to scarf every few minutes. But the economy is weird in Tears of the Kingdom: buying things is very expensive, and there’s not a lot of money around. You can’t sell weapons and you shouldn’t sell armour, because you’ll need it. Rupees are rarely found lying around the place, or in chests. So selling gemstones is the best way I’ve found to earn money in the early game. Smash sparkly rocks in caves to find them, or search chests. It’s a bit laborious, but there’s no other reliable way to accumulate Rupees.

Cooking is important

Want to beat this guy? You’re going to need good nutrition
Want to beat this guy? You’re going to need good nutrition. Photograph: Nintendo

You always, always want to have a supply of food on you, because you can come across powerful enemies at any time. Eating is how you heal Link – that, or sleeping at an inn, which is not exactly a possibility in the middle of a boss fight. Shoot birds and animals to collect meat, pick up fish and mushrooms, and throw all of that into a cooking pot whenever you find a calm place to do so.

Elixirs made from monster parts and beasties, meanwhile, can boost Link’s defence, cold resistance, attack power, and a bunch of other things. A stash of them is always a good thing to have, especially when you’re heading somewhere very hot, very cold, or very challenging.

Use your Purah Pad

Your charming in-game Nintendo Switch-alike gadget contains more than the map. It also has an adventure diary and character profiles, which helped me keep track of everything I was learning. You can also use it to take photos of animals, enemies, materials, anything really, which I completely forgot about for hours. Doing so is optional but it gives you a really cool compendium to read over later, a self-made encyclopedia.

Any tips on where I should head first?

For the most adventure with the least frustration (and danger) in the early game, stick to the centre of the map – the area around Lookout Landing and Hyrule Field. Generally, the further towards the edge you go, the hairier things get. The game will encourage you towards the snowy Rito Village as your first proper destination to advance the story, but it’s a good idea to spend at least few hours adventuring beforehand, to strengthen Link up a little. You might want to hit up Kakariko Village first. There’s plenty to do on the way there, and once you arrive.

Save often

More so than in previous Zeldas, things can go south pretty quickly in Tears of the Kingdom. The auto-save is generous, but nonetheless, quick save before trying out a new vehicle or heading off into an unknown forest to insure yourself against mishaps.

Go where the wind takes you

Skydiving lets you observe Hyrule from above and you can land wherever interests you.
Skydiving lets you observe Hyrule from above and you can land wherever interests you. Photograph: Nintendo

The wonderful thing about Tears of the Kingdom is that you can do what you like. You can follow the story, or completely ignore it for 50 hours. You can spend ages tinkering with Zonai devices, or ignore them except when they’re necessary. You can make weapons and goods and anything else you need as you go, and if you truly do get stuck somewhere, you can instantly travel back to somewhere safe via the map. So don’t be afraid to explore. It’s what this game is about.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.