Nintendo has finally shared uninterrupted gameplay of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom ahead of its May release date. The new footage showed off four new abilities for Link, a closer look at the Sky Islands we’ve seen in all of the trailers, weapon durability’s return, and a lot more.
Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma kicked off the presentation by revealing the Nintendo Switch OLED Tears of the Kingdom special edition, which launches on April 28. Then, we jumped right into Tears of the Kingdom.
The gameplay kicked off with Link riding on a horse through the fields of Hyrule. The UI looks very similar to Breath of the Wild, with the temperature, weather, time, and minimap displayed in the bottom right corner, and Link’s health and inventory in the upper left. However, the Rune icon has been replaced with an Apple symbol, indicating a food menu shortcut.
Aonuma indicated there are a lot of changes to Tears of the Kingdom’s version of Hyrule, saying, “If we talk about all the changes today, we’ll run out of time.”
The camera then panned up to show one of the big land masses in the sky, which are now officially known as Sky Islands. As Link was riding by a stable, we see a big object fall from the sky. Link climbed to the object and used a new Recall ability to rewind an object’s movement. Link then rode the rock into the sky and glided over to the Sky Island.
Breath of the Wild’s Weapon Durability Returns
Gameplay then jumped to a different Sky Island featuring golden trees and some man-made structures. Link ran into a new enemy type called a Construct, which Link fought with a Tree Branch. The weapon quickly broke, confirming the return of Breath of the Wild’s durability system.
However, there is a new mechanic when it comes to weapons as well. Link walked up to a rock while wielding a Tree Branch, and used the new Fuse ability to merge the Tree Branch and Rock together to create a makeshift hammer. This significantly improved the attack power of the weapon.
Fuse will also work on two weapons, like merging a stick and a Pitchfork together to crate an extremely long weapon. You can Fuse materials to arrows to create makeshift elemental arrows, or attach an eyeball to create a homing arrow. Even enemies will sometimes wield Fused weapons.
Aonuma also showed off the new Ultrahand ability, which is the way Link will construct the vehicles seen in the latest Tears of the Kingdom trailer. Link combined three logs together, and added a fan he found on the ground to the logs to power the raft. He then easily sailed across a river using the raft he just constructed.
Next, Aonuma demonstrated the new Ascend ability, which allows Link to move through ceilings to advance to the floor above. “As long as there’s a ceiling, you can use it anywhere,” Aonuma said. This included inside a cave, where Link was able to completely skip climbing by using the Ascend ability.
The gameplay presentation ended with Link falling back to the surface, where it was revealed that players can hold R to fall to the surface faster. The gameplay chunk no-doubt included plenty of secrets, which we’ll surely all dissect today. But it won’t be long until we’re exploring this revamped Hyrule ourselves, as Aonuma confirmed that Tears of the Kingdom has wrapped development ahead of its May 12, 2023 release date.
This is by far the largest gameplay chunk we’ve seen of the highly-anticipated sequel. First announced in 2019, it’s been a long road of delays and teaser trailers finally culminating in today’s big blowout. Previous trailers have teased the game’s new vehicle mechanics, Link’s glowing hand, and revealed the collector’s edition and amiibo. Tears of the Kingdom will also be Nintendo’s first $70 game, and it has the largest file size of any first-party Nintendo Switch game.
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.