A Guide to Using Link’s New Abilities in ‘Tears of the Kingdom’
Despite being one of the few direct sequels in Legend of Zelda series history, there are a truly surprising number of ways in which Tears of the Kingdom feels distinct from Breath of the Wild. Skydiving is now a core gaming mechanic. Both the sky and the Depths have been added to the already massive map of Hyrule. Koroks got big funny backpacks, and Purah got hot. And perhaps one of the biggest changes of all: Link’s abilities are completely different.
In Breath of the Wild, Link got four Runes from the Sheikah Slate: Bombs, Magnesis (the ability to move metal), Stasis (the ability to freeze an object in place while you whack it), and Cryonis (the ability to create pillars of ice in water). There was also the Camera, which gave you the ability to take pictures of (and therefore track) monsters, weapons, and creatures around Hyrule. Who am I kidding—the camera allowed Link to take hilarious selfies.
Of those five, only the Camera has carried over to Tears of the Kingdom. You don’t have the Sheikah Slate anymore, but you better believe Purah put a camera on the Purah Pad. However, that leaves the four core “action” abilities up for grabs. This time, the abilities come from Link’s new arm, which was given to him by the Zonai sage, Rauru. So they’re basically Zonai abilities! And they’re wild! Let’s take a peek at what they can do.
Ultrahand is arguably the heart of Tears of the Kingdom and the core new mechanic. It also allows people to let their imaginations run wild. Which gives us incredible creations, like the one above. Ultrahand has also been used for evil, specifically to torture Koroks. We love and respect Koroks in this house, even if we accidentally crash gliders while they’re on them. They are just little guys!
Essentially, Ultrahand is the ability to move the vast majority of non-living, non-environmental elements in the game anywhere you want. You can’t move a person or a Construct or a set piece, but you can move a Korok’s backpack. Or a piece of wood, or a fan, or a log, or any number of things.
It feels like a more-inclusive Magnesis to this point; the animation is even similar. But it’s much more than that. Not only can you rotate objects now, but you can attach things together with some kind of ancient, magic glue. Essentially, Ultrahand is the ability to make absurd DIY crafts on an epic scale. You can get as imaginative, absurd, or utilitarian as you want. You can make boats, carts, platforms, ramps, gliders … or giant flaming penis men.
At first, Fuse feels like Ultrahand’s niche sibling. Like Ultrahand, it’s essentially the ability to glom one thing onto another thing. But Fuse narrows its scope to shields, weapons, and arrows. Unlike Ultrahand, you can only use Fuse once on any given object (unless you destroy the fused object and begin anew).
Fuse also allows the fused object to give a bonus or added ability to the original weapon, shield, or arrow. This is where Fuse gets exciting—and necessary, because thanks to the Upheaval and all the gloom everywhere, all the metal weapons in Hyrule are corroded.
Some objects will give a straight-up attack bonus, but others allow your weapon stash to get very interesting. It means you can make swords that spit out flames when you swing them, spears which emit rays of light, shields which puff out mushroom spores, and—thanks to Keese eyeballs—shoot arrows with tracking abilities.
Or you can try out one of my favorites: double sword! It’s just two swords stuck onto each other. But it’s dumb and gives me great joy.
If you played Breath of the Wild, you undoubtedly remember climbing no shortage of mountains and walls, just to see what’s on top. I always did because I was so caught up in Breath of the Wild‘s sense of adventure. But it often called for large helpings of patience.
You’ll still be doing plenty of climbing in Tears of the Kingdom, but in some cases, you now have one hell of a shortcut: Ascend. Ascend is the ability to essentially dive up and through a ceiling, and pop out on the other side. Given the new proliferation of caves in TotK, this is now one solid way for you to scale a mountain. Or get out of places without using a ladder, like some kind of plebeian.
As someone who put over 200 hours into Breath of the Wild, one of my biggest learning curves in Tears of the Kingdom was simply remembering that Ascend exists. Untold hours into the game, I still get giddy whenever I use it. There are limitations—the ceiling can’t be too high up. But damn, shortcuts feel incredible.
Ahead of Tears of the Kingdom‘s release, fans used the very existence of a Recall ability to posit that the story in TotK would involve time travel. And we were right!
Recall is, quite simply, the ability to Recall an object’s trajectory back in time. The Recall period extends to about 20 seconds, so there’s a limit on how far you can take the ability. Without that cap, Recall would be ridiculous.
Initially, you’re taught how to use Recall in puzzle solving, reversing the direction of environmental objects so that you can cross. You can also use Recall on objects which have fallen from the sky, so that you can ride them back up.
But Recall has some offensive capabilities, too. Namely, you can use it to force objects enemies have thrown at you right back in their faces. Which is incredibly satisfying. And economical, similar to how I’d just chuck bombs at Bokoblin camps in Breath of the Wild when I was saving up my weapons. Still, of all the new abilities, I’d posit that Recall is the hardest to use to its fullest potential.
All in all, Tears of the Kingdom‘s new abilities emphasize creativity. They encourage the player to make the most of the environments and resources around them. As I’ve played the game, I’ve been often awed by the feeling that, contrary to prior Zelda formulas, there is no one right answer. Go wild.
(featured image: Nintendo)
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