Despite a penchant for hopping on just about any bandwagon with a notable IP slapped on the side, I missed the initial hype train for Breath of the Wild. I didn’t even hop aboard when I finally bought a Switch. It took until summer 2022 after being gifted it for Father’s Day for me to finally see what all the fuss was about.
After ten hours with Breath of the Wild, frustrated with constantly having no idea what to do next, I arrived at the conclusion one of the best games ever made wasn’t for me. I can hear the bile rising in your throat, ready to lambaste me for giving up on a game that has so much to offer after just ten hours. No need for that. I later returned and, while I don’t know what it was, something clicked and I fell in love with Hyrule.
The leading reason I gave Breath of the Wild a second chance was the hype for Tears of the Kingdom. Despite an indifference towards the game it was building on, the trailers for the sequel were so good that I was convinced I must have been wrong. When I went back, it turned out I was. What previously felt like a chore became something I couldn’t get enough of. The exploration, the discoveries, the figuring out where I needed to go next, I loved it.
The only regret I have about my Breath of the Wild playthrough is how little time I spent with it. Tears of the Kingdom got me back into Zelda, but it wouldn’t wait for me to play catch up forever – the race was on to finish before the sequel arrived. I just about managed it, my Switch claiming I spent a shade under 50 hours in Hyrule by the time I was done. There aren’t many games where I’ve logged more hours, but compared to everyone else’s time with the game, it wasn’t much at all.
I’ve been doing more of what Tears of the Kingdom has to offer than I did with Breath of the Wild, no longer racing to be ready for another game looming on the horizon. However, I didn’t realize quite how much more time I had spent with Tears of the Kingdom until I checked the numbers. I have long since passed 50 hours with Tears of the Kingdom and I am nowhere near done. Three temples down and currently running errands for Penn before I head to Gerudo Town.
Helping Penn do a little investigative journalism for Hyrule’s Clover Gazette is one of many things in Tears of the Kingdom that has distracted me from the main quest. The stories attached to the side quests seem deeper, the shrines more innovative, and even helping the Koroks is more entertaining. Of course, all of that is true because Tears of the Kingdom is effectively Breath of the Wild Plus. However, my higher level of enjoyment isn’t just because Tears of the Kingdom has more to offer. It’s because in Breath of the Wild, I was whizzing by NPCs who needed help, and checking guides for shrine solutions when stumped because I didn’t have the time to figure it out myself.
In playing Tears of the Kingdom properly, it dawned on me that I had wasted my first playthrough of one of the greatest games ever made. A game I now feel like I can never go back to as it just wouldn’t be the same. I’d spend the entire time wanting to use ascend and ultrahand and probably just end up disliking it all over again.
On the bright side, my appreciation for Tears of the Kingdom is through the roof and I want to soak up absolutely everything the game has to offer. I want to complete all of the stable sidequests and discover all of the memories before I face Ganondorf. Not because I want to be as powerful as possible when that showdown happens, but because I’m having so much fun getting distracted. Tears of the Kingdom has already cracked my top five games of all time, and I’m almost certain it will have ascended higher by the time I’m done. If I had given Breath of the Wild the time it deserves, it may well have been right up there with it.
NEXT: Baldur’s Gate 3’s Underdark Turns Drow Into Barbies