We're pretty sure that most of you reading this will have spent a good chunk of the weekend tucking into this delightful little indie effort that launched last Friday. It's a follow-up to a little-known open-world adventure that, as we understand, was much loved by the few who bothered to play it back in 2017...

Ah, we can't keep that up. Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is finally with us! We're only a few days after launch and despite the plentiful coverage you've no doubt caught here and elsewhere — TOTK really has taken over the internet, it seems — we're still tip-toeing around spoilers and unsure how much to discuss with each other right now. Have you got to the bit with the... thing that grants you the ability to... erm, get to the top of... things? That's how a lot of our conversations are starting at the moment.

So, rather than dive into the nitty gritty of favourite quests and characters and story beats just yet, we've decided to discuss our initial impressions and standout moments from the opening hours of the game. There's a poll at the bottom, so feel free to let us know what you enjoyed most about TOTK in its introductory areas, and head to the comments to discuss anything we've neglected below — but only from the opening couple of hours, please!

The very beginning, 'coming home', and the Shrine doors

Black screen. In slow succession, the following words fade up in small white text...

Nintendo presents

The Legend of Zelda

Tears of the Kingdom

Oof! The sheer class and confidence of that opening was masterful. No spinning logos, no tricks, no bullpoopery. Just here you go.

Beyond that elegant opening, the thing that struck me most was a feeling of coming home. I spent a good while on the Great Sky Island just pottering around, admiring the luscious golden grass and foliage and the general pleasantness of it all. I listened to the birds, did some cooking, and just relaxed for a while.

Having heard how enormous the game was from Alana while she was working on her brilliant review, I had some idea of the immensity of the adventure that awaited. But that moment at the very beginning — the moment of anticipation — was something I cherished as long as I could. Oh, look! A pigeon. Yep, we're home.

Oh, and the Tardis-style effect through the shrine entrances. I cannot get enough of that. - Gavin Lane

Voice acting and Hyrule's transformation

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Image: Nintendo Life

The first thing I really noticed with Tears of the Kingdom was the sheer production value demonstrated within the opening sequence. Sure, there was voiceover work in Breath of the Wild, but for the most part, it felt like it was earmarked for moments in which a bit of exposition was required.

When Zelda and Link came across that mummy in the opening for TotK (and we’re pretty confident we know who that is), the raspy voice that emanated from the living corpse sent chills down my spine. In one swoop, TotK suddenly felt like the most dramatic the Zelda series has ever gotten. It was great stuff.

If that wasn’t enough, I was blown away at how Nintendo so successfully managed to make the land of Hyrule feel so alien to me. When I fell through the sky toward the surface for the first time, I thought “Yeah no problem, I’ll know exactly where I am and where to go”, but when I landed, I genuinely felt completely disorientated.

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I was dropped in a place I rarely ventured in Breath of the Wild, that certain landmarks had been altered by The Upheaval, or some combination of both. Needless to say, I needed to have a good look around before I managed to get my bearings. - Ollie Reynolds

The Constructs

The first time you meet a Construct in Tears of the Kingdom, it's trying to hurt you. The next time you meet a Construct, you awaken it from a long slumber, and unlike the previous robotic creature, it makes some friendly bleeps and bloops and offers to help you.

Yep, I love the Construct Stewards. I can't help it. With the Great Sky Island's warm palette of yellows, golds, whites, and pastels, and the mix of friendly and fearsome robots, those Studio Ghibli vibes are back in full force. The friendly Constructs made me smile from the minute I met the first one, and then every subsequent one — with its routines, role, and its terrified reaction whenever you attempt to Ultrahand something next to it — endeared me to them more.

Constructs are pretty common throughout TOTK — both the good and the bad — but they all serve as a reminder of the past. They're relics of a lost time, only just reawakening for the first time in a while. My favourite on the tutorial island is the one that's cooking mushrooms, even though it admits it doesn't have a digestive system. Is it doing it for the fun of cooking? Or is it there just to give Link advice? I like to think it's doing it as a reminder of its past life, of its purpose back before the events of TOTK. Their presence makes the world feel more lived in, and it's an utter joy coming across them and interacting with them each time. - Alana Hagues

Leap of faith

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Image: Nintendo Life

Remember the first time that we saw the Breath of the Wild footage where Link runs out of the Shrine of Resurrection and onto the Great Plateau? The title card appears, the music swells, the tears well up in your eyes (wait, not everyone? Ok then...), there's a reason why it has gone down as one of the game's most iconic moments. Well, Tears of the Kingdom does it again.

Leaving the room of awakening with nothing but a gnarly Master Sword and some ill-fitting sandals, Link's first leap from the opening sky island has all of the wonder of its BOTW predecessor, but with the added smirk of "and you thought this was just going to be DLC". Once again, as the title appeared onscreen I caught myself with a little tear in my eye and a beaming smile from cheek to cheek — truly wonderful stuff.

I am only around five hours into the game at the moment, but so far every diving animation has elicited the same response from me. Looks like we're in for many, many hours of happy Jim to come. - Jim Norman

Those are a handful of moments and elements that stuck out to us, but let us know which of those has impressed you most in the game's initial hour or two — or if something else entirely had you grinning from ear to ear.

What most impressed you about TOTK's opening hour or two? (2,257 votes)

  1. Those classy title cards right at the start8%
  2. That warm BOTW-y feelin'11%
  3. The Tardis-like shrine entrances, obvs3%
  4. Top-shelf production values13%
  5. Just how different Hyrule feels26%
  6. The Constructs3%
  7. That first sky dive31%
  8. Something else (comment below)4%
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Image: Nintendo Life