Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they've been chewing over. Today, Jim argues that Breath of the Wild's starting area is still fantastic in Tears of the Kingdom...
There are a lot of fantastic places that you can revisit in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Diving down from the Sky Islands was a surefire way to get me chucking out pins like Brightbloom Seeds, leaving my map looking like the sticker-covered front page of a teenager's school notebook. Fortunately, a good few of these places were scrubbed from the list after getting the Regional Phenomena quest from Purah after mere minutes on the ground, but one area that I really, really wanted to head back to remained on my list: Link's 100-year-old water bed.
Better known as The Great Plateau (if you want to be really picky), this starting area from Breath of the Wild has become highly regarded and is considered something of a World 1-1-like tutorial masterclass. You don't need me to tell you how awesome this area was in BOTW because there are approximately 300 video essays on YouTube which explain exactly that, but what I do need to get off my chest is just how lovely it is to return to these stomping grounds in Tears of the Kingdom.
Before I paraglide into that territory though, I better stock up on some warnings. I loved heading back to the Great Plateau in Tears of the Kingdom and will be going into some detail about it. So, if you haven't had the chance to venture up those starting walls again just yet, then you might want to do so before reading this one because yes, there will be spoilers ahead.
I'll be honest that, right off the bat, I had forgotten where the Great Plateau was. It was hardly my go-to fast travel point in BOTW and with Tears of the Kingdom's slightly different surface-level map stretched out in front of me and not all that many Shrines unlocked at the time, it did take a bit of hunting to find. But after a good half an hour of shooting Link from the Hyrule Field Skyview Tower and frantically spinning the camera 360 degrees to see anything that rang a bell (what can I say? It's been a while), I arrived at my destination and set about touring all of my favourite spots like a Dad taking his kid to where he grew up.
I was left feeling pleasantly surprised by just how undisturbed the Great Plateau was
What immediately struck me was just how little there was going on up here. Obviously, there were some things happening that I will get onto but compared to the rest of the map until that point — which was packed full of monsters, Koroks and weird blokes with poorly-balanced signs — the Great Plateau felt that bit quieter. And it was lovely.
There are still plenty of Bokoblins, Yiga Clan members and suspicious-looking rocks to be picked up (Ya-ha-ha!), but the whole area felt that little bit more spaced out, inviting you to walk around and do a bit of sightseeing.
Naturally, I went straight to the Shrine of Resurrection. While it's a husk of its former self, it allowed and inspired me to play out the beginning of BOTW all over again — which is always a treat — and there are some hidden goodies for those who look into the cave a little deeper. No, I won't go into more detail here, but let's just say that it did elicit a small gasp from me to realise that there is more to that starting hole than I knew before.
Then there was a brief tour around Mount Hylia — still cold — before heading to the granddaddy of them all: the OG Temple of Time. While they hadn't done the restoration work that I had hoped for (still no multi-storey car park, really? We need one more than ever with those Zonai device builds), this is the area that brought me the most joy and put me on one of my favourite sidequests in the game so far.
Again, there's no need for me to say any more about that here, but if you haven't taken a trip up there just yet, it's certainly one to keep an eye out for (or four eyes, hehe).
Putting this awesome Side Adventure to, uhh, the side, however, I was left feeling pleasantly surprised by just how undisturbed the Great Plateau was. Going into Tears of the Kingdom, I wanted the original map changed as much as possible so that the exploration felt fresh and new. While this is something that I have been pleased to see in the likes of Kakariko Village and Tarrey Town and with new additions like Lookout Landing, I didn't realise how much pleasure I would get from seeing something left untouched (for the most part).
I returned to this area older, wiser, and with a handful of new abilities which made my traversal that bit more interesting
Yes, there is the odd new structure to be found on the Great Plateau along with the occasional tired Korok waiting to be blasted off into the sky, but by mostly leaving the area as it once was, Nintendo gave me a chance to hit Recall and stroll down memory lane.
With the landscape kept as I once knew it (bar a couple of gaping chasms in the ground), heading back to the Great Plateau felt, weirdly, like returning home. For all of Tears of the Kingdom's similarities to Breath of the Wild, the game, amazingly, manages to feel new at near enough every turn. This is fantastic and I am loving the sensation of getting lost in this expansive Hyrule all over again, but what I missed before heading back to the Great Plateau was that sense undoubtedly knowing exactly where I was.
I returned to this area older, wiser, and with a handful of new abilities which made my traversal that bit more interesting. That is a pretty neat thing for a sequel to do: give you enough changes that you know, for sure, you are playing a different game, but still offer you those moments of nostalgia where a smile can't help but creep across your face when you get to see an area that you know so well in a brand new light.
Change is a great thing, but I for one am happy to see some places stay the same. It turns out that you can, in fact, teach an old map new tricks.