- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom introduces crafting mechanics, open-world exploration, and expanded storytelling.
- The changes in Tears of the Kingdom and its predecessor, Breath of the Wild, significantly impact the role of the Master Sword, which is now optional and not as powerful as other weapons.
- The implementation of the Master Sword in these games fits the open-ended design, granting players a unique sense of accomplishment, but it suggests a potential trend for future Zelda games deprioritizing the iconic weapon.
The Master Sword is as synonymous with the Legend of Zelda series as the Triforce or Zelda herself, but its implementation in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, along with its predecessor Breath of the Wild, raises some questions. Tears of the Kingdom‘s crafting mechanics, open-world exploration, and minimalist approach to storytelling have all helped establish it as one of the best games of 2023, though the many changes it and Breath of the Wild make to the Zelda formula significantly impact the role of the Master Sword.
Of the numerous changes made to the Zelda formula with 2018’s Breath of the Wild, the overhauling of weapons and combat is one of the biggest. Earlier Zelda games would often start players with a standard, nondescript sword, before eventually granting them access to the Master Sword, which would be tied directly to the main story and generally had a major impact on the story (pulling the Master Stone from its stone in Ocarina of Time causes Link to jump seven years into the future, for example). The sword’s significance will no doubt be touched on in the upcoming Legend of Zelda film as well. This approach is markedly different from how weapons are utilized in the latest two Zelda games, which allow players to access a sprawling arsenal of different weapons, thus altering the impact of the Master Sword.
How Tears of the Kingdom Might Cement a New Approach to the Master Sword
While previous Zelda games have made the Master Sword an essential part of the experience, Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom are decidedly different in that the legendary sword is an optional piece of gear. In BOTW, players have to venture into the Lost Woods and pull the sword from a stone in the Korok Forest. On top of this, they need to have obtained a certain number of heart containers to successfully remove the weapon from its rocky pedestal. Similarly, players have to find the now-iconic Light Dragon in TOTK, while having the requisite maximum stamina, retrieve the Master Sword. While these journeys to the Master Sword are unique and enjoyable in their own right, they are journeys that are completely optional, and could be skipped by a significant number of players.
Tears of the Kingdom Offers Strong Alternatives to the Master Sword
Aside from the fact that the Master Sword is optional, it’s also not quite the powerhouse that it is in other Zelda games, where it is usually a straightforward upgrade to Link’s combat capabilities. In Tears of the Kingdom, like in Breath of the Wild, the Master Sword is extremely useful due to the fact that it recharges after use rather than breaking outright, but its base damage is significantly lower than several other weapons in the game, particularly those that are paired with other materials via the Fuse ability. TOTK weapons that have a higher base damage than the Master Sword include:
- Gloom Sword
- Gloom Club
- Royal Guard’s Claymore
- Lightscale Trident
Many Tears of the Kingdom players will still favor the Master Sword due to its durability and special effects, or because of its significance in the Zelda mythology, but it is certainly not central to the game, at least when compared to other entries in the series. Breath of the Wild moved away from the Master Sword, but Tears of the Kingdom reinforces this choice, suggesting a potential trend for future Zelda games.
There is certainly an argument to be made that the implementation of the Master Sword fits the open-ended, player-driven, exploration-focused design of BOTW and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Finding the weapon in these games grants players a unique sense of accomplishment. The franchise will continue to evolve beyond The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, so time will tell exactly what will become of the Master Sword moving forward.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is the sequel to the beloved open-world adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This installment once again sees Link and Zelda battling to protect Hyrule from falling to Ganondorf. This new adventure takes place in the same land of Hyrule as Breath of the Wild but sees something called the Upheaval, which allows link to travel to Sky Islands, as well as deep into the Depths beneath Hyrule. Players can use special abilities to fuse together weapons, and build items to help them progress through the release.
- The Legend of Zelda
- May 12, 2023
- Rated E for Everyone 10+ for Fantasy Violence and Mild Suggestive Themes
- How Long To Beat
- 59 Hours