Everyone has their own favorite Zelda game, from the era-defining surprise of Link to the Past's Dark World to the dark gonzo appeal of Majora's Mask. No matter which entry you hold closest in your heart, it's fair to say most of us can agree that Breath of the Wild is one of the best games in the series, if not of all time. Its radical take on the open-world genre gave Zelda a new lease on life, and many of its innovations found their way into other hit games, including Elden Ring.
With all that said, there were definitely some aspects of Breath of the Wild that exhibited some room for improvement. Considering how rare direct sequels are in the greater series, this gave Tears of the Kingdom an exciting opportunity to build on some of these shortcomings in order to achieve an even better open-world Zelda than ever before. And while Tears of the Kingdom has some of its own foibles which are natural to any work of art, it did manage to improve on most of BotW's flaws. Here are the top ways that Tears of the Kingdom directly builds on Breath of the Wild.
1. You Don't Have To Memorize Recipes Anymore
This is one of the more obvious changes from Breath of the Wild. Though BotW introduced a cooking mechanic that offered a lot of benefits to creative players, including damage reduction and protection from heat and cold, there was no way to track those recipes in-game. This led some players to take a more old-school approach by writing down the recipes by hand, or in their phone's notes app. In Tears of the Kingdom, these ingredient lists are saved automatically, making it easier to create the elixirs you need without much hassle.
2. You Can Cook Anywhere
Speaking of cooking, this is another key improvement on something that may have annoyed you in Breath of the Wild. Personally, I spent a lot of time wandering around Hyrule's settled lands looking for cooking pots so I could make the same hearty meal over and over. Thankfully, Tears of the Kingdom allows you to take your Zonai Portable Pot on the go, so you can cook anywhere by simply digging in a menu. It's nice and convenient.
3. There's A Way To Climb Walls When It's Raining
If you've played BotW, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Having to wait a few minutes in real time for the rain to clear up so you can climb a wall without sliding down is a minor complaint, but it's a universal one. Tears of the Kingdom offers multiple solutions to this problem. For example, you can combine monster parts with a Sticky Lizard or Sticky Frog to create a Sticky Elixir that allows you to climb for several minutes without worrying about slipping. There's also an armor you can wear that negates the effect entirely that you can obtain through side quests. Finally, you can sometimes use abilities like Ultrahand to create a ramp to prevent the climb entirely, or the new Ascend power. These are all valid options for avoiding one of the most annoying aspects of BotW.
4. Traditional Zelda Dungeons Are Back
Breath of the Wild's shrines and Divine Beasts were a creative twist on the traditional idea of Zelda dungeons, but many players missed the large, intricate areas that the series is so closely associated with. Though Tears of the Kingdom still doesn't quite feature the expansive and ambitious individual levels that purists might want, its various temples do strike closer to the formula than BotW's Divine Beasts, and there are quite a few of them in the game.
5. You Have More Freedom To Deal With Weapon Degradation
There have been too many debates over BotW's weapon degradation already in our lifetimes. Regardless of how you feel about the divisive mechanic, there's no denying that Tears of the Kingdom gives players a lot more freedom when it comes to combining weapons together. This encourages players to experiment to discover the best combinations they can make from their inventory in terms of different traits, like power, range, and overall durability. It's a very Nintendo way of dealing with one of BotW's most-criticized aspects, and while it might not work for everyone, it's definitely better.
6. Fast Travel Is Way Easier This Time
Many players beat Breath of the Wild before fast travel was even added to the game in the form of the Travel Medallion, which was included in the Master Trials DLC. In Tears of the Kingdom, you can get the Travel Medallion by simply following a side quest that unlocks many other basic features, including the camera and Hero's Path mode. This means that getting around Hyrule is a lot less tedious, and that's before you consider how TotK lets you create all sorts of cars and other vehicles with the Ultrahand ability. Traversal is a lot less of a hassle in TotK than it was in its predecessor, that's for sure.
7. Better Menu Management
Tears of the Kingdom features several minor changes to Breath of the Wild's menu mechanics. For example, when you pick up a new weapon when your inventory slots are full, you can quickly swap between the last one you picked up and the new one on the ground. TotK also adds map coordinates to the minimap and another pin to use when mapping out Hyrule. These all add up to a smoother experience overall.
8. Greater Range Of Creativity
This is perhaps Tears of the Kingdom's best overall improvement to Breath of the Wild. Link's new Ultrahand ability alone gives you a ton of options for creating your own solutions to problems, as well as crafting strange machines that BotW players could only dream of. BotW dared to imagine a Zelda game where the player could explore and solve their own adventures by setting traps, scrounging for resources, and encouraging creativity. Tears of the Kingdom takes that to a whole new level, and that's perhaps the best indicator of its overall success as a sequel.