I have now spent every moment I could spare playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom since it came out almost two weeks ago. I’ve got some eighty-ish hours in the game, though between five and ten percent of that is my Switch idling as I dealt with other stuff (such as leaving the game running while folding laundry, packing, or cleaning my kitchen). Still, that’s a pretty significant amount of time over a two week period and I feel like I’m maybe halfway through the game, as far as what I’d consider a “complete” run goes. Which might be inaccurate, since I have no idea how much of the game exists beyond what I’ve already played and can see coming my way through the broad strokes of my current quests. I imagine there are a bunch of things that aren’t quite visible yet, given the changing nature of the world as you work through main quests, but I accounted for that in my estimations.
I think there will be a decent amount of streamlining that’ll happen in future playthroughs, since I’ll already know what is important on my first pass through places, but this game is already shaping up to be a much longer experience than Breath of the Wild was. My recent streamed playthrough of BotW took about ninety hours, and that was a fairly efficient playthrough. I probably would have cut down by about ten to twenty hours if I’d been able to use more outfits and wasn’t dealing with the challenges of streaming on top of playing, and maybe another five to ten if I hadn’t been playing master mode, which means it would take me about seventy-five hours to do a full run of BotW knowing what I know now about where things are. I think a full TotK run will take another thirty to forty hours on top of that, easily, when I’m in the same position. The addition of the depths, the various quests taking me all over, and the way that every bit of progress requires some amount of action means that this is going to be a difficult game to replay without it becoming a serious undertaking.
There’s no telling what DLC will come out, yet, so it’s possible they’ll do something that’ll cut down on how long it takes to play through the game. The DLC of BotW, which added about ten hours of gameplay, also added a bunch of quality-of-life stuff that helped increase my efficiency on repeat playthroughs, such as various armors that could let me bypass encounters (like Majora’s Mask) or just droppable teleport locations that would mean I wouldn’t need to climb back up to the top of something I was jumping off. Being able to just paraglide around in BotW, after dropping the Traveler’s Medallion on top of a local mountain, really cuts down on travel time. TotK increased that efficiency, thanks to the ability to launch yourself into the sky via the mapping towers, the increased focus on various forms of air travel, air islands scattered around with shrines so you can easily drop to new locations, and an increase in the number of custom teleport pads you could set down. That said, these changes are the bare-minimum required because the game needs to be easier to get around the world in TotK than it was in BotW because there’s so much more world to explore now, thanks to the Sky arenas, the Depths, and the already prodigious size of the ground-level map.
Honestly, though, getting around the world is so much fun that I don’t mind. Between dropping out of the sky in my armor that not only increases my maneauverability but eventually negates fall damage when the full set has been upgraded twice and making a collection of odd vehicles that let me conquer the terrain of whatever environment I’m in with a mixture of either speed or energy efficiency, I do not mind getting from place to place. What is a little frustrating at times is how many of the shrines feel like complete nothingburgers. I don’t know if its’ because I’ve spent so much time exploring the world and making odd contraptions, but many of the shrines feel like they aren’t really puzzles so much as assembly checklists. Some of them don’t even have challenges at all. Sure, that makes sense when the challenge was to open the shrine in the first place, but I’d found a couple that are just hanging out wherever that don’t have a challenge inside. It felt odd to just find a shrine and then get the reward without needing to do anything once I was there.
All of my thoughts from yesterday still stand, since my experience with the game is mostly still pre-main plot advancement (something I finally did literally the day before writing this, on Tuesday the 23rd), but I will say that I haven’t had many situations where I’ve felt like I lost something because I ignored the plot for so long. Sure, it would be awesome to have unlocked the Hero’s Path mode and Sensor before I’d played eighty hours of the game (a note I will carry forward into future play-throughs), but it’s not like I lost much because I didn’t have them. Now, it’s just going to be easier to do stuff like upgrade my armor.
Once I can lock down a source of income, anyway. I feel so broke in this game and not just because there’s more stuff to spend my money on. I feel like I’m getting less money and part of that is from the reduced sale price of most gems. Most of my money comes from hunting big monsters, helping to clear monster camps, and the occasional treasure chest or quest reward. Sure, a silver rupee is a nice chunk of money, but it takes so long to do most of that and then a single tier-three armor upgrade costs two hundred rupees. I’m really feeling the pinch, is what I’m saying. At least I’m not spending all my money on arrows this time. Now it’s all going towards food since I can’t afford armor upgrades and need to lean on the cooking system more extensively.
Anyway. I’m having a good time. I’m just frustrated because I have to stop playing the game (as of yesterday) since I’ve lost control of myself and need to stay focused on important stuff like packing for my move a week from tomorrow. That’s not a lot of time to prepare and pack for a move, but it’s what I’ve got and I know I can make it work if I stop playing Tears of the Kingdom every single day. It’s going to be exhausting, but I can do it. Much like building overly complex devices to get around weird cliffs in the Depths. Exhausting but doable.