So, you’ve given in to the hype and picked up The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Now what?
The best and biggest game of 2023 so far can be daunting up front, to be sure. Especially if you didn’t play Breath of the Wild, or if you just never vibed with that game. The good news is that Tears is not as intimidating as it looks, and there are plenty of ways to make sure you have a good time in those bumpy early hours of the game.
Here are five important tips to know when starting Tears of the Kingdom.
The TOTK main story is useful
In giant open world games like this one, the temptation to ignore the main story quest as early and often as possible is strong. I have plenty of friends who play hundreds of hours of games like this without ever touching the main story. I get it.
That said, I’d argue that isn’t a smart way to play Tears of the Kingdom.
Flatly, you must follow the main story until the point where the game gives you a paraglider. That happens after you fall down from the Great Sky Island onto the Hyrule surface. At that point, it might feel like the game is letting you go free, but seriously, follow the flashing yellow dot on your map for a while. You won’t get very far without the paraglider, an essential tool for exploration.
Once you get the paraglider, you can do whatever you want. I’d still argue in favor of following the main story for a while because there are other useful powers and tools to be gained from it, but that’s your call.
Stamina or hearts?
Tears of the Kingdom‘s tutorial does a good job of hammering home that you need four Lights of Blessing (which you get from completing shrines) to either upgrade your hearts or stamina. What it doesn’t do, however, is tell you which one is more important to upgrade early on.
The truth is that there isn’t a definitive answer here. However, in both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, I personally had a lot of success going after stamina before hearts. Hearts obviously keep you alive in combat longer, but if you’re good at dodging or you like to avoid combat in general, stamina might be the way to go. Being able to climb and glide for longer helps out a great deal when it comes to exploration.
Generally speaking, I’d get one heart upgrade after getting two or three stamina upgrades just to keep things sort of balanced. You want to be able to survive, but being able to climb up any obstacle in front of you will make getting around Hyrule a lot easier.
Arrows are hugely important in Tears of the Kingdom. Melee weapons are great once a fight starts, but you can end a fight before it even begins with intelligent arrow use.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to find yourself running out of arrows early and often in this game. At first, it might feel like the only way to get more is to buy more, and money (as we’ll discuss in a bit) isn’t easy to come by in the game’s opening hours. That’s where breaking boxes comes in.
Just about every enemy encampment will have at least one or two wooden or metal crates for you to break. These almost always have arrows in them, sometimes in bundles of five or even 10. You’ll need a blunt weapon to break metal boxes, but that’s easy enough to handle. Just remember to always break every box you see, and you’ll never run out of arrows.
Watch your wallet
Breaking boxes is great not only for keeping a steady supply of arrows, but for opening up what little money you have to spend on more important things, like weather-resistant clothing. However, you have to get money to spend money.
That’s where things can feel a little tricky early on in Tears of the Kingdom. Rupees aren’t plentiful in this world unless you know where to look. An easy early source of funds is to do as many side quests as you can, but if that well dries up, you’ll want to sell things to shop owners.
You officially have my permission to sell precious gemstones like rubies, sapphires, and even diamonds for money in the early game. You may think that you need to hoard those gems for later in the game, but you don’t. You’ll find plenty during your hundreds of hours scouring Hyrule. Monster guts also sell for a pretty penny, so don’t be afraid to pick those up after killing baddies, either.
I would never encourage cheating, but there is a way to duplicate items infinitely for the purpose of building up your bank account. You’ll have to keep your game unpatched to use this trick, though.
Go cave crazy
Of course, you can’t sell gemstones without finding them first. That’s where caves come in.
Caves are hugely important in Tears of the Kingdom for a number of reasons. They’re home to ore deposits that you can smash with blunt weapons to get gemstones, but most caves also have some kind of valuable treasure or even shrines waiting inside. You can stumble upon them naturally, or you can use a couple of tricks to find them more easily.
For instance, if you see a cherry blossom tree, go up to it. There will be a small bowl at the base of the tree. Put any fruit in the bowl and the locations of nearby caves will light up for your convenience. Similarly, if you see a glowing blue fox-like creature called a Blupee, run towards it and it’ll scurry off in the direction of a cave. As a fun bonus, shooting Blupees with arrows or hitting them with weapons causes them to drop rupees. Free money!
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom gives you a ton of freedom to play how you want to play, so don’t feel obligated to follow every piece of advice in this article to the letter. You may very well find even better ways to operate in the harsh world of Hyrule than I did. But for beginners, these tips will at least set you up for success early in the game.