You’ve probably met someone like me before: a kid who pretended to be Link on the playground when all the other boys were Dragon Ball Z characters, who later became an adult that never lost his love of The Legend of Zelda. In fact, I’m still known as the “Zelda guy” in my early 30s. My puppy, which my wife and I brought home a month ago, we named – you guessed it – Zelda.
You can imagine how much I anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, especially since I recently finished my 100% run of Breath of the Wild. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to play Link’s latest adventure since its release a week ago, which has made being online in any capacity super stressful.
As a diehard fan, I wanted to go into Tears of the Kingdom as blind as possible. This wouldn’t be a problem as I set out a chunk of time to play. Except, the night before release, we discovered my puppy was suddenly allergic to (probably) chicken, which was in all her puppy food. I spent Tears of the Kingdom Eve cleaning up mess after mess and release day at the veterinarians getting her some medication. For those few moments of respite I did get afterward, I spent them either napping or getting freelance work done.
While this was happening, my friends were messaging me their first impressions of the Great Sky Island. Twitter, which I use mostly to connect with colleagues, was awash with videos of insane contraptions people built with the Ultrahand ability. Our own Escapist Slack channel, while mostly spoiler-free, included discussions on new mechanics and what articles to write about them. All of this made me feel as if I could no longer go online, which had me experiencing an odd isolation-laced version of FOMO — the fear of missing out.
I found this different from the discourse that happens with a popular TV series because Tears of the Kingdom is such a unique experience; everyone that plays it wants to share what they built, the crazy thing that they had happen to them, or the surprising lore-based reveal they stumbled upon. When I couldn’t keep up with The Last of Us, it was simple enough to avoid online discourse while I waited for my wife’s schedule to ease up so we could watch together. Reactions to individual episodes hit as quickly as a charging Bloater after an episode aired. I could simply stay away until the discourse settled down and people moved on – until the next episode, that is.
With hundreds of hours of playtime and so many different things to do, Tears of the Kingdom still dominates every feed I’m plugged into. I want to discover the depth of the Fuse mechanic for myself rather than reading about it on a website I write for. I want to see if I can make my own stealth bombers out of the Ultrahand ability rather than seeing how someone dive-bombed Bokoblins online. I want to find Kass and Bolson from Bolson Construction while exploring rather than stumbling upon a screenshot of where they reside in-game.
Luckily, Tears of the Kingdom has so much packed into it that I have had a few fresh surprises in Central Hyrule, which I haven’t yet left, that I am thankful for. (There are light spoilers ahead for the early game.) Purah’s new adult design made me feel things. (Nintendo had to know what it was doing with those heels, right?) The music in Lookout Landing quickly became one of my all-time favorites in the series. The Depths surprised me with their expansiveness, and I’m a little overwhelmed at the thought of exploring them. I rediscovered Satori, the Lord of the Mountain, who revealed the entrances to caves throughout the region, and I got a good handle on how the superb Fuse mechanic revitalizes a combat system that became somewhat monotonous by the 10th hour of Breath of the Wild, let alone the 100th (or, in my case, 400th).
Now that Zelda, the puppy, is doing much better, I have caught up on work and can dedicate three-to-four hours a day to playing, yet I am already too far behind. Discourse around Tears of the Kingdom’s finale will start to permeate online spaces soon — retweeted art of the inevitable final battle with Ganon, tips and tricks for beating him discussed in Slack, that kind of thing — before I’m close, and it’s something I have to accept if I don’t want to hide beneath a Death Mountain-sized rock for a few weeks.
This rush to experience and share major releases has become a stressful part of modern gaming for me. For others, I think, it greatly improves the experience by making it a social one. I would make a grandiose plea for people to quit sharing online, but I understand the obnoxious, selfish futility of that. Instead, here’s some Zelda-themed puppy tax to distract you while I play catch up: