After years of anticipation and speculation, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has arrived on Nintendo Switch. Everything players remember (and love) about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has returned, while a swath of new mechanics, dungeons, and quality-of-life improvements have been added to make the sequel one of the most expansive and engaging open-world games of all time.
While all of that should excite fans new and old for the latest sequel, something else The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has in common with its predecessor is a relatively low level of difficulty. The focus of the game is heavily geared toward player experimentation and creativity. While some trying challenges exist across the vast expanse of Hyrule, it's rare to come up against a truly daunting situation. However, there are ways players can play the game that will increase its challenge if they so choose.
10 3-Heart Challenge
One of the more obvious ways to make the game more challenging is for players to limit their maximum health. It's seemingly a mandatory requirement for players to visit the Temple of Time and upgrade their health before leaving Great Sky Island, the game's tutorial area.
However, players can just skip that step. Leaving Great Sky Island is possible by returning to the Temple of Time but not interacting with the Goddess Statue. This will leave players stuck with just 3 hearts when they reach the surface and begin the meat of the game, a truly challenging endeavor.
9 Logs Only
One of the new features in Tears of the Kingdom is the Ultrahand ability, which lets Link pick up and fuze virtually any objects in the world together, allowing players to create almost anything their imaginations can come up with.
Many players are finding, however, that logs can be fuzed together to do pretty much everything needed to complete the game. There are even a fair number of Shrines that provide logs for players to work with. Players can try to approach the game by solving every problem via the use of logs if they feel the game's challenge doesn't test them enough on its own.
8 Ignore Hestu
Hestu, the giant Korok, returns in Tears of the Kingdom, once again offering to take any Korok seeds players uncover around the game's world in exchange for providing them with upgrades to their inventory storage.
While tracking down Korok seeds is a fun challenge on its own, neglecting to use the seeds as upgrade materials can make for some challenging situations later in the game. Players who limit their inventory will often have to make do with less-than-ideal weapons, shields, and bows for the enemies they face, making every battle a scrappy fight.
7 No Rockets
Zonai Rockets are another new addition to the game's world. These items can be found scattered around Hyrule, but are most reliably located in the Akkala Highlands via a Zonai Device Dispenser. Zonai Rockets can be fused with the Ultrahand to most objects that players build, granting them the power of flight and, well, rockets.
These rockets are obviously a very valuable traversal tool, making it a lot faster for Link to travel from point A to point B thanks to their flying ability. To up the game's challenge, players can avoid Zonai Rockets entirely, choosing instead to traverse the world the old-fashioned way - on Link's two feet - and facing any enemies they meet along the way instead of flying by far above them.
6 No Towers
Another returning feature from Breath of the Wild are Skyview Towers. These towers, 15 in total, are scattered across Hyrule, one per area of the world. Once players climb them (sometimes after completing a puzzle to do so) and activate them, they will reveal their local area of the map.
While the map isn't a game-breaking tool by any means, the expansiveness of the world of Hyrule can make it easy to get lost. However, for players who want to experience the true thrill of being a lone explorer in a foreign land, avoiding the Skyview Towers and learning their way around the world through visual landmarks and standard traversal is a very satisfying way to experience the game.
5 No Merchants
During their travels, players will inevitably accrue a steady supply of Rupees, the traditional currency in the Legend of Zelda series. These Rupees can be taken to merchants and spent on a variety of different items, depending on where the merchant is located.
However, nothing these merchants sell is an essential tool for completing the game. Health items, weapons, and objects to fuze, they're all valuable tools, but they can also be passed up. Players looking to scavenge their way to victory can choose to avoid merchants entirely, and while their Rupees will go unspent, their hunting and gathering skills will more than makeup for it.
4 Final Boss First
This was a challenge that many players also undertook in Breath of the Wild, and it makes its return in a big way in Tears of the Kingdom. Once players complete Great Sky Island and are granted access to Hyrule proper, they can, if they so choose, make their way directly to the final boss.
Once they have the Paraglider, players can make a beeline for Hyrule Castle and jump down into Hyrule Castle Chasm. It's not quite that easy, the chasm is a maze of winding tunnels packed with the game's most difficult enemies. Much like Breath of the Wild, since players won't yet have completed the game's dungeons, they'll need to take on the four dungeon bosses in a gauntlet before they even encounter the game's true final boss. This challenge is not for the faint of heart.
3 Low Battery
Energy Cells are a new resource introduced to Tears of the Kingdom. They are used to power Zonai devices when they are fuzed to structures or used to solve puzzles. Players will start with one Energy Cell but can upgrade that count by exchanging 100 Crystallized Charges at a Crystal Refinery.
However, players can get by without upgrading their Energy Cell at all. It just makes progression a lot more difficult. Zonai devices (such as the Zonai Rockets mentioned earlier) are by far the most elaborate devices players can fuze to their creations. Limiting the amount of energy they have available will force players to be a lot more precise about how and where they build.
2 Puss In Boots Challenge
This challenge, created by VGChartz writer Paul Broussard, takes the mindset and lifestyle of the legendary cat from Shrek lore and applies it to the Hero of Hyrule. There are several aspects to completing this challenge, each of which would make Puss himself proud.
First off, players can never run or warp away from a fight. No cowardice. Second, players can only change gear or eat where it makes sense to do so (i.e. out of combat/when in a safe location). Third, players can only die and respawn eight times. After they lose their ninth life, it's game over. Lastly, players must play the game in Spanish, Puss' native language, just to get the full Puss in Boots experience.
1 Food Critic Challenge
Another returning feature from Breath of the Wild is cooking. Just like in the previous game, Link can take ingredients he finds all across Hyrule, toss them into a cooking pot over an open flame, and come away with a dish that restores health or stamina or provides a variety of buffs.
However, players can forgo that and simply eat the ingredients on their own. This challenge doesn't allow that though. In fact, in order to complete this challenge, players are only allowed to consume fully-cooked meals. No elixirs, no fairies, and certainly no uncooked ingredients. Link is a foodie, and he only eats the best.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was released on May 12th, 2023, and is available on Nintendo Switch.