HWFO June 2023 Housekeeping
And a Zelda review
Like many erudite individuals in the past month, I put everyone I know on notice that I would be devaluing all of my human relationships and professional obligations to play the ever living shit out of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom when it came out.
I am still doing that.
I may be doing that for years.
Metacritic gave the prior Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, a composite score of 97, making it the 14th highest rated game of all time. The #1 rated game of all time, incidentally, was 1998’s Zelda Ocarina of Time, weighing in at a combined score of 99. Tears of the Kingdom is going to smash that. TOTK is groundbreaking, gigantic, and absurdly fun. I’ve been playing this game an hour or more per day since May 12, and I’m not even sure what I’m “supposed” to be doing - I just keep blundering around and discovering new and awesome ways to have fun.
BOTW came out in 2017, and was basically just a way to map most the open world mechanics of Skyrim into a Zelda platform, with a world many times larger. If you’re a speed-running freak you could beat the game in a few hours, but the world was so large and fun and deep and full of Easter Eggs that the fun part was never winning, it was exploring. Very few things were essential to do, most things were just fun to do. Travel the world, ride a horse, paraglide off of mountains, bash monsters, get loot, customize your appearance, build a house, build a town, arrange marriages between the NPC characters, help people out, bash more monsters, get more loot, and then if you ever get bored of all that go rescue Zelda from Gannon.
This new game has all of that, and then adds about double the content with new things to do. There’s an underdeep that is just as large as the surface world and a series of hanging islands in the sky that are half as large as the surface world, so the exploration area is around two and a half times larger than before, chocked full of just as many fun Easter eggs and side quests and NPCs and loot and monsters to bash. You can fuse weapons together to make custom weapons. You can build elaborate contraptions and machines, up to and including bridges, houses, fortresses, armored ATVs, horse drawn gypsy wagons, tanks, airplanes, rocket sleds, mobile gun turrets, weaponized hot air balloons, mecha robots, and monster torture devices. There are far more armor sets, boss monsters, and NPC storylines to goof off with than there were before. The storylines themselves, be they main questlines or sideshow fluff, are all tied back into the prior BOTW game, so you get to find out what the NPCs you helped out before are doing now, which creates a sense of open world connectedness. It’s specifically intended to be a tack-on to the prior game, and even accesses your old save-game data to give you the old horses you used to have in the stable, for instance. You can ride dragons like Dune sandworms.
I’m not even doing what I’m “supposed” to be doing. There’s a big quest in each of the four main racial zones, and I’ve only bothered to do one. There’s a quest that flows from a main NPC in BOTW which explains everything that’s “going on” in TOTK that I haven’t even started. There’s one quest that you’re supposed to trigger with a huge series of events, ending with you constructing a robot mech body for an ancient god that I literally found by accident just goofing off one day. I don’t even know where Zelda is and I admit I don’t care. And I’m multiple dozens of hours of playtime in to this thing.
This game is nuts. See you in a few months. You’re lucky I wrote anything new at all this month. But if you want to subscribe, we’re talking about it in the #vidya channel of HWFO Slack.
This publication is and will always remain free to read, and any money earned through Substack subscriptions or Patreon will be dutifully spent on the author’s alcohol fund. Anyone who contributes to said alcohol fund will gain access to our private Slack server to discuss HWFO topics with other HWFO readers (and me) outside the public eye. Around 180 people are yammering away in there right now, and some of the article topics are born from these discussions. I’ll post an updated access link in a few days, as subscriber only content. If you’re a Patreon supporter you can gain access too, just email me.