Dawn of the Final Day: Thoughts on Zelda, Anticipation, & Playing Games
To live for the future...
Six years, two months, and three days. That’s how much time will have passed between the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Believe it or not, Zelda fans have never had a longer wait between mainline Legend of Zelda games. No matter how many years pass between mainline Zelda titles, the wait is always tortuous. It just so happens this time around our agony lasted considerably longer than usual!
I know everyone is chomping at the bit for Tears of the Kingdom to release, finally putting an end to the torment. I’m right there with you, and I’ve been feeling this way for quite some time. It seems borderline unbelievable that launch day is less than 24 hours away, but it really is happening. With the game’s arrival nearly here, I thought it was the perfect time to share some thoughts on the wait, the game itself, and how we interact with games in general.
Nintendo fans certainly love the company’s franchises, but we often spend more time playing ‘The Waiting Game’ than any title Nintendo releases. The second Nintendo drops their next big-name game, most of us rush through it at breakneck speed. We gobble up every gaming morsel, consume every digital treat in sight, and then sit back and reflect upon our virtual meal. Then, after just a couple of weeks, the cycle begins anew.
This seems to be a staple of the game industry, or at least, those who follow it closely. Again, I know I’ve been a part of this machine as well. We patiently wait for our favorite developers to share any tiny tidbit on their next project, and then we painstakingly pore over every minor detail. Trailers are analyzed to an incredible degree, screenshots are dissected from all angles, and speculation on what we’ve seen runs absolutely wild. There’s nothing wrong with any of this behavior by any means. If anything, it speaks to the amazing level of excitement we have for what’s next.
Somewhat sadly, when these sought-after games arrive, we tend to blow through them in a matter of weeks, if not days. When you take a minute and step back, it’s crazy to think we can spend literally years picking apart anything and everything a company has shared for an upcoming game, and then plow through it in mere hours.
I’m not addressing this approach to games as a way of looking down on it. I’ve been there as well, and to some degree, I’m still there. Blasting through a game with a hurried pace most likely comes from a place of enthusiasm. I simply wanted to draw attention to it, and perhaps use it as a reminder for all of us to slow down, take in everything we can, and spend a bit more time smelling the digital roses.
After literally years and years (and years) of waiting, when you fire up The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, give yourself permission to really explore it. This is the culmination of all your patience; the moment you’ve been dreaming of. Hop into the game and let yourself become fully immersed. I know that can be incredibly difficult in today’s world, with so many distractions around us, but give it your best shot. Really sinking your teeth into a game you’ve been dying for will most likely help you form some invaluable memories on the other side.
When you’re playing, think about the thousands of people this game passed through to become a reality. Every artist, programmer, musician, writer and staffer who left their imprint on this title in some way, shape or form. They’ve toiled away, year after year, to try and create a piece of art and entertainment that resonates with millions around the world. Everything from a single blade of grass to the tallest mountain has been crafted with you in mind, so why not set out to see it all?
If anything, Nintendo’s most recent commercial for Tears of the Kingdom more elegantly conveys this point than anything I could ever say or write. There’s a reason why millions of people watched that commercial in less than 24 hours and shared just how much it clicked with them. We all see ourselves in the focus of the commercial; someone who has little free time, a ton of responsibilities, and a burning desire to relax and have fun. The world around us and all we do in it push our enrichment activities into a very tiny box. When we finally get that time to ourselves, we try to cram as much fun as we can into an impossibly small space.
Again, I completely understand this approach to playing games, interacting with any entertainment, or enjoying leisure activities. You only have so much free time to give, so you want to maximize what you get out of it. When it comes to games, for many, that means rushing through/past/over things. What I’m saying is that we spend so much damn time waiting to do what we want, why not slow down when we finally steal away a few personal moments?
If you feel that pressure to hurry through games, I 100% feel you. No matter how much I try to pull away from that mentality, I always feel it scratching at the corners of my mind. If anything, it’s only gotten worse with how quickly spoilers spread nowadays. In today’s world, you can be up against an invisible clock in terms of seeing/hearing something that spoils a piece of entertainment for you. You never know what text message, TV commercial, or online social media post will ruin your entertainment adventure. With that threat constantly looming above, the drive to speed-run something like Tears of the Kingdom is more present than ever.
All that considered, if you’re so inclined to, I say stroll rather than sprint. Explore rather than accelerate. Savor rather than speed. I know there’s only so much you can do in your given allotment of free time, but why not try a more leisurely approach? You might be surprised with what you get out of it.
Lastly, I hope this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. If you’re someone who derives great joy from beating a game at a blistering pace, so be it. There’s nothing wrong with that at all; you do you. The same goes for players who have been taking the slower-paced approach for years now. You’ve figured out a great secret before most of us, so consider yourself lucky! This entire feature is squarely aimed at players like me who feel compelled, for many known/unknown reasons, to wrap up a game as quickly as possible. I don’t think I’m the only one who’s dealt with this beast over the years, and hopefully what I’ve said helps, even if only a tiny bit.
Most important of all, no matter who you are and how you play, I hope you have an absolutely fantastic time playing through The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. You’ve no doubt suffered many hardships throughout the years of waiting, worked through the daily grind, and handled any number of setbacks. You’ve kept Tears of the Kingdom’s release in your mind as a shining beacon to move towards. You’ve made it, my friends. Now get out there and have the time of your digital life; you’ve earned it!
Nicely written feature! I finally beat BOTW a few weeks ago. It was fun to pick it back up years later and try to remember how to play. One of my favorite things about first starting that game was finding cool thing after cool thing and being constantly distracted. 😅 I hope it doesn’t take me six years to bring myself to beat TOTK, but I’ll be okay if that’s the case!
There won't be a sequel to BotW on my Nintendo, so I think I'll have to enjoy the waiting game a little longer. A port of TotK to Wii U would have been nice though.
Anyway so no pressure for me. But yeah from now on I might indeed not be reading much online anymore about TotK because who knows I might play it a year or two from now.
But have fun everyone who plays TotK day one! And indeed take it easy, try not to lose too much attention to life around you because it needs you like you need it.
I think I'll be playing some more 3DS (Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse) every now and then in the meantime.
My copy arrived a day early!! Happy gaming everyone.
So did mine :-) Need to finish work...children to bed, turn off all the lights and bring it on! :-D
I can't believe the wait is almost over. Cannot wait to "leisurely" explore Hyrule once again!
I remember watching RMC’s BotW video review and being so happy and so excited! Can’t wait for your thoughts when they’re ready. See you in Hyrule friends!!!
"Six years, two months, and three days"
Breath of the Wil was released on March 3rd, 2017, wasn't It? And with the release of Tears of the Kingdom on May 12, 2023, you missed by a few days: it's actually six years, two months and 9 days.