Monday, November 20, 2023

Tears of the Kingdom Adventure Log, Entry 26

Link's Awakening Link at Lookout Landing with all four tribe flags behind him

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been released half a year ago, so it's about time that I've finally wrapped up this game's story. While I had beaten the final boss "already" in early August, I've went up and beyond to postpone that semi-finale. By now I've done all the temples, completed all the shrines, found all the caves, defeated all the Gleeoks, and ran out of excuses to put a checkmark on those main quests...

What awaited me was a bit of mess, one that I've created myself by stalling the story as much as I did and by doing other quests very early. But it's also a mess that makes for a more interesting blog. So, how did my journeys come together in the end? How hard have I facepalmed after certain discoveries? How much am I enjoying those commercials for the next Hyrule Warriors? Read to find out!

Royal Observatory

Ever since completing the Wind Temple I've avoided Lookout Landing, because I was worried that I would trigger some sequence on return, something that I wanted to save for later. I did expect to find a big battle at this place, where monsters are trying to take the fort from all sides, similar to the defense of Gerudo Town, only much more epic with all the different tribes of Hyrule involved.

Sadly, such a sequence doesn't seem to be part of the game, which is disappointing. Why go through the lengths of creating this fort and adding troops from all over Hyrule to it if you won't bother using it for some major battle? Tears of the Kingdom has all the necessary mechanics for some Tower Defense gameplay and it only gets utilized briefly...

Anyway, when you return, you can do as you would normally, but some people are staring at the sky, because they've spotted Princess Zelda at Hyrule Castle. And you can continue the storyline by talking to Purah, who is using the telescope to see what is going.

looking at Hyrule Castle through the telescope

I've mentioned this before, but I really like the parallels to Majora's Mask here, where you are looking for the villain through a telescope. It's only too bad that I'm the only one aware that I'm looking for the villain right now and not for the actual princess...

This is the same problem that I already had when going for the Wind Temple. I know where Zelda is, and I know that the Zelda we see here is actually Phantom Ganon, but for some reason Link does not decide to share this knowledge. And that's not because he has chosen to stay silent, since he shares critical information in other instances.

It doesn't even matter in the end, because you would end up investigating what is happening at the castle in any case, but the dialogues should reflect your current insights and knowledge. Instead of hoping to find Zelda, Purah should warn you about this being a trap, as if this wasn't already obvious enough. I mean, look at this scene:

the Lookout Landing and Hyrule Castle during a dark red Blood Moon

This looks like Dracula's Castle from Castlevania. The Blood Moon isn't even in the right place here, it went back to the Breath of the Wild orbit just to set the mood for the Phantom Zelda sighting... "Oh, no, the poor princess, we need to save her!!"

And I'm not putting the blame on the open-ended story telling for such discrepancies. It could have worked if it was fully implemented. Just alter some more dialogues here and there based on what you should already know from other ends. Done.

An Ode to Kass

Since I knew that whatever awaited me at Hyrule Castle could still wait a little longer, I went off to finish a side quest about repairing the bridge to Rito Village. You need to fetch Karson from Lookout Landing for the job, so I hadn't done this until now. This is when I first met one of Traysi's sisters, who also work for the Lucky Clover Gazette, where I wasn't even aware that they were already a thing in Breath of the Wild. But I have never paid much attention to the generic, auto-generated side-characters...

Penn: "A famous bard once perfected his craft in this place, studying the songs of this land."
He has a name, you know...

Traysi tells you that Penn is off to Washa's Bluff, where this had me excited for a second, because I thought that he might be investigating the whereabouts of Kass. But that's not the case, instead he is just moping about how he is not him...

There are some similarities between these two characters in Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, where both are Rito are your guide in a series of quests. Kass was a lot more substantial, however, because his songs imparted critical information about how to solve a variety of Shrine Quests. Penn on the other hand was more or less just a glorified pointer, making it easy to identify what persons you have to talk to around the stables. But you could just solve all these rumors without him.

This is not to shame the character. He is meant to be different and he also shows some remorse in the end, where he is using Kass's success as a bard as an inspiration to become a better journalist... It's even a bit sad to see him like this and I hope that he will become a famous reporter in the future. Soar long, partner!

Hyrule Castle Dungeon

Visiting the elevated Hyrule Castle was one of the first things that I did in this game (see entry 5) and I've regularly returned there looking for things. So, I was already quite familiar with the place as I now went there in official business, making this less scary than it could have been. But I will never forget the uneasy feeling that I had on my first visit, with only a few hearts and weak armor...

looking at the second gatehouse wearing the Fierce Deity set

While it may not be as epic as in Breath of the Wild, it just captures this atmosphere of a ghost castle perfectly. And for the main quest leading you there, they also added a thunderstorm into the mix, making it all look even more eerie. This is scripted and different from the normal thunderstorms, because this is purely for the background ambience, so there are no thunder strikes targeting your metal weaponry and there is no rain.

You are told by the Phantom Zelda to look for her in a certain location and this is how they turn Hyrule Castle into a proper dungeon, at least in the context of this game, where you get a series of targets on your map that you all need to visit. The difference here is that this is is entirely sequential, so you're going for these points in a linear order, where Zelda keeps going from one location to the next...

Link and his phantoms opposing Phantom Zelda in a corridor

Instead of activating a number of switches, you will have to defeat monster forces at each place, where things can get a bit crazier, like a Black Hinox appearing inside the library. I was ready for a Gloom Spawn at any point during this, where some of the corridors could have been a death trap. Makes you wonder why Ganondorf didn't set this particular monster loose here.

The Hyrule Castle in Breath of the Wild really made you face your fear of the Guardians, where this Hyrule Castle could have done the same for the Gloom Spawn. It certainly would have made me respect the place more if I had encountered one here during my first visit, instead of seeing it as a way of getting good weapons in the early game. In the least, you have two Gloom Spawns in the ground sections of the castle.

standing in front of the castle top lit by a lighting strike

I actually like the idea of having a dungeon present in the early game, which then comes more important later on, but allows you to take a peek. Most of the temples even work the same, so you can visit them before you have official business there. You won't be able to do much without the respective sage, but you can already explore and loot them for the most part. It's just that they are more out of the way, so you won't necessarily go to any of them until the main quests make you. The only exception might be the Fire Temple, which is quite out in the open inside the Depths, but you still need proper heat protection, which should bring you to Death Mountain first.

After playing catch with the Phantom Zelda a number of times, she will finally lead you into the Sanctum and shows it to you as it used to be in its best days, before the Calamity. That's something that I was expecting, of course, because this was the last scene from the final trailer that I had yet to witness ingame.

Fierce Deity Link inside the sparkling throne room

They really went all-in with those trailers once more, didn't they? At least they only showed very brief parts of the memory that follows, which was the last memory that I had yet to obtain and shows the Demon King Ganondorf in all his glory before the Imprisoning War, leading his army into battle.

That cutscene was fire and essentially a huge appetizer for the next Hyrule Warriors, whose story basically writes itself at this point. They even made a badass horse for Ganondorf for this scene, where I don't think it appears anywhere else, but you can probably expect to be able to ride it in the upcoming spin-off, unless this gets as equinophobic as Age of Calamity. But it would be a waste not to have this haunting horse somewhere else...

Fierce Deity Link next to a Heart Container inside the ruined Sanctum

The Phantom Ganon boss battle was already familiar to me, because I've fought it before, when I went to the final boss "early". And you get another Heart Container for your efforts, wrapping up this dungeon. With this I'm two hearts short, just like in Breath of the Wild after its DLC, where I still don't get why they did it like this and why they have done it again.

Like with the temple dungeons, the music also stops once you've defeated the boss, which is a shame, because I really liked the default music that has played before. I also like how the music is growing more epic with every step, but that it just disappears afterwards makes the places feel dull. There should been an after-boss theme, something more peaceful, but still reminiscent of the dungeon's atmosphere. I would have liked this, because I wasn't entirely done here...

The Elusive Castle Chest

One thing that this Hyrule Castle has in common with its counterpart in Breath of the Wild is its overabundance of treasure chests. Whenever I thought that I had found it all, my sensor+ would go off on the next visit... And it doesn't even point at the hidden chests, where you need to light torches, until they are physically there. By now I should be good, but there was one particular treasure chest that almost made me go insane and is worth talking about...

I had already searched for this chest earlier, but I thought that there might be something happening with the castle as part of the story, like the ground of the Sanctum opening up again, which then leads to new sections. But this wasn't the case and I was left with a mystery.

The sensor kept leading me below the elevated castle, where even in the tunnels of B3 it would point downwards. But if you fly below the castle it points up. For a moment I was afraid that there might be a glitched chest here, but with the ability of Ascend in your hands you would think that the developers were more clean with the overall world design, even with what you can't see. And there is actually a chest there, it's just very well hidden:

Whoever is responsible for filling the treasure chests in this game, needs to be put into a different development team, to work on some game that deliberately trolls and disappoints its players... Well, at least the beeping noise has stopped, so I could move on.

Been There, Done That²

After I let everyone wait at Lookout Landing for hours, because I was too occupied looking for that last treasure chest, we had a big happy family reunion under the Blood Moon.

at the large balcony of Lookout Landing with Purah, the sages, and their advisors

As a neat detail, the Blood Moon sequence now doesn't get narrated by the false Zelda any longer, because the show is over. Makes you wonder if this is something that everyone in Hyrule has experienced, as some sort of demoralization.

Anyway, during my journey through this game I was usually ahead of its story, having done several things before I was told to do them, for side quests, side adventures, and main quests alike. Already got it, already been there, already done that. This now cumulated in a scene, where the four sage descendants share their insights and realize that there was another sage next to Zelda, which then leads to this:

Purah: "What? You already found her? Mineru? The Sage of Spirit!"
Yeah, she's been useful.

Purah: "AND you have the Master Sword already? Why didn't you mention this sooner!"
Oh, I don't know, Purah... Maybe because the game didn't let me! Also, it's right there on my back...

At least the game has no choice but to acknowledge your early achievements at this point. You even get a pat on the back by Riju for it:

Riju: "Heh, I don't what else to say except well done!"

Well, maybe she says the same thing in any case, since I haven't seen how this plays out normally yet. But the sages go home and wait for you to locate Ganondorf, which is yet another thing that I already had achieved, because I've also completed the Depths exploration quests, where you hunt down Kohga. Not that you would need Kohga to tell you where Ganondorf is hidden, since that's more than obvious at this point.

Purah: "Whoa... So the Demon King is in the deepest reaches of the Depths... Far Beneath Hyrule Castle."

Ganondorf didn't even move an inch during the entirety of the game, as usual. He didn't had to, because he had his Phantoms. And with this "mystery" solved as well, I was good to go for the finale, just like that...

But wait! I'm still missing a main quest here, Purah... And there are these weird dragon statues in the Zonai Ruins that I haven't figured out yet. Don't you want to tell me to investigate things in Kakariko Village now that we know that we shouldn't listen to any ghostly appearances of Princess Zelda? You can't just start paying attention to my actual progress now and leave me like that...!

The Secret of the Ring and Zonai Ruins

Well, I was left in a weird spot, where I already had found Mineru long ago. In fact, she was my second sage (see entry 14), where I simply flew into the Thunderhead, opened the ten-heart-door, and then was greeted by Mineru. But I was still missing the quests leading up to finding all this in the first place...

looking at the floating Ring Ruin in Kakariko Village at night

Luckily, you can just go to Kakariko Village and initiate this on your own, retroactively. Now that it is common knowledge that the Zelda appearances were in fact just Phantom Ganon trolling everyone, the evil Calip holds no power over you any longer and you can finally explore the floating piece of the Ring Ruins.

At least Calip makes himself useful for once and points Team Tauro at the Zonai Ruins, which is where I had been left with a mystery around the large Farosh dragon statues, when I was searching for the Charged armor set previously... Well, by initiating this main quest this problem solves itself, because once Tauro goes there the doors at the bottom of the dragon statues all have opened up. It's almost like he's the legendary hero or something...

This leads into small caves, which don't count as actual caves on your map and don't have a Bubbul Frog, but they do have the individual pieces of the Charged set. This was the last armor set that I was missing and Tauro explains that this is needed in a ritual, where you have to wear it and throw a Zonai Charge into the bowl that I had already seen before.

Tauro: "Next it says... Offer a Zonai charge at the altar at the tail."

So, I could have never figured this out on my own, no matter what I would have tried. You need to find the other four sages first, initiate this main quest at Kakariko Village, and then you can proceed. You can already do everything that follows after, so this main quest got completed for me after the ritual, but in the Adventure Log it mentions Mineru's voice and the laser from her mask pointing towards the surface, which is what I had experienced months ago.

The critical part, which I was missing here, is that the purpose of this ritual is to reveal the sky island hidden inside the thunderhead...

four lightnings from hitting the four dragon statues

the Thunderhead Isles visible from the top of one of the dragon statues

Wait, what now? You can make the thunderhead go away after all? But I've explored the whole thing already...

Thunderhead Isles Sightseeing

Okay, this discovery makes me feel equally proud and stupid. Part of me was hoping that you can dissolve the thunderhead somehow, like you can with the Sand Shroud around the Gerudo Desert, because it's not much fun to explore the area when you can't see anything. But since I made it my goal to find all shrines before wrapping up the story, I explored it anyway, mostly by exploiting Riju's thunder ability (see entry 24).

at the Thunderhead Isles after the thunderhead got dissolved

But now you can just see normally and you can also see everything on the map... There is still a thunderstorm present on the Thunderhead Isles, but it's not as ridiculously dark as it was before, where you couldn't even see your own hands. In fact, now it's even easy enough to spot that not-so-hidden shrine that I was looking for:

looking at my last shrine from the outside

It's right there, behind the grate, making it very obvious what you have to do... I swear that you could not see this with the thunderhead in tact. And even if you can, it is very hard to miss. But this makes me all the more proud that I was able to find this shrine before making it so easy. It made for a much better story and it was a lot more satisfying experience. I never will do this again, though...

And I seemingly was very thorough at the time. I could now only find one piece of sky island that I hadn't already set foot on. And I wasn't able to find any more Koroks. So, there was nothing left to do here... Except that this is a great place to search for Thunderwing Butterflies and Electric Darners. You need 15 of each to enhance the Charged set and I was able to find those very quickly here. It's useful to have an area with eternal thunderstorms for whenever you need one.

at the large temple on Dragonhead Island, wearing the Charged set

There is no thunderstorm on Dragonhead Island any longer, however, not even any rain, so you can marvel at the whole thing. And on the map it also actually looks like a dragonhead, with the Thunderhead Isles forming its tail.

All the Armor

As already mentioned, I should now have all armor pieces, 135 in total, where the Charged set came with the last three missing pieces. Well, technically, I have 136 pieces, because I keep a second version of the Hylian Hood around, where it's pulled down. But if you do this, it re-arranges a part of the armor inventory quite nicely:

You get all the different monster masks from Koltin in one row, as well as most of the jewelry. The Divine Beast helms get pushed one off, though, where I probably would duplicate the Zonaite Helm instead if you could change the Hylian Hood via the menu. Give it a fancy color or so, where so far I haven't dyed a single piece of armor.

It would also be nice to have the former DLC masks all in one row, but you can't color any of the three blue tunics right before them, so it wouldn't make sense to have duplicates of them.

You have space for 15 additional pieces, where the menu allows for 150 in total, so there is a little bit of room for duplicates in different colors. It's not much, but it's already a lot better than in Breath of the Wild, where you didn't even have space for everything it in the end.

Curiously, the Charged Set has a higher armor value than the Frostbite and Ember Sets. Each piece can go up to 20 for the Charged, while it's only 16 for the other two. Since these sets are all equal and even require similar materials to enhance them, this doesn't make much sense.

There is a lot to play around with here and it's fun to get different reactions based on what you are wearing, where for example Purah notes when you're equipped with the Well-Worn Hair Band or the Champion's Leathers. There is one armor set that is particularly interesting to test, where I just had to see what Impa has to say about it:

Also, Impa was nowhere to be found until now. After you've discovered all geoglyphs, she tells you that she will return to Kakariko Village, but she doesn't actually go there until you're done with the "Secret of the Ring Ruins" quest. I've checked her house regularly and she also didn't stay at the Forgotten Temple, so I suppose that she was somewhere up in the air for weeks, just like Mattison. But it's funny how she went back to her old role, obsessing over the Calamity.

True Finale

It felt a bit anti-climactic to leave Lookout Landing like that, after having everything resolved, so it was time to face the final boss again and see what changes. I was especially curious about there being a post-credit scene, like in Breath of the Wild...

That What Remains

Don't worry, I'm not done with the game yet and I will still keep playing this for a while until I've reached the true 100%. This is still on my list of things to do:

  • Collect all Old Maps and find the Hero's Shield
  • Earn all medals
  • Finish all Side Quests
  • Assist Addison everywhere
  • Fully enhance every piece of armor
  • Complete Hyrule Compendium
  • Fill the Recipe Book
  • Find all Korok Seeds

Some of these go hand in hand, e.g. by defeating more bosses I will earn more materials needed for enhancing all armor. And by looking for certain things I will inevitably stumble over more Koroks. I have rarely used the Korok Mask until now, but I will have to wear it more often eventually... So far they seemed to be much easier to spot, but there are probably some tricky ones left everywhere.

Link's Awakening Link at Lookout Landing, near Purah and Josha

Now, it's been quite the ride and I'm motivated to finish things. I have fully completed all Zelda games so far and I won't let this be the first one that I leave undone, even though I have lost motivation a couple of times over the year. But this is clearly meant to be a game that can keep you entertained for a very long time, where it certainly will take years until the next one.



  • Main Quests: 23/23
  • Side Adventures: 59/60
  • Side Quests: 121/139
  • Memories: 18/18
  • Korok Seeds: 618/1000
  • Old Maps: 25/31
  • Recipes: 101/228
  • Map Completion: 85.07%

Remaining Medals:

  • Taluses: 73/87
  • Hinox: 56/69
  • Flux Constructs: 33/35
  • Froxes: 35/40
  • Gleeoks: 14/14


Raul said...

Would've liked for Zelda being turned back to normal had been a quest that involved assembling the triforce to make a wish. But I guess they don't really wanna acknowledge the triforce in these games other than visual nods here and there like when Zelda awakened her powers in BotW.

Also wish the Phantom Zelda was a unique boss fight. Something along the lines of the possessed Zelda fight in TP and the Phantom Ganon team can be exclusive to Hyrule Castle depths

TourianTourist said...

The Secret Stones essentially became the Triforce for this story, so adding it on top might have been too much. But I'd like to see another game that explores what happened to the Triforce in this world.

Agreed about the Phantom Zelda boss fight, that sounds like a good idea, actually. And it would solve the problem that I had with the Demon King's Army fight being too easy in the end.