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Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom's Ascend Improves How You Explore Hyrule

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" builds on the environment of its predecessor by placing a greater emphasis on vertical exploration. Part of this expansion stems from the addition of sky islands, land masses suspended above Hyrule. Supporting this increased dedication to traversal, the developers incorporated several new abilities tied to Link's Sheikah Slate that allow him to get around more easily. Series producer Eiji Aonuma broke down these enhancements in a late March 2023 "Tears of the Kingdom" gameplay demo.

Three of the four options Aonuma highlighted broaden the available approaches to exploring the map. Recall allows players to distort time on objects, reversing their movement. This plays a key role in reaching the sky islands, as it allows Link to ride rocks that fall from the land masses back up into the air like an elevator. With Ultrahand, players can attach objects to one another to create vehicles, like a boat or hovercraft, which they can use for faster travel across certain areas. The final traversal-based ability, Ascend, helps mitigate one of the biggest pain points from "Breath of the Wild."

Ascend bypasses one of the most frustrating aspects of Stamina

In "Zelda: Breath of the Wild," players spend a lot of time climbing structures or mountains. Beyond the monotony of waiting for Link to finally reach the top of these obstacles, players have to contend with the hero's Stamina Wheel. The gauge depletes quickly in the earlier hours of the game, an occurrence that can mean certain death if he runs out of juice mid-ascent. Players can permanently expand Link's Stamina Wheel or temporarily buff it using consumables, adding an element of resource management that can get irritating when you just want to get from point A to point B.

While it doesn't remove the entire challenge, Ascend makes it a bit easier to reach and explore areas in "Tears of the Kingdom" that otherwise would have required a more significant investment of time. In any place with a ceiling, players can activate Ascend. This creates a green column of light that Link essentially swims up, allowing him to pass through the ceiling and emerge at the top of the structure. It even works with mountains if players find a cave to enter, and can help Link get out of tricky situations, such as escaping a cage.

Players will still have to traverse some terrain the old-fashioned way. However, Ascend should help the sequel avoid some of the pacing issues that pop up in "Breath of the Wild" while diminishing reliance on Stamina items.