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Hands-On Previews Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom Are All Raving About Link's New Powers

"The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" is almost here. It's so close, you can practically feel the Hyrulian breeze on your skin as you watch Link jump from a floating platform and freefall a thousand miles — because you're totally rewatching the trailer right now, aren't you?

The last few gameplay previews for the upcoming sequel have been hugely exciting for fans of Nintendo's beloved action-RPG franchise, particularly as they've revealed new abilities like Fuse and Ultrahand. Link's clearly going to need all of those powers if he's to stop a newly revived Ganondorf and save the world once again. And now that critics are starting to get their hands on copies of the game, it sounds like those new abilities are just as fun to use as they are to watch in previews.

Ahead of the game's release, a number of outlets have provided fans with their early reactions to the latest "Zelda" adventure. Although "Breath of the Wild" offered players an unmatched level of freedom never before seen in a "Zelda" game, it's sounding like "Tears of the Kingdom" has it beat in terms of scale and ingenuity. However, the experience is apparently not quite perfect. Here's what some of the lucky folks playing the game this week have to say.

Link's abilities offer nearly limitless possibilities

There's a great deal of hype surrounding this week's "Star Wars Jedi: Survivor" — particularly because of just how good it felt to wield the Force in "Jedi: Fallen Order" — but critics are finding Ultrahand to be an even greater and more entertaining expression of that kind of power. Link can use the ability to levitate items, solve puzzles, and attach disparate objects in concert with the new Fuse power.

Fuse has also been praised for the way in which it addresses a controversial mechanic from "Breath of the Wild." As noted by IGN's Brian Altano, players can continue to Fuse items onto their preferred weapons to keep them in battling shape, making them less susceptible to breakage. Altano writes, "[Fuse] feels like an interesting make-good for people who hated the whole weapon breaking thing in 'Breath of the Wild.' It doesn't totally overhaul or scrap that disputed design decision, but it does give you a ton of options on how to avoid it while simultaneously giving you a ton of new weapon combinations to play with."

The new Recall ability, which manipulates time to send an item backwards along its original course, has been well-received for its uses in and out of combat. Engadget's Sam Rutherford points out that Recall is just as handy for creating platforms (by stopping falling boulders and sending them back up to a mountain's peak) as it is for crushing enemies.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Link's new powers is how they can be chained together in different ways. Link can freeze something in midair, then grab it with Ultrahand or send it rocketing back in time with Recall. The game can essentially be bent to obey the whims of the player's own sense of strategy.

Wears and Tears of the Kingdom

As noted in The Verge's review, "Tears of the Kingdom" offers multiple ways for the player to approach each combat or puzzle scenario. It's possible to go in firing wildly with a bow or swinging a stick with reckless abandon, but it can be more rewarding to use the enemy's own traps against them with Recall, or to even sidestep an encounter by passing through an overhead platform with Ascend. No longer will players feel the need to brute-force their way through each fight. As The Verge's Charles Pulliam-Moore puts it, "'The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom' builds on 'Breath of the Wild's' brilliance by turning everything into an open-ended puzzle of the imagination."

On the negative side of things, some reviewers are concerned that Fuse may be a bit more limited than it first appears. Insider's William Antonelli notes that most of the weapons he's built with the new superpower haven't differentiated themselves much from one another, mainly offering a small increase in the amount of damage they can deal. Antonelli and others have also argued that the number of new features in the game may also be a bit of a curse, since they've led to a complex controller scheme and considerable lag during more graphically intense sequences. 

Despite those qualms, the general consensus is that "Tears of the Kingdom" is even more innovative and open than its predecessor. Fans who have been waiting since 2017 for the next chapter of the story will likely be pleased that Nintendo took its time with this one.