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Tears of the Kingdom’s map kept the same so rest of it could improve

Tears of the Kingdom is using the same Hyrule map as BOTW, but The Legend of Zelda fans shouldn't be worried about it when they play on Nintendo Switch.

The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom Hyrule map same developer interview: an image of Zelda from the upcoming Nintendo Switch game

If you’re wondering why The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom is going to take advantage of the same Hyrule map we explored in Breath of the Wild, you’ll be pleased to know that Nintendo has provided us an answer – of sorts – through it’s Ask a Developer series ahead of Tears of the Kingdom‘s release on Nintendo Switch. If you thought BOTW was one of the best Nintendo Switch games out there (or maybe one of the best games of all time), you’re going to be blown away by TOTK. Why? Well, it’s set in the same Hyrule because Nintendo wanted to make sure it could include everything it had planned for BOTW but couldn’t.

When asked about how Hyrule has been expanded for Tears of the Kingdom, despite being the same map, during an Ask The Developer series technical director Takuhiro Dohta explained that the development team “began by compiling and implementing ideas [it] couldn’t include in [Breath of the Wild]” when starting on Tears of the Kingdom.

In order to do this, though, it sounds like the map had to stay the same – even if it was something that suits the story being told.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do so,” Dohta explains, “had we made a completely new world, so developing in the same setting as the previous game was significant”.

If you’re looking for a good example of what this means outside of the floating islands above Hyrule, art director Satoru Takizawa offered one up for discussion in the form of “cliffside caves”. As we all know, in Breath of the Wild, cliffs were largely feature-less. You could climb them, but there was nothing in them to do.

Takizawa, however, has expressed that “when a place – even one that’s already familiar – is augmented with something of worth” (like the cliffside caves) “you begin to see the world in a different light. Even as the game’s developers, we started seeing the landscape in a different way while working on the game”.

So, if you’re worried that the Tears of the Kingdom maps won’t inspire you as much as you were inspired in Breath of the Wild – on account of them being the same – you might not have anything to worry about. There’s bound to be plenty of Tears of the Kingdom bosses hidden away in all corners of this map – including places you thought were safe.

In this part of Nintendo’s Ask The Developer series, Dohta and Takizwa are joined by deputy general manager Eiji Aonuma, director Hidemaro Fujibayashi, and composer Hajime Wakai to discuss both the dungeons and the sky islands that will also add to Hyrule in Tears of the Kingdom.

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Dohta expressed that the dungeons will be unique to their respective environments – which should make each one feel even more different than before – and Fujibayashi has even shared that “there’s a dungeon that connects directly from Hyrule’s surface” which you can “dive from the sky straight into the dungeon” to access. Who knew Link was such a thrillseeker?

With the sand and the sky connecting seamlessly, Wakai also expressed that he needed to “consider where the sky begins” – something he hasn’t done before – so the soundscape and background music could adjust accordingly. We’re not sure the Tears of the Kingdom vehicles will have radios, but we can only imagine Wakai has created a truly stunning soundtrack for this game. Breath of the Wild’s music was great, after all.

The Tears of the Kingdom release date is on the way and you can find out more about TOTK preloads right here if you’ve pre-purchased. If not, why not check out our Tears of the Kingdom walkthrough for a full run-down of everything you need to know ahead of this next chapter in Zelda and Link’s story.