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Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is embracing Skyward Sword’s best mechanic

Knocked off a ledge? Why not skydive?

Link plummets through a gap in the clouds in a screenshot from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD Image: Nintendo

For all of its faults, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword had its moments of glee, mainly in the vast space between its sky islands and the monster-strewn world below. Flying Link’s Loftwing was fun, yes — but leaping off of said Loftwing, or over the edge of a land mass floating thousands of feet in the sky, was downright intoxicating. Tears of the Kingdom seems to be embracing that same thrill wholeheartedly.

During Tuesday’s Tears of the Kingdom gameplay demonstration, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma showed off a plethora of Link’s new immersive-sim abilities, including a “Recall” power that lets him ride chunks of rock back to the floating island they fell from. Later in the demonstration, Link gets into a fight with an enemy wielding a wooden plank as a club. When swung, the plank sends a gust of wind Link’s way, and our hero is knocked backward, over an edge, and into the sky. After recovering from the initial shock, Link recovers, goes into his spread-eagle skydiving pose, and eventually nosedives smoothly into a body of water. (According to the UI, Link could have deployed his trusty glider at any moment during the fall, but Aonuma, in his vast wisdom, knew that Hyrule’s water physics wouldn’t pancake Link as he fell back toward firm ground.) You can see the exact moment here, or watch the full gameplay video below.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Link skydive in Tears of the Kingdom’s gameplay demonstrations. But it was yet another showcase for the myriad physics systems at work, which, while absolutely a focus in Breath of the Wild, seem to be an even bigger gameplay pillar in the upcoming sequel. Skyward Sword’s flying and diving mechanics offered their thrills, but you could only fall to specific points in Hyrule below — you were essentially jumping off of one island and aiming at another. Tears of the Kingdom, true to its predecessor, seems to be all about freedom of movement, and the most recent demonstration proved that, as Link fell gracefully back to Hyrule and landed wherever Aonuma guided him.

Nintendo also took today’s video as a chance to announce a Tears of the Kingdom OLED Switch, which is slated for an April 28 release. Until then, and until Tears of the Kingdom’s May 12 release date, you can catch up on everything Zelda-related with Zeldathon, Polygon’s year of celebratory Zelda stories.

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