Game of the Year - The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Game of the Year 2023 — The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Game of the Year 2023

Our previous winner of Game of the Year was God of War Ragnarök. In a year, there are over a dozen contenders, including Alan Wake 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, Resident Evil 4, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder. 

It was excruciatingly hard to pick just one title that stands out among a sea of incredible games launching in 2023. Still, we voted internally, with the vote going to a title that shouldn’t be a surprise in winning the game of the year.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a direct continuation of Breath of the Wild, picking up months after its ending. Nintendo’s follow-up is one of the most anticipated games this year, let alone the decade. While it shares many similarities with its predecessor, it also differentiates itself by feeling like a brand-new experience. Some people have been vocal about the launch, saying that Nintendo is giving players an expansion, but that isn’t true. What Tears of the Kingdom is decades of game development knowledge applied to create one of the most unique and engaging games I’ve ever played.

The new abilities like Ultrahand are reason enough to justify the existence of this game. The way you can use Link’s newfound powers to manipulate the environment and create a wealth of things that showcase one of the best physics engines in existence is easy to recommend to everyone. We’ve seen what crafty players can make on TikTok, and the evolution of Ultrahand’s ability will likely thrive well into the future. I fully expect universities to use Tears of the Kingdom in engineering courses to showcase how incredible the developers at Nintendo are.

After nearly 300 hours, I  had difficulty stepping away from Hyrule. Even with such a high playtime, I had a lot left to do, and it was because I had other responsibilities that I moved on. I intend to go back and wrap up the rest of Link’s adventure even months later.

You’ll likely think I’m being too generous about The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Some may say it is a simple novelty and that it’s too close to its predecessor to be worthy of Game of the Year.

Whether you hated the weapon durability system or the lack of linear exploration, the developers pivoted naturally. Would a classical formula be welcome? Of course, it would, and the masses would eat it up. However, the innovation Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom provided is far more critical.

Complaints of sharing the same map are warranted to a degree, but you won’t hear that from me because I thoroughly enjoyed the map in the sequel, thanks to the addition of the Sky Islands and Depths. We’re not in the same Hyrule from several years ago, with much of the land changing, including new towns and monuments waiting to be found. After this year’s Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, I’m confident that the two titles share a lot in common in how the developers iterated on existing maps by expanding and doubling down on details.