Cooking might be your secret recipe for success in Zelda Tears of the Kingdom
If Anthony Bourdain taught me anything, it’s that you can see the heart of a nation through its food. Whether it’s the solitary meals people eat when passing convenient kitchens while traveling from one place to another, the grand feasts we throw when we celebrate, or the food we give as gifts to one another to please, nurture, and entertain, food is the beating heart of culture. In the real world, and the virtual.
There are many game worlds that manage to reflect the soul found in food. final fantasy 15 and its opulent meals, all made by the human farmer Ignis, come to mind, as do the many meals any competent chef can prepare in final fantasy 14. Monster hunter has known for years that any intrepid explorer worth his salt will sit down and dine with friends before setting out on an expedition. And even sitting down with a lonely can of lukewarm beans has its own romantic allure in red dead redemption 2.
But The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom does it differently. As in its predecessor, breath of the wild, Nintendo has lavished an unparalleled level of care and attention on the Hylian food in Tears of the Kingdom. Whether you’re slapping on a makeshift skewer to give yourself a boost before your next Bokoblin skirmish, or pouring your heart (vessel) and soul into a creamy stew that will take you to the top of the next mountain, playing like a chef. in TotK it’s not just invigorating… it’s essential if you want to survive.
Every new place I arrive at, I immediately start sniffing the local ingredients: a different genre of pepper? Plucked. A new type of meat from the local fauna? Hunted. Some peculiar new nut, growing from some craggy plant wedged between two rocks? Taken. Often these local ingredients play into what you need to make: you find cold-resistant peppers growing in the snow, you find heat-resistant lizards wallowing in the dried magma of a volcano.
Lay down some wood, strike some flint, take one of your Zonai pots out of your quirky sci-fi pod, and viola; you are cooking with fire. A quick assembly of ingredients, a moment of excitement from Link as he lives out his gourmet fantasies, and you have a meal. Is it a broth that will keep the wind off your bones for a few minutes? Is it a good plate of cold meat that will allow you to endure the sweltering heat of the magma caves a little longer? Up to you. Just like cooking in real life, only with the fantastic and unlikely ingredients of your dreams.
There’s also some peculiar logic that comes with food in Tears of the Kingdom: simply adding an egg to a few slices of meat and peppers won’t get you an omelette. To really understand Hylian cooking, you need to experiment: Sprinkle some pepper and garlic with some fish, crush some rock salt over a fluffy mixture of eggs and milk, pound five whole chicken wings into a one-pot pot. one time… just to see what happens.
The results can change the game. Last night I was climbing Death Mountain. I’m still pretty early in the game, finding my feet and wings in this new vertical world. Maybe I would have made more progress if I could just move away from the slow cooker (or should it be the Korok cooker?). I only have one stamina ring and very few hearts. However, unlocking a Sky Tower had me betting on a gentle breeze to the foot of Death Mountain, and I can’t easily turn down a challenge of that magnitude. So I start climbing.
Taking a break in some hot baths and wandering the edges of the spa for some local flavors, I made my way up most of the mountain without pause. But, as I got closer to the top, it all started to get pretty… steep. The multiple escarpments of the volcano posed quite a challenge (pun intended) that would exercise the arm muscles of even the most experienced climber. But what I lacked in training seasons, I made up for in seasoned training. A quick campfire and some herbaceous cooking later, and I had enough food crammed into my pack to climb the last towering cloak to the apex.
You see, I’ve noticed that putting some delicious aromatics on a plate of meat will allow you to regain your stamina, and you can stuff your face with it, halfway up the climb! So even big cul-de-sacs and wide granite slabs become trivial when you’ve got enough rosemary chicken in your back pocket. Marvelous.
Therein lies the beauty of Tears of the Kingdom, just like before Breath of the Wild: you can overcome pretty much any challenge any way you want. There’s focus (and love and respect) for food, but it’s just one ingredient in the generous stew that is this open-world masterpiece.
I chose to play a chef in Tears of the Kingdom because it recalls a life I almost had, but you could just as well play Link as an engineer, warrior, pilot, topless boxer, itinerant pacifist, rally car expert. driver, or… well, almost anything. It’s RPG catnip, and it’s easy to understand why so many people think it’s one of the best games of all time.
Buy The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom
TOTK is now available for Nintendo Switch! Check out the links below to secure your copy today.
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