Tears of the Kingdom's developers wanted the game to be friendly to newcomers
This direct sequel should still work as your first Zelda
Nintendo has recently uploaded part 1 of volume 9 of their “Ask the Developers” interview series, in which they begin their interview with some of the key developers behind the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. You can read it for yourself here.
The interview doesn’t reveal a ton of new details, with the conversation largely centering on how the team was determined to reuse Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule from the outset. However, the series producer and game director were sure to make it clear that, despite reusing the same world and being a direct sequel, the game can be enjoyed by those who have yet to play Breath of the Wild. Following a series of statements about how the designers wanted to play with the players’ presumed familiarity of this Hyrule, series producer Eiji Aonuma had this to say:
But the new gameplay ideas we packed into this title are all things that can be solved intuitively, so I think first-time players can rest assured that this game is easy to get into.
It sounds like the story was designed to be newcomer-friendly as well. Game director Hidemaro Fujibayashi made sure to throw in this statement:
The same goes for the story too. We put in some effort to make sure that it feels comfortable for both first-time players and those with experience of the previous game. For example, we’ve prepared a Character Profile feature that players can see anytime during their adventure, so it’s easy to understand the relationship between characters, even without knowledge from the previous title.
So, if you haven’t gotten around to playing through Link’s most recent adventure but you’re intrigued by the new mechanics Tears of the Kingdom has to offer, you should be safe to jump right in.