Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom devs reveal what inspired Link's Ultrahand and Ascend abilities
Getting a grip
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom strips away many of the abilities Link had in Breath of the Wild in favor of all-new tools, and they’re pretty fantastic. For example players can use Ultrahand to move things around and stick them together, and Ascend to travel through ceilings. Thanks to a new interview, we now know where these ideas came from.
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom devs Eiji Aonuma and Hidemaro Fujibayashi spoke to Polygon about the new abilities they’ve created for Link this time around, sharing insight into how the ideas came to be. It turns out one of the ideas started off as an experiment in Breath of the Wild, while the other evolved from a debug feature!
Fujibayashi: Toward the end of [development on] Breath of the Wild, we were kind of experimenting with this idea of being able to stick things together. And at the time, you know, of course, there was a little bit of doubt, or question, about whether this was going to be something that people enjoyed, and [would] have fun with.
And it was about that time that we started to see a lot of people starting to upload videos about all of the things that, basically, we were already wanting to do in Tears of the Kingdom. Making unconventional vehicles, and things like that. And seeing people have fun like that really provided us with the confidence that what we were going to start working on would be enjoyable.
Aonuma: This makes me think about the caves that now exist on the surface of Hyrule. There was a time when I was, you know, sitting and playing the game myself, and exploring these caves. And I would often make my way really deep into one of the caves and kind of wonder, Where does this thing end? I’m kind of lost. And if I want to get out, I need to go all the way back to the entrance of the cave, which seems kind of troublesome.
Hearing that, Mr. Fujibayashi said, “What if there was a way for us to just leave the cave by going through the roof?” We started exploring the idea, and we realized this would be another way for us to take that theme of increasing the options available to the player, and also tie in with our theme of verticality.
Fujibayashi: You know, that reminds me — and I don’t think we’ve shared this anywhere else, but — the Ascend ability was actually the result of a debug feature that we have in the game.
When I was exploring the caves, I would get to the destination where I was trying to get to, and once I checked it out, I would just use the debug code to get to the top. And I thought, Well, maybe this is something that can be usable in the game. And it was right around that time that Mr. Aonuma said, “It’s a pain to go back.”
And to be blunt and honest, cheating can be fun. So that’s why we decided to drop it in there.