Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Link
Image: Nintendo Life

Having been out for the best part of a month now, we think it's fair to say that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is going to be one of those games where we never stop discovering new things.

In our playthroughs so far, these discoveries have had us grinning cheek to cheek on a pretty consistent basis, but that hasn't stopped the smiles from being wiped from our faces as we stumble across some game-changing mechanic at the 100-hour mark.

The question of whether Tears of the Kingdom is "too open" of an open world (if there is such a thing) might be best left until we have a better idea of everything that this Hyrule has to offer, but the sheer range of possibilities and options does mean that there have been countless occasions where we stumbled across a new feature only to think "I really wish I knew about that earlier!"

For us, the list of these features is growing longer by the day. A quick whip around Nintendo Life Towers produced a compendium of sorry tales where we had gone through dozens (and in one case multiple hundreds) of hours before discovering something that seemingly everybody else found out in the early days. We're not talking about story elements here, rather fundamental gameplay elements we somehow bypassed in our opening hours and of which we went blissfully unaware for weeks.

Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Link and Ice
Image: Nintendo Life

And so, we thought we would share some of them with you today in the hopes of showing just how much we missed. Warning! We have tried to discuss the following discoveries in as spoiler-free a fashion as possible (they can all be found in the early game), but if you are still exploring Hyrule at your own pace, then maybe come back to this one once you have ticked everything off your list.

Still here? Lovely. Let's kick things off with...

Purah padding

Those of us who wanted to get the main storyline under our belts unknowingly skipped past Josha, Robbie and the chance to get the Purah Pad fully kitted out after finishing the first Regional Phenomena quest. Would the Travel Medallions and Autobuild have been a handy feature to get hold of from the beginning? Absolutely. Was it crushing to only find out about them after spending 50+ hours in the game? Yes. Yes, it was.

Even the abilities that we did know about had hidden layers that we can't help but think would have been mighty useful in the early game. There were several of us who were painstakingly flattening objects with Ultrahand by rotating them, unaware of the fact that you can simply press 'ZL' with one selected to instantly turn it into a perfect base.

Shriny happy people

And what about that crafty map? We diligently completed every Shrine that we stumbled across so that we could set up a Fast Travel point for later, but it turns out that you can fast travel to a Shrine without needing to complete the challenge first — who knew?! (Lots of people, it turns out, but not us.)

The same applies to the Depths. There is a notebook in an early section of the game that very clearly suggests that there is a very direct relationship between the location of Shrines on the surface and Lightroots in the Depths, but did we immediately take that onboard? No, we spent many, many hours aimlessly wandering the darkness. It was fun, but still.

Would've been Ultrahandy

We could say the same thing about Fuse. Come on, did you know that you can un-Fuse your weapons and shields from the flipping loadout menu? This writer didn't (that was a 70-hours-in revelation that I will never shake)...

Further handy discoveries — like using Ultrahand to remove flowers and mushrooms from walls, freezing water using ice items, and making use of the bowl under cherry blossom trees — came in thick and fast well after the 50-hour mark. If it demonstrates anything, it's that despite a month of playing this game at every given opportunity, we still haven't even scratched the surface. Or the Depths, or the Sky Islands, for that matter.

With a world this big, there are bound to be discoveries that slip through the net on a first playthrough, and so, with this in mind, we want to put the question out to you, fellow Hyrule explorers. You can fill out the following poll to confess to which of the above features also passed you by initially, and then take to the comments to let us know of any other things that you really wish you had stumbled across sooner.

What do you wish you knew sooner in Zelda: TOTK?

Anything to add to the list? Leave a confession of what you missed in the comments below.