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Shacknews Best Open World Game of 2023 – The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Last year, Shacknews introduced the Best Open World Game category for our Year of the Games awards. This year, we are proud to present the award to The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Nintendo has managed to deliver on multiple fronts with this latest entry. Not only is it a fantastic continuation of the story and gameplay of Breath of the Wild, it also manages to add to the open world experience in new and meaningful ways.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom continues on from 2017’s monolithic Breath of the Wild. Being set in the same version of Hyrule as its predecessor, players would have been forgiven for thinking it would be a 1:1 recreation, but Nintendo shirked expectations. While a lot of the geometry remains consistent, the land has been devastated by the events of the first game and what has taken place in Tears of the Kingdom.

This desolation of Hyrule has created a map with an incredible amount of things to see and do. No longer is Link limited to traveling along the ground, Tears of the Kingdom introduces two dramatically different elevations in the form of the Sky Islands and The Depths. Where the Sky Islands are freeing in their spacious construction, the Depths are claustrophobic with an oppressive darkness. And yet both realms offer untold riches to players willing to map out their route, tackle challenging foes, and solve some puzzles.

Like Elden Ring (last year’s winner for this award), Tears of the Kingdom ups the ante when it comes to traversing this almost overwhelming world. Players can saddle up and ride a horse across Hyrule, but they can also glide great distances, and even construct other means of transportation using the game’s greatest tool: the Ultrahand.

What makes an open world game great is more than just the places you can go and how you get there, it’s the things you do along the way. Every part of the world in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has something for players to do. There are caves to go spelunking in for collectibles, more than 150 shrines with rich and unique puzzles, random NPC encounters and tantalizing side quests, treasure maps to solve, and so much more. Players are rewarded for following their nose across the great land of Hyrule.

There are so many elements at play in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and all of them coalesce to create one of the best open world games ever released. Nintendo has yet again revolutionized the style of game, elevating what players can expect from an open world title. Congratulations to the team at Nintendo for winning the Shacknews Best Open World Game of 2023 award for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Be sure to read over the rest of the Shacknews Awards in our Year of the Games: 2023 feature.

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