Decades before the internet made physical video game guides obsolete, The Legend of Zelda came packaged with a foldable map that teased its mysteries.
My copy is tattered from repeated study sessions. Question marks dot the landscape of burnable bushes and pushable boulders, with entire regions left unrevealed. Along with images of items necessary to complete your quest in the game — bombs, a wooden raft, a silver arrow — is a franchise-defining promise: “Things are also hidden where you wouldn’t expect them to be.”
That joy of discovery is a crucial part of Nintendo’s successful Zelda franchise. Over and over, it has produced acclaimed games — A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker among them — and new generations of fans. Breath of the Wild, a luxurious adventure released in 2017, served as a lifeline for many players during the pandemic and is frequently included in the pantheon of greatest video games.
It can be intoxicating to spend hours buried in a book or binge-watching a television show filled with flawed characters and a new cliffhanger precisely every 47 minutes. But, like many people, I find myself most fully transported by the enormous environments of open-world video games, those that allow players to stray from the main path and tempt them with side quests and secret treasures. Rather than simply observing a narrative, you control a character who is confronted with scenarios that produce real-world frustration or elation.
Breath of the Wild was a prime example of that thrilling empowerment, which is why yesterday was an unofficial holiday for millions: Its long-awaited sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, was finally released. Fans have surely already spent untold hours climbing mountains, hunting for shrines, cooking recipes, invading enemy camps and building makeshift vehicles.
This month, The New York Times examined the legacy of the Zelda series, interviewing curators, journalists, YouTubers and game designers about why it has captivated so many for so long. At their finest, the experts said, Zelda games emphasize exploration, encouraging players to search for a dungeon entrance or a puzzle solution or just to wander with the hope of delightful encounters.
When Shigeru Miyamoto, the acclaimed Nintendo game designer, began working on the Zelda franchise, he wanted to replicate how he had felt as a child scampering through Japanese mountains and forests.
Although Mario, another Miyamoto invention, could enter subterranean pipes or climb vines into the clouds, Super Mario Bros. levels unfurled like a scroll. By contrast, Link, the protagonist of the Zelda series, was dropped into a rocky wilderness in the original game, faced with a beckoning cave entrance and the choice of three directions from which to begin his journey. It was, for the 1980s, an unimaginable degree of freedom.
The history of open-world games is itself expansive. Over one five-year stretch, I poured hundreds of hours into the irradiated wasteland of Fallout 3; the cutthroat frontier of Red Dead Redemption; and the drug-addled kinetic energy of Far Cry 3. Last year, Elden Ring turned heads.
Now it’s Tears of the Kingdom’s time in the spotlight.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
The scene at the border as the immigration restriction known as Title 42 expires was one of resolve, uncertainty and waiting.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has concentrated government power to tilt tomorrow’s elections to his advantage. He could still lose.
The Chinese government has targeted consulting and advisory firms with foreign ties through raids and arrests, reigniting concerns about doing business in China.
Legislators and regulators are tightening oversight of the gambling industry.
Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal’s advertising chief, was named Twitter’s chief executive.
His education, his criminal history, his animal charity, the Sept. 11 attacks and the Pulse shooting: These are the topics Representative George Santos has lied about.
📚 “King: A Life” (Tuesday): For the big biography fan in your life, this is the first major one of Martin Luther King Jr. in three decades. And, as our critic Dwight Garner writes in his review, it feels definitive, based on troves of documents that have been released in recent years. Of the author, Jonathan Eig, Garner writes that he has a “clean, clear, journalistic voice, one that employs facts the way Saul Bellow said they should be employed, each a wire that sends a current.”
🍿 “Fast X” (Friday): In 2015, I went to see the seventh installment in the “Fast and Furious” film franchise. In that movie, a sports car is made to jump from one skyscraper into another. And then that car — that same car! — jumps into yet another skyscraper. When all the jumping was done, I stood up, raised my hands in the air and cheered. I can’t imagine a world in which I don’t go and see Part 10.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Cheesy Pan Pizza
There may be no such thing as bad pizza, as the old chestnut goes, but some pizzas are better than others. And one of the best that you can make at home is this cheesy pan pizza, adapted from King Arthur Flour company by Tejal Rao. The recipe combines several smart techniques. The easy, homemade dough is made in advance so it can develop flavor as it rises slowly in the fridge. Then it’s baked in a cast-iron skillet so the crust becomes extra crunchy and crackling. And, finally, layering the sauce and cheese keeps the dough from turning soggy. You do need to plan ahead to give the dough time to rise and rest, but it’s passive time that you can spend doing something else — like going outside and taking advantage of peak spring.
#Fitspiration: Research suggests that fitness Instagram accounts risk doing more harm than good. Find ones you can trust.
Spring looks: Classic silhouettes with an edge.
Architecture hub: Spend 36 hours in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Compost common sense: You don’t have to follow all the rules to get great results.
Relaxation getaway: Spas are putting the springs back in Palm Springs, Calif.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Take work outside
As spring temperatures rise, one way to inject life into your work-from-home routine is to move it outside. Whether you have a vast yard or a tiny fire escape, basking in spring breezes and the perfume of erupting blossoms can invigorate your mood and boost your productivity. At the very least, greenery and sunshine can make for a charming (or envy-inducing) Zoom background. Wirecutter’s experts have recommendations to outfit your outdoor office so you stay cool and connected. I suggest starting with bug spray, a backup power source and a patio umbrella to shield your laptop from the sun’s glare. — Erica Ogg
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics, N.B.A. playoffs: The Sixers had a chance to clinch this series on Thursday in front of a raucous home crowd. Instead, they had one of their worst offensive games of the season. Now they go to Boston for Game 7, and history stands in their way: The Sixers have not won a Game 7 in over two decades, and their head coach, Doc Rivers, has lost nine of them in his career, more than any other coach. Will Joel Embiid — their dominant center, who won the league’s M.V.P. award last week — be the one to break the curse? 3:30 p.m. Eastern tomorrow on ABC.