Everyone seems to be playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and my Switch won’t let me forget it. This weekend, as I too paraded around Hyrule exploring the Breath of the Wild sequel, I kept experiencing mild interruptions as the many other heroes of Hyrule with whom I’m acquainted picked up their Switches.
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“So-and-so is online!” would read a small banner in the top-left corner as another Nintendo Online friend would become active. And, inevitably, the pop-up always showed they were playing a single game: Tears of the Kingdom. And yes, I know I can turn these notifications off, but where’s the fun in that?
Now, I’m not aloof. I knew this would be a massive release. But there’s something striking about the constant visual reminders that everyone and their mothers are playing the same game at the same time. I’m not sure I can recall a similar instance where so many people seemed to be on the same page. The closest would be during the early days of the pandemic lockdowns, when everyone seemed to be playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. But even then, I would still see friends sign on and play Ring Fit Adventure or delve into old favorites.
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But there’s no time for experimentation now, it seems. Everyone I know with a Switch, regardless of how often they play games or what titles or genres they typically prefer, is playing Tears of the Kingdom.
Each time that notification comes up, I feel a sense of camaraderie, as if we are all on a unified mission. I think about growing up around my dad’s Jeep Wrangler, the way he would always wave to someone else in a Wrangler on the road. I can’t help but feel myself giving each fellow Zelda explorer a nod, even if only in my head, and even though they can’t tell I’ve seen them.