Nintendo’s Amiibo system has always been extremely mixed in its utility. The figures are nice, and lovingly presented – but exactly how useful they are has always varied wildly. In The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, however, they might be the most useful they’ve ever been.
For the most part, the series of figures that sites on my amiibo shelf has primarily acted as a decoration for my office. Generally speaking, it isn’t really worth getting them down for most games. Or, when it is, it’s a one-time tap to unlock some thingamajig or another and then back on the shelf it goes. It looks pretty and collects dust.
Breath of the Wild was always, I felt, one of the more fair implementations of the figures. Each time you tapped an amiibo, you’d get a selection of relatively random resources as found around Hyrule, plus a chest with either a fairly standard weapon or something a little more special. Through amiibo you could unlock things like a version of the shield from Wind Waker, or the classic Green Tunics of Links past. It felt fair – though honestly, it never felt like it gave you a significant leg up.
In Tears of the Kingdom, however, it feels like the paradigm has shifted. Amiibo are now powerful cheats. And, honestly, a great way to ease some of the strain in the early stages of this new adventure.
The way the amiibo function works hasn’t actually changed from BOTW. The difference is more about how the amiibo gains manifest and interact with the overall balance and design of the game – which has.
So, each amiibo still has a drop table attached to it, listing a range of items that scanning it causes to spawn in the world. We list the most important items each amiibo can spawn in our TOTK amiibo unlocks page, in fact. The drop tables have barely changed from BOTW, too – but how they hit in-game does differ.
Specifically, Tears of the Kingdom made a subtle change from BOTW in how its weapon spawns are arranged. In the previous game, powerful weapons were scattered around to find, but were rare. Amiibo generally spawned mid-range weapons, but for a few notable exceptions. In TOTK, the high-end weapons have more or less disappeared from Hyrule.
The logic is that you should instead be using the Fuse mechanic, picking up low- to mid-tier weapons to augment them by mashing them up with other items in one of the core systems of the game. Rather than rarely finding powerful weapons, you instead rarely find powerful fusion materials that can be used to make powerful weapons. Furthermore, the Upheaval and the invading Malice has left many weapons ‘decayed’, meaning they’re weaker and more susceptible to weapon degradation. Non-decayed weapons usually have to be found by spelunking in the depths, which is dangerous, especially in the early game.
This is where amiibo are particularly great. Amiibo can drop useful one-off items such as costumes, though they more frequently drop weapons. And while if they’re decayed or not appears to be a toss-up, they’re pretty much always mid-range, decent – better than what might be at hand in the game naturally in the near-term.
Instead of scanning amiibo and simply deciding if a weapon is worth picking up or not, the equation has shifted. Now I’m looking at weapons and deciding if they’re a worthy candidate for fusion – and because you can carry a practically unlimited amount of fusion materials, you can drop something powerful and fuse something unstoppable practically anywhere. If you really wanted to scan an amiibo in the middle of a boss fight… well, it isn’t advisable, but you could.
Combine this with the fact that amiibo content feels a bit more democratized now, with a lot of the previously amiibo-exclusive content also available as rewards for some of the most brutal challenges in the depths, and the whole system feels… just, better. Amiibo have more of an impact as a shortcut and a cheat if you choose to scan them – and it’s fairer that everyone can access those classic costumes. It’s a use of these wee little figures I can really get behind.
Buy The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom
TOTK is out now for Nintendo Switch! Check out the links below to secure your copy today.