While Hyrule has been the setting for many Legend of Zelda games, we've also taken departures to locations such as Termina, Koholint Island, Holodrum, and others. But for Tears of the Kingdom, there was absolutely no question in the developers' minds that the Breath of the Wild sequel would return to the same Hyrule of its predecessor.
In an interview published by Nintendo, series producer Eiji Aonuma said that creating a completely new world in a new game was never even really a discussion, because the team had been coming up with ideas for a direct sequel since Breath of the Wild was in development.
"Just like somewhere you know inside and out, we understand where everything is in Hyrule from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and because of that, we believed it was possible to create new gameplay," added director Hidemaro Fujibayashi. "For this reason, in the initial proposal, we clearly stated 'the setting will not change' as an important concept. Even when I shared this with the team members here, there were no objections, and we were all aligned on that idea from that point onward."
Furthermore, technical director Takuhiro Dohta said that idea of staying in the same place but layering on new mechanics and ideas came to him through a rather surprising inspiration: Wii Sports Resort.
"When I was working on the programming for Wuhu Island during Wii Sports Resort's development, I remembered [Shigeru] Miyamoto-san saying that he wanted to 'turn the actual stages of games into characters.' What he meant by that was to create one island and use that as a base to add various kinds of gameplay in different games. The idea of having new discoveries in the same setting was striking to me. I'd been wanting to try this idea with other titles, and I supposed this game would leverage that kind of approach."
Dohta also noted that becaues they give players the ability to dive from the sky to the ground, having the ground be a familiar location helps encourage them to use the mechanic, because their destination isn't entirely unfamiliar.
In the same interview series, we also learned about how and why "hands" are a key theme in Tears of the Kingdom. We've been following all the latest Tears of the Kingdom news, including that preloading has already begun, changes to weapon durability, Koroks, and cooking. And our Wiki Guide will have you covered on launch day with all the tips and hints you need to get started.
Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.