Tears of the Kingdom’s bridge physics are impressive

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has garnered attention from players and game developers alike for its remarkable use of physics in puzzle-solving. One such puzzle involves a broken bridge over a lava pit in Marakuguc Shrine that requires fixing to cross. A clip that went viral on Twitter showed a potential solution where players use Link’s Ultrahand ability to attach the stacked bridge to a wheeled platform in the lava. Moving the platform forward pulls the bridge taut until it’s suspended and can be crossed.

Developers were amazed at how Nintendo’s team integrated different systems and features to accomplish this feat. Shayna Moon, a technical producer, cited the amount of dynamic objects in the game and noted that the QA testing required for an open-world game with real-time physics objects like Tears of the Kingdom is notoriously difficult. It reportedly took a year of development for Nintendo to polish the game.

Tears of the Kingdom isn’t the first game to impress developers with its use of physics for puzzle-solving. The Last of Us Part 2 featured a rope that is crucial to solving a puzzle and was praised for its natural movements, despite the amount of work that went into its development.

Some of the complex physics flex in Tears of the Kingdom include viral clips of a door opening with four wheels and a chain and a puzzle that involves moving a stack of blocks linked with chains. Cole Wardell, a software engineer, explained how these interactions take no shortcuts and how physics engines usually take many shortcuts and assumptions for optimization purposes.

Gravity Well senior engineer Josh Caratelli noted that Tears of the Kingdom’s physics are stable and fit together in a way that players have complete freedom to solve puzzles. However, he stressed that Tears of the Kingdom’s physics are impressive, but not magic. Nintendo clearly understood the physics interactions in the game and used a large portion of the same team that worked on Breath of the Wild to develop Tears of the Kingdom.

Moon pointed out that other studios can reach Tears of the Kingdom’s level of technical innovation but don’t prioritize the resources needed. She stressed the importance of valuing institutional knowledge and prioritizing supporting the humans who make games. Tears of the Kingdom advances what made Breath of the Wild special. As Moon said, “if you want good games, you have to give a damn about the people making them.”