Like many others, I just bought the digital version of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom on my Switch. I paid for the game, exited the eShop, and then it just…started downloading. No prompt to delete something else to make room. No minor crisis over deciding which of the half-dozen unfinished games on my console would get the boot. The download finished quickly, and then I started playing. Simple, right? And yet I can’t remember the last time installing one of the biggest games of the year went so smoothly.
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Most modern blockbusters have filesizes of at least 50GB. The biggest are over 100GB, even well over it. With standard PS5 and Xbox Series X storage drives being only 500GB, with even less space available purely for storing games, it doesn’t’ take long before downloading the next hit, or even a small indie game, leads to headaches. Do I really have time to be replaying The Witcher 3 right now? Should I put God of War Ragnarök on hold while I finish Horizon Forbidden West’s Burning Shores DLC? What if I just play one more hour of the latest random 2D Soulslike I downloaded before deleting it?
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor threw this whole gauntlet into overdrive. The game was huge. The patches were huge. The patches kept coming. I love what I’ve played so far but man, that whole part sucks. God help you if you also have an online multiplayer game you jump into regularly like Destiny 2, Apex Legends, or Fortnite. And if it’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, well, all I can say is I’m sorry.
Hence the surge of relief when I installed Tears of the Kingdom and didn’t have to deal with any of that. I have a 128GB microSD in my Switch and have never pressed up against the invisible barrier of its storage limits. Nintendo is renowned for optimizing its Switch games, with filesizes routinely half of what ports like Doom 2016 require. Tears of the Kingdom is only one gigabyte bigger than Breath of the Wild, despite an entire new crafting system, a much bigger map, and a ton more voice acting. It’s a small marvel, and one I appreciate now more than ever. And the version 1.1 day-one patch? Barely 300MB.
I get it. With 4K textures, mountains of cutscenes, and full voice acting, cutting-edge blockbusters on the PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC are never going to be that small. External storage add-ons are also getting cheaper, alleviating concerns for those who can afford them. And maybe one day all our games will be streamed from the cloud anyway, making local storage obsolete. In the meantime, I’m not taking conveniently small game footprints for granted.
Something feels a little old-school about Tears of the Kingdom, and it’s not just that it’s the newest adventure for some of Nintendo’s oldest characters. The midnight launch. The lines wrapped around the block. The fact a gaming culture that’s increasingly fractured, fragmented, and heated is momentarily concentrated on Link gluing rockets to a raft. It’s nice. Also, the game just works. Incredible.