There’s no need to formally introduce The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, one of 2023’s most impactful titles. Everyone’s still talking about it well over two months since it came out and there’s no signs of that slowing down anytime soon.
While there are a million different things I could sit here and praise about the game, none condense my thoughts and feelings on it in the same way as the Flux Construct. This hulking mass of cubes is a standout addition to Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom not only for its design and the atmosphere of its boss fight but also the openness with which it invites players to tackle it.
The Best of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Players have a simple goal when facing a Flux Construct: Hit its core. The method for hitting said core is where the game gets interesting. While you could simply shoot it with your bow, you soon find that this method is incredibly tedious and time-consuming. This is especially true when fighting the tougher iterations of the boss, as arrows become less effective and the constructs start moving their cores.
This subtly incentivizes you to find different solutions, because if you look for them, you’ll find them everywhere. You can ascend up its protruding chest, climb up its arm when it attacks, and build Ultrahand contraptions to launch yourself to it. Even when it transforms into its UFO mode, you can build platforms to make an ascend point or recall its attack to reach its core easily.
The creativity that this boss fight allows players is nothing short of amazing. Tears of the Kingdom‘s open-ended Immersive Sim gameplay is on full display here. All of your options are communicated through clear, straightforward visual indicators that allow you to naturally uncover ways to fight the boss.
When it gets to its cube form, however, things aren’t as visually intuitive. There is a certain art to shooting the core at just the right moment to stunlock the Flux Construct, but you can’t help but wonder if there’s a more convenient way to go about fighting it. Flicking through different abilities eventually shows that Ultrahand can grab the construct’s blocks. Taking enough blocks out causes the construct to lose stability and collapse but taking the core directly skips the entire phase of the fight.
It’s Almost Perfect
Once you’ve found this out, it makes every other option obsolete. Why bother building something to reach the core or climb up its arm and risk taking damage when you can just stand further away, grab the core, and be done with the fight in no time? I can understand it to an extent. There are a lot of flux constructs in the game, so if each one was a massive marathon boss fight, they’d get frustrating very quickly. Finding the right Ultrahand strategy may be a kind of reward that makes Flux Constructs less intimidating. What it ends up doing is making them sort of boring.
This realization lets you almost completely bypass the boss fight, even against the stronger Flux Construct IIIs. Despite their actively moving weak spots, grabbing the core once keeps it grabbed when it moves, so the whole challenge and the fun of the fight are still lost. I don’t want to come across as naive and I know that it’s natural for people to find optimal solutions to boss fights and impossible to create a fight with infinite solutions, yet when the optimal solution is essentially a skip button, it guts more fun but equally efficient ways to fight the boss.
Where to Go from Tears of the Kingdom
The Flux Construct is emblematic of the incredible highs of a game like Tears of the Kingdom, but also the biggest flaw in the Zelda formula that Breath of the Wild established. What should be a boss fight that acts as a puzzle with so many options and solutions that it never goes the same way twice becomes a minor roadblock to waste your time.
This shift from creatively approaching a problem to optimally dispatching a hurdle seeps into the rest of the game. Later on, once silver enemies start appearing, most Zonai devices and some of the more fun fusions, such as the bee hive and mushrooms simply stop dealing enough damage to be viable. This pigeonholes combat options into smaller and smaller boxes as the game goes on. The need for optimization over creativity sours late-game combat in a gradual yet noticeable fashion that the game can never quite shake off.
On a brighter note, I do still love Tears of the Kingdom the Flux Construct boss fight. From the intimidating presence of the construct to the great boss theme to the open-ended structure, it sets a fantastic precedent for future Zelda titles to follow when it comes to field bosses, so I am looking forward to how the series builds on the ideas of the cuboid colossus in the future. I just hope that next time around, I can find new ways to fight bosses for a little longer.