One of my very first experiences with Tears of the Kingdom was that during the tutorial islands, I fell off an island with my zonai gadgets, and instead of the items I needed spawning with me on the island, they spawned where they originally were ... on another island I could not get to without those items. Ok. This caused me to reload a save. Later on in that same tutorial I had a save where a creation was saved and I had a campfire lit. This was pretty important as I didn't have food or zonai devices to help keep me safe from the cold, and the creation took time to make, and I saved in the cold. When I loaded the save everything reverted to its original state and none of it was saved, including the campfire and the creation, except for my position where I was freezing. Ok. I believe it was like this in Breath of the Wild as well regarding item states but I'll mention this later.
Zonai devices as a whole are sort of a huge mixed bag. I've had many times where I try to make a cool creation, a regular creation, and it just doesn't work. I tried to make a wagon early on in the game, nope, didn't work. In retrospect I think it's because you need wood wheels to be connected to pillars rather than the sides of a platform (?) but I'm not sure why it works like this when no other wheel in the game does. I've had times were lifting off a plane zonai device requires me to spend tons of time just figuring out where to lift off, even when on an incline/edge, on the sky islands of all places, with many of them accidentally resulting in a device falling down, while other times it was very easy. Zonai devices feel so inconsistent that it made me want to just use the developer spawned ones for a while rather than wasting my own. I know the game is well developed enough that this isn't a programming oversight or a game bug, and now 20 hours in I'm pretty confident with them, but I'm left thinking that the fact that I actively stopped wanting to use them for a while because of this kind of betrays what the game developers were going for to begin with.
But where I started to just absolutely lose it was with Maycahin shrine. This shrine is one of the only difficult ones I've encountered and at first I loved it for that. I thought hey, that was cool. I finished the main chest part of the shrine and was trying to do the second optional target but after that the goo eventually broke on a device and catapulted it off a cliff. I could not find a respawn for the part, maybe I didn't see it, maybe it didn't respawn. I don't know. What I do know is that when I reloaded the shrine, I had to do the entire first target again just to do the second target. In a fucking physics shrine where the ball has to be aligned perfectly. Even though most of the shrines in the game let you get the optional chest (second target unlocks that) without doing the main objective already. This, no joke, probably took another 30 minutes. There was no reason to lock the second target behind the first one.
Now up till now my complaints have been about the save system, the state of objects and the zonai devices being finnicky and hey, all three of those are really arguably, probably my fault. I should have remembered how save states worked in a 6+ year old game, and I should be able to master aligning a plane on an edge so it will fly. User error. But where I start to seriously question some choices is when it feels like the game just discourages doing what you want to do, in a sequel to fucking Breath of the Wild. I entered a cave in a canyon, destroyed these rocks obscuring a boss. Thought to myself "hey, this is cool". By the time I was done, I had very little bombs left. I then realized that the boss barely gave me any reward, despite taking a lot of damage and having to uncover him with a few bombs, and that the actual reward for the cave was probably in a path that required more bombs to unlock in the corner of the wall. At this point I tried to continue, and realized I was running out of so many bombs that I questioned doing the cave at all. I mentioned it to a friend and they seriously suggested that I just wait to explore it till after I unlocked a later power that required me to do story missions. Considering how many bombs it took and that they are a finite resource in this game that I was running out of, I couldn't help but agree and moved on.
This is my biggest problem with the game - in comparison to Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom not only asks for more effort and rarely gives more in return, but it also feels like it largely discourages you from experimenting or doing what you want in a way Breath of the Wild rarely did. Yes, I totally get the irony, 100%. It's still open and it allows for more experimentation than Breath of the Wild, not less. But you're punished so much more for trying to do things your own way or by doing what you want when you want. So often I'm left frustrated or annoyed or feeling like I overused materials for the lamest shit. 2/4 of my examples wouldn't even be an issue in Breath of the Wild, where the player has limitless bombs and where stasis projectiles exist (Maycahin shrine). Even my first experience with the depths was largely negative, a sidequest where you walk 10 feet to take a picture, where I went to myself "hey, this is Tears of the Kingdom, it's not about the sidequest it's about the exploration!", spent 30 minutes exploring a black cave where I had to keep using bloom arrows, only to realize there was nothing but some enemies and mushrooms I didn't want and poe souls. Hey poe souls, that's cool! I can exchange them, right? No, despite the fact that I had done Lookout Landing's quest and was 15+ hours into the story, the characters told me to fuck off. Great. This whole experience made me entirely uninterested in the depths, and made me wonder what the sidequest hype was about. Is it those patrol missions where the AI don't do shit and you have to kill all the enemies for them?
And honestly, some of the basic elements felt like they should have been re-evaluated since Breath of the Wild. Having to hit health sponges while they lay on the floor motionless a million times only to hope that you can hit them enough once they get back up so they can fall down before swinging was admittedly a failing of Breath of the Wild, and something that should have been made better. It encouraged the player to make combat inactive and mindless for the sake of safety. That's still here. The fuse menu is such a wasted opportunity that it makes you wonder if Nintendo even thought it through. Like, why is it just a fuse menu? It already lists every material you have because of the way fuse works, why can't you eat apples with it? I want to spend less time in the inventory screen, not more. It doesn't even tell you the fuse power of items until after you've equipped them, you have to go to the inventory for that. And yes I know you can sort by power, but that's just relative and not as valuable.