Why Traditional Dungeons Should Be Brought Back In The Next Legend Of Zelda Game

In the newer Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild game, Nintendo EPD made the decision to eliminate traditional dungeons and replace them with a bunch of small shrines that are scattered across the land and Divine Beasts. The reasons behind this decision have already been discussed at length, though they basically boil down to the fact that the developers wanted the players to have the most focus on exploration. Part of a larger statement from the game’s director, Hidemaro Fujibayashi, includes the following:

So in the past Zelda games, one dungeon was very, very long and because this game had a very wide field to explore and one of the themes we had was finding things, we were thinking about what the ratio is for finding Shrines while players are wandering around the field. And when we calculated that, we kind of ended up with 100 or more Shrines. And as for size, we thought about perhaps making long, big dungeons, but that would take long, and players would dedicate their time too long in the dungeons, so we thought perhaps one Shrine is maybe 10 minutes.

In other words, given how large the world is, they figured they needed more smaller locations rather than larger, difficult-to-navigate locations that would take the player a substantial amount of time to get through. Fujibayashi goes on to explain that the Divine Beasts were supposed to function as a larger dungeon in a sense, and they wanted to make “one that moves or one that incorporates a gravity movement system.”

It makes sense why they would go for smaller shrines in such an expansive game, but the shrines unfortunately are not all that memorable. After a while, they start to feel relatively the same, and you wouldn’t be able to bring individual ones up in conversation about the game, because they aren’t distinctive enough from each other.

This is not to say that Nintendo should just do away with everything new they’ve added and get back to making The Legend of Zelda games exactly how they did in the past. I’m not one of those people who can’t stand changes and updates that can clearly add quality to a series. However, a compromise could easily be made to move forward instead of backwards with the series while also appeasing all Legend of Zelda fans.

To start, traditional dungeons in The Legend of Zelda are basically mazes that include strong enemies, complex traps, and puzzles. The dungeons were a trademark feature for the Legend of Zelda series, as most of us have experienced the need to gather specific items to progress through the dungeon, and the sense of wonder that went along with trying to navigate through.

Though the Divine Beasts did include puzzles, they were all formatted in the same way (like the shrines), in contrast to themed dungeons we’ve had in the past. Furthermore, the player would have all the items required to complete it, so they did not include the exhilarating process of finding items and figuring out where and how to use them within the dungeon.

Breath of the Wild got a lot of things right, but a new Legend of Zelda game would greatly benefit from bringing back traditional dungeons. Perhaps the best way to go about this would be to lessen the number of shrines, and make the shrines’ reward items that can be used within the larger dungeons. Some side quests could also be set up to have rewards that will help you navigate through a dungeon. That way, the overworld could still be both open and relevant, but players would still get that classic, Legend of Zelda feel.

Next: Why A New Metroid Game Should Not Be Open World

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Stephanie is an Editor at TheGamer, solidly aligned chaotic neutral. Though her favorite game is Fire Emblem: Three Houses, she vows to do everything in her power to one day see a Legend of Dragoon remake. Absolutely nothing can top her immense love for The Lord of the Rings.

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