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Nintendo Explains Why Traditional Dungeons Were Scrapped In Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

The debut edition of the official Nintendo Power podcast is available for all to listen and subscribe to. The team caught up with Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma and Breath of the Wild director Hidemaro Fujibayashi and one of the things that was discussed in the lack of traditional dungeons in the game. Here’s why they scrapped them:

“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. We’re thinking play would be a good amount.

When we considered that each Shrine would take around 10 minutes, we thought maybe for a Zelda title, it wasn’t enough, it wasn’t meeting that dungeon feel for the game, so we thought maybe for this game, we could incorporate a big dungeon and perhaps one that moves or one that incorporates a gravity movement system and so we considered a big dungeon and that’s how we thought about the Divine Beasts. And so initially when we were thinking about the Divine Beasts, we thought about something that could be seen from afar, and maybe like a humanoid form, but then because these Champions were controlling Divine Beasts, we thought well maybe it would be interesting if the Divine Beasts themselves were a dungeon. And so then that met the requirement of a moving dungeon and also something that could be seen from afar. That’s how we kind of came up with the idea of the Divine Beasts.”

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25 comments

  1. This is all good and well, but I’m MORE than happy to spend a lot of time in a big traditional dungeon. The divine beasts are a great idea, but they are still a bit short.
    I think moving forward there should be all on offer what we’ve received from botw, but also the addition of 6-8 big dungeons that can be tackled in any order at any time that could be linked to the main story or not. These could then be a reward of some kind like a full set of armour.
    Also they could incorporate items like the hookshot etc that are needed to progress through the dungeon, and these items could then be lost on return to the main game ( like a realm) if they feel they won’t work properly in the main game.
    Just do it!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. When I think about it, I’m surprised I didn’t hate the Divine Beasts. Because I usually hate games that have robots and such (the biggest reason why I haven’t bought Horizon Zero Dawn on PS4). But I thought the Divine Beast dungeons was a cool idea. And they were even a little scary at times. Though I HATED the camel dungeon. I had to watch a YouTube video to figure that one out. I remember wishing there was many more of these Divine Beasts. I was so sad when I completed the final one.

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  3. And here comes the angry fanboys. I honestly don’t mind this because we have plenty of mazes and guardian dungeons to boot anyway. I think it’s time for a change.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I would rather you include *true* traditional dungeons. That is, before the game people pretend is the first in the series, OoT. Before OoT, Dungeons were not hour long puzzle fests. Generally obvious, but still tedious puzzles at that. They were more akin to Skyrim dungeons. They have their secrets to be sure, but are primarily combat zones.

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  5. Bring back traditional dungeons in the next game. The Divine Beasts are way too simplistic and weren’t fun at all, and the Shrines didn’t even come close to replicating the feeling I get from dungeons.

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  6. I think it was a good call, I always thought that dungeons went on a little too long in older Zeldas, and most of that was just corridor navigation.

    I do want traditional dungeons back, but on a smaller scale. Give us shorter dungeons, but give us a lot of them to make up for it. I could have lived with there being 50 dungeons that take 5 to 30 minutes to complete as opposed to 120 shrines that range from 1 to 10 minutes to complete.

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  7. The lack of traditional dungeons wasn’t an issue for me as the Divine Beasts were almost perfect. My issue was the lack of enemies in these dungeons & the fact they were all sadly not very long once you figure them out. Not to mention there were only a minimum of 4 if you don’t have the Champion’s Ballad. Even then, 5 still isn’t enough. The shrines being incredibly short didn’t help matters, either. I do miss collecting at least a boss room key & getting an item to help me complete said dungeon, though. Just bring the boss room key back, add an item that is used for that dungeon, add more enemies to fight, & make them long again in the next game and I’m good in the dungeon department.

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    1. xD I guess they forgot Link has woken up in numerous Zelda games. Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Link’s Awakening (he woke up inside a dream lol), Minish Cap, Link Between Worlds, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, the Oracle games, Spirit Tracks, Phantom Hourglass, and now Breath of the Wild. (I probably missed one or two.)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Forgot to add this: It didn’t help that every fucking dungeon has the same aesthetic and design. water dungeon should have felt more like a water dungeon in its design. things should have looked sleek and wild like waves with its design. instead, it just ends up looking like a shrine but with lighting from the area around the divine beast instead of the blue lighting of the shrines.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nintendo’s thinking needs to improve… just because some players attention span was tested by the older games doesn’t mean they should have scrapped everything. They should mix it up, have 4 traditional dungeons and the rest like the divine beasts and shrines. This kind of thinking is what has ruined Paper Mario and Mario Party.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As much as I sometimes missed the traditional dungeons not being in Breath Of The Wild, there were times in past Zelda games where I dreaded getting to a new dungeon. Because I knew I’d be trapped there for a long time. Standing the chance of NEVER figuring the puzzles out. I was always afraid I’d get so stumped that I wouldn’t be able to continue playing. That MIGHT have actually happened a few times if it wasn’t for having YouTube to rely on (or the guide books/player’s guides).

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