Warning: There are a few spoilers in this article so come back if you haven’t finished Breath of the Wild yet!
Breath of the Wild is barely a month old and yet the characters and world have already enchanted thousands of players around the world. With such a beautifully crafted game comes a bit of disappointment for some. The Legend of Zelda series is about 30 years old now and the fans are accustomed to the LoZ formula. Link is requested to seek out the evil doer by visiting several dungeons to find artifacts and new powers that will help him become victorious. As fans we have waited and pleaded with Nintendo to create a true non-linear LoZ game. Breath of the Wild may have exceeded our expectations in many ways but the lack of dungeons is still causing backlash within the fanbase. Dungeons are as expected as the Master Sword itself. For the first time, Nintendo released a Legend of Zelda title that has a limited amount of dungeons. This idea is controversial. Some fans are upset over the lack of dungeons and the many differences within the game’s approach to the traditional Legend of Zelda formula. I fully understand why players feel a bit cheated with the reduced number but I still look at this as a blessing for Breath of the Wild.
My experience while playing the latest LoZ game is memorable. I adore the vast open space and realistic weather cycles. Rain storms become inconvenient while climbing and thunder storms are a danger that must be taken into account during battles. Yet the weather makes a huge difference in how real Breath of the Wild feels. Link must travel over lakes, through forests, across mountains, through plains and swampy areas to reach different destinations for quests. This is nothing completely new for the Legend of Zelda franchise and yet this is the first time we have a world of this size to explore. Twilight Princess offered the Hyrule Field to travel across and Skyward Sword had the open sky and the land regions below. After exploring Hyrule in Twilight Princess again and Skywards Sword (not to mention every other Zelda game), the worlds seem so much smaller. Sure, the dungeons offered plenty of puzzles and combat options, but the overworlds still seem to lack the reason and substance to motivate additional visits.
With Breath of the Wild, I find myself revisiting locations and finding something new each time. Whether it is a refreshed enemy or a few special herbs, there always seems something new to discover in the areas. Adding to the beauty and mystery of the landscapes are the mysterious shrines. I’m always hesitant entering these underground areas because I never know how difficult the puzzles or combat that lies ahead may be. Link’s ability to pick up and store items are what helps him accomplish these trials. Even if the trial requires the Sheikah Slate, having armor and extra food to restore hearts is always a smart idea. You may already have the tools that technically need to succeed but having additional consumable items certainly doesn’t hurt. The useful items and hearts previously found only while exploring dungeons are now available throughout the landscapes. Despite the lack of dungeons, I barely seem to notice that they are missing in this game. To be completely truthful, I am relieved there are only four “true” dungeons located within the Divine Beasts.
At times I feel overwhelmed with the amount of Shrines, side quests and main story to complete. When looking at the game as a whole I cannot see myself completing everything, or at least the majority of everything, at any time in the near future. Having multiple intricate dungeons with complex maps would hinder my enjoyment of the overworld. Worrying about finding the next dungeon and then figuring out how to maneuver through it, was becoming a bit stale for me. It very well could be because I’ve been playing and replaying mostly Zelda titles exclusively for the past year. Instead of focusing on where the dungeons are I’m spending my time discovering and exploring the diverse lands and the many objectives that constantly fill them. By adding up all of the puzzles within shrines and the Divine Beasts, there is much more than what we usually see in traditional Legend of Zelda games. Most players probably haven’t noticed it by now. Instead of being upset over the number of dungeons in Breath of the Wild and complaining about it, players should instead focus on the numerous discoveries and many wonders waiting within the vast world of Hyrule.