The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games ever made. It might even be my favourite Zelda game, which is saying a lot. It’s up there with The Wind Waker and Majora’s Mask, that’s for sure, and my top pick rotates as I replay each of them. Recently, I’ve been replaying the Link’s Awakening remake, and while it doesn’t break into my top three, it’s got some excellent dungeons that both stick to the classic 2D Zelda formula and shake things up just enough to be interesting and engaging for a modern audience. As Hannah Montana once said, it’s the best of both worlds.
My personal favourite dungeon is Eagle Tower, the seventh of eight tackled throughout Link’s diorama adventure. As with most action-adventure games, things get more difficult and more complicated as you progress, and Zelda games nearly always give you a new tool in every dungeon that you need to utilise in order to make it through. Eagle Tower not only gives you the Mirror Shield, but also utilises a large metal ball, only seen before in a boss fight, that fundamentally changes the dungeon as you progress.
After navigating through most of the tower in a standard fashion, a wise owl statue explains that you need to take out the four pillars to go further. They don’t respond to your sword – not even the Kolohint Sword – or bombs. But yeeting a large metal ball at them? Bingo. It’s a clever mechanic, but what happens next is even more ingenious; the previously inaccessible top floor falls down, crashing into the third floor and drastically altering the dungeon you thought you knew. It’s a clever way of keeping the dungeon interesting, and making sure it’s different from what you’ve played six times before. It was great in 1993, and even better in 2019 thanks to the claymation art style and brilliant redesign.
There’s no inkling that proper dungeons will return to Zelda in Breath of the Wild: 2 Breath 2 Wild from either of the trailers we’ve seen. Platforming sections among the clouds and hurtling towards Hyrule from the sky makes it seem like the sequel might take some inspiration from Skyward Sword, but whether that will extend to dungeons or not remains to be seen.
I’m not hopeful, to be honest. Breath of the Wild’s shrines were a reinvention of the dungeon formula and the Divine Beasts were extended versions of these, the closest parallel to the 3D dungeons of the N64, GameCube, and Wii-era Zelda games. In the sequel, however, when all four are already on-side, what dungeons will we have? An underground dungeon where Link gets his arm all messed up, and a sky dungeon where he flies across the clouds? It’s more likely that these are playable areas than dungeons, potentially with their own shrines or other challenges.
For the Breath of the Wild sequel, we need a new iteration on the Divine Beasts, and preferably in a more traditional Zelda dungeon style. Rotating the body of Vah Naboris and filling Vah Ruta with water make for interesting puzzles, but they’re too short and too few. Breath of the Wild is the pinnacle of open world games, but the addition of some more traditional dungeons could make it feel more Zelda.
I haven’t even started thinking about Breath of the Wild Link wielding a Hookshot or proper Boomerang, but the opportunities are endless. Hyrule Castle is being raised from the earth by some obscene power, so why can’t some dungeons be torn from the belly of Hyrule, too?
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