Modern Zelda Dungeons Are Actually Divine

Image: Nintendo Life

Soapbox features allow our individual contributors and contributors to give their opinions on hot topics and random things they’ve discussed. TodayJim spreads some love for the modern Zelda dungeon.

Keep in mind that he discusses “Tears of the Kingdom” below (not in detail, but he refers to a specific dungeon), so bookmark this and check back later if you’re still in a disconnected state…

Two days before the official release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, director Hidemaro Fujibayashi announced that a more “traditional” take on Zelda dungeons would be coming to the game. Two days. After months of watching each trailer frame by frame, breaking down the environments and speculating whether they would be “real” dungeons or not, the devs confirmed this on a whim in an internal dev interview. fanfare, big announcement or trailer.

Looking at this, you can forget that for the past six years, dungeons have been the hottest topic of the series. Breath of the Wild’s Divine Beasts introduced a new way to tackle the Zelda progression mechanic, where you could go to them in any order and solve puzzles of your own accord.

This was so different from the traditional Zelda formula that many outright deny that dungeons even exist in the Switch launch title, making Divine Beasts more like overworld puzzles or a collection of shrines than anything resembling a “classic” dungeon.

Thus, one would think that Tears of the Kingdom’s implementation of well-defined elemental dungeons might deserve a little more fanfare, after being an abnormally negative mark on Breath of the Wild’s spotlessly clean album. But that wasn’t the case, and after a couple of Tears of the Kingdom dungeons, I can see why.

That’s because the format hasn’t really changed much, demonstrating that modern Zelda dungeons are actually quite good.

Note: While I won’t go into details, I will be discussing various aspects of dungeons in both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom, so stay tuned. spoilers ahead.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Vah Rutania
Image: Nintendo Life

Before I get into what I love about this fresh take on the tried and true formula, let me first lay out exactly what I mean by “modern Zelda dungeons.”

Traditionally, dungeons have been the closest thing to the structured levels of The Legend of Zelda series. You enter a large area and, one by one, solve a series of linear puzzles to progress, collecting a unique item from a large old chest along the way. You will usually find a grotesque beast hanging from the ceiling/under the floor/in the water/behind the curtains at the end and use your new item to defeat it in an elegant battle that will serve as a final lesson in use. the item that you then use to further advance in the wider world. It’s formulaic, yes, but it works.

Or that have worked.

For the most part, getting into the dungeon required you to first loot another’s goods earlier. Several previous games in the series, from The Legend of Zelda to A Link Between Worlds, gave us the ability to change the order in which we solved problems. some dungeons, but Breath of the Wild was the first time our options were really open.

There was no need to visit Vah Ruth before fighting Vah Naboris. You can skip Vah Rudania entirely if you want, and the final boss will always be around, waiting for you to pop in when you feel ready. Zelda Dungeons had to change, and they had to change quickly.

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