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Zelda: Breath of the Wild Director Explains the Lack of Traditional Dungeons, Why the Shrines Are Short

Nintendo’s attempt at adapting the Zelda franchise into a more open-world format with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild resulted in a game that many fans loved, while others had gripes with. The first episode of the Nintendo Power podcast had game director Hidemaro Fujibayashi and Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma on to help shed light on their design decisions.

In the interview Fujibayashi said that while in previous Zelda games one dungeon was very, very long and because of this the team focused on creating big fields to explore, they tinkered with the ratio of finding Shrines to players exploring the world in Breath of the WildAt that point they came up with having around 100 or so Shrines.

They then pondered making each Shrine a long, big dungeon but worried players would spend too much time in dungeons, so they settled on making each Shrine around ten minutes long.

They were still concerned over having each Shrine only ten minutes long (as many would feel that’s too short for a Zelda game) and thought of making bigger dungeons that incorporated gravity and moving parts, which led to the creation of the Divine Beasts.

Aonuma followed up by noting that Shrines double both as short dungeons and as warp points, a decision they came to after realizing players might fail at a shrine and have to come back to it later. They were concerned that this would become annoying, so they made each Shrine a warp point.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is currently available for the Nintendo Switch and Wii U. In case you missed it, you can find our thorough video and written review for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild here.

How do you feel about the formula Nintendo went with in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildDo you miss the traditional-length dungeons and themes? Or were you happy with their design changes? Sound off in the comments below!

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39 comments
  1. Xinen
    Xinen
    December 25, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Interesting, it makes sense. With this much content and time, I imagine I’d lose another hundred plus hours if the shrines were longer. I get that the shrines work well for the open world, or on the go with Switch, but I wouldn’t have minded a few dungeons to be more like the first game. The weapon durability I would like to be slightly better, but it works well enough. I just wish there was a way to repair gear. But overall its one of the few games with survival mechanics I really enjoyed. Plus its gorgeous to boot, though I want the next title to have overworld music. Great score just wish there was more of it.
    Plus, I’d love to play as Zelda, maybe save link and Hyrule or something. Maybe she’s the knight and has to save the prince, that’d be fun for me anyway.

  2. Kuraudo
    Kuraudo
    December 25, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    The world isnt big enough to divest themselves of big dungeons. it’s still a great game, just not one id want with a design i want them to return to.

  3. Kuraudo
    Kuraudo
    December 25, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Id rather them make ganon the secret good guy and zelda the evil witch who he fails to stop in the prologue. if we’re going to subvert the series, lets go all the way in the next installment.

  4. NukeA6
    NukeA6
    December 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Do the shrines at least have a boss fight in them? I can deal with that.

  5. Dr. Roswell. W
    Dr. Roswell. W
    December 25, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Some of them, like the combat trial are but an actual boss fight like, “THE TWO HUNDRED YEAR OLD TERROR, ROBOTIKS.” is not a thing. The shrines are just extended puzzles in which you solve and get a spirit orb.

    I admit it’s a bitch find the actual shrine, even with the in-game sensor.

  6. Uncle Ocelot
    Uncle Ocelot
    December 25, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    Makes sense to me, next time they should put more variety into the aesthetics of the shrines though, every one in BotW uses that same design, same thing for the few big dungeons it did have (except Hyrule Castle, if that counts).

  7. DrearierSpider
    DrearierSpider
    December 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Eh, I think 20 or so shrines at 45 min to an hour would’ve been better. As is, these shrines are filler content that serve as some of the worst parts of the game. I’d prefer a hybrid between the dungeons of the original NES game and the item based ones of ALttP and onwards.

  8. GameZard
    GameZard
    December 25, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    First they need to work on the story as that was by far the worse part of Botw.

  9. GameZard
    GameZard
    December 25, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    So they know that they fucked up by adding so many mini dungeons.

  10. Mino Kraehe
    Mino Kraehe
    December 25, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    I like the shrines way more than the big dungeons in the old games.

  11. Squirrel on crack cocaine.
    Squirrel on crack cocaine.
    December 25, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Breath of the Wild is a good game but a terrible Zelda game. The world is huge but empty and the shrines are sub par, ugly and boring most of the time.
    There was no excuse for lack of any good dungeons and the above statement seems more like PR spin.

  12. JimmyD
    JimmyD
    December 25, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    I don’t think the 100+ shrine mini-dungeons were bad, just… different. If they decide for the next title to have the BotW mechanics and scope but make it the more classic format (10+ big dungeons and bosses), my money would leave my wallet so fast that my pants would combust from the friction.

  13. Farwin
    Farwin
    December 25, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Yeah, I thought that the divine beasts might be their attempts at longer “dungeons.”
    I want more Hyrule Castles. I want exploration-centric dungeons, not Legend of Lolo ‘lite.’ More variety in the shrines would have been nice, too.

  14. Jack Thompson
    Jack Thompson
    December 26, 2017 at 12:08 am

    “worried players would spend too much time in dungeons”
    Why would you worry about players would spending too much time on the fun part of your game?

  15. Mechonis
    Mechonis
    December 26, 2017 at 3:25 am

    They suck as mini dungeons like the divine beasts suck as dungeons. I’ll take 8 traditional dungeons back

  16. Makoto
    Makoto
    December 26, 2017 at 7:59 am

    The result’s here, explaining it makes it look like they’re not assuming their choice to go along with the open-world game trend and all the flaws that come along such genre.
    Experimenting with a licence such as Zelda is always a good thing though, this time i’m not into it because this is not what i expect from a Zelda game (Story driven adventure, dungeons…), i’ll just skip it and play another game.
    I just hope they won’t be engrossed too much with Botw success and be stuck for too long with this formula because yes, Twilight princess and Ocarina of Time were among the best videoludic experiences i had, there’s no chances it’ll happen with an open-world sandbox game.

  17. ProxyDoug
    ProxyDoug
    December 26, 2017 at 8:22 am

    It’s one of my favorite parts of the games actually. And it’s one of my favorite parts of Okami, which trades items for skills.

  18. totenglocke
    totenglocke
    December 26, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Aw, someone’s mad he couldn’t find the memories!

  19. totenglocke
    totenglocke
    December 26, 2017 at 10:28 am

    The only real improvements I’d like to see in the game are the divine beasts being longer as well as the Ganon fight being longer (give us something like the Twilight Princess fight where Gannon has five forms!). Still, it’s an amazing game.

  20. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 26, 2017 at 11:31 am

    out of everything that was arguably done well/well received, I think it’s more likely that we’ll get weapon degradation back before we get more mini dungeons for the next games’

  21. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 26, 2017 at 11:33 am

    sub par, ugly, and boring ‘most’ of the time isn’t true though.

    I won’t argue the empty world (yeah it get it, the plot explains it, but holy shit did it feel a little too barren at times. Needed more towns), but the dungeons were just too short. I enjoyed the mechanics that allowed the player to find solutions in different ways, it worked.

  22. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 26, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I’m cool with that too, but I did miss big dungeons. And with how the game was set up to allow you to get through certain puzzles in different ways, I think they still could’ve fit into Breath well enough.

  23. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

    The story was fine, it was the voice acting that made it annoying at times.

  24. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 26, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Maybe the next ganondorf gets born with a different triforce for once? Throws the whole order out of balance?

  25. GameZard
    GameZard
    December 26, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    The game would have been better if the game took play before the roboinvasion. Imagine helping link achieving knighthood and teaming up with the companions to defeat ganon. This game feels like it is the bad ending for a game that did not happen.

  26. GameZard
    GameZard
    December 26, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    No. I just realize that having a game where all the character development already happened off screen is retarded.

  27. Gene Chan
    Gene Chan
    December 26, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    It doesn’t matter tome, i really enjoyed playing this game.Take a look at this for similar articles

  28. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 27, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    That I totally understand. One of the things that struck me was a phrase used by Yahtzee from Escapist. In one of his video game critiques, he said he’d learned in school (writing or english class) that you usually focus your story on the most important or perhaps most exciting point in a character’s life.

    This game flies in the face of that. All the build up to meeting these crucial people in this Link’s life, becoming a swordsman, meeting Zelda, losing basically everyone, we missed all those moments, and barely get any development on them through flashbacks.
    However, it is true that the story basically got put on Hold or Paused, and then continued to the final climax after he woke up, but still. I can’t fault anyone for feeling the way you mentioned.

    To quote James from that second Mewtwo movie
    ” feels like a sequel to a movie I missed.”

  29. Crizzyeyes
    Crizzyeyes
    December 28, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Uh, did you play any of the other Zelda games since Ocarina of Time? Wind Waker? There are a lot of Zelda games that are like that, with a developed backstory and a golden era already past.

  30. GameZard
    GameZard
    December 28, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Except that those games also take play before ganon won unlike this game that seems to be the sequel of a better game that don’t exist.

  31. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 28, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    aside from a couple of games (like wind waker) Link hasn’t exactly been known for getting much of any character development. Same goes for Zelda, and most side characters throughout the series.
    Unless you meant the other guardians?

  32. GameZard
    GameZard
    December 28, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    The only Zelda game where link and Zelda get no character development is the original legend of Zelda.

  33. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 28, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    see, i have to disagree there. Oracle of Ages/Seasons? No development, even when you linked the two games together. All you got was Zelda = princess, Link = legendary swordsman. Link’s awakening? Sad story, but no real development of Link as a person. 4 swords? Minish Cap? I don’t recall Link having much to do or say except fight the baddies and move the plot forward by doing so.

    As much as I didn’t really like the game, I think Skyward sword takes second place for character development (behind WW), and OOT and Majora’s Mask may take third place.
    Fourth probably goes to Twilight Princess, but that’s only really because they gave him a Slight backstory.

  34. GameZard
    GameZard
    December 28, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    You do know you don’t need dialogue for character development right? Kids these days…

  35. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 28, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    of course you don’t. But plot development and character development aren’t the same thing.
    Link had no dialogue in Wind Waker, yet went through an actual character arc. Went a journey to save his sister, became a hero in his own right, saved the world, and had visual Expressions that helped bolster all of that development so we could see it.
    Few other links have had that combination.
    TP Link had a life prior to the game’s start (which I loved) but we had no confirmation or anything regarding how he got there or who his parents were or anything else. he went on a journey to find his friends/village kids, got swept up in adventure after adventure, and finally returned home, and though he expressed himself here and there, he didn’t do it too often.

  36. GameZard
    GameZard
    December 29, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Links in all the Zelda games go through little character arcs where is a different person at the end. But even if he didn’t that still doesn’t change the fact that the reason why botw is terrible is because the entire story and character development is in fucking flash backs. So everything already happened. It’s like a childs anime fanfic.

  37. Snorlaxation
    Snorlaxation
    December 29, 2017 at 11:31 am

    You can only go through a character arc if your character is defined in some way, and that can’t happen in most of the handheld games where link isn’t defined as a person, but as a stand in for the player.

    It works in pot, majoras mask, tp, and ss, because we see who and what he was before the adventure.

    And no, the entire story is not told in flashbacks, but sadly most of it is.
    But Link does regain those memories, realizes what he lost, and journeys to save those people and put an end to their suffering and finish the journey they started.

    It’s not a great or well handled story, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible

  38. Shoahvanist
    Shoahvanist
    December 31, 2017 at 2:30 am

    I really liked the mini dungeons.