My Gripe with Legend of Zelda: BoTW

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game anticipated by thousands and now adored by millions, is truly one which is set to go down in history as one of the best. Released worldwide on March,03 2017, BoTW has already sold upwards of 10 million units. The sales figure become more impressive than it already is, due to the fact that it was released for just 2 consoles — Wii U and the Nintendo Switch. Best open world RPG game till date, immersive world, soft, subtle, soothing soundtrack by Manaka Kataoka, quality gameplay mechanics, well thought out puzzles and well… you get the idea. Its a game that’s got a lot of things right but like with anything perfect, there’s that one person with a complaint. I’m that person and this is my gripe with BoTW.

A couple of things before we dive into it. First, I absolutely love the game. And while I haven’t completed the game I have sinked enough hours into it that I feel I can write this piece with some confidence. Second, all of this is just my opinion. I could very well be wrong. Perhaps I feel this way because of what I expected from the game or because of my play style and how I interacted with it. And that’s another reason which makes the game so good — different people taking away different experiences from it. Your experience may be different than that of mine and that’s okay.

So for anyone unfamiliar with BoTW, you play as Link — the Hylian Champion who wakes up from cryogenic sleep after a 100 years during which Calamity Ganon has taken over Hyrule. BoTW hands you just one mission to beat the game — beat Calamity Ganon. Sweet and Simple. Now while there are other missions that Link could complete, these are optional and the game can be beaten without ever having completed them. One of these missions is to visit each of the dungeons the game presents and complete them. And its these dungeons wherein my issue rests.

A little about the dungeons first. The game has a total of four dungeons which can be completed in any order as the player decides. Each dungeon is in the form of a giant mechanical beast resembling different animals. These are — Vah Naboris(cammel), Vah Ruta(elephant), Vah Rudania(salamander) and Vah Medoh(bird). Together they make up the Divine Beasts built by the Sheikah to help Zelda fight Calamity Ganon. Each of the dungeons have unique puzzles and interesting bosses at the end but severely lack a theme or a personality, so to say. The interiors of all the dungeons have the same look and feel — mechanical, corrupted by Ganon’s disaster and having an all-around abandoned touch to them. Nothing about their environment distinguishes one from the other or leaves an impression on my mind. If I were to suddenly find myself in one of these dungeons I couldn’t identify it without looking at its puzzle elements. This probably wouldn’t have been a problem if BoTW were the only Zelda game but it’s not. The other Zelda games handle dungeons with so much care that I went into BoTW expecting the same just to be disappointed. Let’s consider Ocarina of Time, where each of the dungeons have a very unique look. Dodongo’s cavern has you exploring the innards of a volcanic mountain while the Water Temple is an ancient temple submerged under Lake Hylia. I could be randomly teleported to any of these dungeons and make out which it is just by one look. These dungeons have their own unique identity and as I’m playing through them, it leaves an indelible impression on my mind keeping me more invested in playing the game because I want to explore more of what it has to offer. BoTW definitely provides a unique experience with each of its dungeon due to the gameplay mechanics associated with them but I feel this could be improved with a more directed ambiance on each of them. Now I do get the fact that the dungeons in BoTW are mechanical beasts so they couldn’t have had the same atmosphere as the dungeons in other Zelda titles and I do appreciate BoTW trying out a new approach with the dungeons but if this was the cost I would have chosen the alternative.

At the end, when all’s said and done BoTW is an outstanding game. It was a very big project and you can see the love and care put into it by the team behind it. They could have lacked the time and effort to invest in the dungeons since they are optional or it could have been a deliberate move on their part. Whichever it was, I hope the next Legend of Zelda puts more care into its dungeons.

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Divyendu Dutta

“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” ― Alan Turing