Not everyone will be lucky enough to play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch or Wii U this weekend (4/5 March), but those fans holding off may be interested to learn how dungeons work in the game.
Dungeons are a key component of the Zelda formula, but in Breath of the Wild they are different. We are about to explain how, but be assured that we will not divulge major spoilers regarding the game's plot.
Instead we will discuss what the dungeons are, how they factor into the game as a whole and, in vague terms, what they are like to play and the challenge they pose. What this article will not be is a guide to completing them, or to finding them.
Before we get into it, we should also add that discovering the nature of dungeons in the game is a cool moment so unless you really want to know, turn away now.
How do dungeons work in Breath of the Wild?
Early on in the game, at the conclusion of the opening Great Plateau area, the player, as Link, is told of Calamity Ganon's victory 100 years prior to the events of the game. As part of his victory, Ganon claimed control of four Divine Beasts created centuries ago to protect Hyrule.
These Divine Beasts are central to Breath of the Wild's dungeons, because they ARE the game's dungeons.
In a break from the series' conventions, you can tackle these dungeons in any order you please. Or, you could ignore them entirely and head straight to Hyrule Castle to face Ganon at his most powerful.
What is a Divine Beast?
Divine Beasts are huge mechanical creatures made of the same ancient technology the Guardians that roam Hyrule (and which are a pain in the behind) are made from.
They are based on animal designs, and for a century they have been stressing Hyrule's residents out.
How are the Divine Beasts dungeons?
Each is approached in a similar way. The player, with the help of a few of Hyrule's locals, must first weaken each Divine Beast just enough that they can climb aboard. This is done through often spectacular boss fights.
Link can then climb aboard before the Beast starts patrolling again, and inside each of them is what is ostensibly a dungeon. The objective of clearing these dungeons is to claim back control of them from Ganon and his evil purple-black goo.
How do these dungeons play?
While there are a handful of basic enemies, each dungeon is primarily puzzle-focussed. Central to the puzzles within them becomes apparent after obtaining a map laying out each Beast's design.
The twist is that this map allows Link some limited control of the Beast's movement, which in turn influences how the player progresses through it and reaches all the terminals they need to access to completely regain control.
After each terminal has been activated and Link returns to the central terminal, there is a boss fight. Defeat the boss and you will be awarded a Heart Container.
How do the Divine Beasts influence the game overall?
Each dungeon you complete has a certain impact on the final boss fight against Calamity Ganon, meaning you can augment that fight's difficulty by deciding how many Divine Beasts to reclaim, or whether you want to reclaim any at all. That is all we will say about that.