Tears of the Kingdom’s New Areas Look Like Classic Zelda Dungeons

The Legend of Zelda is known for its dungeons, and while Breath of the Wild did fine without them, we might finally get to see what that game would have been like with proper dungeons.

Tears of the Kingdom
Photo: Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a fantastic game and the measuring stick for all Zelda, and most open-world games, going forward. However, it is far from perfect. In the minds of some fans, that title has two major flaws: its atrocious weapon durability system and a distinct lack of dungeons. While Nintendo isn’t getting rid of the first problem in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, it might fix the second one.

Recently, Nintendo unveiled a new Tears of the Kingdom trailer that has a ton of people talking. Some of the most important takeaways include a “rehydrated Ganondorf” (who is voiced by Matt Mercer), but I’m more interested in what I believe is evidence that dungeons will return in Tears of the Kingdom.

For the sake of clarity, it should be noted that dungeons technically exist in Breath of the Wild. However, they are a wild departure from the dungeons Zelda veterans knew and loved. Instead of taking place in tombs, temples, and other monster-infested areas, Breath of the Wild focuses on the interiors of corrupted medieval mechs. The layouts of its dungeons (Shrines, really) were all inspired by different animal body plans, but they ultimately sport similar aesthetics. The most unique aspect of each “dungeon” is the boss waiting at the end, but even though they require different tactics, each boss is really a variation of the same Corruption theme (complete with similar aesthetics). To make matters worse, not a single Breath of the Wild boss engages in the age-old Zelda tradition of Dead Man’s Volley. For shame!

However, that new trailer features two compelling pieces of evidence that hint at the return of proper dungeons. First, it showcases a variety of setpiece segments, including a dive through a laser-trapped chasm, a puzzle room with a moving ceiling, and what appears to be an encounter with a flying Viking/Zonai ship. Those events would be difficult to set up in an open-world environment where players can approach most tasks from any angle. However, streamlined settings like dungeons or specialized quest areas are more suited to these setpieces.

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The second aspect that convinced me we will probably see classic dungeon designs is the trailer’s enemies. Sure, the video shows plenty of Bokoblins, Moblins, and Zonai Constructs (one of which fights a ChuChu), but the most crucial enemies appear at 1:44 and 2:41. The first is a giant Zonai Construct, which, given how it is filmed, certainly looks like the boss or miniboss of a dungeon. The second is a giant flying Ice Wyrm reminiscent of Subnautica’s Leviathans.

This flying creature is probably the biggest evidence for bosses for a couple of reasons. First, it’s absolutely huge and gives off the same energy as past dungeon bosses (most notably Majora’s Mask’s Twinmold and Wind Waker’s Molgera). There’s also the matter of the setting featured in that footage. The giant creature appears in a snowy vortex high in the sky, all while a Rito accompanies Link. This location also shows up at 1:30 2:18, and 3:07, and the Rito also pops up in the latter two. That leads me to believe we will not only get to explore dungeons in Tears of the Kingdom, but that one of them will be a floating island similar to Twilight Princess’ City in the Sky. The Rito will probably tag along in that dungeon, similar to when Medli helped Link in Wind Waker’s Earth Temple. And yes, the giant Ice Wyrm will probably serve as this assumed dungeon’s boss.

To be fair, much of this “evidence” is circumstantial since the trailer shows its segments without context. Nothing is official until Nintendo says it is. For all I know, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom won’t include any dungeons. Still, it’s hard to deny that trailer featured quite a lot of footage of areas that don’t nearly fit into Breath of the Wild‘s previously established structure A Zelda fan can dream, can’t he?