Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Hundred Minidungeons

In exactly 50 hours we will all be watching, how the big new Zelda game for Wii U will look like. So, paying attention to rumors now is probably not the best use of time, because we're going to be smarter shortly anyway... Still, the new rumors from GameXplain did get supported by Emily Rogers and that means that we they could be up to something.

Besides some generic "fantasy vs. technology" talk and weather changes, which is stuff that you would expect anyway, there has been one interesting fact here: the game apparently is only going to have four main dungeons, but will compensate this with over a hundred minidungeons...

Even if this is true, we don't know enough about this, for example how large the individual dungeons are going to be. But overall I'm not opposed to this concept, because I'm a sucker for minidungeons. My favorite part of the Wind Waker is the Triforce hunt, where you explore hidden minidungeons all over the world. I also love the Skulltula houses and the Secret Shrine of Ikana in Majora's Mask. I thought that the Ice Cavern and the Bottom of the Well in Ocarina of Time brought some fresh air into the overall course of the game. And discovering all the secret stations was one of my favorite sidequests in Spirit Tracks.

I want a sense of discovery and normally with dungeons you're just following a mark on the map. You know that there's going to be the next dungeon on the horizon, with the next item and the next boss. And this can get stale and boring after while. You want some discoveries during your adventure and minidungeons in the Zelda series often gave me that.

Of course there's the quantity issue. Majora's Mask had quality minidungeons like the Skulltulas houses, but only few of them. The Wind Waker had more minidungeons, but you were already getting multiple of these fighting caves made of four or five rooms. And with a hundred minidungeons you would expect things to get really repetitive and this leads to the problem of open world games, which I've already addressed recently in my post called "An Ocean of Grass". So, let's see on Tuesday, how much variety there will be.

Having only four main dungeons, which probably decide the main course through the game world, also seems fairly limited. I suppose that they didn't just want to leave lots of marks on your map like you had with Lorule in A Link Between Worlds. The world should be open, but still give a sense of direction for those, who are lost in an open world full of choices.

Let's say you have one big dungeon in the forest, one in the desert, one at the ocean and one on Death Mountain. You probably will be inclined to play the forest first, then go for either ocean or desert and save Death Mountain for last. But you could also play Death Mountain first for a challenge and for replayability.

GameXplain speculated that the minidungeons might act as a key to the main dungeons and this probably might be the case. But I do hope that those don't get marked on a map, but are found by discovering them by yourself. Exploration should be the most important thing in this game.

1 comment:

Marandahir said...

If the minidungeons are of the quality and length of the dungeons in ALBW (which were short but very tightly designed and well suited to the game), I'll be excited. If they're more like 1-room puzzles like the minidungeons of ALBW or ST's lost stations or PH's random islands, than I'm not as psyched.

I imagine it sort of like Skyrim: the story mode has a bunch of massive dungeons. There's a few massive dungeons also involved in the faction quests. But there are tons of little caves and fortresses and tombs and whatnot that serve as minidungeons for exploration and discovery. Obviously, Zelda shouldn't do the exact same thing as The Elder Scrolls. Zelda dungeon puzzle design is vastly superior to TES dungeon puzzle design (though Skyrim stepped it up a notch from Morrowind and Oblivion, which were both vastly superior in terms of design from Arena and Daggerfell). Zelda has their own touches to these things. But TES is a good fellow-open-world title to look at when it comes to dungeon placement, quantity, and length, just as Xenoblade X is a great game to look to when it comes to overworld exploration (and the rewards of finding nice viewing points).