- Returning to classic dungeon items in The Legend of Zelda could appeal to longtime fans and bring back those who were turned off by the Breath of the Wild era.
- The success of Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom has given Nintendo the opportunity to improve and innovate classic dungeon items for the franchise.
- Tears of the Kingdom’s Sages serve as a unique spin on traditional dungeon items, proving that a return to classic Zelda mechanics could still have the same appeal.
Despite the massive success of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and its predecessor, it has been confirmed that a direct sequel is highly unlikely, which means the beloved franchise will likely be shifting to something drastically different from what it has been since Breath of the Wild‘s release in 2017. While it has yet to be confirmed in what direction the series will be going, it’s possible it could revert to its original formula and forego many of the creative mechanics players have more recently become accustomed to. In light of that, The Legend of Zelda could see classic dungeon items like the Hookshot returning in the next installment.
There are several pros and cons to The Legend of Zelda returning to classic dungeon items, as the latest installments have certainly had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the series as a whole. While some of Zelda‘s classic dungeon items have appeared in Breath of the Wild and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, they have not been used traditionally as methods for progressing through dungeons. If the franchise does fall back to its roots a bit, it’s almost guaranteed to be a divisive move. That being said, it’s still possible for Nintendo to do it in a way that works.
Tears of the Kingdom Makes a Stronger Case for a Princess Zelda Game Than Ever
Princess Zelda was not playable in Tears of the Kingdom, even though the game sets her up as a protagonist more than ever before.
The Pros of Returning to Classic Zelda Dungeon Items
Classic Dungeon Items Would Play into Nostalgia
When it comes to the possibility of The Legend of Zelda‘s classic dungeon items making a return, the move would undoubtedly take advantage of the nostalgia of longtime fans of the series. Those who grew up with classic Zelda titles became familiar with the series’ dungeon mechanics, where they were required to obtain certain tools in order to progress. The giant leap from classic Zelda to its Breath of the Wild era turned off many veteran Zelda players. While it certainly enabled the series to appeal to a new audience, it simultaneously lost many of its most loyal fans in the process, and a revival of classic dungeon items could bring them back.
BotW and TotK Have Given Nintendo Time to Adjust Its Approach to Classic Dungeon Items
One way to judge classic Zelda dungeon items is by seeing how, over time, their mechanics grew stale and repetitive. There was always very little room for player creativity, aside from the creative thinking that Zelda‘s traditional dungeons required. However, perhaps the success of Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom has given Nintendo time to approach the series’ traditional dungeon items with fresh eyes and innovate from what they were before. If classic dungeon items do make a return to the series, they’re almost guaranteed to be vastly improved from their original state and purpose.
TotK’s Sages Proved the Appeal of Traditional Dungeon Items
One of the most welcome features Tears of the Kingdom brought to Zelda‘s new era is the Sages. While Sages have been around for decades in The Legend of Zelda lore, they have never been used quite like they are in TotK. Rather than providing players with traditional tools for progressing, as classic Zelda dungeons have been known to do, TotK gives players the ability to summon and use the power of Sages. TotK‘s Sages are a unique spin on traditional dungeon items, in that each one gives Link unique abilities that allow him to progress through Tears of the Kingdom‘s dungeons, just as classic dungeon tools have been known to do.
The positive reception to one of Tears of the Kingdom‘s best features could justify its continued use. However, Tears of the Kingdom‘s Sages were such a praised feature in part because of their kinship to classic Zelda dungeon items. While they certainly have their place in Zelda‘s new era, they are unable to escape the similarities they share with classic Zelda dungeon mechanics, as that is precisely their purpose in TotK. This is proof that, if traditional dungeon items do return to the franchise, they would likely still have the same appeal as TotK‘s Sages.
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s Depths May Set a Tough Precedent for the Next Game
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s expansion on its predecessor has set an even higher standard for the franchise’s future.
The Cons of Returning to Classic Zelda Dungeon Items
Returning to Traditional Dungeon Items Might Be a Step Backward
Zelda‘s return to traditional dungeon items might be a positive idea, but it may simultaneously feel like a step backward for the franchise. Tears of the Kingdom provides players with an overwhelming amount of creative freedom — something that the linear Zelda games of the past rarely explored — and this level of creativity has earned the game its place as one of 2023’s best video games. Tools like Tears of the Kingdom‘s Ultrahand, which will supposedly be axed after TotK, have given players the ability to solve problems in a multitude of ways, rather than being limited to the use of an item in only one way. These creative liberties that are present in TotK would undoubtedly be absent if Zelda‘s classic dungeon items were revived and traditions remained intact.
Sages Might Be a Better Way to Implement Dungeon Items
TotK‘s Sage characters are one of the game’s best features, but for more than one reason. Not only do they serve as a creative approach to classic dungeon items, but they are also characters in the game and therefore contribute to its worldbuilding and storytelling. The inanimate dungeon items of Zelda‘s past would not be able to accomplish a similar feat, so the removal of Sages from the series as powerful counterparts to Link may also feel like a step backward. Perhaps Nintendo will consider using them in some way in subsequent Zelda titles.
Whether Nintendo chooses to revert The Legend of Zelda to its classic dungeon roots after Tears of the Kingdom remains to be seen, but the chances are not low by any means. The developer knows it has lost some of its longtime fans in the Breath of the Wild era of Zelda, so it may bring back traditional dungeon items in response. Even so, Tears of the Kingdom remains one of the best and most successful Legend of Zelda games ever made, and the new era of Zelda has once again proven to be a brilliant move by Nintendo.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
- May 12, 2023
- Rated E for Everyone 10+ for Fantasy Violence and Mild Suggestive Themes
- How Long To Beat
- 59 Hours