They spread them out over Shrines, and I know, some of you didn’t like it
Oh hey, Nintendo Power is back as a podcast (how often remains to be seen, as evidently the community response will dictate that), and they just had Zelda: Breath of the Wild director Hidemaro Fujibayashi on to shed some light on the game’s various design decisions.
One major thing that keeps coming up is the deliberate shrine and beast concept, which eschews the lengthy labyrinthine dungeon conceit of previous games — a staple of the series. Fujibayashi notes that since the world was so sprawling, they opted to instead spread out the experience over 100 or so shrines, which ended up being the same “ratio” as a game full of dungeons.
The team decided though that this “wasn’t enough,” so they added the mini-dungeon Divine Beasts. This ended up being a polarizing thing to do, as many fans pined for more fully-featured dungeons to conquer, and didn’t like the samey shrine themes.
I can see that argument, but I loved that the dungeons and shrines were never really the focus. It’s totally okay for Nintendo to try something different every now and then and it paid off.
Nintendo Power Podcast [Nintendo]