Breath of the Wild was developed with exploration being a key component to the game. The developers created a setting with many iconic locations to encourage players to travel and discover new areas. One of the most iconic locations in the game are the Dueling Peak mountains. These unique mountains can be seen from a far distance away, encouraging players to draw nearer and investigate further. Perhaps one of the reasons that the Dueling Peaks are so intriguing is because they’re actually based on a real location.
When travelling to Sado Island in Japan, a photographer (who wanted to stay anonymous) found and pictured this beautiful mountain area. Despite the real peaks not being completely split, there are obvious similarities. The Dueling Peaks were not only designed to be stunning but easy to explore too, which may explain the slight difference in design. The Dueling Peaks are so distinct that it could easily be the case the developers based them off this location.
There is also an old gold mine in Sado Island that has now become a tourist attraction. The photographer took a picture of this location next and compared it to the design of the Hyrule Castle catacombs. It could just be coincidence, but both designs are very similar.
The development team for Breath of the Wild wanted to create a realistic and engaging setting in the game. Arguably there is no better way to achieve this than to base some designs on real locations. The photographer commented on this idea by stating “maybe there are lots more Dueling Peaks or other Zelda-esque locations in the world”. It’s an exciting idea which would start to reveal how the Zelda team designed so many beautiful locations. The aim for Breath of the Wild was to get players to explore the vast setting, but perhaps it could also inspire others to explore real locations too?