I didn't touch the towers until last in each area. I don't get why they were in there, nothing but huge spoilers. And true, a lot of shrines, the 'challenge' ones in particular were nothing but repetitive filler content. However finding them and getting to them was often the reward, not so much what was inside.
As a Zelda game it does leave plenty to be desired, yet it did raise the bar for open world, physics based exploration type games. It left a bit of Zelda behind in becoming one of the best open world games in recent years. (apart from challenge scaling)
The formula to best put a linear story into an open world game has yet to be discovered. Perhaps it's only possible when AI advances enough to direct / adjust the story based on your actions, redesigning missions on the fly to fit your current experience and play style. When that's possible we'll actually get some next gen games.
If BotW2 (or whatever it's going to be called) has a good selection of proper dungeons with a variety of themes, expands the enemy roster, gives us some more permanent weapons & shields, and generally feels a bit more like classic Zelda while still retaining the best of BotW's combat, exploration, and interactivity, then it could be outstanding.
I might disagree with all of those things except the more cosmetic variety and monsters. Including bosses, such as the Divine beasts, which were a lot of fun, I’d like more.
I find Breath of the Wild already fixed the dungeon gameplay problems of OOT, MM, Celda, TP,. Not with the Divine Beast dungeons (which I’ll get to) but with the puzzle shrines (as opposed to battle and freebie shrines).
What were those problems? Slowness, Blocker puzzles, setbacks, and more.
The first major problem being slowness of the dungeons stemming from the fact that 3D takes longer to traverse than 2D, making the dungeon experience significantly less fun than Link to the Past. The puzzle Shrines in Breath of the Wild fix this by shrinking the number of rooms, this way, the lengths are around as long as the dungeons on older 2D Zelda games.
Second were the blocker “find the key/switch” type puzzles that could sometimes take literally hours to find without a guide unless you were very lucky. This is searching for a key hidden in one of like 38 rooms felt like searching for needles in a haystack style design, and it’s not fun; especially if you missed it and searched the ENTIRE rest of the dungeon for it once or twice before giving up and using a guide or quitting the game. Sometimes it was trying to figure out which puzzle you were supposed to do, often you could see stuff, and it wasn’t apparent if you were supposed to get to it yet. The design often felt convoluted because it was a mush-mash of different things rather than a consistent theme: what this ended up achieving is making most of the dungeons feel the same since you were doing the same sort of stuff and nothing really stood out gameplay wise unless it was particularly annoying - like the Water Temple. In Link to the Past, these “find the key” puzzles did exist, but they normally took no longer than 30 seconds. Puzzles were generally themed, and this quickness and consistency was fun. Breath of the Wild doesn’t quite replicate the experience, but it makes the feeling very similar; and BOTW removed the blockers that were in EVERY other 3D Zelda game.
Third, setbacks. A big example of this is the Fire Temple, walking along a narrow path, falling, taking 5-10 minutes to get back up there. This was annoying in Link to the Past as well, but it normally took like 20 seconds to climb back up from places you could get accidentally knocked down from - I think at worst it was about 45 seconds to 1 minute in one of the dark world dungeons. Breath of the Wild doesn’t have this problem either, 20 seconds to maybe 1 minute to climb back in puzzle shrines.
If anything, the Divine Beast Dungeons were the devs throwing a bone to those 3D Zelda fans who wanted some kind of similar dungeon experience to the other 3D games. In my opinion, they were already too long and kind of polluted the beautiful Breath of the Wild world with an unnecessary component. I’d personally be happier if it was just the fight against the divine beast after the quests, story, and journey to get to them. From a gameplay perspective, these dungeons are still superior to other 3D Zelda design. But, IMO, they were still the worst part of Breath of the Wild. I don’t want more of those in there.
If I were to improve dungeons, then, I agree, more cosmetic variety is a plus. The Shiekah theme is OK for battle shrines and freebie shrines, but adding something a different to the puzzle shrines would be a nice addition.
Second, the other thing LTTP dungeons have that the BOTW puzzle shrines didn’t were the bosses at the end. I think it would be cool having some kind of mini boss at the end of each that was fun to fight. Maybe the Divine Beasts could inform the theme of the mini bosses in the surrounding shrines?
I’d also like to see more Divine Beast fights, and no long-ass dungeons. More puzzle shrines, and puzzle shrines with interesting design styles like the one where you lose your weapons.
The other point I disagree with you on is the expendable weapons and shields. I think the accumulation and expenditure of items, weapons, and tools is a fundamental pillar of the game’s overall design and it would wreck it to have stuff you only got once and could use forever. While unbreakable weapons design is fine for other games, they’re not Zelda, it’s like putting in button commands for Just Dance, it breaks the fundamental experience. It’s not surprising that much of the magic of the game is lost the moment you get the master sword, and that still has charging. If anything, I would be a little more harsh with the survival requirements, and probably limit the stuff that helps you so the game is MORE based on consuming stuff; it was much more fun when you needed to use your items to stay warm than it was when you got a coat that just kind of made you permanently warm. With weapons, I might want to up the variety of weapons, but not make them invincible, I think that would ruin the game.
All in all, I am talking about an improved Breath of the Wild, if this was a completely new type of Zelda, rather than Breath of the Wild 2, I’d only expect them to make a great game regardless of how they make it: but a compromised version of BOTW 1 is not what would work, IMO - stuff that looks like compromised (like the Divine Beast dungeons) tend to hurt the game. Most of the stuff I suggested with greater variety and volume of stuff is hard - many more mini bosses means new design, lots of new art, lots of coding/scripting, and a hell of a lot of testing. It might be more feasible to just throw in a bunch of upgradeable villages and call it a day - since those items are static and require less code and QA.
Anyway, long post, no time to proofread, sorry for broken sentences.