IGN sat down with Eiji Aonuma and Hidemaro Fujibayashi in an interview following The Game Awards to ask exactly why the hookshot didn't make the cut.
Aonuma: We did consider using [the hookshot] to climb, and then you’d parasail down. But initially when we had the hookshot [in previous Zelda games], it was always that you target something, and that was a game mechanic of itself. But that kind of defeated the purpose of what we wanted to accomplish in Breath of the Wild. With the hookshot, we always had to give it towards the end of the game, or else players could just go anywhere. But in this game, you could do that by climbing and parasailing.
Fujibayashi: In the early stages of development, we did actually do some tests with double hookshots and just being able to kind of go anywhere, like Spider-Man. Your mobility and your speed was just kind of incredible. We did do some tests like that. Honestly, the hookshot kind of completely breaks the climbing mechanic. There's lots of fans in the staff, even at pretty high levels, who really like the hookshot and they kept bugging me about it. I eventually just had to say ‘No! Hookshot is gone. There will be no hookshot in this game. If we put the hookshot in this game, it’s not going to work.’ We were just going back to what we did before, and [Breath of the Wild] is all about doing new things.
Following this question, IGN asked why ability to pet the dogs found in the game was omitted.
Fujibayashi: In the game it seems like you can do anything, but what it really is are all these interlocking systems where you actually have a pretty limited number of actions that can do a ton of different things. So if it came down to something like petting a dog, we would actually have to put in a custom action just for petting a dog that couldn't really be used for anything else. In terms of design philosophy, it just didn't fit with how we actually made the game world. It's actually more about taking a smaller number of actions and using them in as many ways as possible.
IGN then offered the idea that a petting system would allow Link to also pet creatures like Bokoblins or resolve the game's conflict by petting Ganon.
Fujibayashi: (laughs) Maybe if there had been some good reason to do that, we might have done that.