The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild faces a brand new challenge before it: downloadable content. DLC. Yes, this would be the first time a main series Zelda game has an expansion pass as an optional purchase at $19.99, but is Breath of the Wild’s first foray into expanded content worth it?
I invested at least 90 hours into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild before I even thought about heading to Hyrule Castle to defeat Calamity Ganon and watch the credits roll. I didn’t need to complete every single side quest before I went to take down Ganon, but I wanted to beef Link up all I could before the final battle.
One goal was to pull the Master Sword from its pedestal in the Lost Woods. In order to receive more hearts and add chunks of stamina to the stamina wheel, I had to look for shrines and complete the challenges within. This is where much of my enjoyment with Breath of the Wild came from. I’d commit myself to a mission that furthered the story, usually traveling on foot or horseback, and I’d instantly get sidetracked by a new discovery. Stables, shrines, enemy camps, travelers, anything and everything could sway my attention.
This freedom of exploration helped me complete all 200 shrines and get the Master Sword. Then I left Hyrule behind after defeating Ganon. Breath of the Wild’s first major expansion, The Master Trials, now aims to give an extra shot in Link’s arm. Here’s what’s included in the expansion:
Trial of the Sword
A series of 45 challenge rooms in which you must defeat every foe in these miniature dungeons. This is the greater chunk of content in this first expansion. It takes the concept of the Eventide Island shrine and dials it up to 10. In other words, Link is completely stripped of his weapons, armor, and restorative items, and must equip himself by making the most of his surroundings in order to survive each challenge room. The catch is that if Link loses all his hearts, you have to start all over from the beginning.
The good thing is that it’s not all 45 challenges at once. I’ll praise the Zelda team for that. Instead the whole event is divided into three parts: the beginning trials, the middle trials, and the final trials. Completing each will empower the Master Sword by ten points. Completing the final trial will allow the Master Sword to remain in its awakened state for good. Aside from the enjoyable, pulse-pounding challenge, that’s all there is to this feature.
What is akin to Master Quest from previous Zelda games, Master Mode, or Hard Mode, increases the game’s difficulty. Enemies are tougher to defeat and more prominent than in the normal game. These enemies also require new strategies to destroy. For example, a floating platform holds a group of bokoblins that can spot you easily from afar. If they’re positioned precariously over a large body of water (bad idea on their part), shooting the octorok balloons that keeps the platform held aloft is the key to victory. But can you find an opening to shoot when they send volleys of arrows your way? A new way to play comes with the added difficulty. Breath of the Wild yet again takes a good breath of fresh air, but why charge for this? An added hard mode isn’t exactly new to Zelda. Perhaps Breath of the Wild’s existing longevity is indicative of its inclusion in an expansion? Did the development team not have enough time to prepare Master Mode before Breath of the Wild’s release window? Who knows? Yet charging you for a hard mode is a rather curious move.
A feature that tracks the last 200 hours of your journey on the map of Hyrule. Its uses are limited unless you haven’t finished the game, or are just getting started. It definitely helps when tracking down shrines you haven’t been to yet, or assessing what corners of the map you’ve yet to explore. Having completed the game, and found every shrine, it was a semi-nostalgic trip to see my journey in the form of a line trace the huge, sprawling landscape. However, it becomes a largely forgettable feature after a first glance.
Breath of the Wild isn’t exactly new to pleasing fans with nods to previous Zelda games. The map of Hyrule even boasts the names of notable individuals from Zelda lore. Its most prominent fan service, however, comes in the form of outfits and items. By using compatible amiibo you could get the outfits of the Hero of Time, Hero of Winds, Hero of Twilight, and more. Even weapons based on these heroes like the Gale Boomerang could be random drops.
For the Master Trials expansion you’ll get the following: Majora’s Mask, Midna’s Helmet, Phantom Armor, Korok Mask, and Tingle’s outfit. None of these items can be upgraded at a Fairy Fountain much like the other amiibo-acquired outfits, though each has a unique feature. For example, the Tingle costume will allow Link to run faster during the night. Majora’s Mask will prevent enemies from reacting to your presence until you attack them.
The nice thing is that they aren’t given to you right off the bat. You’ll have to do some mild exploring to find the treasure chests containing these items. The downside is that, with the exception of the Korok mask (which helps you locate the hundreds of hidden Koroks around Hyrule) the rest of the outfits are unremarkable.
However, the inclusion of the Travel Medallion is a nice addition. You can instantly turn your immediate location into a quick travel spot in case a shrine or tower is too far away from your current objective, or it’s an objective that’s hard to reach. If you need to stock up at the nearest stable or village, you can quick travel back to wherever you left the medallion last.
The Master Trials expansion is a tough call. I played Breath of the Wild, pre-expansion, to my heart’s content. There’s already much to preoccupy your time in the standalone game aside from DLC. I’m really hoping that the forthcoming Champions’ Ballad expansion is the one that makes this package worthwhile. That’s because the Master Trials, while presenting a couple of worthwhile additions to the existing game, is only a taste of something more enticing to come in the future. Unless you want a hard mode to bring you back to Hyrule, or you wish to max out the Master Sword, this expansion pass can wait until we get the (hopefully) better half of the DLC for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That’s because the Master Trials DLC and the Champions’ Ballad DLC are bundled together as one expansion. Neither can be purchased separately.
+ Trial of the Sword will keep you busy for hours
+ Added Master Mode injects story with new replay value
– Most new items are unappealing
– Hero’s Path not for players who’ve already cleaned house pre-DLC
– Cannot be purchased separately from upcoming DLC
Final Score: 6.5/10