The BotW thread is locked, and I just wanted to spill my thoughts on the DLC since I just finished it.
If you want to experience the DLC for yourself, and not have any of it spoiled for you, just don't read any of this.
As most of you know, I kinda loathe the very concept of DLC to begin with, but I went ahead and purchased the Expansion Pass for this game, because the games have firmly earned my trust at this point. I thought to myself, regardless of how it ultimately turns out, the series has provided me with thousands of hours of entertainment, so I had no qualms with chipping in a little extra for my favorite #1 franchise.
So was it good?
Well, to recap:
I can't have been the only one who was slightly underwhelmed by the first pack, the Master Trials, which dropped back in June. There was some cool shit in there, but if we can assume that both packs have $10 worth of new content, I feel like I only received about half of that for the first one. Much of the content we received six months ago definitely
should have been in the base game already.
The new clothing items are kinda cool, but don't function very well as armor, especially since they cannot be upgraded or even dyed. They mostly just serve as neat memorabilia from older titles in the series and nothing more. Don't expect Majora's Mask to possess you or send the moon hurtling down towards Hyrule, or anything—all it does is make it so certain enemies have a harder time seeing you, for some reason.
The most useful clothing item you get from this pack is the Korok Mask, which shakes and giggles whenever a hidden Korok is near. It's pretty handy, but if you're the type who actually cares to look for all 900 Korok Seeds in the game, you're probably just going to look them up on the Internet. For those of us who aren't dirty rotten cheaters, though, this is a pretty nice thing to have.
Master Mode, which is essentially just hard mode, is the most egregious example of this. I haven't tried it yet (mostly because I have little interest), but paying extra money for what amounts to an added difficulty level is kind of a bad joke.
The Travel Medallion is a somewhat nifty key item you can find that allows you to place a warp point anywhere, but only one at a time. It seems like a handy tool at first, but since the game provides you with approximately 150 warp points anyway, it kinda takes just a little bit from its utility. I'm not saying I haven't used it, but I'm not sure if that wasn't just me trying to find an excuse
to make use of it. There are just hardly any remote areas that would make this extremely useful.
Hero's Path mode, the new map feature, is honestly pretty cool, and one of the better new features that you get. Pressing X on the map screen allows you to see every single step you've taken over the last 200(?) hours of gameplay, which can be rewound to the point where you first started your adventure (assuming it hasn't been overwritten). Not only is it cool to see a visualization of my progress, this tool has helped me fill in all the little gaps and visit every little area that I haven't explored yet. Using this, I was able to find almost every missing shrine I had left (I still have two more stragglers).
But the main attraction of this pack, of course, is the Trial of the Sword, which is a quest you can take on in the Korok Forest after you've already obtained the Master Sword. Originally, the Master Sword is in a very weakened state, and only awakens its true power during boss fights, but completing this quest allows you to wield the sword at its full potential no matter where you are.
Let me tell you—the Trial of the Sword was fun as fuck
. The idea is basically an extension of the Eventide Island concept, where you're stripped of all your weapons, food, armor, and everything else, and you have to run around these secluded areas and fight enemies with whatever table scraps you can find. It's tense, it's exciting, it's adrenaline-pumping, and it's surprisingly challenging.
It's split into three sections: Beginner Trials, Middle Trials, and Final Trials. Each section contains an increasing number of floors, and progressively tougher enemies. You can keep whatever you find between floors, and resting areas are provided every five or six floors so that you can cook whatever food you found and collect your bearings. Every section you're able to complete powers up the Master Sword a little more.
The earliest floors will have you simply fighting Chuchus in a small wooded area, but soon, you'll be fighting a Hinox in pitch-dark ruins and running in a rainstorm from a posse of Bokoblin on horseback. Meanwhile, you have nothing. And then it just gets harder.
But even after you beat it, the fully-powered Master Sword is still a little bit underwhelming. Its power maxes at 60—which effectively doubles to 120 during boss fights, sure, but there's still not much of a reason to use it on regular enemies (like you want to) because it still powers down, and when it powers down, you still have to wait 10 whole minutes to use it again.
No, the real prize is being able to do it. Beating the trial is just fun and challenging enough to feel rewarding in and of itself.
So do I feel like any of that is worth $10 extra, on top of the base game?
Nnnnnnnnnnno. Not really. As awesome as the Trial of the Sword is, I really
believe it should already be in the game. All of this stuff should. You could maybe get away with having a DLC pack that just contains a fuckload of costumes, or something, but you don't even get very many new costumes from this as it is. You get Majora's Mask, Midna's Helmet, the Korok Mask, the Phantom armor set, and the Tingle armor set. That's it.
Two good modes that should already be in the game, and a bunch of relatively superfluous junk. That's BotW DLC #1.
Maybe the Champions' Ballad will be better, though.
Yes. It's much better.
But only if you can stomach getting the first pack, too, since you can't purchase them à la carte
Along with more new clothes and some ancient horse gear (that allows your horse to teleport right to you), the main attraction is a series of new quests where you meet up with Kass the Bard again and help him complete the unfinished songs that his mentor wrote to commemorate the five Champions (Mipha, Urbosa, Daruk, Revali, and you), which requires you to experience and relive all of the trials they went through to earn their spot in Zelda's entourage.
Eventually, this all leads up to a fifth dungeon where, upon completion, will earn Link his own Divine Beast: A fucking motorcycle called the Master Cycle Zero (I'm disappointed it's not called Vah Epona).
The quest can only begin if you've already liberated all four of the Divine Beasts. Once you've done that, Zelda's voice will call out to you, telling you to return to the Shrine of Resurrection, where you first woke up.
Here, you'll obtain a new weapon called the ONE-HIT OBLITERATOR
, which reduces your life to one quarter heart, but can smash any enemy with a single hit. Once you pick it up, you're told to infiltrate four enemy camps and defeat all of the enemies there. You can use arrows, but the One-Shot Johnny is the only melee weapon you can use, and, because of the quarter heart situation, you can't take a single hit yourself without dying. You can only kill two enemies with it before it needs to recharge, and it can only be used in this one single section of the quest. If you leave the Great Plateau at any point, you lose the weapon and the quest ends. Attempting to eat food or heal yourself in any way will only result in your health being drained again, and Mipha's Grace and fairies won't work at all.
Once you defeat each enemy camp, a shrine appears. These shrines have to be beaten with your quarter heart, as well, and they're all fast-paced, action-oriented shrines involving more finesse than puzzle solving.
If you hate combat shrines, you'll be in for a pleasant surprise. There's one of them here. It starts off like they normally do, only you have your One-Shot Johnny, so taking out the first Guardian Scout is about as easy as you'd expect.
But the Sheikah dude doesn't appear. Instead, a button appears where a Sheikah would normally be. Pressing it causes the Scout's elevator to drop, which leads you to an interesting section where you have to fight several
of these juked-up scouts while running around in a series of narrow hallways. It becomes increasingly difficult to use your one-shot weapon in this place, and improvisation is sometimes necessary. And since you still can't take a hit, it's actually fairly nerve-wracking.
Once all of the trials are complete, the One-Hit Obliterator splits into four pieces and scatters itself through the four major regions of Hyrule, and you already know the ones. In each of the spots where the orbs scatter, a strange formation appears, telling you to head to three locations to perform a special task. These tasks can range from fighting a powered-up miniboss, shield-surfing through a series of rings, and finding a way to survive jumping into a pool of lava. Once these tasks are completed, a weird-looking shrine appears. Unlike the Obliterator shrines, these ones are more traditionally puzzle-oriented in nature, and they're all pretty cleverly designed (but none of them difficult).
Completing these shrines won't get you a Spirit Orb, though. They'll give you a special orb that is associated with the presiding Divine Beast, and after collecting all three, you get to have a rematch with each of Ganon's forms, only with extremely limited equipment.
Vanquishing the bosses allows you to access special memories, extended cutscenes which characterize each of the four Champions a little bit further. They're all pretty cool, but perhaps the sort of thing you'd wish were in the base game. Especially since you can simply watch these cutscenes in YouTube, though I think it's better to feel as though I "earned" the cutscenes myself.
Once you've recovered the memories of all the Champions, you're told once again to return to the Shrine of Resurrection. It's here that you're sent to the fifth and perhaps final dungeon of the game.
A lot of people didn't like the dungeons in BotW. They're all quite small, relatively easy, and aesthetically, they all look the same. I personally enjoyed all of them in spite of all that. I think gaining the ability to control the moving parts of each Divine Beast was very interesting and made out for some compelling puzzles, even if none of them were too difficult to figure out, and having the music slowly build up after accessing each terminal is a great artistic choice. The only thing I didn't like as much are the relatively easy and uninspired boss fights.
This fifth dungeon definitely falls in the same vein as all the rest, and if you don't like slow-paced dungeons that involve a lot of waiting around for things to happen, you probably won't like this one at all. It's a slow burner for sure. I, for one, thought it was great. Excellent music, clever gear-themed and physics/logic-based puzzles—basically what we've come to expect, but something tells me that the slow-pace of the dungeon is merely padding to make it feel longer than it is, when it's essentially the same length as all the other ones.
What I love the most about the game's dungeons, though, is that you wind up using pretty much all of your Runes. Throughout all of the game's bonus shrines, really. The Stasis Rune is woefully underutilized in a lot of previous shrines, but in the DLC, there's actually quite a few clever applications of it, and the final dungeon is no exception.
The boss, who I won't spoil here, is pretty awesome too. Again, not too difficult, but that's not really what I'm looking for in a Zelda game anyway.
The prize for completing this dungeon is Link's Divine Beast, the Master Cycle Zero.
Understandably, this thing is quite polarizing. Lots of people think it's cool, and lots of people think it's the stupidest thing they've ever seen in a Zelda game. I'll be honest: three years ago, I probably would've fallen in that second camp. I would've thought it was just too silly. And it IS silly, but now that I've developed a sense of humor and irony over the past few years, I genuinely can't bring myself to hate this thing. Now, this sort of thing is so silly, it loops around and becomes awesome again.
So if you hate the fact that Link is now riding around on a motorcycle, I can kind of understand where you're coming from? But I'm just saying, you can either choose to be a stick in the mud about it, or you can... not
do that, and just laugh and have fun with it. Which is clearly the intent here, because I'm 99% sure that the developers are self-aware about how ludicrous this thing is. But those are your two options. Personally, I choose the more positive one.
HERE'S WHAT COOL ABOUT THE MOTORCYCLE:
- Really fucking fast
- Aimlessly rolling around and bashing into enemies with it is satisfying as fuck
- Handles like butter on a skillet
- Can go up steep hills with surprisingly low effort
- Shock-absorbent; you can ride straight off of cliffs and take no fall damage whatsoever
- Can bunny hop and catch some sick air off of ramps
- Has headlights that automatically turn on at night
- Runs out of fuel, and you get to manually fill it back up (which is oddly satisfying to do)
- Anything in your inventory can be used as fuel, but some fuel sources better than others
HERE'S WHAT NOT SO COOL:
- Can't go in reverse
- Very lenient; it can crash, but you can't really wipe out or jackknife yourself
- Runs out of fuel a little bit too fast
- Completely and utterly invalidates your horse
- Can't be used everywhere, including the Gerudo desert (lame as fuuuuck)
- Can't really do anything too fancy, like drift or do flips or anything
Overall, the Champions' Ballad is worth about $10, which puts the entire Expansion Pass at about $15. In reality, you're paying $5 more than that. Whether or not you feel it's worth shelling out for is for you to decide.
All I can say is that I don't regret my purchase whatsoever, but I would've appreciated just a little bit more content from the first DLC pack.
So there you go.