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Breath of the Wild Expansion Pass Review

By Sean Michael-Patrick Thompson
December 23, 2017

Finally it’s here! Since the announcement early this summer that Breath of the Wild would be getting DLC, it has caught the attention of many gamers, positive or otherwise. Now that we have seen the last expansion included in the season pass, I feel like it begs a question; is it worth it? Is twenty dollars a fair price for the additional content contained within the three waves of material? Let’s jump right in!

I’ll be honest, I said “three waves,” but I’m certain we all know the first wave was barely as cool as a bag of rocks. In fact, one of the treasure chests contained a ruby, so it literally could be equated to rocks. To be fair, the Nintendo Switch shirt was kind of cool to celebrate the release of one of the greatest consoles ever, though I think Wii U owners may have seen it as a bit of a middle finger. Even if you like the free stuff, though, the first wave added nothing to the game that made it better. It was nice for us day-one purchasers to have something to show for our support, but I feel like the items could have been easier to find and/or more useful. I actually have played the game through multiple times and still don’t know where to find the Switch shirt.

Shortly after the initial launch, the first real expansion released, The Master Trials. This was when I actually began to feel redeemed in my purchase. I would have been happy to play literally anything Zelda-related, but this expansion gave me something I never knew I wanted; the series’ best ever hard mode.

Since the days of Twilight Princess, we have seen the series get continuously easier. Not to say that Wind Waker was all that difficult, but I felt there was a heavy drop in difficulty between the two. Within Skyward Sword and the two Wii U remakes, the Hero Mode challenges made me think a little harder about my actions. I found these challenges fun but by simply planning ahead and packing some extra potions or fairies they ultimately lacked a significant difficulty boost.

Master Mode is different. You do not take increased damage, but rather your enemies are all scaled up to the next level. You fight the harder baddies far earlier in the game, and the difficulty does not even out until you complete at least sixty shrines just based on how hard the new Golden foes hit. Even at twenty hearts, if I was wearing a lower rated armor suit, (because it’s cold up here) Golden Lynels would one-shot me.

Is a game really better for being harder, though? Of course not, otherwise I might like Zelda II. Still, the difficulty in Master Mode is unlike any from previous titles because it is more rewarding. Really you can’t brag about playing Twilight Princess HD on Hero Mode until you beat the game. With Master Mode, I got to brag almost immediately after defeating the Silver Lynel on the Great Plateau. Beyond bragging rights, the souped-up foes drop better gear, and we all know how important it is in the game to keep your inventory chock full of good weapons in case of emergency.

Speaking of rewarding you, there were also more treasures to find because of the increased enemy count. Floating atop Octorok-powered airships, hundreds of additional Bokoblins and Lizalfos would pester you as well as provide good treasure if you could reach it. I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally killed an Octo, causing my hard-won treasure to plummet to the river below. Sometimes I would hop down and fish it out, but that could throw me off track for quite a long time since I’d have to figure out how to get the item and then escape the gorge. These small misadventures are my favorite part of the game, and the fact that Master Mode’s increase in opportunities for them adds to the astounding adventure that we all agree to adore.

What was this expansion called again? Master Trials? Oh yeah, I almost forgot the key element of the first DLC pack, the relentless sub-adventure to power up the Master Sword. I was so excited playing Master Mode that I actually forgot this was added until somebody inquired about my thoughts on Twitter. I have now given a few brief attempts and all I can say is that it is by far the most difficult gauntlet challenge in the series, which includes my 3 heart Master Mode Blight Ganon Gauntlet in Hyrule Castle. I intend to go back and finish the Master Trials eventually, but to do so will require at least a whole afternoon off, so for now I’ll have to stick to shorter sessions of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

December Seventh. A date which will live in infamy. I find it oddly poetic that a Japanese game company picked this particular anniversary to announce and release one of the most anticipated DLC packs of all time (though the event was scheduled by The Game Awards, so they might not have had any control). Maybe an add-on to a great game doesn’t quite make up for forcing us into World War II, but it’s a start, and I’ll take it. Apology accepted, Japan.

On the topic we all expected me to move to, how was The Champions’ Ballad? Did it deliver enough on top of the Master Trials to justify a twenty dollar expense? As James Earl Jones once said, “Totes magotes.” And trust me, arguing with Darth Vader is not something you want to do. Even if I am taking his words out of context to prove a separate point.

Imagine you spent about twenty bucks on an indie game. How long would you play it to justify your expense? Ten hours? Thirty or forty? Between my second playthrough on Master Mode and the additional quest within the second pack, I sank more than one hundred hours into this game. Granted I had already spent over one hundred hours in the original, but Master Mode made it even more fun, and at least a good twenty hours was spent on the new content. Sixteen shrines and a dungeon is nothing to scoff at. Even though you might have preferred a different dungeon to a fifth Divine Beast, it was still a complex series of very Zelda-like puzzles, and it delivered the level of satisfaction I have come to expect out of the series from beginning to end.

After the final dungeon, you also are greeted by the least expected boss of all time, and on Master Mode, he gave me a run for my money. Of all the fights in the game, Monk Maz Koshia delivered the most memorable boss experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually the one guy in the world that actually enjoyed Calamity Ganon, but this takes it to another level by adding several phases through the battle, and none of them are very much the same, which serves as a marvelous capstone to the additional adventure.

…Oh yeah, and what about the story? As I have stated before, I consider Breath of the Wild’s narrative to be the best in the series, and this DLC takes the same approach as the main game. Stories should not be linear. Every person on Earth wanders through this open-world landscape we have and experiences it in their own way, and the Zelda team managed to capture that feeling in a fictitious locale. While it is not quite so rife with details as other entries, this method of presentation allows players to discover each shard of the story in their own way and piece together the narrative from scratch. Better storytelling has never been achieved in a video game.

Plus there’s like a buttload of Kass.

In the end, my recommendation would be to purchase this DLC the moment you get the game if you don’t have either, and if you have the game but are on the fence about the DLC, just go for it, you’ll be happy. It’s more of the best open-world game of all time, and our Game of the Year here at TGPZ.

What do you guys think? If you have the DLC expansion pass, would you say it’s worth it? Should the story have focused more heavily on Revali and Sidon like your fan-fiction? Let me know in the comments or within the Twitter and keep the conversation travelling.