DLC Impressions – Breath of the Wild: The Master Trials

Ever since I completed Breath of the Wild, I’ve been dying for another reason to dig into this amazing game again. While Nintendo’s DLC strategy has been questionable, forcing you to buy a $20 “season pass” without giving you the option to purchase the DLC as a standalone package, I have still been looking forward to this DLC. This is not a “full” review, since I don’t think this DLC warrants it, just some random thoughts on it.

The Trial of the Sword

The biggest and best feature in this DLC pack is its namesake, the Trial of the Sword. This new quest takes you back to the Korok Forest, where you can now access a special series of trials that will help you unlock the full power of the Master Sword. These trials are surprisingly deep and lengthy, delivering a couple of hours of gameplay. The Trial of the Sword boils Breath of the Wild back down to its wonderful core basics. You have no equipment, and you have to survive by gathering items, cooking the best possible meals and taking as little damage as possible. It’s a total blast.

It took me around 2 to 4 hours to beat all of the trials, of which there are three. The trials reward you with a powered up Master Sword, which is definitely useful, since that’s the only weapon in the game that doesn’t break completely. It’s a tad disappointing that this features no new enemies or environments, though. You’ll be wandering around setpieces that very much resemble the other locations in the game, fighting the same old enemies, so there’s really nothing truly new here. It’s just more of what was in the base of Breath of the Wild, which I can’t complain too much about.

Master Mode

The other big feature is the introduction of Master Mode, which acts as a Hard mode/New Game+. This mode has a totally separate save file, and it certainly lives up to its name. The mode features leveled up foes, which intrinsically makes enemy encounters more difficult. Additionally, a couple of enemy locations have been shuffled around or added (Infamously, there is now a Lynel in the Great Plateau), and floating platforms pop up everywhere from time to time with enemies on them.

It’s nice, since this gives it a little more spice than the “Hero Mode” of the past games. It’s just a little sad that they didn’t go further with it–it still feels like the base Breath of the Wild campaign, just a little tougher. For a paid DLC, I think something more akin to Ocarina of Time‘s Master Quest, which remixed the game’s dungeons a bit, would have been appreciated.

Other Assorted Features

A couple of new items were added, although there’s nothing big here. The most useful of the bunch is the Korok Mask, which acts as a radar for Korok Seeds, and honestly, should have been in the base game to begin with. The Travel Medallion is nice as well, but it’s really only useful in new saves where you haven’t unlocked all of the shrines. Other items steer closer to fan service, such as the Tingle outfit and Majora’s Mask.

Unfortunately, the quest lines to unlock these items are pretty bland. You are directed to mysterious journals scattered throughout the world, which give you vague clues as to the location of the items. Sure, it works, but it would have been more fun to go a little further with the quests here. They could have added a small storyline to explain the presence of these items, for example. The current presentation they went with just feels lazy.

Finally, there’s the introduction of Hero’s Path mode. It sure is neat to look at all the places I’ve been to in Hyrule in the past 120 hours of gameplay, and maybe even try to fill in the gaps on the places I’ve missed. However, it’s really not that useful, and I don’t see myself using this feature ever again, really.

Final Opinion

Unless you were hardcore into Breath of the Wild like me, I would hold off on this DLC for now. These additions are nice, sure, but they still aren’t worth the $20 season pass that you are forced to buy here. The promise of a more meaty DLC down the line may make it worth the purchase later this year, but these additions, although fun, are not game changing. This DLC is for Zelda enthusiasts, and others might not find as much substance here.

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