The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Master Trials DLC (Switch) Review

Challenge Accepted

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has garnered praise from players all over the world since its launch with the Nintendo Switch. The game ventured into new territory as the first 3D open-world Zelda title and did away with the traditional linear structure. Now, it’s the first mainline Zelda title (not counting Hyrule Warriors or amiibo) to have DLC, starting with Pack 1: “The Master Trials.” It’s a surprising move given how massive BotW already is. The big questions are: what did Nintendo substantially add and is it worth it?

Here is the Video Version for your viewing pleasure!

First of all, you haven’t yet played Breath of the Wild, you can check out my previous review. I would highly recommend going through the main storyline and doing as much as you can before considering picking up the DLC. Note, there are some minor visual spoilers but no story-related spoilers in this review.

The Master Trials’ hooks are the difficult Trial of the Sword (TotS) and the harder Master Mode, so this set is clearly geared towards players seeking a challenge. Trial of the Sword is a 45-floor gauntlet, similar to those found in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Unlike Twilight Princess, the TotS strips you of all of your equipment and items, leaving only your hearts and stamina. Needless to say, the mode is tough from the get-go, even before it starts throwing the truly devious enemies and environmental challenges at you. Thankfully, a couple of permanent checkpoints ensure that you make some progress, but if you die before reaching any of those, you must start over from the beginning.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1 The Master Trials Review Trial of the Sword.jpg
Let me just take out my trusty sword… Oh.

Although it can get frustratingly difficult, I liked how TotS emphasized the core themes of the main game: survival and resourcefulness. Since you must build your repertoire each time with very limited healing, it felt like a true test of endurance. It’ll likely take at least a few hours to get through this challenge, but that’s assuming you finish it one try. Completionists will appreciate the Master Sword upgrade, but merely beating it is already an accomplishment.

The other major addition, Master Mode, is a harder version of the main game that restarts you from the beginning on a separate file. Unlike the Master Quest in Ocarina of Time, the game is by and large the same. The shrine puzzles don’t change, nor do any quests or locations. It’s the enemies that get tougher, with lower-ranked minions replaced by stronger ones. There are some surprises regarding enemy placement and new floating Octoroks that can lift other foes in midair. Additionally, enemies now recharge health over time, making battles taxing on your weapons’ limited durability. I found this annoying, especially since I wasn’t a fan of the durability system in the first place.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1 The Master Trials Review Master Mode
Sky Octoroks – unexpectedly awesome addition

I’m mixed about the developers’ decision to completely separate Master Mode from your main file. On the one hand, it makes sense to separate the mode since the experience is different enough. On the other hand, starting another 60+ hour file when my old 100+ hour file is still incomplete wasn’t the most appealing route. Overall, it’s fun to replay a remixed, more threatening version, but part of my enjoyment comes from the fact that BotW is already a fantastic game.

There are a handful of goodies that roundup the DLC package, though you have to manually find these unlocked prizes in the world. Although I loved having something big to look for again, some players could be understandably upset that they have to earn something they already paid for. The one thing that is available from the get-go is the Hero’s Path, a map function that tracks everywhere you’ve traveled in the last 200 hours. It’s extremely detailed, allowing you to retrace your exact path, including humorous voice samples where you died. It sounds like a silly idea, but it’s surprisingly useful to see which areas you’ve neglected.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1 The Master Trials Hero's Path.jpg
Useful for planning your next trip to Hyrule.

The most helpful item for completionists is the Korok Mask, which alerts you when one of the woodland creatures is nearby. It doesn’t tell you how to find the Korok, but a nudge in the right direction helps in locating the many hundreds of them hiding about. Another useful item is the Travel Medallion, which lets you set a custom warp point; it’s a small convenience, but it pays off if you’ve reached an isolated area without a nearby fast-travel point.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1 The Master Trials Korok Mask
Yahaha! You found me!

The remaining armor pieces are references from other games and mostly serve as fan service for collectors. Majora’s Mask is my favorite of the set, not only hailing from the amazing game, but also allowing you to walk alongside enemies without being attacked. The Phantom Armor is next in terms of usefulness, boosting your attack and defense, making combat easier. Both of these outfits help considerably in Master Mode.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1 The Master Trials Majora's Mask
You’ve met with a terrible fate, haven’t you?

Meanwhile, Midna’s Helmet protects you from Guardians, and most importantly, lets you cosplay as one of the best Zelda sidekicks. Finally, Tingle’s Outfit lets you become a beautiful 35-year old man cosplaying as a fairy in a skin-tight green suit… It also lets you run faster. Tingle Tingle Kooloo Limpah! Overall, the outfits look great and have some nice powers. The drawback is that none of them can be upgraded, making all but Majora’s Mask mostly useless once you have better armor. I take that back; dressing up like Tingle is never useless.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1 The Master Trials Tingle's Outfit.jpg
Tingle Tingle Kooloo Limpah!

Note that you can only purchase the DLC as part of a set that includes the upcoming second DLC pack entitled “The Champions’ Ballad.” We know nothing about this except that there will be a new original story and dungeon. It won’t arrive until December though, so you could also wait and see what pack two holds before plopping down your money for the pass.

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1 The Master Trials Switch Shirt.jpg
Rare footage of Link shooting the ad for his own DLC pack.

Conclusion

While I found the DLC to be a reasonably priced excuse to re-enter a more challenging version of one of the best Zelda games, it’s certainly not for everyone. This DLC set caters to a fanbase that wants the game to be harder; skilled players and completionists will get the most out of this package. If you’re just in it for the costumes, it might not be worth your time. And if you’re still trying to beat the game, then it’s best to wait and see if you want more from the already massive experience. Otherwise, if you’re interested and you don’t back down from a challenge, then “The Master Trials” live up to their name.

What are your thoughts of The Master Trials DLC Pack?

What are the best and worst inclusions in the pack?

What kind of DLC do you want to see for Breath of the Wild?

Please share any thoughts you have in the comments section below! Thanks for watching and reading!

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20 thoughts on “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Master Trials DLC (Switch) Review

  1. Awesome review! Loved your first Zelda BOTW review and I love this one too! I was surprised by the fact that you have to hunt down all the fun costumes throughout the world after you’ve already paid for them. But it does give you more to do and explore… We ended up venturing to some new areas in search of treasure, which might not have happened unless we had a reason to go there. I think the costumes are fantastic, even if they don’t add much in terms of stat bonuses–except the Phantom Armor. The Korok Mask is handy too. I’m not brave enough to try the Trials of the Sword; too much pressure! Though I don’t mind seeing Link stripped down to his…essentials… Anyways, I’m glad to have a reason to return to enjoying this amazing game!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you as always!! I’m glad we were able to enjoy all the fun costumes together too! My favorite is still Majora’s Mask, but I also like the Phantom Armor, specifically for Master Mode, where my armor is weaker. I can understand that not wanting to try the Trial of the Sword and Master Mode… They’re both pretty hard! Also, I said in this in the video, but it’s worth saying again… umm… That’s great. Is this why we played Trial of the Sword together…? :P

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read and watched this fantastic review! 🙂 I dropped BoTW for HZD so I need to get back into it soon! However, HZD’s developers just released a FREE update so I’m going to check that out first. I’m not a fan of paying for DLC, especially when details on the other half of it haven’t even been announced yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you as always Ellen! 😀 I appreciate it a lot!! This would definitely be a great time to get back in Breath of the Wild. I know I did for this DLC, haha! Honestly, I’m having fun with the new hard mode, but I am jealous that Horizon Zero Dawn put out a FREE one! That’s really what Nintendo should have done! Grumble grumble… I don’t like paying for DLC unless it’s in a fighting game or something with a lot of characters like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U or Hyrule Warriors. BotW won me over this time, but if HZD is setting the standard for free mode updates, then Nintendo needs to upgrade its model or add more to its DLC!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Miketendo64! The Place To Go For Anything Nintendo and commented:

    Hi everyone! Mr. Panda here, with my review of the 1st DLC Pack for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Master Trials AKA hard mode with cosplay! Is the DLC Expansion Pass worth your time and money? I look at the Trial of the Sword, the harder Master Mode, and other new unlockable costumes including Majora’s Mask and Tingle’s Outfit. Kooloo Limpah!

    Like

  4. I do want to pick this up eventually. So many other games tore me away from BOTW, but I’ve enjoyed the third or so I’ve played through a lot. So I feel like I should have this for the complete package.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely recommend finishing the main story before picking up the DLC, but if you want the complete package, then getting the expansion pass is the way to go. Let me know what you think if you end up getting it! And also what you think of the main game as you play it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This definitely does sound like a blast. I’m not sure I’d want to start a completely separate file for it though so that’s too bad. I probably won’t end up purchasing it myself, but I do appreciate the effort the devs put behind this. 60+ hours of content in the package is a really good deal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Playing a separate file is a mixed bag for me. I love playing Breath of the Wild, so replaying it is still fun. Even though I remember parts of it, the game somehow still feels fresh, probably because of how large the world is. I don’t like having to do everything again to have a complete file (at least everything except Koroks). I might not complete my Master Mode file, but I’m happy to spend 60+ hours playing it! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. great review as always. I’m quite on the fence, as i initially wanted to wait until the 2nd dlc pack is out and experience both together. However with the trials of the sword and the master mode, both seem like things to keep be busy in short spurts of play until then. I’m quite intrigued to play master mode from the start.

    I am surprised that master mode forces you to start a new game, i thought it would allow you to pick up from your current save. Although i wanted to play from the start again, as you said some will probably be disappointed by that.

    Talk Nintendo mentioned this and saw it in your video review, seeing a Lynel on the Great Plateau must’ve have a big WTF moment LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much as always man! I appreciate it a lot! 😀 I’m finding this time, four months after Zelda’s launch, to be a good time to replay the whole thing. Waiting for the second pack isn’t a bad idea either, considering we don’t know what’s in it. I feel like it’ll probably be good, based on the fact that it will offer an original story and an extra dungeon, but we still don’t know much about it.

      I’m not completely surprised it uses a separate save. I mean, no other Zelda game lets you play hard mode and normal mode with the same file. I think if the game launched with Master Mode, it wouldn’t be such an issue to start over, but because we had no choice but to start with normal mode and have likely spent over a hundred hours trying to complete it, it’s a burn to have to do it over. I just like playing the game and will enjoy Master Mode without having to 100%, so it won’t be as big a problem for me.

      That Lynel though! Luckily, I avoided it, but the developers aren’t messing around! Haha!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review! I’ve recently been watching my colleague play BotW and it’s getting harder and harder to resist the urge of buying a Switch. Gah. I think Mario+Rabbids will be the fall of me. But anyway, I’m not typically a fan of non story DLCs, but I have to admit that the Master Trials is looking pretty interesting. Though I’m not sure I’m up for more challenging content. Haha.
    Given that BotW’s story is already quite short, I would love some DLCs with story content. Though I don’t know what BotW’s story is, so I don’t know if that’s possible. Perhaps something like what Heart of Stone did for the Witcher 3 would be nice for BotW.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Jamie! At the very least, the second DLC pack will add an “original story,” according to Nintendo. It will be story related, and seemingly an epilogue, so spoiler warning, haha. Definitely recommend BotW either way, regardless of the DLC!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I wasn’t aware that the second DLC would contain story. I thought it was just playing as different champions in different trials. That’s good to know! I’m still staying away from spoilers, so not going to look too much into it. Haha. Oh, I’m SOLD on BotW, it’s just a matter of getting the Switch too. The price of the pro controller is really off putting, and I tried my colleague’s joycon and they weren’t really too comfortable. Will have to wait and see. And I still need to get a 2/3DS too. So many console and games to buy!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. According to Nintendo, we will be playing as Link in the second DLC, and there’s no word about what exactly the champions’ roles are in it. So what you’re saying could be true, but it’s a mystery for now. Hope you can eventually find and get a Switch! BotW is so worth it!

        Liked by 1 person

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