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?
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.