It's almost time to dive back into Hyrule. The first DLC pack for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is coming this week, and it has some nice stuff in store for veteran adventurers.
New masks will let you look your best when you're flitting around Breath of the Wild's huge map. There's also a new costume that lets you dress up as Tingle, who was voted the "Sexiest Balloon Man Alive" by … someone, somewhere, I'm sure.
The DLC pack's most significant addition, however, is the "Trial of the Hero." The Trial of the Hero strips Link naked (scandalous!) and challenges him to defeat waves of enemies with whatever he can scavenge from the environment around them – or from his foes' corpses.
When we first learned Breath of the Wild is getting two DLC packs bundled as a single, inseparable purchase, I was initially annoyed about having to buy the combat-based DLC (Trial of the Hero) to access the story-based DLC coming this winter (The Champion's Ballad). I've since softened my stance, and am now looking forward to the Trial of the Hero. I know it's going to offer me a tough but fun challenge because it's based on a trial that already exists in the vanilla game: The Eventide Island challenge, also known as the Korgu Chideh shrine challenge.
Eventide Island is an isolated bit of land floating in Hyrule's southeastern sea. Sharp-eyed Zelda fans will quickly notice it shares a lot of traits with Koholint Island from The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, right down to a giant egg-shaped rock that balances delicately on top of a small mountain.
Breath of the Wild even mirrors Link's Awakening by forcing Link to re-claim his lost equipment after he's "shipwrecked." But whereas the hero recovers his sword quickly in Link's Awakening, Breath of the Wild keeps Link in his skivvies. He's allowed to steal weapons from enemies, or use sticks in a pinch, and he can forage for health-recovering sustenance.
Put simply, Link's traditional arsenal is a no-no on Eventide Island. Using a stick as a sword isn't so bad when you're up against a few Bokoblins (how many of us growing up used to pretend to be Link by swinging sticks around? Heck, how many of us still do it?), but things get sticky when you eventually have to face down lumbering, leather-skinned Hinoxes.
Several Breath of the Wild fans will tell you Eventide Island is one of the most challenging areas of the game – but it's also one of the most interesting and rewarding. Post-apocalyptic Hyrule is a land of plenty, so conquering Eventide Island is a rare instance in the game when you need to exercise serious resource management. In a way, it recaptures those first fumbling hours you experience when you play Breath of the Wild for the first time – but with Hinoxes patrolling the island, the stakes are much higher. There's little room for error, but there is lots of opportunity for planning and stealth thanks to Eventide's thick foliage.
I was originally worried the Trial of the Hero might wind up being a boring test of endurance. Now that I know I'm getting a more fleshed-out Eventide Island quest, I'm pumped to whack Bokoblins with a stick, take their cheap wooden weapons, and keep working my way up. Link, my boy, you're about to climb one hell of a career ladder.
Featured Midboss of the Week
The Atari 2600 was one of my first game consoles (my actual first was the ColecoVision), but few games on the systems enchanted me the way most NES games did. There was one big exception, and anyone who's followed my writing since my 1UP days (thank you!) probably knows what it is: Solaris, a space exploration / shooting game that launched late in the 2600's life.
Solaris' graphics, concept, and AI are all highly advanced for an Atari game. The game pits you against a vicious menagerie of alien pilots (all of whom want humanity dead, of course), and some are cleverer than others. The alien ships I want to talk about are the deadliest scourge in the galaxy: The dreaded Cobra ships.
No, not the kind of "Co-BRAAAAA!" that brings GI Joe running. These Cobras actually have their stuff together. They weave, duck, dodge, and zig-zag while shooting relentlessly. If one of their star-shaped projectiles hits you, it sucks up precious fuel and it damages your precious radar system. You can't refuel and fix your radar until you find a friendly base, but those become more and more scarce as you plunge deeper into space. Unsurprisingly, Cobra ships become increasingly common the further you wander from safe territory.
They're deadly vessels, but at least their shifting rainbow hues are nice to look at. You get just enough time to say "Hey, I didn't know the Atari could do that!" before you're blasted into bits of space dust.