Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1's Hard Mode Will Kick Even the Best Players in the Teeth

Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC Pack 1's Hard Mode Will Kick Even the Best Players in the Teeth

Are you a bad enough dude to save the Princess?

How committed are you to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? This isn't a question of enjoyment; a number of folks out there love the game intensely, exploring all of the nooks and crannies Link's latest adventure offers. It's a matter of how deep you have gone.

Have you scoured the land of Hyrule and taken on its toughest challenges? Did you overcome Eventide Island? Did you hunt down and face all of the Hinox? Are you adept at killing even the Silver Lynel? Have you killed every Molduga and Talus? Conquered all of the Labyrinth shrines? This isn't meant to throw these challenges in your face if you haven't completed them. It's a question in regards to the first downloadable content (DLC) release for Breath of the Wild.

The Master Trials is exactly what it says on the tin. Sure, there's some extra equipment that you get for picking up the Expansion Pass, but the brunt of this content is expert-level stuff. If that's not your thing, I can't see you enjoying the Master Trials too much.

The Extra Stuff - Tingle, Midna, Phantoms, and More

Before we get to the main course, let's dive into the stuff that is a bit more accessible to everyone. After buying the Expansion Pass and downloading the update, you'll be prompted in-game with the weird, disembodied Sheikah voice to go find a series of journals that will point you towards some new costume items.

Unlike the Amiibo costumes, this new equipment isn't easy to find. Instead, you're given vague hints as to where you can acquire all the bits and pieces. Most items are in the vicinity of Hyrule Field and require you to hunt down specific ruins based on the hints you've received. Once there, you'll have to uncover the chest with your Magnesis rune, as they're buried in the ground. Some are harder than others, but they're all within the bounds of average play.

Hello, new friend.

My favorite of the new items is Tingle's Outfit, which offers the stylish look of the greatest hero if you track down all three pieces. The entire set gives you additional running speed at night, which is creepy as hell if you think about it too much. There's also the Phantom Armor, recalling the armored foes from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. The entire set gives Attack Up, not unlike the Barbarian Armor you can already acquire in the base game.

Oddly enough, wearing either the full Tingle's Outfit or Phantom Armor causes the average citizen in Hyrule to become startled and frozen with fear. The Phantom Armor looks intimidating, but the Goddesses only know what made folks fear Tingle that much.

The single pieces of DLC armor include Midna's Helmet, which gives Guardian Resistance; the Korok Mask, which causes your Switch to vibrate in the presence of a hidden Korok; and Majora's Mask, which makes some of the weaker enemies think Link is actually on their side. The latter is actually pretty awesome, since it lets you avoid some of the more annoying minor encounters you might have in Hyrule. Once I unlocked it, I took to wearing it most of the time.

The Travel Medallion is a little harder to get for anyone who hasn't spent their time fully exploring the vanilla game. If you have, even then there's a slight challenge related to actually looting the item. Once you've picked it up though, it allows you to make one fast travel point anywhere on the map, which is great if you have a solid farming spot or mini-boss you're preparing to kill.

Finally, there's the Path of the Hero, which unlocks automatically on your map screen. This retroactively tracks your path for the last 200 hours of playtime. You can also fast-forward and rewind through your journey at will. It's a good tool to show where you have and haven't gone in the game and it's cool to actually follow your path through Hyrule.

Uhh, sure dude.

The Master Trials: Trial of the Sword

That's a good amount of stuff, but the Expansion Pass is $19.99 for two DLC packs, meaning DLC Pack 1 is roughly $10 of the total. For $10, the Trial of the Sword and Hard Mode are the meat of what you're getting in the game. The Trial of the Sword sends you back to the place where you first found the Master Sword. There, you'll undergo a series of challenges to prove your worth. Survive, and you'll unlock the true power of the legendary weapon.

I'm not done with the Trial of the Sword, because it's not an easy path. (Well, except for this guy, who already beat it.) If you've played Eventide Island in the base game, then you'll come with a solid understanding of what to expect here. When you start the first room of the Trial of the Sword, all of your weapons and items will be stripped from you. You have to defeat all the enemies in each room to proceed and you can only do so with the weapons and items you find inside the trial.

The entire Trial is 54 rooms, split into three groups. Every group of rooms you finish is a milestone, allowing you to return to that point in the Trial. (I wouldn't recommend leaving though, because you won't keep your rooms-worth of items when you return.) If you played Eventide Island and thought it was tough, imagine a few Eventides back-to-back. It's a struggle to survive and dying shunts you back to the beginning if you didn't reach one of the milestones.

It's the kind of challenge made for top-tier players of Breath of the Wild, which makes it an interesting focus of the first DLC. I assume Nintendo's mental calculus is the players that will buy the DLC are their most avid fans, so this content is aimed at them. I'm unsure how many Breath of the Wild fans are up to the task though.

The hell you say.

The Master Trials: Master Mode

If the Trial of the Sword is a particularly steep hill, Master Mode is a mountain reaching high into the clouds. Once you've updated with the DLC, Master Mode is a toggle on the main menu of the game. It's separate from the base game, with its own save and autosave slots. If you're up for it Master Mode is whole world of pain and self-flagellation.

The core combat and exploration of Breath of the Wild doesn't change in Master Mode. What does change is the enemies. Every single enemy is one level higher up the food chain. If an enemy was a Bokoblin in the base game, it's a Blue Bokoblin in Master Mode. Tiny ChuChus are now their bigger counterparts. Octoroks and a Lynel appear on the Grand Plateau. It's not even the red-maned Lynel you encounter, it's the white-maned version.

It's not just that there are more enemies and they're stronger. Right from the jump, you'll realize you're in for a nightmare when you face the first Blue Bokoblin. If an enemy isn't taking a damage from Link, they'll begin to regain health. And the regen timer is super-short, meaning if you knock an enemy away from you, they'll actually gain a bit of the health back while they're laying on the ground, getting up, and running back towards you. You have to knock away an enemy and immediately rushdown to keep them from healing. Basically, any one fight is much, much longer than it is in the base game.

Master Mode is simply vicious, offering a punishing adventure for even the most hardened of Legend of Zelda players. I honestly don't think I'm up to the task. I look forward to seeing those who are though.

What you're left with is a DLC for the best of the best. Most of DLC Pack 1 is wrapped up in Master Mode and the Trial of the Sword. I welcome more options for players of Breath of the Wild, but I'm surprised there's not more here for the casual or mid-level player. If you're not as adept at the game, The Master Trials are probably not for you, leaving you to wait for the story-focused DLC Pack 2. That pack, entitled the Champions' Ballad, is set to launch this Holiday season. That's ultimately a choice you have to make for yourself.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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