Review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – The Master Trials 

 The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch [reviewed], Wii U)
Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Released: June 30, 2017
MSRP: $19.99 (part of the season pass, cannot buy individually)

Trial of the Sword:

Clocking in at 45 floors, the only actual “new” areas in Master Trials are in the form of challenge rooms. Folks might remember this sort of thing as “the free endgame dungeon” from select Zeldagames (like the Cave of Ordeals), but now it’s a premium. And frankly, given the drab aesthetics of the trials themselves, they aren’t up to snuff.

It’s actually several trials, so don’t worry about having to clear the entire thing at once — it’s a good call as I like the tempered difficulty of having to one-shot bits and pieces. If you reach the end your Master Sword is always going to be powered up…yay? The juice isn’t really worth the squeeze, but the experience might be depending on how much you like arena battles (the first 10-15 are basically “hey, you remember these enemies right?”).

Hero’s Path:

This feature really doesn’t need a lot of fanfare, it’s just a simple vanity UI update that’s unlocked immediately.

Now you can track the last 200 hours of your playtime by way of a line on the world map, which is really cool to look at once, then never again. Very sparingly I’ve found myself thinking “where was I 30 minutes ago?” and the ability to not second guess myself is cool, but it isn’t something I want to do often.

Hard Mode (Master Mode):

Surprisingly this is probably my favorite part of the Trials DLC.

It fundamentally changes the game by adding new enemy types (basically beefed-up existing versions) and a separate save slot. It’s bonkers that it took a premium DLC mode (that’s typically included in Zelda games to the tune of “Second Quest” or some variation since the very first on NES) to add a slot but it’s a thing now, and it spurred me into playing through Breath of the Wild yet again, so it did its job.

My favorite bit on top of the added toughness is undoubtedly the high-end enemies. Hunting down some of the tougher elite foes on the world map is my biggest pastime with this game, and confrontations with Golden Lynels live up to the hype.

This is probably how I’m going to be playing Breath of the Wild in perpetuity.

Items:

As one of the most “Bethesda-esque” add-ons Nintendo has ever done, with a conceit like this (premium items) you really need to hit it home. I don’t think the Master Trials DLC does this here.

For one, Breath of the Wild already went pretty far when it came to fanservice in the core game, with countless old-school outfits and Easter eggs to discover — then there’s the new trio of Link amiibo to consider. The addition of Majora’s Mask, Midna’s Helmet, Phantom Armor, Tingle’s Outfit, and a Korok Mask (in addition to a few others that are scattered about the world) simply isn’t enough. When it comes to functionality, the latter is the only one that stands out as it shakes when you’re near Korok seeds — but since there’s no way in hell I’m doing all of those (I’m going for everything else but) your mileage may vary. The rest should have just been added as a free update and not bundled into a DLC.

There’s also a Travel Medallion (that you can find near the Tu Ka’loh Shrine in the northwest of the map), which works as a “return,” type spell found in many RPGs like The Elder Scrolls and various MMOs. You can mark one area on the map to teleport to (typically a place that doesn’t have a fast-travel option) and use the item to go there. I dig the idea of making an area like Tarrey Town “my home,” and quickly warping there — but it isn’t something I dearly need.

That said, having most of these pop up as “EX” sidequests in the Sheikah Slate is a nice touch.

The Master Trials is such a strange collective of DLC, and I wish Nintendo added something more substantial story-wise for their first add-on. But on the other side of the coin Breath of the Wild was so densely packed already that I believe it was already worth more than the asking price (an assessment that didn’t factor into this review, but one I thought about all the same.

Trials is a hodgepodge of stuff that should have been patched in and stuff worthy of extra development time, but since there’s still another chapter that promises a new narrative and a dungeon — the Season Pass might be worth the full price yet. Until then just ask yourself how much you play Breath of the Wild, read some trusted opinions, and go from there.

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