At the end of June, we got our first big batch of DLC for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Dubbed The Master Trials, this DLC granted us two new fun and exciting challenges: the Master difficulty, which is a new game file with more powerful enemies in unexpected locations among other changes, and the Trial of the Sword, a side quest where Link must prove his worth to wield the true power of the Master Sword, or die trying.
Master Mode is a new difficulty setting that is handled independently from the main game, with only one main save and one auto save. Master Mode is a more difficult challenge with added enemies and features that the original game did not have. One of the things I noticed very, very quickly was that a Lynel was dropped right into the starting zone and spotted me before I even had a chance to process what was about to happen. Clearly, Nintendo isn’t screwing around. If that wasn’t enough, I noticed that after a short period of time of not hitting it effortlessly, its health bar began regenerating. That’s just a little sadistic. But hey, at least they weren’t lying when they said it’d be more difficult.
There are other changes as well: new floating platform battles give you the chance to square up against a group of foes for a piece of treasure, enemies are more aware of their surroundings and spot you easier/faster, and every monster rank has been bumped up by one, which of course means that a new rank has been added as well. Its a welcome difficulty spike for Breath of the Wild. While the game itself was never exceptionally easy [we all made a small mistake at one time or another that got us killed despite having max hearts and 20+ armor], you did adjust to the flow eventually and feel like you had a good grasp on how to survive, and made careless mistakes less and less [unless you’re me and have no fear]. To that end, I’m impressed by Master Mode and how Nintendo was able to catch us off guard with their changes. It almost feels like a whole new game to….master? I’ll see myself out.
The other major addition is the Trial of the Sword. After returning the Master Sword to it’s pedestal, Link will go into the trial with absolutely none of the items he gained thus far. Just his underwear and the Sheikah Slate. You want food? You want weapons? You want some pants? You gotta earn it all back, kid.
It’s a great challenge that still showcases what makes Breath of the Wild so special to me- with rooms giving more than one way to approach a situation: be it stealing enemy weapons with your magnet, dropping metal boxes on them, popping balloons to drop foes into pits, or throwing explosive barrels at unsuspecting victims. It’s as fun and free as the rest of the game, and even when I got struck down in the final rooms, I didn’t feel discouraged and happily started over from the beginning to test myself again, and again, and again…and again [I’m not very good, apparently]. It feels like just the right level of difficult- I never thought I didn’t stand a chance, and when I died it was [mostly] my fault for not accounting for something or reading an attack too late [or because lava is a load of BS], or because I was an idiot and got greedy.
All in all, this batch of DLC is absolutely solid. Master Mode offers a fresh new change to the overall package and is sure to delight players who feel like they have bested the original game. Trial of the Sword offers a great reward but demands you work for it until the last enemy falls. There are other extra goodies, like some new armor pieces that grant various new effects, and a medallion that allows you to set a waypoint you can teleport to at will- all that are linked to different side quests. I’m excited to fully complete Master Mode like I did the original Breath of the Wild, and even more excited to complete the Trial of the Sword under this new, grueling difficulty [now accepting bets on how many years that will take me. I’ll probably have to have my grandson do it].
The next DLC pack, The Champion’s Ballad, is due out during the Holiday season of 2017.