Nintendo were a bit late getting on the DLC train in the first place, but when they did the results were pleasantly surprising. Breath of the Wild has taken no lessons from their Mario Kart & Smash Bros. DLC successes, bending back into a cheap cash grab that just feels a bit scummy.
Perhaps the worst thing about this one is that all DLC content is locked into the Season Pass. If only one thing in it interests you, then that’s too bad — you’re going to have to fork out £17.99/$19.99 if you want it. Regardless of the availability of its individual components, even the two packs they’re being released in (one out now, and one in winter) can’t be purchased separately either.
Rather than trying to really sell anyone on any one thing that’s included, a look at the contents makes it feel at best like they’ve tried to bung in whatever they can to push you over the edge into thinking it feels like a justifiable price. And at worst, an attempt to strong arm you into forking out a larger sum when all you really want is the story DLC. That’s even with giving the pre-purchase Switch t-shirt and in-game items a pass. Let’s break what you get down into some categories.
Should have been a free update / in the game already
Hero’s Path Mode, the Travel Medallion, the Korok mask, Master Mode
Besides Master Mode, these are essentially just quality of life improvements. Looking at this list here, I can almost see the old-fashioned Xbox 360 dashboard materialising before my eyes, like I’m looking at gross Oblivion DLC. These are the kind of things Final Fantasy XV is desperately trying to give players for free to convince them its backhalf wasn’t bad. But here, you’re expected to splash out on the Season Pass for them.
Hero’s Path gives you the neat feature of being able to track your movements on the map for the past 200 hours, and applies retroactively to your progress. The travel medallion allows you to set a single custom fast travel waypoint at a time. The Korok mask shakes when you’re near one of the 900 Koroks hidden around the map, making it a bit easier to find them all — almost defeating the purpose of them being cleverly and subtly hidden, though findable through sheer density. Still, these are all fairly nice features that would be cool to have in an update, but having to pay for them, and pay big, feels a bit off. One is an interesting curio, one makes travelling a bit more convenient, another isn’t all too far off an Assassin’s Creed chest map.
I feel a little unfair lumping Master Mode in here, as it does look like a little bit of effort went into it. But first off, the game’s difficulty is largely affected by your own player choices anyway. Without a critical path, making a harder mode in this manner is a bit bizarre. The most this really adds are balloon platforms throughout the world. To top it off, the “Master Quest”, “Second Quest”, or “Hero Mode” concept has been a series staple for years. Charging for it now isn’t a great look.
Would be nice to be able to buy individually, and aren’t essential
The Trial of the Sword, New Armour, “Even More New Challenges”
The Trial of the Sword is a bit on the edge here. It’s so close to something like the Savage Labyrinth or The Cave of Ordeals from Wind Waker and Twilight Princess respectively that it also gives off the feeling of being content that should have been in the game anyway. Not to mention the reward, making the Master Sword more powerful, feels like a bit of a cop-out for DLC — paying to make a weapon better. If they really wanted to enhance its power, shouldn’t that have been possible to do without DLC anyway?
The Trial of the Sword, however, does add an interesting twist to the usual “make your way through lots of rooms killing enemies” mini-dungeon format — starting you off with no items akin to the oft-praised Eventide Island sequence in the main game. If that’s something that appeals to me, then yeah, it’d be nice to be able to buy it. If I hate the format of those mini-dungeons (because face it, they’ve never been high points of the games), then I’d like to skip it.
I’ve always got time for New Armour. Heck, even new skins would be fun. Sure, I could grumble on and on about how such things used to be always unlockable in the game (I mean, Dark Link is), but fair enough. Sometimes you’ve gotta buy some nice bonuses. These 8 pieces of equipment reference older games, letting you rock Majora’s Mask, Midna’s Helmet, Phantom Knight equipment from Phantom Hourglass, and, of course, the Tingle set. If you’re a massive fan of Majora’s Mask and only want that headwear? Tough luck. You’ve gotta go all in. Not being able to pick and choose the ones I actually want, again, just comes across as a little low.
“Even more new challenges” are promised in the second DLC pack, but it’s not clear what those will be. Most likely, these will fall under this category for a lot of people. I don’t want to be forced to buy a challenge, just as I don’t want someone to make me eat a stack of 20+ Pringles in one mouthful, though given the choice I’m all up for undertaking the challenge.
Probably must-haves (but still would be nice to be able to buy on their own)
A new dungeon, an original chapter of the story
Here’s the good stuff. But the real question is whether it’s worth the full price of the season pass for one extra dungeon and a bit of story we don’t know about yet. It probably won’t be, and Nintendo’s reluctance to allow players to grab it on its own doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence either. But, more than likely, given the quality of the main game that it’ll be extending, it will be on some level pretty good. The issue is that all of this meat of the Season Pass is right at the end, in the winter pack. And we know next to nothing about it.
All we know is that this pack will be called “The Champions’ Ballad” — revealed like a PowerPoint presentation in Nintendo’s E3 Switch Direct. I’d love to know more about the champions, but the lack of info isn’t exactly making me want to rush out to grab the season pass in advance. Ditto the dungeon. Being forced to buy the entire Season Pass to eventually get your mitts on these isn’t right. I can feel the weight of a briefcase packed with thousands of dollars in my right hand, as I make my way on a quiet Tokyo subway at night on the way to a hostage exchange. I grip that briefcase tightly.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Breath of the Wild, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what a new chapter of the story will entail, and what the new dungeon will be like. I’ll get get excited when they give me a reason to be, so they can cool it on the upsell. It’s a great game, so let these additions stand on their own merits. It seems like they understand this with their fantastic DLC plans for Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U — so dropping the ball here seems totally baffling.