The Legend of Zelda has had quite the year. Breath of the Wild is recognized as one of the hallmark games of 2017 thanks to its changes to a formula that has been around since the early 90s. But the game wasn’t really over as Nintendo announced two DLC Packs that would be released by the end of the year. We got the first over the summer with the Master Trials, which added new challenges and features. While that was fun on its own, most fans were more curious about the 2nd pack, The Champions’ Ballad, and what form its new original story would take. Because of that descriptor, your expectations for what this DLC could have been might take away from what it is. The main content of the Champions’ Ballad can only be accessed after completing all four of the Divine Beasts. Once you do, or if you already have, you’ll be instructed to return to the Shrine of Resurrection with the promise of even greater challenges and rewards.
This leads to the first half of the DLC, where you must use a new weapon called the One-Hit Obliterator to clear out enemy encampments around the Great Plateau in order to reveal four new Shrines. The Obliterator isn’t kidding either. It will take out any enemy with just one hit, but it forces Link’s hearts so far down that one hit will instantly kill him. It’s certainly a challenge at first, especially since the Obliterator needs to recharge after every two kills and health items can’t be used. But the bigger issue I had was this was the first time I returned to the game in months, leading to hefty challenge while relearning my old techniques. However, by the halfway point of this challenge, I had gotten back into the swing of things and had quite a lot of fun. There was something about the added risks that made each new shrine even more exciting. And once you finish all four of these Shrines, a new structure appears near each Divine Beast.
These guide you to challenges that must completed around Hyrule in order to access even more Shrines and then once again confront the bosses from those Divine Beasts, just with limited weapons and items this time around. This part of the DLC is what tried my patience the most. And that might have been because I went after the task that required shooting the dragon Dinraal in the horn. But what I didn’t realize was that it had to be done in a specific spot, which led to a lot of wandering and frustration on my part.
However, once I had a grasp on what each point meant and what I had to do there, I did start to have some real fun. Each of these tasks are topped off by a new Shrine, meaning there’s 16 new Shrines in the DLC total. In fact, many of these are some of the best in the game. Not all of them, but the ones that really clicked made me excited for what’s next. It all culminates in a brand new Divine Beast-like dungeon and a new boss. So gameplay-wise, I believe the Champions’ Ballad adds a lot of great new content, especially if you liked hunting down and completing Shrines in the main game. The sudden challenge of the One-Hit Obliterator and hunting down the new Shrines can feel frustrating though when you can’t really figure out where you’re supposed to go.
But as time goes on, I got a feel for where I needed to go and what I needed to do. You might have noticed that I didn’t mention much story in all of that despite this ostensibly being story DLC. Well, that’s because there really isn’t that much. This new original story basically amounts to encountering Kass near each of the new structures, having him provide clues to what you’re supposed to do, and upon completing it, have him sing a song that shows a new cutscene and delves a little more into the personalities of the Champions.
And these are appreciated. I felt the Champions were extremely underdeveloped when I first played Breath of the Wild. And while these scenese don’t add much, I did get a better sense of why they were considered Champions. Diaries also expand upon this characterization, but it doesn’t amount to any major revelations. It’s most character moments that I appreciated although this is far from a new original story. Instead, it’s more of the storytelling that was in the main game, half-cooked at best with tons of lost potential. Otherwise, the DLC contains more costumes to find and the new Master Cycle Zero as a reward for completing this quest. There’s no way around it.
As surreal as it is to see Link ride a motorcycle around Hyrule, it’s still a lot of fun. Falling from any height doesn’t damage him, he ram through most enemies, and still use the techniques available while riding a horse. Sure it needs fuel, but materials are used for that and not that many are really needed. The only thing that stops it are walls and deep water. Otherwise, it’s great fun to use. The Champions’ Ballad is great DLC if you simply wanted more gameplay in Breath of the Wild. Between the Obliterator Challenge, the 16 new Shrines, the boss rematches, and the new Divine Beast, there’s easily 7 to 9 hours of gameplay here. If you’re looking for more story, you’ll likely enjoy what you see, but it’s more characterization than expanding upon the plot. I still liked the DLC and feel that if you enjoyed Breath of the Wild, and are still eager for more, then both DLC Packs will fill that need.
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