The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild represents many firsts for Nintendo. It is the first open-world entry in the series, as well as the first to appear on the Switch. It is also the very first main game to get a season pass and paid DLC. Which seemed like something we felt like we couldn’t pass judgment on until we knew exactly what the add-ons consisted of. Now, the curtain has been thrown back on The Master Trials expansion and it kind of sucks.
Not that the quality seems bad or it could be cheap. The Master Trials is going to give us a Hard Mode, Cave of Trials Challenge, Hero’s Path feature, and extra bits of equipment for Link. The problem is that many of these things feel like items that shouldn’t have been taken out of the main experience and sold separately. At least two of these things are features that used to be included as standard options in The Legend of Zelda games, and it seems wrong that they’ve been plucked and sold separately for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Let’s start with Trial of the Sword, the challenge The Master Trials takes its name from. This is an optional, 45-room dungeon where Link conquers wave after wave of enemies to eventually get his Master Sword permanently powered up. Do you know what this is? It is basically The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s take on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess’ Cave of Ordeals or The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’s Savage Labyrinth. Do you know what the difference is? In both of those games, it was available for free. Here, you need to buy the DLC to access it. Isn’t that odd? That something we used to get for nothing is suddenly billed as an extra feature? Sure, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD’s Cave of Shadows was tied to the Wolf Link amiibo, but you could get that figure with the game! It wasn’t as big of a deal to have a wall around it when the game came with what was essentially a ladder to get past that barrier. Why wasn’t this in the main game? Why are we paying more for it later?
Even more egregious is selling Hard Mode separately. Oh, I’m sorry, you would probably better recognize it by its old name. Hard Mode is basically The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s take on Hero Mode and Second Quest. This is a more difficult version of the game that makes enemies stronger, the game more punishing, and brings in new challenges. Now, keep in mind, the concept of a Second Quest and Hero Mode have been around since the very first The Legend of Zelda, with Hero Mode debuting in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In all of these games, a harder version of the game was part of the experience. Yet here, we need to pay extra. Does that seem unfair to you? Because it certainly seems unfair to me.
Then, there’s The Master Trials’ additional equipment. Okay, so Link is getting a Tingle outfit, Korok Mask, Travel Medallion, and other items plucked from different The Legend of Zelda games. While I could see the temptation to toss them into this add-on, it wasn’t necessary. Those themed costumes? We already have plenty of amiibo from the series that already offer an opportunity to get parts from previous games. Why couldn’t the Wolf Link amiibo also unlock this alleged Midna item? A The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask amiibo is coming out on June 23. Why couldn’t it have Majora’s Mask tied to it? Why is this other barrier in place?
Nintendo has shown it can do DLC right. The Mario Kart 8 add-ons and Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates maps proved it. It’s just a shame that the first dose of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t making us see what kinds of new, original, and unexpected experiences could come from such expansions. Instead, The Master Trials is selling us stuff that should have been in the base game.