So much for avoiding the media from now on... Aonuma already hinted at DLC in previous interviews, but now Nintendo officially announced their DLC plans for Breath of the Wild via Youtube, an "Expansion Pass" for two upcoming DLC packs. They will include the following:
DLC Pack 1
- New Cave of Trials challenge
- New Hard Mode
- Additional Map Feature
DLC Pack 2
- New original story
- New dungeon
- Additional challenges
As usual with Nintendo DLCs, you also get some small extras right from the start, if you buy the Expansion Pass. You will find three additional chests on the Great Plateau, where one of the has a "Nintendo Switch shirt" and the other two "useful items".
This takes me back to my Zelda and DLC article from 2013. In general I'm not opposed to DLC, because it usually gives me something new to look forward to. It works especially well with Hyrule Warriors or multiplayer games like Tri Force Heroes. However, with a Zelda singleplayer game I somewhat prefer getting a full package. It now looks like Breath of the Wild is an unfinished product, where Nintendo wants to grab some extra cash for completing it.
It depends on what they are trying to achieve with the DLC. If it really goes beyond the scope of the current game and goes for the extra mile as a real expansion, it might be a good thing. It sounds like DLC Pack 2 is exactly that, though we don't really know at this point, what "new original story" really means. It could just be some advanced sidequest. If it's like a "mini sequel" that gets added to the game, it might be worthwhile. A new dungeon is also a big deal, considering that the game supposedly only has four main dungeons. So, this could become a good expansion and maybe something that Zelda games in the past wouldn't get.
But the first DLC Pack sounds like a pure rip-off, because those are standard features by now. These trial dungeons aren't exactly the freshest idea, in fact they have been a thing in Zelda for 15 years now. The Wind Waker had the Savage Labyrinth as part of the main quests, Twilight Princess then had the Cave of Ordeals as an extra challenge and Twilight Princess HD the Cave of Shadows (though the latter was amiibo content and in that sense already a rip-off). In Spirit Tracks you have the "Take 'Em All On" minigame and there was the Treacherous Tower in A Link Between Worlds. In Tri Force Heroes we got the Den of Trials as the first Zelda DLC ever, but this was a free add-on. And these multi-floor trial dungeons are usually just a cheap way of creating a challenge, where it's not hard to create them. It's just room after room full of enemies. There's no good reason, why this shouldn't already be part of the main product.
However, I can see, how this makes a good DLC extra feature, because these types of challenges (along with the Boss Challenges) are usually treated as an extra that you might want to play at the end of the game after everything else, where you are the strongest. It worked as a good addition for Tri Force Heroes, however, it was free DLC in that case. So far we didn't have to pay extra for this type of content, which now leaves a sour taste.
Same goes for the "Hard Mode". If this is some fully fledged 2nd / Master Quest, then I'm happy to pay for it! We rarely ever get this, in fact only the first Zelda game offered this from the get-go. I'd love to play something like Master Quest for Ocarina of Time again, where they really took the time to change all the dungeons, but even there it was planned as add-on content for the Nintendo 64DD and wasn't available right from the start. Ever since Skyward Sword we usually just get the cheap "Hero Mode" option, where you take double or quadruple damage, where you may find no hearts anymore (if there even will be any in the game) and where maybe the entire world got mirrored. But these are all options that are easy to implement and do not justify paid DLC.
In fact I'd say that the game should have a toggleable "Hero Mode" option like in the Wind Waker HD right from the start, while the DLC would provide a real Master Quest mode, where they make you face tougher enemies everywhere, where they alter all the shrines and dungeons and maybe even switch locations of the shrines to make certain runes / upgrades harder to get. Remember, how the dungeons in the original 2nd Quest for The Legend of Zelda were suddenly in different places? They could easily do this for the Sheikah Shrines in Breath of the Wild, since the entrances look all the same anyway. There are tons of possibilities to alter the game in challenging ways, where I really hope that with the DLC Nintendo actually takes the time to do that and finally give us a proper 2nd Quest again after all these years. In that case it would be the perfect DLC for a Zelda game. However, if it's really just the cheap "Hero Mode" option, I would be tremendously disappointed and Nintendo shouldn't ask any money for it.
The issue here is that we might not get to know, what we're buying here, until the content will be released. It was a similar problem with the DLCs for Hyrule Warriors (Legends), where they didn't specify, what characters and weapons will be included, they only gave a number. And in the end some fans were disappointed, because they got Tingle instead of Skull Kid. In the least they did give a pretty good estimate for the value, because a new character is a new character. With this DLC we don't really know yet, how big the story expansion will be or what the "Hard Mode" means. A true 2nd Quest would be worth the money, a Hero Mode not. But will we know this, when the content becomes purchasable on March 3rd?
Another problem is the fact that I'm starting with the Wii U version, but I also want to get the Switch version later on. Will I have to pay for the DLC twice or will I get some discount? But I'd suppose that for the Holiday season it's possible that Nintendo really releases a Zelda Edition of the Nintendo Switch that already has all the DLC pre-installed. Even more reasons to wait with the Switch purchase! And Nintendo seems to be quick to release "Deluxe" versions of new games containing all DLC anyway...
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