Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Breath of the Wild: DLC Pack 1 Detailed

Today Nintendo gave a quick tour through all the new features in the first upcoming DLC Pack, called Breath of the Wild - The Master Trials. You can find all the info on Zelda.com, so let's take a look.

Trial of the Sword

These trial dungeons are by now a staple in the series, where the Trial of the Sword seems to follow the tradition of defeating enemies in a room-by-room basis, 45 rooms in total. The main difference is that the Trial of the Sword strips you of all your equipment, similar to Eventide Island. After finishing the trial, the Master Sword will stay in its glowing state permanently, offering 60 damage and high durability in all fights.

To enter the trial, you have to place the Master Sword back in its pedestal:

I really like, how they sneaked this in. It's a nice throwback to the spiritual Silent Realm Trials from Skyward Sword and a "clean" way of adding a new dungeon without altering the environment somewhere. I also really like the looks of the place, where they combined the indoor visuals of the Sheikah Shrines with outdoor assets like trees and Bokoblins camps. It has a unique feel to it, even though they are just recycling contents here.

Since this trial takes place its own little "spiritual realm", it also can break any established rules. Normally you wouldn't have Bokoblins or any other overworld enemies inside shrines (or Divine Beasts), while the Guardian Sentinels only appear inside them. But here they can just throw it all together without going against the logic of the game.

It will also be a nice challenge, when you have to start all over. I liked that about Eventide Island, because it really brought back the survival aspect of the game. Suddenly cooking the right recipes will matter again!

BUT... I was actually looking forward to some real endgame challenge. For what do I even need to upgrade all my armor and collect the best possible weapons, if there's no real use for them other than fighting Silver Lynels over and over again? This "Cave of Trials" could have provided a challenge, where spending all the time with the game to reach your best is actually worth the effort. But here it puts you in a place, where it doesn't really matter, what you do in advance, other than maybe collecting all Champion abilities and getting all Heart Containers.

Hard Mode

In Hard Mode all enemies will move up one tier, be more observant and regenerate. There will also be treasure chests and enemies in the sky on floating platforms. And that's really it...

What a disappointment! This could have been easily a feature from the beginning of the game, where I don't see the point, why this gets released much later as paid DLC. While there's a little bit more to it than the usual Hero Mode option, it's not much. I do hope that this is an actual option like with the Hero Mode in the Wind Waker HD, which you can turn on and off at any time, because it's not a real incentive to replay the game just for this. It will be a nice change, when I replay the game at some point in the future, e.g. when I play it on the Switch, but I wouldn't want to start over, if it's just some stronger enemies.

Ideally Nintendo would have been inspired a little more by the 2nd Quest from The Legend of Zelda. They could have switched the locations of shrines, e.g. moving the Runes outside of the Great Plateau. They could have altered shrine puzzles, they could have placed more Guardians on the overworld, and so on. Also, the Divine Beast dungeons are way too easy as they are now, especially with the lack of enemies. They could have solved many problems with the difficulty in this Hard Mode, but instead Nintendo just went for a cheap option again. And that's quite disappointing.

Anyway, with this system I wondered, how you will be able to take photos of the red enemies for your Hyrule Compendium, when they are all replaced by blue ones. But it seems like that's what the floating platforms are for:

On first glance I even thought this was a Red Moblin on the right platform, but it's a blue one. But I guess, it's still possible that there might be red ones up in the sky as well, it will just be really hard to take pictures.

They also announced new ranks for enemies, where we will probably get golden enemies, similar to Oracle of Seasons and The Minish Cap. I had been wondering, why the game stopped at "silver" and this was in fact a big bullet point in my speculation about the DLC. So, it's good to see that at least one thing might come true.

Again, I wonder, how you will be able to complete Hyrule Compendium on your own, if you can't find the golden enemies in Normal Mode... But it might be that the Trial of the Sword offers the full spectrum of enemies in both modes, so you can take your pictures there. Otherwise you will probably have to buy them.

Hero's Path Mode

This will show a record of your travels through Hyrule up to 200 hours of play time.

Okay, this is very nice and all, but why is this a paid DLC feature? It even works retroactively, so they have been tracking the data for this already! Which means that this part of the DLC probably was half-way in the making, when they launched the game. It looks more like a cool feature for an update, but not something that should have to be bought.

Too bad it's "only" 200 hours, because I can't keep track of my beginnings anymore. But luckily I have written this blog for that!

Travel Medallion

With this Key Item you can set a new travel gate anywhere on the map, so you can teleport to it later on.

This is another nice update feature, but not something I would classify as paid DLC. Many other games provide small features and additions like that as free updates, so why not Breath of the Wild? I also don't understand, why it had to be a Key Item:

Nintendo probably just implemented it that way, so they can throw it in some lazily placed EX chest somewhere, but overall it would have made more sense as another Sheikah Slate Rune. It's not like you will be needing it that often, so the usability here is not a big issue, but it would have looked more consistent.

It's still a nice feature and I probably would just use it to finally get my travel gate on top of Hyrule Castle. Snowboard fans might also make good use of it at Hebra Peak.

Korok Mask

This new mask will shake, whenever there is a hidden Korok nearby.

Finally! I've been waiting for something that helps me finding Koroks ingame, because I really don't want to use (internet) guides... Again, you shouldn't have to pay for this to get it, it should have been in the game from the very start or at least provided by a free update.

The simplest solution would have been giving the Koroks an entry in Hyrule Compendium, so that you can target them with the Sheikah Sensor+. But I like this solution a lot more for two reasons. For one it's a little bit more logical, because there's no good reason, why the sensor wouldn't pick up the already discovered Koroks (of course you could make the same argument for activated shrines and opened treasure chests). And this way you can actually target two things at the same time. By wearing this mask and targeting treasure chests with the Sheikah Sensor+, you can very efficiently clear an entire area without switching between targets.

More Equipment

There's Majora's Mask, Midna's Helmet, a Phantom Armor and a Tingle Outfit. Eight pieces in total. Like the Travel Medallion and the new Korok Mask they are found in new EX chests all over Hyrule.

I like this! Lots of fan service here and I like, how Nintendo makes good use of the new armor system. It basically combines having masks like in Majora's Mask (where you can now finally wear THE Majora's Mask) with having costumes like in Tri Force Heroes with having different boots and armor like in Ocarina of Time. It's all there in one clever, versatile system.

Now, there is just the question, whether this will be pure fan service costumes like with the amiibo stuff, or whether they will provide actual abilities.

I guess, the Tingle costume could improve your gliding stamina, not that this is really needed. And with Majora's Mask it would be cool, if wearing it would summon a Blood Moon on the next night. This might even be useful for the one Shrine Quest and it would be quite useful for farming Star Fragments from Lynels. Midna's Helmet could do the opposite and prevent a Blood Moon.

Anyway, the only thing I don't like here is that Nintendo just drops these new armor items somewhere on the overworld in EX chests. That seems rather lazy and I would have preferred getting a couple of new shrines, which could contain the items, as well as a shrine giving you the "Teleport Rune".

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