I have played a solid two hundred hours of “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” since its release on Nintendo Switch several months ago. I’ve beaten the main storyline, completed almost every shrine and side quest and found just about three hundred Korok seeds (why there are nine hundred of the damn things I’ll never know). Even still I find myself coming back to the game to explore every nook and cranny I may have missed and to fulfill that still elusive one hundred percent completion rating. Now that the first of the game’s two scheduled DLC expansions have been released there is even more to do, and even a new way to play what came before.
First off are the two small utilities that Nintendo has added to the game. The new map feature, Hero’s Path, provides a trace of the past two hundred hours of your adventures. It can be seen as a static, finished path or an actual replay of your entire time with the game, deaths and all. There’s something oddly enjoyable about watching days of your life that have been dedicated to “Zelda” whiz by in a matter of seconds or minutes and it can be a great help in spotting unexplored areas. The second feature is a usable fast travel point that allows you to return to a specific area that may not have a shrine nearby. Overall they are pleasant additions to the game, but certainly are not the meat of the DLC pack.
Next comes a smattering of outfit and armor pieces scattered throughout the game’s world. Each one is a cosmetically interesting reference to older games in the franchise. Midna’s headpiece, the Phantom armor set, Tingle’s jumpsuit and yes, even the ever unsettling Majora’s Mask. Each of these unique pieces of armor grants some passive bonus ability, but are generally fairly weak on defense compared to most of the enhanced base game outfits. In order to obtain these additions, you are sent on several cryptic treasure hunts which, for me at least, led me to a handful of easily ignored areas.
The bulk of this expansion lies in its two most difficult additions. The Trial of Swords -- a sprawling, three part, multi-room, gauntlet -- is the main course. Each section of the Trial that you complete adds a permanent plus ten damage to the Master Sword, though a lot of the reward comes from just surviving to the end. It is a real challenge, stripping you of all your weapons, gear, and supplies before placing you defenseless into the midst of an unforgiving survival mode. Rooms having varying environments, themes and effects, and each is populated by a different mob of baddies that must be cleared out in order to advance. In order to make your way through the Trial of Swords, you will have to juggle resource management, weapon durability, and a strategic approach to combat. Think the base game’s Eventide Island on a massive scale.
The last feature added to the game is Master Mode, a hard mode that pulls no punches. Allotted to its own separate save slot, Master Mode starts the game with increased damage to the player, rearranged enemy spawns and a variety of other tweaks to really give the most hardcore players a run for their money. Example? A lynel spawns in the start area. Yeah, good luck.