When The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released last year, the reception was in general very positive. I was thoroughly impressed with the game for it’s scope, challenges, story, ambience, everything. When Nintendo announced there would be two expansions I was ecstatic! We were going to get more of an already great game! The first expansion seemed a little underwhelming to me, so I was cautious about the second dlc, The Champions’ Ballad. For this reason, I was in no rush to play the The Champions’ Ballad and planned on “getting around to it” at some point. My skepticism wasn’t founded however, which I realized almost immediately upon playing it.
The expansion sends Link back to where the game first started, The Great Plateau in the Shrine of Resurrection. Upon placing the Sheikah Slate on the altar, Link is tasked with finding the four new shrines in the area around The Great Plateau. This had me excited as the Shrines and the puzzles within them was probably my favorite part of the game. He is also given the One Hit Obliterator, which as the name suggests, kills enemies in one hit but also drops Link’s health down to one quarter of a heart. In addition, the One Hit Obliterator can only be used twice before it needs to recharge.
In order to find each of the four shrines, Link needs to defeat a certain number of enemies in close approximation to the waypoints on the map. These enemies are typical monsters Link has already encountered throughout Hyrule. The combination of not being able to take a single hit and not having a melee weapon that can be used more than twice every few minutes makes this somewhat challenging, but not impossible. I found myself using the bow a lot more than I had when I finished the game prior, and it made me glad that I had gotten a lot of arrows from using the Amiibo during my play through. I recommend having several powerful bows and an ample supply of arrows for this part. Upon dispatching the required monsters near a waypoint, the shrine will appear. Three of the shrines offered new puzzles, which reminded me how much fun I had finding all the original 120 shrines in the main game. The fourth shrine was a “Major Test of Strength”. My immediate thought was, “Well, this is going to be brutal without being able to take a hit from the Guardian”. But then I remembered I could freeze the Guardian with an ice arrow and use my new monster killer weapon to take it down in no time. This is another example of a shrine that is able to be solved one of several ways, and that variety is part of what makes the game great!
After completing the four shines on The Great Plateau, Link is told to go near where each of the Divine Beasts are in order to learn what happened to the Champions from each region. At each of these four locations, Link will find Kass, who tells Link he is trying to finish his master’s song about the Champions. After speaking to Kass at each location, three pillars rise from the group with maps on them, and this is where Link needs to go to find more shrines. I did find some of the map points hard to place on my map as the sections on some of the pillars where either missing important identifying marks, or were hard to look at (full disclosure, this could have been caused by the glare on my tv as well). Upon reaching these spots, Link may have to fight a large monster, use one of the various travel methods available to him, or solve a riddle with the help of some locals. These were each fun reminders of what makes the main part of this game great! My personal favorite was shield surfing through a course highlighted by glowing blue circles. If you haven’t shield surfed, you are missing out. After completing each of these tasks a shrine will appear.
When I was playing these shrines, I noticed that I was using the Cryonis power a lot more than I had remembered in the main game, which made me wonder if some shrines would have been easier if I had used it more earlier on. There were of course puzzles using other powers as well. Again, this is what I enjoyed the most about this game.
One particular puzzle that stands out to me was one where a rotating gear with fans on opposite ends would blow air into a windmill, causing bars to drop down in front of four blocks that needed to be blown up. On tops of the fans, was a chute for Link to drop a round bomb into, to shoot it using the fan at the barricade. I made several futile attempts to using the surroundings to blow up said barricade, so I decided that using a bomb arrow was the best method. Once again, more than one way to accomplish a goal in this game! I can’t think of many games that have successfully achieved this diversity in puzzle solving before.
Just as with the Shrines in the main game, many of the new ones can be solved using various tools at Link’s disposal. So if one method isn’t working for you, look around and see what else is available.
After completing each of the three shrines near a Divine Beast, Link is sent to fight the various Gannons that he faced earlier, but this time, he does so as each of the Champions. I liked this because each time, the fight changes slightly from before, and Link has Champion specific gear that can only be used in the fight. After each victory, the cool down time for the powers they bestowed upon Link is reduced. Since I had already defeated the main game this seemed like a pointless prize to me, and would have honestly been happy with nothing.
Upon defeating the four Gannons, Link is sent to a new Divine Beast (although its not really a beast but more like a machine). I enjoyed the Divine Beasts before, so I was glad that there was another one. As per the main game, the map is interactive and causing the central drive shaft to alter directions has different impacts on the dungeon. Upon completion of the four parts of the Divine Beast, Link is put up against a final Boss. I don’t want to give away too many details of the fight, but I found it’s difficulty to be in line with the other boss fights in the game. This one was a little more creative than the other ones were though, and is without a doubt, my favorite Boss fight in the game.
The one part of the DLC that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me was the gear Link can find. I like that it paid homage to previous Zelda games, but found them somewhat pointless since I was done with the game. If i were to replay the game, and get the outfits early on, I may have found them more useful. I will say this about the outfits, they do look cool! Especially the Phantom Gannon armor set. Overall, The Champions’ Ballad was a great experience! It added more of the puzzles and story that make this a phenomenal game. If you haven’t played the expansion yet, I recommend it. If you have played it, I would like to hear your thoughts in the comments.