Today, Nintendo announced that for the first time ever in a mainline Zelda series, (unless you count Tri Force Heroes, and not many do) there will be a season pass. And, from my perspective, it’s pretty freaking cool. For $20, you will get a day-one pre-order bonus that gives Link a Nintendo Switch shirt and two other “useful items” found in treasure chests in the Great Plateau, the starting area where all playable demos have thus taken place. This is, of course, nothing particularly special, but you’d better believe I’m gonna be rocking a Switch t-shirt when I start the game up. I hope the treasure chests will be well-hidden in the area and not in plain sight within the Shrine of Resurrection, because I want to work for that t-shirt! Although, I suppose I worked for it by earning the money to pay for it, so I suppose it’s fine any way. I could imagine some people getting angry if they couldn’t find a reward that they payed for, so the gifts will most likely be found within the Shrine of Ressurection.
Anyway, those are just the bonuses. Let’s get into the real meat-and-potatoes of this DLC. The “Expansion Pass” (a.k.a. “Season Pass”) will have two parts to it: the first will come out during the winter while the second will come out during the holidays. The pack coming out this summer will have a new cave of shadows challenge, a new hard mode, and an additional map feature. The new cave of shadows challenge is almost guaranteed to be the same type of gauntlet experience that we’ve seen in The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The Legend of Zelda has had countless fun and challenging enemies, and Breath of the Wild appears to be continuing that trend. I don’t know if it would be possible, but just imagine fighting a Guardian in close combat! It should also be noted that this is technically not the first time a gauntlet dungeon has been locked behind paid DLC in a Zelda game. While Twilight Princess HD had the cave of ordeals present in the original available for all who bought it, the new cave of shadows exclusive to the HD version was inaccessible unless you used the Wolf Link Amiibo, which is essentially physical DLC. Granted, the Amiibo was packaged with every physical copy of the game at launch at the usual $60 price, but the digital game was available for $50, so it’s technically DLC. This ultimately means nothing for the new cave of trials, but for those possibly raging over this dungeon being locked behind paid DLC, know that it’s at least not unprecedented.
There are two possibilities for this new hard mode: (1) a complete rehash of the original Breath of the Wild with remixed dungeons and enemies, similar to Ocarina of Time: Master Quest for GameCube and included in the 3DS version, or, more likely, (2) the same version of the original where enemies deal double the damage and/or take twice as much to go down, similar to the hard modes in the HD versions of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. If it is the first case, which I very much doubt, this is amazing and well worth the purchase. If it is the more likely second case, while it’s still cool, it really should have been included as free DLC, similar to how Mario Kart 8 had new tracks as paid DLC but 200CC mode for free. However, there is a possibility that Breath of the Wild could adopt Twilight Princess’ method of having double damage either if you turn that mode on in-game, or scan in a Ganondorf Amiibo. Granted, if you don’t own a Ganandorf Amiibo, you’ll still have to pay for DLC with a little less features, but at least the option would be available to you.
The “additional map feature” is the most mysterious piece of DLC in the summer pack. What could this mean? Is this something as simple as new markers to place on your map? Or will it be something that changes the way the game plays? To be honest, I have no idea what this could mean, but I hope it’s not something that should have been included in the original game or at least as free DLC. I don’t want another YouTube Red situation where they have features that warrant a purchase, but also have features that should be free yet aren’t because they want you to pay money.
In the holiday pack, there will be a new original story, a new dungeon, and additional challenges. I hope that this new story is similar to the way Final Fantasy XV is handling DLC in that each new paid story DLC follows the adventures of one of the main character’s friends. By that, I mean that I hope that this new story DLC will have us play as Princess Zelda. And it’s not that far-fetched because I believe Eiji Aonuma said in an interview that he was open to the idea of having Zelda as a playable character. It’s about time the titular princess was a playable character in her own game! (and no, the CD-I games don’t count)
I have a suspicion that the new dungeon will be directly tied to this new story segment. My guess is that there will be a cutscene at the beginning and the end that counts as the original story, and the actual gameplay will take place exclusively within the dungeon. Nevertheless, The Legend of Zelda is known for having some of the best dungeons in any video game, and I will gladly pay to be able to play one more.
The final DLC is simply referred to as “additional challenges,” which could really mean anything. Is this an extra hard mode? More shrines? New boss fights? New mini-games? Your guess is as good as mine. Whatever it is, I hope it’s cool.
Overall, while there are some issues I have with the announcement of this new DLC, I like the idea of having a Zelda game that will be added to as time goes on. I had previously resolved to myself that I would 100% complete both the Wii U and Switch versions of Breath of the Wild. While I am still going to do this, I think I’ll wait until 2018 to even start thinking about the Wii U version, as I think the Switch version alone has got me covered for a looooong time.