If you needed an excuse to dump another hundred hours into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then the game’s first DLC pack, The Master Trials, is worth checking out.
The DLC offers up a handful of new features, items and modes. The Hero's Path feature — which shows a line representing everywhere you’ve been in the game — is either a great tool you’ll use once and go, “Hm, that’s neat,” only to never use it again, or it’ll be something you'll obsessively use to cover every inch of Hyrule. The new armor sets are fine too, and do offer some gameplay enhancing features. But let's be honest, the Tingle outfit is the most important addition, as it does a great job of ruining every important cutscene.
However, it’s the expansion’s added dungeons and increased difficulty setting that are the real meat of this DLC.
TRIAL OF THE SWORD GIVES YOU MORE OF WHAT MAKES THE GAME GREAT
My favorite feature of Breath of the Wild was the 120 shrines hidden all around Hyrule. Instead of hiding even more around the vast landscape, the DLC’s Trial of the Sword quest puts you at the steps of 45 brand new mini-dungeons to solve. The goal of the trial is to pass through the dungeons in order of ever-increasing difficultly to amp up the power of your Master Sword. While it’s exciting enough knowing there are more dungeons to solve, the trial also offers an interesting twist on the formula.
You start the trial stripped of everything you have, sans your shorts and your runes. From there, you must progress through each “floor” of the trial, procuring weapons and items along the way. It’s reminiscent of the game’s very clever Eventide Island, except it’s a series of dungeons instead of a single quest. Sign me up.
While you get to keep everything you find on the previous floor, the trials make brilliant use of one of the game’s core mechanics: item durability. I played through most of the core game without worrying too much about what weapons I had on me, but the Master Trials made every weapon feel precious. The fragility and lifespan of each weapon is never more apparent than it is in this mode — and it makes Breath of the Wild feel like a brand new game.
In fact, this quasi-survival mode is interesting to behold. It feels like the developers all sat around and tried to figure out what would be the most interesting ways to mix and match all the game’s enemies, terrain and items. Each floor feels familiar and brand new all at once. And before you can revel in how excited you are to see what’s in the next room, you immediately begin to freak out because you need to figure out how to kill a Hinox with just your underwear, a single sword, a crappy wooden shield and couple dozen arrows. And let me tell you, it feels fantastic.
MASTER MODE FINALLY GIVES FANS OF HARDCORE ADVENTURE GAMES SOMETHING NEW TO PLAY WITH
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be killed by a Bokoblin with a tree branch in the first 5 minutes of Breath of the Wild, then worry no more. Master Mode will give you more than enough challenge to make you question whether or not you’ve ever been good at this game.
Master Mode is a carbon copy of the base game, but with a brand new level of difficulty. Each enemy in the game has been leveled up and there’s a new apex version of each enemy — a gold version. The entire game is filled with tough customers at every turn and the game’s most vicious enemy, the Lynel, is in the game’s starting area just in case you need a laughably intense challenge right from the get-go.
While most players will be immediately off put by getting their butts handed to them by the simplest of encounters, those who want to really test themselves will find a lot to love here. Master Mode requires you to be at the top of your game during every fight, no matter how casual the skirmish seems. Since enemies can regain health in this mode, you’ll need to strike at the right time, dodge with perfect accuracy and never relent.
If you’re the kind of person who loves the spirit-crushing challenge of games like Dark Souls, then I highly recommend Master Mode. It’s got all the existential crisis-inducing difficulty of a From Software game with the lovable sheen of a Nintendo game. What’s not to love?
BREATH OF THE WILD’S MASTER TRIALS DLC IS WORTH THE TRIP BACK
The Master Trials is a fantastic DLC offering for players just itching to dive back into Breath of the Wild.
The Trial of the Sword is the standout feature of this DLC. It brings forward a lot of fresh ideas and really shows off how deep of a game system Nintendo developed with Breath of the Wild. Master Mode will be a welcome addition for players who can’t help but test themselves, but most will pass it up in lieu of having to see the game over screen after the most basic of encounters.
If you need help finding all the armor, beating Trial of the Sword or other tips, check out our Zelda Breath of the Wild: The Master Trials DLC guide and walkthrough.