Monday, December 11, 2017

Breath of the Wild EX Log, Entry 11

The Final Trial

Finally back, so it was time to take on the new Divine Beast. The control mechanic here was very simple, where you could just change the direction of the main gear, but this would lead to various "complex" puzzles. I still love the ability to alter the dungeon at any time, this was a great invention in Breath of the Wild. And this would have been interesting in Majora's Mask for example, in fact this reminded me somewhat of the Great Bay Temple, where you also had a main gear in the center and could change the flow of the water for the entire dungeon. If you could do that at any time, it would have been so much more interesting.

Overall it doesn't get revealed what kind of animal this Divine Beast really is. I do like this, however, because it adds some mystery to the game. It's simply one Divine Beast that they failed to excavate. It's not part of the legends, so they probably weren't even looking for another beast somewhere. And we probably will never know, how this beast looked like from the outside.

Whatever this Divine Beast is, it's one thing for sure: a classic final dungeon with single room trials based on the other dungeons in this game. You even have a lock that reminded me of the door in Ganon's Tower from the Wind Waker:

And like in that game you can now re-battle the Blights, even if it's not part of this dungeon. The rooms also focused on a specific Rune each, as expected, but there's one exception: the fire room doesn't have any use for the Bombs, in fact you don't need Bombs in the entire dungeon at all. This was a little disappointing and so was the length of the dungeon. Like all the Divine Beasts it was rather short and certainly not the "complex maze" it claims to be in the beginning.

At least there were some cleverly hidden chests, but I was annoyed by the weak early game gear that they dropped. Way of taking me back to nine months ago. In the very least the music (which you could also hear in the trailer) was pretty awesome.

So, after clearing all four rooms, I actually left the dungeon to cook myself some hearty food to prepare for the worst. I expected a Dark / Shadow Link battle at the end of the dungeon, but I didn't know what to expect, when I saw this...

Was this just it? Does the dungeon simply end with another Sheikah Monk like all 136 Shrines in the game? This can't be...!

After the dungeon the Champions' Ballad gets a very beautiful ending with the final memory of Link, Zelda and the four Champions. I love the sequence and overall the five new memories certainly added a new layer to these characters. Sure, they could have done more, but overall this DLC left me really satisfied. Especially with the reward at the end...

Born to be Wild

Yeehaw... What an amazing reward! This is so much fun. I like, how the Master Cycle Zero is a Rune, where you can summon the bike at any time like Wolf Link or other amiibo rewards. That's probably also why they added the Ancient Saddle, because it will be hard for horses to get your attention afterwards. This tweet sums it up perfectly. I suppose, it's fine, because you get it so late in the game and horses have still the advantage that they can go faster and autonomously, where it's a little easier to fight on them. (Update: The Master Cycle Zero requires more skill for fighting, but if you master it, you can do pretty crazy things, especially since it lets you jump with the bike and still perform the mid-air slow-motion with the bow. That's really powerful.)

Also, horses don't need fuel. That's a disadvantage of the bike, but I like how this adds another use to the tons of useless materials that you collect during the game. I keep feeding it Chuchu Jelly, because I had over 900 of those and they fit the blue color of the fuel refilling animation. If it would go a little faster and if it had a horn, this thing would be perfect.

But driving this thing is a lot of fun and I'm happy that I actually still have Koroks left to find, because this will make the Korok hunt so much more fun and crazy. With this thing I feel like going anywhere... But certain areas don't allow the bike like the desert and the heated areas of Death Mountain.

I went for both these areas, because I wanted to check something. Actually I was on a ride through Gerudo Canyon, when the Blood Moon struck. And this was perfect timing, because I wanted to see, if the Molduking respawns. And it does. Same goes for the Igneo Talus Titan. This is very good, because this now means that you can re-battle all the bosses in the game with one sole exception: Master Kohga. He will be lost forever and coincidentally he's the only boss in the game, where I forgot to take a picture... Well, stuff happens.

From the Kamia Omuna Shrine, where the Igneo Talus Titan resides, you can now drive your Master Cycle Zero down the Deplian Badlands. This gives you a much faster access to the three Lynels there, if you want to fight them, but the ride is also pretty badass with Dinraal around you. He even set me on flames a couple of times, which looks really cool while going on the bike.

Nice addition! Overall a very satisfying conclusion to the DLC. If it wasn't for how they handled the DLC armor, I wouldn't have much to complain here.

Current Progress:
  • EX Memories: 5/5
  • EX Side Quests: 13/13
  • Koroks: 833/900
  • Map Rate: 94.53%

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Breath of the Wild EX Log, Entry 10

Trials, Trials, Trials

And more trials. It's funny, what they put Link through to prepare him for the tasks ahead, while beating Ganon is probably a lot easier and less dangerous than many of the trials of the Sheikah that he has to master.

Anyway, my first impression of the DLC wasn't a good one. They did a bad job at handling the DLC armor and the "Don't get hit" trial on the Plateau wasn't really fun. My mood is a lot better now, after I did the individual trials of the Champions. There was a lot more to do than I expected and it was quite entertaining.

I thought that there might be four additional shrines waiting for me at this point, but for each Champion you can face a series of three different trials, where each trial leads to a new shrine. So, that's new 12 Sheikah Shrines, where the DLC added a total of 16 shrines to the game. That's twice as much as I had hoped! Nice!

But the 12 shrines that are uncovered by the Champion trials don't offer new Spirit Orbs, instead you receive Emblems for the respective Champions, which are basically Spirit Orbs with the Divine Beast symbols on them. You can trade them at each Divine Best to enter a "Realm of Memory", where you will re-battle the four Blights. I was hoping that the DLC let me fight them again at any point and my wish came true.

It's actually quite similar to the boss rooms of Ganon's Tower in the Wind Waker, where you can re-experience four of the game's bosses. The visuals are different, it all looks a lot darker, because you're playing a memory. You get all your hearts and stamina, as well as the Champion abilities, but the rest of the equipment is pre-defined. It's mostly the specific Champion's weapons, as well as some other tribe weapons and the full armor set of the corresponding trial, e.g. you get the Lightscale Trident, a Zora Bow with 10 arrows and a full Zora Armor when facing Waterblight. It's fun to play, but again you have to follow certain rules based on the limited equipment and can't really experiment much here.

Beating the Blights again will reward you with upgraded Champion abilities, where the reload time is shorter than before. I would have liked it, if they also incremented the number of consecutive uses for each ability, but it's still better than nothing. And I do like that you can replay the Blight battles now at any time. This also adds more to the Divine Beasts than just being another teleport point on your map and I like this. I'm still sad that you can't re-enter them, but the Realms of Memories are at least something. So, overall this feels quite rewarding.

In the Footsteps of the Champions

I did the trials in the following order: Mipha, Daruk, Revali and Urbosa. So, I went counterclockwise and saved the best for last.

The trials themselves aren't really that special. Each Champion has a trial, where you have to follow blue rings of light in higher movement speed, e.g. by gliding or surfing. At first I was afraid that this would be another Tadtones hunt, but this was probably the most fun part of the trials. Otherwise you have to defeat certain enemies or do other smaller tasks. It's nothing too special, but it gets the job done.

Highlight was certainly discovering all the new shrine locations. I was really excited about this, because there were several spots, where another travel gate would have been useful. And the ridge above Zora's Domain was certainly one of them. Before the DLC there was nothing on Upland Zorana and Ploymus Mountain, so whenever you wanted to get back up there, you had to swim up the waterfalls behind Zora's Domain. But now there are two shrines up there...

There's a new piano piece around these obelisk shrines and overall the quality of the shrines was above average. No Blessings or (normal) Tests of Strength in the DLC, which is nice. And many of the puzzles were really clever, I enjoyed doing all these new shrines quite a lot. And it was nice to get back into shrine play after such a long while.

But I don't get, why Mipha actually faced some Guardians as part of her trial. At the time they shouldn't have been corrupted and maybe they should have used some other enemies for this, e.g. a modified Hinox.

At least Daruk got a more fitting enemy as part of his trials with the Igneo Talus Titan. It's not really a new enemy, but simply a larger version of the Igneo Talus. "Don't get hit" challenges and enlarged enemies sold as "new" ones? Was this DLC developed by Koei Tecmo by any chance? It feels incomplete that only this form of the Talus got a Titan version and the others didn't, however...

Anyway, both the Rinu Honika Shrine ("Block the Blaze") and parts of the Sharo Lun Shrine ("Blind Spots") were very easy with the Flamebreaker set, because you can just walk through the flames completely unharmed.

Position-wise it's nice to have shrines at the east and north borders of Death Mountain, because there weren't any teleportations points there yet. I always wanted some faster access to the Delian Badlands to fight the Lynels there, where using the Shora Hah Shrine with the minecart rails wasn't really convenient. So, I usually went over there from the Zuna Kai Shrine above the Skull Lake in Akkala. But the Kamia Omuna Shrine at the north of Death Mountain should be much shorter, which is nice. (I also found the cannon puzzle there very enjoyable until the part with the motion controls...)

Out of Revali's trials, the two new shrine positions in the Hebra Mountains aren't really that useful, because they are in the proximity of other shrines, but I liked the puzzles "Four Winds" and "Master the Orb" very much. I also noticed that the shrine counter on the loading screen doesn't increase, it's still at 120, so the new shrines only seem to affect the completion rate on your map. (Update: This might be, because the new shrines have different icons, which doesn't fit the icon on the loading screen.)

The Shira Gimar Shrine on the other hand is probably in a more useful in location with Upland Lindor, where you can find the best horses in the game. It's a good shortcut there. The trial to uncover this shrine, where have to shoot Dinraal's horn, was also nice, but if you've upgraded all your gear in the game, you probably did this many times already... So, this didn't anything new, really, other than the glowing horns. It's pretty much the same with the target practice trial, so it seems like Revali really got the short end of the stick here.

Well, with the cutscenes it was clearly noticeable, how much this has evolved since the beta footage in July. It was day, when Zelda (who looks really lovely in that winter dress) visited Revali and not night, while the activated Sha Warvo Shrine also wasn't visible anymore. This and the fact that you couldn't really tell, whether Urbosa or Riju was sitting in the Gerudo Throne, led to the speculation that this might become an epilogue scenario, while it really was simply the memories about how the Champions were recruited by Zelda.

Off to the desert and the trials of Urbosa, you have to face another "mod" of one of the overworld bosses, in this case a "King Molduga". While I took pictures of both this guy and the Igneo Titan Talus, it makes me wonder, whether you can actually miss them in Hyrule Compendium. They might respawn with the next Blood Moon, but my impression was that they are only there for the trials, really. And it might be that Symin offers them after you're fully done with the new Main Quests, but since Nintendo keeps getting details like this wrong with the game, I wouldn't be surprised, if they actually managed to sneak in missable pictures with the DLC...

At the same time it makes me worry about entry 137. At first I thought that this would be another type of Yiga, maybe a new version of Master Kohga, where I expected to face the "new" enemy in the trial with the orb. But while it brought back a "stealth" sequence in the Yiga hideout, where I could now just easily defeat them instead of sneaking around, it didn't seem to include any new foes. I'm still worried that I might have missed something here. It's either that or 137 is the boss of the new dungeon.

Anyway, the new shrines in the desert offered some interesting puzzles as well. It took me a while to figure out the "Big or Small" trial of the Keive Tala Shrine. I even experimented with Yellow Chuchu Jelly in the water, which allows you to feed the contact at the beginning with electricity without any metal objects in between, but of course this isn't necessary.

The "Dual Purpose" puzzles of the Takama Shiri on ther other hand are very easy with the Thunder Helmet, because you just walk and climb over the energized boxes without any harm. It's similar to the new flame puzzles and the Flamebreaker set. But I might try these puzzles a second time without the Helmet just for the fun of it.

So, I kept Thunderblight Ganon as the last boss and he is still the toughest of the four Blights by a margin. When I started the game, Vah Naboris was my first Divine Beast and I had trouble defeating Thunderblight. By now I have an easier time dodging his fast attacks to initiate a Flurry Rush, but the electricity is still annoying. I dropped the Scimitar of the Seven and the Daybreaker multiple times...

What's funny is that Urbosa's Fury wrecks the Blights including Thunderblight. You can do massive damage on him with this attack, while it really shouldn't, because it's just lightning strikes. But it helped with the battle, so I don't mind about the logic here too much. And that it now reloads even faster, makes you a lot more powerful.

Entering the Final Dungeon

After finishing all the trials and concluding the Champions' Ballad, you get invited back to where it all started, both the main game and the new DLC: the Shrine of Resurrection. I was surprised that they used the cryochamber room as an elevator to the dungeon, which lies under the Great Plateau. This is ingenious and such a great location to what's labeled as "the Final Trial".

I didn't have the chance to beat this new dungeon yet and I won't be able to play it until Monday evening, but I took a first glimpse... It's certainly not very large, one main room and four tube like rooms at the sides, where this appears to be the typical final Zelda dungeon that the 3D Zeldas usually have - like Ganon's Castle and Tower in Ocarina of Time and the Wind Waker, the moon minidungeons in Majora's Mask or the Sky Keep in Skyward Sword. So, there are small rooms based on the individual dungeons of the game, like one lava room, an electricity room, a wind room and a water room. Each room probably also makes use of one of the main Sheikah Slate Runes. It's a typical Zelda game feature and it makes sense that Breath of the Wild now got this as well, much like a trial pit dungeon or a Hero / Master Mode.

I doubt that you get a new Rune here. If anything, the new Master Cycle Zero will be summoned by one, similar to the amiibo goodies.

The dungeon itself is supposed to be another Divine Beast and it does look a little bit like a creature, but it's hard to tell what exactly. The four tubes are like the limbs, the elevator entrance looks like a tail and there's a head (probably the boss room). But it doesn't look like a horse, more like a giant underground turtle. But maybe this is part of the mystery, where we will never know for sure. On the other hand it would be epic to see this Divine Beast emerge from under the Great Plateau, where it was hidden all this time and never excavated like the others...

I hope this has a new boss, which will fill 137th entry in the Compendium, and this won't just make you fight the four Blights yet again... I think, Dark Link / Shadow Link still makes the most sense in this scenario, because this Divine Beast shows no sign of corruption from Ganon, so the Blights wouldn't fit in. And that you have to face yourself as the final trial would be an awesome throwback to the Great Temple in Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, where it would fit that the Sheikah impose this trial on you, like the Old Man protecting the Triforce of Courage. I also hope that - whatever the boss is, if there's one - you will be able to replay the battle, now that this option is available for the Blights. But let's see on Monday...

Current Progress:
  • EX Memories: 4/5
  • EX Side Quests: 13/13
  • Koroks: 833/900
  • Map Rate: 94.45%

Friday, December 8, 2017

Breath of the Wild EX Log, Entry 9

One Hit Wonder

Well, I didn't expect this part... Once you go back to the Shrine of Resurrection, you can find the One-Hit Obliterator, a weapon that kills everything with one hit,as the name might suggest. The catch? You're reduced to a quarter heart and everything will kill you with one hit, too. I just finished this part and it was somewhat stressful. In general I don't really enjoy "Don't get hit" challenges like this (they were a pain in Hyrule Warriors) and this one certainly resulted in some cheap deaths. I guess, I have to play another 200 hours looking for Koroks to erase these marks of shame from my Hero's Path timeline. Just kidding...

But it was demotivating as first. It's like with the Trial of the Sword, where they take all your stuff away. You work hard and invested hundreds of hours to become super powerful in the game and when they finally add new challenges after all this time, they make sure to cripple you first. "27 Heart Containers? Not with us!"

So, to beat the challenge you have to take on an enemy camp and then clear a shrine that appears afterwards. And this four times in total. Luckily you can save at any time, because if they did this with a "no saving allowed" mechanic like on Eventide, this would be an endless nightmare.

You can find two Phrenic Bows early on and I made good use of them to snipe enemies from a safe distance. I also ate through my collection of Savage Lynel Bows to clear the camps and to fight all the small Guardian Scouts. Sure, you have the One-Hit Obliterator, but it loses its power after two hits and then you have to run, so it's only useful to take out the really big enemies, like silver (or gold) level.

I did the four shrines in the following order, as probably most people:

  1. Yowaka Ita Shrine (in the Forest of Spirits)
  2. Rohta Chigah Shrine (near Eastern Abbey)
  3. Ruvo Korbah Shrine (near the Old Man's hut)
  4. Etsu Korima Shrine (next to Mount Hylia)

As if the Great Plateau needed more shrines on it... The shrines were actually quite creative, but the worst one by far was the Rohta Chigah Shrine. I only ever experienced so many cheap deaths in a Zelda game once and that was in the Hero's Trial in the Four Swords Anniversary Edition. Combining one-hit kills with lots of spiked traps was sadistic at best. It took me about a dozen tries to get through this mess. Especially the part with the three spiked balls was troublesome.

The Ruvo Korbah Shrine on the other hand was nicely done...

The other two shrines weren't that remarkable, but still good. I also liked the "Lost Woods" atmosphere on the Great Plateau, they completely transformed the place and even added new active Decayed Guardians in other spots. And lots of new wooden chests. At the end I felt like I was probably missing something and I could/should have explored all of the Plateau in this mode, but the whole one-hit thing wasn't really motivating enough.

Also, you can find Kass singing about summoning horses and I tried the whistle next to him only to be surprised that the Ancient Saddle even teleports your horse up to the Great Plateau, even during the trial. I didn't find it useful in the scenario, though.

I also guess that I was mostly off with my final predictions, while my original predictions were more accurate. They did add new Shrines offering you new Spirit Orbs for a Heart Container (or Stamina Vessel).

They even added a new entry to the Hyrule Compendium for the One-Hit Obliterator (you can still find it in the Shrine of Resurrection afterwards). And there appear to be three new enemies in the game that weren't there before. I think, one is a new type of Molduga that we saw in the trailer. The other might be Electric Pebblits, judging from its location in the Compendium, right after Igneo and Frost Pebblits. And the other might be a new Yiga or a new form of Master Kohga... You can't buy the pictures from Symin, however, but Nintendo still didn't let them stop themselves from adding new stuff anyway. Though I suppose, all will just be re-skins of existing enemies, instead of actual new enemies.

And there seem to be at least four more shrines, where hopefully we will be able to get the full 30 Heart Containers and three Stamina Wheels now. And there seems to be a new Divine Beast, where my best guess is that it's a giant horse (probably placed somewhere on Hyrule Field) and they combined all aspects of the four other Divine Beasts in this one, e.g. using all four elements. This even might be, where you can re-battle all four Blights.

But I'm speculating here about something that's already known, sorry. With the instant release Nintendo stole the joy of speculating about the new trailer, so I have to do it while I'm playing. But I will probably see tomorrow, how many new shrines there are in total and how the new Divine Beast looks like. Please don't put spoilers in the comments.

Current Progress:
  • EX Memories: 0/5
  • EX Side Quests: 13/13
  • Koroks: 833/900
  • Map Rate: 93.48%

Breath of the Wild EX Log, Entry 8

The Champions' Ballad DLC Pack was released today as a surprise for the Game Awards 2017. If I wasn't already in the middle of hunting Koroks, this would have brought me back to the game for sure.

DLC Pack 2 includes a new Main Quest that leads to new shrines, new memories and a new dungeon. But it also comes with a series of six new EX Side Quests that lead to some new armor pieces. I started with those and it's pretty much the same junk quests that they added with the "Master Trials" DLC Pack. New Rumor Mills and journals with riddles about locations of treasure chests that they simply dropped somewhere. Nothing special.

Ancient Horse Gear

The first items that I went for were the Ancient Bridle and the Ancient Saddle. At first I thought that both riddles would lead to the same place at Mount Satori, but I got the second riddle wrong. It's not really complicated and you quickly can gather this new gear. I would even argue that this is one of the easiest to get...

Yet at the same time it's the most useful. The Ancient Bridle adds two blue spurs to your horse's stamina, while the Ancient Saddle lets you teleport your horse to your location by whistling. Again, like with the Korok Mask or the Travel Medallion this feels like something that should have been part of a free update, not paid DLC. And with these features there's no reason to use any of the other horse gear sets over this one. All saddles and bridles should have had abilities as well, while so far they only changed the looks of your horse. The Knight's Bridle and Saddle for example could have increased your horse's strength. But the way it is now, there's only one useful set.

I wanted more horse gear and specifically Ancient Horse Gear for a while now (see my Traveller's Gear Post for example), where I'm happy that they added this, but it has a sour taste to it, simply because it doesn't integrate into the existing game all too well.

It also doesn't work all too well. I tried to use it in multiple spots south of Death Mountain, but it just said that my horse isn't able to come. I actually had to go to the Foothill Stable, before I finally could summon my horse, which kind of beats the purpose, because I just could have taken it from stable. Maybe it works better in other places, but my first impression was not a good one. It's still a cool feature, though.

Too Much Armor Pack

I decided to collect all the new armor pieces next and was disappointed immediately by the fact that I couldn't even pick them up. Nintendo added nine new armor pieces here for a total of 107 individual pieces in the game, but the inventory has only space for 100! So, you now you have to decide, which pieces you don't want to have in your collection. I decided to sell the Tingle, Phantom and Salvage Gear sets for now, because they are useless anyway thanks to their inability of being enhanced. That applies to all the new armor as well, but you still need to make room to find them a first time and to clear the new EX Side Quests.

Luckily they made it so that you can now re-purchase all DLC armor from Granté in the 1.3.3 update from last month or otherwise you actually would have to sell good gear to make space for the useless DLC stuff, which you would have had to keep, because it was irreplaceable at first. But ideally they would add at least one more page of armor to your inventory with the next update, if there ever will be one.

Anyway, you get another lazy quest following Misko's Journals to some chests somewhere in the world. There it was a really "nice" idea to hide two new chests around Lake Floria, an area known for its glitched chest(s) to annoy you with the fact that they still haven't fixed this. Or if you're more of a casual player, the entire area might be still plastered with countless treasure chests making it hard to find the ones with the actual goodies. At least if you're relying on the Sheikah Sensor+.

The new pieces look nice, but as usual you can't upgrade them and they don't seem to offer any new abilities, except Ravio's Hood, which increases sideways climbing speed as a nod to the Wall Merge ability. It's not all too useful, though...

So, I'm done with the junk quests. Lets check out the new Main Quest in my next log entry and hope that it won't disappoint as much. However, from what I gathered in the trailer, it will be four new Sheikah Shrines and one new Divine Beast, alongside five new memories. This doesn't seem very original and it also doesn't seem to be much, but let's see...

Current Progress:
  • EX Memories: 0/5
  • EX Side Quests: 13/13
  • Koroks: 832/900
  • Map Rate: 93.07%

Breath of the Wild EX Log, Entry 7

Tourok 2 - Seeds of Korok

This is just a small update on my Korok hunt, which has been going on for the last two weeks, before we jump into the newest DLC. Since my last post I only found 15 more Koroks, which is slightly demotivating.

Part of the problem was probably that I kept wandering from where I left off last time, at the Oseira Plains. This brought me to areas, where I've already been exploring with the Korok Mask and I didn't find new Koroks for several hours, even though I kept aiming at gaps in my Hero's Path history.

Also, there are so many places in the game where something could have been hidden... I often climb a hill or investigate a small forest in anticipation of a new Korok only to find nothing at all. It makes me feel like the game could have used 100 additional Koroks, easily.

So, I didn't find any new Koroks in a long time, where my motivation to play went down quite a bit... But the breakthrough then finally came by changing my strategy. I would study the map and look for suspicious spots, then teleport there to investigate. And my first stop was a lava pool at the southwest area of Death Mountain, where in fact a little Korok waited for me.

And because I haven't explored Death Mountain with the Korok Mask yet, I found a lot more in the area, especially around the Maw of Death Mountain...

So, this was a successful haul and I will continue using this strategy to look for the remaining 70 Koroks. But for now I will focus on the new DLC contents that have been released today.

Current Progress:
  • Koroks: 830/900
  • Map Rate: 92.90% (This got actually reduced due to the DLC)

Breath of the Wild @ Game Awards 2017

What a show! I've had a feeling that they would show a trailer or a teaser for the Champions' Ballad DLC at the Game Awards, but I didn't anticipate that they would release it at the same day. Certainly one impressive way to make the show floor. It got me hyped instantly and the game certainly deserved the awards it got (source):

  • Game of the Year
  • Best Game Direction
  • Best Action / Adventure Game

It was also nominated in the following categories:

  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Score / Music
  • Best Audio Design

It's understandable that it lost in the latter two, but maybe it gives Nintendo an incentive to try a more powerful score with their next Zelda game.

Anyway, the trailer for the DLC looked really nice, like there was a lot of new content. Some of my early predictions came true: there are new Sheikah Shrines and an Ancient Saddle and Bridle. Looking forward to all this! The Master Cycle Zero was also a big surprise. I bet no one saw this coming, but it's a nice possibility thanks to the technology theme.

I'm not fully aware of all the new content that the DLC and the Update 1.4.0 brings as of yet, because I want to go in blind. But I'll create posts later today and in the upcoming days all about it.

Also, I'm not happy about the fact that they are releasing things like this out of the blue. Yes, it has been a nice surprise for the show, but I had weekend plans, while I also really want to play this new content, so now I'm conflicted. This wouldn't have happened, if they at least announced a release date some time in advance, instead of leaving us guessing.

On a side note, Metroid: Samus Returns won Best Handheld Game. Well deserved!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Breath of the Wild - The Champions' Ballad: Final Predictions

According to Nintendo, the Champions' Ballad DLC for Breath of the Wild is still planned for a release in December. If this holds true, it's likely that we're getting more information including an accurate release date very soon. But they also shouldn't rush things like they did with the Master Trials DLC...

In any case it's quite exciting that we still know so little about the 2nd DLC pack. The bullet points from the official site give us still a rough idea:

  • A new dungeon
  • An original story
  • Additional challenges

Apparently the DLC will also implement some sort of epilogue storyline, taking place after the battle with Calamity Ganon, where Zelda visits Riju, Teba and probably the other Champion "descendants" as well. Or those are just new memories, where Zelda visited the past Champions - it's not entirely clear yet. In any case, you will still play as Link, but it will focus more on Zelda, according to Aonuma at Japan Expo 2017. Oh, and there's the infamous Lobster Shirt available as a new armor piece. See this post for more information.

Adding new contents?

Theoretically, with a game like this they could always add more of the same: more Sheikah Shrines, more Korok Seeds, new enemy types, new weapon types and so on. However, there's a certain finality to how they implemented things with the main game (and the first DLC). If you trade all 120 Spirit Orbs, the Goddess Statues will tell you that you can't get any stronger and that you shouldn't seek out for more power, because there aren't any shrines left. Hestu "rewards" you for collecting all 900 Korok Seeds, Kilton rewards you for defeating all overworld bosses and Symin "rewards" you for completing Hyrule Compendium. While they added the golden enemies and Sky Octoroks in the first DLC, those are exclusive to Master Mode, which is why they could be retroactively added to the Compendium. This trick wouldn't work in the 2nd DLC, though, so it's likely that we don't get to see any new enemies or weapons there.

What doesn't have such a finality to it are the treasure chests and Nintendo used plenty of those already in order to distribute new armor pieces in the DLC and updates. But that doesn't really add anything to the world... Once you found and opened these chests, they are gone forever and the environment stays as empty as before. With weapons there is also the little trick that they might simply not register in Hyrule Compendium - all the exclusive amiibo weapons currently don't count, but they are still in the game.

Of course they could add more Shrines, Koroks, weapons and even enemies by putting them into a special DLC category. There could be "EX Shrines" that have a different color and don't reward you with Spirit Orbs, but with something else, e.g. keys to the new dungeon. There could be special red Koroks, where Hestu gives you new rewards for them. And Hyrule Compendium could even get its "EX category", which doesn't count for completion. That's even good practice, because the people, who don't buy the DLC, still want to get the sense of completion that you have normally, while the DLC adds on top of that.

But simply adding more of the same also wouldn't be very original, especially if we already have more than enough shrines and Koroks. The majority of players won't even have found them all yet. The same couldn't be said about enemies, where the selection feels a little limited, but it's unlikely that we're going to get new enemy types at this point, even if it would be awesome. However, usually you would expect a boss for the new dungeon, where there are multiple possible scenarios. They could re-use the Blights for this, because there is currently no way to re-battle them. Or they could add some new boss, who might not get an entry in Hyrule Compendium. Battling Dark Link or Shadow Link, as a mirror image of yourself, comes to mind here. And this would be a nice throwback to the free "Den of Trials" DLC in Tri Force Heroes, where they added Shadow Links as a new enemy type at the end, while Nintendo could remain lazy with the DLC.

However, enemies aside, for the "new challenges" it would be nice to get something entirely new, something the game didn't have before. And not just some new side quests, where they drop a treasure chest somewhere and leave you a hint that pops up as soon as you start the game after the update. That was probably the lamest way of including DLC ever.

There is also the potential of new memories, where they certainly have to break through the current finality. It would be really nice to get more memories about the four Champions, e.g. how they were chosen for the job in the first place, but Impa's Main Quest about the memories is already completed in the main game as well... Alternatively it could start a new Main Quest about additional memories, after you've finished the first one.

But there's something else that could add to the story, while at the same time it would add something new to find in the game: Gossip Stones. They used to be something created by the Sheikah in the distant past, where in the age of Sheikah Technology they could be modernized and respond to your Sheikah Slate, adding new information about the world and its past. This gives a new incentive to explore all over the world again, where the "Gossip Stones" should probably become a new default entry to the Sheikah Sensor, next to Sheikah Shrines. Additionally all information from the Gossip Stones would be stored in your Adventure Log, similar to the memories.

A new dungeon?

Supposedly, what most people want out of this is probably the classic Zelda dungeon experience. It's likely that Nintendo is still going to re-use the Sheikah Shrine assets to built a classic dungeon, where you can't climb, but solve rooms with puzzles and enemies.

We already talked about the boss, where Dark Link seems like an excellent (and cheaply made) candidate. It even could tie into retrieving the Triforce (of Courage) in this game and provide a large throwback to Zelda II - The Adventure of Link, a game that has been more on the fans' minds lately. (Adding Fokka enemies on top of that would be amazing, but that's unlikely, as discussed already.)

What's also part of the classic dungeon experience is getting a new item along the way. However, Breath of the Wild doesn't really have traditional items, it has the Sheikah Slate Runes for that, but it's entirely possible that they might add a new Rune for this dungeon. However, it should be something that also remains useful outside of the dungeon. The simplest idea here would be a new type of the Bomb Rune, which works like Bombchus or Bomblings. But this wouldn't feel all that special. According to Kotaku Nintendo also experimented both with Beetle and Hookshot Runes, but they didn't turn out as fun:

Hookshot was [one] we experimented with and tested, as well as [the] Beetle from Skyward Sword. After a lot of experimentation and testing, we weeded out all the ones that had potential to detract from the gameplay and enjoying the game. What’s left currently, the four items, were really what would draw out the fun of the game.

But maybe they can improve on the Hookshot idea and with that provide an additional tool for climbing in the game, which would be very useful outside of the dungeon as well. The Beetle on the other hand doesn't seem as promising. It was an exciting item in a game like Skyward Sword, but with the freedom that Breath of the Wild provides it would almost feel pointless.

An epilogue?

This is probably the grand picture of the 2nd DLC: the game continues after the final boss with new scenarios. So far the only Zelda games that did this were Oracle of Ages & Seasons, where this was used for the Linked Games and ultimately resulted in a new final boss at the end of that.

It could be similar in Breath of the Wild, where a new danger now lurks on the horizon. There's probably a good reason, why Princess Zelda seeks out characters like Riju or Teba, she probably wants them to become the new Champions to take control of the Divine Beasts against a new threat. Because that worked out so well last time...

But what happens to the old threat? Calamity Ganon's dark goo should be gone and the Guardians should be back to normal, after you've beaten the main game. Other things like Sheikah Towers and Shrines, hidden Koroks and even the side quests should still be available for playing in such an epilogue scenario, but the Guardians, the token enemy of the game, would be gone. But there are even solutions for that. They could be implemented in their friendly state and only attack you, if you attack them, so you can still destroy them and get their materials. This would even fit the original teaser of the game, where a Guardian fought Link despite having no signs of corruption. Or they could simply be taken over by a new threat... Or Calamity Ganon already comes back in the DLC. It's possible.

There's also the question about the original image of the DLC:

It shows Kass with view on Vah Ruta, which doesn't happen in the main game. Vah Ruta is still on firing position here, which places this before your battle with Calamity Ganon, since the Divine Beasts won't need to do this anymore and Vah Ruta should be dysfunctional anyway, if the DLC directly follows the current epilogue scene. Of course this could be something that was a prototype or it will be a different part of the DLC, which is already playable before the epilogue. This could even be, where we discover new memories of the four Champions.

About the Divine Beasts... It would be nice, if you could always re-enter them in the epilogue story, so you could still get any missing treasure chests in them and maybe even experience new parts of the story there.

It will be interesting to see, what Nintendo makes of such an epilogue scenario and how they will utilize all the potential here.