Note: This article contains spoilers for the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Champion’s Ballad DLC. And regular Breath of the Wild, too. Please be aware.
“DLC” has become something of a dirty word of late. Actually, that’s a lie. DLC has always been a dirty word. The mere concept that a videogame producer would choose to “double dip” and charge the poor player for further experiences when sixty buckaroos have already been spent is repulsive to a certain vocal subset of the population. And, honestly, that kind of thinking could be understandable. After all, gaming went through a solid couple of decades before a game ever requested a little more scratch to keep the lights on, and it’s not like Super Metroid ever needed a season pass to be more of a masterpiece. DLC, almost at its core, sounds like a scam, and people are right to be resistant to any profit model that asks for more and more from the consumer.
That said? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s Champion’s Ballad DLC is exactly why DLC is great.
For anyone curious about Champion’s Ballad, but either unable or uninterested in downloading the DLC, here’s a complete run down of what happens. First, Link returns to the Tutorial Plateau, and receives a new weapon. Said weapon is a double edged sword (pole… thing?), though, as while it is infinitely powerful (there’s a little Mobius strip on the power level and everything), it instantly drains Link’s health to the tiniest sliver. Link must then use this weapon to destroy four enemy camps and solve four puzzle shrines in a state of near death, where the slightest tap from a Lizalfos’s spit spells instant annihilation. After twelve billion game over screens and learning that bomb arrows aren’t the most effective weapon at close range, Link finally triumphs, and unlocks… four stonehenges. Each Stonehenge alludes to three different challenges hidden around the map, and each challenge leads to a corresponding shrine. Clear all shrines, and you’ll earn one of four boss fights. Clear all those fights, and you’ll unlock the final challenge: a complicated dungeon that culminates with an all-new, all-different boss. Clear that sucker out of Hyrule, and you’ll earn a bitchin’ motorcycle, and the ability to show every last mounted bokoblin on the planet that they are trash. Also, somewhere in there, Link got a very pretty portrait (that was ruined by a giant bird).
But the kicker for this whole adventure? Since you have to have completed all of the Divine Beast dungeons to start this DLC, and completing that task comprises the majority of the game, if you’re playing Champion’s Ballad, that means you’ve done it all before.
And that’s super!
Last year, Street Fighter 5 was released to nearly universal disdain. After years of Street Fighter games naturally reiterating with the likes of Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Super Street Fighter 2, and Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (I should have added some “goofy” parody name somewhere in there, but it is literally impossible to come up with something more ridiculous than that succession of SF2 titles), Capcom deigned to release a “base” Street Fighter that said, “Hey guys, we know we always release like thirty versions of this nonsense, how about you pick up this game, and we’ll fill in the blanks with DLC instead of selling six different copies of the same game?” This decision was received… poorly. Mind you, this may have been because of a complete lack of standard items like “arcade mode” and “story mode”, but Launch Day Street Fighter 5 was derided for being a limited, “cash-grab” experience that clearly was waiting for you to insert an additional $30 for a season pass to actually obtain a full experience. Everyone went back to claiming DLC was nothing more than naked greed on the part of a videogame company that would rather charge $90 for a game than $60, and we mounted our armored horse and rode off into a self-satisfied sunset.
On the other hand, we now have Breath of the Wild. We have Mario Kart 8. We have Mario Maker (… assuming anyone is still using their WiiU). Now we have a number of games that no one is claiming were released “half finished”. Now we have games that were already going to be responsible for hundreds of hours of play, with additional “bonus” areas sold at an appropriate premium. Or they’re free (thanks, Mario Maker!). We finally have games that, in a manner of speaking, stretch on into infinity.
And that’s all I ever wanted.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you told me there was some way to get more Super Mario Bros. 3 back in 1989, I would have gladly done anything you asked. I have to eat my own leg on live television for World 10-1? Fine! I wasn’t using that appendage anyway! Buy a second Gameboy Advance and an E-Reader? Even better! This is why I always played every Mega Man, and lined up for every Final Fantasy. As much as I love new experiences (lie), in my heart of hearts, I know what I want: more! I want the familiar, but more of it, and juuuuust different enough to keep me interested. I don’t want to play a 100 hour adventure all over again, I want to play a six hour adventure that is pretty much just like the 100 hour option! I liked it the first time, and if I wanted to play an entirely new game, I’ve got an entire backlog for just that reason.
Breath of the Wild starts on the Great Plateau with a very weak and limited Link, just like Champion’s Ballad. Link must venture to the four corners of his world, and “recruit” the four champions, just like Champion’s Ballad. Four boss battles, one big, multi-form final boss, just like Champion’s Ballad. It’s a hundred hour game shrunk down to a bite-sized, new experience. It’s familiar, but different, and a fine way to spend an afternoon. No progress lost, new abilities gained, and, in the end, you’ve even got a new smattering of plot to enjoy. Oh, and a new toy that casts the entire world in a brand new light. That doesn’t hurt, either.
DLC can be divisive, but it’s also an excuse for more. And, in the end, isn’t that what we all want?
…. Well, that, and a rad motorcycle.
FGC #362 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Champion’s Ballad
- System: Nintendo Switch and… was the DLC also available for the WiiU? I see Sonic the Hedgehog Cycle mods on Twitter, so I would assume that’s a yes.
- Number of players: Sorry, no multiplayer expansion here.
- Favorite NPC (Champion’s Ballad): Mipha. It’s always Mipha. Said it before, and I’ll say it again, I would play a game featuring sad fish girlfriend. There’s some story there!
- Unanswered Questions: Who took the Champion’s Photo? Was it supposed to be a young Impa? Science Lolita? It sure didn’t sound like Goggle Robby…
- Further Unanswered Questions: So, does Squeeze Box Bird know Link is, ya know, Link? Like, he’s apparently had the only known photo of Link and the Champions all this time, and… was he just humoring Link as “the traveler”, or was he dedicatedly helping the hero all this time? Or is the bird just Hylian-racist, and all these elf kids look the same to him? Kass, give us some info!
- Favorite Exploit: You’ve only got one chunk of heart for the opening bits of Champion’s Ballad, but you do keep all of your equipment. And there is fireproof armor available, so maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to light Link ablaze and wreck up the place. Come to think of it, BoW Link is kind of an uncontrollable asshole. And now he’s got a motorcycle!
- Ideal DLC: I would like a “challenge mode” that stows all your items and allows you to complete a dungeon “naked” without having to drop (or resist using) your entire inventory. I’d love a good scavenger run of Hyrule Castle, but I’m not strong enough to surrender my oodles of gear.
- Did you know? Technically the first home console system to support DLC was the Sega Dreamcast. As ever, this system was far too ahead of its time, and it’s got the useless Chu Chu Rocket skins to prove it.
- Would I play again: Honestly, I’d rather replay Champion’s Ballad by itself than the whole of Breath of the Wild ever again. As much as I love BoW, the idea of compulsively completing 120 shrines again sounds incredibly daunting, while the limited number of CB challenges is much more manageable. Oh well, I know in my heart that I’ll wind up replaying everything at some point, so here’s to inevitability.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants! It’s Bart! And he’s saving the world! Please look forward to it!