When Nintendo announced The Champions’ Ballad DLC for Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, I was excited. I was hoping to get some more background on the Champions, and my wildest dreams were being able to play as the champions themselves. The Champions’ Ballad was disappointing from this perspective. This DLC focuses on the trails the champions had to go through in order to become a champion and help Zelda defeat Ganon. As Link, you have to conquer these trials and face the blight bosses once again. There are a few twists and turns, but you are, once again, searching for shrines, solving puzzles, rinse, repeat. A spoiler warning is in effect.
When you first start the Champions’ Ballad you are given a weapon in the Shrine of Resurrection. You are supposed to defeat enemies at four different locations on the plateau. After doing so, you have to complete four shrines. After you complete these four shrines, four locations are marked on your map. These locations mark a small platform that resembles a shrine. There are three pillars surrounding this platform; each pillar has a picture with a location. These locations are trials you have to overcome in order to unlock, you guessed it, a shrine. You have to do this three times in each area that the four champions are from.
When you complete each trial, you have to go back to the divine beast, and fight the blight bosses that you orginially had to defeat. This time, you only have items that the champions would have had 100 years ago. For example, when facing Waterblight Ganon, you have three Zora Spears, 10 arrows, a silver bow, and a handful of healing items. These were all the items that the champion, Mipha, supposedly had. After defeating the bosses, you are faced with another divine beast to explore. Then you must face one of the Shekiah monks as the final boss. The reward is underwhelming; you get the Master Cycle Zero: a motorcycle that resembles a horse that can be summoned anywhere, but runs on fuel. You can throw whatever you like in the tank as fuel, just like the Delorean from Back To The Future.
The Champions’ Ballad is strong when it comes to the shrine puzzles. They are well thought-out, and you really have to think about some of them. You are going to have to take your time with each to understand the logic. The developers weren’t cheap, and didn’t throw in the ‘test your strength’ shrines that you see in the main game. The three shrines in each area have it’s own theme that relates to the element that the champion represented. For example, Daruk’s trials focus on fire because Daruk is from death mountain which is surrounded by lava. When discovering each shrine it isn’t just combing through each location, you have to do certain times in order to trigger the shrine. For example, each area has some sort of time trial that involves racing through blue circles. This was a welcomed element because finding shrines becomes easily monotonous.
I really wish I could love this DLC pack more, but it’s hard to love. You get a handful of new memories, and are able to read the diaries of the champions, but you still don’t learn much about them. If the DLC had focused on when the champions were still alive, it would have been so much more interesting. They didn’t have to create a new world for that. They could have have gone with a linear quest where Link works along with the champions in order to solve a problem. Instead we get more shrine quests, and a rehash of the divine beast bosses.
Is The Champions’ Ballad Worth It?
It’s hard to recommend this DLC when it seems like a thinly-veiled marketing campaign to squeeze money out of Zelda fans. It just seems that little effort was put forth into making the Champions’ Ballad an original, enjoyable DLC pack. We see games like Dishonored that pull all the stops for their DLC: you give to play as a new character, completely new story that has development, and new mechanics that are executed well. Instead, you pay for DLC that is a glorified shrine quest. There is little reward for so much effort. It isn’t the worst thing that has happened to Zelda, but it is certainly is a disappointing addition.