Review: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - The Champions' Ballad


Shark Girl and Earth Boy

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has had a crazy year. It's already taken home at least one major award for best overall game of 2017, and has been nominated for countless more. While its faults have been laid bare at this point, you can't really deny that it's been one of the most talked about and influential releases in the past 10 months or so.

The conversation isn't over yet -- not even after the sun sets on the last planned DLC, The Champions’ Ballad.

Zelda Champions' Ballad review

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch [reviewed], Wii U)
Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo
Released: June 30, 2017
MSRP: $19.99 (part of the season pass, cannot buy individually)

Rather than provide a number of quality of life updates, Champion's Ballad positions itself as a bonafide story add-on (it's kind of not, but all will be revealed shortly). You'll access it all by heading back to the very first shrine you wake up from (or by accepting myriad sidequests to get outfits or a horse-summoning device), which will queue up four new quests on your main map. After it's all over you get a motorcycle -- which your mileage may vary on (ha) depending on how much of the open world you've already completed.

This joint is incorporated and listed as a "main campaign" quest, and isn't found in a separate menu option. You're immediately granted access to the goofily named "One-Hit Obliterator," which kills enemies instantly but also allows you to suffer the same fate (hey, it's just like that one Devil May Cry difficulty). It's a massive kick to the jaw early. Those four quests involve killing settlements of enemies, and even if an enemy literally breathes on you, you die. Once an individual area is conquered, a shrine pops up.

I've seen some chatter about them being tough, but they're roughly on the level as a few of the high-end difficulty shrines in the main game. I appreciate that Nintendo is still finding cool ways to punish Link and the player even after they've exhausted 120 concepts already, even if they could have been pushed a little farther to the limit of what Breath of the Wild is capable of.

If you're expecting some epic additional showdown with the strengthened spirit of Ganon, or some final bit of closure that instantly teases the next Zelda anime style, this isn't the DLC you're looking for. Instead we'll get to spend a little more time with the Guardians themselves (without any new revelations in the process), while you explore some cool new shrines and a new dungeon, the latter of which is an amalgam of the Divine Beasts you've already seen. As someone who loved the idea of the Beasts mixing up the routine dungeon delving formula I can dig it, but those of you who wanted Nintendo to do the same thing they've always done won't magically be swayed by this new one.

I repeat, this is mostly a series of challenges connected through the main map, with the narrative taking a backseat. I can deal with that because that's just like how the actual campaign operated, but the outright most disappointing thing about it is the retread through a few boss battles (sans one, which is unique) -- and the lack of any alteration whatsoever of the final fight with Ganon despite the hint that there might be. If this is truly the last DLC, it would've been great to get at least an extra form to tango with.

Despite that, I had a great time taking on the new shrines and the obliteration silliness. Breath of the Wild is still a blast, so even if everything feels familiar, I couldn't help but take myriad detours and comb through areas I had already been before just to ensure that I didn't miss something. Keep your expectations in check and you'll enjoy the ride.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - The Champions' Ballad reviewed by Chris Carter



Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures



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