It feels as if people have been perpetually asking for Nintendo’s games to “get with the times” for years, in response to how often they appeal to the nostalgia factor of their longtime fans. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was born as a response to that, given the differences it contains compared to previous Zelda titles. It’s a 3D Zelda game that fully embraces open world gameplay, the kind those who enjoy the titles have wanted for years. It hearkens back to the original NES/Famicom The Legend of Zelda title and seeks to achieve its concept on a far larger scale, which they’re doing intentionally.
While the above information was mostly known (though fun to acknowledge now and again), Nintendo also showed how BotW is a game in tune with the times in another way: They announced it will receive an “Expansion Pass,” a slightly fancy name for a season pass. It will give those who purchase it two downloadable packs when they release. The first will provide the “Cave of Trials” special challenge, a new hard mode, and a new feature for the in-game map that’s not being defined. The second, however, will add a new dungeon and additional story content. The packs will arrive in the summer and fall, respectively, and the pass will retail for $19.99 or an equivalent when it’s made available on March 3rd, the day the game (and the Switch system) releases. Notably, Nintendo has no current plans to release the packs separately.
Upon purchasing the pass, three new treasure chests will appear in the game’s “Great Plateau” area. Two will contain useful items, but one will have…a shirt with a Nintendo Switch logo that Link can wear. You’d think they would have made a special throwback outfit for this, but I’m sure someone will like it.
The content of the second pack sounds far more appealing than what the first will offer, which explains why the latter won’t arrive until the holiday season. But its perception isn’t helped by how they went out of their way to be vague with details of the first pack, and it’s tough to gauge exactly how much content both will contain.
We’re on the internet, meaning current reactions range from certain fans being fine with this to others being very angry, with little in between. This can be seen in the like to dislike ratio on the YouTube upload of the video announcement on Nintendo of America’s channel featuring producer Eiji Aonuma, through the “likes” are slightly winning out.
Some criticism of the DLC is understandable, especially with the vague info about the first pack’s contents. Those among the Zelda fanbase wanted the mainline series to being one of the last holdouts of franchises that didn’t relegate important content to DLC, a constant trend among many other open world games. Part of that contention is also regarding how the hard mode is included here instead of being an option in the main game, unlockable or otherwise. Nintendo hasn’t specified whether this is a different kind of hard mode than one that could be available in the game, but there’s nothing suggesting it will even have one. It’s not the first time this has happened to a game (see titles like The Last of Us and Blue Dragon), but I also wouldn’t want this to become a bigger trend.
However, some seem to be lashing out at the mere fact that a Zelda game is receiving DLC. It’s not the first time for this, as seen through Tri Force Heroes and especially Hyrule Warriors; but it’s a first for a mainline game. There’s nothing wrong with this practice if the content is substantial, and the existence of it doesn’t imply content was ripped from the main game so it could be sold down the line. Nintendo will have to clarify how much content the Cave of Trials will offer to calm some people down, but content from the second pack sounds like it will be substantial enough to be satisfying. We’ll get a better impression of what’s planned once they start advertising this after the game releases in 16 days, since they’ll want people to buy the pass early.
Meanwhile, it was revealed last week that BotW was the cover feature for the new Game Informer, and they’ve continued to update their online hub with info. It includes content like interviews with Aonuma and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto, and video impressions of the game with accompanying gameplay footage. It will continue to be updated for the remainder of the month.
If you’re the kind that wants to avoid further media until it releases, good luck, but it’s nice that you won’t have to wait much longer. Don’t expect Nintendo to delve too far into spoiler territory for the remaining promotional period, but others who get early copies won’t be so kind. Hopefully the game lives up to people’s expectations, or we’ll never hear the end of it from some of the crazier fans — and their reactions are currently bad enough with the DLC announcement.