Zelda Champions Ballad Review
After over 100 hours in Breath of the Wild, Craig takes our Zelda Champions Ballad review and assesses whether it’s worth your time
The Champions Ballad doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to Breath of the Wild, instead, it favours more of the same and doesn’t introduce too many new concepts and areas, although there are a few of the latter.
What the Champions Ballad does do though is test your skill levels. After spending far more than 100 hours in Breath of the Wild and maxing out both my heart and stamina gauge, some of the challenges that you face will be testing.
The Champions’ Ballad isn’t overly difficult – although the initial half hour presents you with arguably the hardest challenge in the game – but if you don’t have a large enough stamina wheel or the ability to extend beyond your normal stamina wheel, you’ll find yourself constantly struggling to meet the demands that are set. I for one, couldn’t imagine completing some of the small challenges without having already bested 120 shrines. They’re likely still manageable, but they’ll certainly be a tougher ask without the prerequisite of having three stamina wheels.
Without going into too much depth, the opening of the Champions’ Ballad sees you defeating enemies at different camps while only having a quarter of a heart as health. Doing so will unlock 4 shrines that you can complete. The middle and more lengthy section of the DLC allows you to spread your wings a little and complete 12 different challenges in order to find 12 new shrines before the final act sees you take on a new dungeon.
If you didn’t enjoy the main game’s intent to let you explore, find shrine, complete shrine and then set off again for exploration, then the Champions’ Ballad isn’t for you. It follows the same pattern as the main game albeit with shrines that will test your abilities and wit more so than any that have come before. There were numerous occasions where I was left starting a puzzle within a shrine, before completing it in such a way that I wasn’t sure if it was intended. The puzzles are more open-ended than usual and that’s a good thing as it allows you to really stretch your use of skills like Magnesis, Cryonis and Stasis in particular.
The undoubted highlight of the piece though is the dungeon. Like the rest of the expansion, it forces you to use all the skills you’ve learnt and tests your ability to think outside the box with runes. Like much of the game, it allows you to complete puzzles in untended ways, which I tested to the fullest extremities when I solved one puzzle room by using items from another – something that I’m pretty sure wasn’t intended by the developers. There’s also a more than imposing and satisfying finale that, in my mind, tops even the final encounter in the base game. Of course, we won’t spoil anything here but it was a wonderful way to round off the Champions’ Ballad.
Champions’ Ballad was billed as a piece of narrative that stretches back to 100 years before Calamity Ganon appeared on the scene, filling in plot points and showing us new sides of characters we’ve already met. To a point, that’s true. Those hoping for a story-based bit of DLC will be left disappointed however, as the Champions Ballad doesn’t offer more than a few token cutscenes and dialogue sections with Kass in order to further the overall game’s narrative. Although it does offer a rather nifty motorbike as a prize for completing the DLC which should help you round up those Korok seeds if you haven’t already.
In truth, the Champions’ Ballad is a wonderful piece of DLC that is perfect when you’re in the middle of a playthrough. After more than 100 hours and 120 shrines though, coming back to the Champions Ballad allowed me to enjoy the game that I had played earlier in the year with new content but without too much else. For what it is, it’s a well-priced expansion. Just don’t expect the Champions’ Ballad to dramatically alter your view of Breath of the Wild. It’s largely more of the same, which for most of you out there is probably a good thing.
Zelda Champions Ballad Review Conclusion
While it might not fill the story itch that many have been looking for, the Champions’ Ballad will provide some of the best challenges and puzzles in the Zelda series. In essence, it’s more of the same but that’s a good thing in our eyes.
We tested Zelda Champions’ Ballad after purchasing an expansion pass, it’s out now for Nintendo Switch and Wii U.
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