When Nintendo revealed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would be getting a DLC expansion focusing on Princess Zelda‘s Champions, fans immediately assumed it would be narrative-focused. Mipha, Revali, Daruk, and Urbosa played major roles in the main game, but by the time we beat Ganon, there was still so much we didn’t know about them. So when The Champions’ Ballad promised to shed more light on the lives of the four Champions, fans eager for more richness in the game’s story were excited.
But while The Champions’ Ballad doesn’t offer as much additional story as we had hoped, it does add a ton of fresh new Shrine puzzles and strength challenges. All of it puts everything you’ve learned in Breath of the Wild to the test.
You Can’t Go Home Again
The Champions’ Ballad definitely belongs in the endgame, but it doesn’t feel like a conclusion so much as it does another layer of Hyrule’s history to explore. After downloading the DLC, Zelda will call you back to Shrine of Resurrection (the shrine Link wakes up in at the start of the game). There you can begin the DLC’s first challenge: use a weapon that will one-hit kill enemies but also make you one-hit-killable to clean out an area of the Great Plateau.
Once this test of skill is complete, the main four quests unlock. Each one revolves around one of the four Champions — but the tasks are less intimately thematic and more a to-do lists to complete before you can watch a cutscene. These cutscenes are short and sweet, but not terribly deep, and are a slightly disappointing way to cap out The Champions’ Ballad quests.
Even if you get your Sheikah motorbike and then go defeat Ganon again, the game still kicks you back to before the encounter. There will never quite be a resolution for Link — he will always be wandering Hyrule with Zelda’s voice in his head, no matter how many Shrine puzzles he does or creatures he beats.
I’m not sure why I expected The Champions’ Ballad to wrap up the game’s storyline in a neat little bow — perhaps all the marketing had something to do with it — but the lack of resolution leaves me hopeful for more story-focused DLC for Breath of the Wild. I still have questions about the troubled relationship between Zelda and her father and how they dug up the Divine Beasts in the first place. There is, however, a bunch of additional dialogue you can trigger if you decide you want to challenge the Divine Beasts again — if you’re okay with spoilers, check out the video below.
A Challenge Approaches
But despite the lack of story content, The Champions’ Ballad features some of the toughest and most clever puzzles in all of Breath of the Wild. To see each Champion’s cutscene, you have to complete a string of tasks in a quest line. These include a mix of time trials across Hyrule’s terrain, treasure hunts, and new boss battles.
These quests rely heavily on how well you know the map, so make free use of your stamps and the Hero’s Path add-on to track down quest locations. They are excellent challenges for players who feel they’ve seen everything the game has to offer, because the sentiment isn’t quite true. Also, it tests just how intimately you’ve explored Hyrule, opening the possibilities to find things you’ve missed. It’s quite smart.
These quests are all capped off with a boss battle — disappointedly, another round with whatever creation of Ganon was living in each Champion’s Divine Beast — and then a new Shrine to puzzle out. While these boss fights are only a tad harder than they were in the main game and feel like a tedious addition, the Shrines are not.
These new Shrine puzzles are just difficult enough to drive you into a blind rage, only to make you feel incredibly accomplished once you finally figure it out. It’s what the best Shrine puzzles in Breath of the Wild have done, and the ones in The Champions’ Ballad rank with the best.
A Few More Secrets…
I won’t spoil anything, but once you finish these four quests you’re not quite done. Where the game leads you next is surprising and unexpected — a return to the tone and form of Zelda games past. There are also some new armor sets to hunt down, and some new items to obtain if you’ve purchased the Champions amiibo.
And then there is the motorbike. The Master Cycle Zero. If you have any other small quests or shrines from the main game to clean up, or Koroks to find, you’ll want to use the Master Cycle to get there. It’s a joy to drive, and a bit out of place — but who cares? You can also put Link in Nintendo Switch t-shirts. Nothing is sacred, and that’s totally fine.
In the end, The Champions’ Ballad may not wrap up the Breath of the Wild storyline, but it’s a concentrated dose of everything the game does well. It’s challenging and refreshing, teasing your brain in all the right places. And while the story additions aren’t impressive, it’s sweet to get a look at a baby Prince Sidon and see how much Urbosa cares for Zelda.
My only wish is that this isn’t the end of additions coming to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.