July 29, 2017
On the third of March this year, gamers discovered the first open-world Zelda, Breath of the Wild. It is not only the most expansive game in the series, but among the most immersive games of all time. This is achieved through a fierce focus on landscape design, keeping exploration engaging throughout. With this element taking center stage, others were shifted around and deviated from series norms. Among these, none were affected more than the storytelling and dungeon design. I believe the second DLC pack, The Champions’ Ballad, will take a more standard approach to both, and I have some thoughts on how the story might play out. This is all theory and speculation, but I think it provokes deep thought and thrilling conversation, so feel free to chime in after the read.
The first story change from the primary game I believe will come is linearity. The departure from a linear story truly enhanced the game for me, (though I know there are mixed feelings in the community) but in a DLC pack, there will certainly be much less room to explore, and therefore I believe that the story will be presented at certain points that you will probably have to go to in order, and play out more or less the same way it does in games like Skyrim. It is heavily implied that each Champion’s home area will be revisited. This could be presented it in such a way that players have the option to visit these points in any order. Even if it is, I personally think each area will have a relatively small amount of new content, so I do not believe this will have the same effect it did on the main story quests in the base game.
We know very little about the story so far, but to summarize the confirmed information, this DLC takes place directly after the story of Breath of the Wild, not before (as some theories previously prophesied) and somehow involves Link and Zelda going to do… something.. with the Champions. Like I said, not a whole lot to go off of. There are enough clues in the small teasers we have been given, however, to speculate some possibilities.
Since we can assume Link and Zelda will be travelling to the homelands of the Champions, I believe they will be meeting with the four successor characters, Yunobo, Sidon, Riju, and Teba. I believe that this will lead to the formation of a new team to fight whatever new evils should invade Hyrule, since that is bound to happen eventually. Beyond simply meeting the new leaders of the four races, I believe they will explore what it would take to have these characters truly fulfill the roles the Champions were meant to play. This may mean that they learn to pilot the Divine Beasts, or it could simply be a title that comes with some power similar to the Sages present in other games.
To become the new Champions of Hyrule, I believe each character will follow Link and possibly assist him in some sort of new challenge in their homeland. The question now becomes “how will the successors know what to do?” I do not think they will, so they will turn to the one character in Breath of the Wild’s version of Hyrule that knows a great deal about the history and lore surrounding each of their countries; the bewinged bard, Kass. Having traveled the world and studied ancient songs and cultures surrounding them, Kass’s knowledge will be instrumental (sorry, I had to) in the succession of the new Champions. After all, the DLC pack is entitled The Champions’ Ballad, and who better to perform a ballad than the only person in the entire fictitious world who can play an instrument? In addition, each Champion may have a song dedicated to them individually. This would assist the narrative and the lore easily by shedding light on what the original Champions went through, and what their Successors now must face.
Beyond simply reciting a few stories and allowing the player to progress, I believe Kass’s character will be explored more in depth than it was in the base game. Not that he had a small part. I believe he will reveal his original reasons for going down the path he chose; why he decided to follow his teacher and investigate the songs of the past. I think we will see him as a more traditional companion character. Not quite on the level of Navi or Midna, but I believe his recursion will be integral in the storytelling.
With this in mind, though, I asked myself, “Why does Link care?” I had to consider carefully how his character would also be explored with the focus on the Champions, the Successors, and Kass, without overshadowing any of them or melting into the background, but I believe I have come to a sound conclusion on this front. Link was actually there one hundred years previously with the Champions. He watched them learn and grow into the heroes they eventually became. Kass, knowledgeable as he is, only has secondhand accounts of these dealings through songs passed down by his teacher. Link can piece together fragmented stories that Kass might not otherwise be able to decode. I believe that Link will encounter memories along the path with Kass and the Successors, as he did in the base game, and with his memories filling in the blanks left in the songs, the Successors will be able to grow as the original Champions did.
Well that covers my idea of the story pretty well, but what about the big surprise, the dungeon and the “additional challenges” spoken of in the reveal imagery? Well for this, I have little speculation but a lot of hopes. Several other theorists have gone over the possibility of a new Divine Beast, but I do not think that is the case, as everything in the base game is solidly founded around the fact that there are only four. Plus, who would drive it? Link or Zelda would be the only ones available, and without Calamity Ganon to fight, there would be little reason to even bother with the original four.
Rather than this theory, I believe it will be a more traditional dungeon, and hope that it will be created along the same lines as Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule Castle. This dungeon was easily the most interesting area in the game to explore, with its many interconnected rooms and nearly endless ways to reach any given point. If I were to have my ideal dungeon, it would be at least as large and nonlinear, but have a larger number of puzzles to solve within each room. Exploring Hyrule Castle was great, but there were actually almost no puzzles to speak of.
I also think it would be great to see the Successors work together with Link in the dungeon. Each of them having unique powers like the original Champions, I believe a great number of puzzles could be created using them as the item, so to speak, as we saw in Wind Waker with Makar and Medli. This mechanic got tedious sometimes, but I thought it added a little to the character to see them actually help out in person, rather than Ocarina of Time’s take on it wherein the Sages all hand you a big shiny button and tell you to move on.
On the matter of dungeons as well, I do think it is worth noting that in the minuscule morsel of gameplay footage we have, there is a shrine visible as we observe a party of Link, Zelda, and a few Hylian guards trekking up a mountain. I believe that this means we will also see a handful of shrines appear in the new DLC, and my guess is that there will be twelve. An even twelve would allow Link to fully upgrade his stamina wheel as well as his heart containers, so that would be a sensical number to cap it off, plus the short challenges would stack up to make worthwhile addition to the DLC beyond a single dungeon.
That about sums up where I stand on the matter, so now I would like your input. Am I way off base and is the Champions’ Ballad just going to be the story of how Link gets along with Groose in New Hyrule High School? Will the dungeon just be a Divine Beast shaped like the mightiest of all animals, the Dik-Dik? Let me hear your theories and rants in the comments or on Twitter. The internet is a great place to tell people they are incorrect!