Stay on target These Games Seem Suspiciously Similar to ‘Breath of the Wild’Fan-Made ‘Zelda’ Tabletop Game Returns You to the Wild I don’t know how many articles I’ve written this year that begin with some kind of acknowledgment of 2017’s incredible game lineup, but that’s just because 2017 has had such an incredible game lineup. However, for me, and apparently The Game Awards, one game has still stood above the rest: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Nintendo Switch and Wii U.It’s been a few months since that masterpiece launched in March, and I had to tear myself away from it to play a bunch of other awesome games. But to close out its own incredible year, Nintendo just released the final, substantial Zelda DLC pack, The Champions’ Ballad. It’s been the perfect excuse to revisit this Game of the Year and confirm that yes, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the Actual Game of the Year.The overarching Champions’ Ballad quest is structured pretty similarly to the main game itself, even if it’s only six hours compared to sixty. And you have to have nearly beaten the game already to activate it. Link is tasked with sneakily taking out monster camps on the Great Plateau with a weapon that kills with one hit but also causes him to get killed by one hit (a gloriously dumb tuning fork weapon called the One-Hit Obliterator). After that, he must solve interactive riddles across the four major regions, unlocking and conquering new shrines, and battling Divine Beast blights once again. It all wraps up with a brand new dungeon and a pretty nifty concept for a boss fight.Opening the game with an especially hard challenge was a curious and occasionally frustrating choice. In a way, it felt like playing the game for the very first time before you had amassed all this power or even knew how to do anything. Zelda’s complex control scheme takes some getting used to after some time off. But eventually it all came to back me and the emphasis on stealth and ranged weapons turned the game even more into the Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain successor I never knew I would get so soon.Still, the difficulty was never what made Zelda so mesmerizing to me. It was the exploration and surprises and interlinking systems. The stripped-down challenge of Eventide Island was cool but I didn’t need a whole game of that. And besides, I thought the previous DLC pack The Master Trials was meant to appeal to folks who think Zelda should be Dark Souls (it shouldn’t). I wasn’t thrilled to see that philosophy here as well. It detracted a bit from an experience that didn’t need to be hard to be rewarding.Once you’re back out in the world though things settle into a nice groove. After my mixed feelings on the opening, I then realized, “Oh wait, I love this.” The riddles are lyrical and clever and the 16 new shrines somehow manage to introduce great new gameplay concepts not seen in the original 120 while also expanding on other ideas like spikes and ball-carrying.There’s still the sense that this is all an elaborate remix of existing content, rather than brand new content. But the existing content was already so incredible and ripe with potential for reinvention. It reminded me that, despite how fantastic Breath of the Wild already is, what’s even more exciting is its room for improvement in future games. It opened up a whole new stratosphere for Zelda to ascend through.Once you beat the quest you fortunately get new rewards that go back and improve your experience in the base game. Champion powers like energy shields and upward wind bursts recharge faster. There’s more fan service gear to find based on other Zelda games. Just on a technical level the update continues ironing out the framerate issues the game had at launch. And the ultimate prize is a ridiculous motorcycle Link can ride (and refuel!) for traveling across Hyrule in style.The gameplay in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild remains as impeccable as ever, and as a Nintendo game we shouldn’t be surprised the game prioritizes that gameplay above all else. However, the Champions’ Ballad was also pitched as “story-driven” DLC, but the story is about as light as it was in the main game.Since the game technically has no “post-game,” in terms of narrative this all still occurs before you defeat Ganon, which is weird since returning players may have done that already. You don’t play as any other characters in the past, like Princess Zelda or the Champions. Link just hears a Kass song and gets a little flashback when he completes another leg of the quest. They are charming flashbacks (who doesn’t love seeing their wife Urbosa?) but they don’t add all that much more compared to what we already saw. It’s too much material to call lazy, but again it adds to that remix feeling.Still, when the original game was already so unbelievable and filled to the brim with stuff to do, it’s hard to complain about all this ($20) gravy. The Champions’ Ballad may not add all of what you may have hoped for, but what it does add significantly extends the game in an immensely satisfying way. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the best game of 2017, and now it’s even better. Lucky us.Buy it now!Super Mario OdysseyThe Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildNintendo SwitchProtect Your Nintendo Switch With These Awesome CasesLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.