ScreenCritics Shaun gives his take on Nintendo’s decision to tie its upcoming Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to an Expansion Pass.
Without question, one of the most anticipated games of the year is Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s set to be highlight of Nintendo Switch’s launch period and arguably be the game that most people will show off when playing their Switch’s. Yet the game and Nintendo, have come under fire this past week for the announcement of an Expansion Pass. Priced at $19.99, it’s divided opinion heavily and even prompted anger in some areas. The big question I’ve been pondering since this – why is this?
Whatever your position on Season Passes, the fact is that they are an integral part of the AAA gaming scene. Their existence acts as a guarantee to developers, who want to ensure a stream of revenue post-release. Given how much the budgets of AAA gaming titles has ballooned over the past decade, it’s not an entirely unreasonable development. I personally don’t buy Season Passes, if only because I never stick with games long enough to justify their cost. But to those who are heavily invested in a title and want more – they are a way of extending a games lifespan.
Yet when Nintendo announced the Expansion Pass for their highly anticipated Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, gamers reacted by and large with scorn. “This isn’t the Nintendo I know and love” some cried “How dare they do this” seemed to be a common theme among Nintendo fans. For years people have been calling for Nintendo to behave more like their bigger competitors, so it’s a bit weird to see them doing so and getting more hatred than the competition.
While I can understand this knee jerk reaction, the point is that Nintendo isn’t doing anything wrong. If anything, the existence of a Street Pass means that Nintendo is finally on board with the idea of proper post-release content. People want more Zelda and given that this game will contain some of the deepest story and character interactions in the series history, it’ll be a welcome addition to the series lore. More content is good and given the state of AAA gaming, it’s not unreasonable for Nintendo to be offering this.
This being said, there are parts of the proposed Expansion Pass which Arguably the most teeth grinding part of the expansion pass is the fact that the games “hard difficulty” will be hidden behind the pass. This to me is an almost inexcusable thing to do, as difficulty levels should never be taped off for paid DLC. The whole point of a difficulty level is to give better gamers a chance to face a bigger challenge – asking for money just to do this is beyond acceptable. I also have some gripes about the way Nintendo is offering chests with items inside as a tool to attract gamers. There have been some who’ve questioned where this might, one hopes that it’s just experimentation by Nintendo.
Yet the rest of the package is perfectly in keeping with the tradition of. There’ll be two waves of DLC, one of which adds in story content. While this arguably won’t be too substantial, any new content in a Legend of Zelda is welcome. Breath of the Wild looks like an exhaustively large game as it is, so having some content delivered months later when the buzz around the game has subsided is a nice idea. It works well for games like Fallout and DOOM, where new content has helped revitalize and change the enjoyment of games much later.
At the end of the day, I’m happy to give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this Expansion Pass. They proved with Mario Kart 8 that they can deliver quality post-release content, and I have no doubt that they’ll make the price of entry on their Expansion Pass with the outlay. If Nintendo can get it right here, there’s no reason that this practice shouldn’t be extended to other games. Its Nintendo’s reputation that’s on the line with moves like this, so I don’t think the company will be looking to sully it over such a trivial matter. At the end of the day, they have to make fans want this Pass. Breath of the Wild needs to match expectations – but I’m fully willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.