After Team Cherry released Hollow Knight 2017, a metroidvania fighting game, it followed up its release with four different free content packs. Although not included in the base game, these content packs come standard with the Hollow Knight game now and are well-loved by the fandom.
Not only do they provide an extra challenge, but these DLC all expand on the lore of Hollow Knight in subtle but interesting ways. Or, in the case of Godmaster and the Grimm Troupe, outright adding new outright adding new characters and content.
The free DLC content packs that Team Cherry released after Hollow Knight add a lot of content to the game and help give the world of Hallownest and beyond more depth, with fun details that require you to explore and invest your time in the world, so they have all the more impact.
Some of these details are easier to find and experience than others – such as the White Defender from the Hidden Dreams DLC, and others require you to invest a lot of time and perfect your play style, such as the Godmaster DLC endings.
The two favorite DLC content packs are, by far, The Grimm Troupe and Godmaster – with Godmaster only just managing to claim the title of Best Hollow Knight DLC.
DLC stands for downloadable content. For Hollow Knight, the downloadable content comes standard with the base game. So, you don’t need to put in excessive work to enjoy these DLCs.
For the most part, these content parks provide additional perks and are optional to interact with. However, they mesh so well with the base game that one would have a hard time not wanting to play around with them.
There are four content packs for Hollow Knight:
- Hidden Dreams
- The Grimm Troupe
- Release Date: August 03, 2017
Hidden Dreams adds the second least amount of content to the game, offering a new Stag Station, a fast-travel mechanic, and two new boss fights. In terms of less game-changing content, the Hidden Dreams content pack adds the Hidden Dreams menu style and two achievements, one for defeating each of the new bosses.
Two brand new boss fights are offered with the Hidden Dreams content pack.
The White Defender is the dream version of the Dung Defender at his peak glory. To fight him, you must have killed off all three of the Dreamers and successfully battled him. From there, if you return back to the Dung Defender’s boss room and use either Desolate Dive or Descending Dark on the floor in the far right of his room, directly underneath the floating platform, you’ll reach a hidden room.
From there, you can use the Dream Nail to hit the sleeping Dung Defender. After that, you can fight him up to five times – though be warned, the White Defender grows stronger after each of your victories, dealing an extra mask’s worth of damage in each new fight.
- The achievement gained from defeating the White Defender for the first time is called “Memories.”
- He rewards 300 soul essence on your first victory.
- After defeating him for the fifth time, you will be rewarded with a Dung Statue of the Knight.
Grey Prince Zote
The Grey Prince Zote is another hidden boss. He is also a dream version, like the White Defender, though this time of Zote the Mighty. Bretta’s delusions fuel the Grey Prince Zote. To be found, you must have saved both Bretta and Zote and defeated Zote in the Colosseum of Fools. A prerequisite for opening Bretta’s basement is the Monarch Wings. Once that is accomplished, you must strike the statue in her basement with the Dream Nail.
Alongside this new boss, three new enemies are added: the Hopping Zoteling, Winged Zoteling, and the Volatile Zoteling. These enemies are only available to fight during the Grey Prince Zote’s boss fight.
You can fight him a maximum of ten times, though it will only give a reward on the first and last victory.
- The achievement for defeating him is called “Dark Romance.”
- He rewards 300 soul essence on the first victory.
- After defeating him the tenth time, his statue will turn golden.
A “shiny” new Stag Station is added with the Hidden dreams update, called the Ancient Basin. This Stag Station is hidden on the far right side of the Palace Grounds, behind a breakable wall next to the corpses of two Royal Retainers. Even the Last Stag was unaware of this Statation’s existence, leaving one to wonder just how old the Stag Station truly is. Or perhaps, if the Ancient Basin was a failed first attempt at establishing the Stag Lines.
Fast Travel – Dreamgate
To gain access to the Fast Travel abilities in Hollow Knight, you’re going to need to put in a lot of work.
The Dreamgate ability works by allowing you to place a warp point and then travel to it – although you only get one Dreamgate at a time. To get access to this ability, you need to have access to the Dream Nail. Then, you need to speak with the Seer after acquiring 900 soul essence.
If you’re trying to use the Dreamgate to make collecting Delicate Flowers easy, I hate to burst your bubble, but you can’t. Using the Dreamgate will destroy any Delicate Flowers that the Knight is holding on to.
The Grimm Troupe
- Release Date: October 26, 2017
One of the biggest content packs added to the game, The Grimm Troupe, brings a new major quest and plotline, with its own endings, for the Knight to fight through. The Grimm Troupe must be summoned to interact with its content. The Grimm Troupe DLC adds new NPCs, new bosses, and items to the game for the player to explore and use as they see fit. To go along with all of this is a new area and three new achievements.
To start the Grimm Troupe quest, you need to find a bug corpse that is dressed in a way similar to other members of the Grimm Troupe. This bug’s corpse can be found in the Howling Cliffs behind a set of two breakable walls. From there, hit it with the Dream Nail, and go back to the previous room, where the torch should be lit up. From here, hit the base of it several times, and you should be taken to a cutscene, thereby triggering the events of the Grimm Troupe.
Brumm is one of the members of the Grimm Troupe. At first, he is initially encouraging the Knight to complete the ritual, though during the last phases, he is nowhere to be found near the Troupe. Instead, you can find him in Deepnest, where he laments not knowing who he is and the control the Nightmare’s Heart exerts on the Troupe. He asks the Knight to banish the Grimm Troupe from Hallownest before giving you a flame. From there, you can meet Brumm at the brazier that was used to summon the circus, and you can destroy it.
It is worth noting that if you banish the Grimm Troupe, Divine will leave with them. If you have not turned all of your fragile charms into unbreakable ones, you’re out of luck.
- Following through on the Banishment ending for the Grimm Troupe will reward you with the Banishment achievement.
It is heavily implied that Nymm is actually Brumm, just without his memories of participating in the Grimm Troupe. If you go through with Brumm’s request to stop the ritual and banish the Grimm Troupe, then Nymm will show up in Dirtmouth, carefree and seemingly happy, even if he admits his tune can be melancholic. If you banish the Grimm Troupe, Nymm will give you a charm – the Carefree Melody charm, implied to be the mask he wore as Brumm.
Divine is the second interactable NPC who is part of the Grimm Troupe and offers a minor sidequest. From Leg Eater, gather up all the Fragile Charms and feed them to Divine, who will give you their Unbreakable version in return. If you push forward with her quest, you can talk to Leg Eater, who will go to Dirtmouth to seek out Divine and subsequently end up… eaten.
Due to the red tent in Willoh’s area, it’s theorized that she, at one point, was one of these bugs, but there’s little more to confirm that theory. Likely the same bugs as our (not so) friendly Willoh, the Grimmsteed likely tow the entirety of the circus’s caravan to and fro wherever their master demands they go. They will not speak to the Knight, but you can read their thoughts by using the Dream Nail.
The Nightmare’s Heart
The Nightmare’s Heart isn’t so much a character as it is an entity. The Nightmare’s Heart is one the few known higher beings in Hollow Knight lore, sitting alongside the Pale King, the White Lady, and very likely the Knight itself.
The player can never directly interact with the Nightmare’s Heart, but you can learn that it more-or-less controls the Grimm Troupe through their masks, using Grimm – and possibly Grimmchild when it grows up – as a vessel. It utilizes the Grimm Troupe to conduct rituals, where they gather Nightmare Essence from ruined lands – such as the abandoned kingdom of Hallownest – that it can feed off of, allowing it to continue to survive.
Bosses and Enemies
There really is only one boss that comes with the Grimm Troupe DLC; he just comes in two different forms – normal and nightmare.
Troupe Master Grimm is the main character in the Grimm Troupe DLC. He is the master of the Troupe and the Vessel of the Nightmare’s Heart. It has been noted that while he doesn’t resemble any bug in specific – with some believing it might be a vampire moth (I disagree) – he does resemble Castlevania’s Dracula, especially in his fights. Upon opening his cloak, he can shoot three fire bats at the night, he can cause attacks to shoot up from the ground like pillars, he can teleport, and he can burst into several smaller forms.
- Grimm will give you the Grimmchild Charm.
- After defeating Grimm, you will be rewarded with a Charm Notch.
- After defeating him, you will get the Grand Performance achievement.
The Nightmare King
The Nightmare King is the final version of Troupe Master Grimm, although he is an optional boss. If you decide not to banish the Troupe, in favor of fully upgrading your Grimmchild Charm, you can Dream Nail the sleeping Troupe Master. You will be pulled into the Nightmare realm, where you will fight against The Nightmare King Grimm. His fight will be very similar to Troupe Master Grimm’s fight, though faster-paced and with slightly enhanced properties. Although you need the Grimmchild Charm equipped to enter the fight, the Grimmchild will not be helping you here.
- The reward for defeating the Nightmare King Grimm is a Level 4 Grimmchild Charm.
- If you opt to defeat the Nightmare King, Divine will remain if her sidequest is not complete, even after the Troupe has left.
- Upon defeating him, you will get the Ritual achievement.
You can get a lot of new charms with this DLC, although, in all fairness, some of them are just upgrades for the fragile charms.
- Given by Troupe Master Grimm
- After upgrading it to Level 2, it will begin to shoot fireballs at enemies
- 2 Notches
- Found in the Resting Grounds, underneath the Seer’s room
- Blocks projectile attacks and will deal some Nail damage if it hits an enemy
- 3 Notches
- Bought from Sly, after handing over the Shopkeeper’s Key, for 200
- Makes you run slightly faster
- 1 Notch
- Found in the top part of the Weaver’s Den.
- Summons three weavers to attack, dealing 3 damage with every hit.
- 2 Notches
- Obtained from Nymm – not obtainable if you fight the Nightmare King
- Has a chance to block an enemy’s attack
- 3 Notches
- Bought from Leg Eater for 600 as Fragile Strength
- Upgraded by Divine to Unbreakable
- Increases Nail damage by 50%
- 3 Notches
- Bought from Leg Eater for 350 as Fragile Heart
- Upgraded by Divine to Unbreakable
- Adds two masks of health
- 2 Notches
- Bought from Leg Eater for 250
- Upgraded by Divine to Unbreakable
- Causes enemies to drop 20% to 100% more Geo
- 2 Notches
This DLC also adds a new area, the Path of Pain – a sub-area in the White Palace. This area is filled with buzzsaws, spikes, and thorns, with very few safe areas. Its name is well-earned. Yours truly has cried many times trying to get through it.
Aside from that, a new menu theme is added to the game with this DLC, along with a journal entry that, if you’re not too interested in the lore of Hollow Knight, won’t really change the game for you. The Seal of Binding journal entry is only acquired after getting through the Path of Pain.
- Release Date: April 20, 2018
The Lifeblood DLC adds the least amount of content to the game and generally focuses on making the Hive a bit more challenging, including a single boss.
The Hive Knight is the single new boss that is added in the Lifeblood update. He is an optional boss, so if you’re struggling to fight him, know you can bail out without consequences. The Hive Knight is found in the furthest room of the Hive, protecting the corpse of his queen. You will be rewarded with the Hiveblood Charm upon defeating the Hive Knight. The queen’s spirit will appear and offer her thanks for releasing the Hive Knight from his bindings to the decayed Hive.
- Passively heals the last bit of health you have lost if you don’t take damage for ten seconds.
- Pacifies all enemies inside of the Hive.
- 4 Notches.
The most notable gameplay change that the Lifeblood update brings to Hollow Knight is adding some unique map markers that can be bought from Iselda. The Scarab Marker, Shell Marker, Gleaming Marker, and Token Marker were all added in.
Lifeblood added the following menu styles:
- Steel Soul
- Release Date: August 23, 2018
Godmaster is one of the best, if not the best, DLC added to Hollow Knight. Godmaster is a massive content pack, adding two new endings to the game, new areas, NPCs, items, Bosses and Enemies, Lore, and so much more. To go into every aspect of the lore added, the implications brought on by, and how to defeat the Godmaster DLC could create an entirely new article.
Nailmasters Oro and Mato
Nailmasters Oro and Mato are the final bosses of the first pantheon, the Pantheon of the Master. In order to finish this pantheon, you need to defeat the two brothers in battle. If you Dream Nail either one in battle, you may notice that Oro seems more content to continue his path and his fight alone with the line “My path is mine alone,” whereas Mato seems worried about losing his brother, having the line “Don’t leave me behind!”
- If you can beat these two brothers, you will get the Brotherhood achievement.
Like the Nailmasters, Paintmaster Sheo is also a final boss, capping off the second pantheon, the Pantheon of the Artist. When Dream Nailing Paintmaster Sheo, one can easily be led to believe that Paintmaster Sheo has something of a god complex, believing that their duty as an artist equates them to a god.
- Finish off Paintmaster Sheo, and you will get the Inspiration achievement.
Great Nailsage Sly
Capping off the third pantheon, Pantheon of the Sage is Great Nailsage Sly. Unlike the previous two final bosses, Sly’s Dream Nail dialogue is a bit more confusing if you don’t have context. It’s clear he seeks glory with two of his lines, but the line “Remember… you are brothers…” is a bit out of the blue. However, if you know that Sly trained Oro, Mato, and Sheo, things start to become clearer. It’s almost as if the Great Nailsage is reminding Oro, that they are brothers and he should not leave Mato behind.
- Defeat the Great Nailsage Sly for the Focus achievement.
The Pure Vessel is pretty self-explanatory. In the three endings provided in the base game, you fight a corrupted version of the Hollow Knight. Here, in Godhome, you are able to fight the purest form of the Hollow Knight at its peak strength and without the influence of the Radiance. The Pure Vessel is the final boss of the Pantheon of the Knight.
Unlike the others, the Dream Nail does not work on the Pure Vessel, but he does have some cut dialogue. Cut from the official release of the game, the Dream Nail would have pulled some dialogue from the Pure Vessel, “Do not think… Do not speak… Do not hope… Do not…” A bit horrifying in its own right and with a lot of implications. Unfortunately, it was cut, so who can really say if it’s viable in canon lore?
- Defeating the Pure Vessel will give you the Soul & Shade achievement.
If you found yourself itching to battle the Radiance, in its truest form, to destroy it once and for all – rather than capture it and lock the little Knight away, this is the path for you. Capping off the hardest pantheon, the Pantheon of Hallownest is the Absolute Radiance. Dream Nailing the Radiance can lead to lines like “ANCIENT ENEMY…” which can easily lead one to assume that the Absolute Radiance and the Void were at odds long before the Pale King came to rule Hallownest. It also implies that the Knight has further ties to the Void – more than simply being created from it. Of course, the endings would come to support this as well.
- Defeating the Absolute Radiance results in the Embrace the Void achievement. The description of this achievement implies that the Knight becomes the Lord of Shades and, thus, takes the title of God of Gods.
Encountered in the Pantheon of Hallownest, the Winged Nosk is similar to the regular Nosk but, this time, with wings and the shape of Hornet, rather than the Knight. Dream Nailing Winged Nosk won’t result in any dialogue other than “…” so it’s fairly apparent it’s not that sentient.
Sisters of Battle
Also encountered in the Pantheon of Hallownest are the Sisters of Battle. They are a variation of the Mantis Lords and attack you all together rather than individually. This, alone, makes their fight much more difficult than the Mantis Lord challenge. Upon Dream Nailing them, they seem excited to be facing off against a worthy adversary with lines like “At last, a true challenger…” and “This one shows potential.”
There is one line, however, “Honour from one of its kind…” that implies the Mantis Lords, or at least the Sisters of Battle, have fought other Void entities and found them unsubstantial.
Found in the Waterways on the way to the Junkpit, the Flukemunga are designed to make the path to the Godseeker much more difficult. If it hits the Knight, the Flukemunga will deal two masks worth of damage. Their only thoughts are of their mother, the Flukemarm.
The Pale Lurker can be found near the Colosseum of Fools. A former champion of the Colosseum, the Pale Lurker is obsessed with the Pale King. Upon killing her, she will drop a Simple Key. Back in her hideout, you will also find a King’s Idol. Enough so that one can easily start to think that perhaps, at one point, the Pale Lurker was the Pale King’s Champion of the Colosseum.
Admittedly, explaining who the Godseeker is can get complicated. But to put it in simple terms, the Godseeker is part of a group that believes that through battle, they can become closer and more aligned with the Gods. As the Knight fights through the Pantheons, the Godseeker beings to hear their thoughts and, for a moment, fears that it will become the new God.
However, in the Embrace the Void ending, the Godseeker seems in awe of the Void Given Focus. It is likely that their focus on the Knight as their new God is what allowed it to ascend to the Void Entity, God of Gods, form.
The Fluke Hermit is found in an area above the Flukemarm’s boss room. Upon speaking with the Fluke Hermit, you can learn that she is scared of her mother, and after speaking with her, you start to think that she believes she is the new Flukemarm and is set to raise her little sisters to become strong. She does little more than add flavor to the game. She is the only known Fluke to have some form of sentience.
Godhome allows you to access all of the different Pantheons and fight your way to the top. You will absolutely become intimately familiar with this area if you are attempting to fight your way to becoming the God of Gods.
The Junk Pit is a sub-area of the Waterways at the far east end. This is where you can find and confront the Godseeker in order to begin the Godmaster DLC. However, it is worth noting that before proceeding, you should be in the end-game stages of Hollow Knight.
Land of Storms
The Land of Storms can only be accessed after filling out all of the Binding notches on all of the Pantheons. After doing so, a small and secret area will open up where you can see where the Godseekers potentially came from. The area is littered with the masks of Godseekers and, in the background of a final room, one can see the corpses of two large figures. Most fans assume that these corpses belong to the Gods of Thunder and the Gods of Rain.
Embrace the Void
Embrace the Void is one of the endings that you can get in the Godmaster DLC. In this ending, the Knight becomes Void Given Focus, also known as the Void Entity or God of Gods. The Void Entity will consume the Godseeker and burst forth – possibly to cause havoc in Hallownest, given the rather brutal eruption from the Godseeker.
In this ending, the infection dies, and the Hollow Knight is freed from the Black Egg. In a brief cutscene, we see it leave the egg and cause Hornet to go on guard, hinting at what may lay ahead in Silksong.
To get the Delicate Flower ending, you need to give the Godseeker a Delicate Flower prior to defeating the final pantheon. It plays out fairly similarly, but rather than bursting forth from the Godseeker, the Delicate Flower bursts in a white flash, causing the Void Entity and the Godseeker to disappear. The Flower drops to the ground, safe for all but a black smudge on its petal.
There are a handful of miscellaneous objects and other non-game-altering things that came with the Godmaster DLC as well. Such as the Void Idol, the Weathered Mask, Godseeker Mode, and two new menu styles: Godmaster and Eternal Ordeal. This DLC also adds the Godturner item and a new variant of the Delicate Flower.
Godseeker Mode allows players to play through the pantheon without having to start a new game. It is only unlocked after you have completed the first three pantheons. If you chose to play through this mode, know that you cannot leave Godhome.
So Which One is Best?
For most people, myself included, it’s hard to pick between Godmaster and the Grimm Troupe. In the end, though, Godmaster offers the most to the base story of Hollow Knight and in offering new ideas of how the story can proceed. One thing Team Cherry has been clear about is that they don’t believe in “true” endings.
Every ending someone picks to play through in their game is canon, and in the end, Godmaster offers some of the best canon endings. Not only does it urge the player to further indulge themselves in the lore, but it serves to reward players for becoming masters of Hollow Knight’s challenging mechanics. It takes work, but in the end, it offers you two of the best endings.
The Final Rankings
With all of that out of the way, here are my final rankings for the best Hollow Knight DLC:
First Place: Godmaster
(A very close) Second Place: The Grimm Troupe
Third Place: Hidden Dreams
Fourth Place: Lifeblood
Question: Is the Hollow Knight DLC free?
Answer: Yes, all of the content packs/DLC for Hollow Knight are free.
Question: How many endings are in Hollow Knight with DLC?
Answer: The base game has three endings: The Hollow Knight, Sealed Siblings, and Dream No More. The DLC, Godmaster, adds two more: Embrace the Void and Delicate Flower.
Question: Is Silksong DLC or standalone?
Answer: Silksong was originally planned to be DLC content, but the size of it became so large that Team Cherry decided to make it a complete sequel to Hollow Knight.
You don’t have to interact with the DLC for Hollow Knight, but it would be a shame not to. There’s so much work that went into them and they provide so much content. Sure, they’re hard – but the entirety of Hollow Knight is hard. The game forces you to adapt to it, to learn how its mechanics work, rather than brute-force your way through it.
The DLC rewards you for learning those mechanics, especially Godhome, which arguably provides the best endings. It’s worth taking the time to play through the DLC and learn its lore, especially for the Grimm Troupe and Godmaster. They’re so well done that picking a favorite can be nigh impossible.
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