In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, weapons would break if you used them for too long. Some people liked it and some people didn’t. That’s all there is to it.
Unfortunately, because no one can let anything go on the internet, that isn’t all there is to it. Each side will viciously argue their case, despite having absolutely zero chance of convincing the other. As for people lost in the middle, they don’t particularly care, so the arguments being made are futile. To some extent, all debates are public theatre; Donald Trump isn’t trying to make Joe Biden say “Actually yeah good point, vote for him my dudes,” he’s trying to make everyone watching see that he’s right. Arguments are less about convincing the other side as they are proving to the onlookers that you’re correct.
Chats about video game weapons don’t need to be so zero sum – sometimes things can just be fun. But the weapon durability discourse is so exhausting and cyclical. It’s literally not that deep bro. The swords break; some like it and some don’t. I’d say I’m not looking forward to the whole debate starting up again, but it feels like it never stopped in the first place.
But, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. If you’ve managed to avoid these debates and are now curious as to what each side thinks, read on.
First off, we don’t know if it’s returning in Breath of the Wild 2 – or whatever its real, spoiler-filled title will be. It more than likely will, since title or not, it’s clearly a sequel, and this system was a fundamental building block of the first game. It’s not confirmed, but if it was absent, that would be a huge surprise.
There are a few reasons as to why people like the weapon durability mechanic. While it’s not an entirely new thing in video games, the way in which Zelda implemented it does change things. Weapons break easier, and won’t just rust or become blunt – they will literally shatter. However, into the bargain you can pick up sticks, clubs, or the literal bones of your enemies to replace them. Everything in the game is a weapon, and that means it pushes you to think differently.
That’s very Breath of the Wild too, I must admit. There’s nothing new in BOTW, yet it’s all new. It’s an open-world game where you complete dungeons, climb towers to reveal the map, and defeat four bosses before taking on the main boss. It sure is a video game, huh? But it never feels like it’s borrowing old ideas – in fact, many games are already stealing BOTW’s foundations, like Immortals Fenyx Rising or Genshin Impact. Being able to climb anywhere opened up the world, and you had complete freedom over the map and what direction you went in next. Personally I could have used a little more direction, but I see what BOTW was going for, and the weapons are part of that.
Still, it’s not that fun, right? That’s basically the counterpoint – the weapons break far too easily, and that means dungeons, exploration, and combat were often disrupted by a mechanic that many thought had long overstayed its welcome. Sure, you can just grab a shitty club from one of your foes, so long as one is nearby, but it’s such a downgrade on what Link is used to by the time you’re a few hours in. Link is a legendary warrior – he shouldn’t be running about with a skeleton arm, right? You also had people hoarding weapons while simultaneously complaining that there are too many. For the record, if I had to choose a side, I’d say I don’t like it. Just give me progressively cooler swords and let me slice my enemies up, thanks. But the conversation is endless and pointless.
Again, the weapons break. Some people like it, and some don’t. That’s kind of it. If you get really deep into the debate, you’ll… well, you’ll probably be called a cuck. But if you get deep into it with someone serious, they’ll explain that the mechanic really comes alive in New Game Plus, and that it’s all good because the Master Sword can be repaired.
To the first point, it’s a bit rich asking people to play through a game in which the basic combat features are not for them, because the second time, they’re better. We all know the “It gets really good after 20 hours!” cliche, but a full BOTW playthrough while hating it is on another level. To the second, if the best thing about breakable weapons is that one late-game weapon doesn’t break, that’s not a glowing indictment of the mechanic as a whole. Maybe it will be tweaked in some magical way so everyone loves it in the sequel, but right now, it’s the most polarising thing in Breath of the Wild, and I wish the discourse around it would finally shatter into a million little pieces.
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