The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s critical acclaim is often met with the counter of being “overrated” by some players. There are usually numerous reasons for this – both notable and ridiculous – but one of the most common is the weapon durability issue. Breath of the Wild departed from previous Legend of Zelda games by not assigning you a handful of swords and shields for the duration of the game. For most of the game, you can only use what you pick up, including Link’s often-used bow. The kicker was that all of these would break after a relatively limited amount of use – which depended on both the type of weapon used and what it was used on.
Durability systems have been in RPGs for quite some time, but never in a Zelda game. Despite this system being popular in RPGs, it’s rare for weapons to break so quickly as well as involve the complete destruction of the item. The goal with this in Breath of the Wild was to encourage the player to use weapons dynamically and shake up the gameplay. You may want to stick with whatever is strongest, but sometimes a weapon may provide more reach or be effective if thrown at the enemy. For me, at least, I found that to be an enjoyable component baked into the gameplay quite well.
However, as we have the reveal of Breath of the Wild 2 fresh in our minds, I think it’s time to discuss where things could go from here. This seems to be a scenario that will be like Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask – where gameplay is very similar, but the setting is new. Yet, I believe the controversy generated by this mechanic could be grounds for a compromise that would work for everyone. Link should have a small set of permanent weapons that do not break in addition to collected weapons.
This would allow people who aren’t a fan of the system to play through the game with a rock-solid set of “Link Swords” while also collecting and using breakable weapons. The new weapons would need to be stronger and more dynamic, but it would allow a player firmly against that mechanic to ignore it at their own risk. This would also always leave a baseline state where you could still function if you broke all of your other gear. A state where you wouldn’t be as effective, but you would never be defenseless.
In my perspective, one of the most interesting and entertaining parts of Breath of the Wild was the dynamic nature of the combat. One contributing factor to that was being able to pick up enemy weapons (or pieces of the enemies themselves) and engage with them. The weapons were a part of the experience and added many layers to the combat. However, it’s easy to tell how much the game changed after I had the more permanent Master Sword. It could still break, of course, but since it ‘recharged,’ it homogenized many of the encounters when I used it. If players could choose the way they approach this, it might create a middle ground that allows the best of both worlds. Those that want more of the dynamic and interesting combat can coincide with traditionalists and their old (and somewhat boring) ways.
It’s hard to say what the future brings for Breath of the Wild 2, but I doubt that Nintendo would want their top system seller to have its mechanics changed too much. Yet, at the same time, Breath of the Wild is a huge mechanical change from previous Zelda games. Therefore, we may see something entirely different come 2022.
Do you think this is a good middle-ground for fans and critics of the series? Do you have a preference either way for the weapon system? Let us know in the comments!