I Love It When Weapons Break In Zelda

Breaking news: literally. Weapons don't last long in Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. They tend to shatter, often at the most inopportune moments.

A lot of people don't like that.

Maybe it's just a tremendously loud vocal minority but everyone seems to be complaining about the impermanence of Zelda's weapon set. It's been the first port of call for your garden variety Angry Man YouTubers. Even those who love Breath of the Wild often love it with that caveat -- "I wish the game wouldn't break my favourite weapons so much".

Me? I'm the opposite. Despite being completely in love, I'm of the view that Zelda is far from perfect. The world is a little too empty for my liking (although I respect that pacing), the technical issues (pop-in and frame-rate) are frustrating. And surely we can agree: Zelda's inventory management is a complete mess, particularly when it comes to weapons and shields.

But dear lord Jesus Christ I fucking love it when Zelda's weapons break.

I love everything about it.

I love the noise they make when they shatter. Surprise motherfucker, your sword is GONE.

I love the light from the implosion. I love the additional damage weapons do when they explode in a mess of light and noise.

I love that I can literally throw a damaged weapon in a desperate last bid for survival and have that throw do even more damage. BOOM.

I love it all. I love it all so goddamn much.

I love that I can't grow too attached to my weapon set. I love that all things must pass.

I love that last night I was in a boss battle. I had all these weapons stashed for a rainy day -- a fire rod, a blizzard rod, a lightning rod. All the elements. All these weapons I intended to keep for very specific moments. I love that the game was like, nah fuck you. You're going to have to use every. last. weapon. in your inventory to beat this bastard. I love that I made it with the skin of my teeth and my own ability to improvise.

I love that I now have to start all over again from scratch.

I honestly love that.

Maybe you're different, but in video games I often find myself relying on one single weapon, particularly in RPGs. I get too comfortable and don't use the full spectrum of tools available to me. I deny myself the ability to experiment and just plough onwards. I'm particularly guilty of this in games like Dark Souls or Bloodborne.

Zelda forces you to use different weapons, to ruminate on what makes them different. It forces you to experience the extremities of its combat system. If weapons didn't break I'd never have figured out that hammers do a tremendous job of sending Moblins flying off cliffs. I'd never have taken full advantage of ranged battle with spears. I'd literally never have learned how to throw and catch a boomerang.

I'd never have had that one insane march in Gerudo. Upwards towards the tallest tower in Hyrule. You start at the bottom and literally fight your way up a spiral path to the top. I wanted to preserve my weapons so I started throwing bombs until the moblins started kicking them back at me. I had to adapt. I used my weapons sparingly and used a heavy axe to launch the big guys head first into the abyss.

I continued upwards, using a variety of different arrows to thin the baddies out. Then the bigger moblins started throwing the little Moblins at me. Then it got dark and the skeletons came out. Then I grabbed a bony arm from the skeleton I'd just dismembered and started swinging it around like the Star Wars kid.

In that one journey from the bottom to the top I experienced such variety -- in physics, in systems, weapons, AI. It was a series of pitch perfect moments that literally would not have existed, could not have occurred, without that pressure. My weapons might break. I need to think. I need to improvise. I need to adapt.

I love it. You fight so hard for these weapons. You fight so hard to protect them. But then you have to use them.

Then they explode in a perfect blitz of noise and light and shards.

And secretly you love it.


Comments

    It's not too bad, I've learnt to let them go. There are 1 or 2 really powerful ones I very rarely use unless I'm facing something big. They are probably both close to breaking now, haha.

    Spears are great for just stabbing away at lower level fodder, well out of club range. Not having a spear when the enemy does, that's no fun. Gotta use height.

    Last edited 31/03/17 12:21 pm

    two things:

    i'm not completely opposed to BotW's breakable weapon system. but holy shit they seem break quick. the gear i'm picking up at the moment only lasts 2-3 enemies before its gone. if the durability was doubled or tripled or even x10, then that would still let them have broken weapons, but it'd be less annoying.

    secondly, all your good gear breaks & Link's left empty-handed & cant attack. WTF? punch shit man. punch Ganondorf in his piggy face. but nope. gotta stop fighting & run around to pick up twigs to swing ineffectively at your enemies.

    so yeah. tl;dr not inherently against it, but uping the durability a bit & having a default punch attack you can use in a pinch would make this game infinitely less hateable.

      Hey man, Link ain't no Ronda Rousey. He can't punch shit!

        I thought Rousey fought roman wrestling style, on the floor.

    Cant say it bothers me too much. I've pretty much always got a full inventory anyway not to mention there is a particular weapon that will regenerate with time.

    If anything I'm usually relieved when something breaks. I have a hard time deciding what to keep when I open a chest and a wepon being destroyed creates a nice forced opening in my inventory. One thing that might have helped, but was probably left out intentionally, is an indication of how far a weapon has to go. Unless its brand new (and sparkles) or is a hit or two away from breaking (flashing red), it's hard to know what weapons in what state. That makes me likely to stick with a single weapon until it does eventually break so that I can avoid having an inventory full of weapons sitting at 20%.

    Last edited 31/03/17 1:00 pm

    And surely we can agree: Zelda's inventory management is a complete mess, particularly when it comes to weapons and shields.

    Not really. There is SO much shit in the game you can carry at once I can't really think of a better way. Maybe if I was able to tab between categories rather than scroll across ALL the foodstuffs to get to arrows or whatever, but it's a minor quibble. I've never spent more than a couple of seconds looking for something in the item menu.

    I also love it when weapons break. I have way too many melee weapons I don't use, it's good that they get their moment now and then.

    Last edited 31/03/17 1:00 pm

    I deny myself the ability to experiment and just plough onwards. I'm particularly guilty of this in games like Dark Souls or Bloodborne

    This is correct and it's so hard to break that preferred weapon bias. I just started DaS2 (again) version 1.00 (unpatched) and weapons break damn fast, this article has inspired me to never repair weapons after breakage and instead constantly rotate. I know DaS2 is super easy so it'll be fun, only level dex and str so I can wield all sorts.

    The birds gave me a Trident *^*

    I think the system itself has merit, it's just badly implemented. My first action in the game was to go and explore Hyrule Castle so I ended up with end game weapons straight from the get go. They're durable, they do gobs of damage and make everything else relatively easy. So now I have the problem that I rarely ever need anything else so every time I see a weapon or open a weapon chest it's "Inventory Full" or a red arrow. It also doesn't help that you get tons of arrows in the game which make it less necessary to use melee weapons.

    Ultimately I think the problem is in the limited inventory space which means you constantly have to leave weapons behind and can't keep them around for when your weapons break at the most inopportune times. I would have loved to have a repair system for the more valuable weapons, but with the game making them rare and well hidden to make exploration more worthwhile.

    I recently introduced a friend to Dying Light. In that game you cannot get attached to melee weapons (guns don't deteriorate) because you've only got a limited number of swings with each. What this means is, often you end up with a preferred [i]type[/i] of weapon (scythe, machete, sledgehammer, etc) but it's still up to you to try and find the weapon type you like and to modify it with upgrades to where it's useful to you.

    This perfectly fits the tone of the game. You're supposed to be a runner, a scavenger who's avoiding zombies where practical (until you've got the upgrades to attack whole hordes). It forces you into new playstyles and more than once I've neglected to take botice of my weapon's condition and ended up having to quickly make do with a plank of wood that does almost no damage, just to get the zombies off me long enough to run away and regroup.

    The thing is, though; I hated this same mechanic in Dead Island. I don't know why, but it felt cheap there, whereas it feels so natural in Dying Light.

    So Mark, although I haven't played the new Zelda, I agree with you. Weapons that are able to be broken (and broken quickly) become much more valuable. Using them becomes strategic. I've had easy battles become much harder when I've decided I didn't want to waste precious swings of a great weapon on trash mobs. I cringe when I hear the "weapon's almost broken" noise and I cringe doubly when I hear the "weapon *is* broken" noise because I didn't repair/swap out the weapon when I had the chance (and now I'm dealing with the consequences).

    Getting a great weapon in a video game often becomes a "Cool. I'm now this strong permanently" and it'd just a part of who the character is moving forwards. However, you actually gain an attachment to good weapons when they'll break. You take care of them so they'll last longer. You make a conscious decision of whether or not this battle is worth using that weapon. Because your character isn't that strong now, the weapon is. You're no longer guaranteed to be that effective later on, so you improve yourself because the weapon you're using may not be there when you need it and you'll only have your raw skills and talent.

      Just being curious, but if you liked weapon durability in Dying Light where it fit the theme/tone. Does having weapons break left, right and center fit the theme/tone of being the hero of light/time/whatever?

      I wonder if they could have gone with something like Elder Scrolls with its soul gems. Weapons don't break but better weapons have a built in mana bar that depletes and may or may not be replenish-able.

        In the tone of the game medieval swords didn't last terribly long. Especially when used incorrectly as they almost always are.

    I like the weapon durability. It fits with the story. Blacksmiths would have stopped making weapons around the time they were all killed 100 years ago. Even the most well made swords probably wouldnt like being swung around much after all that time.

    I like them breaking. It makes me use different weapons and makes battles feel better

    I love that I can't grow too attached to my weapon set. I love that all things must pass.
    I love that last night I was in a boss battle. I had all these weapons stashed for a rainy day — a fire rod, a blizzard rod, a lightning rod. All the elements. All these weapons I intended to keep for very specific moments. I love that the game was like, nah fuck you. You're going to have to use every. last. weapon. in your inventory to beat this bastard. I love that I made it with the skin of my teeth and my own ability to improvise.
    I love that I now have to start all over again from scratch.

    This sounds like my nightmare and makes me feel less bad that I didn't get Zelda+Switch on Day One.

    Maybe by the time I get it they'll have a patch out for wusses like me.

    A better system would have been to keep it the way it is but give link one basic sword that he can keep and over time it will go blunt and you would need to find materials and take it to a blacksmith for sharpening ... currently I am doing the first Devine beast after about 50 hours plus of game time with no weapon at all so not sure how I'm going to beat the boss ...

      Have you found the Master Sword yet? Once its durability runs out, it takes time to recharge and become usable again. They call it 'energy' but it works just like durability in other weapons.

      I had a similar problem with the first Divine Beast. I had arrogantly made it there on three hearts. No problem, once you get to the boss you can just travel out of there, gather whatever weapons (hint: more shock arrows) and heart containers you feel comfortable with and pick up the fight later on. Love this game.

      Yep. There is that one sword but like everything else in the game, you have to find it.

    Nah, it was only annoying until I learnt to let go.

    Often if your killing something, it has a weapon, free up the axe and hammer spots and just use bombs for rocks and trees.
    Also save a spot for a crap weapons, no use wasting good weapons on red Goblins or skeleton enemies.

    It's annoying, but honestly as the game progresses, you get so many weapon slots from Korok seeds and the weapons get stronger anyway. It's less annoying. Although it is huge amounts of fun throwing a sword close to breaking at a Bokoblin's face and watching it explode.

    Maybe I'm just overly evil but I kinda find it satisfying to break weapons off the faces of my enemies as they crumple to the ground, and if that doesn't do it I always have more more devastating equipment to finish the job. I've never really had a problem running out of weapons, quite the opposite actually despite spending a bunch of Korok seeds. I need an extension to my house in Hateno Village so I fit more fancy weaponry in frames.

    Thank you, Mark. I too love it. And the game seems to drop way too many weapons my way anyway, I had like 5 royal claymores among all my other weapons, I can't get rid of them. If I break one I just find another two.

    Angryman Youtubers? Is this a snark remark directed at Jim Sterling because he gave everyone's current favorite game of the month a 7? He did a video on why he thinks weapon durability in Zelda is dumb, He also got death threats for said video.. There's alot of crazy fanboyism with the new Zelda.

      Speaking of fanboyism, funny how you immediately assume that's who he is specifically talking about.

        Relax, I like Zelda, Please put your pitch fork away before it breaks because of it's bad weapon durability lol.

          Again, jumping to conclusions. I think you need to calm down.

    I'm not sure we can friends anymore Mark - it was a good ride though.

    Haven't played it long enough to know if it will frustrate me.

    For comparison played FE: Awakening where the weapons have set durability and can't be repaired, having multiples of a weapon a character can use was important in case it broke mid-fight. FE: Fates didn't have this, at least not on the difficulty I'm currently playing and it felt like something was taken away from the experience by changing it, you no longer had to be careful with your money and make sure you had enough weapons.

    Don't see a problem with it, survival games have inured me to it, Don't Starve in particular.

    It doesn't bother me in the slightest. I've never been out of a weapon completely, there's plenty strewn about and it forces you to use ALL the weapons in the game, and not just the one you're comfortable with. I think it's awesome. I never thought about throwing it when it's just about knackered. That's a good idea

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