If there was one thing you could change about Breath of the Wild or Tears of the Kingdom, what would it be? While this question would certainly draw a wide range of answers derived from a multitude of different playing experiences, it would be surprising if one of the top answers wasn’t weapon durability. Even among fans, weapon durability is a common complaint and for an understandable reason; it inconveniences the player. In a game built on the principles of player freedom and experimentation, it makes sense that some players may view a weapon durability system as restrictive. I’ve got to ask though, is weapon durability really that bad?

In my opinion, no. While weapon durability is certainly an inconvenience, and it can be restrictive to certain playstyles, it is a necessary component in these games’ formula. Again, one of the core principles that Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom were built upon is player experimentation. Weapon durability promotes experimentation. Unbreakable weapons stifle that creative drive.

Consider this common scenario for a moment. The player comes upon an enemy encampment. Low on weapons, they must consider terrain, usable objects in the environment, items in their inventory, enemy placement, and a multitude of other factors. This gets the creative wheels turning, forcing players to think outside the box. Some of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences with these games come from such instances, where the player concocts a scheme and sees it through, for better or worse.

With an unbreakable weapon, it wouldn’t take much to march right into that enemy camp and wipe out the lot with one powerful sword. Sure, those creative options are still available, but they would most likely come out of a self-imposed challenge or pure curiosity, not out of necessity. As such, there would be little creative drive, and those fun experiences would be much less frequent.

Weapon durability also keeps loot relevant. Without being able to sell weapons — as is currently the case — there would be no reason to pick up enemy weapons once you have the ones you like. This could be fixed by allowing the player to sell weapons, but then players would view resources in terms of cash value rather than their utility, which goes against the games’ fundamental principles. The developers built this incredibly deep physics engine, defining how nearly every object in the world interacts with the environment and each other; why would they discourage players from using it?

I have considered a middle-ground in which weapons would still have durability and could be repaired with other items, similar to how Fallout handles its weapons durability. This would create an incentive for looting while requiring a bit of resource management to ensure you have your best weapons available when you need them.  It sounds good at face value, but even that would remove the incentive to experiment with the environment in the way the games intended.

So, in short, weapon durability is a necessity in games like Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom because it promotes experimentation and creativity. With unbreakable weapons, so many players would miss out on the satisfaction of using the environment and their whits to overcome an obstacle. Likewise, it makes loot relevant and puts the player in a mindset where they view loot as more than just rupees. Tears of the Kingdom even doubled down on the latter with the Fuse and Ultrahand abilities, which added even more functionality to nearly every intractable object.

Now tell us what you think. Is weapon durability really that bad? How would its absence change your playstyle? What’s one thing that you would change about Breath of the Wild or Tears of the Kingdom? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Tagged With: No tags were found for this entry.