A new trailer for Nintendo’s sequel too The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild awakened an ancient evil on Tuesday. I’m referring, of course, to the somehow still ongoing discourse about fragile weapons in Breath of the wild, one of the most controversial design decisions in the 2017 open-world Zelda game.
Gun durability could very well be back in the sequel from Breath of the wild (although Nintendo hasn’t confirmed it), which ushers in a new wave of conflict over whether weapon durability is a good thing, a bad thing, or a dark and wretched plague for humanity.
I have praised them Breath of the wild Fragile weapons discourse grenade into Polygon’s slack chat and then walked away while my colleagues tore each other apart. After the mess, I asked them to politely discuss the merits of things that break in Hyrule, which you can read in the comments below. Your best argument for or against the worthiness of gun mining is welcome in the comments.
Gun durability is smart design, but smart isn’t always fun
People provided a lot of intellectually engaging reasons for Breath of the Wild 2 to include gun durability. Heck, I’m convinced removing the weapon durability would negatively affect the game. I still can’t bring myself to defend its inclusion, and that’s because gun durability ultimately prevented me from finishing the original Breath of the wild.
I know heresy. I am in love Breath of the wild, especially his then transgressive approach to open world games. Gone were the myriad of meaningless side chores and busy work and were replaced by real exploration. Nintendo has removed so much of the gamyness of open-world games. That’s why gun durability felt so inconsistent with my way of enjoying the world. Concern about destroying my weapons prevented me from experimenting with them. It has carried over my worst habits of hoarding items in more rigid role-playing games to an open world begging me to take risks and be creative with my resources.
I had almost made it to the end of the game when I gave up in frustration. Look, I’m happy to compromise. You can all keep the durability of your guns, but please let me surf my shield without being punished for feeling joy. Deal? – Chris Plante
Gun durability is better storytelling
The legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is by far the most pleasant post apocalypse I’ve ever experienced in fiction. It’s downright nice to wander through the ruins of a terrible war leveling the kingdom to solve puzzles and search for Korok seeds. I love going back to this world – maybe I’ll do it again tonight. The big irony, of course, is the horror that emanates from the castle in the center of the map, almost always in sight.
Despite this permanent memorial to the disaster, Breath of the wild is a very low friction game. The biggest limitation is Link’s stamina meter, which first determines how much you can climb – something that you can dispute with food or upgrades so the more you play, the less important it is. That leaves two more points of friction: weather and weapons. The former is a systemic marvel that enables all sorts of cool interactions at the expense of some minor inconvenience, and the latter is a controversial limitation that has frustrated masses of people understanding why it exists on paper, but often with a simple, compelling rebuttal : It sucks.
I give you so much: you are right! It does suck. But do you know what is also annoying? Hyrule, man. Here a story is told: that you wandered your way through a gloomy place, that the disaster – always in sight – irrevocably changed this world and made it a place that has been reclaimed by greenery and wildlife, a world that is in opposition to her she exists. People like you who cut trees and build houses and cook steaks over small campfires? Maybe it shouldn’t be so easy for them. Perhaps the myriad of weapons you find and smash – remnants of a terrible war of which you only see fragments – are reminiscent of an old way of life that was about to be replaced by something new. Do you feel frustrated when a gun you like breaks? Maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps it should be difficult to exercise your will on the world around you. Maybe there are things that are bigger than you. If the wilderness breathes, as the game’s title suggests, then maybe it should be respected too. – Joshua Rivera
Gun durability is a hindrance to late game, but I still support it
Breath of the wild broke the tired Legend of Zelda formula that takes players by the nose through sequenced areas and slowly layers the level of difficulty. Before, every puzzle had a key element to solve, every dungeon or boss fight was based on a tactic – arrows, hook shots, bombs, whatever. Breath of the wild shattered the basic idea that every problem has a specific solution, and I’d argue that gun durability is an extension of that. There are so many ways to fight everything that comes my way, but seldom have I been able to rely on a single one.
I’ve played too many Zelda titles and was ready for a change. The fragility of early simple weapons made the early hours of the game exciting. It’s fun to be on the ropes against Zelda enemies that I wouldn’t think about any further. A bokoblin gang could actually prove challenging if my sword and spare club (and mine other Backup club) turned to dust in my hands. And it’s not the same type of challenge as a Dark Souls boss’s rhythmic battle. It is chaos! And the Zelda franchise avoids chaos, especially the 3D iterations.
But gun durability actually scratches when I spend money and resources – sometimes lots of money and resources – on some ancient weapons. I understand that a looted shield and long sword are thin and hit by their previous owners, but I paid a man with highly competitive guardian pieces and he turned them into one New Weapon, not just a “new at Link” weapon. As a result, I’ve heard everything I’ve spent a lot of time doing in my strangely unfurnished home, making sure I never use it to smash Guardians again. So yeah, keep weapon durability, but give me a forge or smithy or easier ways to fix higher value items. – Chelsea Stark
Nintendo, please let me keep my shields a little longer
For those who are against weapon downgrading, here’s what I offer you: Get rid of your earthly desires and play the game like a real villain. Just pick up random things around and throw them at enemies. There’s nothing like the feeling of knocking over a powerful moblin only to steal his weapon, then throwing it right in front of his face and watching it break apart. (I always try to only keep a slot or two open for that.) Sure, a sword-smashing high isn’t ideal, but deliberately using and destroying as many weapons as possible was a fun way to play.
Do I wish I could always keep a full set of each weapon for the sake of vanity? For sure. It would be nice not to have to combine a honking Lynel shield and a glowing guard sword with my pretty Hyrule military guard outfit. But life is messy and the way I customize Link’s armor is messy too.
That being said, comes up with such a weighty and hotly controversial issue nuance. I think shields are a particular problem when it comes to weapon dismantling. I remember the first time I seriously explored the Hyrule field. I did my best to deflect the guardian’s lasers, but I lost all of my shields just because of poor timing. It only took a shot or two to destroy my best shields. I just didn’t have enough slots to hoard disposable shields. I felt like a defenseless baby on the edge of Hyrule’s most dangerous region. To do this, a sign that fills up on a timer would have come a long way. Still, the experience led to the idea that if I was to face such great monsters and challenges, I had to be willing to give up something. – Ana Diaz
I love trying new guns, but gun durability makes my rewards cheaper
I got into the Zelda franchise late but fell deeply in love with them during my college years. When then Breath of the wild I wasn’t tired of the formula Nintendo came up with 35 years ago. I enjoyed my first playthrough of Breath of the wild but got away frustrated in the end. The source of my frustration, as with many players, was the weapon degradation system.
i love the way Breath of the wild forces you to acquire personal knowledge with each type of weapon. You will never know when you find yourself in a serious strength test shrine and you run out of everything but a spear. But there are certain weapons that I never want to use for fear that I will break them, even if they are fun and powerful. What about the spear I get from the Zora? Or the claymore from the Gorons? These weapons matter to me. So in my playthrough, I did what any logical player would do: I bought a house and put all of my reward weapons on the walls.
I repeated it recently Breath of the wild and in the end loved it for what it is. But even when I went inside, I knew what I was getting into and found new ways to get frustrated with my guns crashing in the middle of a fight. I gave up my quest to launch the Master Sword DLC because I didn’t feel like spending hours breeding weapons after a single Guardian battle cleared my entire arsenal. I reloaded my save game, killed Ganon, and started playing something else. I would love to see it all Breath of the wild has to offer, but grinding up powerful weapons just so they break a few minutes later isn’t my idea of fun. – Ryan Gilliam