Breath of the Wild Durability
Screenshot via Siliconera

Breath of the Wild’s Durability System Is a Benefit, Not a Drawback

With The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom here, there’s no better time to talk about what is surely one of the most polarizing aspects of both it and Breath of the Wild: weapon durability. Some love it, others hate it, and maybe like three people are indifferent about it. Everyone’s got an opinion on the feature one way or another, and I will proudly say that I am firmly in the “love it” camp. In fact, I’m even looking forward to its inclusion in Tears of the Kingdom, especially with some of the changes shown off.

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To be clear, I absolutely do not believe the durability system is perfect. I find that most, if not all, weapons break far too quickly and would love the damage warning to be given with more time before the actual breakage. There have been many times I’ve destroyed two, three, or even over four weapons in the process of beating a single enemy, who then only drops one new one. Of course, that’s to be expected when fighting certain foes, but against enemies like Bokoblins, it’s nothing if not irksome. So why do I think so highly of a system that I have several problems with, including some at the fundamental level? Because I wholeheartedly believe that the game and its themes benefit greatly from the inclusion of the durability system.

Exploration is incentivized

As The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is such a huge open-world game, exploring is a major aspect. Players are actively encouraged to do whatever they want whenever and however they want to do it. Naturally, this means that you can and should traverse the map. By making weapons breakable, they become yet another item that needs to be collected, which further encourages that exploration. You need weapons to get by in the game, and you need to explore to get weapons. Thus you are encouraged to travel the world to aid in your progression. A big part of all open-world games is going around discovering new things, and that is especially true for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so giving players even more reason to do so by making weapons breakable adds to the enjoyment.

Breath of the Wild Durability New Weapons

Screenshot by Siliconera

Concepts are built on

The entire premise of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is that Hyrule is destroyed. Ganon has all but won and the once-mighty kingdom is in ruins. Even the Guardians and Divine Beasts became tools for evil. The concepts of impermanence and destruction are prominent in the game, and weapons also following the trend of not lasting forever is just another (admittedly small) reminder of those concepts.

There’s no shortage of weapons

A major criticism of weapon durability in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the constant need to find new weapons since they break so easily. It’s very fair since weapons certainly don’t take long to be destroyed, but it’s not like getting new ones is all that tough. Sure, maybe you won’t get another two-handed sword with 55 power anytime soon, but things like tree branches, soup ladles, and pot lids can fill the gap until you find a proper replacement. Breath of the Wild thrives on improvisation, and using whatever you can get your hands on is just another part of that.

Breath of the Wild weapon Durability Torch Weapon

Screenshot by Siliconera

In short, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s weapon durability system builds on many of the things the game sets out to accomplish. It gives players more reason to explore the massive open world, serves as a constant reminder of some of the game’s themes, and isn’t overly difficult to work with thanks to the abundance and variance of weapons. There’s room for improvement, but I think the game is far better off with it than it would be without it. I’m very excited for it to return in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and can’t wait to really feel the modifications made to it.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is available on the Switch and Wii U, and Tears of the Kingdom is available on the Switch.

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Adam Haffen
Adam is a staff writer who's been working with words for more than five years now. He started playing video games when he was six years old and is a huge action-adventure and RPG fan. His favorite series include The Legend of Zelda and Kingdom Hearts. True to form, he has an endless backlog of books and games that he swears he'll get to one day.