Weapon Durability & BotW

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It’s now been more than a few days since I completed Breath of the Wild, and with the time that has passed, I’ve been able to more objectively reflect on a few things relevant to the game. One such thing is weapon durability.

In general, I hate when video games include weapon durability. This part of me that HATES it can be referred to as the “Impatient Gamer.” The Impatient Gamer was not happy when Rust added weapon degradation. At times, the Impatient Gamer quite easily morphs into the Frustrated Gamer which manifests itself at times such as when a poorly executed round bomb sent a stone sphere, needed for a shrine, out into the ocean. It was a long swim for Link that day…

Weapon durability just seems cheap at times. It’s a gold sink, and it’s annoying. There was one game that I actually thought weapon durability was slightly inventive: Far Cry 2. Your weapons could jam from overuse, and it actually made sense. If I’m remembering correctly, there was a perk that helped minimize weapon malfunction anyway so it was never too much of a problem.

When it came to BotW, I gritted my teeth when I found out weapons would break and decided I would just have to deal with it. Surprisingly, after 90 some hours, I found that I didn’t really care. I was constantly moving, exploring as much of the map as I could, and I never had a weapon shortage. In fact, I was constantly debating which weapon to toss or sell! If anything, weapon durability in BotW acted more as motivation to keep pushing through the map. What neat weapon would I pick up next?

Out of curiosity, I searched online for people’s opinions on weapon durability in BotW and was surprised by some of the perspectives. Some people hated it, others didn’t mind, and others still complained that the weapons broke too quickly, that they were brittle, and that there isn’t really a way to manage weapons since the game only tells players if a weapon is used or that it is about to break. I do agree that the game could do a better job of notifying players of each weapon’s durability status, but I also don’t think BotW necessarily has the cheapest weapon durability system.

What do you think? Is weapon durability generally a nuisance or can it add depth to a game?

Author: Tabitha

I game. I teach. I write. Graduate student pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric and Writing. Interested in the use of video games in education, digital rhetoric, and literacy.

12 thoughts

  1. I don’t mind weapon degradation so long as weapons Last a reasonable length of time. If they break after 5 minutes then that’s a no (unless they’re designed to be super powerful one use items).
    I didn’t mind the ones in Dark Souls for example, as they last a while for the most part. Crystal weapons caused a lot of damage but didn’t last long.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I found myself enjoying the weapon durability mechanic, personally. I like the idea of “using up” weapons, as it balances the game for me. In a game like BotW, Link doesn’t level up – you, the player, levels up in skill, and your power stays the same. Durability means you can’t become all powerful, otherwise a few solid weapon finds and there would never be the need to explore again!

    Just one guy’s thoughts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed that the weapon durability forced me to remember where specific weapons could be found in the world, as well as convincing me to try out new weapons (even goofy ones like mops and skeletal arms). Without incentive, I most likely would have picked a sword and stuck with it, or run around Hyrule waving magic fire balls into existence. It created a new challenge for me. I either had to be conscious of how much use I put on a weapon, or else be innovative when it broke mid-battle and I didn’t have a good backup.

    I’m not sure that real weapons break as quickly as those found in Hyrule, but it was fun to think about the fact that real-world weapons break too. I imagine they would break even faster if used against the tough hides of monsters or banged against ancient mechanical wonders. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think as long as it doesn’t feel cheap, then it’s fine (unless, like iplayedthegame mentioned, it’s a very powerful, one-use item). I’m thinking of Dragon Age: Origins (because of course I am), and during the final fight, you can use balustrades, but they only work for a short time before they break from overuse. A high enough dexterity stat means you can fix them a few times, but after a while they’re just too broken. Annoying, but fair.

    I think it’s also interesting to keep gamers planning their next move, in case something happens. After all, real life swords would sometimes bend in battle, and then what? It seems like BotW does it right (I haven’t played it yet), especially if there isn’t a dearth of things to defend yourself with!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the most functional use of weapon durability is to encourage the player to continue upgrading their weapon in the hopes of introducing scale or variety to gameplay. The best weapon upgrades (in conjunction w/ the durability mechanic) drive the player to pursue bigger and better bang sticks to either beat bigger and better enemies or introduce new but comparable mechanics that prevent monotony. The Dark Souls series is a great example, allowing players to conquer bosses in a variety of ways (I won’t quote the magic meme, but… the magic meme); whereas Shadow Warrior 2 got dinged for introducing a multitude of upgrades that changed little in weapon aesthetics and had little impact on core gameplay. Even FFXV’s fishing line durability accompanied scaling in difficulty and drove players to explore new locations. Essentially, weapon durability should EXPAND gameplay rather than merely be a tedious hindrance to quest objectives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and for the comment! And I agree with your point of what weapon durability should do for a game.

      If I wasn’t so terrified, I’d play a Dark Souls game someday…

      Like

      1. I’ve recently had it explained to me as being more like a fighting game than an “impossible” game; and, I love fighters, so that seemed more do-able to me. And a “Guilty Gear” streamer I follow claimed his experience w/ “Monster Hunter” felt more relevant than his experience with “Demon Souls,” since both games focus on the complexities of fighting monumental creatures. Not to mention, DS III is possibly a rhythm game ;P I think there’s a gatekeeping “git gud” facet of the Souls community that’s, sadly, just made a lot of us wary and hesitant to give the game a chance.

        Liked by 1 person

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