Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom weapons
Image: Nintendo Life

When it comes to ways that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild flipped the script for the wider series, there is a list of 'em so long that it almost rivals the number of those darn Korok Seeds out there. *shakes fist to the sky* One of the changes that we almost can't believe actually happened, however, was the sheer number of weapons at your disposal and how, importantly, they had a nasty habit of breaking.

This wasn't you're daddy's Zelda game. You're not picking up a sword from your uncle, a mysterious man in a cave, or a hidden chest surrounded by a maze of boulders. Instead, your first steps into the Great Plateau and beyond probably saw you armed with a couple of branches and an old wooden lid as a makeshift shield. Chances are that after a couple of swings at some nearby Bokoblins, those sticks broke and you were left pushing that stamina wheel to its limits in a crazed game of cat and mouse not a million miles away from Hyrule's take on The Benny Hill Show (or Scooby-Doo, if you'd prefer).

Your thoughts on the mechanic probably went one of two ways. Yes, there was a certain joy to wandering the wilderness with merry abandon, picking up every weapon that you came across and giving it whirl. You could try out different combinations and the classic adventure format received an added tactical layer — if you headed for a Divine Beast without checking your weapon loadout then more fool you, my friend.

But then again, these weapons broke quickly (some of them, really quickly) and some found the constant cycle of find—swing—break—repeat grew tiresome at points. In this Hyrule nothing was permanent, and that is a fact that we had to live with.

Looking ahead to Tears of the Kingdom, we can't help but wonder what the future will be for this divisive little mechanic. Below, some of our writers have shared their thoughts and we would love to hear your views too. Have a read through the following and then take to the polls before heading into the comments to tell us your hopes, dreams, and fears!

Gavin Lane, Editor

Weapon degradation was a beautiful way to encourage experimentation in BOTW’s Hylian sandbox. I appreciated what it contributed to your journey through the game, and weapons were plentiful and varied enough to be worth trying just to see what they did, from elemental blade down to wooden spoon. Not once did I walk into a situation with nothing to hand; for me, the balance the devs struck there was masterful.

My sole irritation with the mechanic is based around the Master Sword, specifically the Level 60 maxed-out version I got once I passed all the DLC trials. I understand why, from a design perspective, it was given its own brand of durability earlier in the game and needed to periodically ‘charge’. But once I had proven myself, beaten the trials, and given Calamity Ganon a sound thrashing, it took the edge off my victory to find that the Blade of Evil’s Bane still ran out of juice.

So, it would be just dandy if the gnarly Master Sword we’ve glimpsed in TOTK – once sufficiently rejuvenated and tempered and whatnot – retained its masterfulness permanently at the very, very end of the game. Otherwise, yay degradation.

Kate Gray, Staff Writer

I honestly wasn't bothered about weapon durability during my playthrough, but then a while after the game came out, it became this meme where everyone was bothered about it. But that hasn't really changed my opinion! I think weapon durability can create these very organic moments where your sword explodes at the worst time during a boss battle, and I think those are worth something.

However... I still think it can be improved, because I'm pretty sure swords don't actually explode, so I wouldn't mind the durability system being switched to more of a Monster Hunter deal, where you have to keep your weapons sharp, and finding a sword is a rarer occurrence rather than swords existing in every nook and cranny of the world.

Alana Hagues, Staff Writer

To start off with, I wasn't happy with the weapon durability in Breath of the Wild. I'm so used to going up to all enemies and attacking them in basically everything and I thought I could do the same here, willy-nilly. In the early hours of BOTW, I ran out of weapons a lot. I was often scrambling for resources, fighting my way through Hyrule using the Sheikah Slate, and throwing rocks or twigs at Moblins. Was I always effective? No. But was it fun? Yes.

I think that's when I realised the beauty of BOTW's weapon system. Everything in BOTW is basically an item. Something to be used, a resource to survive. Weapons were no exceptions. it didn't matter if my axe snapped in two or if my sword shattered in my hand — something would be waiting for me nearby. And I'd need to learn how to make do with it.

For Tears of the Kingdom, I'm almost 100% this mechanic will come back, but it'll have some adjustments. Considering everything and their mother needs a crafting mechanic, I can totally see crafting being added to TOTK to my chagrin, but if Pokémon can do it, then Zelda can probably do it better. Make new weapons or fix up old ones? Sounds okay, right...?

Jim Norman, Staff Writer

I kind of loved weapon degradation in Breath of the Wild. What started as a frustrating journey with a pocket full o' sticks soon became a tactical twist on the series format and something that I had a great time organising. Finding a new weapon gave me huge amounts of joy and while there was much heartbreak involved when it broke before I had the chance to say goodbye, it made the adventure feel all the more fulfilling.

Of course, there is a certain amount of tweaking that I would like to see in Tears of the Kingdom. Making it so that weapons last that little bit longer would obviously be a bonus, but wouldn't it also be nice to see us getting the ability to add some (limited) durability boosts onto some of our favourite weapons? This is a tricky one and would definitely need using in moderation — good job I'm not a game developer, hey — but it might make the sense of customisation feel that little bit more personal.

It would also stop idiots like me from taking on the final phase of Ganon with nothing but a branch, but that's a different matter, I suppose.

Ollie Reynolds, Staff Writer

Weapon durability never really bothered me. Honestly, reaching the max number of weapons in my inventory and having to sacrifice one to make room for a Savage Lynel Sword was a lot more irritating (though thankfully this eased as I found more and more Korok Seeds).

Like anything else though, it’s a mechanic that needs a bit of massaging, though what Nintendo does with this is beyond my comprehension right now. I did ponder the idea of having a one-time use item in the game that would grant one weapon unlimited durability, but that is rife with potential problems. Why would you even bother to use anything else if you have a weapon that deals decent damage and doesn’t break, for example?

I think the best thing Nintendo could do with this is to simply adjust the time it takes until a weapon completely breaks; maybe give us a bit more time with each weapon, or allow us to easily repair them. I don’t want Tears of the Kingdom to introduce crafting mechanics or something equally daft, but there’s definitely something to be explored here.

What do you want to see happen to TOTK's weapons? Maybe they could take a tip out of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity's book and expand on the upgrade possibilities for individual weapons? Would you welcome more crafting-style mechanics? Fill out the following polls and then let us know in the comments.

Should weapon degradation stick around in Tears of the Kingdom? (15,066 votes)

  1. Heck yeah! Give me exactly the same again!18%
  2. Yes, but it needs some tweaking45%
  3. No way! Give me one sword and I'm happy!36%

What tweaks would you like to see made to TOTK's weapon system? (13,165 votes)

  1. Increased durability18%
  2. The chance to repair broken weapons52%
  3. Build your own (crafting)15%
  4. Limited 'indestructible' bonuses6%
  5. More weapons with a recharge period9%