Zelda: Breath of the Wild's weapon durability system (or as Jim Sterling aptly refers to it, "weapon fragility system") is annoying. There's no way around it: having your weapons break really rubs players the wrong way. But it also does something very, very important: teachers players how to improvise and be strategic.
You're not meant to use weapons every time you fight in Nintendo's new Zelda game.
Weapons and shields will degrade the more you use them, and eventually break at the wrong moment. This really can be a problem, especially when you start to avoid fighting enemies because the rewards aren't worth the damage to your cool new swords, spears, bows and shields. But there's a simple way around this frustration: using your infinite supply of ghost-bombs.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild has taken lots of heat for the "weapon fragility" system in the past few days, and while I think this criticism is valid, I absolutely know that players have options. You're not forced to use and break your weapons.
Breath of the Wild is a game built around experimenting, and the world gives you tons of different tools and abilities that you can mix and match at whim.
Playing in the first two hours teaches you not to use weapons too often in battle. What should you use instead?
Bombs, bombs, and more bombs. Breath of the Wild literally gives you in an infinite supply of two different kinds of bombs--ones that roll and ones that are square--to use in battle. And use them you should!
You can throw your bombs. You can roll your bombs. You can set your bombs down and kite away from enemies, triggering their explosions when baddies get near.
You can set up elaborate traps by placing bombs next to trees, blowing them up, and watching as the tree logs smash your foes. You can even use boulders to kill enemies, or roll a pile of logs down a hill to dispatch a group of foes. Hell, you can even pick up rocks and throw them at enemies.
In short, the world itself can be your weapon. You don't always need to use your shiny new blades to kill stuff. The trees, the rocks, the boulders, and even the lightning can kill enemies for you.
Creative gamers know that you can attack a Octorok Balloon to a summoned bomb, lift it up in the air, push it with air generated by a Korok leaf, and then watch as the balloon pops to rain down explosive destruction on your foes. With a few Octorok bladders and a 1 DMG leaf you can take out a group of lesser creatures.
Zelda rewards those who are creative, those who try, those who experiment. It does not reward those who run into battle and smash their weapons into the ground with constant jump-slam attacks.
And the bombs are just the tip of the iceberg! Breath of the Wild gives a bunch of different powers, all of which can be used as potent weapons (if you're creative).
Take Magnesis, for example: this power can lift up metal objects like giant metallic cubes that can be dropped onto baddies for humorous results. When its thunderstorming, you can even pick up a metal object and lay it next to an enemy, and lightning has the chance of striking it and one-shotting the foe.
Stasis is pretty damn fun, too. Cast Stasis on a boulder and smack it a few times with your Iron Hammer so it soaks up that kinetic energy. Once the Stasis countdown winds down, the boulder will fling itself in the direction you smacked it in, potentially flinging halfway across the continent and smashing into a group of Moblins. Use this power for a little hilarious mini-game.
Cryosis is a bit trickier to use to take on baddies. I usually make walls to protect myself from Octorok blasts, but have used it to trap Moblins and other lesser creatures in a makeshift ice prison. I promptly fling arrows or bombs at them to finish off my quarry.
But my main point with all of this is that Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn't a traditional Zelda game. It's the type of game that makes you think, it makes you try, it makes you fail, and it makes you use strategy and experiment with all kinds of different tactics and maneuvers.
Sure, you can use brute force and smash enemies with your weapons in every battle, but you better prepare to smash those items to smithereens.
In the right conditions, a simple torch can be more effective than even the most powerful weapon. Ignite some tall grass and watch the winds stoke it into a roaring firewall that engulfs foes and burns their weapons.
I mean seriously, the game spends half its time reinforcing creativity. Take Shrines, for example: these areas constantly teach us how to use our powers in unique new ways, and force us to think outside the box (sometimes frustratingly so).
If you go into Zelda: BOTW trying to sword-fight everything in the game, then you're pretty much missing the point of combat. It's not about sword-and-board action, it's about using your skills, abilities, and brain to conquer foes in creative new ways.
And there's so much you can do! Next time you get an idea, try it, and I bet you it'll work.
That, to me, is the magic of the new Zelda's combat system.
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