Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Intensifies Breakable Weapon Mechanics — and I’m Ecstatic

After years of incomplete information, Nintendo has finally unveiled The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. In a 10-minute deep dive into the open-world game, Nintendo revealed some exciting new features. These include a Recall ability that allows players to reverse time and an Ascend skill that enables Link to teleport through ceilings.

However, the real buzz is around the new Fuse system, which takes Breath of the Wild’s most controversial aspect to the next level. In the gameplay clip, it is confirmed that weapons will once again break in the sequel. Link smashes a stick by repeatedly striking an enemy with it, only to pick up another stick and seamlessly fuse it with a rock to create a more durable hammer.

Yes, the weapons can still break, and that’s intentional. With Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo aims to better explain the design decision behind weapon degradation. And they’re doing it with an innovative gameplay mechanic that could once again revolutionize the open-world genre.

Don’t Get Complacent

Since the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in 2017, the game’s item-breaking system has been a topic of debate among fans. While some appreciate the concept, others have hoped it would be addressed in the sequel. With the recent gameplay preview of Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo wants to make it clear that weapon durability is not a flaw but an intended feature.

If I had to describe Breath of the Wild’s core design philosophy in one word, it would be “experimentation.” What makes it so refreshing is that it treats its open world as a true sandbox where players can freely explore and have fun, rather than just a backdrop for the main storyline. Even now, players continue to discover new tricks and interactions in the game, often leading to surprising outcomes. Other games inspired by Breath of the Wild are unable to capture the same sense of wonder.

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Link rides a vehicle he built in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The combat system plays a major role in this philosophy. While players can certainly rely on traditional swordplay, the true joy lies in experimenting with different approaches. For example, you can freeze an enemy with an ice rod and then use a gust of wind from a leaf to blow it off a cliff. The game’s true potential is revealed when players step out of their comfort zones and let their imaginations run wild. It’s not about finding the strongest sword.

However, this philosophy has been a challenge for some players. It goes against the conventions of the series and the modern idea of character “builds.” While I understand and appreciate what Nintendo is aiming for, the criticisms are not unfounded. For a game that relies on player curiosity, it must effectively encourage exploration. Breath of the Wild partially succeeds by breaking Link’s toys after a while, but many of its most remarkable discoveries are not easily stumbled upon. I personally had to watch YouTube compilations to realize the potential of even the smallest branch. Players who dislike the weapon-breaking mechanic may not realize the countless possibilities hidden within seemingly mundane tools.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it lay out all its metal weapons to create an electrical current and skip over a dungeon puzzle.

Link fights a Construct with a fused weapon in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

That’s where Tears of the Kingdom’s Fuse ability excites me. In the demo, we witness Link attaching an eyeball to an arrow, turning it into a homing shot. Later, he attaches a mushroom to a shield, creating a puff of smoke to hide in when attacked by enemies. This system encourages easy experimentation by combining two items. It’s a far more streamlined approach compared to Breath of the Wild’s trial-and-error gameplay, where players were often left to their own devices. The new system gamifies curiosity, even for players who may be less inclined to think creatively.

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With this system in place, weapon degradation already seems much more appealing. Every time a weapon breaks, it presents an opportunity for players to quickly craft a new tool and discover its potential. As long as the possibilities feel limitless, I can already envision myself eagerly trying out new combinations every chance I get. This concept has the potential to revolutionize how developers approach combat in open-world games. Don’t drop me in a sandbox without providing enough tools to build a castle.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will be available on May 12 for the Nintendo Switch.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • If you like Tears of the Kingdom’s vehicle-building, check out this awesome indie game
  • The best video games of May 2023: Tears of the Kingdom, Humanity, and more
  • Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom first update fixes bugged Closed Door quest
  • Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s sequel should embrace the spirit of Death Stranding

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