Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom still has weapon degradation, but you won’t care
Swords don't matter any more: this is an engine of chaos.
There are two kinds of people in the world: people who understood that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s weapon degradation was a necessary component of a game built around experimentation, and other people who like to moan about things. Still, look, some of you out there really bounced off having to keep a few backup swords, and being unable to form any kind of attachment to a Good Weapon because nothing in that game had any permanence.
The thing is: games are built around rules, and one of the rules of BotW is that weapons have a health stat. Complaining about it is like complaining that the horsey in chess can’t just gallop to the other side of the board. Fortunately, if you’re on the wrong side of this argument, Tears of the Kingdom is trying very hard to make it not matter.
Firstly, there’s the fact that the FUSE feature has completely changed the game’s approach to combat and loot. As James says in the preview video above, your traditional weapons in Tears – rusty swords, pikes, big sticks etc – are now intended as platforms for whatever you stick on the end. You can, of course, just use a Big Stick as a Big Stick, and go around bonking people with it, but it’s going to be a much more effective bonker if you pop something on the tip, like a horn, or a big spikey ball.
If you have no balls and are bereft of horn, don’t worry, because almost any loose object you find in the world will do. The main thing to remember is that you shouldn’t go around bonking people with your big stick without putting something on the end of it. That’s just good sense. And so, the condition of the weapon is a lot less important now than what you’ve attached to it.
The second thing is that fusing a weapon to an object will essentially create a new compound weapon with a fresh health stat. Using it will only affect the condition of the augmentation: once it’s reduced to zero, the object is destroyed, and you’re left with a brand new version of whatever you attached it to.
Breath of the Wild was an extraordinarily impressive systems playground for its day and very little since has matched it on that front, but Tears of the Kingdom looks like it’s taking the ethos of player led experimentation to the point of absurdity: the sheer amount of options available beggars belief. Regardless, the new gameplay loop is emphatically built around MacGyvering thwackers out of bits of lego you find knocking around, so there should be absolutely no room for misunderstanding this time: this game is not about finding the Best Sword, it’s about improvising. And driving stupid wonky cars around the map like you're in Wacky Races.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom releases on Switch on May 12th.