Plenty has been said about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with one complaint common among them: weapons break too fast and you can’t repair them.
I don’t have a problem with this mechanic personally. I find it really fun to switch weapons on the fly, mid-combo, when I notice them about to break or right after that happens. After all, I can always find a new weapon to replace the old one and there are many weapons strewn throughout Hyrule. Hell, I know where I can make some of them!
There are many things explained in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is after all, the first game to acknowledge Link’s silent nature and explains he does talk, just not very often. I won’t give the reasons here as I don’t wish to spoil things. But one thing that is never mentioned in the storytelling is the reason weapons break so easily and constantly.
Sure, it is probably a purely mechanical thing, a design choice Nintendo went with, but what if there was a narrative explanation for it.
I’ve thought about this for a long while and these are my two Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild lore theories for weapon breakage.
When The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild begins, it’s been 100 years since Ganon—here named Calamity Ganon—escaped his seal, rose from Hyrule Castle and terrorised the land, taking over the dozens of guardians the Hylians hoped would protect them, their champions gone. It took a miracle but the world received a reprieve, Ganon’s strength partly sealed, waiting for the day when the Master Sword’s chosen would return to finish the job…or these seals failed as well and Ganon could continue his rampage of the land.
But Ganon escaped once and before the miracle restrained him, he spread his malevolence across the land, contaminating it. Hyrule fell into ruin, warriors died in their hundreds and even the great hero chosen to fight him failed in his task.
When you visit Hyrule a century later, the corruption is still there, whole areas covered in the corruption goop, with its creatures spewing forth floating skeletal heads, the malevolence spread further, wrapping itself around Hyrule and choking the life out of it. Everything in Hyrule is in ruins, even the possessed guardians fell into disrepair, their ancient gears corroded and their systems haywire.
So what if this continued decay of Hyrule spread further than to buildings but everything else? Tools and weapons would break constantly, blacksmiths would have constant work as would have anyone in a crafting profession, which you see in Breath of the Wild. The forges are active, the armour and clothes salesman peddle their wares with desperation, with people outside almost begging customers in. After all, they don’t know if today’s clothes will rip tomorrow.
A goron boy in their city is desperate to learn the craft from the local blacksmith, hoping those secrets and skills don’t vanish. In a world where everything seems to break with the mildest use, knowing how to mend, repair and recreate is extremely valuable.
I might hear you think, “but when monsters use weapons, they don’t break.” And I tell you that it’s for the same reason the Blood Moon revives and strengthens them: they’re on Ganon’s side, and as long as his minions wield them, the weapons are immune to the decay.
This also explains why the Master Sword degrades and loses power when not fully awakened, which only happens when it’s within range of Ganon or his malevolence. It can’t be destroyed of course, it is the sword of evil’s bane, but it can lose its power temporarily.
In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you can complete the prologue and rush to Ganon’s fight if you so desire. It’s up to you. But if you choose to complete all quests and restore the Divine Beasts to working order, you’ll receive special weapons belonging to each of the racial champions. One such weapon is a giant sword once wielded by Daruk, the Goron champion, and its description states that Daruk made swinging it easy but it would require a Hylian with monstrous strength to even lift it.
Guess what? Link can swing it and fight effectively with, as if it were a regular two-handed sword. In fact, he can push giant boulders with ease and climbs sheer stone walls with nothing but his bare hands. Rain is the only impediment on this for him, as it makes surfaces slippery, but can you imagine the gripping strength needed to climb any wall?
Let’s take the gliding. He doesn’t have a harness, it’s just a kite with handles and he hangs from it for miles, taking a very long distance to deplete his stamina.
And with the Magnesis rune he can lift and move giant metal things, but we don’t know how much of his own strength he needs to accomplish this, we only see he does so with complete ease.
Even if you discount the magnets, we can agree Link is monstrously strong, now is it so crazy to imagine what happens with any weapon swung by this guy? Imagine Link pulling on a bow with all his might, which he does, how long do you think it would take with the thread to break? How long will a sword’s durability last when whacked with this impossibly powerful arm strength, a strength matching and perhaps even surpassing that of the Goron.
The reason items feel as if made of glass in Link’s hands is because anything in his hands will break. It’s like having the hulk swing a sword. Sure, whatever he’s hitting will die, but so will the sword.
Consider this: with almost every weapon, save for a few daggers, it takes link 1 to 2 swings to take down a tree. And on average, he hits harder than monsters when fighting with the same weapons.
What do you think, which of these theories do you think fits the best? As I mentioned, I leaned towards the second more than the first, but I do like the RPG element of the first one.