[LoZ: BotW] Item durability: was it a solid choice?

WhiteWeasel Posts: 9Member
I've been watching a few hours of live streams of the newest installment of the Legend of Zelda franchise. And a big change from previous titles is how your weapons have durability. Having to use what you can scavenge off of your fallen foes in an equipment based discard and draw sounds nice on paper, but (Even the decent tier) they are burned though like copy paper. And from what I have read, it was an intentional design choice to make it so you can't repair them in any way. You can go through multiple low tier weapons in the middle of a fight, and from what I have seen, even the good swords and whatnot rarely last more than a couple encounters. Imagine playing Fallout: NV or 3 and having at least one weapon or more break with each enemy encounter. 

Not to mention, when a weapon breaks, you pause to open a menu to select a new weapon. Having to stop what you are doing in the middle of a fight to replace your gear (and frequently) really interrupts the flow of otherwise i'd call a fantastic battle system. I'm not strictly against the idea of item durability, but I feel Breath of the Wild did it in a way that's too micro-managy for my tastes.

While I'm not going to buy BotW anyways since I don't have a Nintendo console, I feel this design choice it would be a major turn off to those on the fence about this title. 


  • lightlight Posts: 290Member
    In lieu of actually playing the game I can't say, but it does sound a tad annoying the way you describe it. If this were Legend of Zelda: Souls of the Dark Ones and not Legend of Zelda: Scrolls of the Elders you wouldn't be able to pause mid fight.
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  • galdon Posts: 259Member
    I think I understand what they might be going for; giving item drops and minor rewards more meaning by having them stay consistently useful since you need backup weapons, but if durability is too low it does the opposite and makes every item feel like garbage.

    The game is pretty new though so I can't imagine lets players have gotten too far into the game; maybe some of the later weapons have more durability than the early game ones?
  • WhiteWeasel Posts: 9Member
    edited March 7
    The streamer I watch (Mike Matei from Cinemasscere) has made it to the second dungeon (of presumably 4 or 5?), and so far he hasn't found anything that has lasted more than a handful of battles. Assuming it follows the tradition of skyward sword, the Master Sword and Hylian shield would also be unbreakable, but I have no idea when you are supposed to get those.  
    Post edited by WhiteWeasel on
  • galdon Posts: 259Member
    I wouldn't fall for thinking there are only four dungeons. Many Zelda games set you up to think you need to complete a relatively small number of dungeons, only to raise the stakes and then give you several more dungeons and a new main objective halfway through. 
  • KatanaKatana Posts: 51Member
    Yes, this was absolutely intentional. If you stop pointing fingers at the developers and focus on the game, it can be an absolutely brilliant system.
    1. Chests. How many times have you played a Legend of Zelda game, solved an innovative puzzle, and found 100 rupees, or 30 arrows, or 10 bombs, and put it back because your inventory was full? How many times have you played a loot RPG like The Division or Borderlands, found a gun that was admittedly a great and pretty unusual find, but left it alone because you have a gun that's better you'd prefer to keep using? Having the player use up weapons so quickly means that the game can keep giving you rewards like 20-damage bows, because you'll be churning the ones you get. In many RPGs because the line of expectations for loot goes simply up, it starts to become rare for any loot to have any usefulness.
    2. Difficulty management. While Dark Souls gets a lot of praise, my entire first play session focused entirely on one of its most negative points, which was the poorly-maintained early difficulty curve, or more specifically, the infamous Skeleton Graveyard. Since no areas are locked off to the player, they can choose any fight first. The initial thinking for many players that don't have so many goalposts there is that the skeletons are beatable if they just dodge all their attacks. However, if you were to keep trying to fight skeletons and get a few hits in with your level-1 weapons, they'd break, and you would have no choice but to flee. This prevents players from grinding out an experience that's just not fun, like finding a Lynel and trying to whittle down its immense health bar using a traveler's sword again and again even through Game Overs because they believe that's their next goal.
    3. Encouraging the alternate, environmental options. In most Zelda games, you have finite bombs, and unlimited sword. In this one, you have infinite bombs and limited sword. This turns out to be sort of the better idea, because a huge number of players will turn to the sword as their default modus operandi. It's undoubtedly somewhat boring to use just that even in older Zelda games, whereas items like bombs and magic take some creativity and skill to use. But, some players wanted to conserve those because of their limited quantity. Now that the roles are reversed, they'll try to think of alternate approaches that won't damage their greatsword. The game thus encourages kills in Zelda using stealth, bombs, wind from a korok leaf, or one of the other many laugh-out-loud YouTube-worthy moments
    4. Encouraging use of multiple weapons. "Dark Souls is easy, just go for shield/sword and you're all set". Variety is meant to spice up games, even if it turns out through design balancing there's still one first-order optimal strategy. Having some weapons break means that players are trying out the other types; noting the differences and benefits between them going far beyond just the one-handed/two-handed/spear/bow types. Turns out, those Goron spears are great for mining rocks!
    Finally, it is worth noting the types of equipment that don't degrade. Obviously, degradation was not picked as a mechanic for realism. Weapons were picked because these are a player's primary focus and interaction during a fight. The consequences are clear to a player when their attack stops and their weapon shatters in their hands (thankfully, at least in most early situations, this also gives them a brief reprieve by stunning their opponent for a few seconds). If, for instance, your armor degraded, then players might not notice or feel obligated to respond straight away, because they're mainly interacting with the enemy. This is also, I think, why the game chose not to automatically have you produce your next available weapon, so that players will become accustomed to the weapon selection menu and their available options.
    It is annoying to me that many players wish to hold onto their weapons. Throw them! Stop hoarding! Use all resources available! Throw your master sword to kill that chu-chu way in the distance! You'll find another, probably.
  • RobrechtRobrecht Posts: 292Member
    Katana, mate, I think you're missing the plot here.

    The main issue people have with the durability system in BotW isn't that it has a durability system at all... It's that the durability runs out way, way too quickly and the player frequently get the shit kicked out of them when their weapon breaks and they're distracted from what's happening by having to pause the game, manually switch to a new weapon through a menu and then unpause resulting in them completely losing their timing mid fight.
  • KatanaKatana Posts: 51Member
    Lots of games have a durability system, but I can't think of any that have the given effect on the game without running out of weapons so quickly, so I just assumed basic durability systems weren't even worth mentioning or comparing to.

    I can't totally agree about the feeling of disruption. The weapon-switching menu is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, pretty much the same as the weapon wheel used in many open world games. It only appears when the button is held down, rather than being an entire pause screen, and shows weapons and nothing else; making players unlikely to disrupt combat with anything else. You're also ignoring how a broken weapon already accounts for any aspects of combat timing - any and all combos will end as soon as a weapon breaks, and most often it will push the opponent back in doing so to create breathing room.

    I honestly can't think of many combat RPGs that don't allow for a moment of safely reconsidering your approach anytime there are a large number of options that require complex game mechanics. Batman lets you grapple to gargoyles, Skyrim lets you eat cheese wheels. The only outlier that comes to mind is Dark Souls and I can safely say I am not a fan of the way it prevents you from pausing.
  • WhiteWeasel Posts: 9Member
    I'm not dissing weapon durability as a game mechanic, and those 4 points are totally valid. I personally just feel it happens just a tad too often for my tastes. If they ever were to patch a re-balance to the weapon system, I think the best compromise that would not ruin the spirit of the mechanic would be the kinda like the way skyward sword treated shields; use them correctly by perfect blocking and they would not take a hit to their integrity meter. But in BotW, getting better at perfect blocking/flurry attacking and thus, using your equipment "correctly" they'll degrade slower instead. (Like at 2/3 or 1/2 the rate they normally do for example numbers)

    So the game still has durability but it is manipulating the players desire to have stuff not be burned through like copy paper, subtly encouraging the player to "git gud" and work for their reward. 
  • vlademir1vlademir1 Posts: 428Member
    edited March 18
    I wasn't going to bother saying anything here, but changed my mind after watching this week's Jimquisition with my friend (and, ya know, stewing on it for several days).  Ignoring everything Jim had to say (not all of which I agree with), while watching the footage in the episode my friend pauses the video and just says that just at the rate the weapons blow through durability he'd be sorely disappointed in the gameplay if he had cared enough to spend the kind of money BotW and a Switch to play it on costs without knowing about that in advance.
    Post edited by vlademir1 on
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  • PyrianPyrian Posts: 295Member
    edited March 18
    I think weapons with really low durability would be great for a game that's themed around big muscly guys having bar brawls. You expect the chairs going to break over someone's head. Nothing fundamentally wrong with the mechanic, it's just... Kind of misplaced here.

    EDIT: If I had a nickel for every time I [I]italicized[/I] something wrong on this forum...

    Are there any games that let you tear off someone's limb and beat them to death with it, Beowulf vs. Grendel style?
    Post edited by Pyrian on
  • vlademir1vlademir1 Posts: 428Member
    @Pyrian There was a game where you could do that back in the early-mid '90s, I no longer remember what it was called however.  It was IIRC an early fighting game or else a beat 'em up, but being as it was 25+ years ago now my memories aren't exactly the clearest on the matter.
    I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. Look upon my works and despair!

    Truth is never lying right there on the surface for everyone to quickly find, it requires dedication, the right tools and time.
  • Brother_NerdBrother_Nerd Posts: 50Member
    My one question with the durability system is: Does it fit the story?

    Let's use Baldur's Gate 1 as an example. In the first Baldur's Gate, there wasn't any difinitive durability system, but weapons would just kinda break on you if they were made of metal and had no magic to them. This seems somewhat flustering at first, but then you start hearing about how all of the iron in the local area has been tainted for some time, and when you read the descriptions of even low-end magic items, they're implied to be older than "the iron crisis."

    You don't have to worry about this with your armor, certainly, but there are NPCs you can talk to who tell you that they smuggled out some iron ore from the local mine, but it was tainted by whatever is happening, and the smith couldn't even finish the armor, because it was simply falling apart too fast.

    I can see where you're coming from Katana, for sure, but the developers need to be certain that they explain a mechanic like that. maybe all of the weapons that you find are already used half to death, and they make it look like it? Maybe no one you're killing can get proper materials, because there's not enough iron to go around, but plenty of Bronze or else one of the components thereof?

    The mechanic can make sense, the developers just need to add a story element to get players more on board with it.
  • vlademir1vlademir1 Posts: 428Member
    @Katana The main issues I see here, having now consumed a reasonably significant amount of gameplay footage and hence having some basis to understand how long the weapons last in practice and how switching works, is that they fail to incentivise fast weapon swapping in relation to how people actually play these types of games (Kingdoms of Amalur, as an example, did this fairly well by giving you lots of reasons to hot swap weapons mid-combat and by making it quick and easy to do so) while also disincentivising using just the one weapon in a manner that draws one out of the narrative immersion and combat mechanics and instead load up an inventory menu and stop and think about what the next weapon you want to use should be right at that moment in the midst of combat.  That itself also runs counter to the amount of preplanning they make essential to the experience in other mechanics of the game such a cooking. 

    @Brother_Nerd Careful there in treating bronze as inferior in the manner you do.  It's main disadvantage compared to iron/steel is in terms of higher density leading to higher weight and more difficulty balancing.  Also debatably there is a higher difficulty in producing a proper edge for swords and the like from bronze (I say "debatably" since this argument mainly seems to originate with people used to working iron/steel attempting to apply the exact same methods to bronze which may well just need specialized methods that don't apply to iron/steel and have been lost in the last three millennia as the bronze age ended (in a catastrophic cascading societal system failure) and the iron then industrial ages took over).

    I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. Look upon my works and despair!

    Truth is never lying right there on the surface for everyone to quickly find, it requires dedication, the right tools and time.
  • Brother_NerdBrother_Nerd Posts: 50Member
    @vlademir1  Fair enough. I honestly don't know much about metal in general- I lack any amount of talent when working with my hands. Still, there is pre-composite metals, which are dinstinctly weaker individually than when combined. Something, at least, to give us a reason for the weaker material.
  • galdon Posts: 259Member
    edited April 20
    So, I finally got the game, and I have to say item durability is not the worst combat woe in the game. I mean, it is annoying since the button to quick select weapons is on the same hand as the movement joystick, but it is not nearly as disruptive as the food system.

    So, you have foods you can eat for health and stamina. With no limit to how much you can have that I have seen. To balance this, enemies do more damage so you need to heal more often.

    Problem: enemies only deal two amounts of damage, really. Enough to instakill you, sending you back to your last autosave, or enough to wound you, sending you straight into the full pause menu to max out your hearts to minimize your chance of being instakilled. 

    At first, I thought Arin was just an idiot (as usual) not even bothering to put any armor on for most of the beginning and that's why the early enemies hit so hard but no, even in the best armor I can get at this point, normal enemies in the early game can get up to enough damage to instakill me at 4 hearts, requiring me to always keep my hearts full so I can survive the odd 3 1/2 hearts damage hit.

    (Also, unstoppable rolling while taking additional damage until the ragdoll stops is literally the worst thing ever. A ragdoll hit while on a gentle slope has slowly killed me twice now)
    Post edited by galdon on
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