June 1, 2023

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Breath of the Wild’s weapons are a window into the heart of video games

I’m a little late to this particular party. Nintendo’s E3 direct was a solid two weeks ago and the ensuing conversation, about whether or not the Currently Unnamed Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild should include the defining feature of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is now long finished, at least for now. But still, allow me to barrel on in anyway.

Breath of the Wild, if you’re still unfamiliar, has weapons that irreparably break after you’ve used them for a little while, and that is annoying. In fact it’s very annoying, and I feel like I’m as well-placed as any to say this because I wrote the majority of our 111-page guide to Breath of the Wild’s shrines while using those weapons to get through them, and what became very clear, very quickly, was how an arsenal containing little more than a few sharpened twigs did not make my life any easier.

What also became pretty clear was the fact I really wasn’t playing the game the way it was intended to be played, charging across each area in search of shrines and only shrines, only climbing walls, scaling towers, gliding or galloping through hills as a means of getting to the next one, treating the mechanics as a means to an end, as opposed to an end in themselves. When you treat games like this, as you often do, out of necessity, when writing their guides, you quickly learn to see through them: this is the game’s cycle; this is how you break it. The question becomes one of how good the game is at convincing you, duping you, into sticking to that intended cycle, over the more efficient, less fun, break-the-cycle alternative.

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