Folks, this is not a hot take. You could keep your beer in this take on a hot summer day - ice cold baby, I told you. This is a take you may have read before, and either found yourself scoffing in irritation or nodding in agreement. But unfortunately, we need to get on the merry go round again. Breakable weapons are a bad idea, and I can't believe we're still doing it. After it emerged that weapons could be once more smashing in our very fists during Dead Island 2, I need to get it off my chest once more. I haven't liked it in any video game I've ever played, and I think it's strange that the only game we ever talk about having breakable weapons is Breath of the Wild. No matter what the game is, weapon degradation sucks.


There are two types of weapon degradation, and while I hate both of them, I hate the more extreme variant far more. I suppose there are three kinds of degradation if you count spitting on them and calling them a little bitch while they squeal in pleasurable pain, but let's not get into that. Whatever happens between two consenting swords is none of my business. The first form of weapon degradation sees them get worse over time, requiring you to clean, maintain, or repair them. The second sees weapons have what amounts to a health bar, resulting in them poofing out of existence once they take too much damage - or give too much, depending on how they look at it.

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I want to deal with this second one first, because it's the most frequently occurring form of breakable weapons, and the most infuriating. The idea of these breakable weapons is that they force you to constantly pick up new weapons, keep your arsenal varied, and be less reliant on any particularly strong item to rush through the entire game with. But that's not how it works in practice. Instead, it encourages you to hoard weapons endlessly, or to traipse back across the map to where you know the good weapons spawn. In a game as chaotic as Dead Rising it can work, but most of the time it just feels like a time sink and irritation with no justification.

Link faces the horizon while standing on a rock

Weapons getting worse over time and being repaired or cleaned, I can live with. I can see the argument that it adds to the immersion, but I also think developers apply that as and when they want it. In The Last of Us Part 2, where soda bottles are repurposed as silencers and players can carry multiple weapons at once but must limit themselves to just a handful of medicine kits (must leave room for two pairs of broken scissors, of course), the weapon bench with upgrades and cleaning is designed for complete immersion. Red Dead Redemption 2, where a single pouch on a horse contains a lasso, pistols, bows, shotguns, rifles, and three outfits complete with hats, also has you clean your weapon for a realistic, authentic experience. However, at least this method only gives you a little bit of busywork to keep an eye on, rather than robbing you of your arsenal at inopportune times.

The argument for keeping it is that it's realistic, but it's not. Weapons getting worse over time as you drag them through swamps and tundras and deserts? Sure. But a) they still wouldn't zap out of existence, and b) so much else in these games is unrealistic for a better user experience. The crucial part is that even its defenders don't really like it, they just see its reasoning. Nobody ever talks about how much they enjoy it, because nobody enjoys it. 'It's made to make you use new weapons' or 'it's made so you don't get overpowered' are moot points because this is only true if breakable weapons are a building block of your game from the start. It's a little like fall damage - it might make logical sense, but no one likes it, so it shouldn't exist.

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