The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s weapon degradation system was bullshit. Things got better in the back half of the game, but early on it was a pain in the ass and demoralizing to get a hot new sword only for it to break a few dozen hits later. Tears of the Kingdom fixes this. Weapons still break, but it’s now fun when they do thanks to Link’s new Fuse ability, providing an elegant solution that underlines the game’s brilliance.
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Fuse lets you combine all kinds of random stuff together. If you’ve been playing since Tears of the Kingdom came out on May 12, you’ve no doubt turned countless rusty swords into boulder clubs and melded extra bows onto weak shields. It’s quick, and goofy, and surprisingly fun. Most importantly, these fusions significantly increase the strength and durability of your weapons. Instead of spending the early part of Tears of the Kingdom scavenging for pitchforks and the occasional Guardian blade, you’re constantly flush with an arsenal that looks ridiculous but will get the job done.
The developers could have just raised weapon durability across the board, or added a more complex and obtuse crafting system requiring you to combine tons of materials to incrementally increase the longevity of your favorite new mace. Instead, the Fuse ability bulldozes through all of that and turns crafting and weapon durability on its head. Rather than worry about losing my hard-earned gear, I spend most of my time in Tears of the Kingdom excited every time something breaks, because it’s another opportunity to experiment with Fusing something new.
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Random sticks and rocks that would have been useless are now a nice Fuse material of last resort, while the horns, fangs, and litany of other monster parts that drop from dead enemies reward you for taking chances on combining all sorts of different things together. The upgrades are always decent from a numbers perspective, and the truly powerful ones lead to much cooler-looking weapons too.
Another key to why this new system is so satisfying is that Fuse only works once on each new weapon. There are no takebacks, but also no juggling endless upgrades to the same gear. If the combination isn’t that great, you use it up and break it fast. If it ends up being really kick-ass, you add it to the rotation but use it a little more sparingly. And because you’re never short of supplies, those occasional feelings of weapon impoverishment and desperation that often creeped in early in Breath of the Wild are nowhere to be found.
It’s emblematic of a lot of why Tears of the Kingdom’s wild abilities are both so much fun to use and feel so cleverly implemented. Whether finding an unintended way to solve a Temple puzzle or beating an overworld mini-boss by creating an impromptu war machine, Tears of the Kingdom is constantly rewarding you for finding your own solutions to the obstacles it presents. Rather than feel at the mercy of the world and its harsh systems (weapon degradation, slippery slopes in the rain) it feels like you’re constantly empowered to make your own luck.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go break a ton more of my shit.