Skip to main content

Elden Ring made me appreciate Zelda’s weapon degradation

Talk to anyone about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the topic of weapon degradation is sure to come up. Any weapon Link picks up in the game will break after a number of uses, forcing players to constantly switch their tools up. The controversial feature has been a point of contention since the game launched in 2017, acting as a single blemish on an otherwise beloved game.

19 Minutes of Elden Ring Gameplay Preview

I’ve always been neutral on the topic, but after playing Elden Ring, I’ve come to appreciate the clumsy intentions behind the system. Weapons don’t break in Elden Ring (I would have filed a class-action lawsuit if they did), but switching up gear is still crucial. Anyone who simply sticks to their starting weapon is going to find the adventure much harder than it needs to be.

Trust me, I should know. After being too stubborn to change my trusty lance initially, I finally understood why Breath of the Wild was so eager to take my toys away.

Comfort lance

When you choose a character class in Elden Ring, you’re given a default starting loadout. As a Prophet, mine included a lance and a finger seal for spellcasting. As I gained my sea legs during the game’s opening hours, my playing style was built around that midrange combat style. I learned how much space I needed to keep between myself and enemies, putting me in a comfortable headspace for an otherwise uncomfortable game.

Not long into the game, I discovered my first smithing stones. These precious items are used to upgrade weapons, and they can be a little tricky to find at first. Naturally, I used some to level up my lance quickly. Doing so immediately compounded my fear of parting with my sharp companion. Was I really going to drop a weapon I felt I had a good grasp on after spending valuable resources on it? Not to mention that any new weapon I found was weaker than it, since I had already buffed my lance’s stats enough at that point.

A character fights a dragon in Elden Ring.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As a result, I spent a good two-thirds of Elden Ring using my starting weapon set, leveling it all the way up to +14. It wasn’t until I hit a particularly tricky encounter that I decided to try something new. I switched to a special sword I had salvaged from a cave and pumped a few levels into it for curiosity’s sake.

That weapon completely changed the way I played the rest of the game. It was a faster weapon that allowed me to play more aggressively. It also featured a special attack that would let me whirlwind slash an enemy and bounce off it a few feet away. I had seen the light and felt like a fool for hanging onto my lance for so long.

This can be a common sensation for open-world players, especially in games with heavy RPG mechanics. It can be hard to let go of a weapon when you feel like you’ve already invested so much time into it. Comfort feels preferable to starting fresh. That’s not the game’s fault, but it’s a weird human behavior developers have to think about.

Breaking steel

That’s exactly what Breath of the Wild was trying to solve with its controversial weapon system. That game is entirely built around experimentation. It wants players to constantly try new things in its sandbox world. Nintendo forces players to do so by breaking their weapons after a number of uses. That way, they constantly need to be equipping whatever they have on hand and seeing how they fare with it.

That system has low lows, but high rewards too. You’d never know that you could freeze an enemy with an ice rod and blow them off a cliff if you just stuck to one powerful weapon. The game is full of delightful interactions like that, and Nintendo actively wants you to see as many as you can.

Link faces off against a moblin in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Naturally, it wasn’t an elegant solution. Players largely hated the system and hope it doesn’t reappear in the game’s upcoming sequel. Still, the design philosophy behind it is a sound one that makes sense in the context of a true sandbox game. If Breath of the Wild 2 gives me the Master Sword from minute one, I know I wouldn’t equip anything else.

I truly don’t wish Elden Ring had adopted a similar system. Frankly, it would only have added frustration to an already challenging experience. But I wish I had understood earlier on that there was a real benefit to switching gear up. Chalk that up to my own inexperience with FromSoftware games or personal neuroses (it’s the latter, I know).

Consider this a PSA for everyone embarking on their journey: Don’t get attached to your starting gear. Elden Ring may not be cruel enough to break your weapons, but they’re not meant to last. When you grab a new sword off of a magma dragon’s belly, get to swinging.

Elden Ring is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom doubles down on breakable weapons — and I’m thrilled
Link fights a Construct with a fused weapon in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

After years of barely knowing anything about it, Nintendo has finally blown the lid off of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The company dropped a 10-minute deep dive into the open-world game today that focuses on some of its new features. The list includes a Recall ability that rewinds time and an Ascend skill that teleports Link through ceilings.

The talk of the town, though, is the new Fuse system, which doubles down on Breath of the Wild's most controversial system. The gameplay clip confirms that weapons can once again break in the sequel, as Link quickly smashes a stick by smacking it against an enemy a few times. In classic infomercial fashion, though, series producer Eiji Aonuma picks up another stick and seamlessly fuses it with a rock to create a more durable hammer.

Read more
Elden Ring’s first DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree, is in development
Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree's key art.

Yes, Elden Ring is finally getting DLC. After over a year of speculation since the critically acclaimed game's launch, Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is confirmed to be in development.
FromSoftware broke the news via its social media accounts for the game, simply affirming that Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree "is currently in development." No additional release window or story details were shared, but its Japanese website confirms the expansion will come to all of the same platforms as the base game, and the tweet does include one piece of concept art. In it, we see a darkened Erdtree in the distance as a mysterious girl on a horse rides toward it and some ruins. We don't know what any of this means just yet, but the key art appears to tease a darker tone and new character and reaffirm that Shadow of the Erdtree will take place in a massive open world.
Elden Ring was released on February 25, 2022, and it was met with critical acclaim and lots of Game of the Year awards (including Digital Trends' own) because of how FromSoftware adapted its classics Souls series formula into a game with a massive open world that rivaled The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. As many previous FromSoftware games got DLC, fans were hoping that Elden Ring would get the same treatment.
Before now, we've mostly gotten small patches, with a Colosseum-adding update in December being the most notable. Although Shadow of the Erdtree doesn't have a release date, it's a relief for Elden Ring fans to now have some brand-new content to look forward to.
Elden Ring is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Shadow of the Erdtree does not have a release window yet. 

Read more
Don’t expect Zelda’s $70 price to become the new Switch standard, says Nintendo
Link looks at his hand in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will be Nintendo's first Switch game to be priced at $70. News that Tears of the Kingdom, a sequel to one of the bestselling and most critically acclaimed titles on the system, will have an increased price compared to its predecessor came as a surprise over three-and-a-half years after its announcement. It also raised questions about what the future of pricing for Nintendo games will be, especially as Sony, Microsoft, and third-party publishers all upped the cost of their new games in recent years. 
While Nintendo will release Tears of Kingdom at $70, a spokesperson for the company tells Digital Trends that this will not always be the case for its first-party games going forward. 
"No," the spokesperson said when Digital Trends asked if this is a new standard. "We determine the suggested retail price for any Nintendo product on a case-by-case basis." 
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Official Trailer #2
To get more insight into the price shift, I spoke to Omdia Principal Analyst George Jijiashvili, who explains what has caused the price of games to go up in recent years and how Tears of the Kingdom demonstrates that Nintendo will "remain flexible about first-party title pricing." Ultimately, Nintendo fans are finally starting to feel the impact of inflation that's been sweeping across the game industry, even if it's only "on a case-by-case basis" for now.
The price is right
Nintendo claims that not every one of its significant first-party game will be $70, and we can actually already see that in action. Preorders just went live for Pikmin 4, which launches on July 21, after Tears of the Kingdom, and it only costs $60. Still, Zelda's price tag indicates that going forward, Nintendo will at least consider raising the price of its most anticipated games to $70. But why start with Tears of the Kingdom?  
When asked why it chose Tears of the Kingdom as its first $70 Nintendo Switch game, a Nintendo spokesperson simply reiterated that the company will "determine the suggested retail price for any Nintendo product on a case-by-case basis." Still, it's a surprising choice for Nintendo to make that pricing change to just one exclusive game almost six years into the Switch's life span. Jijiashvili thinks the choice to do this with Tears of the Kingdom was a pretty apparent one for Nintendo, although it won't apply to everything going forward.
"If you are going to make a game $70, it's going to be the follow-up to one of your most critically acclaimed and bestselling games ever," Jijiashvili tells Digital Trends. "I don’t think that this means that $70 will become the standard price for all major Nintendo releases. It's worth noting that Metroid Prime Remastered is priced at $40. It's clear that Nintendo will remain flexible about first-party title pricing."

It makes basic financial sense for Nintendo to ask for a little bit more for a game it knows will be one of the biggest releases of 2023. But what factors in the game industry and world's economy at large caused Nintendo to make this decision? 
Priced Out
For more than a decade, people got comfortable with AAA video games being priced at $60. Of course, there were occasional exceptions to this rule, but it was seen as an industry standard until the dawn of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Publisher 2K was one of the first to announce a price increase, and companies like EA, Sony, and Microsoft have all followed suit. Jijiashvili chalks this up to inflation-related pressure on game publishers.
"The games industry has already been experiencing a lot of inflationary pressure," he explains. "AAA games are much more expensive to make now than they used to be, but prices have actually been declining in inflation-adjusted terms -- if prices had risen with inflation since 1990, they would now be over $90. On top of that, we’ve had a big burst of general inflation, meaning that publishers are looking at big increases in everything from salaries to tools. It’s going to be really hard for most publishers to avoid passing on all those extra costs at some point."
Jijiashvili provided us with a graphic created by Omdia that "shows what the typical price points for each generation would look like if you adjusted for inflation." As you can see, the inflation-adjusted prices are only exponentially growing, and the big game pricing shifts the graph highlights were all technically not even enough to keep up with inflation when they happened. 

Read more