Yesterday during Nintendo’s E3 2021 presentation, we got a glimpse at the next game in the Legend of Zelda series, the sequel to the much loved Breath of the Wild. However, one topic of discussion that has raged online since has been that of BotW’s controversial weapon degradation system.
In MMOs we’re used to our weapons degrading overtime. However, while they can “break,” we don’t typically have to toss that one away and go find a new one. You go to a vendor (in many MMOs any vendor part times as a master craftsman), sell your junk and repair your equipment for a small fee. And that’s it, pretty painless.
But the discussion around the item decay (and eventually breakage) in Breath of the Wild yesterday got me thinking: do you think MMOs should bring back real equipment decay?
Of the MMOs I know of, only Star Wars Galaxies had a system where your weapons or equipment not just degraded during use, but decayed over time through repairing your gear for the next fight. It brings this real, tangible feeling of “wear and tear” to the MMO space. However, in the MMOs I’ve played (and full disclosure: I’ve never played SWG), when things feel like they are degrading, I just simply go to a street vendor, press a button, and that’s it. It feels more like a time waster and a gold sink instead of a real mechanic you have to think about.Crowfall is also introducing this mechanic, by forcing players to eventually have to go buy a new set once its been destroyed on way or another. Armor itself will take damage during combat, or if you die. Over time you'll need to start hunting for more armor or weapons in the world to keep staying in the fight.
I’m not even saying I want to run around grinding for a powerful new item only to know that, over time, that item will become less and less potent, to the point where I won’t really be able to use it at all. But that feels like a far more interesting system than simply my armor breaking and my local grocer in Bree fixing it for me in exchange for a few copper pieces.
Breath of the Wild’s weapon degradation annoyed me too. I did not enjoy finding a new, powerful piece of kit, only to realize it was only going to last one, maybe two fights? Even the Master Sword – the legendary blade in the Zelda universe – had its own degradation system in play. While it never broke, it did run out of charge effectively, making you swap to a lesser heralded blade whilst it recovered.
However, it did require thought. It required me to step back and take stock of a situation. I would love that kind of thinking to appear in an MMO again to a degree.
I would also love to see some MMOs bring back the system if for no other reason to bolster those players who love crafting. Imagine not just being the person who creates the mythical items themselves that players wield against the denizens rampaging the world, but also being the go-to craftsman to maintain those items. To keep them sharp, to rebuild them, reforge them, bind them with new abilities, and, over time provide something of surpassing quality for a repeat player you’ve now created a relationship with? Kind of reminds me of the Raph Koster blog post from a few weeks back, now that I think about it.
MMOs for the most part nowadays just have the normal degrade system in place, but should they have more? What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it would be too much of a hassle, or make some of the gear grinds we strive for useless if the item is just going to be worthless over time (Though, to be fair, doesn’t that already happen when a better item comes out?)? Let us know in the comments below.