I was reading about the weapon degrading mechanic over on rllmuk and someone made a good comparison with the original Halo: CE weapon swapping.
Prior to that, most of the time you could carry a ridiculous number of weapons and ammo around, whereas Halo forced you to constantly juggle two.
You'd often really want to bring your pistol along with its scope and power, but have to trade it off with its relative lack of ammo, and then you'd find yourself picking up and using a needler or a plasma pistol because that was what was close at hand.
You'd maybe find a rocket launcher and a few rockets and then be forced to either hoard them across the level in the hope you'd need their firepower (thus using a weapon slot) or just use them on a regular group of enemies for an instant, but limited, effect.
Very rarely could you carry the same two weapons from the beginning to the end of the level, and you'd be forced to mix and match, improvise and make plans on the fly. You could bring that sniper rifle along, but after eight shots it's going to be useless and who knows if you'll find some more on that alien ship. The needler seems readily available but lacks a bit of punch. I've ran out of pistol ammo so I'll try this plasma one that every enemy is carrying.
I guess because Halo forced you to only carry two weapons that the game had already failed though.
I guess gamers are obsessive hoarders by design. I've recently played Dark Souls which has a weapon degradation system that is almost meaningless. It never really impacted on the game, but was just something I'd throw 100 souls in every few hours just to tick over. Never had to worry about it in combat really, and was more like admin at a bonfire. It didn't add fear, or tension or infringe on my weapon choice.
And whilst we're on weapon choice, quite often in a game like that, you just pick one weapon fairly early into the game and never switch. I had over 50 weapons in Dark Souls, but I stuck with the Black Knight Sword from the Undead Burg until the end.
That's fine, but does every game have to be like that? Zelda is offset by the fact that there are fucktons of weapons everywhere and ones that you are supposed to pick up and use. You're meant to take this into account with combat and have to face some fights unprepared after a weapon break. This is offset by the fact that weapons breaking give you double damage, so you can factor it in with your killing blow. Weapons also break faster doing different things, so hammering a rock is better with... hammer, and chopping trees is better with an axe. Lances are better on horseback and a standard one-handed sword is better when you need to keep your shield up.
But in keep with the game's fairly hostile nature, it doesn't want you to just rely on the same two or three weapons, and wants you to have to sometimes scramble for something in the middle of a fight, or have to improvise, or have to gamble that your final swing is going to kill whatever is about to twat you over the head.
I'm not for such a system in every game, but Zelda's been designed around it. I feel that, like Jim Sterling in his latest video, some people have just got something against weapon degradation systems and automatically dislike them, instead seeing how the game has been designed around it and what it brings.
You aren't meant to have a massive inventory full of high powered weapons. You aren't meant to have loads of things on you that you're never meant to use. You're meant to use them, lose them and move on. It's not a Fallout game where you're a walking arsenal with a mini nuke on you for any skirmishes. It's not a Dark Souls where you generally just use one type of weapon or one thing through the entire game, and you just repair your weapon at 5pm each Tuesday.
In Zelda, you're meant to be always on the look out for new stuff, and to generally use whatever is close at hand to help you out. These are often fleeting, temporary resources to get you out of one or two situations and that's it. You have to unlearn some of what other games have taught you, but that doesn't make Zelda's systems bad.
Some weapons you will like more than others, but the game also wants you to make do with what you find, if you have to, and to encourage you to not have an inventory you never use. Jim Sterling moaned and said it led him to avoid combat... which is sometimes also what the game wants you to do. It tells you this in the loading tips. It's another way you weigh up your options.
Again, it's very similar to Halo in that regard. You could avoid firefights or use stealth if you wanted to conserve your two weapons.
I did like that pistol though.