The weapon system in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be a bit daunting and confusing for those just getting started with the game. Unlike previous Nintendo flagship titles, the game doesn’t provide a lot of prompts or tutorials for how basic in-game systems work. Like Link himself, players are thrown into an immense, complex world without a whole lot of information to start off with.
The number you see next to each weapon in your inventory is its attack power, meaning how strong that weapon is. (The same is true for the number you see next to each of your pieces of armor and shields, though with this type of equipment, the number refers to defensive strength.)
Though you can expand Link’s weapon inventory as the game progresses, in the first few hours, it’s going to feel like you don’t have a lot of space to hold onto unnecessary items like tree branches and low-level clubs. That number next to your weapon is an easy way to know immediately which items are worth keeping and which you can toss. Also, if you’re in a heated battle and your weapon breaks, those numbers will let you quickly pivot to the next strongest item in your arsenal.
As you’ve no doubt realized by now, Link’s weapons can — and often do — break in Breath of the Wild. If you want to know more about the durability of a particular weapon (which is not the same as its strength), that information can be found in the weapon’s description. Generally speaking, while stronger weapons tend to be more durable, a weapon’s strength is not a direct indicator of its durability.
It may be helpful to think of durability as your “weapon HP.” Every strike against an enemy or solid object lowers durability, and each weapon has a base durability stat that diminishes as the weapon is used. When the number reaches zero, the weapon will break, though an on-screen prompt will give you a chance to throw the weapon or break it against an enemy for critical damage.
If you’re interested in learning more about how weapons degrade and some basic combat techniques, our Battle Guide will have you kicking Bokoblin butt in no time.