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Breath of the Wild Guide: Making the Most of Your Melee Weapons

Whether you're out of weapons, or wondering how to master them, this is for you!

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild made quite a few revisions to the 3D Zelda combat experience. No longer are we restricted to a sword and shield duel with dungeon items in between. Anything and everything can be used as a weapon. That said, weapons have durability now, and so using them effectively is as important as ever.

Whether you're wondering what a new weapon is used for, or you've run out of weapons to use, this guide is for you!

Getting a Weapon

Assuming that you at least got the Bomb Rune for the Sheikah Slate, there is rarely a time you will be out of weapons entirely. That said, human ingenuity can lead to some fairly unpleasant scenarios, so we'll start this guide off with an uncommon -- but terrifying --scenario.

Assuming you are near the start of the game, it is possible (though unlikely) that you will have absolutely no runes or weapons to fight with. This is entirely okay! While the method of obtaining a new weapon may be difficult, you can always rest assured that the world has one out there waiting for you to pick it up. Just don't expect it to be too easy...

Your best bet for finding an early weapon is to pick up farmyard tools or rusty weapons. These items are scattered throughout Hyrule, and regularly respawn on the Blood Moon. While rusty and unorthodox weapons won't exactly help you defeat Calamity Ganon, they can be useful for taking out weaker enemies. From there, start taking on stronger and stronger foes until you have a decent armory at your disposal.

In the rare case that you have literally exhausted the world's weapons and you still don't have any runes, there is still one way for you to get more: steal it from an enemy. While there are multiple ways to do this, the most effective and simple way is to kill the enemy by using environmental hazards. Otherwise, wait until night to sneak up on an enemy encampment, then take their weapons before high-tailing it out of there.

If you have runes, your best bet for getting weapons is to use every rune to defeat your enemy. Bombs are good for direct damage, while magnesis is effective for picking up metal objects to whack enemies around.

Melee Weapons

The following weapons fall into your "melee weapon" category. While not all of them are melee weapons per se, they fall into the UI's weapon category.

One-Handed Melee

Quick Facts:

  • Damage Level: Medium
  • Attack Speed: Medium
  • Charged Attack: Spin Attack
  • Throw-Style: The weapon goes upward slightly in an arch
  • Special Qualities: Most humanoid enemies

Legend of Zelda staple, the One-Handed Melee category is primarily occupied by one-handed swords, sticks, and even the arms of your enemies. They offer both offensive and defensive qualities. These weapons are best used against packs of enemies since the spin attack can dispatch foes that have you cornered. Simply spin the control stick once before immediately pressing B to use a mid-charged spin attack, or hold B to charge it to the Great Spin.

Other methods of attack include: a 4-hit combo, jump attacks (press jump, then attack), and a downward stab while using the paraglider.

The problem with one-handed weapons is that they lack range. While on horseback, the One-Handed Melee category of weapons is virtually useless, as you are more likely to put yourself and your horse in harm's way. Otherwise, the sword-and-shield combo is particularly useful for fighting humanoid ground forces in a one-on-one duel.

SPOILER: The Master Sword falls under this category, but it does not have a traditional durability status. Instead, it wears down over time, and must be unequipped until it repairs itself. However, fighting bosses with the Master Sword will not affect its durability.

Two-Handed Melee

Quick Facts:

  • Damage Level: High
  • Attack Speed: Slow
  • Charged Attack: Hammer Spin
  • Throw-Style: A low-arching toss that doesn't go very far
  • Special Qualities: Two-hit combo that usually guarantees knock-down
  • Where to Find: Lizafos, Moblins

Two-Handed weapons aren't entirely new to the series, having originated in Ocarina of Time in the form of the Biggoron's Sword, and later in The Wind Waker as enemy pickups. They are much more useful this time around since their abilities aren't limited to a single attack. These weapons include hammers, claymores, and axes.

Two-Handed weapons sacrifice all defensive ability for pure attack power. By holding down the attack button, Link will begin spinning around until the button is released. The longer it's held, the bigger the impact of the hammer spin will be, and the likelier an enemy will be knocked over.

Shields can still be used while the two-handed weapon is sheathed by using L-Targeting. They also make for very useful weapons while on horseback, as the double-damage bonus while riding can kill most smaller enemies with ease.

Boomerangs

Quick Facts:

  • Damage Level: Medium
  • Attack Speed: Medium
  • Charged Attack: Spin Attack
  • Throw-Style: Flies straight, then returns to the user
  • Special Qualities: Humanoid enemies

Boomerangs in Breath of the Wild count as melee weapons. While not particularly effective for melee encounters, they make up for it by being the most effective throwing weapon in the game. Simply press R to aim, and then release to throw your boomerang in the direction you want it to go. After it comes back toward you, press A to catch it.

Boomerangs can also be used in melee combat in the same way as one-handed weapons. However, throwing doubles their damage, as well as their lifespan. Keep in mind that this game does use a robust physics engine, and so if the boomerang hits anything solid on its way back it will be prevented from returning. Otherwise, use it in situations where you want to pick off smaller enemies before entering the fray.

Spears

Quick Facts:

  • Damage Level: Low
  • Attack Speed: Fast
  • Charged Attack: Illusion Stab Combo
  • Throw-Style: Straight toward a target, dropping slowly
  • Special Qualities: Large reach, and powerful throw damage
  • Where to Find: Bokoblin strains, and other humanoid enemies

Spears are another weapons class that aren't particularly new to the series, but have been completely revamped. By tapping the attack button, players can unleash a flurry of mid-ranged strikes. The downside is that spears generally have less attack than other melee weapons -- including boomerangs.

Throwing a spear will launch it directly to an opponent, and will do considerable amounts of damage. Unfortunately, most spears will break upon impact, so this should be used as a last resort. Alternatively, it is a great way to use them when they are about to break since you will still get up to 4 times more damage out of it, and a headshot will double it further.

Spears are also great weapons for horseback combat since they have great reach, and the double damage from riding will more than make up for their lower damage rating.

Magic Rods

Quick Facts:

  • Damage Level: Low
  • Attack Speed: Slow
  • Charged Attack: Spin Attack
  • Throw-Style: Same as One-Handed Melee
  • Special Qualities: Shoots out various high-powered spells while charged
  • Where to Find: Wizrobes, and some shops

Rods make a comeback in Breath of the Wild as melee weapons. While virtually useless as melee weapons due to low durability, they are very useful for picking off enemies from a distance. How they function varies depending on the rod type, but generally they follow the same pattern of function -- sending out an elemental attack in the direction they were used.

Blizzard rods attack in a wide range with ice, fire shoots out bouncing fireballs, and lightning sends an electric orb in the direction swung. Spin attacks will fire off whatever elemental attack you have in all directions. Using a spin attack or multiple spells all at once will deplete the rod. Don't throw it away though, as it will recharge after a brief amount of time.

Magic rods are best used at a range, and coupled with another melee weapon for when the enemy closes the distance.

Good Luck!

Whether you're running around with farm equipment or the legendary Master Sword, melee weapons are going to be your staple in combat. Hopefully this guide helps you understand them just a little bit better as mastery of each will ensure a longer lifespan while out in the fields of Calamity Ganon's Hyrule.

Check out our other Breath of the Wild guides!
Published Mar. 5th 2017

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