The changes continue into combat and inventory management, both of which have been thoroughly revamped. The basic combat controls will be familiar, but the biggest change is that weapons slowly degrade as you use them, before eventually breaking.
This mechanic adds a new dimension to encounters: You could certainly attack every foe with your best weaponry, but what happens when it falls apart and a difficult enemy appears? Invariably, you die. As such, you'll want to approach each battle with careful thought. There are Rune skills that could dispatch a beast or two; you could use stealth to sneak up on a watchman, or take someone out from afar with a well-placed arrow to the head. And you'll want to check every weapon an enemy dropped to see if it's of use.
Weapons also handle fairly uniquely. Obviously, swords are different from spears, and boomerangs are different from bows, but there's a sense of weight, and a real physics engine driving combat here. Heavy swords swing slower than light ones, making them tricky to wield successfully against a fast opponent; arrows travel in an arc, making aiming at a distance hard; and the boomerang, although difficult to master, is extremely satisfying when you get it right.
There isn't a huge range of enemy types in the game, but what variety is there is augmented in some intelligent ways. There's a real sense of dynamism from the combat, and environment plays a key part in every battle. Enemies can be intelligent, and adapt quickly. The addition of a stamina meter also brings something new to combat. In a typical encounter, it doesn't come into play; unlike in Dark Souls, it's virtually impossible to tire yourself out just by swinging your sword around. But running, gliding and climbing will all have Link gasping for breath.
In one moment, I was fighting a group of three Lizalfos (twitchy, bouncy, lizard-like enemies). I approached from the air, gliding over before shooting an arrow at one of their heads. I then descended quickly, smashing that enemy with an ax as I touched down. From there, I switched to a boomerang. I hit the second Lizalfos, but I mistimed the button press to catch the weapon on its return. As I raced over to retrieve it, I ran out of stamina. One of my foes quickly grabbed my boomerang and began attacking me with it. I did not survive the encounter.
As with all good games, every time I died I knew it was my fault. At least at first, though, some battles felt unfairly weighted against me. Roaming the land are Guardians, dangerous mechanical sentries that you'll certainly bump into. They move faster than Link can on feet, their attacks have a longer range than yours and, honestly, they're kind of terrifying, even with the necessary equipment to fight them. I've been killed by them countless times, and I've died in this game maybe 30 times total. That's probably more deaths than my combined count across all Zelda games in the past 15 years.
So staying alive is hard, and I get used to seeing "Game Over" fairly frequently. While it doesn't come close to testing you in the way that, say, a From Software game would, Breath of the Wild is not an easy game. Like in Dark Souls, simple enemies can quickly overwhelm you if you approach them incorrectly. Because of this, maintaining and managing your inventory is key.
There's a bona fide in-game economy now, along with a fairly robust crafting system. There aren't many rupees lying around on the floor, so you'll need to do more to make your way through Hyrule. Upon death, enemies "drop" various "items" (i.e., you pick up a few of their body parts), which can either be used to craft elixirs or sold to stores and traveling salespeople. You can also harvest vegetables and fungi, and hunt fish and mammals for meat. Oh, and there are various critters around the world that make an excellent addition to an elixir.
Crafting is done at campfires: You combine ingredients to create dishes that not only recover health but increase your attack power, stamina, defense, or environmental resistances. The crafting system is a welcome addition, but it's not without issues. Cooking up one of these meals takes no time at all, but preparing 30 dishes can be a slog. You have to manually head to your inventory, pick up a steak, back out of the menu, and drop the steak into the pan. Over and over again. Nonetheless, it became something of a ritual for me to cook up various meals before sending Link to sleep, ready for a long journey in the morning.