I think this is reductive! But it also seems to swing back and forth; RPG mechanics crept into late-8-bit designs and then retreated in the 16-bit years, and we’re at another high point right now.


Don’t you like MGS? Or don’t you, I don’t remember


I love MGS, Inventory was better in 2 and 3 though…


I mean 3 is chock full of items that each technically have a use but most of which you never have to touch and are only there to enable “alternative playstyles” i.e. hilarity, which is exactly the situation in Souls.


do you get endless duplicates of those items then need to level them up or throw modifiers on them?

I view this completely differently. Each thing in MGS is a tool, different things for different solutions or effects/ play styles. Dark souls inventory is mostly about the same thing but with different stats. Both have some disposable items, but the inventory feels more relevant as the game is designed for you to cull through it at a moment’s notice. DS makes it a chore and a risk to go through your items unless you’re in a safe space, and there’s just a lot of bunk to move through, and since they aren’t clear on what peculiar items do that adds to the misgivings.


Souls games use items and item placement really wisely overall, nothing wrong with not liking RPG cruft in your action games but i think that’s a wee bit unfair a take

like, you rush up to a pair of nesting dragons in Demon’s Souls and grab some treasures off smoldering corpses and scramble away before you can get lit up, and when you check them they’re like, a ring of flame protection and a shield that protects against fire damage. That’s neat, that’s cute, that tells a little story

Or you walk up to a shiny and pick it up off the ground only to realize too late that it’s a worthless shield, and oops oh no there’s a massive flaming wagon rolling downhill at you ITS A TRAP

Also, the item descriptions are hugely important to working out elements of the games narratives and lend to a satisfying feeling of archaeology

and weapons are definitely defined by more than numbers (i mean, for the most part). These ain’t Diablo games, move sets are more important than modifiers


you like what you like. But don’t tell me there isn’t cruft and a lot more of just options to stab, and how hard it stabs.

And a knight having fire protection to fight a dragon isn’t really much of a story to me, so that just doesn’t resonate.


And the minutely varied weapons in each base type (animation set) support multiplayer texture, and more importantly, support roleplaying and player customization (which is strengthened in a multiplayer context).

It’s busy but it serves a real purpose, I think enough to be worth the clutter.


I think Metal Gear’s focus on item toys and neat outcomes meshed poorly with a linear, stealth-focused (i.e., heavy consequence) game.

Moving it to open world and the camp->wilderness model of safe/unsafe places and guiding the escalation brought everything into clarity.

And more than that, the narrative framing (playing as a genocidal warlord) finally allowed breathing room to contextualize play with these toys without a heavy emphasis on non-lethal playthroughs. I could never use cool toys in earlier MGS games without feeling guilty.


Your argument just went to. Oh sure there’s a lot but it supports multiplayer??? How does introducing quantifiably better weapons of the same mechanical set support multiplayer?

Then jumped to, tools used for different play styles stressed me out and don’t fit a linear experience?
Look you’re fine with the RPG cruft of DS? Again fine, you do you. But those iterations are there for progression though a VERY linear game that has literal power creep to give your character a power arc.
MGS gives you tools to accomplish different tasks. Trying to equate them is weird, I didn’t introduce it Torque did. But how both games handle implementation and volume of their inventory speak to how items function, and are accessible in the game. Preferences may vary, but your defense for your preferences kind of betray the points you’re trying to land on here.


I refuse to play another From game unless it has treasure skeletons.


Who is actually making megabudget arcade games at this point? Honestly I can only think of Gears of War


urf, okay i still think you’re being kinda reductive, but to be fair i was thinking more of Demons Souls and Dark Souls 1 (and i know father torque was too), which both used item/weapon placement very carefully. it was after those that From got obsessed with PVP balance and weapons got sprawled out a lot more, and became less delineated. 3 is a mess

So back to your original point, i hope From dials it back to being more clever with their item placement. i do think they’ve demonstrated great value in using treasures to push players to explore, though



scale back the incredulous tone, please. there are no stakes to this conversation, stop trying to Win An Argument.

souls mostly doesn’t have strictly linearly redundant power creep in its weapons, even as many as there are. they have variance in moveset and ranges, and even the less drastic gradients are a big deal when it comes to giving a breadth of differences in gamefeel generally, nuance of offensive approach, and character customization/expression, all of which are very important to both pve and pvp.

souls largely revels in being okay letting the player carve out their own relationship with it, and provides a lot of means of doing so in kind. not every single thing you pick up in these games are going to serve a grand GDC design lecture point about consequence, but that itself is serving a larger game design point about, as you put it, “you doing you”.


souls has been relatively focused and relatively sprawling and i’ve liked them both, but the one thing i’ll say about having 4958345098345 pieces of equipment to pick up is that Fashion Souls is more important than any of this shit. sekiro having a set character (no gender option?) is already basically a deal breaker, but if there isn’t even dressup i don’t even know





that is one specific weapon type that you can upgrade, but that weapon is not made redundant by a more immediately powerful weapon later, is what i meant. they start at a base and if you like them you can make them stronger, it’s not like a loot situation of getting a million of these and hoping you get the one with the good stats.


One of the things I really like about the Dark Souls games is that quite often really humble weapons you get early on can carry you through the game. Sure, there’s all sorts of weapons with history and magic and divine craftsmanship out there, but you can just beat everyone to death with a wooden club.


Yep, that’s a consequence coming out of weapons not strictly being better than others. The downside is the lack of ability to make enticing reward drops – you have these situations where players find weapons not related to their build and they’re useless because they would need to be upgraded to be important.

It’s definitely an unusual progression structure for a game descended from dungeon crawls, but it makes more sense in a multiplayer context where player expression is such a paramount value.


i think i get what nioh’s philosophy was in doing this, but i ultimately really didn’t like that, in the field, weapons and armor were exclusively obtained in combat and items found through exploration were always restoratives and resources.

in souls, seeing a sparkle dangling dangerously at the end of a series of cascading drops you’re not even sure you have access to yet, or in the heart of a nest of intimidating enemies, whatever, is a compelling motivator (and contextualization) for how and why you navigate the offered spaces, because every inch of the map beckons when any stray twinkle could entirely change the way you play, and often enough they’re placed with the assumption that you’ll see them this way. even when it’s just stuff, that was the joke. it’s like every pickup is a mini mimic.

basically rephrasing what sleepy already said, but to reinforce it by adding that we already have a point of reference for what it looks like when souls doesn’t do this, and it’s flattening and makes more of the level design feel incidental