Mid-Week Question: Which game has the best inventory system?

PCG Chris

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Dec 9, 2019
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Our midweek question this week is straightforward but I bet you've all got tons of different opinions on the matter: Which game has the best inventory system?

We're asking PC Gamer writers for their thoughts, but we'd love to hear your reasoning, too, and we'll include some of your answers when we publish this on Wednesday morning (ish!)
 
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Dec 18, 2019
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Best inventory system? What has the absolute best inventory system?!

Does yanking a minigun, RPG, railgun, golf club, and a whole damn sniper rifle out of your front pocket on the streets of L.A. count? Cause if it does, GTA V.
 
Jan 13, 2020
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If you're looking for the hyper-real, likely Tarkov or Arma. I love how you have to root through backpacks, identify certain wares, and use the inspect tool to see just what you're really dealing with in EFT. Figuring out how to play inventory tetris to drag enough loot out is also a fun little mini-game.
 
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Jan 14, 2020
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One of the most entertaining inventory systems I have ever used in a game is that of Astroneer. The space-based survival game doesn't have the most original premise, but its almost Playmobil-like art style and tactile world are quite unique.

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In Astroneer you have an 11-slot backpack that functions as your inventory, but it's an actual physical object in the world rather than a menu screen that appears on a button press. What you carry on your backpack can have a profound impact on gameplay. If you put empty canisters on it, you can gather biological materials with your terraforming tool. If you carry a light on it, you can navigate dark caves. Just make sure it's powered or it won't function. Will you use one of your precious backpack slots to equip a wind turbine or a solar panel? Neither will function in a cave. Better equip a battery, then. That will deplete, though. Make sure you bring enough oxygen tanks too, or you might run out of breathable air long before your light runs out of power.

It doesn't stop with your backpack, either. Every machine, every vehicle, they all need resources and all of those are represented with in-game objects rather than abstract meters and icons in some menu screen. The way they all slot together and everything can be hooked up to everything is just the best thing ever.

Inventory management is the game in Astroneer. Good job then that it's a fine inventory system!

We often talk about how a game feels and it's always hard to describe. Let me tell you, this game feels amazing. The clicks, the beeps, the plonks, the thwacks.. it's just perfect.

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Jan 14, 2020
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This is a tough one. Most inventory systems are pants (figuratively and often literally). I know what I like to see in an inventory system, but can't think offhand of what game best exemplifies it. I almost said Skyrim, until I realized I only meant the SkyUI version, as the base game's inventory system is wonky and gamepad-centric.

I'm also not a fan of the ones that make you play an arbitrary form of Inventory Tetris. It's a weird decision that usually makes no gameworld sense (why would there even be a grid to deal with in your backpack or pockets or whatever?) I realize that's partly to keep people from carrying around a dozen ridiculously huge items, but unless there's also an Auto-Arrange function, it creates more problems than it solves.

I do like it when inventory is partly dictated by strength or stamina in RPG's.

The ideal inventory system is intuitive, and not a hassle that demands constant micromanagement. Games shouldn't be about inventory management. Having said that, I also like having as many options and tooltips as possible, which is why I keep going back to the SkyUI mod. Despite not being the default inventory system, I think it wins my vote as best inventory system in a game. You have plenty of category tabs, can sort by numerous item attributes even gold-to-weight ratio, and everything is legible and recognizable.
 
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Jan 13, 2020
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I really like the Witcher 3's art in the inventory. I think the detail in the items is great, but still not a perfect inventory. I love when inventories have grid and everything must fit in a proper way, like in Deus Ex or RE.

I guess I have to go with Tarkov. It's pretty, efficient and interesting.
 
If I had to pick one, it would be the Path of Exile. While inventory management is not as easy without the microtransactions, it does a good job of giving you the ability to make your own inventory slots with customized name tags. This is quite handy when you sort through your items and especially helpful when trading items or making a particularly build.
 
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Nov 24, 2019
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Inventory management is the game in Astroneer. Good job then that it's a fine inventory system!

I saw this thread and the title, and I came here specifically to say Astroneer wins hands-down. I see you've beaten me to it. Astroneer has folded in the most elegant and seamless inventory system. The way you can see stuff you've got in your pack even if you don't have it open is perfect. The modularity, the pop-in/pop-out, the sound effects that provide almost an audible version of haptic feedback? It's really quite grand.
 
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Jan 28, 2020
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Best inventory system?

Deus Ex

Deus Ex was all about the decisions. It's non-linear map design was reflected in the inventory as you had to choose wisely. Sure the game would be easier if you had a Dragon's Tooth Sword and a GEP gun, but those would take up 4 and 8 slots respectively out of 30 slots. The inventory was well balanced and I felt like nothing needed improvement.
 
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My first thought was Minecraft. With all the shortcuts, you can quickly take whole stacks, individual items, split stacks, move them on or off your toolbar or to or from a chest, craft items individually or all at once and it's really nice to be able to select which block you're holding by clicking the middle mouse button on a similar block in the world.

Then I realized that one thing Minecraft is missing is the option from Stardew Valley to switch the active toolbar between different rows in your inventory (although I suspect there's a mod for that somewhere). And then I realized that vanilla Minecraft also does not have a sort option for the inventory (I had to look this up, I haven't played vanilla in forever).
 
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Sarafan

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I like the inventory system from Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition. It's simple, transparent and easy to use. When you drag an item you can see which team member will get an improvement of stats by equipping it. It's also clearly visible how the stats will change. This was missing in the original BG games and I think that it was a great idea to add this feature.
 

Apollo

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Jan 13, 2020
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I told myself to stop talking about Minecraft, but it has a great inventory system imo. Another couple good ones are Skyrim, GTA V, RDR2, and Path of Exile
 

Sarafan

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I told myself to stop talking about Minecraft, but it has a great inventory system imo. Another couple good ones are Skyrim, GTA V, RDR2, and Path of Exile

Do you really think that Skyrim has a good inventory system? I think it's one of the worst in the whole genre. There's even a mod which makes it look how it should be. Check the comparison: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/3863.
 
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I really like the RDR2 system, but I don't like how it is implemented. I like how you can only bring only a few pieces of equipment, and have to store stuff at your horse, or even at camp. I just think there are better ways to do it.
 
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Nov 25, 2019
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As an inveterate MMO packrat, I wrestle with inventory more than playing .
I like EQ2's system, where I can arrange the containers I carry wherever I want them, and even label them to indicate contents, or designate what they can carry. I can even tag bags that I do NOT want to accidentally sell contents from.
Anything that saves me time is a win. I gotta get out there and kill ten rats!

Now I just need more bags. BIG bags, like the vid below says...
(as the description says, the first 29 seconds are the intro, then the vid kicks in)

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QlLiwSBWRM
 
Jan 29, 2020
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I've always found inventory systems where the items take up real space in your inventory and where you have to fit them like a jigsaw puzzle (like the ones from STALKER and Resident Evil) to be interesting.

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I do hate the encumbrance system in STALKER though.
 

McStabStab

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Definitely agree with Escape from Tarkov. I spend a lot of time just playing with the different ways to lay out weapons, leaving clips and attachments off or on until ready to raid, moving things in and out of cases and backpacks. It’s almost theraputic.

Honorable mentions go to System Shock 2 and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.