Best Inventory Management in a Game?

Games have so many things in them, and at some point you’re going to have to store them, manage them, maybe even make difficult choices about what thing is worth dropping so you can take something else. Some games handle this process very well, others make it so picking up any item feels like a chore (whether this is good or bad can depend on the game too).

My question is this: what game has the best inventory management system?

Video games, board games, tabletop games, all games are allowed to be considered!

I have two answers to this question:

  1. Astroneer: You have a backpack on your back with different slots to store items, anything on your person is visible on your back at all times. These slots can be used for resources or tools or storage tanks for oxygen, energy, etc. It makes managing your survivability in delicate balance with the amount of things you can hold on your person! And the entire interface is just so slick at least on PC
  2. My second answer is much more out of left field… and to find out what it is (shameless plug) you’ll need to watch the mod block of Save Point 2019! Or I might just post it here if I’m feeling nice :blush:
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Link to the Past because it’s one screen with all you need and that’s it. Done.

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I know it’s controversial but I really, really like how RE4 does it. I also want to mention 80 Days because there is this constant tension of wanting to keep things to make the journey easier and trying to earn money by trade.

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It’s more traditional, and I wish it had certain features like swapping out gear outside the menu and saved outfit, but I really like the simplicity and readability of Breath of the Wild’s inventory.
Clear icons, descriptive text, no unnecessary paper texture or obfuscating flare / stat overflow.

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I was actually considering putting this game in my OP, if only because there are some real neat navigation tricks like using the right stick to turn through tabs (if I remember correctly). As well as the dpad quick select for weapons and tools and such. It’s not totally reinventing the inventory or anything, but some of the quality of life things are pretty cool! Of course I wish some of these efficient tricks carried over to cooking…

I didnt get that far into it (somewhere in Pittsburgh I think?) but I remember liking inventory stuff in The Last of Us. It’s pretty intuitive to use, but also I liked it because it fit the tone really well. Constantly scavenging little bits from the environment builds a sense of like tough survival, and going through crafting stuff real time during combat feels wonderfully tense and exciting.

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Very bad game Alone in the Dark from 2008 had a pretty novel inventory system. It was a horror fps and when you went into your inventory your main character looked down and opened up his jacket, which you can see here. I’m sure other games have done it since then but I still think it’s pretty neat.

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I played through all of RE4 before I learned you can rotate the inventory items. That made it a bit more challenging to tetris everything but maybe that was a good thing.

Controversial picks here, but I think it’s a tie between Dead Space and ZombieU.

I like how real time inventory management adds tension to the gameplay because you’re never out of the action even when you’re shuffling things around. You either need to be confident that you’re safe or you need to optimize your inventory just so in case you need to grab something quickly. You better have your layout memorized if you need to use something while being chased down.

They also have the nice perk of being relatively simple. BotW has a good inventory system, but you’re just bogged down by so much relatively similar crap eventually.

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Another vote for RE4, the inventory tetris in that game is practically a minigame unto itself and I personally find it really satisfying to figure out the optimal arrangement for whatever my loadout is.

Dead Space is also good.

I also really like the inventories in the souls games, which I know might be an unpopular opinion, but playing something like Nioh, WItcher 3, or any given Bethesda game really throws into stark relief just how well-organized and intuitive Fromsoft’s inventory design is past the short initial learning curve. They are also just fun to explore and read all the lore in the item descriptions!

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I actually like Halos? There’s something nice about just having only 2 weapons to cycle between coming from something like Quake where you can just hold every gun in the entire game.

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee had a really nice improvement to the inventory system that made going through menus not as big of a slog.

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