RPG Grind Time – Confessions Of An Item Hoarder

by Kimberley Wallace on Jan 10, 2018 at 03:47 PM

Ever since I started playing RPGs, I’ve stood by my motto: “No treasure chest left behind!” Yes, I’m an item hoarder. My inventories are always jam-packed with things I don’t use. I’m that person who ends a game with 99 health potions all because I didn’t want to waste one on the wrong battle. Whenever there are multiple paths in a dungeon, I must explore all of them in fear of missing out on a special item. Lately, I’ve been thinking more about why my playstyle is like this. It’s more than just part of my strategy – I also just flat-out like to explore, and I consider the various things I collect as mementos from the journey.

We often think of platformers such as Mario and Banjo-Kazooie when it comes to collectibles, but RPGs make them just as enticing. How games treat these collectibles differ, but all have their own ways of making sure that stumbling upon a treasure is worthwhile. Sometimes, they merely reveal more of about the world and its inhabitants, like Horizon Zero Dawn’s datapoints. Other times, rare armors and weapons make your character stronger and more fashionable, à la The Witcher 3. Even recent entries in the Tales series litter their landscapes with more things to pick up than ever before. For instance, Tales of Berseria let you pick up enhancements for your gear and search for Katz Spirits, which allowed you unlock special chests for new costumes. 

RPGs are long treks, and staying on the lookout for things to pick up makes them more entertaining. Traveling to your next destination can be the most tedious part, so having something to anticipate on your adventure (instead of enemy encounters) is welcome. My hope is that developers continue to inject these into RPGs in new and creative ways. A good example of this is South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which won the Best Collectibles award in our 2017 RPG awards. They were true to the franchise's humor; I loved finding new superhero costumes, and seeking out all the yaoi put a smile on my face. 

My treasure addiction started because I was worried that if I missed an item, a fight would be too hard. Better to be safe than sorry. I remember doing ridiculous side quests in Final Fantasy X just to get all the ultimate weapons. From dodging 200 lightning bolts to crazy Chocobo races, I did it all to ensure I was as powerful as possible before stepping into the final boss battle. Sin ended up being a pushover, but these came in handy for the hidden bosses. I also enjoy crafting, so if it’s a central mechanic, I feel like I need to pick up everything. What if it’s used in a recipe somewhere down the road?

Furthermore, what I love about RPGs is getting stronger and feeling that sense of progression, so the prospect of missing out on any superior weapon or armor is something I can’t bear. I just revel in finding the “rare” and “legendary” equipment. The adrenaline of finding these in games like Destiny and Diablo is unmatched, especially when you can show off by wearing your unique loot. 

My fascination with picking everything up has certainly helped me succeed in games, but it also comes with its share of downfalls. Limited inventory space always gets in the way, and then I end up over-encumbered and forced to make tough decisions. I’m looking at you, Skyrim. At least I learned not to pick up spoons and other useless junk in the Elder Scrolls games, but I still agonize over what to drop or sell when my inventory is full. Nothing is worse than potentially losing an item you may need later just to shed some weight. I don’t loathe limited inventory space, though; I think it’s smart that developers make you take it into account. Otherwise, I’d just hold onto things forever. I look at it almost like what I have to do in real life; eventually, you need to clear out the clutter and throw away what you’re not using anymore because it’s just taking up space you could use for better things. 

While being an item hoarder certainly has its drawbacks, I still enjoy picking up everything and anything in RPGs. Nothing feels better than finding something new while I explore the vast landscapes. I’ve cut back a little in my collecting; I’ve learned not to overwhelm myself with finding everything, and I only go off the beaten path when I feel compelled to do so. The surprise of what I’ll find always lures me in. That’s why I’m often frustrated by RPGs that are big but filled with empty spaces. Reward the players who take the time to engage in every facet of the world, because there’s delight in the discovery. 

Are you an item hoarder too? What are some of your gaming habits that you find hard to break? Let me know in the comments below!