Ever since the early days of video games one of the most crucial parts of the experience has been the items we get along the way. Depending on the game, the items we get can really make or break the experience for us. If a game has bad, or non-memorable, items then it can result in them barely getting used. A really great item, though, can create a whole new element to a game.
With so many games having different items it creates a lot of debate over what the best items are. So we decided to try and compile them, but with a couple of ground rules here. For starters, we don’t want to include items like Simon’s Whip from Castlevania or the Portal Gun from Portal. While these are technical “items” they don’t feel like they belong in the same category as the Holy Water or Companion Cube from those same games. One is required equipment while the other is an additional tool in the player’s arsenal. We also didn’t want to include power-ups, because those feel like they fall into an entirely different category of their own.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Paraglider
Items are an essential part of the Zelda formula, but that is part of what made Breath of the Wild such an outcast among Zelda fans. This was a franchise that had built its identity on completing dungeons, finding new items in those dungeons, and then using them to complete the dungeon. Breath of the Wild cut almost all of those out in favor of giving players a select few items to work with instead. One of the items it did give us though is an incredible paraglider.
This wasn’t the first time Zelda had introduced a tool to glide with, but none of the previous attempts captured players the way the paraglider did in BOTW. It all has to do with the level design. BOTW’s designed to be very vertical to encourage players to climb and explore. This also gives them plenty of places to jump and glide across the vast land of Hyrule. It makes exploring the world fun and creates a feeling that anywhere can be reached in a reasonable amount of time. By giving Link the ability to essentially fly for limited periods of time the developers of Breath of the Wild gave him one of the best items he’s ever had.
Spider-Man (PS4) – Impact Web
Spider-Man is not Batman. Most players will think that’s obvious, but anyone that plays a lot of superhero video games probably understands the comparison. When Spider-Man (PS4) was released the immediate comparison for the combat was to Batman’s Arkham series. However, while Batman is able to knock his enemies unconscious through powerful punches, Spider-Man isn’t quite as strong and takes a beating easier. To use Spider-Man properly you need to be quick-witted, fast, and sometimes willing to capture the enemy over knocking them out.
This is why the Impact Web is easily the best gadget in Spider-Man’s arsenal. This turns his trusty web shooter into a high-powered force that will sling enemies straight into walls or off buildings, immediately capturing lower-level enemies and making them easier to pick off at the beginning of fights. Fights become easier which allows the slightly more fragile Spider-Man to save some energy and hits. It’s a powerful tool in the web slingers arsenal and once mastered it becomes arguably his best.
Animal Crossing – Shovel
Animal Crossing is a super relaxing franchise with the only enemy being your house debt. Of course, that house debt can be paid at our own leisure without any interest or due dates on it. Even better, when we pay off our debts we get rewarded with a bigger house for all the awesome stuff we want so why wouldn’t we pay it off? To pay it off though we’re gonna need the assistance of the many tools at our disposal.
In a lovely world like Animal Crossing, how can there a best item? Easy. It’s the item that gives the player the most versatility. With our trusty shovel we can dig up fossils, plant trees, bury treasure, or hit rocks open for money. While other items like the fishing rod only allow the player to catch fish, the shovel is the powerhouse item that every villager needs to do their daily chores and earn that cash. Just be careful in New Horizons. Use it too much and it breaks then you have to go buy or craft a new one.
Resident Evil 4 – Attache Case
Anyone that’s played a survival horror game knows how important inventory management is. Use too many bullets and survivability becomes a challenge. Don’t have enough health items around and dying becomes a significant reality. It’s a balancing act that the player has to juggle at all times and the original Resident Evil puts that balancing act to the test for a lot of players. The only real way for players to hold on to items were to use the item boxes spread throughout levels.
Resident Evil 4 perfected inventory management for the entire series and a large part of this was through the Attache Case. Not only did this give players the ability to better organize their inventory, but it completely restructured the inventory system. In previous games, every item took up one to two squares of space and players got at most about eight squares. With the Attache Case, players not only got a larger inventory but items now took up space based on size so something like pistol ammo would obviously take up less space than a rocket launcher. Add in the ability to upgrade our Attache Cases throughout the game and it’s no wonder this is still one of the most beloved items in the history of the Resident Evil franchise.
Halo: Combat Evolved – Pistol
While weapons are technically not items, we decided to cheat just a little bit here for Halo: Combat Evolved and the pistol. In most games, the pistol is the weakest weapon and is easily forgotten by all players. Quickly discarded for a more powerful gun. In Halo: Combat Evolved specifically though, it is easily the most important tool in Masterchief’s arsenal. More important than the Rocket Launcher. More necessary than a bubble shield. Even a bigger deal than the Energy Sword.
The pistol in the first Halo game is maybe the most overpowered gun ever made. Despite being a tiny little pistol, it had the range and damage of a sniper rifle. Accurate shooters were able to pop headshots into any enemy in front of them and eliminate them immediately. This of course made runs through the game laughably easy, but it also turned multiplayer matches into a bit of a joke with players opting to forget the more traditional weapons in favor of firing pistols at each other from across the map. Was that how the developers at Bungie intended it to be? Absolutely not, but it did give us a great video game item.