Bethesda, we need to talk. I remember having a lot of fun in Oblivion mixing and matching my armour pieces, and only recently did I find out that this was actually a downgrade from Morrowind. Morrowind’s equipment system was big, with clothing going under your armour and robes going over your armour. Skyrim’s? A bit disappointing, to be honest. Your pants and top were fused together, denying your inner fashionista the chance to express itself. True, there were mods you could use, but still, it would be excellent if the base game would allow me to dress myself instead of mothering me with attire restrictions, but I digress. I don’t know how effective the Fallout 4 equipment system would work in an Elder Scrolls game, but ideally, it would make yours truly, and many, many other fans of the Elder Scrolls happy if the the vanilla armour were broken up into more than 4 pieces.
I made a mock-up of an inventory UI based (heavily) on one that was floating around the internet at the peak of Skyrim. The mock-up can be seen here (list version) and here (grid version). Although I really enjoy them, I thought there was more information that could have been inserted there.
Okay, so compared to Vanilla Skyrim UI, there’s a lot going on there. For a simple breakdown of what you can see, staring from the top left, you have all your menu items like the Inventory, Skills and such. I’ve opted to replace Magic with Abilities to integrate the ideas I had in Part 1 and Part 2. To the right of Systems, there is a clock that shows your actual computer time. Below the first line, you have all the tabs available in the Inventory, seeing as ITEM is in white.
The ‘Filter’ feature will allow you to toggle between all item types available, making it easier to… filter through things like Chest pieces, Rings, Pauldrons, etc. ‘View’ allows you to switch from List to Grid, giving the player the option to pick whichever style he or she prefers.
Before I move on to the items themselves, notice that the sorting is alphabetically ascending (thus the green upwards arrow), but aside from the other default options (armour rating, weight, item value), custom Sorting options are also available via a drop-down menu.
Moving on to the items, notice how some of them (like the Daedric Helmet) have multiple icons – these tell you which slots they will occupy, and in the case of the Daedric Cuirass, it’s both the Torso slot and the Undershirt slot; the Daedric Helmet occupies the Helmet and the Circlet slots. The reason why one icon is white and the other is grey is that the white one is the primary slot of the item, which indicates where it will appear in the Character view on the right side of the screen. For example, the Helmet slot contains the Daedric Helmet, but the Circlet slot on the right side of the character model is faded.
Some items can be worn on either side of the body, just like one-handed weapons in Skyrim can be held in either your right hand or your left hand. The same thing applies to armours – the right and left shoulders can both be equipped with one Pauldron, as does the character’s hands with rings. Gloves and Boots, however, or not interchangeable… for real-life reasons.
Going from the left side of the screen to the right, you have your character’s name, race and birth sign at the top left, and in-game date and time on the right. Right below that level, you have multiple view options: Object, Character and Vanity. Object will show you the item being highlighted, whereas Character, which is the one being shown, will display all your inventory slots and which ones are occupied or not. Notice the little white ticks on the top-right of each slot: those indicate whether the items is to be shown or not on your character; the Daedric Cuirass is equipped, yet is hidden because the slot’s visibility is unticked.
The third view option, Vanity, is entirely cosmetic and will be prioritised over items equipped on your character in Character view, regardless of whether they are hidden or not. Vanity slots cannot be hidden or else the player will be tempted to use those as additional carry space and simply hide them with random armour pieces equipped.
The following list is a breakdown of all the item slots.
Helmets also include hoods.
Circlets go under the helmet, so you can wear both. Larger Circlet-type items like crowns will occupy both the Circlet and Helmet slots.
The choking hazard we all love goes there.
Clothing goes here. Some of the larger armour may occupy this slot as well.
This is where your chest armour is equipped. It does not include the shoulder pads.
Mods that add capes are extremely popular in Skyrim, so it shouldn’t be too far-fetched to ship the game with said capes already in the vanilla game (with cloth physics, please). We also know that some people will want to add wings or standards or… jetpacks (stranger mods were made for the Elder Scrolls) to the game, so a Back slot would come in handy.
Right Shoulder / Left Shoulder
Separate both shoulder slots and just like right-clicking would equip a weapon in your right hand, so will a right-click equip a pauldron on your Right Shoulder.
Right Glove / Left Glove
Just like with the Shoulder slots, separate Gloves slots with left and right versions – Fallout 4 does that already. Just like in real life (and in Fallout 4), left and right Gloves are not interchangeable.
Right Ring / Left Ring
Let’s be honest, giving the player the choice to equip 10 rings is just balance nightmare and would require rings be downgraded to the point of carrying weak, unexciting enchantments. Two, or four if you really want to, will do just fine. In keeping with the above two slots sets, right-click equips the right hand, left-click equips the left hand.
Belts go here, though loincloths and things of the like can also be classified as belts as long as they go over the pants.
Cover your privates, private… or don’t, there are mods for that.
Right Foot / Left Foot
Okay, honestly, mismatching your boots looks weird regardless of the era or anime you’re in, so I won’t begrudge you, Bethesda, for binding their slots together.
The miscellaneous slot isn’t just one slot, but a number of slots that can be stacked. Items that occupy these slots can be anything from a bandolier, sash, harness, tabard, etc. and can occupy one or many Miscellaneous slots. The arrows on the sides of the Miscellaneous slots indicate there can be more than 5, but that really is for modding purposes more than anything. To be perfectly honest, even 5 might be overkill. Downgrading it down to 3 or 4 could work better, but people like having options.
I know that technically, plenty of these equipment slots already exist, but the point of the above was to have the default developer-made equipment follow these particular guidelines so that we don’t have a repeat of what Skyrim had where your chest, legs and feet armour were all fused into one. They should be separate by default for the sake of greater customizability.
Imagine, if you will, Fallout 4’s weapon modding system in an Elder Scrolls game. Instead of replacing barrels or stocks, you can replace crossguards or change your blade edge from normal to serrated (the latter is actually feasible in Fallout 4), alter the shape of your bow to increase the power with which you shots fire, or carve runes on your breastplate to increase your resistance to magic. How well this would integrate into an Elder Scrolls game, I’m not sure, but this could combine both Smithing and Enchanting all in one and make things a lot more interesting.
Instead of just hotkeying one item at a time, give the player the ability to hotkey groups of items. A perfect example of this is Hotkey Plus Plus. This is mostly for saving time on equipping item sets (for example, if you have a casual attire and a combat attire, you can create two sets, or States, and swap between those at will). This is similar to how in Combat and Movement, I put forward the idea of Special Abilities and how you can have different sets of those that you can rotate through. The process can even be automated; you create the Explorer State and the Combat State, and once combat starts, your Explorer State is replaced by your Combat State, and vice versa once combat ends. A hotkey can also be used to cycle through all the states you have created if you wish to do so manually.
Having Equipment States is all in the interest of getting rid of downtimes that would usually be spent scrolling through your inventory to find the right items or spells. Equipment States don’t have to have their own hotkey and can be bound to the player’s favourites menu.
Also known by some as ‘transmogrification’ (which is a term I dislike in this context because to transmogrify often suggests some form of corruption or grotesqueness), Vanity Gear is simply the use of magic to alter your appearance. It serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever other than to make your character rock the best-looking gear while benefitting from the stats of another. In essence, you existing attire doesn’t go anywhere, it’s outward appearance is simply replaced by something else. I describe the mechanics of how something like Vanity Gear could work in Skyrim above, under Equipment Slots.