​What's Your Favorite Loot System?

Thanks to its notoriously treasure-filled tunnels, Destiny has sparked a new discussion around an important and often overlooked part of video games: loot. Let's not allow a popular shooter's moment in the spotlight pervert our sense of history, however. What video game, in your view, has the best loot?

I'll get us started with a personal favorite as a template we can all follow:

Illustration for article titled ​What's Your Favorite Loot System?

Game: Fallout

How Its Loot Works: Fallout is an old-school CRPG, which means that it required a great deal of mastery to play effectively. I had to always be honing my skills and earning experience points to unlock more powerful abilities—making every shot I fired more accurate, every weapon I used more durable, every step I took in combat require less energy, stuff like that. This, in turn, meant that I had to always get the best weapons and armor and start using them the moment I could.

Fallout is also a lengthy game (when you first play it, at least), so my focus on loot remained pretty consistent until the final few chapters when I had a reliable combination of power armor and a few different energy weapons. Getting to that point takes a lot of work, however—time and energy spent going through various dungeons with a fine-tooth comb. There's one particularly memorable passage set in an abandoned military defense contractor research facility that's a veritable goldmine for high-level weapons.

Why It's So Great: I want to write a full piece about this, but I remember I started thinking about the whole topic of video game loot after talking to a friend and fellow Fallout originalist one day about how the West Tek research facility is the best loot cave we'd ever encountered. It's presence in the game, and the way players were made aware of it by specific quests, fit so perfectly inside the Fallout universe. Scavenging for loot (or harvesting it, as the case may be) often feels like a gross concept to me, but combing through the West Tek facility is one of the rare cases when grinding complemented my experience with a game on a deep, emotional level. I remember spending a lot of time in that weird little hole in the ground when I first played Fallout as a kid, my brother and I trading notes and ultimately consulting strategy guides to make sure we never missed anything.


We were being incredibly diligent and thorough, all in service of finding trinkets in a video game. But that's what Fallout's world is supposed to feel like: it's a dismal, brutal post-apocalypse. The game's loot helped reinforce something important, therefore: it didn't feel like I was playing this game, it felt like I was just trying to survive inside of it.

Illustration for article titled ​What's Your Favorite Loot System?

There are plenty of other video games with a similar emphasis on loot out there, so let me know about one that sticks out to you! Write a note about your favorite kind of video game loot in the comments below.

To contact the author of this post, write to yannick.lejacq@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq.

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Game: Borderlands

How Its Loot Works: Borderlands

Why It's So Great: Borderlands