The weirdness of shoulder armor

It was always a joke in World of Warcraft and even more so in SWTOR, but the truth is that shoulder armor has sat in this weird place in RPGs for a while now — and particularly for MMOs.

For any game that allows players to equip different pieces of gear, shoulder armor turns up. After all, there’s only so many different visible spots on a humanoid’s body, and some of them are too small to notice (belts and wristbands, I’m looking at you). So developers did this weird thing that, to compensate, they kept enlarging shoulders far beyond the point of practicality. Shoulder gear wasn’t there to suggest functionality; shoulder gear was a giant cosmetic flag.

And it’s one that I think looks flat-out ridiculous.

Along with cloaks and helms, I’m often disabling shoulder armor in games that have it because I don’t like looking like a reject from a 1980s workplace.

I guess if you’re a tank, you like to look as “armored up” as possible, so big fat shoulders make more sense in that regard. Kind of like you’re a medieval football player or something. But I don’t make tanks nor need to express power in business fashion.

As I said before, World of Warcraft’s tendency to exaggerate graphics went overboard with shoulders. Some of those pieces were so big and clunky that they probably weighed more than the character. Many of them looked downright impractical. I have a fun shoulder piece for my Druid that is pretty much a pair of giant glass orbs filled with blood. Don’t know how that’s going to protect me in a fight, but give me some straws, and I’ll keep hydrated with cheery kool-aid!

I also think it’s really silly to see shoulder pieces so big and tall that any wearer of them would have zero peripheral vision. Some of shoulder gear is so spiky that it would lobotomize adventurers if they shrugged, which feels terrifying to me.

Anyway, this isn’t to say games should stop with the shoulder silliness, it’s just something that’s been catching my attention as of late.

2 thoughts on “The weirdness of shoulder armor

  1. Rowan February 26, 2021 / 10:39 am

    I’m very judicious with my shoulder armor displays, as well. Luckily, GW2 allows hiding helms, shoulders, and gloves. There are some pretty flamboyant costumes and colors in that game, and collecting dyes is practically a mini-game unto itself. In comparison, I end up choosing downright drab colors for everyone but my mesmer.

  2. Syp February 27, 2021 / 9:54 am

    I very much appreciate MMOs that allow you to disable several different types of gear slots beyond helm and cape.

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