I'm currently in the process of creating the equipment screen, and a question I'd eventually have to ask myself has come up. This is basically another one of those "thinking out-loud" and "explaining it to someone in detail to the point where I come to a decision myself" sort of posts. So..yup.
Progressive vs non-progressive weapons
The question is this, should items all be equally powerful, but behave differently (different speed, power, status effects, weaknesses) Or should the weapons get progressively more powerful as you progress, rendering older weapons useless? (but still having different types, that act differently.
With non-progressive weapons, if you find a particular sword in the beginning of the game then that sword effectively becomes an active part of your arsenal and you will use it in certain situations, or perhaps if you simply prefer how it plays. But the trade-off is that you may just end up getting a bunch of weapons you'll never use because of you're preferences.
On the other hand, if weapons are progressively more powerful, then once you find a better weapon you would never use that old sword ever again, because it's too weak. The advantage is that an aspect of the gameplay will always be changing, and the player will have to adapt to it. However, if the player likes a certain kind of weapon, such as a spear, and hates all the other weapons, then they will have to wait until they find that "next" spear to actually use one. Or, they might stick to the old one, which will make the game a lot more difficult.
The other option, I suppose, would be to make it so weapons can be upgraded, meaning you could upgrade an older weapon so that it meets the new standards. Not really sure how that would play into gameplay. Dark Souls is an interesting example, because it sort of fell in the middle. It was very much incremental, but sort of worked in phases were early weapons could still be useful mid-game when upgraded, but you eventually found something better. Not so sure that upgrading an old weapon is as interesting as finding a new and equally better weapon though.
Personally, I think I lean towards non-progressive weapons. Perhaps it's an excuse for bad design to say that players might only use the weapon they like. Ideally, they should all be useful and interesting in some way.
This also plays into how armor might work a bit. I could theoretically make it so armor effect's your appearance, but doing so would mean I couldn't have as much armor, since it would be too much work too animate. In this case, non-progressive armor would make more sense, because then the player wouldn't be stuck with an outfit they hate just because it's stronger. (though that might happen anyway if they prefer the buffs of one kind of armor)
In that case, perhaps each set of armor could have alternative buffs. For instance, one could have defence+ and health+ from H attacks, but you can only choose one of the two. This might make it at least more unlikely for a player to find armor that they like the look of, but don't find useful enough to wear.
I'll see how viable multiple costumes mid-development, I suppose. The tradoff of alternate armor is that every H animation would have to be nude, because there's no way I'm animating alternate animations for each outfit.