Color Coded Item Tiers

Whether you're playing a single-player RPG, or a MMORPG, you're bound to encounter items (weapons, armor, jewelry, etc.) that are divided into at least three tiers of power and rarity that just happen to be Color-Coded for Your Convenience. Rarity gives us a visual indicator of how one item compares to another in terms of game advancement. If rarity didn't exist, there would be more of a need to test or compare stats before you'd even know whether to get excited that you got a particular item. Rarity offers an immediate clue as to whether an available item will be effective against the tier of enemies you'll encounter at your current level

As opposed to tropes like Power Glows and Bling of War, Color Coded Item Tiers are strictly non-diegetic, used only to help the player distinguish the item's power through inventory background or item name color. Usually, the colors are, as codified by World of Warcraft, mundane white items, followed by green "uncommon" ones, blue "rare" ones and purple "epic" ones. Sometimes, orange or golden tier of Infinity Plus One Weapons is used as well. The only consistent pattern is that White, Gray and Green are towards the bottom of the tier and Purple and Orange are usually towards the higher end (if they're even there), but whether white is the absolute lowest or purple is the absolute highest or there are 3 or more colors or whatever is up in the air.

A subtrope of Color-Coded for Your Convenience. Compare with Law of Chromatic Superiority.


Examples:

Action-Adventure
  • Little Big Adventure 2 is a mixed case; the game has 4 item tiers in total: yellow, green, red and fiery. Each tier is more powerful than the last. Some enemies wear armor that utilizes these same tiers, which makes them invulnerable to any lower tier. Therefore, you need to a weapon of at least the matching tier to deal any damage at all. However, only green and red are the colors consistently used for various items in the game; yellow and fiery are only utilized by Twinsen's Magic Ball, which functions as a thrown weapon. It's the only item that can go through all 4 tiers, via upgrades.
  • Rupees in The Legend of Zelda have different colors depending on their value. While higher colors tend to vary, the most consistent value is Green=1 Blue=5. Purple is always among the higher values, ranging from 50 to 200 depending on the game.

Action RPG
  • Diablo:
    • The first game's division between standard (white) items, enchanted (blue) ones and uniques (yellow), may be considered an Ur-Example. The sequels add the green "set" category, where items from the same set are more powerful when used together, and gold or orange tier for uniques, while yellow items become a more powerful tier of "randomly enhanced" blue items.
    • The colors in Diablo II are:
      • Grey (Low quality, no magic properties and lower base stats)
      • White (Normal or superior)
      • Slightly Different Grey (Socketed, same as normal but can be improved with gems and runes)
      • Blue (Magic, one or two magic properties)
      • Yellow (Rare, a random mix of magic properties)
      • Gold (Unique, preset magical properties with a unique name and appearance)
      • Green (Set, preset magical properties and can be used in conjunction with other items in the same set to get additional bonuses)
      • Orange (Crafted, created using the Horadric Cube)
    • Diablo III uses a slightly different colour scheme than its predecessor.
      • Grey (Inferior, no magic properties and lower base stats)
      • White (Normal or superior, no magic properties)
      • Blue (Magic, one or two magic properties)
      • Yellow (Rare, a variable number of random magic properties. Actually the most common kind of item)
      • Orange (Legendary, named items with higher stats. Unlike D2 uniques most properties of legendary items are still random.)
      • Green (Set, legendary items that also grant extra bonuses when worn with other items of the same set)
  • In Digimon World 4, equipment (weapons and boards) may drop randomly with color-coded names to indicate a greater-than-normal boost to stats. The progression is white (normal) < blue < green < yellow < orange < pink, and availability depends on your experience level. For example, a blue-labeled weapon has anywhere from 1-30 more attack points. Also, these boosts are independent of the number of mod slots generated on the item.
  • Path of Exile has a color coding similar to the Diablo series: regular items are white, magical ones are blue, rares are yellow, and uniques are golden. Quest items are green but they are not equippable. Some players and even the wiki have been known to refer simply to white, blue, gold and orange items.
  • Titan Quest has six tiers: Grey (junk), White (normal), Yellow (magical), Green (rare), Blue (mythical) and Purple (legendary). Unlike other games, purple-tier items are available only on Epic and Legendary difficulty settings.
  • Torchlight II has white (common) > green(uncommon) > blue (rare) > orange (unique), with purple being reserved for quest-related items.
  • In God Eater Burst, items are tiered by "Rank" and icon colors/icon background. Ranks 1 and 2 use the default font color and background, 3 and 4 uses Purple icons, 5 and 6 uses Red, 7 and 8 uses Teal, 9 uses White and 10 uses white with a special background.
  • Grim Dawn:
    • White (normal, no magic properties)
    • Yellow (magical, 1 to 3 magic properties)
    • Green (rare items, more magic properties)
    • Blue (epic items, many magic properties and could sometime be item sets)
    • Purple (legendary items; plenty magic properties and could sometime be item sets)

Card Battle Game
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a semi-subversion. Cards follow the World of Warcraft colour scheme to denote their rarity, however actual card power is almost completely disconnected from their rarity (with the exception of the orange legendary cards, although even many of those don't see much play).
  • Might and Magic Duel of Champions divides the cards into five tiers: white are common, green are uncommon, blue are rare, orange are epic (often unique, meaning you can have only one copy in your deck) and purple are exclusively Hero cards.
  • Eternal Card Game has 5 tiers: common (grey), uncommon (green), rare (blue), legendary (yellow), and promo (purple). Promo cards can be obtained by playing the game during their limited time frame, then can only be crafted afterwards.

First-Person Shooter
  • The first Borderlands game features nine colors (White, Green, Blue, Purple, Orange, Dark Orange, Darker Orange and light blue as Pearlescent). Up to Darker Orange, those follow the usual pattern of rarity, Pearlescent ones are the rarest and exclusively one per item kind.
  • In Borderlands 2, White and Green are the most common, Blue are one step above and sometimes one-of-a-kind items, Purple are one step further, Magenta is for special Eridium-enhanced weapons, Pink is Seraph items introduced in the first DLC as powerful gear with significant drawbacks, Orange is for Legendary items (with no shade variations like the firs game). The cyan Pearlescent items are exclusive to the second New Game+. One of the Loading Screen tips even offers a helpful mnemonic for the basic spectrum: "When Grandma burps, Patrick obeys."
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive divides weapon skins into seven tiers: Consumer grade (white), Industrial grade (light blue), Mil-spec (blue), Restricted (purple), Classified (magenta), Covert (red) and melee weapon-only tier marked with a star symbol (gold).
  • Team Fortress 2 features item qualities for its weapons, hats and esthetic gizmos. Although their rarity is relative and sometimes a vintage or a genuine quality item can be considered being worth less than their common counterpart from the users, Light Grey (default "Stock" items) > Yellow (unique) > Blue (vintage) > Green (genuine) > Purple (unusual) could be considered a relatively canonical order of rarity, with genuines and vintages being very dependant on the item itself. There are also other qualities such as stranges or community made items that can't be placed anywhere precisely within the order by rarity.
  • Destiny uses White (Common) > Green (Uncommon) > Blue (Rare) > Purple (Legendary) > Gold (Exotic) for its items. Exotic gear has set perks, while all other gear rolls random perks out of the possible perks for that item. Additionally, only one Exotic weapon and one Exotic armor piece can be equipped at a time (with the exception of three special Exotic armor pieces that have a perk allowing them to be equipped alongside another piece of Exotic armor).

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game
  • World of Warcraft is the Trope Codifier that introduced "standard" color coding of Grey (Poor) > White (Common) > Green (Uncommon) > Blue (Rare) > Purple (Epic) > Orange (Legendary) (with light gold "Heirloom" items that can be transferred between characters on the same account added later).
  • In Elsword, the colors that indicate item tiers isn't shown in the equipment model itself, but rather, the letters are colored differently. The tiers go as thus: Normal (white letters), Rare (yellow letters), Elite (purple letters) and Unique (beige letters). There's also one extra tier, Old (black letters) that is reserved for unusable, junk equipments.
  • Star Trek Online uses white for common, green for uncommon, blue for rare, purple for very rare, light purple for ultra rare (reserved for Fleet gear or upgraded items), and gold for Epic (mostly upgraded items and a few mission rewards). For equipment, each tier adds an additional "mod" that grants a bonus like increased critical chance or a bonus to a character skill.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic features eight colors: grey ('trash' items, only good for selling to a vendor), white ('street' gear, which do not give stats), green, blue, orange (Socketed Equipment that allows you to freely swap the stat-boosting components to match your level while keeping the same look), purple/magenta (coming from Rare Random Drops and stores selling gear for endgame dungeon tokens; usually Socketed Equipment filled with purple stat-boosting components by default, the endgame shop armors also give additional bonuses for wearing at least two parts of a given set), darker purple 'legendary' items, and light gold "Inheritance" items that are limited to characters on the same player account.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online:
    • White/Common
    • Yellow/Uncommon
    • Purple/Rare
    • Cyan/Incomparable
    • Orange/Epic
  • The Secret World plays it straight: Green items are the most common and easily available, Blue ones are usually dropped by Dungeon bosses and Purple ones are rare endgame gear with special Signet slots (Signets being equally rare components giving the weapons powers similar to some passive skills).
  • Vindictus also has item qualities that follow the usual Grey > White > Green > Blue > Purple pattern. They stop at purple for now.

Strategy RPG
  • In Disgaea games, there are three tiers of item rarity and it shows trough the name, the common tier have white text, Rare items have green (With blue if you equip multiple Rare items) and Legendary have Gold text. Almost all items have 3 versions of them : Common (White), Rare (Silver in first game, Green in later games) and Legendary (Gold). The better the rarity, the more powerful the item is, the more floor its Item World have, and the more Specialist/Innocents it can hold. However, while Rare items are stronger than normal items and Legendary items are stronger then Rare items, you can get most of the items in Common, Rare or Legendary (Exceptions include Rank 40 items like the Infinity+1 Sword, Joke Weapons and some unique weapons that Optional Party Members have, all of which only come in Legendary) and if you go to the Item world, you can strengthen an item making it stronger than an unleveled Legendary version of the same item.

Survival Horror
  • Dead Island follows the usual White-Green-Blue-Purple-Orange formula.

Western RPG
  • Items in the Dragon Age series are color-coded by their material. Dragon Age: Origins plays this trope straight, which every material corresponding to a particular item tier (e.g. from the grey tier 1 iron to the golden tier 9 Volcanic Aurum). Dragon Age II subverts this: despite having material and color tiers for the items, the real power/quality of an item is determined by a hidden statistic. Dragon Age: Inquisition plays it straight again, albeit with just three tiers: grey-coded Common items, blue Rares, and purple Uniques.

Wide Open Sandbox
  • Terraria has Rarity, a statistic applying to all items, that loosely indicates their value and the difficulty with which they are obtained. An item's Rarity is indicated in-game by the color of its name text, as displayed, for example, when rolling the cursor over the item in an inventory slot. An item's Rarity can be raised or lowered by up to two tiers depending on its Modifier. There are 13 tiers of Rarity which go from gray (the lowest) to purple (the highest), plus two special tiers not normally available (rainbow, exclusive to expert-mode items, and amber, exclusive to quest items).
  • Robocraft originally had a complex, arbitrary set of colours for the various armour tiers, but now uses the standard Grey-Green-Blue-Purple-Orange tier system across all parts.
  • 7 Days to Die color-codes items based not really on rarity, but quality, i.e. how effective a certain item is and how long it can be used until it breaks. The sorting is unusual: growing quality order is grey, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

Non Videogame Examples
  • Magic: The Gathering eventually coded the card rarities. Black means common, silver means uncommon, gold means rare, and orange means mythic rare.
  • Association Football tabletop game Microstars featured a Green-Red-Blue-White-Silver-Gold tier system, with higher tiers being rarer and having slightly better stats. Later, the game added a seventh "Black" tier that was even rarer than Gold.
  • The tabletop RPG Age of Aquarius has a rarity rating for every weapon or item. It features standard rarity ratings of "Common", "Rare", "Very Rare" for most items, and off-the-scale, idiosyncratic rarity ratings for both extremely common items (i.e. Rock: "It's probably lying under your feet right now") and extremely rare items (i.e. Minigun: "Hell freezes over before you find one").
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