With each new update the hotbar feels like it’s becoming increasingly overcrowded, which is mainly due to the necessity of carrying around the essential tools/items for most occasions. This issue is much worse on console versions, due to the slow switching and lack off hotkeys.
• Potential Solution
My suggestion to help solve this issue, would be the ability to craft a “Toolbox” of some kind. This toolbox would allow the player to store a maximum of 8 tools, within a segmented circle/octagon, with a quick selection feature, resulting in faster access to the player’s tools and freeing up the Hotbar.
The Toolbox would integrate into the game as a sub-inventory, “Selector Wheel” capable of holding 8 items. The Toolbox would have to sit within the hotbar to be “Active” and can then be activated via the press/press and hold of a hotkey that would bring up the 8 segmented wheel with self-stored items. The player can then hover over the desired tool and hit select. On Xbox this could look something like: Hold Down LB > Move L/R Analogue stick in omnidirectional movement to select 1/8th segment > Press A. - Currently holding down LB does not have a function, it only moves the hotbar selector 1 space to the left.
For PC there should be Hotkey abilities to select tools even faster e.g pressing keys T+1 or Hold Down T > select and left click with mouse.
Storing, replacing and retracting tools would work by placing down the Toolbox and positioning tools as the player sees fit. In order to pick up the toolbox simply punching it a few times should break it, as the players tools would now be placed within the item.
When hovering over the Toolbox in the hotbar it should display the current tools and their degradation levels - similar to the way shulkers offer a description of some of the items within them. Full item descriptions, degradation and enchantments would be visible when hovering over items when the Toolbox Selector is open.
Crafting the Toolbox should require Mid to End game items and require a unique item to repair it.
For instance: Ender Chest (Crafting slot 5) + Netherite Ingots x4 (slots 1,3,8 and 9) + Shulker Shell x2 (slots 2 and 8) along with x2 of a new item to the game - perhaps from a new high level mob.
Owning/Using more than 1 Toolbox at a time would need to be experimented/further considered. Theoretically, it would not work under the assumptions of functionality that I have made. Therefore, by requiring the Toolbox sit within the hotbar, only the first Toolbox within the Hotbar should be considered “Active”, while switching a Toolbox out could then Activate the new one.
Implementing an item of this kind would definitely improve the feel of the Minecraft Inventory, by helping to declutter the hotbar and improve tool selection, especially on console versions. It achieves this without completely re-inventing the inventory system/adding more slots to the hotbar and gives the player choice.
The only consideration would be whether owning/using more than one Toolbox at a time should be allowed.
...I agree, there is definitely an issue with crowded hotbars, or inventory management in general. The idea seems well balanced, but I think there are simpler ways of solving this. It would also be a bit easy for something like this to become overpowered- but that's true of pretty much any mechanic. A simpler way, perhaps, would be to have a hotkey that allows you to switch between rows of your inventory. (In one of the QoL mods I use, you can press Z to get a tab view of your inventory, and then press 1, 2, or 3 to swap that row with your hotbar- it's a small change, but it can be incredibly helpful to quickly switch between building, mining, combat, etc.) Mojang seems to be working on inventory crowding with the addition of bundles- but I almost feel like some simple changes to inventory management, (A 'sort' button, being able to extract everything from a container, etc); would be more helpful.
The issue of having multiple toolboxes could be solved by simply making it use an Ender Chest-like system, where all of your toolboxes will open to your own toolbelt when used (and ditto for other players). It even makes sense since the proposed recipe requires an Ender Chest.