I have roleplayed in a dozen systems since 1981.
The only magical items which have stuck in my memory were basically artifacts.
Fourth Edition handles artifacts extremely well. They are still wondrous, exceptional, legendary and desirous.
Regular magical items like +1 swords and jars of Keotum's ointment have always been utilitarian in every edition and in every other roleplaying game. People have got to wake up from their dreamy stupor and stop comparing apples and oranges.
I agree in theory, but magic items still feel off...
Ok so I pulled out some of my old 2e characters and went over what I liked and didn’t like. (Fair disclosure I love 2e and still consider it the best DnD to date, even though I played 3 other edtions+pathfinder) and here is what I found magic items that still make me smile:
‘Sir’ Helena Delor Human fighter level 3 Paladin level 8. I used dual class rules to switch from fighter to paly when I found the magic bastard sword named “Scourge”. She was a fierce warrior who had bladesx3 (spend 3 weap slots to be proficient with dagger and all swords) she then took a specialty in long sword and could use a crossbow. In a dungeon under a large city she found the “scourge” sword that was +2 longsword that when used against undead, demons, or drow glowed in a white flame that shed light like a continual light spell and did +1d4 fire damage. It could cast protection from chaos 1 time a week. The sword would also ‘pull’ me toward chaotic evil creatures….the DM used that for plot hooks.
Skulk Halfling thief level 7 She had 2 awsomesauce items that defined her. 1) gloves of rings- these gloves magically merged magic rings into your hand so they were unseen, and it meant you could wear a number of rings up to half your con instead of 2 (she had a 9 con so it doubled her ring use). 2) 9 life stealer dagger. She also had a Elvin cloak, ring of protection, bracers of armor, ring of the ram, and a ring of spell storing. With her high dex she had an AC of -2
Ravager Human Wizard (necromancer) 13 had all the cool toys, a grimour (from mayfair games archmage stuff), a staff of bone, and a bunch of little trinkets. The real story item though was the Dragon skull. It was the skull of a baby black dragon, and it had the souls of 42 wizards in it when I got it. I could ask them for advice every night, and they could talk to me, but they each had different alignments and I could not trust all of them. I could ‘burn’ souls to make them cast there spells, I had 11 left when we stoped playing and I had notes saying 2 of them were not helpful
Then there was the Darkblade…I can’t find that stuff though.
I had an elf ranger that found a jet black shortsword, and it was “Pure anti magic” it had a 20% anti magic. So every time I rolled to hit I started with d100, on a 01-20 I ignored any magic (items, spells, anything) Any spell cast at me (even buffs and healing) had a 20% chance to not work, that only went away if I was without the blade for more than an hour. It also did d8 damage (instead of D6) to dragons and elementals. On a crit against spell casters or creatures with innate spell like abilities it did x3 damage instead of x2 (so since we use to roll extra dice back in the day on a 20 on a dragon I would roll 3d8). It took away my 90% resistance to sleep and charm though. It would randomly eat other magic items I carried, so I might wake up one morning and find my magic armor no longer magic.
All of the best items were not standard items, but cool artifacts and relics the DM put in. I wish the rules helped make more DMs like that, but I am not sure that I can blame the system for them not being there.