First Person Shooters are ubiquitous in today’s gaming landscape. One of the most popular genres, they have grown a lot since their early days and are now offering an ever greater variety of experiences. Some amaze with incredible open worlds or deep storytelling, while others offer great set pieces or frantic and skill-based action. One thing generally doesn’t change though – the importance of the weapons and tools at the player’s disposal, especially when we are talking about monster guns, the super weapons! Game developers competed for the better part of a decade to create the most insane design—those were the days!
In this first of two articles, we will be looking at some of FPS gaming’s finest wonder guns. First, though, allow me to establish the criteria used to select a super weapon:
- It should be a powerful weapon. If it isn’t the outright most powerful damage-dealing canon, it should be up there as a competitor.
- It should be cool or exotic. Extremely powerful “normal” weapons are noteworthy, but not in our crosshairs.
- Its effects on enemies or the environment need to be impressively sadistic.
- Weapons that don’t directly attack the enemy but use a “gimmick” are allowed.
- While our focus is on shooter games, we’re aware other genres have super weapons, and may one day be our target—but not today.
So, without further ado, here’s our list.
BFG 9000 – DOOM series
I decided to start with the classic right away. This is the big kahuna, the archetypal big f*cking gun and one of the chief inspirations for many others on this list. First used in DOOM (the original), it represents a gigantic plasma bazooka that completely obliterates entire rooms of weaker enemies and inflicts damage upon or straight up kills even the most powerful demons. It’s the very definition of a shooter super weapon—so much so that it has become the Trope Namer (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BFG) for gigantic overpowered weapons at TV Tropes.
(Video of DOOM 3’s BFG 9000 in action, by user colonnello1001)
Later versions of the BFG are no less awesome. DOOM 3’s incarnation had a charging mechanic (which can lead to suicide if you overcharge) and fired a gigantic, slow moving blob of green plasma that upon impact could deal insane amounts of damage to all of the enemies near it. Since there is no kill like overkill, it also had rays of energy identifying enemies and meting out moderate punishment to them even before it would detonate. The DOOM (2016) version of the weapon is very similar but the projectile is faster and it doesn’t have the ability to charge, though its already huge radius was augmented, letting it clear entire rooms of enemies and gibbing them to pieces!
Tesla Gun – Wolfenstein series
Lightning- or electricity-based weapons have been a staple in science fiction for almost as long the genre has existed. Video games themselves have been experimenting with such guns for a long time but the devastating culmination seems to be in Wolfenstein (2009).
The Tesla Gun is a continuous beam weapon that discharges multiple arcs of electricity to automatically target nearby enemies, creating a spread akin to that of a shotgun. As the player upgrades the gun, its lethality shoots up dramatically, making it the most powerful close-range weapon, especially against weaker (in health) enemies. Even if the player is surrounded, the weapon will tear through enemy troops or monsters like a hot knife through butter, stunning them, making them flail their arms and scream to their death. It is one of the most brutal weapons in an already brutal game. The good physics engine and decent particle effects makes the carnage even more apparent and the gun also affects metallic objects in the game world. The melee-boosting upgrade for shocking enemies on contact makes it all the more awesome.
The earlier Return to Castle Wolfenstein version of the weapon is also powerful and cool looking, but alas without the insane physics and particle-based effects, it falls short of stand-out status—and the 2009 version, which is our pick.
Lots of other games have a different working type of Tesla Gun. In the Unreal Tournament, it is a powerful Sniper Rifle whilst in DOOM 2016 and Quake it is a mid- to short-range continuous single beam of chained lightning. Make no mistake, they too are badass, but the Wolfenstein Tesla Gun is simply in a league of its own.
SBC Cannon – Serious Sam series
Serious Sam is a series full of frantic, fast-paced and often strategically challenging action (yes, really). It is also a very difficult game. Helping Sam “Serious” Stone is a wide assortment of powerful weapons. Impressive as his laser guns and gigantic miniguns may be, nothing says overkill as much as Sam’s Iconic SBC Cannon!
The thing is literally a gigantic hand-operated cannon! Firing it launches a huge (much bigger than the gun actually…) cannonball that rolls around, crushing smaller enemies and doling out heavy damage to top-level opponents. It can also be charged to fire a much faster moving and more devastating cannonball that kills even most high-end enemies in one hit whilst crushing through scores of smaller opponents at the cost of rate of fire. After a while, the cannonball detonates, dealing massive splash damage. All of this makes it a fascinating and classic weapon!
LeichenFaust 44 – Wolfenstein 2009 (again)
Raven Software have a thing for powerful weaponry. In fact, half the arsenal of in Wolfenstein is comprised of bizarre wunderwaffe: Its brutal flamethrower and Particle Cannon are impressive, and the Tesla Gun has already received our nod, but another top pick is the LeichenFaust 44 (Corpse Fist 44).
The Leichenfaust 44 fires a large spherical pulse of veiled energy (it’s basically magic!) that detonates on contact. The detonation is powerful enough to completely disintegrate lesser enemies, hurt altered (high-end) opponents, and also disrupts gravity around the point of explosion, causing debris as well as the disintegrating remains of enemies to float into the air for a few seconds, before crashing back down to the ground. It’s a visual spectacle and seems like an intensely cruel way to die. Fully upgraded, it is a devastatingly powerful gun that fires surprisingly fast and one whose effects on the environment and enemies are both satisfying and sadistic.
Dark Matter Gun – Quake IV
I am including this awesome superweapon in our first batch because it is in some ways a precursor to the Leichenfaust 44. It has a different effect, but it’s still a really cool gun.
(The monster, demoed by Rev The Oblivious)
When fired, the dark matter ball slowly travels through the air until it hits a wall. Most enemies will be sucked into the small black hole and killed off, though larger enemies will have to be shot a second time. On contact with a wall, the dark matter explodes, inflicting injury to enemies caught in the blast radius. The sound effects are as satisfying as the ball is dangerous, and the dark matter looks damn cool in-game.
Blue Gravity Gun – Half Life 2
The truth is the gravity gun alone would qualify here. Its potential in the game is immense as it can hurl tables, propane canisters and sundry other detritus at enemies with immense force. And that can range from a funny minor annoyance to enemies… or the last toilet they are ever going to see as it breaks their bones with insane force. The gravity gun can hurl expolosives, punt grenades, clear obstacles, kill headcrabs and other light biological entities, topple turrets and clear mines. It’s one hell of a tool for the player to have.
However, for all its power, the Energized Blue Gravity Gun the player has access to near the end of Half-Life 2 (and the start of Episode 1) is an even bigger beast. All of its previous powers are enhanced to a ridiculous degree and it can now hurl even bigger objects, even faster. Even more devastating than that, however, is its new power to mangle and pick up human enemies, killing them in the process and letting the player use them as both a meatshield and a high velocity shell. Truly satisfying if gruesome, this weapon is one of the best in gaming.
(The devastation as shown by user Felrei)
In the years following the release of Half Life 2, many games have had variations of this basic formula. For some it’s a magic power! Telekinesis or something of the sort—and it works. DOOM 3’s expansion Resurrection of Evil had its own version of the weapon, called the grabber. It too could chuck objects, as well as crush the smaller demons. But its cool new gimmick was the ability to pick up an enemy’s energy or plasma ball and throw it back at them (or something else!).
Phew, we’ve covered some pretty devastating weapons, but more over-the-top guns remain, and we’ll get to them in the second part of this blog.
Hopefully fans and future designers will take heed of these amazingly fun (and scary) creations and make sure we get more super weapons. I love the AKs and AR’s as much as anyone, but a return to the over-the-top or original lords of destruction is long overdue.
Continue reading at The Greatest Super Weapons in Gaming, FPS Edition (part 2)