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There are many mundane, run-of-the-mill weapons across the video games, but they are usually forgettable chunks of polygons throwing numbers at enemies. Sometimes, however, games give us weapons that etch themselves into players’ memories and become symbols for the game they appeared in.
Video game weapons have the advantage over real weapons, in that they don’t have to be balanced, and protruding elements of a sword aren’t going to be the cause of self-damage. In this list we’re celebrating some of the coolest, most iconic guns and swords in gaming.
Although Dante began his adventures with Force Edge in the original, it was Rebellion that became his iconic sword. First introduced in Devil May Cry 2, it truly gained popularity in DMC3: Dante’s Awakening, and stayed with Dante for good, including 2019’s DMC5. Although Dante got plenty of weapons over the years, his brief romance with Force Edge was clearly just a phase.
The sword itself is hardly a beautiful one, but certainly sends a message: “don’t mess with a dude who can use this chunk of demon-metal with one hand”. It’s seemingly made out of one piece of metal, at the base of the blade rest two skull sculptures, and the guard is shaped like two bones. And with its range it makes hacking through demons a blast, for the player, not the demons, obviously.
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Although BFG-9000 might be the ultimate weapon of the Doom games, there is power and simplicity in the Super shotgun that makes it iconic. The boom of its shots, the satisfying sound of its reload, and the fact that demons quickly run away in all directions at once when they get shot with it, all make SSG a phenomenal weapon for the Doom games. Truly the Rebellion of gun.
The iconic status of the Super Shotgun was further highlighted in the 2016 Doom sequel/reboot thanks to its perfect use in the prologue-culminating elevator ride scene. The upgrades introduced in the new Doom games make SSG even more powerful and useful. In Doom’s tight corridors and demons eager to get in your face, a shotgun is great way to stop unwanted interaction.
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The Buster Sword has Rebellion beat by size and weight, and could be put in a Monster Hunter game without anybody thinking it’s too small. The sword has a simple, but satisfying design, looking effectively like a huge straight-edge knife, wide enough to hide behind, and thick enough to resist deformation. For gameplay purposes Cloud discards if for mightier blades, the buster Sword remains a symbol.
See, the sword used to belong to Cloud’s SOLDIER friend, and before that: to said friend’s mentor, making Cloud the third known user. Ownership disputes aside, the buster Sword, after over twenty years of history, has become one of gaming’s most recognisable weapons, more than any other Final Fantasy weapons, maybe other than the gunblade. Not bad for a starting weapon.
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With three distinct versions numbered Mark 1 to Mark 3, Lancer has become the iconic weapon for the series, in large part due to its bayonet. In Mk1 Lancers is was just a large blade, but starting with Mk2 it featured a small chainsaw you could use to tear Locust units apart if you felt like it. It’s definitely not an elegant weapon, but it’s bloodily effective, and wonderfully messy.
There are other weapons in the games, of course, but when you have a science-fiction game, why use just a regular stock melee, when you can use the opportunity to make your bayonet extra-deadly? Especially since fighting Locust face-to-face is as likely as fighting them at medium range, with everyone stuck to cover at the shoulder. A tool perfect for the job.
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Having serrated, blazing blades chained painfully to your forearms isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time, but it makes for a fantastic design and theme. The Blades of Chaos from God of War perfectly match their bearer Kratos’ temperament and are equally devastating in close range and out to long range, where hapless enemies would believe themselves safe from Kratos’ Spartan rage.
A benefit of coming from a series created back before detailed graphics is that where technology was limited, design rose to the challenge. As a result, Kratos’ Blades, their blazing chains and vicious shape, are hard to mistake for any other weapon. Much like Rebellion, they are carried, in one form of another, across the games, joining the ashen skin and red tattoos as Kratos’ defining features.
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Half-Life 2 was, by all accounts, a great game, and remains so despite the many years since its release. Although it has many great features, it was the Gravity Gun that everyone fell in love with, for good reasons, because that thing was a ton of fun to play around with. Mostly because screwing around with weaponised gravity is never NOT fun, and HL2 had a great physics engine to make it work.
From a suitably science-y name „Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator”, to its power-tool like design, it sends a simple message: it’s here to kill you with science. What it does, it allow you to grab an objects in the environment in its gravitational clutches, and then chuck it at the enemy. The idea is simple, the execution perfect, and memorability high. What more could one ask for?
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Like the Lancer earlier on, the MA5 Assault rifle is actually a line of guns, appearing in several versions across the series, starting with MA5B Individual Combat Weapon System in Halo: Combat Evolved. With a bullpup design, it looks compact, but powerful, and the top rail features a useful display counting the bullets you have left in the magazine, something all SF guns should have.
The design shifted slightly over each version, sometimes with a leaner frame, sometimes with a barrel extending further forward, but the fundamental design stays the same. This and the Covenant Empire’s Energy Sword are two of the franchise’s most iconic weapons, but since there’s one entry per franchise, a choice had to be made, thus the spotlight for the MA5.
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Keyblade is exactly what is the name says, it’s either a blade shaped like a key, or a key which can be used as a blade, depending on your perception. Given their connection to the χ-blade, it’s likely that they are blades first, keys second. They can open up any lock and allow travel between worlds, which is quite handy, but unless you’re “strong of heart” you’re not going to use their full potential.
The most well-known bearer of a Keyblade is Sora, but they can be passed down from mentor to student, or otherwise inherited. They also work very, very well against the Heartless and a few other eldritch enemies specific to the Kingdom Hearts reality. Doubly so when it grows in reaction to Light or Darkness and is used for special attacks. It’s a very versatile weapon with great design.
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Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, better known by its common name “Portal Gun”, is undeniably one of the coolest, and best executed concepts in modern gaming. It does what its names say: it shoots colour-coded (blue and orange) portals at compatible surfaces and you can use them to move around, transport objects, and create infinite falls or world’s most complicated mirror.
It has a neat, design, with clean, white plating covering the fiddly technological bits underneath, and protruding claw-like elements resembling the claw of Half-Life 2’s Gravity Gun, proving that Valve has a thing for claw machines. Portal became a great source of memes, playing with portal is a commonly understood joke, and the Portal Gun is certainly recognisable enough to be considered iconic.
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Emphatic weapons are something of a trope in fantasy fiction, and weirdly cursed, or otherwise possess swords are not unpopular either. Soul Edge, the sword of the SoulCalibur series is one such abomination, and the cause of most strife and suffering in the series. Apparently Soul Edge began as a regular sword, but it got the taste of blood and violence, and got all demonic and warped.
It changes appearance across the games, evolving over time, and adjusting to the character who wields it at the time. If the wielder isn’t exceptionally strong-willed, the Sul Edge takes control of them, making them just vessels for its thirst for blood. It’s very organic in design, as opposed to the crystalline appearance of its “good” sibling, the Soulcalibur. Soul Edge is bad news, but started an entire series.
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This is just ten weapons, and there are of course plenty more to talk about, but that’s a good start. From Rebellion to the Soul Edge, Super Shotgun to the superb Portal Gun, it’s a hint of how many cool weapons there are in games.