A great video game weapon can make the difference between winning and dominating; between an ordinary offensive and slaying with style.
The best gaming weapons turn decent characters into legends, and turn otherwise fun games into absolute classics, making you feel like an ultimate, unmatched badass in the process.
There have been hundreds of truly spectacular video game weapons throughout the years – our starter list had dozens of options – but after much debate, we’ve trimmed it down to the 20 most iconic blades, firearms, and other curious creations of all time.
Give it a read and see how your list compares to ours. Then go back and play them all again.
20) Paint Roller (Splatoon)
Splatoon feels like a very classic Nintendo move, putting a cartoonish take on the typically violent squad-based shooter genre and tasking you with spreading around paint instead of enemy blood.
But despite the innocent premise, the Paint Roller weapon is undeniably badass. The oversized roller is used to cover as much of an arena with your team colour as possible, but get an enemy in your sights and you can just roll him/her over with the sheer force of the thing.
19) Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (Portal 1 & 2)
Alright, so the Portal gun, as it’s commonly known, isn’t really a weapon in the conventional sense. But it is gun-shaped. And you can use it to destroy security cameras. And besides: it’s one of the greatest point-this-thing-at-something-else-and-press-fire things ever seen in any video game, so we just couldn’t leave it out.
18) Brick (The Last Of Us)
"A brick’s not a weapon!!" we hear you cry. You try telling that to the fungally-infected mutant whose head you just smacked with one.
The Last Of Us isn’t the first game to let you use a brick – the excellent TimeSplitters, for instance, had one as an unlockable weapon in pretty much every game – but it really came of age in Naughty Dog’s PlayStation classic.
It’s just so versatile. You can throw it at an enemy and stun them, before charging out of cover and stabbing them in the head. Or you can skip the throwing bit, charge out of cover and whack the bad guy repeatedly in the face with one. Lovely. Plus, they’re also extremely useful as distraction tools.
Best of all, they respawn, making them effectively unlimited weapons – which in a game that’s as parsimonious with its ammo as The Last Of Us, makes them very useful indeed.
17) Plasma cutter (Dead Space)
Dead Space‘s gameplay was centred around dismembering Necromorphs in space, so it needed a weapon that was both accurate and satisfying for picking off limbs. Thankfully, it had the plasma cutter, a mining tool repurposed by engineer Isaac Clarke, who found its ionized plasma jets were just as effective at tearing apart bodies as they were at tearing apart space rocks.
The genius of the plasma cutter was that it switched from a vertical to a horizontal configuration, which, in conjunction with limited ammo, made lining up that perfect shot incredibly tense. The evasive, flailing undead enemies were tough to hit, but in your favour you could use Stasis on a group and dismember them one-by-one in slow-motion. It’s just one of the details that made Dead Space arguably the last great survival horror game.
16) Gjallahorn (Destiny)
In a game filled with exotic guns, you know you’ve got something special when literally everyone playing wants one. This golden beast of a rocket launcher ruled Destiny‘s first year, wrecking multiplayer lobbies and assassinating Atheon on a daily basis.
It was all down to one little perk: wolfpack rounds. Fire Gjallarhorn and one rocket splits into multiple cluster missiles, each doing the same damage as a regular rocket launcher. In Destiny, a game more obsessed with numbers than HMRC Self-assessment Tax Simulator 2017, it was nigh-on unstoppable. Until Bungie nerfed it to hell, anyway. RIP Gjallarhorn – you will be missed.
15) Type-1 Antipersonnel Grenade (Halo)
Otherwise known as a plasma grenade, these glowing blue balls of explosive energy/death aren’t just brilliant because they stick to whatever you lob one at. What really makes them such fun to use is what happens in the second or two before they explode.
As soon as you land a slam dunk and stick your foe, they know it’s game over – but that won’t stop them running around like a maniac before they go boom. If you’re lucky, they’ll dash towards their teammates and score you a multi-kill. Glorious.
14) Master Sword (Legend of Zelda)
A most legendary blade for one of the most Legend-ary game series of all time, the Master Sword is the ultimate weapon of the Hero of Time himself, Link.
Given that Link must endure major trials and a significant chunk of each game’s adventure before receiving the weapon, the Master Sword’s unearthing is always a turning point – and it’s the only sword capable of banishing Hyrule’s grandest threat, Ganon. We’ll surely have another go with it soon in Breath of the Wild, too.
13) Bomb (Bomberman)
Good ol’ Bomberman would be nothing without his trusty bombs, but just as sure as it’s in his name, it’s also in his games. In fact, Bomberman is built entirely around the bombs, as the primarily multiplayer-centric, grid-based action finds players dropping bombs, running like hell, and hoping they trap a foe in the detonation.
Bomb upgrades can change the effects, but the basic bomb still rules above all in Bomberman – and Bomberman obviously rules. Here’s the upcoming Nintendo Switch version in action.
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12) Holy Hand Grenade (Worms)
Tense Worms matches may force players to try and request a bit of divine intervention, and the Holy Hand Grenade hilariously provides just that.
Clearly nicked from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the weapon looks like the Pope’s hat and has a three-second countdown after being launched. Once it comes to a complete stop, a chorus sings "Hallelujah" before absolutely biblical damage is dealt, sending the annelid warriors flying in various directions.
11) Triple Red Shell (Mario Kart)
The infamous Blue Shell popped to mind first, but let’s be honest: everybody, except the last-place driver in any given race, hates the damned thing. However, the 3x Red Shell is tough to dispute as a lucky draw in any position.
Not only does it give you three homing shells to launch forward or backwards as needed, but they’ll also rotate around your kart as a makeshift shield to guard against attacks. Power and versatility alike make it a driver’s best friend.
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10) Mr. Zurkon (Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction)
In a series lauded for its amazing, inventive weapons, it’s difficult to single out just one that we love above all – but we had to go with Mr. Zurkon.
Introduced in the PS3’s Future series, Mr. Zurkon is a hovering attack robot that flies nearby and assists Ratchet in his blasting – and all the while it spouts off trash talk, defeating enemies with not only laser shots, but also sizzling verbal slams. So he’s not only helpful, but also totally hilarious.
9) Cerebral Bore (Turok II: Seeds of Evil)
History has mostly shrugged off the Turok shooter series, but the acclaimed second entry (on N64 and PC) still deserves praise for one of the wildest, most grotesque game weapons we’ve ever seen: the Cerebral Bore.
Your firearm blasts off a missile that doesn’t just seek any warm body part – it goes straight for the cranium, and then proceeds to drill right into the brain, spouting copious pools of blood in the process. The A.I. foes will even try to run away from it, and really, why wouldn’t they? The flailing and squirming makes it all the more horrific. At least the dated graphics make it a lot less gruesome than it would be on one of the current consoles.
8) Scorpion’s Spear (Mortal Kombat)
Despite sharing a basic costume design with several other fighters, Scorpion has been one of the most popular and recognizable Mortal Kombat kombatants since the start. Why? It’s all about the spear.
Blasting out from his palm towards an enemy, Scorpion can grab his foe from across the screen and pull him/her up close for a killer uppercut or other attack, while his guttural "Get Over Here" yell only makes it all the more savage. It’s also been used for some truly, delightfully gross fatalities, too.
7) Fire Flower (Super Mario Bros.)
World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. helped set the template for the entire platforming genre… and then you hop into the pipe, go underground, and immediately find something cooler than just jumping on the heads of creatures: flingable fireballs.
Consuming the Fire Flower, Mario becomes quite a bit more Super – and whether in the classic 2D or later in 3D, it’s one of the all-time classic ways of dispatching foes.
Also Read › The 13 best Mario games of all time
6) Fat Man (Fallout)
Fallout is a series set in a world in the wake of nuclear holocaust – but it’s not all darkness and misery. Case in point: the Fat Man, AKA the M-42 Tactical Nuclear Catapult, is an absolute blast (pun intended), letting you fire mini-nukes at unsuspecting enemies.
Just aim and fire, and the massive explosion will not only fry anything within range, but give you a nice, compact mushroom cloud in the process. It’s equally monstrous and magnificent, really.
5) Mark 2 Lancer (Gears of War)
Many of the weapons on this list are a couple of decades old, but Gears of War‘s Mark 2 Lancer became iconic from the get go. It’s like a modern update to the historical rifle/bayonet combo, except it’s an assault rifle with a friggin’ chainsaw attached.
The Lancer is the best of both worlds: a trusty firearm and a seriously gnarly way to gut a Locust when things get a little too up close and personal.
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4) Golden Gun (Goldeneye 007)
The best gun in one of the most influential shooters of all time, the Golden Gun had an entire multiplayer mode dedicated to it purely because of how drastically it changed the gameplay dynamics.
The player wielding it had a massive advantage, with a guaranteed one-hit kill on every single shot, really making you feel like you’d stepped into the shoes of Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga. A frustratingly slow reload time, however, combined with the fact that every other player on the map now had the singular purpose of taking you down, meant that this power was often short lived. Still, fun while it lasted.
3) Buster Sword (Final Fantasy VII)
Final Fantasy VIII‘s Gunblade came up in discussion, as did Sephiroth’s Masamune from FFVII – but ultimately the series’ most iconic weapon has to be Cloud’s gargantuan Buster Sword. It’s almost as tall as he is and probably wider than his own waist, yet he wields the enormous blade with ease and ultimately uses it to restore peace to Gaia.
Like both Cloud and the game that spawned it, the Buster Sword is undeniably awkward, yet immensely powerful and memorable.
2) Gravity Gun (Half-Life 2)
Valve’s Half-Life 2 and its narrative-expanding Episodes deserve praise for a lot of things, whether it’s the foreboding atmosphere, intense action, or believable performances – and the wonderful gravity gun certainly belongs on that list.
Officially the "zero-point energy field manipulator," the gun lets you pick up and fling nearly anything at enemies: saw blades, barrels, computers, and even other people. Oh, the satisfaction.
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1) BFG 9000 (Doom)
The BFG 9000 – or Big "Freaking" Gun (choose your adjective, of course) – lives up to its billing not only as a very large gun, but also an insanely powerful one, capable of vaporising rooms of hell-demons with a single shot.
That legacy has continued on through the years, including into last year’s great Doom reboot. No doubt, the brash name is a big part of its allure… but then again, it’s a big (and amazing) effing gun, too.