Press Start: Video games' most satisfying weapons
Nothing makes an action game an absolute joy to play like a solid, reliable weapon.
Make that weapon unique and satisfying to use over and over again and you've got a recipe for an addicting and thrilling video game.
Luckily, developers are a creative bunch, and they have come up with thousands of satisfying weapons players can use in their games over the years. There are far too many to name even a small fraction of them, but here's a handful of the weapons I have yet to grow tired of using.
Whenever someone mentions “Half-Life 2,” only one weapon comes to mind: the gravity gun.
This weapon manipulates gravity to allow players to pick up objects and then shoot them forward with incredible force. After the gun is introduced, players can spend the entire Ravenholm level using only the gun to pick up buzz saws and other dangerous objects to destroy alien adversaries.
More than a decade since the game's release, fans are still hoping a real gravity gun might one day be possible.
No weapon is more true to its name than this gritty shotgun from the “Gears of War” series.
This lever-action firearm has an incredibly short range, making it almost useless at any distance farther than arm's reach. Add in its wide spread and the Gnasher is one of the few guns in video game history best used while blind-firing from the hip instead of aiming down its sights.
The Gnasher is so thrilling to use that almost all competitive “Gears of War” players wield it as their primary weapon. It's always a blast to win a Gnasher dual by, well, blasting your opponent apart at close range.
“Bulletstorm” is a first-person shooter that turns combat into a comical, arcade-like experience. Your goal isn't just to kill bad guys but to end them with unique combos and creative moves.
Instead of shooting enemies to death, players are encouraged to kick them into spike walls, chain them together before blowing them up and other ridiculous antics.
Fortunately, the game's signature weapon, the energy leash, makes this much easier and far more enjoyable. Players are equipped with an energy whip they can use to pull enemies in closer for kills, but the leash's main ability is to launch baddies sky-high. By slamming the leash on the ground, opponents are blasted upward—becoming airborne targets ripe for the killing.
SHADOW HUNTER BOW
Plenty of video games feature bows and arrows, but the recently released “Horizon Zero Dawn” might handle this primitive weapon in the most satisfying way.
The game's shadow hunter bow gives players the ability to use three different types of ammo to take down the robot creatures that roam the world. Add in main character Aloy's ability to nock up to three arrows and her shots can rip through robots' weak points with ease.
It never gets old shredding components off mechanical beasts, and other bows with different capabilities and ammo types make it all the more fun.
Last year's reboot of the classic “Doom” franchise is known for its over-the-top violence. Trapped in space as demons invade from Hell itself, players are equipped with an arsenal of powerful guns to vanquish the demon horde.
The game's most thrilling weapon is the chainsaw. Although you rarely get to use it due to its overwhelming power to instantly kill almost any enemy, it's always a satisfying (and gory) treat to cut demons to shreds with it.
The Black Spindle is an iconic sniper rifle from the science-fiction shooter “Destiny.” What makes it unusual is its particular usefulness in raids.
The Black Spindle has the unique ability to magically refill its own magazine of ammunition if you manage to rapidly land every shot in an enemy's critical weak point. A lot of raid battles come down to bosses standing still with their giant, unmissable weak spots exposed, allowing teams of players to pull out their Black Spindles and quickly do catastrophic damage without having to reload even once.
What makes the gun even better was how hidden it was in the game and the effort and teamwork required to even find and unlock it. There's nothing quite as satisfying as wielding a powerful weapon it took work and perseverance to claim.
Those who played early “Halo” games with their high school buddies know about the energy sword. If any multiplayer map featured this weapon, you can bet everyone was fighting to get it—because whoever had it would surely get in at least a few easy kills.
This melee weapon allows the wielder to quickly lunge at opponents from a decent distance, and anyone hit with it instantly dies. To defeat someone holding an energy sword, you need either luck, distance or cat-like reflexes with a shotgun. Of course, anyone holding the energy sword tries to remain in constrained spaces to make the most use of the weapon, making taking that person out all the more difficult.
But, if you're the one holding the sword, you can bet you've got a smile on your face as you effortlessly cut down one opponent after another.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing email@example.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.