Swords, spears, axes, maces, and bows for fighters. Wands and fancy-looking staves for mages. Wolverine-style claws and double daggers for thieves. Some useless trinket for healers.
Let’s face it: MMOs (particularly fantasy ones) aren’t often tripping over themselves in an effort to present our characters with weapons outside of the genre norm. If you’ve played one MMO, you’ve probably seen about 90% of the weapon types that you’ll encounter in all of the rest. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with offering these tried-and-true selections to players, I do wish that devs would broaden their horizons once in a while with a pen-and-paper RPG weapons manual.
Credit where it is due, of course. Sometimes MMOs do bust out interesting weapon types that haven’t gotten a lot of play elsewhere, which is both encouraging to discover and discouraging when you move on to another game that pretends it hasn’t even heard of such items. Today we’re going to go through 10 (well, a few more than that) weapons that really should be in more MMOs.
Bows and arrows make me sigh. Yes, we as a geek culture have some sort of weird fixation for playing out Legolas or Katniss fantasies, but I’ve never been in the archery camp. Now crossbows? Those are wicked awesome — the medieval version of an assault or sniper rifle. One of my all-time favorite MMO weapons was the repeating crossbow in Dungeons and Dragons Online.
Yes, crossbows do turn up from time to time among bow-using classes, but they’re almost always underrepresented in the game’s arsenal and presented as a distant second to the ever-perfect bow.
No, it’s not too late to whip it, whip it good!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Anyway, it’s downright criminal how MMOs have been prejudiced against whips from the start. I grew up in a gaming generation that thought Castlevania’s Simon Belmont was the cat’s pajamas for his whipping action, and Indiana Jones certainly helped to keep the coolness factor of the whip high from the ’80s on. But where are our whips in MMOs? Why am I not twirling and cracking like a mad circus tamer?
Probably the answer is “excessive animation,” but if that’s the case, then shame on the animators. Whips are worth it.
Oh, staves are all over MMOs — as magical talismans. I can’t tell you how long it’s bugged me that somewhere along the line, fantasy games decided that the staff should be the sole property of the wizard, ignoring the quarterstaff’s rich history as a melee weapon. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t want to be holding my staff up like a lightning rod while I channel a spell; I want to be Donatello, lashing out with eight pounds of solid hickory.
4. Single pistol
Have you ever seen a contemporary video game that features pistols limit their characters to only using one at a time? Of course not; it’s dual pistol wielding all the way because that’s movie code for “bad to the bone.” In my book, however, a character who has only to rely on one pistol to get the job done is the real threat, since he or she has confidence and skill not to need a backup.
Hat tip to Guild Wars 2’s Engineers for being one of the only classes I can think of to limit a character to a single gun.
Now this I don’t get. Many MMOs have maces, of which the morningstar and flail are closely related. But the latter two are hardly ever seen, despite having a much cooler look (in my opinion) and being a D&D staple. How come?
It probably goes back to the animation factor. Not a lot of extra anything you have to animate with a mace, but when it comes to a morningstar with a chain and head flying all around, it might make designing items that move independent to a character tricky.
To be fair, it’s not as though flamethrowers are completely foreign to MMOs. Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, and even RIFT all have versions of this impractical (but flashy) weapon. It’s just that I have such a love for shooting flaming torrents all over the place that I think that they should be in any game that even has a hint of industrial-level technology. Yes, I’m pretty much Hank Scorpio from the Simpsons.
7. Boomerang/Hunga Munga
Maybe MMO devs and I stand on opposite sides of a chasm on this, but I really like the idea of weapons that you can throw. I mean, if we’re shooting infinite arrows, why not toss out darts and stones and other such things?
Along those likes are two weapons that I can’t recall ever seeing in an MMO: the Australian boomerang and the African hunga munga. Both are designed to be thrown over a good distance to disable or even kill foes, but I guess the hunga munga is a little too exotic (even though Buffy the Vampire Slayer often used one) and the boomerang saddled with the reputation of being a goofy kid weapon thanks to its appearance in old-school games like Zelda.
8. Throwing Stars/Shuriken
Well, if you we can’t have boomerangs, how about throwing stars? These do pop up from time to time, although I’m disheartened how they’re often a one-shot, once-in-a-while skill instead of a main weapon for a character or class. Picture yourself darting around the battlefield, whipping these bad boys all over the place and then watching your foe crumple to the ground as blood pours out of a dozen holes. I mean picture yourself in a game doing this, not real life. Please seek help otherwise.
I AM DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS. HERE IS MY WEAPON, WHICH I CAN ALSO USE TO CUT DOWN WHEAT AND THEN HANG IN MY KITCHEN TO GIVE IT A COUNTRY FEEL.
If crossbows have a grudge against the bow for constantly showing them up, I can’t imagine how slings and slingshots feel as even more ignored forms of ancient artillery. These weapons were — and still are — common across the world and capable of inflicting great harm on an enemy with enough practice. Again, DDO seems to be the only MMO giving this weapon any play, and even here it’s some sort of lame weapon that magicians use so that they can do cowardly 1d2 damage from behind a barrel without risk of getting hurt.