Diecast #357: The Magnum

By Shamus Posted Monday Oct 4, 2021

Filed under: Diecast 161 comments

Once again, thanks to Paul for his patience and longsuffering in the face of my ceaseless filibuster. I imagine it’s not easy to play second-fiddle to my inflated sense of self-importance, but Paul manages to pull it off. For those of you wondering just how lopsided the conversation is, I’ve posted a screenshot of the podcast at the end of the show notes.

Also, check out the reverse mailbag question below. I’d love to hear your answer, even if you don’t listen to the podcast.

Hosts: Paul, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.

Link (YouTube)

Show notes:
00:42 Death Loop

11:34 Dyson Sphere Project

16:19 New World: Amazon’s new MMO

I need to correct what I said on the podcast. I’ve hopped around and played with a few alts, and now I can see the game isn’t nearly as dynamic or player-controlled as it seemed at first. The town locations and layout are 100% fixed.

That being the case, I need to curse the developer who decided the Marauder faction leader needed to be on the giant ship in the middle of town. Was it completely necessary to make players climb ALL THESE STEPS just to turn in the next stupid fetch quest? The Syndicate faction is usually overpopulated and dominating on the servers I’ve visited, and I wonder how much of that has to do with the fact that the Syndicate faction leader is right there between the crafting stations and the player storage, while the Covenant is at the end of a pointless dead end street and the Marauders are at the top of fucking Machu Picchu.

Location, location, location.

37:50 Reverse Mailbag: Favorite Gun

Dear Diecast Listeners,

What’s your favorite videogame firearm? If you could take a gun from an old game and have it in a modern one, what would it be?

Also, MOST people are going to answer the Doom2 shotgun or the Half-Life 2 revolver. That can be your answer if you want, but see if you can come up with any other amazing examples.


39:17 Mailbag: Bad Writing is Bad

Like I said on the show, this question is going to get an article of its own later in the week.

39:44 Mailbag: Sympathy for the Publisher

Dear Diecast

Recently I’ve been reading Jason Schreier’s book named ‘Press Reset’. First chapter is about Warren Spector, who needs no introduction (just in case, he’s mostly known for such titles as Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Bad Blood and of course CyberMage: Darklight Awakening. Also something called ‘Deus Ex’, but who knows what that even is).

The chapter describes many ups and downs of his career, but suffice to say that the man is a veteran of the industry. What striked me, however, is how he described his approach to creating games – that in order to make a great game, you have to go over-budget and over-time. Otherwise, it’s simply not possible. To quote: ‘Can you name one game that has shipped on time and on budget that anybody cares about?’.

Now, I know it’s a common thing to point at publishers and accuse them of being incompetent, greedy nincompoops. And many times it’s probably true. There were many cases in that chapter that described exactly that – great games were crushed, because publishers had no idea what they were doing (my favourite example was when Eidos marketing told Spector that they won’t let him do a western game, because that genre is dead and is never going to make any money… and then Red Dead Redemption was released).

But, at the same time, I can understand them a little – imagine if you hire someone who openly admits that he will go over-time and over-budget because, well, that is how he rolls.

Just to be clear, I love pretty much everything that Spector was involved. The man is a genius, no doubt about that. But, I mean, that attitude must be infuriating to work with. I wonder how many devs share his beliefs.

I don’t have experience with making games, so I want to ask: do you think it’s true? That in order to be truly great, the game needs to go overboard and be done under pressure? Or it’s simply a matter of proper organization?



PS: This question supposed to be only three sentences long. But tell me guys, can you name one question that had appropriate length that anybody cares about?

44:24 Mailbag: The Trilogy

Dear Diecast,

Trilogies! Who doesn’t like the anticipation of an excellent game getting a sequel, having the sequel change everything good from the first to bad, and having the third piss on the first’s grave. Messy Effects aside, I wonder whether the trilogy is actually a great opportunity to iterate and improve game concepts. One particular example that jumps to mind is the Creeper World series. The first was fun, but especially from a production value perspective, not much more than a playable prototype. The second changed almost everything and I like the gameplay quite a bit less than the first. The third stays more true to the concept of the first, yet still uses many good ideas from the second, and has much better production value. (but still pretty basic, it’s pretty clear the dev is a programmer, not an artist. Which is fine.)

Are there other games that used their trilogy to iterate and improve? Or do any notable missed opportunities come to mind?

With kind regards,

Marvin “can also write questions shorter than a novel”

51:07 Mailbag: Star Wars Visions

Dear Diecast

Have you guys seen Star Wars Visions? I know it’s a bit of a meme nowadays that anything that’s not the sequel trilogy is the greatest Star Wars thing since the originals but Visions felt genuinely fresh and fun in a way that the fanservice-ridden Mandalorian season two wasn’t and it isn’t even canon!

Love, Donkey

The Filibuster

As promised, here is what the podcast looks like in our audio editor:

The top bar is Paul’s audio. The one below it is my audio. You can see that my audio is mostly an unbroken blue line. Paul’s audio is mostly a horizontal line (no sound) with occasional vertical lines where he might jump in with an “I see” or an “Oh, yeah. Right.”


From The Archives:

161 thoughts on “Diecast #357: The Magnum

  1. Dev+Null says:

    Portal gun. My work is done here now.

    How much fun could you have in Hitman with a portal gun?

    1. Awetugiw says:

      I vaguely recall a shooter with portal gun being released recently, but I can’t recall the name.

      Has anyone played it? And if so, does it work?

      1. beleester says:

        Splitgate is the name, but I haven’t played it.

        1. John says:

          Neither have I, but, as I understand it, Splitgate equals Halo multiplayer plus Portal. It’s apparently pretty popular, which is not too surprising given its antecedents.

  2. Rariow says:

    So my favourite video game weapon is probably Half-Life 2’s Revolv… Ahem, OK, not that one then… TF2’s Soldier’s Rocket Launcher. It’s the perfect combination of great gamefeel and incredibly high skill ceiling. Mastering rocket jumping is one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve ever had in a game, and gives you a level of advantage to the point where it feels like you’re just straight up being allowed to cheat.

    1. Tomas says:

      Great pick! (Although I played TFC much more than TF2, but I guess they were similar.)

    2. Echo Tango says:

      I think I’d take the energy blaster from the original (platformer) Duke Nukem, just because it doesn’t have ammo, and you could make it really flashy with modern effects. Like, even the plasma gun from Deus Ex is miles better, let alone the neon sprays of Hard Reset, let alone a game from the current generation. I’d use it as a trade-off for the player, where guns that take less skill to use more ammo compared to the supply, or have more cooldown, etc. So regular lead-based pistols or rifles would have fairly strict ammo counts, because your guy can’t really strap many magazines to their body without impeding their movement. Spraying out blobs of slow-moving plasma wouldn’t have an ammo limit, but you have to lead your shots fairly accurately, etc. :)

  3. Yerushalmi says:

    The Klobb. Just for the hilarity factor.

    1. Nixorbo says:

      Ah yes, what we referred to as the Insult Rifle, because “I just killed you with a Klobb” was pretty damn insulting.

      1. Eichengard says:

        “Hey! No killing unarmed players!”

        “You had a gun!”

        “It was a klobb..”

        “Oh, sorry.”

  4. MerryWeathers says:

    00:42 Death Loop

    I think this might be the weakest modern Arkane game for me, decent but it feels “diluted” in its systems compared to Dishonored and Prey, I agree with some people about the game getting bogged down by how it makes the timeloop mechanic linear and directly points out the pieces of the puzzle instead of making you figure it out yourself.
    Also don’t worry Shamus, there’s no reverse psychology going on with Juliana and her motives.

    37:50 Reverse Mailbag: Favorite Gun

    I like the Gravity Gun.

    44:24 Mailbag: The Trilogy

    It ultimately depends on the game but I think a lot of them are capable of having more entries than just a trilogy, unlike movies because games can be reiterated and improved upon forever. There’s really no limit, I mean just look at Nintendo’s franchises.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I think even movies can be iterated and improved upon. The franchise pointed out by Red Letter Media, and which I now understand and agree with, is Mad Max. None of those films really make sense as continuous, same-universe stories, but all work very well on their own. It helps that the main character(s) have fairly mysterious, unknown backgrounds, so you can more easily imagine any previous incarnations’ characteristics are canon or non-canon as you see fit. (With the massive asterisk, that each film needs to make sense on its own; If any film only makes sense by pulling things from previous films, it would be failing at its job of story-telling.) Novels and comic-books have worked well with standalone stories; Films can do it too! :)

  5. Joshua says:

    Half-life 1 Gluon gun? Just give it unlimited ammo, it won’t be game breaking or anything….

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      You’re gonna love the Xen section in Black Mesa.

  6. Canthros says:

    1. Favorite Gun

    I really like Unreal Tournament’s Flak Cannon, back in the day. The sort of shotgun + grenade launcher combo really clicked for me … 20 years ago.

    2. Warren Spector re: games going over-budget and over-schedule

    Although I suspect that says more about some long-standing dysfunction between bean-counting, publisher types and free-spirited, creative, game developer types, I was mostly reminded of Hofstadter’s Law: “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”

    I can’t imagine many publishers wanting to fund anything Spector pitched after a statement like that, too. Even if all sides acknowledge that budgets and schedules are a sort of game (as they often are in many companies), it suggests that he doesn’t play the game well!

    3. Star Wars: Visions

    I’ve watched *most* of it. It’s … uneven, as one might expect from an anthology. I think the best bits lean really, really hard on samurai tropes (to the point that a couple of them are pretty much samurai tales with lightsabers). The worst are basically anime tropes colored with Star Wars elements (one of them is basically the studio’s usual visual schtick in a bit of Star Wars-esque costumery). It’s fine, as long as it’s basically non-canon, I think, but … eh. It’s all short, inessential, and mostly kinda empty.

    I’ve got two to go. Maybe those last two are both fantastic.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      Eh, I found the last two shorts to be the weakest ones. I agree with you that the best shorts were the samurai-esque ones (The Duel and The Village Bride, plus The Ninth Jedi) though I thought Visions was great overall.

      1. Canthros says:

        I am …. less-enamored of “The Ninth Jedi”: it’s definitely among the better entries, but the alignment-detecting lightsabers irks me, and the timeskip both makes it unnecessary to even nod at past continuity and undercuts my engagement with the story.

        I thought “The Elder” was alright, though, and that’s yet another entry that’s basically a samurai story with just enough Star Wars gloss on it to make it into the collection.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          I thought it was fine and led to the standout moment of the short, what did irk me a bit was one of the Sith acolytes turning out to be a Jedi all along but just standing in a room with them made him turn evil because dark side, that came out of nowhere and was unecessary. I also didn’t mind that it was set in the distant future, Visions truly being stand-alone was one of the best things about it.

          The Elder was solid but the character models looking rough and flat took a bit of my enjoyment from it. Also apparently David Harbour voiced the Jedi master in the english dub? This is the second animated series this year where having an ensemble cast is an unacknowledged by most people and discussions from what I’ve seen.

          1. Canthros says:

            That all sounds about right, to me. I think the stand-alone-ness is both a strength and a weakness. It reduces the need to interact with past and future continuity … but it also reduces the need to interact with past and future continuity.

            As far as the voice cast goes … I switched over to the Japanese audio almost as soon as possible, a couple minutes into “The Duel”, so I don’t know how good or bad the English cast actually is. (I’m one of Those Nerds.) I hope it’s better than the voice work in What If, though, which seems to vary a lot on whether the actor in question has done, you know, voice acting before.

          2. Nick-B says:

            Just coming off of a Jedi Fallen Order game a few months back, I was all up in Star Wars lore until I noticed that most of the anime spit all over lore. Almost like all Star Wars media is a messy jumble of conflicting timeline and logic?

            Heh, anyway.
            Kyber crystals apparently NOT being all from an ice planet somewhere.
            Kyber crystals apparently NOT needing to be mined personally by the wielder, chosen by the crystal itself.
            Saber colors being a reflection of the wielder, rather than a personal choice (maybe only these particular sabers were mood-dependant, but if not then why does EVERY sith pick red?).
            I notice just how much Japan apparently hates the idea of round-tube light sabers.
            I see the trilogy movie’s non-saber anti-saber weapons made an appearance in Lop & Ocho.
            Apparently being sliced in the chest to leave two glowing red lines is not even enough to make you flinch in pain.
            The Jedi master in “The Elder” sounded like he was doing his darnd-est “Harrison-Ford-Not-Giving-A-Damn” impression.
            Robots can apparently be Jedi? (side note, I couldn’t get over how MEGA-MAN that episode was)

            1. Thomas says:

              Visions is deliberately non-canon. The idea was to give a bunch of unusual creative people the chance to do their own take on Star Wars without having to be bound by the kind of details you list.

              They’ve hinted they may bring some parts into canon if popular, but otherwise it’s more of a ‘What-if’ than mainstream Star Wars

              1. Sabrdance says:

                I have not had a chance to watch it -but it sounds like they opened the world to fan films and then got fan films.

                Which isn’t a gripe -I liked a lot of the fan films back in the day. But a lot of them were basically prelude to a lightsaber duel with a small denouement. And a lot of them were good -with real emotion and decent effects (computers came a long way 20 years ago). Even if the fight choreography was lame (and it could range from sub-Alec Guiness to better than Ray Park) the stories were still good.

            2. Canthros says:

              re: spitting on lore

              I think it’s less that they ‘spit all over [the] lore’ than that most of that stuff is sort of … deep cut nerd shit–or you’re assuming things that weren’t ever true (or haven’t been true since the Expanded Universe was first a thing). There’s a couple exceptions, like the mood sabers or Force-sensitive droids, but saber-resistant armor and weapons have been around in Star Wars for ages, and lightsaber crystals haven’t come exclusively from Ilum basically ever.

              Strict (or even loose) adherence to established lore was clearly not part of the Visions remit, so that didn’t bother me so much. (I found the moodsabers annoying just because it’s silly. I found T0-B1 annoying because I found T0-B1 annoying–strong Astroboy vibes, too. And I didn’t like “The Twins” because it seemed a) bananas and b) an excuse for somebody to do their usual shenanigans on top of Star Wars instead of finding a way to do something Star Wars with their schtick.) The space-Japan thing wears pretty thin, though.

              Big YMMV, though.

  7. CJK says:

    Favourite game gun? The Unreal Tournament 2K3/4 flak cannon, and some later close relatives like Roadhog’s Scrap Gun in Overwatch. There’s something very satisfying about a gun with comparable punch to a double barreled shotgun with the secondary capability of “do that, but over there”.

    Also, I’m struggling to pull a single example of this, but pistols in games of the early 2000s. They were nearly always hitscan, and nearly always balanced such that a headshot would be lethal if you could land one, giving rise to the emergent cheese of using something scoped (or binoculars, in games that had those) to get lined up and then switching weapons to the pistol to land the blow.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I don’t really mind hitscan weapons in and of themselves, but they’d have to have a maximum range, and the player would shift a little when switching weapons. :)

    2. evilmrhenry says:

      The Unreal series has some great weapons. I’m a bit more fond of the shock rifle than the flak cannon, with a soft spot for the rocket launcher that lets you load multiple rockets, but the flak cannon is still pretty good, and that’s three weapons that are S-tier.

      And I think all of them debuted in the original Unreal, and just got brought forward entry by entry, because they’re not broke so why fix them.

      1. Zekiel says:

        Shock rifle is brilliant, I’d totally forgotten that. The fact that you can knock enemies off ledges is great dun, and the “shoot the alt fire projectile to create a huge explosion” feels really fun.

        The flak cannon is also great, so +1 for that too.

  8. Chris says:

    Nemesis Prototype from synthetik. Single shot insane damage sniper rifle, that also ricochets like 5 times. Also, from HL2 i liked the crossbow more than the revolver. And in HL1 the tau canon is amazing. FEAR also has some amazing weapons, the particle effects really sell you on them.

  9. RE: New World

    It sounds like you started in First Light, then. There are actually multiple different starter zones on the world map (they all look identical, oddly enough) and you get sorted into one randomly, so I started in Windsward which is actually one of the more conveniently laid-out cities.

    Yes, I really wish the faction in charge of the city could change the layout a bit and, like, put the intermediate and finished-product crafting stations next to each other, so the smelter is next to the forge etc.

    1. I think the reason why everyone joins the Syndicate is optics, really. The Covenant and the Mauraders both sound a bit sketchy, although from what I’ve seen they’re actually extremely benign (the game takes its multiculturalism and inclusive attitude kinda seriously and is reluctant to openly criticize anyone).

      It’s kinda weird because here’s a game that’s nominally about colonialism and imperialism and dirty factions fighting it out over control of this island . . . and all the NPC’s are super-nice and pleasant and largely cooperative and there’s no one to hate.

      Honestly, the NPC’s are so incredibly bland that I wish they hadn’t voiced and animated them at all, it just seems like a waste.

      1. The reason why everyone came to this hidden island is because NOBODY DIES HERE. (Yes, they actually made the MMO conceit where you just respawn into part of the physics of the game.) The problem is that since apparently your soul is like, tied to the land here, people’s mental states affect the terrain and the world. So, if you get really sad and depressed and don’t care about living any more, you STILL CAN’T DIE, instead you go crazy and become “Lost” and turn into a psycho zombie ghoul that attacks anyone who comes near you.

        And the ancients who built the place are still hanging around as, like, barely-held-together skeletons and stuff.

        And then, if you’re an evil, greedy asshole, it becomes infectious and you become Corrupted and start spreading this disease of evil all over the place.

        So, it’s an amazing Atlantis-style paradise where nobody ever dies . . . under threat from all the people who’ve gone crazy and evil and also can’t die.

        1. Also, the economy is definitely a thing, and it definitely works, it’s just, presently, oriented around people selling their high-quality dungeon and corruption portal loot.

          It’ll probably become more of a trading center for resources when the game settles down more and everyone isn’t leveling their professions like mad so they’re keeping everything for themselves.

      2. Thomas says:

        I read that midway through making the game they realised they didn’t want to handle the implications of making a game about colonialism (i.e. that colonialism wasn’t very nice) so they pulled out all the conflict from the story.

        I haven’t played the game, so I can’t verify that. But it’s believable to me that someone started making a game because “they had nice hats in the 1600-1800s”, and only later realised it might be awkwatd to root for the guys robbing and displacing the locals.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I very distinctly remember around the time early promotional materials were released they gave “does this look Very Problematic to anybody else” vibes and the internet took note so I wouldn’t be surprised if they overcorrected.

  10. tmtvl says:

    Gun from an older game I would like to take to other games? The plasma gun from Starsiege Tribes. I know the stormhammer is the popular choice, but I like the versatility of the plasma gun. It can take down infrastructure and still works in direct combat.

    1. beleester says:

      The Fusion Mortar was always my favorite for sheer firepower, even if you probably won’t be hitting any moving targets with it. It’s like, since when were you allowed to carry this much boom in a standard-issue gun?

      1. tmtvl says:

        Eh, only heavies can use it, and to hit anything at any distance you basically need assistance from beacons or someone with a targetting laser. That said, it is the best against infrastructure and coordinated fire can turn open-field battles into sheer insanity.

  11. King Marth says:

    The Corinth, from Warframe. It’s a shotgun with satisfying audio, but the alternate fire is one of the few shooting mechanics I’ve really enjoyed – it’s an airburst AoE at a fixed distance from you which is downgraded to a regular shot if the projectile hits anything before it reaches the explosion distance, so unlike your regular rocket you aren’t targeting the ground or an enemy in the middle of a group. That sounds like a downside, but it makes the firing modes distinct and both useful, and there’s a very Zen-like quality to shooting between your targets.

  12. Gautsu says:

    Shamus, did you get my email this week? I can resend if it hit the spam filter?

    1. Shamus says:

      I didn’t get anything from you.

      1. Gautsu says:

        Resent just now. You can skip putting it in a separate diecast if it is easier to answer here

  13. Ninety-Three says:

    My favorite old gun might be the mid-tier fast-firing sniper rifle from Mass Effect 2 (came out 11 years ago, it counts as old now). Almost all sniper rifles play exactly the same, this one had the novel property of not doing enough damage to one-shot trash mobs (at least on the high difficulties), but firing really fast so that you could headshot one guy twice then quickly move on to the guy beside him as well. It was mediocre when used by the actual sniper class whose abilities were all focused around one shot one kill, but the soldier’s abilities synergized with it perfectly, it was super satisfying to turn on bullet time and click on three or four heads in rapid succession. It was a cool enough play pattern that I kept using it for a while even after I got the next, objectively more powerful tier of sniper rifle.

  14. Tizzy says:

    Haven’t touched Deathloop yet, but Shamus’s fears of the reverse-psychology twist reminds me of a trend I noticed were certain single-player game devs get outright passive-aggressive about giving motivations for their protagonist. As if they resented players expectations, which I can kind of understand: “We gave you good gameplay. Shouldn’t this be enough motivation for the player to play? But no…. Not enough… Fancy player wants a motivation for their avatar as well!” (Cue to studio scrambling to come up with a story after spending years polishing the game.) To me, that’s the kind of attitude that can explain a lot of these “eff you player” plots.

  15. Lars says:

    I think Skyrim and GTA V made it on time and budget. But Skyrim was announced only 6 month before release, so maybe there were internal release pushing – and GTAs budget was basically unlimited.
    Funny: Duke Nukem Forever came out on time: When it’s done.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      Skyrim had to cut out a lot of content (specifically about the civil war) to meet its 2011 release date though, which I think Bethesda set just so they could boast that the game was released exactly on 11/11/11.

  16. pseudonym says:

    Re: over-time and over-budget is needed for quality

    I can’t find anything on the internet about Mass Effect being either over-time or over-budget… So I tend to think that proper time and cost budgetting is possible.

  17. pseudonym says:

    Re: favourite gun

    I really liked the Black Widow in Mass Effect 3 with the time slow-down module and the spare ammo extensions. In the hands of an infiltrator it was a lot of fun to play.

  18. Lino says:

    For the first Mailbag question, I’d definitely go with the Gravity Gun. Such an awesome weapon!

    Regarding the trilogy stuff, anthologies are a great idea. Unfortunately, they don’t mix well with marketing and having iconic, recognizable characters that drive repeat sales, and make future installments a safer bet. After all, if you’ve just invested a huge amount of money into a new IP, and it struck gold, the last thing a you want to do as a publisher is sink a bunch more money into ANOTHER new IP. If anything, you’d want to reap some rewards for the risk you just took. Then why not tell a story in the same universe, but with new characters? Because, unfortunately, most character-driven stories rely on the characters that made them famous. It’s the first thing people think of when they hear about the IP. There are some IPs that are lucky enough to be tied to a place (e.g. Jurassic Park) and can have the characters be new every time. There are even some that can have new characters every single time (e.g. Battlefield, Call of Duty, Final Fantasy), but most IPs don’t have that luxury…

    Regarding Star Wars, I haven’t gotten around to watching Visions. They didn’t seem all that interesting to me (apart from Studio Ghibli, I’ve never really liked anime), but I’ll watch them just on account of it being Star Wars. Also, I was really surprised about that Han Solo comment – I’ve never thought him living compromises the movie in any way. I like the fact that all the characters got a happy ending, and it would have felt really weird if he had just died off right at the end. I felt like it was a nice completion of his arc, and the fact that he didn’t die didn’t in any way take away from his newly-acquired selflessness for me.

    1. John says:

      Also, I was really surprised about that Han Solo comment – I’ve never thought him living compromises the movie in any way.

      It doesn’t. Also, I think it would be a bad idea for Han Solo to die a redemptive death in a movie in which we already have Darth Vader doing the same thing. Han doesn’t need to die to prove that he’s a good person. He just needs to do selfless things, and he’s been doing selfless things since at least the end of the first movie. His death would serve no purpose.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        Han didn’t serve much of a purpose himself in ROTJ, he just bumbles around after his rescue, acts as a sort of comic relief, and then kisses Leia.
        Lando steals his thunder by being the one to pilot the Millenium Falcon and deliver the final blow to the Death Star II.

        1. John says:

          You could arguably say something similar about Leia, so I’m not sure what you’re going for with this.

          1. MerryWeathers says:

            Maybe, I guess what I’m really trying to say is that the Endor plotline sucks and that the Ewoks should have been replaced by Wookies.

            1. Supah Ewok says:


      2. Shamus says:

        Reasonable people can disagree on the proper use of Han after his rescue. Reasons for offing him:

        1) Once rescued, his arc is complete.
        2) There’s not a lot for him to do.
        3) The ending is a bit cluttered. We’ve got the space battle, the ground battle, and the throne room scenes going in parallel. The idea here is that you’d wrap up the ground battle sooner, with Han sacrificing himself to bring down the shield. This gives the other two threads a little more breathing room, while also upping the stakes with the death of a core cast member.

        (Context: Harrison Ford was actually the one to campaign the hardest for Han’s death. I find that interesting. He’s either humbly accepting that his character needs to exit the story to that Luke has more time in the spotlight, or he’s hoping to run off with the movie with an epic death scene.)


        If you did this, then you’d lose out on the “I love you” / “I know” callback, and that’s one of my favorite moments in all of Star Wars. Also, once they committed to the Han+Leia pairing in the second movie, they were sort of making an implied promise that it was going to be resolved. And having Han just die would also kill that love story. Kinda a no-no, given the tone of the work and the stories Lucas was emulating.

        I don’t mind that Han didn’t die, but I do hate that he was spared so he could sell more toys.

        1. Lino says:

          Interesting… To me, his arc was complete when he got together with Leia – I saw it as a way to give the character a reward for doing the right thing. But I guess this just goes to show how good those movies were – we can have so many interpretations of why things turned out the way they did :)

        2. MerryWeathers says:

          (Context: Harrison Ford was actually the one to campaign the hardest for Han’s death. I find that interesting. He’s either humbly accepting that his character needs to exit the story to that Luke has more time in the spotlight, or he’s hoping to run off with the movie with an epic death scene.)

          Harrison Ford didn’t give a shit about Han or Star Wars at all (he’s always been incredibly blunt about this fact) and I think he wanted to get killed off so he wouldn’t need to reprise the role in future movies.

          1. John says:

            That’s certainly consistent with what I can remember from Harrison Ford’s appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio. He just didn’t think that Han Solo was a very interesting role.

        3. John says:

          I don’t mind that Han didn’t die, but I do hate that he was spared so he could sell more toys.

          Fair enough.

          Personally, I just don’t think that killing Han works in the context of the rest of Return of the Jedi. I think you’d have to change a lot of the movie and maybe even some of the previous two movies for it to feel like a natural story-telling choice. But I understand that a lot of people would like to make significant changes to Return of the Jedi anyway, so . . .

          1. Syal says:

            I’d say if you’re killing someone at the shield generator, it should be R2-D2. I mean he’s standing in the line of fire for who-knows-how-long to get the shield down. There’s your noble sacrifice.

        4. Daimbert says:

          I think another issue is what killing Han off would do for Leia’s arc. For her to accept that she loves the rogue but then have him killed instead of finishing his arc of becoming “respectable” (or at least as much as Han can, as seen in the EU) really screws her character over and makes that entire progression seem pointless and terribly tragic, for someone who already lost everything else she loved when Alderaan was destroyed. So killing Han off there really does make it a completely different type of movie.

          On the other hand, I think that killing Han in TFA was a bad move, not because Han dying there wouldn’t work, but more that Kylo failing to kill Han is more interesting for Kylo than the alternative. If Kylo was a Sith trying to overcome an inherent temptation towards the Light Side, it provides an interesting mirror to Luke’s journey where Luke had to overcome an inherent temptation towards the Dark Side and gives a LOT of options for what they can do with the character. Having him succeed in killing his parent who was trying to redeem him doesn’t give Kylo an interesting failure to spur him on or challenge him for future movies.

          1. Shufflecat says:

            I think killing Han in TFA actually does give Kylo an interesting failure… in theory.

            In theory it gives him an “I thought this would fix things, but it didn’t” crack that increasingly undermines his dedication to the sith way. Similar to killing someone in revenge, only to realize afterward that it didn’t bring any closure, and maybe even made things worse. Kylo thinks killing his father is necessary to prove his mastery over the sentimentality that’s blocking him from becoming the ubermensch all sith strive for. Only to find the opposite happens: instead of freedom, he experiences guilt and grief that take him even further from the sith ideal. Which should have been obvious to him (mastery would be walking away; thinking he needs to externally destroy what/who he’s sentimental about implies he’s mastered nothing internally, so of course he’d experience backlash instead of liberation), except he was too screwed up to see it.

            With the right storytelling hand at the wheel, this could be shown eating away at him, forcing him to question his own ideology, pitting his subsumed empathy against his stubbornness, with guilt and self-loathing in the middle playing both sides against each other. It could have been the first domino of a villainous Greek tragedy.

            In practice, nobody at Disney had a plan for anybody’s character arc beyond whichever movie they were making right now (and often not even that), so very little of what I described above comes into play in an impactful or cohesive way. It is there conceptually, but only retroactively. Instead of being properly built and sold as an emotional through-line, Kylo’s arc wanders around at random, and the impact of Han’s murder is only remembered equally randomly in fits and starts. In the end its importance to his “real” arc is relegated to a minor lever, with a poorly established fan-service ship doing all the heavy lifting at almost literally the last minute.

            But since this is about could-have-beens, IMO it’s as valid as your option.

          2. MerryWeathers says:

            I always knew Han was the likeliest of the OT trio to die in a sequel trilogy because of Harrison Ford’s attitude towards the role. He wouldn’t budge to play a major role in all three films like Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, I think he only popped up in TROS because it was a small cameo and was probably offered a good truckload of money.

            1. Chad+Miller says:

              He may have been more willing to pitch in after Carrie Fisher’s unexpected death too, since she was supposed to be the last OT character left and that obviously couldn’t continue as intended. (or maybe I’m just restating why someone was willing to hand over a wheelbarrow of money to get him back for the cameo)

        5. Supah Ewok says:

          I’ve never liked the idea of Han Solo dying in RotJ simply because ESB ends on Han-almost-dying-but-is-instead-made-a-popsicle, and the whole first act of RotJ was about getting him back. To then kill him off in another 60 minutes just doesn’t fit to me. It makes the whole first arc wasted time and repeats a lot of the pathos from the climax of the previous movie. Frankly, Leia or Luke or even Chewbacca dying just feels like it would work better, if you’re playing around with the movies as they are written by making minimal changes.

          I bet that if Lucas had listened to Harrison Ford, then instead of complaints about making teddy bears to sell toys, nerds would complain about the goes-nowhere Han plot.

          Granted, I read somewhere that the first act of RotJ was a compressed version of what was supposed to be the entire 6th movie, with Boba Fett as the main villain, when Lucas decided to just wrap it up as a trilogy (and cut down the 12 movie plan to 9). But the source of that goes back to Lucas and he has been incredibly inconsistent on what comprised his “original vision” over the years.

  19. Thomas says:

    The God of War director had an interesting reason why he wasn’t interested in making trilogies any more. He says it takes ~5 years to make a really great God of War game. And a story that takes ~15 years to resolve is just too long. You won’t be the same person you were when the story started.

    Uncharted had a problem where it Nathan Drake was stuck in the same loop every game of his adventuring life driving Elena away only for them to repair their relationship and resolve to settle down more at the end of the game. Uncharted 4 diagnosed this problem and fixed it finally – but only by strongly implying that there shouldn’t be an Uncharted 5 with Nathan Drake at the helm.

    1. Olivier FAURE says:

      Uncharted’s biggest problem is that Drake and Elena had a great dynamic in the first game that the writers completely forgot about in the next two games and the fourth game had to rebuild from the ground up.

      Don’t get me wrong, Uncharted 2 and 3 have great story moments, but Elena is basically a wasted character in both.

  20. Ander says:

    Halo 1 pistol. Effective at any range, facilitator of my favorite FPS mode (SWAT).

    1. Nixorbo says:

      +1. Could one-shot a Hunter if you hit them in the back.

    2. Khazidhea says:

      +1. Actually a lot of the Halo weapons are favourites, solely due to how much I’ve played the series (Needler is my runner up).

      But the weapon I first thought of when reading the question is the nail gun from F.E.A.R (looking it up, the 10mm HV Penetrator). No idea if it holds up either now or when the game first came out.

  21. Vowl says:

    I agree with Shamus about the Star Wars prequels being worst than the sequels and what pisses me off more are when prequel fanboys (which seem to be the majority nowadays) attempt to defend every aspect of those films and make them out as masterpieces without a hint of irony.

    It also made me realize that in ten years, the sequels will probably obtain a big meme fandom that will also defend those movies unrelentingly, not even for its merits but just because it’s a trendy meme they grew to really, really care about.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      When people say they love the PT, I find that they’re usually referring to The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith, one of which is a TV show and the other is just a single movie.

      I do agree with you about the PT being the worser films, not just on a technical level but also because it was the start of Star Wars going from a sacred untouched series to the complicated franchise-stein monster that it is today. There’s a bunch of good stuff to be found in the EU but that and the prequels diluted the brand, the Disney stuff are just following in their footsteps.

    2. BlueHorus says:

      It also made me realize that in ten years, the sequels will probably obtain a big meme fandom that will also defend those movies unrelentingly

      I’d be surprised if that happened. The Star War prequel movies were a capital-P Phenomenon, because they were:
      a) a highly-awaited return to a very popular franchise
      b) helmed by the original creator/owner
      c) going in a different direction
      d) that turned out to be terrible.

      Wheras the the sequels…don’t have that. A resurrection of a tarnished brand, with a new company in charge, that didn’t try anything really new…
      The sequels are too safe to get worked up over. Too bland. They simply retrod old ground, brought back old characters, showed us the same old Star Wars that we’d seen before. Their crime is being mediocre, rather than being truly bad.
      I may well be wrong, but I can’t see anyone caring as much – either way – about the sequels in 10 years. They’re just not notable in the same ways the prequels were.

      (I’d also be suspicious of thinking that there are armies of defenders out there…Mike Stoklasa of RedLetter Media made the point that there was a wave of articles and videos defending or ‘rethinking’ the prequels suspiciously close to the annoncement and launch of The Force Awakens.
      Defending the Prequels is also just a classic, very obvious thing for trolls to do, because it’s very likely to get a response from someone. Like going to a LOTR fan site and saying ‘that bit with Tom Bombadil sure is pointless, amirite?’ or ‘why couldn’t Gandalf just get the giant eagles to fly the Ring to Mordor’?)

      1. Trevor says:

        I think you’re right. The only niggling doubt I have is about the characters. I feel like there is still some juice in the characters of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo. I like the idea of them as the next generation of Star Wars characters, even if the execution of them in the ST did not do them justice. If Disney puts together some solid content (like a Clone Wars-type show) starring animated versions of the characters I can see the sequels being cast as the “better than we thought at the time” origin story of Finn, for example.

        But you are overall correct. The mediocrity of the sequels has left me in a place where I’m just meh about the state of the galaxy after Palpatine Death 2.0 and not caring or interested about what happens next.

      2. Rariow says:

        I find the idea that the sequels are too safe odd, because (as someone who was super on-board with them until Rise of Skywalker), the criticism usually seemed to be the opposite. No one was really mad at The Force Awakens. Some people were criticising it for being essentially a soft remake of Episode IV, but the consensus was a general “yeah, it’s fun enough, let’s just hope the other two do more interesting things”. Then The Last Jedi comes out, and everyone’s super mad precisely because it’s not playing it safe. Luke isn’t a hero, he’s a scared old man hiding in a cave, Rey’s parents don’t matter, Poe messes everything up, Snoke unceremoniously dies, the Resistance basically loses. Nothing that’s expected of the movie comes to happen, and the film spends a long time analysing what Star Wars even is and whether the Jedi are good at all. Say what you want about the film’s quality (I happen to be in camp “it’s very good”, your mileage may vary), but the backlash seems very clearly directed at the fact that the film’s decidedly un-Star Warslike. Queue “subverting your expectations” memes and all that. After that comes The Rise of Skywalker, which is soooort of a return to playing it safe, but is subversive and unexpected in just how much it spits in the face of The Last Jedi, consciously walking back elements of that film. Whatever you want to say about The Rise of Skywalker’s quality (I happen to be in camp “it’s one of the worst film’s I’ve ever watched”), it’s not doing traditional storytelling, it’s basically an overt refutation of everything The Last Jedi was trying to say.

        Independently of whether the films deserve to be redeemed or not, I do think that we will get a wave of Sequel Trilogy apologia, for the exact same reason I think there’s a very serious wave of Prequel Trilogy apologia right now: the people who watched the Sequel Trilogy as children are going to grow up and never lose their love of those films. I’m in the age group that grew up on the Prequel Trilogy – the Prequel Trilogy WAS what Star Wars meant to us as we were growing up – and a bunch of my friends still love those films. It’s not contrarianism, nor is it some desire to troll, it’s just genuine affection for the films. You can see this cycle in almost any videogame franchise that goes on long enough, with entries that people don’t like mysteriously being redeemed when the people who were of the correct age to play those games grow up enough to enter the discourse. I think it’s a big part of the infamous Zelda cycle. Skyward Sword was pretty widely disliked until a year or two ago, which, happens to be right when the people who were of prime age to play it on release would’ve been in their early to mid twenties – in my experience, that’s most of the people who are vocal about art on the Internet. Pokémon sees this happen like clockwork, too. The game three games ago (so, the one that came out roughly ten years old) is always redeemed from being widely disliked and is suddenly considered the series’ peak.

        As much as we like to analyse media, we’re all human at the end of the day, and that means stuff like nostalgia and memories of easier times is always going to paint our perception of stuff. The thing we loved as kids is almost never going to seem bad to us. Heck, I can recognize the Prequel trilogy is pretty bad, but I still love those films because I feel like I’m 14 again every time I watch them.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Independently of whether the films deserve to be redeemed or not, I do think that we will get a wave of Sequel Trilogy apologia, for the exact same reason I think there’s a very serious wave of Prequel Trilogy apologia right now: the people who watched the Sequel Trilogy as children are going to grow up and never lose their love of those films.

          The question is — and I’m not answering it because I don’t know — whether or not there really IS that kind of groundswell of young children who watched the trilogy and fell in love with it. While tickets were sold, they fell off from movie to movie and I don’t think TLJ was a movie that would appeal to children — at the very least with the siege being pretty slow — and don’t know if TFA or TROS were any better. Also, children are more plugged in these days and so would already be aware of the criticisms, which wasn’t so much the case when the PT was out. So I’m not sure that will happen. We are more likely to get people defending especially TLJ as we see it defended today: as a more artful and more serious piece that was willing to do things that Star Wars had never done than the same sort of defenses the PT gets.

          As much as we like to analyse media, we’re all human at the end of the day, and that means stuff like nostalgia and memories of easier times is always going to paint our perception of stuff. The thing we loved as kids is almost never going to seem bad to us. Heck, I can recognize the Prequel trilogy is pretty bad, but I still love those films because I feel like I’m 14 again every time I watch them.

          I’m not sure that the nostalgia blinders are as solid as we tend to think they are. A lot of the time in our memories things seem better than they were, but often we lose those blinders when we actually sit down and watch them. For myself, I’ve been buying and rewatching a lot of things — mostly TV shows — that I liked as a kid and have noticed that some are as good as I remember but for some of them — Remington Steele and Mork & Mindy being the most noticeable — I ended up hating them, and as someone who is doing this to analyze them I can usually point to why the ones that work worked and why the ones that didn’t didn’t. For some of them — Airwolf being the big example here — I can understand why I still have a nostalgia boost from watching it even as I recognize that it isn’t very good, just as you do. But then there are always shows or movies or books that we recognize as being bad works but that we find strangely entertaining, so it’s really not much different than that sort of situation.

        2. MerryWeathers says:

          I never thought the ST was risky at all, TFA and TROS were literally designed to pander to fans and while TLJ tried to do more than your average Hollywood blockbuster, I still wouldn’t call it risky.

          Whenever people talk use the word “risks” about Star Wars, it seems more like they’re referring to the PT, which was truly ambitious in simultaneously trying to be epic, expanding the SW on a much larger scale than just being adventure films, pushing digital and CGI technology in a time when it was still primitive, actually having a direct political message to say, and being the only blockbuster trilogy that built up to a bad ending. It just felt flat on its face because George is neither a good director or writer.

          1. Lino says:

            What was risky and new about TLJ? It was just Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, with the scenes in a slightly different order (the fight on the White Planet was AT THE END, rather than AT THE START! Wow!). The only “new” thing it did was bungle some character arcs.

            1. MerryWeathers says:

              Didn’t I just say that I didn’t find TLJ to not be that risky or new at all? It is basically an inversed ESB with the plot beats of Luke’s storyline in ROTJ, the film itself wasn’t that unique but it did setup an Ep. IX that wouldn’t (and shouldn’t, looking at you TROS) have been ROTJ all over again.

              The only “new” thing it did was bungle some character arcs.

              TLJ was very far from the first SW movie or story that messed up characters arcs *cough*Anakin*cough*.

              1. Lino says:

                Sorry, I thought I was replying to Rariow :/

        3. Shufflecat says:

          The thing about the prequels is that despite being badly executed, there is an actual coherent story underneath the all the jank and cheese. If you detach from whether or not it’s doing a good job communicating its story in an emotionally compelling way, you can see and maybe even respect what it thinks it’s trying to do. This makes it easy to apologize for, as one can nitpick in the films’ favor as easily as one can against them.

          I think that’s part of why there’s lots of unironic PT fans among people who were little kids when it came out: it’s flaws are the sort that filter out very easily with rose-tinted glasses. I don’t think the PT is good. I think the people who defend it are failing to see the forest for the trees. But I can see why that mistake is easy to make if one has enough emotional attachment to the experience of watching it.

          The sequel trilogy is kind of the flipside: technically well crafted in a lot of ways, but the underlying story is total meandering jank. The filter that works best for enjoying it is not nostalgic rose-tinted so much as Michael Bay “just turn your brain off and eat popcorn” orange.

          I don’t like TLJ any more than the other two in the ST. Yes it absolutely tried to do new things, and that was what I wanted, but it did the new things badly, even on their own terms. It’s a mishmash of “throw shit at the wall and see what sticks”. It has good ideas, but it doesn’t weave them together compellingly or integrate them into a coherent plot, Star Wars or no. I think this whole thing of one side dismissing TLJ critics as sour fanboys who hate change is a straw man. Or at least very selectively acknowledging only the most vocally stupid critics.

          Yes TLJ did new things, and had new ideas. No, that just by itself isn’t enough to make a movie good. Those things and ideas need to be executed sufficiently well, in addition to simply existing, in order to make the movie good as a whole. The world is full of bad movies with good ideas that no one argues about because they’re not Star Wars.

          You don’t see so many people claiming Prometheus is good movie, for example, just because it shakes up the conventions of the Alien franchise while having some good new ideas and underlying themes in it. It does those things… but that’s not nearly enough to justify how hard and often it drops the ball in the execution. Everyone walked away disappointed, no matter what they wanted.

    3. John says:

      As I see it, there are three factors at work here. The first is that the best Star Wars is the Star Wars you saw when you were a kid. The older movies, where applicable, are old and funny-looking. The newer movies somehow fail to have the same magic now that you are an adult. The second is that people who hated the prequels are mostly over it. It’s been decades. The only people still talking about the prequels are the people who really, really like them. The same will be true of the sequels in another ten or twenty years. Finally, never underestimate the power of a hot take. You aren’t going to impress anyone in 2021 by complaining about how George Lucas used the prequel trilogy to retroactively ruin your childhood. You will, however, get a lot of attention from the kind of person who did that back in the day by claiming that the prequels are in fact secret masterpieces.

      I personally would never stoop to defending the prequels, but once upon a time I wanted to. I felt, and still feel, that the amount of hate they generated was out of all proportion to their actual merits (or lack thereof). I remember watching Revenge of the Sith in the theater and thinking “That’s not so bad. I’d watch that again. I don’t know why people are so upset.” In retrospect, no, it was pretty bad. But it’s just a bad movie. There are lots of bad movies. I can understand being disappointed when a movie you were looking forward to turns out to be bad, but I can’t understand why people seem to lose their minds on the internet when bad movies have Star Wars in the title.

      1. Chad Miller says:

        On a recent rewatch I found the prequel look to be more dated than the OT at times. The difference between old practical effects and old CGI, I guess. (I first saw the OT on VHS and the PT as a teenager) All that said I found the ST worse than the PT, especially if I consider them as a trilogy as opposed to their individual component movies.

      2. MerryWeathers says:

        Finally, never underestimate the power of a hot take. You aren’t going to impress anyone in 2021 by complaining about how George Lucas used the prequel trilogy to retroactively ruin your childhood. You will, however, get a lot of attention from the kind of person who did that back in the day by claiming that the prequels are in fact secret masterpieces.

        My own true Star Wars hot take is that there was some potential in the Holiday Special as a concept.

        1. Syal says:

          “Stir, Whip, Stir Whip, Whip, Whip, Stir.”

          –Ancient Troller’s Mantra

    4. Syal says:

      Watched the first six movies semi-recently. The Phantom Menace was mediocre but not bad, really; Jar Jar is annoying and the movie has too many threads, but the story holds together and is distinct from the originals. Revenge of the Sith works alright; the dialogue sucks but the story could work with better writing.

      I do think they’re better than the sequels. The Force Awakens is just A New Hope again with a worse ending, The Last Jedi is interesting but inconsistent, and Rant of Skywalker is just nonsense.

      Attack of the Clones is still the worst Star Wars movie. Two separate stories, and one of them is “I love you for all the ways you aren’t sand.”

      I’ll say A New Hope came off worse than I remembered as well.

      1. MerryWeathers says:

        I used to think sometimes that TPM was the worst SW film, just by virtue of being so dull and boring but it managed to even out by being the best (most natural) looking prequel film. ROTS feels like where most of the actual story of the PT was jam packed into.

        AOTC is the worst film in terms of watchability but TROS might also be the worst in terms of what it does to and how it ends the saga.

        1. Syal says:

          It’s a tough call between them; TROS has the Zombie Emperor, but it also has a lightsaber fight across Force-connected space. AOTC has the cringiest romance and I don’t remember it having any good moments to make up. Mayyybe the Yoda fight? Still disappointed they used CGI and not the puppet for that.

      2. Mr. Wolf says:

        I love the high concept of Attack of the Clones: Detective Obi-Wan hunts down an assassin but stumbles on a galaxy-spanning conspiracy that threatens to start a war in a play for absolute domination.

        Imagine Deus Ex, except with Jedi instead of cyborgs.

    5. Daimbert says:

      I’d have to strongly disagree here. While I don’t think that the PT was good and that it has huge flaws, it’s not as bad as the sequel series. I rewatch the PT and OT roughly once a year (often around Christmas) and a couple of years ago revived it and noted that I DIDN’T want to include the ST movies, or any of the new ones. I STILL haven’t seen TROS and have never rewatched any of the ST, despite being willing to watch the PT on a regular basis (when I was rewatching them more frequently due to the pandemic, I ended up skipping the PT because the OT was more interesting and I was on a Star Wars kick). So the ST, at least for me, is so bad that it has caused someone who used to rewatch the Star Wars movies and read the EU stuff (now Legends) to never rewatch the ST, not even FINISH watching the ST, and have no interest in the new EU around the ST, when the PT didn’t do.

      Why do I dislike them? The Force Awakens was essentially a re-do of A New Hope without capturing the heart of the series, The Last Jedi was completely ambiguous about what it was trying to do while seemingly really trying to send a clear message, the two movies battled with each other over what the trilogy was supposed to be doing, neither of them created nor developed interesting characters, neither of them developed the universe despite the time skip leaving us confused at to just what the state of the universe is, and the last movie from what I’ve heard tried to drag the movie back to the original idea and then resolve the trilogy despite TLJ leaving the trilogy in a state where a resolution would be contrived. I would have rathered no new trilogy than the ST we got, and I was excited about the ST.

      For all its flaws, the PT is mostly harmless and can be ignored, and even mildly entertaining at times.

      1. Distec says:

        My mantra is that the PT movies are silly and ridiculously flawed, and you can enjoy a few beers while watching (and mocking) them.

        I can’t even “ironically” enjoy the ST films. There’s clear craftsmanship and technical competence, but the experience is one of irritation.

        1. MerryWeathers says:

          I don’t know, I don’t think the prequels (aside from ROTS) can be enjoyed ironically in the same way as The Room or a Neil Breen film because being boring is one of its greatest sins.

          It’s like the worst of both worlds, most of the PT doesn’t look good technically because of the bland direction and CGI composition and is irritating to watch because the dialogue, plot, and acting are all really bad. Kenobi and Palpatine, the most praised characters of the trilogy, don’t even become entertaining until Revenge of the Sith.

          1. Dotec says:

            To be fair, I had AotC firmly in my mind when making that statement, which I found hilarious.
            And to be fair again, the last time I watched it was during a day-drinking session with my friends a decade and a half ago.
            And to be even more fair, that was the same day we all went to go see the premiere of RotS.

            Huh. Well, I guess my recollection of the latter half of the PT is definitely covered by some dusty ol’ beer goggles. I still maintain that I don’t find them as difficult to watch as the ST, but then again I clearly numbed myself through the experience.

    6. Supah Ewok says:

      I think the prequels have this je nais se quois to them. Some kind of energy. It might be the imagination at play in the set and character designs. In how heartfelt they are in being broken messes.

      The sequels just feel kinda modern pop-culture Hollywood. OT Star Wars played a huge part in inventing the blockbuster, but the ST just feels kinda sterile and trendy. Its only pretense at a theme is millineal resentment against the boomer generation, which is as pandering as it gets. Even TLJ, with its “twists for the sake of twists, the unexpected for the sake of the unexpected”, doesn’t have any feeling of being fresh or radical, at least to me, it’s just lip service. And that’s when they didn’t flub the execution of the twists, as Luke’s arc in particular twisted itself so much it untwisted its best twists into just being Obi Wan’s arc if Obi Wan had been more realistically depressed instead of just chilling around on a desert planet for 20 years hanging out with sand people.

      The energy of the PT laid fertile soil for the meme fields of the burgeoning internet, but I really don’t think we’ll see anything of the like from the ST. The MCU has its own memes, right in contemporary times, which the ST should by every right at least match but there’s hardly anything there.

      That’s just my more academic take. On a personal level, I respect what the PT tried to do. It occurred to me when I rewatched them a few years ago that the PT had themes on the rise of the surveillance state and the subverting of liberties into the surrender of democracy as the B plot (and incidentally, hit on those themes in popular media before anybody else but cyberpunk had, as far as I know, and contemporaneously with the Patriot Act and many years before the events of the last two years), and a classic tragedy of the corruption and fall from grace of a once beloved hero as the A plot. Which are bigger and grander ideas than anything in the ST. Its just that Lucas completely butchered the A plot into a bad teen romance (with acting adults no less), and the B plot was more hinted at than shown as its scenes were cut down in favor of more time for the A plot. I respect the idea of the PT more than I respect the reality of the ST.

    7. Lino says:

      I actually love the prequels. I watched them as a kid, and had the same reaction to them as the kids watching Episode IV in theatres back in the ’70s. As the years have gone by, I’ve only found new ways to appreciate them. I also know people who have seen them as adults who adore them just as much as I do.

      I understand why some people don’t like them. But just because you’re one of those people, it doesn’t mean that your opinion is objectively true. Fiction is subjective, and there there are as many “correct” ways of doing things as there are people on the planet. And you can’t really claim that one is more valid than the other.

      You can say you like one more than another for whatever reasons you may have. But that doesn’t in any way make other people’s opinions less valid. In fact, some of the reasons why you despise something may be the exact reasons why someone else adores it. Humans tend to be different like that :)

  22. Ninety-Three says:

    “You can send your security officer first and kill all the monsters, and have that do no good because the game just spawns more monsters.”

    The trick is that most (all? I don’t remember) monster spawning happens when the corruption level ticks up, and the most powerful way to play is to have one character clean out the whole base, recycle all the loot into a bunch of bonus time items, drop a big stack of bonus time at the player spawn location, then have your next four characters waltz through a depopulated map occasionally popping bottled time to halt the corruption. I don’t think it’s the intended way to play because it’s not very interesting, but it’s what the mechanics incentivize. I think making bonus time craftable was just a mistake, once you do that the two natural equilibria are “you get resources faster than you burn time so you craft more time as you go and corruption never ticks up” or “bonus time takes more time to earn than it gives, better to invest in more guns since you can’t stop the corruption ticks anyway”.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      Yes, if I could magic one sweeping change into Mooncrash it would be overhauling the corruption and delay mechanics. Being able to buy delays with sim points is especially lame.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        Really the entire sim point thing was dumb. It had the problem of being badly balanced (everything was way too cheap, if you tried to actually spend all your sim points you’d be swimming in gear), but even if you made things more expensive it felt like the most desirable items to buy were things like backup batteries for the randomly depowered zones and door-disabling tasers so that you could bypass what were supposed to be interesting challenges within the gameplay.

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          Yes, the Typhon gates are an interesting idea but I’m not a fan of how they turned out either. A significant component of beating Mooncrash is getting in the habit of finding an EMP weapon and being prepared to craft them if necessary so you can skip almost all the combat.

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            It seems like the whole recycling mechanic works against a lot of what roguelites are traditionally trying to do. When every can break down into four different crafting resources that can be used to craft every other item, there’s no real sense of “Oh boy, I got the gluon gun this time!” because if that’s a thing you want you’ll just craft it no matter what drops you get, and your runs will be the same every time. The first time you go through certain missions you have to actually run around the environment and retrieve spare batteries from specific locations which is cool gameplay, then you get the ability to craft them and never have to think about that mechanic again.

            1. Chad+Miller says:

              I honestly stopped using the fabricators pretty quickly. Not because of any attempt at challenge but because I didn’t consider it worth the trouble when I could just use sim points between runs for what I needed most of the time, in addition to remembering certain spots that were especially likely to drop things I need.

              1. Ninety-Three says:

                I basically never spent sim points because it seemed unnecessary, I was already crafting all the supplies and bonus time I needed. I like that we both latched on to different mechanics that obviate the intended challenge, to such an extent that we didn’t even need to apply the other mechanic to it.

                1. Fizban says:

                  I also never spent sim points aside from a smidge here or there to speed up an unlock by guaranteeing a jetpack or something. On seeing those big numbers go up I quickly began seeing it as my score and wanted it to stay high on general principle.

                  I also don’t recall using the fabricators much- too much effort rounding up stuff to mulch, dragging it back recycling it, and then getting through the fabricator menu, while time is ticking down, and then finding out you don’t have enough. But I did craft time, as it was clearly the winning move: enough time and you can brute force just about anything.

                  1. Chad+Miller says:

                    The first time I played the game most of my points were spent on time delays and I pretty much cheesed the game never going above corruption level 2.

                    The second run I decided to “actually experience” the thing and spent them on neuromods instead.

  23. Nixorbo says:

    Favorite gun: as a mid-range specialist, I want either the Halo 1 pistol or the Halo: Reach DMR in every game.

  24. Chad Miller says:

    Re: Final Fantasy and Lightning – I wonder, do the people who actually cared to play a FFXIII sequel hate Lightning?

    I mean, I think most of her hate is well-deserved, but a big part of that is that she suffers from what I like to call Marcy Long Syndrome; a character has valid in-universe reasons to be awful, but that doesn’t mean the character isn’t awful. But one thing that helps Lightning a bit is that she actually realizes she’s awful and eventually stops doing it.

    Maybe that’s too little too late, but maybe people who thought it was too little too late aren’t likely to buy Final Fantasy XIII-2 anyway, so maybe thanks to the magic of selection effects such opinions don’t actually matter. (I mean, I’ve played through XIII myself and never touched the sequels, so I can’t imagine what impetus someone who liked that game less than I would have)

    Funnily enough they did consider the “same universe, different characters” move but that suffered so much development hell that it eventually turned into Final Fantasy XV which sucked in its own distinct ways.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      I wonder, do the people who actually cared to play a FFXIII sequel hate Lightning?


      1. Chad Miller says:

        Ha. I suppose I’ll see what the fuss is about when the XIII sequels come on Game Pass and I can play them without paying extra.

        1. Thomas says:

          I hear Lightning is very popular in Japan for what it’s worth.

          I quite liked Lightning – in the first game. But the sequels are weird because they’re almost as disjointed as if they’d done three standalone games. She’s barely recognisable as the same character

          1. Syal says:

            She’s barely recognisable as the same character

            So just like X-2 then.

  25. beleester says:

    The Cannon from Serious Sam. It’s… well, it’s a freaking cannon! It punches through enemies and makes big explosions if you charge it up. It’s the natural conclusion to the game’s escalating firepower, and, you probably won’t find a bigger gun in any shooter. Well, except for one-off superweapons like the Redeemer from Unreal Tournament.

    Speaking of one-off superweapons, the PAX cannon from Crysis: Warhead is probably the single most satisfying gun I’ve ever used in a shooter. Sure, lots of games will give you a Big Energy Gun, but usually they’re games like Doom or Unreal that don’t care about realism and just want some weird weapons to liven things up. Crysis is a game that starts off sort of tactical and cover-based before escalating to the crazy alien invasion, so having the finale be like “screw tactics, just pick up this Big Energy Gun, charge in and blow away everything that gets in your way” felt amazing.

    1. Lino says:

      Man, Serious Sam: FE had such amazing weapons! And level design! And encounter design! I think it’s no wonder they haven’t made a sequel that’s been as successful as the first (even though they’ve tried several times). They just peaked too early…

  26. Henson says:

    I enjoyed the Mantis sniper rifle from Mass Effect 2, but that’s probably partly because of the time slow ability during zoom-in. Zoom in, BOOM clank headshot. Very satisfying.

    Also, secondary fire grenade launcher on the Half Life submachine gun. Splatter enemies.

    I’m thinking there might be a great gun from Metro 2033 too, but it’s been forever since I played that game.

  27. John says:

    Well, technically, my favorite video game gun is the Infinity, which is the gun with the best stats in the turn-based tactics game I’m playing right now. It doesn’t do anything distinctive. It’s just really good. You can dual-wield them, which is neat, but you can dual-wield all the guns. It’s got rarity going for it, I suppose, as there are only two of them in the entire game. The reason I’m so keen on the Infinity is that a character dual-wielding Infinities can do very large amounts of damage from halfway across the map at no MP cost, which is a big deal in Fell Seal.

    But I assume, Shamus, that you had first person shooters in mind when you asked the question. I haven’t played nearly enough of those to give a considered answer. Of those I have played, my personal favorite is the pistol from Outlaws. It’s the starter weapon. It’s not an especially great weapon–again, it’s the starter–but unlike, say, the pistol from Doom the Outlaws pistol remains a useful weapon for the entire game. Now it’s true that matter where you find yourself or what it is you’re doing, there will always be a weapon that’s better than the pistol. The important thing, however, is that even end-game mooks will die fairly quickly from a small number of well-placed pistol shots. This, I suspect, is because all the mooks in the game are cowboys rather than demons from hell. It would be weird if the pistol couldn’t kill them quickly. Thus, if you run out of ammo for your various shotguns or rifles, you are not in nearly so much trouble as you would be in other shooters. Better still, using the pistol in low-pressure situations saves shotgun or rifle ammo for high-pressure situations and boss fights. Bosses in Outlaws, despite also being cowboys, are sometimes strangely pistol-resistant. I cannot account for this.

  28. Syal says:

    If you could take a gun from an old game and have it in a modern one, what would it be?

    Dubstep gun. (How old is ‘old’?)

    Also the RCP90 from Goldeneye; 90 rounds, with a high rate of fire, that could pierce cover and bodies. Kill everything in a straight line. And you could dual-wield them. It was great.

    Are there other games that used their trilogy to iterate and improve?

    I’ll say Halo. Halo 2 adds more guns, changes the health system around, adds bossfights. And the Mario series certainly added a bunch of things across the games. 3 was a big upgrade over 1 or either of the 2’s. Hover mechanics, incredible!

    That in order to be truly great, the game needs to go overboard and be done under pressure? Or it’s simply a matter of proper organization?

    I think it’s probably going to be true most of the time. You budget for the ideas you have currently, then in development you get new ideas that work better, or one of the ideas runs into a major problem, or you can’t figure out how to get from Idea 1 to Idea 2 fluidly and are stuck working it out for a while.

    The problem, though, is that once you’ve committed to going over time and over budget, you’ll be more willing to go further over time and further over budget. It can be the difference between taking two extra months or taking six. So, not a good attitude, even when it’s true.

  29. Syal says:

    The trouble with making a sequel without the main character is that the main character is usually the heart of the setting. By nature of being the player character, they are the single most active part of the world. They can’t be separated from the setting; their decisions are the setting. They have to be a major part of any sequel; if not as the main character, then as a major NPC.

    It takes a very particular type of setting to allow for the complete removal of the main character; something like Return of the Obra Dinn or Bioshock, where the main character is an after-the-fact-er, coming into a dead world to find out how it died. Or maybe a Wonderland kind of story; a character finds themselves in a strange world, with their main goal being to get back to their own. Your Undertales, your Wizard of Oz-es, your Silent Hills. I guess your Call of Duty games, where The War is the setting and the character’s goal is to get out alive and go home.

  30. ContribuTor says:

    The Radial Heater from Good Robot.

  31. evilmrhenry says:

    Regarding good games needing to go over budget, (haven’t listened yet) I’d call that more of a thing where if your goal is to make money, you have a specified development time, and you try to ship the game on time and on budget. If your goal is to make ART!, you work on the game until it’s done. The problem is that you can either end up with Deus Ex or Duke Nukem Forever.

    In the end, I think the AAA space is actively hostile to making ART!, both because there’s too many influences around to have a consistent vision, and because a AAA budget can’t withstand overtime. “When it’s done” simply doesn’t combine well with paying the salaries of over a hundred people.

  32. Mark says:

    Favorite gun: The Stouker Concussion Rifle, but the way it operates in the original Dark Forces where it just erupts beneath the targets’ feet (and sometimes the user’s if fired too close). If the game had meaningful stealth mechanics, I imagine it would be great since it has no projectiles, a decent range, and just comes out of nowhere.

    Here’s a video timestamped where it is used.

  33. Ninety-Three says:

    Hey Shamus, I found a bug with how your comments work. It’s pretty minor and I’m sure it’d be a huge pain to fix but I figured I’d raise the issue anyway just in case.

    When you make a post, normally you have 10 minutes to edit it or request deletion. However, if you accidentally hit the “post comment” button twice and trigger the duplicate post protection, the post goes up uneditable and undeletable.

  34. Killjoy says:

    I’ve played Titanfall 2 recently, and the short stint with the Smart Pistol was lowkey one of my favorite moments of the game – it just locks on to everyone’s head as soon as you aim, and shoots all of them once you pull the trigger even once. It needs zero skill to be used, but what made it the most fun was the context around it – you were running the hell away after being captured, and needed to parkour out as fast as possible. Being given a weapon that means you don’t have to think about anything but the movement while doing so was great. Titanfall 2 hardly passes for old (and in any other context the gun would’ve probably just made the game a lot less fun), but I felt like it bared mentioning still.

    On the subject of TF2, there’s the other one – Team Fortress 2. 2007 counts as old, right? Someone mentioned the Rocket Launcher already, but my favorite was always the Scattergun. It’s a shotgun, but cooler – I don’t know what it is about it in particular, if it’s the sound, the recoil, or just the way Scout moves in general coupled with the weapon, but it always felt extremely powerful and fun to use. I never used any of the other primary weapons he got because the Scattergun was just so much more than any of them.

  35. Moridin says:

    My favourite gun from an old game would be… probably Pancor Jackhammer from Fallout 2, to be honest. I never played shooters much.

  36. Geebs says:

    The grenade launcher from Quake 1, or pretty much any other gun that goes “FOOONT”.

    I honestly can’t tell if Shamus’ choice of the magnum from Half Life is a joke? I never used it, just in case I ever needed it.

  37. Mopey bloke says:

    I really like the Quake nailguns and thunderbol. If I had to chose, I’m going with the regular nailgun.

  38. Mattias42 says:

    ‘Can you name one game that has shipped on time and on budget that anybody cares about?’.

    And~ I just suddenly got in one dang sentence why Warren Spector gets to lead games once or twice a decade, his games keep getting kicked out the door before they’re ready, AND his studios keep tanking.

    Like, holy~ shit~, that’s one of the most unprofessional sentences I’ve read in my entire life. Imagine if your dang mechanic or plumber had that mind-set. Sure, they might have made something almost beautiful… but you’d never hire ’em again, because they just admitted they don’t give one single iota about budgets or estimates.

    LIke, sure. Games ARE art… but come the frick on. There’s a difference between happy little accidents, and just plain ADMITTING you’ll burn any size pile of money you get your hands on and finish the last draft by finger painting with the dang ashes.

    1. ContribuTor says:

      just plain ADMITTING you’ll burn any size pile of money you get your hands on and finish the last draft by finger painting with the dang ashes.

      Not to defend Warren Spector, but what this says to me more than anything is that the uneasy truce between “the business” folks in a studio and “the creative” folks is a lie. The budget and schedule is a fantasy, and no one (on either side) believes it.

      I compare this to getting an estimate for a home remodel on an older home. You and the contractor both know damn well when you open up those walls you’re going to find something horrible and frightening that’s going to take time and cost a ton of money to fix. But for some reason you both want to just estimate the stuff you know about.

      Nobody puts together a plan with “here’s where we crunch for six months and everyone will hate us” marked out. Nobody has a plan that says “here’s where we decide to ship with all the bugs unresolved to make it in time to hit our marketing campaign window.” But also, nobody puts together a budget with a line item for “here’s the extra $5 million we’ll spend to re-record all the dialogue when we rewrite the main story arc halfway through the game,” or “Here’s where we burn $10 million trying to rebuild our dev tools to use a cool new third party library, then give up because it doesn’t do what they advertise.”

      In this day and age, that’s just “how the game is played.” A studio would likely be punished for trying to be realistic. “Why is your budget so much bigger than everyone elses?” “Why can’t you make it for the Christmas rush?”

      1. Supah Ewok says:

        You have valid points, but I don’t think it’s the whole truth. Videogame development is really the only industry I hear this kind of sentiment. Any other kind of software development would get slammed as poor project management for setting out with the implicit idea that budgets and timelines are guidelines, not rules. That doesn’t mean that projects don’t go late or overbudget, but as a matter of serial offenses, I don’t hear about it being accepted.

        You definitely don’t see it in construction. “This bridge is a year late and $10 million over budget, but you want to start over because you figured out you could add a lane and reduce the number of suspension cables if you shuffled around the support pillars?” The follow-up is most likely going to be either “you’re out of this contract” or “you’re finishing this contract and then are never working for us again”. (At least at my level of the construction industry, but you get enough politics, money, and graft into the mix, anything goes…)

        I don’t think you even see it with other big budget, creative media. Some movies go all sorts of over budget and overtime, but its regarded poorly. Plenty of big blockbusters hit deadlines and budgets, and without insane crunch.

        I think there isn’t a project management culture in videogame development. Spector in particular came up in the 90s era of the “rockstar dev” where individual names were wildly valued and excess was part of the process. Big publishers gradually snuffed that as most of the big names burnt out their cred with flops, but even as publishers bought up the dev houses to make publisher IP and development ownership the norm, I don’t think they ever instituted a project management culture. So you get people trained for design or graphics or programming or writing raised up into management in the dev houses, and all they have to go on for managing a project is whatever mentorship they may or may not have received in their careers. And traditional project management is its own kind of job with some cross-sectional skills, but also some very specific skills. And a lot of it isn’t the sexy stuff. There’s nothing sexy about budget proposals, technical documentation enforcement, or the methods of keeping efficient track of the progress of two dozen separate teams.

        I don’t know if game development really is unique in having lax project management standards. And just because I say it lacks traditional project management culture, it isn’t necessarily a negative thing. We see all kinds of invention and imagination coming out of gaming. I wonder about it sometimes, but I don’t see the insides of how any of these places work. And although I have game dev friends, they aren’t the ones running the show. Its much more the usual to hear them complain about the standard corporate and office politics about promotion and company culture than anything specific to project management.

  39. ContribuTor says:

    Slightly more seriously…

    The actual implementation in-game sucked, but I thought the crossbow from Bioshock had a lot of potential (yes, I’m aware some other games have done similar stuff, but Bioshock was the first time I’ve encountered it). It didn’t work too well in the actual game because by the time you got it cheating teleporting enemies would skip right past your traps, or climb on the ceiling to get over them.

    But handled better? As a sneak-and-snipe player by default, I’d love to be rewarded by taking time to prepare my ground, and it would give me a way to have a fair fight against a swarm of melee enemies that involved more than “kite them one at a time, be careful not to aggro the herd or you’re f’ed”. Or to let you set an ambush and drive enemies into it. Sort of putting you in charge of the “terrain” of the battlefield in some way.

    My other answer here would be the White Phosphorous mortar from Spec Ops: The Line. This got me because it felt like it was going to be an OP turret section that let me mow down enemies, and I was genuinely excited about it. Then….that happened. Felt authentic as a gut punch weapon. But I think that’s more “I loved SpecOps” and the way the moment felt than me wanting that specific gun again.

  40. Grimwear says:

    In terms of trilogies Guild Wars 1 comes to mind. Prophecies came out and making teams with others was pretty much required. Henchmen (npc teammates with preset skills) existed but were terrible. More importantly it took 3/4 of the way through the game before you got the maximum 8 person parties and generally didn’t hit max level until right before that 3/4 mark. It became a problem where everyone got stuck near one of the final missions and tensions were so high that monks literally went on strike and refused to group with people.

    Then Factions released and changes were made. You hit max level pretty much right off the starter island and before the first real mission (pretty much required since the characters coming over from Prophecies were already max level, though there were some bad feelings since all the hard work people put in to level was removed. It also meant that every alt was created in Factions since you could hit max level over a weekend). More importantly they pretty much gave you 8 person parties right off the bat, which is where the game shines.

    Finally Nightfall released. Here they added in Heroes, npc characters that you get as part of your party and you can customize their skills and stats. These heroes can be used in any campaign and meant that you could now play the entire game solo if you so desire. This is pretty much why 15 years later the game is “dead” but people still play solo, making new characters, and playing through.

    Anet took their game and nudged it towards a regular rpg with online elements and it’s still a solid experience. Also there’s an actual plot you can follow.

    1. Fizban says:

      One of these days, assuming it’s still up, I’ll finally play Eye of the North or Nightfall so I can get heroes and play the game that I never got to play because by the time I had internet my friends had finished everything. Been years since I stalled out after picking up the first game (the one I’d wanted to play, but then factions came out). Happened to get swept along on a raid when I was on my main which hey, cool, never got to do one of those! And didn’t that time either, because no one told me that no spells meant *not even holding caster weapons* so I tanked the run.

  41. Gautsu says:

    For older guns, I am having a hard time picking between the Voodoo Doll from Blood or the Staff of Set or Ravenstorm from Hexen 2

  42. Content Consumer says:

    I’d have to say that my favorite gun is probably the Solar Scorcher from Fallout 2. The first time I got it, I thought: “Wow! Infinite ammunition, zero reload cost, lightweight, and highest damage energy pistol in the game? I’ll never use anything else again!”

    I immediately took my new friend “Scorchy” (as I affectionately named it) underground to clear out the Great Wanamingo Mine. After belatedly realizing that the “solar” part of “solar scorcher” was the important bit, I proceeded to get pounded on for a while until I could escape. Bruised, bloodied, and tattered, I staggered out into the sunlight and watched the smug little sh*t finally reload and mentally downgraded it from A+ to B-.

    Still, nice gun.

  43. Philadelphus says:

    I don’t play a lot of FPS games (I’ve never played a Doom game or the original Half-Life, and only played the second one in the mid 20-teens), and this might be stretching the concept of “firearm” a bit, but the first thing that came to mind was the TAG Cannon from the combination FPS-RTS hover-tanks-on-other-planets game Battlezone (the 1998 version, which I first played a few years after it came out as an impressionable early teenager). All it actually fires when you pull the trigger is a tracer device which doesn’t even cost ammo. If that hits a vehicle or building (enemy or friendly!), there’s a half-second pause while anticipation builds, before a barrage of 10 missiles erupts from your tank and mercilessly homes towards to the unlucky target painted by the initial shot. It certainly wasn’t overpowered or anything (each missile didn’t do a ton of damage, and it was fairly ammo-hungry), but I loved it for that “dead man walking” situation for a few seconds every time I got a hit with it.

    Come to think of it I’ve never really outgrown that, as many of my favorite wands I’ve built in Noita lean towards the same kind of “fire, hit, wait, enemy explodes/implodes/melts/burns/freezes/becomes smoke/etc.” kind of style. Definitely more dangerous than a direct-damage weapon (since every second the enemy is alive is another second they have to kill you), but that anticipation and dopamine hit after landing a shot is just…*chef’s kiss*.

  44. ivan says:

    The Flamethrower from Duke Nukem 2. It could shoot through everything (walls, doors, barriers, enemies), with absurd AOE, extremely rapid fire, and if you pointed it down it doubled as a Jetpack.

  45. droid says:

    I mostly remember unusual guns, so my favorites would be the address disrupter of Axiom Verge, or the electronics disabling pistol in the co-op mode of Splinter Cell.

  46. Henson says:

    Off topic; any chance we’ll get a This Week I Played post anytime soon? I have a rant I need to get off my chest.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      What game?

      1. Henson says:

        One of the most beloved titles of the last two years.

        1. Dotec says:

          Among Us.

        2. Platypus says:

          If your asking for my favourite weapon its the starting pistol on call of duty zombies. See its awful and should be all account be tossed in the bin as soon as you find any other gun. But unlike most straight to garbage starter weapons if you keep the starter pistol for long enough to go through the often fairly long process of getting the gun upgrade machine online and then save up the money for it you can upgrade the starter pistol into the Mustang and Sally. Two grenade shooting pistols that wipe out whole clusters of zombies and which can fired when the player is down making reviving them a cinch since there is no friendly fire. Honestly more games need excuses to keep crappy guns around.

    2. Shamus says:

      Yeah. I think we’re due.

  47. The Big Brzezinski says:

    Anthologies are certainly an underappreciated way of organizing a franchise. I recall how varied the Discworld novels where. They told all sorts of stories in all sorts of genres, but always in part of the same setting. Every story made every other story that much richer.

    Unknown Worlds nearly did the same thing with Subnautica. It was used the same setting as their previous game, Natural Selection 2. They have basically nothing to do with each other’s gameplay, aesthetics, or character, but both helped to build the world of the Trans-System Federation. The third game in this setting, Subnautica: Below Zero, pretty much gutted everything that made it interesting when a new head writer took over, but the concept remains sound.

    It’s hard to say what my favorite video game firearm is. There have been so many, all well loved. Double Falcon 2 pistols from Perfect Dark was an early favorite. The MK/SG1 Precision Rifle from Red Faction gave me an enduring appreciation for good battle rifles. These days, I’d say the Opticor Vandal from Warframe is my most loved gun. Giant fuck-off space laser in long gun form. Short charge up time and pinpoint accurate at any range. Evaporates most foes.

    I usually prefer melee, though.

    1. Steve C says:

      Today’s Opticor Vandal? Or the old one before it was changed?
      The original Opticor Vandal was cool but kind of sucked. A common trait of guns in Warframe. Then it was changed. (Also common.) It suddenly became both cool and awesome! I can get behind someone claiming that as their most beloved gun. It certainly was my go-to favorite for a while. But then they changed it yet again. (I think (?) around the time elemental damage was reworked to what it is currently.) It became significantly less cool and definitely not awesome. Is it your favorite after self staggers was added? (Current version) Or before?

      For me it’s the Sonicor. Not the current version. (It also self staggers.) The version before. It did solid damage, sounded cool and ragdolled enemies. It was my “die and/or get out my way” weapon while shooting in a vague direction. And you could put blast damage onto it to turn the ragdolling up to 11. Mach 11 11. As in you could put a waypoint on an enemy and track the distance. That dude just flew 500m away in under a second. He was faster than 500 m/s. Literally faster than a speeding bullet. It always put a smile on my face every time I saw that.

  48. Zeddy says:

    For favourite gun I think I’ll have to go with Stampede, from Earth Defense Force. It’s an old game, with the first entry being in 2003, but it’s also still going and getting it’s 6th entry next year.

    Stampede is a grenade launcher shotgun, firing 30 grenades in one massive volley that’s basically a portable air strike. If you aim it just right, you can view your foes being trampled in the horizon. Or you could get real close to a big enemy and give them a blast of absurd damage. Either way it’s a pretty satisfying, if dangerous, gun to use.

    For modern games I’d like to see Contra’s Spread Gun. Videogames used to be cool with having videogamey mechanics and it would be cool to see that return.

  49. ShasUi says:

    Favorite guns? Hard to pick just one, so I’ll lay out a few.
    Angels Fall First, a Sci-Fi FPS that focuses on having good enough AI that it be enjoyed singleplayer/offline despite being designed for multiplayer has the MNL System: big hulking minigun looking thing, hold down the trigger to charge up to eight shots of lobbed, high-recoil grenades, which land & stick with a distinct sharp clink, giving you just enough time to back away before it explodes. It doesn’t do much direct damage, instead serving as an area denial weapon: if you hear the telltale thuds of it firing, you know that wherever you hear those clinks, you need to be somewhere else. The AI excels at peppering doorways, keeping you trapped inside, with a lucky few slipping into the room to remind you how much they hurt.

    Rimworld: bit of a cheat here, as it’s a mod, based off real world kit, but the Carl Gustaf recoiless rifle (known in US service as the MAAWS). A reloadable 84mm anti-tank weapon, I always brought one to the start of my colony, just in case I needed something gone. Most games, it sat quietly in storage, never needed as I build a sustainable colony, breezing through the low difficulty, minimal challenge I had set, so that I could build without fear of disaster. On rare occasion though, something would slip through the limits I had put, and pose a catastrophic threat to my non-optimal, over-rich colony; grabbing it off the shelf was a clear signal that this fight was make or break. Eventually, it became this odd constant in the stories I told; this magic tube of boom that could stand against any threat, wielded only in the most dire hour, almost a sci-fi excaliber. Nothing else really compares when you’re faced with an angry herd of Carnotaurus. (Of course I had Dinosaur mods, I mod everything to the point of breaking)

    Finally, good old ARMA3: while I’ll give credit to all the MG’s it has that don’t mystically have less powerful bullets than the corresponding rifle, there’s one oddball that always fools those not familiar with obscure weapons: the ASP-1 Kir. A mid-sized rifle with a thick barrel, those looking for power are swiftly drawn to it’s 12.7mm projectile: “A fifty-cal, one of the biggest, most powerful rounds seen in rifles!” Instead, they are treated to a dull chunk, and seemingly terrible accuracy. Most toss it aside, declaring it broken; yet these features are the draw of the weapon. It fires Subsonic 12.7 rounds: big, heavy, slow bullets that drop like a rock (thus the accuracy issues, solved by careful ranging), but hit hard enough to pierce armor without ever going fast enough to result in the noisy sonic whip-crack every other rifle round in the game will produce. Having one used against you is terrifying, as the only sounds you hear are when it hits something: a brief sizzle from the sand it just kicked up, shattering glass from that window you just peeked out of, a wet thud into your buddy’s back. Fortunately, it inspiration is seen in other games, the VSS Vintorez (Or later, the AS VAL), a soviet design chambered in the similarly subsonic 9×39 cartridge. Unfortunately, due to its official classification as a “Sniper Rifle”, it often is misrepresented as a long-range weapon, losing that odd niche role that defines it.

    1. ShasUi says:

      Honorable Mention: Real Life, but it should be in games: HK51B.
      Those who’ve studied the history of the iconic MP5 SMG will learn the operating mechanism is a scaled down version of the G3 rifle, chambered in the potent 7.62×51 round shared by the battle-rifles of that era, and “medium” machine guns to this day. But what if you took that G3 action, and made it MP5 sized, without scaling the round down to the manageable 9×19 pistol caliber? And then you made it belt fed, so that you weren’t limited to 20 fireballs per reload? That, is the HK51B

  50. Fon says:

    Reverse Mailbag Question:

    I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but the Shining Laser weapon from Megaman Legends (1 to be exact, I think the one in 2 is different) has made a deep impression on me.

    Basically when you hold down the fire button, it continually shoots a short-ish ranged prism beam, which deals damage multiple times per tick/second. But the thing of note is it also just shoots through enemies, and you can hit multiple enemies in a straight line. It’s pretty much a super/ultimate weapon and is in no way balanced, but I can’t say that it isn’t fun to get up close and hold down fire to continuously generate a beam that can destroy and cut through everything.

  51. Tuck says:

    I thought the trilogy question was more about game design than writing, and immediately thought of Sid Meier’s rule of thirds, which was that each new Civilization game should have:

    1/3 established systems
    1/3 improved systems
    1/3 completely new systems

    The other series which springs to mind is Ultima, where each game (starting with Ultima 4) was built in a brand new game engine.

  52. Asdasd says:

    My favourite gun is probably the tau cannon from the original Half Life.

    It was pretty powerful if you were using it to shoot stuff, but way cooler was the alternate fire that would shift you to a little pocket of Xen where you could poke around and look for secrets. It was location-sensitive, so you’d keep going to new places as you progressed through the game, which was exciting. It reminded me of the potions from SMB2 / Doki Doki Panic, and that sort of ‘secrets for their own sake’ design philosophy that Nintendo are so good at.

    Edit: I was actually getting two weapons confused. Turns out the teleportation thing was a part of the Displacer Cannon from Opposing Force. Which I guess means I have to begrudgingly credit Gearbox with making something cool…

  53. Laserhawk says:

    The model 29, from Resident Evil 5. That game had awesome mechanics. Alternately, the striker shotgun from the same game, was an excellent defensive tool.

  54. methermeneus says:

    Well, according to ctrl+f no one’s mentioned my pick for gun to be put in another game. I pick the chicken-guided dynamite crossbow from Redneck Rampage. Any game like GoW (I don’t care whether the G stands for Gears or God) that takes itself too seriously needs a chicken crossbow.

  55. bobbert says:

    RE: RoJ

    I actually liked the evil canabalistic ewoks. But I will never forgive the movie for making another death-star instead of come up with its own thing.

  56. jawlz says:

    RE Favorite gun: most of the old classics have been mentioned (though I see scant mention of Unreal Tournament’s Redeemer, which was great fun even though a reasonable use was entirely dependent on having a only a certain and narrow set of circumstances), but if I were going to choose one from a ‘newer’ game, I’d have to say that I was surprisingly fond of the loverboy revolver from Ion Fury. The secondary fire mode of lining up auto-head-shots worked surprisingly well, and I ended up using the gun (your starting gun!) throughout the entire game depending on the situation.

  57. MadTinkerer says:

    Am I allowed to pick the Physics Gun from Garry’s Mod, or is that cheating?

    If that is cheating, then my fallback choice is definitely the hacking tool in Bioshock 2. The three* games have some excellent guns and plasmids, but only the hacking tool can turn enemy turrets and security bots into friends in the middle of combat. Not to mention that it doesn’t interrupt combat. (Despite it being called a “tool” it counts as a gun because it fires a projectile and needs to be aimed.)

    *1, 2, and Minerva’s Den. There is no such game as Bioshock Infinite.

    1. Fizban says:

      And its “hacking” mechanic is a really simple timing minigame that’s over in seconds, just as a “hacking” mechanic should be.

      Speaking of favorite weapons and Bioshock: how could I forget Bioshock 1’s Chemical Thrower? Best version I’ve ever seen, a flamethrower that actually fires a stream of burning liquid rather than a jet of flame (even if it doesn’t pool on the ground), a cryo gun that also feels like a stream of freezing liquid, and then finally a ridiculous zapper beam. It’s just clunky and bad at aiming enough that combined with the visuals it actually feels like what it’s supposed to be: a big super soaker full of death. Which also happens to be a skeleton key for all “elemental locked” doors and “chests.”

      Which leads quickly into Deep Rock Galactic’s Flamethrower and Cryo Canon, which lose points for spraying the usual zero-mass particle effects, but still come out on top by having solid game mechanics.
      -The flamethrower leaves fire on the ground wherever it hits, which because it always passes through enemies, means that you’re always hitting the ground for that little bit of extra damage, and drawing along the enemy’s move path or making firewalls is useful on standard and dedicated builds.
      -While the cryo cannon instead of igniting, slows down and then freezes enemies, who then take extra damage and, with my preferred capstone, has a chance of dealing a big chunk of damage when the freeze happens: thus most weak enemies simply freeze and shatter, while stronger enemies are frozen and finished, and bosses that break out immediately or you can’t freeze will still be slowed to a useful degree. But at the same time it does do significantly less base damage for a real focus on the freezing.

      Non-thrower guns. . . I quite liked the Halo 1 Assault Rifle. Hated the Pistol, just ridiculously OP (reportedly because someone just suddenly doubled the damage right before launch?), but the rifle is something I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen again. Just a nice solid medium gun: no scope to push everything to sniping, modest spread with a nice circle reticule that makes it very clear what range you should be firing at, good magazine size, no recoil problems, good magazine size, good “hail of bullets” feel that’s less than a minigun but more than realistic with a relatively muted “brrrr” that beats the hell out of high pitched wines or loud rackets. It’s a boxy thing with a distinct video game gun look that shoots a bunch of bullets that chew down enemies without annoying you, an excellent companion. Of course, Halo 1 was also my first shooter and I haven’t played it in ages, so bias, roses, etc.

  58. Duoae says:

    Some great replies for game guns. I’ll echo Halo 1’s pistol.

    – Original Doom’s plasma gun. It was just so cool.
    – Shrink Ray in Duke 3D. Maybe not terribly practical but it’d be great to have non-serious game guns once more.
    – Destiny 1’s Fusion rifles. While not so “old” (though this is a 2014 release), these types of guns need to make it into a single player game, i just found them SO satisfying before the nerfs and move to being a special weapon (or whatever the slot was called)…

  59. Marvin says:

    For the gun, I’d take the railgun from Nova drift. Especially with the warp strike, fusillade, and convergence mods. Imagine, you’re piloting your space-thingy, and with a single shot of your bullshit-gun, get a bunch of high powered, fast, homing shots increasing in power by distance traveled, that wrap around the screen to come back for more if they happen to miss. The funny thing is that the railgun is supposed to be the gun where you aim at things, and you do have to do that, at first. But when you reach this build it’s just shooting anywhere at all and they’ll hit eventually.

    Anthologies! Great point. I didn’t even approach this from a narrative viewpoint at all (most trilogies I had in mind had no overarching grand narrative.) I think the single player character focus can work, as long as the player character doesn’t have any deep involvement in the plot beyond being the one that shoots things and saves the galaxy from the brink of destruction. Take Metroid. The plot of every game is basically: Samus lands on some planet(s) of death, loses her gear, gets it back, kills some big bad, barely escapes alive. (even within the “metroid prime” trilogy. The only thing that’s recurring is the enemy) If you use this kind of “monster of the week” structure with a lightweight plot, you can make plenty of games with the same protagonist.

    Still, if you keep both the protagonist and primary antagonist the same, things can get kinda stale. In Mega Man, we have Mega facing dr. Wily is pretty much all titles. Given that this isn’t exactly a game with narrative focus, this was fine. However, the Megaman X series increased the focus on narrative, but kept X as protagonist and Sigma as antagonist (or at least, the final boss. Oh, this game we’re not fighting Sigma, but the Repliforce…. which turns out to be manipulated by Sigma. This reminds me of Fire Emblem, where it’s always dragons in the end. At least they switch protagonists) for all 8 titles.

    One interesting option to deal with the “same protagonist fatigue” is to keep the protagonist, but introduce more playable characters, and explore the conflict between the two sides from the perspective of both playable characters. Azure Striker Gunvolt does this, with the first game just being Gunvolt, the second Gunvolt and Copen (was an antagonist in the first, sort of an anti-hero), and for the third (scheduled summer 2022, I can highly recommend this short developer stream if you’re interested in the game or even just how megaman-style platformers are designed), it seems we have Gunvolt and a complete new playable character Kurin (gameplay style: megaman Zero, except even cooler).

  60. Zekiel says:

    Am I allowed the GLOO gun from Prey? That or the Gravity Gun are my favourites.

  61. somebodys_kid says:

    Quake 2 Rail Gun.

  62. Paul Spooner says:

    I was also a bit short on sleep the day we recorded, so I wasn’t as talkative as normal.
    That said, you’re un-un-fired.

  63. evilmrhenry says:

    Regarding Trilogies, halfway through, I realized the other issue with Trilogies: when telling a continuous story, people don’t like jumping in the middle. This is especially bad with games, when the first game might have come out on the PS1 (with gameplay and graphics that were good for their time), the sequel on the Xbox 360 (that got poor critical reception thanks to some bad decisions during development), then the third comes out. You can’t really expect anyone to have played the first two games, and you can’t release either of the first two games on modern platforms without actual work.

  64. unit3000-21 says:

    I really like the sawed-off shotgun from Blood, love the way its blindingly fast (Caleb is a gunslinger after all) but also really powerful up close. Also its dry boom mixed with cultists’ screams
    My second favourite would be the ridiculously overpowered HMG from Soldier of Fortune.

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