Multiplayer gaming has become a financial backbone of the industry. Titles like Fortnite, Overwatch and PUBG–and the most played game in the world, CrossFire–have learned countless lessons from their forefathers, making them more egalitarian than ever.
A huge amount of research goes into establishing fairness across modern multiplayer games. It’s never truly perfect, but it’s often better than what came before. Older multiplayer offerings, while fondly remembered, were regularly known for their lack of balance.
Even just a few years ago, spawn camping, unbalanced player classes and exploitable glitches could ruin a multiplayer experience, whether online or at home. These were often so awful that they forced gamers to enforce LAN restrictions, create entire patches to fix the experience, or simply rely on good old-fashioned agreements on their couches.
Yet nothing necessitated these rules and regulations as much as in-game weaponry. With this in mind, I ran a straightforward competition to get the definitive list of most loathed armaments, for an apt yet surprisingly coveted prize.
A foul-mouthed, Blue Shell-themed pin badge, which captured the essence of the question, was the prize for the best reply to a contentious question: “Aside from the Blue Shell itself, what’s the biggest d***head weapon in gaming?”
Over 360 replies flew in across two days, with some choices being mentioned two, three or a dozen times. The sample may be small, but with plenty of the Twitterverse’s established gaming experts weighing in, it brought together a clear list of reviled weapons.
Hammer (Super Smash Bros.)
The Hammer, from Donkey Kong, routinely wipes out entire screens of foes in all Super Smash Bros. games to date; its appearance is pure luck but its results are absolute, making it an oft-banned weapon in local multiplayer.
The moment you hear that music, you know you need to get as far away as possible. Its most recent inclusion in Ultimate was met with less enjoyment, as many people hated the different tune used to warn players of its pick-up, yet it was simply a case of Nintendo going back to its roots: unlike its prior ditty, it was the original song used in the arcade game.
FarSight XR-20 (Perfect Dark)
It’s not the only sniper rifle on this list, but it’s certainly the most unfair in principle. Perfect Dark’s FarSight negates the effects of cover entirely–its target locator can detect others through walls, while its bullets travel straight through them and usually kill with one shot.
To reverse fortunes on the FarSight holder, unpredictable running patterns are required, but it’s rare that a target will overcome several shots and get to the shooter before getting their head blown off.
Redeemer (Unreal Tournament)
You only get one shot, but that’s all you ever need. The Redeemer, a portable thermonuclear warhead launcher, is the most powerful weapon in the Unreal Tournament series by a long way and it’s all down to its formidable splash damage.
Gamers only get one missile, and you need to stand back; when you’re on a smaller map, chances are you’ll take out the rest of the field. If you feel brave, its secondary fire option allows the nuke to be guided to a target.
IGN named it its 22nd best weapon in gaming, presumably referring to its power in the game, and not its power to destroy long-term, loving relationships.
Concrete Donkey (Worms)
Team17’s British humor powered the marvel=lous Worms series, and the Concrete Donkey is the culmination of the Python-esque daftness that players could inflict on each other–and a regular exclusion from weapon crates in local multiplayer.
When deployed on the 2D landscape, the massive Concrete Donkey vertically drops on the landscape, inflicting 80 damage per bounce on any unfortunate worms, until it (usually) stamps through to the waterline at the bottom of the screen. It’s brutal, it irreversibly damages the landscape, and it’s cheap. Check it out at 1:43:
Team17 continues to dedicate itself to multiplayer glory by publishing the wonderfully tough Overcooked series 20 years later. If you’ve never played this kitchen-based series, you’re missing out on the best couch co-op game of a generation.
Gnasher Shotgun (Gears of War)
For close-quarters combat in Gears of War, nothing compares to the Gnasher Shotgun, especially in its first outing. It’s arguably the best-known gun after the Mark 2 Lancer Assault Rifle, and while the embarrassment of being killed by the Lancer’s chainsaw is the most annoying death in multiplayer, getting repeatedly mulched by the Gnasher is eye-wateringly infuriating.
Type-1 Energy Sword (Halo)
The Magnum from the original Halo may be the most overpowered handgun in history, but the Energy Sword is by far the most frustrating weapon to die by–it’s regularly cited as the most hated means of murder in multiplayer.
Nine times out of ten, you’re executed with one when your back’s turned. The remaining 10% of occasions, you flail mercilessly as you’re stabbed to death. It’s not an honorable way to die, nor an honorable way to kill someone; it’s an embarrassment for the victim, and a virtual slap in the face from the perpetrator.
AWP sniper rifle (CounterStrike)
The AWP was one of the simplest weapons in gaming history: look down the scope, hover over an enemy and click: they’re dead. No adjustment for wind, no distance issues, just pure pain with a single tap of the mouse. It’s so infamous, people make thorough documentaries about it.
“No AWP” became such a regular addition to game room names on early CounterStrike titles that many may not have enjoyed the sheer power of this expensive sniper rifle, having to make do with the inaccurate and pitiful Scout sniper: its smaller, sadder sibling.
The “noob tube” (various Call of Duty games)
While the ridiculously overpowered akimbo Model 1887s came close to being the most hated weapon choice in the Modern Warfare and Black Ops series, the under-gun grenade launcher–the accurately named “noob tube”–far outstripped the double shotgun combo.
Smaller maps, especially in earlier MW entries, saw the map turned into a mortar onslaught from the start, effectively turning the game into the Blitz, as gamers of all abilities grabbed kills by raining down zero-aim grenades.
A cursory glance of YouTube digs out all sorts of examples of cheap kills courtesy of the noob tube, while others have practically celebrated it with well-known takes such as this.
Golden Gun (GoldenEye 007)
Shoot to kill. Francisco Scaramanga’s Golden Gun, famously assembled from a fountain pen, lighter, cigarette case and cufflink, was the central feature of GoldenEye’s infamous multiplayer mode where one-hit kills were the way to win. Speaking from experience, I once won a round in Facility 100-1-0-0, and I felt empty. If you loved playing this mode, and you were any good at it, I hope you did too.
Before naming the overall winner of worst multiplayer weapon, there were some incredible suggestions that nearly made the cut, but fell short of “weapon” classification:
Eddy Gordo (Tekken 3): He isn’t strictly a weapon (as per Oddjob), but he’s close enough, given players need precisely no skill to string together an incredible combo. His inclusion in the Tekken 3 demo, alongside fellow series newcomer Ling Xiaoyu, made him an early favorite with plenty of gamers.
Terror drone (Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2): Nice tanks you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if they were hijacked and slowly destroyed by tiny Communist robots.
Oddjob (GoldenEye 007): Oddjob represents the height disparity that made multiplayer games of GoldenEye so excruciating, joining the likes of Baron Samedi and Moonraker Elite (Female) on the ban list. Again, while not strictly a weapon, a slaps-only match with Oddjob or any of his similarly short characters is awful, while his hitbox renders a standard Power Weapons match pointless.
Standing in front of the goalkeeper during a free kick (FIFA International Soccer): It’s the closest a soccer game has ever come to a weapon, apart from Lyon’s Juninho Pernambucano from a set-piece in FIFA 06. The first-ever FIFA title allows players to simply stand in front of a keeper tasked with kicking the ball back into play–get it right and it’ll bounce off your striker, guaranteeing a goal.
But the winner is…
The power button (every console ever)
It’s the ultimate means of avoiding defeat in multiplayer gaming–and one most of us have experienced, particularly in our formative years.
The most powerful weapon in multiplayer gaming is “when your childhood ‘friend’ runs over to the off switch and powers down the console before a result screen confirms your defeat over them”, as competition winner Graeme so succinctly stated. Friend, in inverted commas, is the most accurate way of describing the ingrates that do this.
Whether you were on the receiving end, or you yourself perpetrated such justice-ending madness, it’s a horrifically common thing that we’ve all been through. I myself did it when losing a round of Bust-a-Groove to my first girlfriend in 2000, and she’s (rightly) never let me live it down.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, and certainly not final, it provides a cross-genre snapshot of the many things that angered us all over the years. Reckon there’s an obvious weapon missing off this list? Let me know, as this article may just be the start of something much bigger.