In Batman: Arkham City you can easily get a never hit bonus and a full combo bonus using only basic attack and counters so long as you're paying attention, no flashy gadgets or special moves. It's also the easiest way to get a lot of points, especially if you can go the entire Challenge without getting hit.
The "Killer Bee" flying kick from Devil May Cry 3 is, considering damage per hit and windup time, the most efficient way of bringing down enemies, as opposed to making full use of Dante's varied moveset. Also, some bosses are all but made for just shooting to death from afar rather than trying to fight them close up while dancing around their attacks. Unfortunately... this is not a game that encourages such methods, what with the "Style Meter" and all.
Dante starts every game with a pair of Boring But Practical handguns. Though you may upgrade them to shotguns, grenade launchers, magically charged sniper rifles and pure nightmare, it's rare occasions when you don't want the simple ability to suspend yourself in the air with rapid recoils.
In Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox, the full Izuna Drop combo will kill any normal enemy that Ryu can launch, even on Master Ninja. It's not the fastest, yes, but unless you're one of those super-gamers who can chain Ultimate Techniques easily, it's the most effective. On that note, Ultimate Techniques. Invincibility during usage and lots of damage, also enough to kill most normal enemies. Off-the-wall attacks provide invincibility when used as well. The Ninpo magic attacks also provide invincibility and good damage.
Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures has the whip as a starting weapon. Though the characters tend to stress that it's merely a temporary weapon and that you should find something more potent instead, it turns out that the whip is really useful thanks to having a range of two tiles—even if there is an obstacle one tile in front of you. Which means that you can whip enemies to death through walls or impassable rivers, which makes combat a great deal safer.
Yoda Stories, the Star Wars version of Desktop Adventures, has the lightsaber. Its damage is reliable, allowing you to cut down most mooks in one or two hits, and it doesn't run out of ammo like blasters or bombs. Even so, unlike the rest of the franchise this game can make the lightsaber downright dull.
Beat Em Up
Among the moves you can use as God Reels in God Hand are throwing a giant baseball, cutting the enemy's head off with a blade of energy, and a good old-fashioned Groin Attack. But the most useful? Chain Yanker, which just pulls the enemy in and stuns them — stunned enemies being perfect for building one's God Hand meter on.
Of the various guard breaker moves available, the most basic and earliest available, a simple overhand chop, is also the most reliable. Sure, neither it nor its stronger version do much damage, but when all you want is to leave the enemy open, it answers the call.
You have a roundhouse move from the start. It has decent power, reach and speed, but best of all it can knock down small enemies and keep hitting them on the ground, keeping them there. By using evade-cancelling to pump it out faster, you can do good damage with this alone. It won't break a guard, but apart from that hiccup it's as reliable as they get.
In The Bouncer you could pick up a ton of special moves, but most of them paled to the simple combos, most notably Volt's headbutt, which could chain combo robots. (Yes, that's right: When Volt's skull meets solid steel, Volt's skull wins).
The backwards elbow in the original Double Dragon is a simple but effective technique, especially against the bosses.
It's a downright Game Breaker. It works on EVERYTHING. Very boring, and very practical.
The "Hold Against Leg" move in Shenmue's free battle mode is a not particularly flashy thrusting kick, but it does decent damage and is the best possible move for putting some distance between Ryo and his opponents to keep them from ganging up. If you're interested in winning the bigger free battles, you'll be using it a lot.
In Chess, most people will try to learn the flashy openings and glitzy combo attacks, but the tactics of piece exchange should come in second place to the logistic considerations of controlling board space. It sounds boring, but it pays to know when to crack open the defense of a turtling player or to suffocate an aggressive attacker with a locked pawn center.
In Go, there are dozens of standard sequences called joseki, i.e. "best move". Playing them out according to the standard may seem boring to a junior player, but the reason they became standard in the first place is that they provide both sides with usable structures and "fair share" of the area where it is played.
In Monopoly a fairly common tactic amongst experienced players is to buy up the (light) purple, orange, and red properties. While they are far less impressive than Park Place and Boardwalk, they are the most commonly landed on properties in the entire game.
In Risk, Australia is the continent of choice for many veterans for locking down early then slowly amassing the 2 reinforcements per round. It requires the player to play the waiting game while others battle it out but by the time the inevitable bloodbath for Asia is over, other players will be severely weakened... and vulnerable to the massive army about to backdoor it.
Forza Motorsport 4 has weight removal and tire compound/grip upgrades, which are likely going to be the most commonly used upgrades.
Interstate '76. Throughout the game you'll salvage all kinds of crazy weapons from other cars, like Dr. Radar tracking missiles, flamethrowers, lava mines, mortars, cluster bombs, and the dreaded Hades Cannon. But ultimately, nothing is more effective at totaling other cars than the 30cal machine gun you start with. Except maybe two machine guns, or higher caliber machine guns.
In racing games that employ Rubber Band A.I. and upgradeable vehicles, you might find that dropping your car to the lowest settings (and perhaps, even drive around in a lower tier car) is the only way of finishing the race. Need for Speed Underground was notorious for this.
In the Super Smash Bros. series of games, each character has several special moves (three in the first game, four in later games) that use their unique abilities, and the third game provides each character with an impressive Final Smash, some of which cross the line into Game Breaker territory, but the most overwhelmingly useful moves in any mode are the weak but varied standard attacks.
The reasons why "FOX ONLY! NO ITEMS! FINAL DESTINATION!" is a meme is because most people chose Fox to fight as due to his fast and spammy basic attacks (Not that his specials weren't fast and spammy too. Especially that damn laser pistol of his...). "No Items" was simply because people thought it was unfair to gain the upper hand simply because a good item fell out of the sky randomly. Final Destination is the simplest stage in the game: One large flat platform floating in space.
Meta Knight in Brawl has Mach Tornado, which is basically a tornado that you can control. However, it's very hard to get out of if you get stuck in it, even harder and somewhat risky to knock Meta Knight out of the attack without a ranged move, and if it's shielded, then you can just move to a safe distance before the move ends. In tournament play, some people just spam Mach Tornado if they don't know how their opponent plays due to being so hard to counter. Even with stalling, the only downside is that it gets the other player(s) and anyone watching annoyed at you.
Throwing ranged and melee weapons at your opponents. This typically ends up causing nearly as much, if not more damage/knockback than using the weapons normally, but isn't quite as satisfying.
Capcom vs. SNK 2 has 48 characters, all with a variety of special moves. Their best attacks? For the most part, a crouching fierce (hard) punch. Out of the top 3 characters (Cammy, Sagat, Blanka), two have ball-busting low fierces and there is almost no time where it is a bad move (Cammy's standing fierce punches and roundhouse (again, hard) kicks generally serve the same purpose).
Let's not forget Iori's crouching fierce. It has massive range.
David Sirlin, designer for Street Fighter II HD Turbo Remix, won a tournament by choosing one character and just spamming crouching strong for a minute straight. He writes about all sorts of boring yet effective techniques to beat people who waste time using slow but awesome looking attacks.
Street Fighter and King of Fighters games are all but shallow — the main difference between just "good" and genuinely great players is their ability to effectively use and mix up the basic light and medium attacks into a chain of heavy attacks and showy specials. In some ways, this is an excellent parallel of real world Boxing and MMA.
Similarly, in the Samurai Shodown games, few things are better for punishing an opponent's mistake than a simple fierce slash; given the high damage levels used in the series, this often becomes an extreme case of the use of this trope. Oh, and while it's true that landing a disarming desperation attack tends to make the fight easier, there are still several cases when merely causing a good amount of raw damage is much better.
In Street Fighter III, you must choose a super special move out of a selection of three. The "best" (to the extent that one could be considered the best) one out of these three tends to be (though is not always) the one that lets you use the meter the most often, either through having a lot of capacity through EX moves (which tend to be like supers but less flashy) or through having a very short meter bar to charge (allowing you to use supers almost willy-nilly, though some of these supers are also not very flashy). An example of the former case is Ryu's Shinkuu Hadou Ken (a super that isn't all that great, but gives you a ton of meter to work with to hound your opponent with plenty of EX moves). Examples of the latter case include Ken’s Shippū Jinrai Kyaku (which is fast, has invincibility frames, has good range, and you get three of them) and Yun’s Gen'ei Jin (which allows for some nice extended combos served up very, very often).
The "Man with Two Moves", Guile, has a moveset considered to be this in every Street Fighter game. He's been using the same two specials, Sonic Boom and Flash Kick (along with super versions of each) since his debut. And it's still a pain to get past them.
As of this writing, tiers are still in the air for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, however, current thought is that one character absolutely dominates the game as the absolute best. Who is this character? Dante, with a billion and one moves? Amaterasu, the Physical God who can switch fighting styles on the fly and is said to have no weaknesses? Or Phoenix, who can die and be resurrected as the God-Mode SueSuperpowered Evil Side Dark Phoenix? None of the above. For now, the single best character in the game is... Wolverine, who possesses enough raw speed AND power to turn one confirmed attack into an instant death combo against 90% of the entire cast! He has no fireballs, no grapples, and no devastating assists. He simply beats your ass until you can't get up.
An ironic subversion happened with Wesker. Wesker has a gunshot, teleport, good set of normals, and a hyper that, after usage, gave him an attack and speed boost. His combos are simple, usually consist of ground series, some gunshots for extended combo, and air series ended with a Super and maybe a DHC or THC, doing good, but not great damage. His most used assist is a simple gunshot that hits low, and OTG, useful for combo extension. His ease of use during the early days of ultimate made him considered a Game Breaker, especialy with the infamous Level 4 X Factor. Ironically, many then realized that his exact problem is because he has all of those, and only those things. He did not have advanced and flashier combos, his damage is hopelessly average, he did not build as much meter as characters like Magneto, his mix ups are average, every character is good with X Factor (and there are many that are outright better anyway), and his assists, while useful, are not good at neutral game. In the end, he is a good, easy to use character that is good for many teams, but not a massive threat he was thought to be.
Many such moves in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, and its sequel, Duodecim, from Jecht and Cloud Of Darkness's few brave attacks to Zidane's starting HP move, Free Energy — but the one that takes the cake is Sephiroth's Shadow Flare. It is practical — weak, but ranged, little end lag, good assist charge, quick, virtually unpunishable; people who play competitively consider it the very best move he has — but man alive is it dull: Sephiroth raises his sword in the air, four little darkness-thingies appear by the opponent and move in on them. Making matters worse, a whole lot of matches with Sephiroth consist of persistent, constant, and ceaseless use of this move. Considering how much style the character has in his other appearances, it's very ironic.
Most fighting games have a "damage scaling" system, which lessens the amount of damage each successive hit of a combo does in order to prevent combos from killing characters outright. In particularly egregious cases, this can mean that adding more hits to a combo can make it end up doing less damage! So you're sometimes better off doing that 2-hit combo into a Limit Break instead of that super-stylish 50-hit combo that has 2 Limit Breaks in it.
First Person Shooter
Battlefield 2142: While it is more fun to storm the Titans and destroy them from the inside, it's much more practical to capture silos on the ground and destroy it that way, as a competent team will heavily fortify the Titan from the inside.
A slightly risky, but good strategy in a match with one Titan's shields down, was for players on the losing side to go and capture silos on the now mostly empty battlefield, as the winning side usually had most of their members trying to board the Titan. Games could be turned around real fast when the other Titan suddenly had its shield down and was being boarded.
In the same game, the standard sniper rifles compared to the unlockable. While the unlockable one has a high amount of damage that can kill light armored infantry in one shot, pierce bulletproof glass, and destroy explosives, the player is limited to three shots, compared to the five on the standard rifles, and the red tint made the scope unusable on weaker computers. Also, headshots are an instant kill with all three rifles, and a sniper that is skilled enough to land a head shot every time does not need the extra damage boost.
In Team Fortress 2, you can unlock a great many side-grades for the primary/secondary/melee weapons of each class. These often serve to change up the core gameplay style of that class, tweak their effective sphere of operations, or just look flashy. Thing is (and much to the game's credit), when most professional and competitive players need to pick a loadout? They use the "vanilla" starter weapons all the way. Not as flashy, not as neat or novel - but always solid, dependable, and quietly the most powerful choice.
Luckily, there are a few fancied-up versions of the defaults, such as the Heavy's Iron Kurtain (which you have to play a different game in order to unlock, unfortunately) and The Original, which replaces the Soldier's rocket launcher with the one from Quake, complete with original SFX and centered viewmodel.
Prior to the class update, the Engineer class of Team Fortress 2 had three rather plain weapons: a shotgun, a pistol, and his wrench. However, in spite of their plainness, they weren't any less effective at dispatching foes. His shotgun is a reliable standby that can deal a respectable amount of damage up close and is used by a default secondary by three of the main combat classes besides. The Engineer's pistol is just like the Scout's, but literally has more ammo available than any other weapon in the game (the minigun and flamethrower both carry 200 rounds according to their ammo indicators. The pistol? 212.) and was still half decent at damaging targets from farther off than the shotgun. Finally, the wrench is a humble tool, but it can construct, repair, and upgrade the Engineer's buildings, including health and ammo Dispensers, Teleporters to move teammates, and powerful Sentries. It is also handy for cracking heads open, because damage delivered from those same Sentries raise the Engie's crit rate, and only the two toughest classes in the game can avoid being beaten to death with one critical swing. Even before the update, Engineers were ubiquitous even if they were not as showy as some their fellow classes.
Ironically, the only true downfall of any Engie is boredom. Two Engineers can completely lock down the 2fort map and prevent most means of speedy Intel recovery, but most defenses are broken because one of the two engineers feels bored because no one ever makes it far enough to him.
Part of being a Medic involves using your Ubercharge to mount an invincible (or Critical Hit-laden) assault on enemies. The other part is what you do to get your Ubercharge gauge up: healing allies. Not the most exciting job in the world, but the presence of a Medic can prevent teammates from having to wait upwards of 20 seconds to respawn.
The Soldier can be seen as this, especially among the much more niche-specific classes available. His weapons are literally nothing new. Rocket launchers, shotguns, and melee weapons have been around since Doom, and everyone's seen what they can do before. However, the Soldier is quite tough, surprisingly mobile, and well rounded enough that a good team usually has at least two on hand. Soldier tactics are fairly predictable, but frighteningly effective at turning large numbers of enemies into Ludicrous Gibs. It doesn't hurt that his lines are also extremely entertaining thanks to Comedic Sociopathy. For example, when the Soldier kills an enemy Pyro, he might say something like "You can not burn me! I am already ablaze with passion FOR WAR!" and " I just tore you a new chimney, Smokey Joe!"
In Doom, you will probably use the shotgun a lot more than flashier weapons like the rocket launcher, plasma rifle, or BFG 9000 due to the fact that shotgun ammo is very plentiful and a single blast at close range is enough to kill weaker enemies (sometimes you can even kill two or three weak enemies with a single shot if they're clustered together).
In Doom II, this trend is averted with the Super Shotgun. The single-barrel shotgun remains for dealing with medium to long-range monsters, while the double-barrel shotgun fills the role of short-range-stopping-power awesomely. Ammo remains available enough for the weapon, and for a lot of cases, it can be used as the standard gun. A very handy feature of this weapon is that few monsters can withstand all of the buckshot from the weapon without being stunned in pain.
As Doom III went for a more horror themed approach, many of the fights you get into are short range ambushes; once again, the humble shotgun is weapon of choice for wandering through the corridors.
In a meta sense, the original Doom engine can qualify due to how it was designed. While not spectacular looking today, the Doom engine persists because of its advantages under the hood: 1) Being easy to develop with, and 2) Being moddable as hell. Doom modding is usually seen as a great entry point by aspiring developers wanting to break into the business and despite the engine being fifteen years old, the community is still alive and kicking with very popular mods still being made like Real Guns Advanced 2 and the Samsara mod.
Quake was much the same way about the shotgun as DOOM. Though the max for shells was half that for nails (200), you needed several times more of the latter and ammo for them was less plentiful than the former. This basically forced you to use the shotgun far more often, saving the nailgun for dire situations. Fortunately, the shotgun was every bit as versatile as in DOOM, if not more so thanks to its higher rate of fire (if you had the right cover you could destroy a Shambler with barely a scratch). Also, ammo for the grenade and rocket launcher were readily available due to ogre drops and frequent map placement, and had the same maximum as the shotgun (100).
Prey has an impressive amount of very original weapons of creepily biological construction, like an acid-spraying shotgun, explosive crabs used as grenades, a gun that launches those same crabs (no, really) and a bow made of spiritual energy that can kill the soul of enemies. And yet, the weapon you'll be using most of the time is the humble energy rifle with sniper attachment you begin with, because of its good mix of damage, fire rate, and precision.
System Shock 2, with its RPG Elements, had one or two, especially if you were playing the OSA. Cryokinesis is one of the starting powers and though you get amazing, highly destructive spells abilities at higher tiers, this is still the most-used due to its low Psi-point cost, robot-damaging ability, and scaling of its damage with your PSI stat. The wrench you pick up at the very beginning? Still useful right up to the endgame for whittling down immobilized enemies before you deliver the coup de grace. With Adrenaline Overproduction and the right OS upgrade, it becomes a killer.
The wrench is also the only weapon not to suffer from wear and so requires no maintenance, in addition to needing no ammunition. It's also a silent killer that won't attract enemies in nearby rooms. Did we mention it requires no skill training whatsoever, unlike the resonating crystal mace that requires SIX points in exotic weapons for equivalent performance?
The laser pistol doesn't do very much damage and doesn't cause huge explosions, frequently requiring you to whittle down enemy health, but carrying two around is a winning strategy as you'll never run into enough enemies to discharge them both before reaching a charging station. Concentrate on using them and you become effectively ammunition-independent.
In Video Game/Bioshock1, you collect a stunning array of weapons, special ammo, and plasmids — but nothing is ever so useful as Electro Bolt + Wrench.
In terms of efficiency, though, Telekinesis is king, as it has the lowest resource cost of any attack in the game save the Wrench — no ammo, and the smallest EVE cost of any plasmid, and can act as a shield and protect you from grenades to boot. And it still does good damage, of course.
In terms of play-speed, the Revolver/Pistol (with damage upgrade and anti-personnel rounds later on) can kill all splicers in 1 headshot. While other weapons have better overall damage (Crossbow) or better rate of fire (Machine Gun/Tommy Gun), the Revolver has just the right balance so you don't have to stop moving to fight every single enemy you meet.
You can make the Wrench so powerful on its own that you don't need Electro Bolt, you can just run in swinging wildly, killing everything while regaining health with each hit. You'll only have to take out a gun or a plasmid when fighting a Big Daddy or the final boss. Note that a lot of people that do this are the same people who complain about how repetitive/easy the game is.
BioShock 2 continues this trend. All of the tonics that existed in the first game for the wrench now exist in this game for the drill, allowing you to make the drill powerful enough to make the other weapons obsolete. The game even encourages you to do this with a new tonic that cuts EVE consumption by a large amount while only allowing you to use the drill, plasmids, research camera, and hacking tool. Of course, that tonic really starts to shine when you get the Decoy 3 plasmid, which makes the drill obsolete, and at the end of the game when you get Summon Eleanor.
BioShock Infinite has quite an amount of impressive weaponry, but the fact that the most damaging ones are either subjected to insane ammunition restrictions (maximum number of bullets for the revolver? Twenty-four, thank you very much), quite complex to use (like the parabolic-trajectory Volley Gun), or both, means you'll be playing most of the game with the humble Machine Gun/Triple R as your primary baddie-killer, due to fair damage, good precision (especially after upgrades) and ammunition for it being scattered all over the place.
The Undertow Vigor is one of the few non-offensive Vigors and is relatively simple (use to push enemies away, hold to draw them close). However, pushing enemies away is tremendously effective at killing mooks given you're in a Flying City, and holding enemies in place is excellent at taking out the Heavy-hitters as it draws in Snipers or enemies with rocket-propelled grenades, and stuns bigger Mooks.
It's also invaluable for fighting Lady Comstock, since she keeps reviving the mooks you kill. The intended method is to burn them to death so as to not leave a corpse for her to revive, but that doesn't always work. Since she's restricted to a certain area of the map, you can move all of them outside of that area and kill them there, and she won't be able to revive them. When she runs out of mooks, she will literally stay still and let you shoot her to death, provided you stay outside of her designated area yourself.
The Broadsider Pistol starts off as a fairly weak weapon, good against minor enemies, and most players ditch it later on for better weapons. Still, it's accurate, fires incredibly fast, has a high critical damage multiplier, draws fast and is very cheap to upgrade. Right gear and upgrades, and when you get to Soldiers Field the Pistol will have 31 rounds in total, and provide solid performance at all ranges.
The Huntsman Carbine, your basic all-around gun in the game. Does well at nearly every range, performs as well as the Sniper Rifle, good firing rate, decent damage and a fast rate of fire, like the Pistol. Most players carry it alongside their other favourite weapon because it's a brilliant all-rounder, and if you upgrade it fully, it'll become the only gun you'll ever need.
Halo 3 features Rocket launchers, energy swords, shotguns and gravity hammer. The most efficient weapon to quickly kill most enemies? Battle Rifle or Covenant Carbine, provided the player can consistently hit the head.
Hell, I think at least over half of any given players kills will be either A: Gunning down an enemy with the Assault Rifle (default starting weapon), B: Hitting someone with a melee, or C: Running at someone firing an Assault rifle, then hitting them with a melee when their shield goes down.
And just for completeness, the Battle Rifle in Halo 2 is the do-all workhorse of both multi-player and single-player. Even more so in multi-player when Bungie toned up the accuracy a little.
From the equipment in Halo: Reach, the Sprint upgrade, it lets you get behind cover or dodge enemy fire much quicker than normal.
It's also useful for rushing up to an opponent to assassinate them, as well as an effective defense against someone else trying to do the same.
In Half-Life 1, you gain access to a wide range of high-powered military hardware and a few alien/experimental weapons. But, even in Xen, your mainstay will be the trusty MP-5 submachine gun you picked up early on. Ammunition is plentiful, reloading fast, firepower decent, rate of fire high, and the underbarrel grenade launcher adds more punch when needed. Better is Hive Hand - unlimited ammunition and shots that aim themselves. It is, nonetheless quite slow and to effectively use it, one must use cover a lot. If you master it, however, you can finish the game just with this. And then there's the crowbar.
Half-Life 2 doesn't have much leeway in terms of awesome weapons. Even so, the somewhat meek MP7 (or SMG1) is probably the weapon you'll use the most for the same reasons as the MP5 above, plus it's quite a bit more accurate. And for those close-up times, nothing can beat the equally unglamorous shotgun.
The M82 from Killzone 2. I'm sorry, you mean you don't want an assault rifle that's essentially as accurate as a sniper rifle? But it has a rate of fire to match any other gun. And a high damage per shot rating. And an ammo capacity. And can be fired effectively on the move. And you can beat people with it. And it's your basic weapon. The only real problem with it is that if you run out, you can't salvage ammo for it from enemies.
And the recoil forces successful shots UP. If you're hitting the chest, that means headshots. In multiplayer, the M82 is the common weapon found, giving you anywhere from 4 to 180 rounds per corpse.
In a game that manages to shove a machine gun, sniper rifle and rocket launcher (among other things) into a single weapon, one gun in Classified: The Sentinel Crisis combines incredible accuracy, stealth and the power to kill most Mooks with a single bullet. That gun... is the silenced semi-automatic pistol.
Deus Ex has many powerful and complicated weapons, and most are actually quite effective. However, the stealthy player will find most of his kills coming from the silenced pistol, since headshots are one-hit-kills against almost everything, and the gun can be easily modified into a baby sniper rifle.
It's not a flashy way to play; but the number of areas that can be cleared by hiding in the air ducts and shooting people with pistols or the crossbow is amazing.
Throughout the game you'll get access to rocket launchers, plasma rifles and nanotech swords. But when you're stuck in a situation where you have to fight your way out, the Sawed-Off Shotgun is one of the best weapons in the game, able to dish out a ton of damage at close range while not limiting your mobility like heavy weapons tend to do (and it doesn't take up a whole lot of space in your inventory.)
Same thing applies to the prequels Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex The Fall. Miniguns, laser rifles, rocket launchers... and not only the weapon you'll be using the most is the silenced pistol, but the entire game can be completed using nothing but that - when it's completely maxed out, a series of fast headshots can bring down even bosses. In The Fall, pistol ammo is more common and cheaper than rifle ammo, which doesn't really start showing up on the regular until towards the end; unless you don't mind killing or knocking out a few cops for their guns.
Similar is the stun gun, which is even the same size. It's low-key looking even compared to the other non-lethal weapons like the PEPS or tranquilizer rifle, but incredibly useful besides. It's a silent short-range weapon that can rend unconscious any human but a boss with a single body shot, stuns bosses and robots, and will even temporarily disable a camera without setting off an alarm. It can't be upgraded at all, but never needs to be because it's just as effective on the 8-foot armored cyborgs with miniguns as it was on the unarmored guy with a pistol.
The Power Beam from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. (and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption to a certain extent) Unlimited ammo, crazy fast rate of fire, yet somewhat weak, you will be using it throughout the entire game. The charge shot sucks in any missile or health pickups that may be lying around too. Oh, sure, you can fire miniature suns, black holes or radioactive acid-goop, but those take lots of ammo (and in the case of the Phazon, health).
The Super Missile combo also falls under this. It uses five missiles per shot, but spamming it in a tough opponent's face will bring him down quickly.
The UMP of Modern Warfare 2. It's a submachine gun class weapon (which gives it high mobility) with stats that rival most of the assault rifles. It's definitely one of the most popular guns in the game, and thus one of the most commonly used as well.
F.E.A.R.'s first generation games features a ton of weapons, including heavy caliber types like laser carbines, miniguns, grenade launchers, repeating cannons and rocket launchers. But if you want to live, you'll need a shotgun and an assault rifle in 2 of your 3 slots because these are the only weapons that have generous amounts of ammo. In fact, the most practical combo is the pistol-shotgun-rifle combo, which you can acquire at the early stages of the F.E.A.R. campaign.
The VES Advanced Rifle from F.E.A.R.: Perseus Mandate deserves special mention for being a step-up of the original assault rifle in nearly every way. It's easily possible to use it exclusively for nearly the entire game (except heavy mechs and moments without Nightcrawlers).
Inversely, the heavy caliber weapons become more practical once you run into Replica armor or Nightcrawler super soldiers. Attempting to defeat them with lighter firearms is excruciatingly difficult, bordering on suicide, even when done properly and with the Slow-Moreflex-speed ability, to boot.
Dark Forces offers very fun, splashy guns like the concussion rifle, the plasma cannon, and the fusion cutter, just to mix things up. However, the most commonly used weapons are often the first three picked up: the blaster pistol, the blaster rifle, and thermal detonators. The first two are a Sniper Pistol and the classic Stormtrooper rifle, respectively, and the third are grenades in all but name. Most of the enemies faced are Imperial troops carrying ammunition for blasters anyway.
Later games, part of the Jedi Knight series, obviously allow the lightsaber to predominate, but even in the face of acrobatic slashing, Force powers, and so forth, the utility of the blaster pistol or blaster rifle is rarely diminished, thanks to their accuracy at range and speed, respectively (and again, the ubiquity of their ammo).
Finally, Star Wars: Republic Commando offers a number of interesting attachments for the Swiss-Army Weapon given to the commandos, as well several fun secondary guns plucked from enemies or supply caches. The fandom's favorite weapons, however, are the melee strikes, the basic rifle/repeater mode, and also the shotgun during the attack on the captured Republic Cruiser.
In Crysis 2, there are many different ways to kill C.E.L.L. operatives, whether by using a gauss rifle, a rapid-fire taser, and throwing them skyhigh. But the most effective way to kill them? Attach a silencer to your starting pistol and use stealth mode. Aim for the head and you can take out groups of enemies without being detected. The best part? Each shot only uses ten energy, and combined with Nano Regeneration and Stealth Entrance, you can go an entire level undetected. This is less effective on Ceph, however.
The Descent games have always had many kinds of awesome, flashy and hyperdestructive weaponry, but due to huge energy consumption and rarity of pickups, you'll probably kill most enemies using the laser - the weapon you start with (albeit suitably upgraded).
Tron 2.0 has many weapons, all of which drain from one pool of energy...except the vanilla Disc Primitive, which drains no energy, can deflect other discs with the right timing (and an upgrade allows it to harm enemies that catch the deflected disc) and can make use of the weapon upgrades (which add a drain that is a percentage of the weapon's drain) with no drain whatsoever. Sure, you could derez programs with some awesome weapon, but in the end, you'll go back to the humble Disc Primitive.
In Command & Conquer: Renegade, the most useful GDI tank is the plain medium tank, as opposed to the Mammoth. Also, the elite version of the sniper is a huge overkill in the hands of anyone that is good at sniping, so a good player will stick to the cheaper basic sniper.
Battlefield3 has a staggering number of gun unlocks, but for the assault, engineer, and support, the default weapons can still throw their punches with the best of them. In particular, the USMC starting weapons are all based off of the M16/M4 series, and as such have the fastest reload in the game, and the second best stats for everything else.
Camping for ANY FPS! Cheap? Yes. Boring? You're standing in the exact same freakin' place, take a guess. But by god it works.
In Starship Troopers, aiming down the Morita sniper's sights decreases its rate of fire, but makes it more powerful. It can bring down a baby plasma/tanker bug with 25-30 shots.
In STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl, by the end of the game you can be tooling around with a suit of Powered Armor, a number of artifacts that turn you into a Made of Iron badass with a Healing Factor, and a Gauss rifle. However, you'll probably be hanging on to that humble double-barreled sawed-off shotgun for a good ways into the game, because it can use shot (useful for the incredibly hostile wildlife) or shells (useful on humans) and is lightweight for the amount of damage it can put out with ammo that's found just about anywhere. A pair of Flash artifacts can give the ability to run indefinitely, but downing energy drinks instantly refill your stamina and can be bought from almost anyone in the Zone, despite being heavier.
This shows up in the sequel as well. You can carry a revolver grenade launcher, but a silenced sniper rifle will be lighter and far more effective, if less ostentatious.
In the first two games, having one slot of pistols and another for long guns makes assault rifles more practical overall. High magazine capacity, good rate of fire, and most have serviceable accuracy and most can take a scope. Call of Pripyat changes things up by letting you freely wield a pair of long guns (or two pistols), making the more specialized weapons more accessible.
In Borderlands 2, when weapon manufacturers were more sharply delineated, several manufacturers gained novel attributes, such as Torgue weapons being always explosive or Hyperion weapons gaining accuracy as they were fired, or Vladof guns increasing in fire rate the longer you held down the trigger. Jakobs weapons, however, changed very little from their previous incarnations in the first Borderlands, being simple, relatively dull designs based on old-fashioned weapons... and as a result they are always useful in some capacity. Jakobs weapons are never elemental (save for a few weird unique or legendary guns), don't fire in bursts or automatically like Dahl or Vladof guns, but their weapons simply do more raw damage with good accuracy than anything else in the game. They might not fire rockets or elemental beams, but Jakobs guns simply do the "shoot bullets and kill people" thing so well that it hardly matters.
Hack And Slash
God of War does this, but only in concept. While you can mix your light and heavy attacks to make some really cool looking moves, on higher difficulties, the only reasonable way to make progress is with the grapple moves. It instant deaths minor Mooks, sometimes killing others in the area, and you're invincible while you do it most of the time. Granted the grapple moves are pretty cool to watch, but mashing circle seems like a really boring way to fight.
Not to mention the best attack to use when you're getting swarmed by enemies that you can't grab is to repeatedly spam your square square triangle attack. Its short enough that enemies have a hard time hitting you out of it or blocking it mid combo, and it knocks enemies into the air, stunning them. Too bad its basically the shortest combo.
Koei's musou games generally plays on this trope in term of maximization and effective gameplay. A lot of these effective moves are the one that is available from the beginning. There's few example that stands out :
Kunoichi in the crossover relies on invincibility frame special and gaining back the musou bar. How you do it is the catch, you do it by spamming the C2 elemental launcher over and over again effectively juggling your opponent and purposefully ignoring your other flashier moves including the supposed to be follow up of said move.
Lu Bu. One of the nastier character in the game, in the fifth game, he's a Game Breaker as well. It also has one of the most boring gameplay. Spam his 360 degree C3 over and over again and use musou once in a while. The usefulness of this move is so much that his other moves are basically filler.
Orochi himself falls to this trope. He has spinning scythe move, electric spreader, and jumping slash + shockwave. The most effective way to play him ? Spam triangle button doing a simple dark explosion without continuing the move for peons and add a jumping light attack followed by said move. Yes, you can ignore every other flashy moves the Big Bad offers and use its most basic move and make everything a Curb-Stomp Battle.
General consensus for the most effective technique on Dynasty Warriors 6 are basic attack 2 time, and Lag Cancel with blocking or dodge rolling and do it again, and use musou thanks to the fact that said moves generally offers better crowd control and the cancelling provides a really safe and effective sequence of moves.
The humble sword, when combined with a strong wind based weapon and a double element/element attack up combination are likely your choice of weapons when doing nightmare mode in Dynasty Warriors 7 and extreme legends. Thanks to your health regenerating when you hit with speed weapons due to the title abilities in DW 7 XL, your health goes back up far quickly than it goes down.
Koei's Dynasty Warriors: Gundam games feature some of the most powerful suits ever devised in the franchise, including killbeasts like the Turn A Gundam, the Nu Gundam, or the Strike Freedom Gundam. In spite of the presence of such powerhouses, it's entirely possible, and sometimes far more efficient, to pilot a GM. Why bother? For all the power of the Ace Custom suits, the GM does three things very competently—its Limit Break fires instantly and thoroughly belabors the buttocks of Mooks and aces alike, it moves at a reasonable speed, and its Laser Blade is just fast enough and just powerful enough to make an enemy flinch when hit. This makes a very basic design into a capable fighter in the course of play because a player can dash up to an enemy and almost always put them into a Cycle of Hurting. The moment the enemy looks ready to fight back, the GM can scoot away and wait for another opening. The only defense is being Immune to Flinching, and not every unit has such an option. In battles without a tight time limit, a carefully controlled GM can take down powerful enemies that more impressive Mobile Suits would have trouble fighting. It's possible to use pilot skills to improve the efficiency of its basic strengths. This playstyle is very boring to watch, but it works.
Infinity Blade games have elemental defenses. It negates entirely damage of a specific type done to you and is certainly less flashy than any other offensive option you could use, but later rebirths have opponents who do so much elemental damage that your life bar can evaporate from a single hit from them. Even blocking their attacks can bleed you dry in seconds unless you can negate this damage.
In Zone of the Enders you get all sorts of subweapons for Jehuty, such as the paralyzing Geyser, the Halberd large laser and the Vector Cannon, Awesome, but Impractical royalty. The majority of the damage you deal will be with your trusty Homing Lasers and sword.
Mechwarrior, every and any game of it: PPCs, a cheap, relatively fast and powerful energy weapon. It's the best general weapon in the game, to the point where 90% of mechwarrior players just load their mech of choice with as many PPCs as it can hold.
Perhaps the Large Laser would be a better example. The PPC needs more skill to use because of its lower accuracy (due to projectile travel time) and the insane amount of heat it generates, and the long recycle time encourages making every shot count. Meanwhile, the Large Laser recycles faster, its heat production is more manageable, it's a hitscan weapon, and it's smaller as well (though it also does less damage, but quid pro quo).
In at least Mechwarrior 3, a large quantity of bog-standard machine-guns on your mech could wipe out most enemies in a few seconds of sustained fire, while generating virtually no heat. Why? Because in the grand scheme of things, machine-guns have the best damage-per-round ratio, best rate of fire and lowest heat-per-round numbers in the game. It's just that they do so little damage individually that you either equip a whole bunch of them for the death of a thousand cuts, or just one for cleaning up stray infantry. Not nearly as cool as a dozen pulse lasers or LRMs going off at once, but worth it for sheer reliability.
In Mechwarrior 3 and 4, the weapons are actually pretty well balanced. The sniper weapons are great for sniping, the close quarters LBX-20s are devastating at close, missiles have lock-on capabilities... overall all balanced nicely, IMHO. What is not balanced are TACTICS. In 3, "legging" a Mech was practically compulsory, being a large easy target that was easy to distinguish from the rest (unlike Center vs side torso, or worse, head). In PVP, jumpjet and shoot is the only tactic worth using on stages with any cover at all.
In the source material tabletop game Battletech, the crown goes to the humble Medium Laser. It occupies a sweet spot in the various attribute balances of all the weapons; It weighs only one ton, occupies only one critical slot, uses no ammo, has a tolerable heat output, has a passable range ("Short range" compared to some, but still a useful range), does a respectable amount of damage. Some mechs' loadouts consist almost entirely of an arsenal of medium lasers, and they can be devastating in a "bleed to death from a thousand cuts" way. When in doubt when designing a mech loadout... cram in some medium lasers. You can't go wrong with more medium lasers.
Machine guns in the Armored Core series can be relied on by any player to do whatever gruntwork they need. Not as flashy as the laser rifles, not as powerful as the bazookas, the machine guns nonetheless has copius amounts of ammo, can track even the fastest of enemies and can provide a steady stream of damage that, under certain conditions, can eat away at even the hardiest of tank AC/NEXTs.
In the two video games based on the Heavy Gear franchise, there are a number of unusual and powerful weapons available. However, as impressive as rail guns, particle accelerators, and heavy rocket packs might be, the sheer utility of autocannons (and their More DakkaGatling Good counterparts the anti-air cannons), medium missile packs, and light lasers meant it was just easier and sensible to keep a general-purpose ballistic weapon on hand. It didn't hurt that in both games, the heavy autocannon was a Jack of All Stats that did respectable damage to almost everything a player might encounter.
In SD Gundam Capsule Fighter, C-Rank units (grunts such as the Zaku, GM, and the like) fit this. They're the only units with four Custom slots (all others, except for special ones obtained through Web Gashapon, go up to 3), they're the fastest to level up (2600-3000 EXP needed to reach Custom 1, compared to 4400-5200 for B-Ranks, 7600-9000 for A-Ranks and 13600-16400 for S-Ranks), they grant/lose the lowest amount of points in Normal and Grid PVP matches (2), allow the highest amount of lives in Death and Tag modes (4 for Death, 5 for Tag) and five of their units are healers (compared to 3 B-Ranks and none for A or S).
As well, units with vulcan cannons and machine guns tend to hold out a bit better than those with more flashier beam weapons - they hurt less, but they hit faster and multiple times and they reload a lot faster than a normal beam rifle and only when you run out of ammo (beam rifles and the like tend to be on a constant charge, thus you'd be only able to get at least one hit before you need to wait for a charge if you're on the move)
The Heavy Gear or Heavy Gear 2 games for PC have all sorts of nifty, impressive weapons like the snub cannon, an obscenely powerful tank-killing kinetic impactor weapon, or the particle accelerator, which overloads electrical systems and occasionally electrocutes enemy pilots. What are the most useful weapons in the game, though? Autocannons and rocket packs. There isn't a situation which can't be solved by one or the other, but they're also the very first weapon types you start with, and you will usually carry more than enough ammo to finish the job, unlike fancier weapons. Even the most basic starting Gears have shoulder-mounted rocket launchers and autocannons in their hands, and this will generally carry you through the game with only small changes in weapon size to handle tougher armor.
Dynamix created Earthsiege and Starsiege, and provided us with impressive weapons like the Electron Flux Whip, a Lightning Gun that carves enemies to pieces, or the Plasma Cannon, an Homing Projectile-firing energy gun. At the end of the day, though, a combination of a simple EMP to bring down shields followed by basic autocannons are some of the most useful weapons in the first game, handily chewing even larger Cybrids to pieces without taxing your energy reserves, and often with plenty of ammunition so that even a few misses aren't so detrimental, unlike missiles. Starsiege diversified its weapons further, but it accidentally gave us another simple starting weapon that can still carry players through much of the game—the Blaster, a small, basic energy gun that has a frightening ability to wreck anything it hits by damaging both shields and armor equally well with respectable power at long range.
The Ramdozer in Blast Corps. It's not one of the mechs, and it doesn't have anything like the Ballista's rockets, but it's one of the easiest vehicles to use and makes destroying the smaller structures simple.
In anything with a timer on it, just holding a lead against your opponent(s) long enough for the timer to expire qualifies. Especially if the opponent(s) have a record of making comeback victories.
World of Warcraft mages can rain ice and fire on their enemies, freeze them in place and even steal their status buffs. Far less impressive, but nonetheless very practical, is their ability to conjure food and water out of thin air (which restore health and mana, respectively). Not that you can't buy or loot comparable items, but getting it for free is way better. Warlocks can summon various demons, some of which look quite awesome... but in a normal group setup, the most useful demon is the Imp, a weak green creature that is mostly used for its aura and ranged damage. And of course, there is the whole issue with healers.
Since the last expansion, the Imp is the best pet only for one talent tree of warlocks (or in a situation where the minion would die easily, as it can stay phase shifted). However the fact remains that one of the most useful abilities the warlock class brings to groups is the Soulstone. It allows one dead person (usually a healer) to resurrect.
Ask any mage and many of them will say one of their most useful skills is that they can teleport (or open portals for party members) to any capital city.
Taken even further in high-end raiding. You may have eighty different tools and eleven distinctly different ways to kick ass, but at the end of the day you'll be using the same one or two high-damage abilities over and over and over and over and over and over and over...
Even healing involves this. The most powerful healing spells heal more for every mana spent and tick of massive numbers, but the casting time means there's rarely a chance to use them in heated combat unless you're using a special ability to speed them up. Most healers will spam a specific spell, interspersed with one or two others as necessary.
One of the best spells in healing? Battle rezzes. Countless raids have been saved from a wipe by someone resurrecting the tank
The next expansion, Cataclysm, aims to remove "boring" talents from the trees and replace them with ones that offer some flair. As is, most players have to spend 10-15 levels adding points to talents that - while practical - are just flat boosts to damage or defense. Those bonuses will remain in some form (integrated into the new meta-talent "mastery" system), but the dev team plans instead to let players create earthquakes, align their chakras for extra healing, and disarm foes so forcefully that they actually cower in fear.
Heirloom items fit this perfectly. They look pretty generic because so many people use them and are re-purposed items from the original vanilla game, but will outperform ANY item your character can buy, craft, loot or obtain as a reward until you reach maximum level. Their usefulness nearly reaches Game Breaker level.
Heirlooms would be at the Game Breaker level except for one detail: You need a maxed out character already to be able to get them. They're really there to speed leveling of additional characters, which they do spectacularly (particularly if you have all the possible ones, including the very rare, only 2 awarded per week, rings that give you extra experience points).
Also, playing the auction house to generate cash. It takes some additional add-ons to do it well, and it can easily consume a couple of hours a day, but it can get you gold (for those very expensive things, like some of the crafted mounts, or their components) relatively quickly compared to other options.
Most druids agree that their most useful ability (outside of combat) is their flight form. Unlike other flying mounts, it has no cast time so it can be used while moving (say, falling). And since the the druid isn't actually riding anything, they can loot bodies and pick herbs without landing, thus bypassing any nearby enemies.
In Final Fantasy XI, there are thousands of items, many of which are extremely hard to get. However, one of the most effective items for its intended purpose is Earth Staff, an item that reduces physical damage by 20% and is buyable for a pittance.
Not to mention as a healer once you get Cure III, Cure II is still more of a viable method to keep your party alive, and once Cure II is no long able to keep up. Your just a few levels from Cure IV, which is only a viable option in a very few strategies since it will mostly likely get the monster to kill you. Some of the best healers in the game are those that make Cure III their primary spell with a little help from Cure V and a very little bit of IV. The worst are those who spam the flashier bigger spells constantly. Just to drive the point home, a White mage gets III at level 21, but still uses it constantly at level 75.
City of Heroes manages to double up on this for some of its support classes. Not only are powersets with healing abilities typically Boring, but Practical to use, even the showier heals are fairly ineffective compared to the efficient but invisible buffs and debuff powers.
To the point where somebody "looking for a healer" will often produce a wince from experienced players. Even the most straight-up "healer" class in the game is more useful for their buffs than heals on anything but a low-level team. You'll more often see teams looking for a "buffer/debuffer" for the more challenging expeditions. This is an awesome sauce subversion of the classic MMORPG interpretation of this trope as mentioned at the top of this page.
Also, the Fitness power pool, available to all archetypes. The set consists of inherent boosts to basic attributes, namely running speed (Swift), jump height (Hurdle), health regeneration rate (Health), and endurance recovery rate (Stamina). Stamina is by far the most popular power in the game, to the point where it's rare to see a high-level character who doesn't have it.
As of Issue 19, the only people you won't see having any part of the Fitness Pool are those that were already existing before its release and never respeced. The pool has become so popular to the point of 'necessity' (in the sense that it makes certain encounters 'just' Nintendo Hard) that the developers are making them an innate ability like sprint, brawl (a simple punch) or rest. It's still up to the player to add slots and enhancements, though.
Even in the manual, it states that characters will usually use their first powers later in the game just as much as they were used when they first rolled the character. They are simply the most basic. Entire attack chains used to be based on this principle.
In Ragnarok Online, the most effective weapons for PVP are the most powerful basic weapon with 4 slots. While one can potentially make a 4 slot high power weapon, the cost and risk of losing the weapon (even in private servers) makes the 4 slot basic a good weapon to keep throughout your life as a character. For Mages, Frost Diver and a LightningBolt will carry you through most foes without Maya/Garm cards.
Double Strafe. It's the first skill you get as a Archer and it's still the main damage skill Snipers/Rangers use.
EVE Online has this. Early-on, players will only fly basic T1 frigates for any PVP or low/null-sec ops, since anything bigger might cost too much to replace (as well as the anguish of losing your first BC because of something stupid). However, once you get going, flying T2 Battleships into certain death doesn't become an issue, until you get to Titans.
Then there is the attempt to quite literally weaponize boredom: the dickstar. Basically, it is a space station with massive amounts of HP, and electronic warfare that prevents opponents from locking their weapons. This results in players literally being bored off the battlefield
Mining. Pure and simple. Dedicated players can make hundreds of millions of isk running assorted combat missions, or attacking hapless transports in low/null sec. But, when it comes right down to it, it's the miners that make the game go round. Without the miners, there would be no ships, ammo, or modules. And yet it's probably the most mind-numbingly boring aspect of the game.
Tech 1 Ammo production can also count. Each individual charge may only sell for pennies, but as any combat player will tell you, they can be bought in the THOUSANDS, are vital for any operation, and will sell very easily. On top of that, many of the biggest alliances produce their own ammo either in stations or star-bases, and stock up just in case they're attacked.
Star Trek Online introduces all manner of exotic weapons never used by the Federation in the TV series' or movies, like plasma, tetryon, polaron and antiproton beams, and transphasic, chroniton and tricobalt torpedoes, all with their own special powers like slowing down enemy ships or passing through shields a little better, but their skillpoint cost is very high. Not to mention, all beam weapons do the same base damage anyway; plasma, transphasic and chroniton torpedoes take very long to reload, their special abilities are not that useful and some can even be shot down before they hit. Plain old phasers, disruptors, photon and quantum torpedoes get the job done very effectively, the torpedoes reload quickly and require the least amount of skillpoints invested in them to yield their maximum potential.
Mitigated somewhat in an update that completely redesigned the skill tree and did away with weapon-type-specific skills, but the fact that the exotic beams are usually harder to find and/or more expensive combined with the fact that their special powers aren't really that special at all means that the trope still applies.
S4 League has available a wide variety of special skills to augment your character. While these abilities range from Invisibility and Flight to zipping around on a grappling-chain mounted board, the most effective is simply the ability to have more SP, which allows you to perform your acrobatic techniques.
In Spiral Knights, the Spiral Order weapons and armor, also known as the Cobalt set, do not have flashy elemental powers like other weapons and armor, but each tier of the set is strong and dependable for their level, you can get the recipes for each upgrade via the Rank Missions (so no need to grind crowns/needing to get lucky with Basil), and the ultimate upgrades for the set's sword, the Leviathan Blade and the Cold Iron Vanquisher, are widely considered some of the best weapons in the game.
Kirby can absorb a great many abilities, but his basic spitting attack (that can only be used without an ability), is often one of the strongest attacks he can perform.
This is probably due to its boringness- and the fact that bosses have a lot of health to cut through. If you lose your awesome sword-swipey attack halfway through, it would be hellish to have to whittle away a boss' hit points with a wimpy attack.
Also, because you have to wait for an enemy to attack before you inhale the projectile and shoot it back. A better example would be be abilities like Sword and Fire in Kirby Super Star. Yes, Plasma firing the Wave Motion Gun is cool, and the Ninja's ability to throw knives and disappear is fun, but for the most part, the simplest abilities are the most effective. On the other hand, the hard to master abilities are perfect examples of Lethal Joke Character.
The rock ability is also useful as you can turn into an invincible rock to endure the bosses attacks, turn back to Kirby, fly over the boss, and turn into a rock to injure the boss by falling on them.
There are some bosses in Kirby Super Star where you can do nothing but curl up in the Mirror's shield and wait for the boss to bounce off you enough to kill itself. Marx included.
No matter which game in the Mega Man metaseries you're playing, the plain and simple Buster attack is this trope. It has unlimited energy, and there's very little that can't be at least damaged or temporarily frozen by it. You'll probably make more use of it then all the fancy (but energy-consuming) weapons you get. Except in Mega Man 2, where it's a weapon of last resort for if you run out of Metal Blade.
Enker, a near-endgame boss from Dr. Wily's Revenge and one of the DLC bosses in 10, is immune to all of your special weapons, so the trusty Mega Buster is the only weapon that will help you out against him. Of course, as always you get his weapon upon defeating him in Mega Man 10, which is the weakness of one of the other DLC bosses who is also immune to everything but the buster and Enker's weapon.
Two words: Toad Man. You can either defeat him up close and very slowly by interrupting the Rain Flush, or you can hurry it up and hope you have enough E Tanks. Subverted if you have Drill Man's power.
A looser version occurs in games that provide power ups for the buster; not the armor parts seen in the X series, but the ones that boost stats. Even if the weapons are really good, the buster is the weapon that has the most support, with parts that can power, speed, size of your barrage, reduce charge time, etc.
In Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force the buster is useless, even when fully upgraded (50 damage to one foe in an easy to miss attack, or a P.A. that breaks 1000 damage with no set up to everything on the field and is easy to draw), but it has its uses when 1.In an elec style in 2 or 3, where a charged shot stuns enemies and sets them up for otherwise easily dodged attacks 2.Many bosses have summons that your chips/cards are a waste on, making your best option buster spam.
Aqua-style charge shots. It charges almost instantly, and fires at the speed of a normal buster shot. It even has the Bubbler effect where it hits the panel directly behind where the shot connects as well!
In Gruntz, the Gauntletz qualify: it's a tool to break things and fight other Gruntz. It's in nearly every level, and is very useful.
For the most part, in Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, players will abandon their first three or four spells for the more powerful version learned later or for learned spells... with two exceptions: The Knight's Stun spell (L1 spell, low mana cost, quick recharge time, and sets up beefier spells nicely — and you can't learn it from captured Knights) and the Druid's Gemberry (L1 healing spell that grows stronger with Blue Mana levels).
Not necessarily. The Druid can eventually abandon all normal spells in favor of board manipulation and Entangle (Or Web) and create an infinite loop that ensures that no enemy player will ever take a turn after you take your first, turning those powers into ones a lot better then plain old Gemberry. Boring but Practical is eventually replaced with a pretty extreme gamebreaking build which pays off in the long run
The T-Block from Tetris. Sure, the I-Block grabs all the headlines with its ability to form Tetrises, and it may be the L-Block that won the 6thGameFAQs Annual Character Battle, but what piece saves you when the Ss and Zs start piling up? What piece can be spun into awkward gaps? What piece neatly fits into more holes than any other piece? T-Blocks are the Hypercompetent Sidekick of the Tetris world.
The key to a high score in Tetris Friends and other games compliant with the current Tetris Guideline? Making combos of single-line clears and T-Spin Doubles instead of Tetrises. That's also not made up. Look at any replay of the top 10 on the Tetris Friends Marathon leaderboard. The top player makes 443 Singles and a mere 14 Tetrises.
The Arika Rotation System in Tetris games and fan games, particularly when the Super Rotation System is also an option. It doesn't have all the crazy kicks of SRS — there's only 2 directions a non-I piece can kick, and the I-piece will either kick upwards once or not at all depending on what variation of ARS you're using. However, this is where ARS becomes practical: you can predict where a piece will go when you rotate it. In comparison, SRS is extremely complex (to the point where extensive studies have been done on it), and you have a much higher chance of a piece doing something unexpected, such as popping out when you didn't intend to make it do that.
While there is an incredible variety of things one can summon in Scribblenauts, glue, rope, and baskets (and all their variants) are astoundingly indispensable items.
Time Crisis 3 and 4 offer a variety of alternate weapons. But when in doubt, the handgun is often the best option. It does not require ammo pickups (just release the pedal to reload), hits precisely where you want, and fires as fast as your fingers will allow. This is emphasized in 3 with the game's accuracy bonuses; the machinegun can accidentally over-fire, the shotgun requires that each of its pellets hit a target or else the accuracy bonus will be dropped, and grenades will just outright kill your accuracy bonus even if it kills enemies.
Real Time Strategy
Age of Empires series has all sorts of cool units — war elephants, ballistas, suicide bombing petards, bombard cannons, guys who throw axes etc., but the best units are the cheap and efficient archers, cavalry archers, and catapults.
A line of thirty or more Longbowmen supporting a siege weapon is always a winning tactic. Good ol' Britons.
That pales in comparison to the later Sappers upgrade. Leading an army through their town? Cool. Leading a peasant uprising against their reinforced iron-bound walls and crumbling their castle with knives and giving their king the Julienne Ceasar treatment? Priceless.
In The Conquerors Expansion, upgrading the Spanish unique technology (Supremacy) will make your villagers exceptional at combat, combine with sappers technology, stone to build castles and towers and siege weaponry that can be repaired by your soldiers.
Similar to the Longbowmen/siege weapons combo, when playing as the Mongols you can always try to get a handful of Trebuchets escorted by two groups of about 20-25 of the elite Mongolian horse archers. A bit challanged for range, but they could get out of the way of any attack because of their speed. One group of horse archers escorts the Trebuchets, the other scouts and eliminates small threats, and they can combine for larger assaults. Of course, their production is also queued up to replace any lost horse archers, so by the time each of the two original squads is reduced to 10 units, a new squad is there to replace them; combine the decimated units into one and wait for reinforcements. They didn't work so well against large amounts of Knights, and wouldn't be able to take advantage of their speed in segmented terrain, but on the steppes (and similar map types) they had no equal.
Age of Mythology features various mythological units from a simple valkyrie all the way up to the Titans themselves. But due to their favor costs and vulnerabilities to heroes, their numbers will be limited in comparison to the basic human units. Speaking of heroes, those aren't without limitations either.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert features units that literally erase enemies from existence (making them helpless while they're doing so), evil geniuses who can mind-control enemy units, giant battle bases that can literally run over enemy tanks, giant tanks armed with AA missiles, commandos who mow down infantry and destroy buildings singlehandedly, and of course the Ion Cannon and other superweapons — yet the best force for destroying ground units/buildings is dozens upon dozens of standard tanks.
Another example is the British special unit, in RA2 the SAS Sniper, which insta-kills all enemy infantry, can hide in buildings and parachute assault. A few of these guys, a couple of Grizzlies and an anti-air unit, and your laughing.
Subverted in RA2 (the one with the battle bases, troopers who eliminate enemies from existence, and mind control) where if you combine the Battle Base with either the erase-from-existence troopers OR the Genius mind controllers you get a pretty badass unit that can either instantly erase anything it hits or mind control an entire legion of enemies, while being extremely hard to kill without a similar Awesome but Impractical Unit, making them very practical actually.
Except against aircraft. But a battle base tank filled with four anti-air infantry (Guardian GIs) and a Commando (unit that instakills infantry in massive quantities) is even more practical. The Guardian GIs can destroy tanks and aircraft with surprising speed, and the commando is all you need against any amount of infantry. You can substitute the commando for the sniper if you're afraid if mind-controlling infantry. The only thing this combination needs support for is a mind-controlling tank.
Tanks and something that can shoot bullets is all you need for any C&C mission. Infantry in the game dies way too easily because the enemy is smart enough to run your guys over. And anything else would just fry them in groups.
Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars is full of this. GDI stoped using walkers so common in Tiberian Sun except the Juggernaut. People hate EA for "ruinining" series by this and say that replacement of four-legged Mammoth Mk. II by Mk. III which is "standard"(Two barreled with rocket pods) treaded tank. However, lets face it, from military point of view, the Mk.III variant makes MUCH more sense, although looks less cool.
In comparison with NOD (Aliens aside), the whole GDI faction is boring but practical. GDI field conventionl designs based off today's militaries ones, and reailguns are also less cool than freaking lasers. NOD is using experimental and exotic weaponry which is cool, but (in universe) unreliable, unstable and hard to manufacture. In-game, NOD has expensive units, which are highly specialized, less armored and have to be used properly in ambushes and guerilla warfare. GDI units are good all-rounders with massive firepower and many possible strategies.
Also, both factions play this straight in case of basic frontline infantry. While have acces to high-tech weaponry (Railguns for GDI, Lasers for NOD), both factions use standard firearms. They are cheaper, easier to maintain and good for deploying en-masse because they dont need complex technical facilites and soldiers dont need to have specialized training. Main Battle Tanks and several other vehicles also use traditional guns, but can be upgraded with Lasers/Railguns.
In Kane's Wrath, your standard front-line infantry are given old Tib-War 2 era guns and armor, because while it may not be as fancy as GDI's various types of combat armor, it's still better than the hoodies and AK's normal militia are armed with.
Starcraft is the RTS king of this trope. The humble Zergling is a feared Zerg unit throughout the game against a wide variety of tactics; its upgrades ultimately make it three to four times as effective as the initial version, and they still only cost 50 minerals for two. The mighty Zealot is the mainstay of the Protoss army, able to absorb massive blows that would fell lesser units of other races. While the Terran Marine isn't quite as valued, it is an indispensable tool against the Zerg when paired with Medics and is the only basic unit that can take on air. But the true winner for this trope is the humble Terran SCV. A worker unit with enough Hit Points to actually be used in combat offensively in rush strategies. There's nothing more humiliating than getting killed by an RTS worker unit.
And of course there's the Zerg Overlord, notorious for raining Zerglings into the core of your base if you've left any gaps in your defensive network.
Meanwhile over in its sequel Starcraft II because medics can now heal at range, in the campaign the most cost effective solution to every problem is now a X medics, X marauders and 2X to 3X marines. Vehicles are too prone to wear and tear, but so long as a soldier still clings to an inch of life he'll be good as new again in no time.
Starcraft II rides this trope just as hard in the competitive scene, as well, with most of the duration of the open beta being marked by excessive use of the above formula, just replacing medics with medivacs. Much of the metagame seems to be a war of cost-effectiveness, as early iterations of the Zerg Roach demonstrated so successfully.
In the second module (Heart of the Swarm), the zergling once again proves its worth, but there is literally no situation in the entire game that doesn't involve air units that cannot be solved by sufficient quantities of Banelings. The best part is with the right choice of upgrades, you can get three banelings from a single larva in the space of about thirty seconds, each of which is either capable of jumping, or of splitting into two smaller banelings upon attacking. Marines incoming? Banelings. Enemy buildings? Banelings. The Odin, which shows up in the last mission on the Dominion's side?Banelings.
Total Annihilation has a tiny scout unit called a flea, with the weakest weapon and fewest hitpoints of any. Because it's small and fast, though, and the game allows for huge numbers of units, the Flea Bowl AI was created, which builds only fleas (and supporting resources), yet is surprisingly hard to beat.
This is in large part due to the AI system being rather limited, so tuning it to the exact specifications needed for a specific unit made it very effective, and a computer can handle the huge number of units.
It should be mentioned that, aside from exceptions like this, the game spectacularly averts the trope. With a no-early-rush gentleman's agreement (because Thou Shalt Not Play TA Like Starcraft), after the first few minutes of gameplay tactics usually switch from basic tanks to badass robots with rayguns and nuclear weapons. At that point, Boring, but Practical basic tanks very quickly become Boring And Dead.
Even then, once you get to tech level 3 your basic level 3 units are better then nukes and the more expensive units.
This is somewhat averted by its spiritual sequel, Supreme Commander. Tier 3 units are awesome, no questions asked, but they have trouble dealing with high tier defensive structures. These structures however cannot keep up with a huge swarm of cheap, fast, tier 1 units who are way too numerous for the guns' slow rate of fire to keep up with them. Similarly, of the game's mega units called experimentals, the cheaper ones tend to be the most useful (if only because you have a reasonable chance to be able to build one at all) as you can use them as beefed up tier 3 unit to reinforce groups of tier 3 units.
Homeworld allowed you to produce some truly amazing and all-powerful cruisers and heavy destroyers, but due to the types of enemies and AI found in the single player mode, using nothing more impressive than ion cannon frigates, a few multicannon and salvage corvettes, and basic interceptors is not only a very effective strategy, but generally the best use of resources available. The most impressive looking ships can be taken down by a few salvage corvettes you had to build for level 1, albeit slowly and quite boringly. The non-canon canonical spinoff averts this, though, as the various mothership superweapons and upgrade paths make non-upgraded acolytes little more than cannon fodder.
The second to last and last missions, destroying an asteroid with an engine strapped on it and its escort before it hits your mothership, and defeating various waves of incoming Imperial ships without the help messages that make the missions manageable respectively, are near-impossible to beat unless you stole a lot of ships in previous missions, and the disabled help make managing so many ships difficult in the final mission. The solution for all problems? The Minelayer Corvette. It's small, it's cheap, and the ten that you can build will lay near-impassable minefields, meaning the second to last mission is reduced to 'destroy the enemy ships while your minelayers make a firework display with the asteroid' and the last mission can be easily beaten by creating multiple minefields and finishing whatever survives until you get reinforcements.
In Homeworld 2, this trope is used straight, especially with the Vaygr race. An example amongst many is that while the Hiigarans use the corvette class ships for nothing but defense (and minor offense), a specific type of Vaygr corvette is known to be a nasty carrier and destroyer killer.
A further point is that while the giant carriers and capital class ships are immensely powerful in Homeworld 2, the humble bomber with a single, instantly available upgrade can cripple them completely in groups of five. Nothing funnier than pinning the enemies' best capital ship in place with five small one-man fighters.
In Hearts of Iron 2, you have your tanks, motorised infantry, paratroopers, mountaineers and the like, but the most cost-effective strategy remains to crank out masses of foot infantry and militia.
Probably deliberately averted in World in Conflict with the Support role. With slow-moving, fragile AA and repair vehicles, Support players see very little flashy action, like the Armor and Air players (and the role doesn't get any considerable attention in the single-player campaign). However, without good support, the team will lose pathetically. No exceptions. And it just so happens that since later patches, Support role nets the highest scores in 90% of online games. Quite fitting, seeing how the game is ALL about teamwork. Interestingly, Support also has the most Awesome, but Impractical units in the game - the artillery.
In the original Commandos, it was often possible to get rid of most of the enemies on a map by studying their paths and placing a spring trap on them, repeat ad nauseam. It took forever and was boring as shit, but its efficience was rather impressive.
Not so practical, considering that the game scores you based on Health Lost and TIME SPENT.
In Commandos 2 you can often wipe out scores of enemies by getting all your commandos into a room with one or two doors, having your men aim at them, shooting once and then just letting them shoot every soldier as they ran in one by one. Then just take their machine guns and repeat until everyone is dead. Depending on the objective this won't always work though (and you'll get a terrible score if you care about that sort of thing).
But Commandos 2 also made a point: If you have a pack of cigarettes and a functioning fist you can rid nazi germany from all soldiers. In the whole game there are maybe 10 soldiers out of 200 - 300 that do not fall for the cig-and-pummel trick. But then you still got wine.
The Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars sub-genre of Warcraft maps: While the main goal of the game is for your heroes to go through mooks like hot knives through butter and fight each other with big flashy spells, even the most heavily armored of foes will fall under the weight of numbers. Particularly apparent in the ones that allow you to build siege units like catapults: high splash damage, long range and slow speed ensure that while melee units move in front to heroically sacrifice their lives, the enemy finds himself with a dozen catapults firing at his towers while safe from retribution.
And speaking of Warcraft III, one of the main standout features are its heroes: Three per army with devastating spells and up to six items each. These items can range from mere individual stat boosts to access to spells your units can't learn (and completely broken campaign-only ittems if on a custom map), and yet victory has often been lost by virtue of not having a common item like a potion of mana or a scroll of town portal, either of which are available in each faction's shop.
The Skeleton Warrior is weaker than any faction's basic melee unit, its only saving grace being that it spawns in pairs from a corpse. However, one of the first items the Undead can buy lets them summon up to eight of these, which is a very different matter in the early game.
The Night Elf Archer. The only basic unit with a ranged attack, has HP comparable to a Worker Unit, and needs an ability that reduces ranged damage just to survive. However, stick around until tier 2 and your archers can fly, laughing as they rain arrows at the melee units that used to be their bane. Even better, the unit they meld with is a very strong air attacker, so by dismounting the Hippogriff Riders you suddenly double your anti-air ability.
Leagueof Legends: farming. It's more fun to harass and engage enemy champions in the laning phase but taking the time to last-hit minions generates a fair portion (if not most) of the gold accumulated during a game.
Wards count as well: they cost money and don't contribute to combat but a team with map awareness will always triumph over one stumbling in the dark, all other factors being equal. Warding brushes also shuts down ambushes and ganks and cripple champions that rely on sneak attacks to get fed.
In Sudden Strike, the humble Anti-Tank Rifleman can reduce the largest tank to a burning pile when coming in large groups and attacking from sides or rear (for realism, the number of hitpoints taken by a shot is different in regards to the side where the tank has more armor). Panzerfaust-Men have stronger attack, but there are never a lot of them in a player's troops, while Anti-Tank Riflemen are plentiful.
In Company of Heroes, it's worthwhile for the U.S. forces to train the basic infantry squad moreso than the specialized units. Not only do their upgrades give them more firepower against infantry and a chance against armor, they can pick up or use weapons left on the battlefield and then call in reinforcements, whereas none of the other units can do this.
Pop N Music has a number of normas, with the harder (and higher-point) ones doing interesting Interface Screws, disabling certain note judgments, etc. But the best way to get Challenge Points is to use the simpler point-, combo-, and miss-based normas; if you can do songs in the level 33-36 range, using normas such as "Over 90,000 points", "Max Combo over 150", and "Less than 30 Bads" should be enough to get you extra stages.
DanceDanceRevolution has "bracketing"—that is, keeping your feet on or near the inner corner brackets of the four arrows. While dull-looking to non-players, bracketing keeps the player's feet on top of two arrows at once, and with two feet, this means the player can easily hit any of the four arrows with minimal effort exerted. Bracketing also allows one with sufficiently large feet to hit two arrows with one foot, but that's a different trope altogether.
In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue, Sticks/Iron Thorns/Silver Spikes/etc. were a bit overpowered. They're ranged. They're common. You can carry 99 of them in one toolbox slot. At level 100, one of them can deal hundreds of hit points in damage. If you didn't care about the experience bonus you got for using actual moves, throwing weapons were the way to go. The sequels gave them a much-needed nerfing.
Heck, your basic attack was highly useful if you didn't need EXP, it had no maximum uses, and did decent consistent damage; And IQ skills would make it even better, such as never miss (Good for pokemon who spam double team, etc.) and double attack, where you would hit twice (Allowing it more damage than most basic moves).
Meanwhile, if you did need EXP, it's usually best to use weaker moves like Water Gun, Confusion, or even Tackle, since they usually do sufficient damage to knock out enemies in one hit and had plenty of PP to use, meaning you wouldn't have to go to your Max Elixirs too quickly.
If you enter a dungeon that forces you to be at level 1, you need to level fairly quickly in order to keep up with the enemies, since they scale rather quickly. Your PP is limited (especially is you also can't bring items in) and you don't start out with your optimal moves, but you can get some good mileage out of a stat-reduction move like Growl, which does no damage but still triggers the extra experience, so you can finish out with normal attacks. Growl itself is perhaps more useful than many other alternatives because it hits an entire room in one use, meaning if you play your cards right you can get bonus experience from several Pokemon without spending too much PP.
NetHack is made of this trope. Being a Roguelike, where death is unrecoverable, defense is a much higher priority than offense. One of the most coveted items for early-game Wizards, who start with no food and who get hungrier every time they cast a spell, is a ring that stops you from getting hungry. A wand of fire is more useful for burning "Elbereth" into the ground than zapping at monsters. Out of the six attack spells available to the player, "magic missile" is the only one that scales to your level, and it's the second-cheapest to cast — an important consideration considering how slowly Mana regenerates for most characters.
Elbereth deserves special mention here. E tiles will prevent most (an important distinction) enemies from crossing any floorspace with an item on it, and will actually cause enemies to flee rather than attack physically if they suspect the player is standing on a square with "Elbereth" carved into it. Experienced players get their fingers dustier than a thousand libraries of congress just writing "Elbereth Elbereth" into the dirt. Wizard characters pursue a certain easily acquired artifact dagger simply because it can rapidly scritch the E-word in a semi-permanent manner (it also absorbs 95% of curses thrown at the wielder, but that's just a bonus). No amount of fancy resistances, unicorn horns, and dragon scale armor can provide as much protection as a hurridly scrawled eight letter word.
Everything can be made useful in a Nethack game. Yes, even worthless peices of glass ( near unlimited ranged ammo) and a wand of nothing ( melee with disenchanters).
Mushrooms and drugs in The Binding of Isaac. While other potential items give you crazy modifications and cool-looking effects, mushrooms and drugs (for the most part) just give you increases to your core stats. The trick is that while shooting bigger tears and running faster may not be as cool as growing demon wings, buffs to core stats are universally useful, whereas the more exotic power-ups tend to be more circumstantial. Hitting harder, running faster, and shooting quicker are just always helpful.
Likewise, getting one of the health-increasing items as a boss reward may not be as cool as some of the other possibilities, but given it's a roguelike, that extra heart is pretty dang helpful. The exception to this is Eve, who is somewhat inconvienced by having a high life total (she's essentially at her best when her Desperation Attack is in play). Still, extra hearts means more to sell to the Satan for high-end powers.
Iron, bronze, and steel are the best metals for blades and armor in Dwarf Fortress aside from adamantine, and much less risky to acquire.
Traps in Dwarf Fortress will affect anything that isn't vermin, a kobold, a human who's been alerted to traps, a Forgotten Beast or Titan, or Hidden Fun Stuff. Literally everything else, from rabbits to goblins to dragons, can be caught by a cage trap or struck by a weapon trap.
Teleport Away in Angband. Insanely dangerous monster in front of you blocking the exit or loot? Punt them to the other side of the map. Knowing when and when not to fight is important in a game that features Permanent Death.
In FTL: Faster Than Light, one of the earliest and best investments you can make is...an upgraded door system. Upgraded doors block fires and force boarding parties to waste time breaching the doors. Being able to buy time in those situations is extremely useful, giving you precious seconds to asphyxiate them or rally your crew to handle the issue. In addition, upgrading the systems gives the system an extra hit point, and while that doesn't sound important, it can mean the difference between life and death when a fight starts going south.
The Small Bomb. It has a quick recharge time, doesn't get shot down like missiles, and takes one bar of power. It's also incapable of causing hull damage, meaning it's very useful for killing crew members and taking a ship in one piece.
The Burst Laser Mk2 is the primary weapon of the basic version of the basic ship. It is a boring standard laser which fires a burst of 3 rounds, and it is certainly the first weapon you will use when beginning at the game. However, it is one of the most well balanced, polyvalent and cost-effective weapons in the whole game, and you will usually jump on it if you see it in a shop when playing other ships or ship variants (which come with more powerful and exotic weapons). Multiple Burst 2's firing together will reduce almost any enemy ship to a shambling mess.
The Scrap Recovery Arm provides a 10% boost to collected scrap. Over time, the bonuses will pile up and you'll be raking in large amounts of scrap. Oh, and multiple SRAs will stack.
The weapon and armor skill trees don't allow you to suck blood, cast magic from blood, build giant power drills to smash enemies with... but they'll ensure that you survive a little longer.
Burglary may not have much in the way of slaying monsters, but the lockpicks and free items you get from it are very useful. Even only upgrading it to level 2, where you automatically lockpick doors even if you don't have any, grants a small amount of extra EXP and prevents you from getting damage via door kicking (or being out of lockpicks for treasure chests, where smashing them can destroy the item within). That doesn't seem like much, but given that all the monsters of the dungeons rely on Death By A Thousand Cuts, that HP you save might be a lifesafer.
The first spell of the Magical Law skill tree, Confiscate Evidence. Hooray! you can take items without having to walk to them! Sounds useless, but many rooms have artifacts in hard-to-reach places such as being surrounded by water or electricity, and this spell allows you to grab them easily.
Role Playing Game
Brian from Quest 64 can learn a wide variety of magic spells from the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water. However, each element has to be leveled up separately, and spells are learned and powered up based only on their individual element. Since the power of your staff attack is based on all four elements combined, it is frequently more powerful and useful than any of the attack spells you learn.
That doesn't include the fact that said smack also regenerates one MP, which is obviously required for those fancy, toss-around spells which cost a range of one to three MP with a hard cap of 500 (And that's if you're patient).
The Elder Scrolls games have an almost infinite variety of possible character builds and spells. But the best way to beat powerful enemies has always been to hit them very hard with a big melee weapon.
...and it just so happens to be a Grand Soul Gem, this means from Level 2 you're able to trap the souls of anything not classed as an NPC train up Conjuration and Summon a high leveled creature and you'd be able to make enchantments with a Greater Soul at Level 2.
Also, that healing spell you start with has the best MP-to-HP conversion ratio in the entire game. Carry some potions for emergencies, and it's literally the only healing spell you will EVER need.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has the Hand to Hand Skill which deals damage to an enemy's Fatigue, when trained up to high levels you can knock down almost every humanoid enemy in a single punch, you'll need a weapon to finish them off because the Health damage when they're on the floor is terrible, but with low Fatigue everything has a lower chance to hit and anything with below 0 Fatigue just collapses incapable of doing anything until enough time passes.
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall uses a spell creation system that applies additional points of damage or chance of success per character level. Due to the leveling system The Elder Scrolls games use, that "1-2 + 1-2 per 2 level(s)" spell you created at the beginning can remain useful over the course of the game.
In terms of the Dragon Shouts of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, there's the Fus Ro Dah, which is almost certainly the first Shout the Dragonborn completely masters. It is not nearly as impressive as some of the other fully-upgraded Shouts, but thanks to its utility in battle and relatively fast recharge rate, many melee players use it by default.
The "Throw Voice" shout is basically glorified ventriloquism. Useful for luring enemies to certain locations to throw them off your trail or to set them up for an ambush. Especially useful against the Falmer, who are blind and rely entirely on sound to find their prey.
Bashing in Skyrim. Smacking an enemy in the face with a shield or the hilt of your weapon may not be very exciting, but it's a lifesaver in melee combat. It can even interrupt a Dragon's breath attack. Investing a few perks in the Block skill tree gives you a chance to disarm enemies with bashing too.
Also from Skyrim, daggers. They aren't as big or as flashy as the giant warhammers or the greatsword, but if you invest points in the Sneak skill set you can do x15 damage with a sneak attack with a dagger. Get the Ancient Assassin Armor and equip it's gloves? That adds another x15. A whopping x30 sneak attack damage. So, if you had a glass dagger, you could do 690 points of damage in a single strike.
Also a good moneymaker. Iron Daggers are cheap to buy the components for, if you can't find them in the field, and with a filled Petty Soul Gem, they can be enchanted with something (best bet: Banish) that will increase their sell value severalfold.
Until patches were added crafting iron daggers and enchanting them with petty soul gems was the easiest way to max your smithing and enchanting skills, while selling them put a large amount into speech. This has since been nerfed, capping the experience from doing so at about 45. It's still a great way to level them up early on.
Finally, there are the Smithing and Enchanting skills. While not particularly exciting, maxing both will allow you to craft items superior to anything except select Daedric Artifacts. And you can use Smithing to improve those Daedric Artifacts. Legendary-level heavy armor and a single amulet of a player with the Extra Effect Perk can grant maximum damage resistance to every form of damage in the game.
Insofar as anything about a VampireLord could be considered "boring"... While most of that transformation's skills tend to be at their most powerful the closer you are tothe beginning of the game, one skill will become absolutely sickeningly strong as you level up, which is your basic and beginner Vampiric Drain spell. A high-level Vampire Lord's drain will deal on hit 150 base damage, with a lingering drain health (and replenish your own) effect of 25 HP per second. It's a projectile with a very long range and a bit of an area-of-effect, and it costs a laughably small amount of magicka that will quickly replenish. Vampire Lords float around swiftly, too, so staying out of harm's way is simple. At high levels, a Vampire Lord doesn't even need their fancy gargoyle-summoning, undead-raising, time-slowing, enemy-paralyzing skills, the basic drain can trivialize the vast majority of opponents they can possibly face.
Sure, it's not as flashy as darting around the shadows ganking whole camps of bad guys or chucking house-levelling fireballs, but in Skyrim, good old fashioned brute melee combat will allow you to deal with 90% of the challenges the game throws your way, provided you are sufficiently strong enough for the task. Only a few select quests absolutely require the use of magic or stealth.
Skyforge Steel weapons. Basically, they look like bog-standard Steel weapons. They also have the same damage as Elven weapons but are much lighter. Because they're Steel, any player with the first easily-obtainable Smithing perk can upgrade them to be even better. Oh, and one can be obtained for free upon joining the Companions. Players tend to hang on to their Skyforge Steel weapons for quite some time.
If you are the type for magic, you have the Transmute spell. Convert cheap and plentiful iron ore into silver or gold, smelt into ingots and either sell or (better still) craft into jewelry at the forges. Not too flashy, but you'll never want for cash ever again.
Renting out property in Fable II or Fable III can automatically add money (in-game) to your pocket every 5 minutes, which can prompt players to spent more time building up money to continuously save up to rent out more property than on the actual quests, obviously a very boring chore, but very profitable in the long run. This is especially the case in III, where this can be used to get around the consequences of your plot choices.
Fable I allows you to buy mass quantities of goods cheap then sell them right back for a profit. While it can take some time, you can have the 2nd best armor and 2nd best non-legendary one handed weapon before even starting the first quest.
Likewise two of the most used spells in the game do no damage at all. Assassin's Rush teleports you behind your target (thus getting around enemies that block almost everything) and Physical Shield makes you take no damage so long as you have mana to power (which, given that the amount of experience you get is based on the amount of damage you do vs the amount you take, elevates the spell towards Game Breaker levels).
The most efficient way to kill a single enemy is almost always to simply hit it with your melee weapon.
Increm, the second level red spell from Skies of Arcadia, is probably the only non-healing spell you'll ever need — it boosts attack and defense by 25%, which makes boss fights oh-so-much more bearable. Only one character can make good use of attack magic, but Increm works just as well when cast by anyone.
Aika's Delta Shield counts as well. It's only her second special ability and by far her least-flashy, but it's the one you'll be using every single turn for the rest of her life to protect yourself against bosses who spam instant-death spells at you.
And Aika's third special ability, Lambda Burst, will destroy most Random Encounters as your first action, once your party starts gaining 8 sp per round.
And Enrique's second spell, Justice Shield, halves all damage dealt to you for one round. Most medium to late and Bonus Bosses are basically fought by having Aika and Enrique cast Delta Shield and Justice Shield every round while you use the other two characters to accrue SP, until you can unleash an Incremed Pirate's Wrath at your enemy, rinse, repeat. It should be noted that trying to fight most of the Bonus Bosses from the Updated Re-release without this strategy increases the difficulty many-fold.
Fina has Lunar Cleansing (cures status effects, but for all party members, whereas the Curia Silver spell only cures one) and Lunar Winds, an otherwise weak attack that takes away whatever enhancements the enemy has. A good example of Lunar Winds getting good mileage would be getting rid of Ramirez's Lunar Blessing, which has him regenerate 600 HP each turn.
Sylenis, the silence spell. This understated status effect spell can shut down cold the offense of the entire Valuan airship fleet!
Combining Boring with Awesome, yet Impractical, often the best way to beat bounty bosses are to spam Delta Shield and Justice Shield every round to protect yourself from attacks while everyone else focuses and heals until you max out your Spirit gauge in order to use Prophecy, theAwesome, yet Impractical attack of the game, to bring everything to near death in a single turn.
In-Universe example in Dragon Age: The Grey Wardens are an old order of warriors who possess supernatural powers to fight the Darkspawn and are the only ones who know the secret to permanently destroy an Archdemon. They never tell exactly what those powers are and what kind of training it includes, and even tell the new recruits only that there will be a ritual in which they will gain their new abilities. The ritual however, is purely symbolic and there is no training involved at all. All it takes to gain the powers of a Grey Warden is to drink a full cup of darkspawn blood, mixed with some lyrium and Archdemon blood. You either drop dead immediately, or you become immune to the taint and gain the ability to sense all darkspawn creatures nearby. That's the whole thing—everything else needed to be a Grey Warden is already present in the individual being offered recruitment.
In a gameplay example for Mages, however: While mages are able to unleash all of the powers of the universe straight at their enemies, the spells that will see the most use will be Stone Fist(a powerful attack that knocks most enemies off their feet), Stone Armor(which can give a mage decent armor depending on their spellpower), Lightning(which has incredibly high damage considering it's an early-game spell), and Fireball(an area-of-effect spell that few enemies are immune to that can basically knock ANYTHING down).
In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, if you are at a considerably high level with good equipment (which isn't that hard to get) and proper classes, normal attacks are simply stronger than the flashy Psynergy. Especially with high-end weapons like the Sol Blade or Excalibur, which have the potential to "unleash" even stronger attacks. This tends to result in caster-type characters getting permanently benched in favor of less spectacular but more reliable warrior-type characters (and one dedicated healer).
It's actually a flaw in the game system. Attack power is increased by level grinding, but you have to raise "elemental affinity" to boost your Psynergy. The only real way of improving elemental affinity is the Awesome, but Impracticalsummons, and the boost only lasts for the duration of that battle. Since the battles are usually easy enough without summons and Psynergy, it's just not worth the hassle.
Defensive Djinn like Flash, Granite, and Shade create an aura that for one turn drastically reduces all damage your party receives in any form. Therefore, by carefully timing and alternating to use one such Djinni per turn and summon with it the next, while remaining or recovering party members chip at the enemy's HP, you can go through the most difficult boss fights while taking very little damage.
Mechanically, undershirt-slot items can provide some decent stat increases. Flavor-wise... it's underwear.
Another variation of this takes place in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where Isaac is an assist trophy, causing him to appear and perform a specific action when a certain item is picked up. People were expecting him to use something fancy, such as Ragnarok (a gigantic sword falling from the sky that explodes on impact), but instead he was given Move, his most basic Psynergy spell that has zero combat use in the actual games and is only used for moving objects that can't be pushed by hand. People were initially disappointed. However, the Super Smash Bros. battle mechanics revolve around pushing your enemies off the stage, which Move is perfect for, especially since it doesn't deal any damage and thus renders the most common methods of avoiding being KOd useless.
Fallout 3 has power fists, nuke-firing mortars, flamethrowers, missile launchers, and miniguns, yet the most useful weapon is the trusty hunting rifle due to a combination of accuracy, power, durability, and literally every third or fourth mook holding one to fix it with.
Same goes for the Assault Rifle, which also gets dropped constantly by almost anyone: raiders, super mutants, mercs, you name it. Unlike the Hunting Rifle, it has the added benefit of automatic rapid fire (making it the perfect choice for when you run out of AP or have a VATS-challenged character), and deals significantly more damage when repaired up. And yes, this is classified as a Small Gun, the same trait determining the same skills you have with teenie weenie pistols. The Chinese Assault Rifle is also good, with a higher damage output but less durability, plus you can get it pretty early in the game from the Megaton sheriff if he gets assassinated.
The hunting rifle in the earlier games is the mainstay of your arsenal for the first half of each game. It's only in the late game that the exotic stuff (plasma guns, Gauss rifles, and so on) becomes necessary and even then a cut-down pistol version of that rifle is very effective.
And you can find that with maxed Unarmed, your practical bare fists (which never need repairing and which you don't need to scavenge parts for) will deal more knock-downs and crippling and lethal criticals than your Power Fists, Shocker or Deathclaw Gauntlets.
While a shotgun might not be considered the sneakiest weapon in a game, combat shotguns become somewhat ridiculous when taking into account how Fallout 3 handles critical hits (per projectile rather than per shot,) and shotguns fire nine projectiles. With relevant perks and the proper-name version, shotguns can do more damage from a sneak attack than the Fat Man.
"Lincoln's Repeater" is a favourite among players for being light, having good range and accuracy, satisfactory reload speed, fantastic damage, and it's easy to maintain because it's repaired by the aforementioned Hunting Rifle. Some people are put off by it's somewhat rare ammunition, though.
For those preferring energy weapons, the easily acquired Laser Pistol deals decent damage, is perfectly accurate, has one of the highest rates of fire in the game, and makes use of those oh-so-common (and relatively cheap) energy cells you will never use for anything else ever. Supplement (or replace) with a plasma pistol when the Enclave starts showing up, and you will never run out of cheap firepower.
Weirdly enough, energy weapons as a whole are boring but practical: they lack the variety of any of the other classes, finding ammo and spare parts can be a pain and with the exception of unique guns don't hit very hard but energy weapons are highly accurate with almost no recoil, pretty good weapon hp (how long it works before having to be repaired) pretty good critical hit rates and laser guns have a good rate of fire while plasma packs a little more kick.
Despite all the flashy Power Armors and gimmicky clothes littered around the wastes, the Combat Armor is what you'll end up wearing for the vast majority of the game. You can buy it from Craterside Supply, the first shop in the game, after a short, randomly generated time period. So short you might not even use the Leather Armor at all, of which the Combat Armor's damage resistance is higher than, not to mention near equal with the much heavier Metal Armor and Power Armors which take up inventory space and slow your movement.
The unique Reilly's Rangers combat armor has the best DR in the game excluding power armor, it doesn't slow you down or impede your agility and can be repaired with normal combat armor found on Talon mercs all over DC. It also gives some nice stat boosts.
The Lever-Action Rifle from the Point Lookout DLC. When nearly fully repaired, it's quite powerful and uses cheap and plentiful 10mm ammo. It's not as common to repair as the hunting rifle or as accurate, but it holds more ammunition and gives you a very nice reason to use that 10mm ammo that has been piling up since you got that hunting rifle while still being a long distance threat.
In terms of skills, Repair is one of the most practical. It allows you to combine items of the same time, adding their durability together so that your weapons and armor keep functioning. Necessary, but not particularly impressive as far as combat goes. Or is it? In fact, it is a serious force-multiplier. As an items durability value increases, so too does its related function (well repaired weapons do more damage, good condition armor offers more protection, etc.) This means that a player with good repair skill can outmatch their opponents even when the opponents use ostensibly the same equipment, since the player has them in such better quality. Furthermore, more intact pieces of equipment sell for more money, meaning that the player can transform several low-value items (which would be too heavy to carry all of) into a few high-value items which are easier to carry back to a merchant.
Fallout: New Vegas grandfathers in most of the above, but has a substantial number of Boring, but Practical Perks that the player will get a lot of mileage out of. Since the player gets half as many Perks as in Fallout 3, it's a tougher choice.
For example, Intense Training is the metric most other Perks as measured against; it provides a single point in one of the player's 7 primary stats. This means +2 to 1-3 skills (or +1/2 a point, rounded up, to all of them, in the case of Luck), as well as any derived stats that are governed (More hit points for Endurance, more carrying capacity/melee damage for Strength, etc.). However, despite all the passive bonuses, it doesn't actually do anything noticeable.
Educated and Comprehension grant extra, often much-needed, skill points. And that's it.
Jury Rigging becomes available at level 14, competing with Perks that do things such as doubling the blast radius of explosives, causing shotguns to knock enemies off their feet, reinforcing the strength of all your limbs, or giving you a pistol-packing Guardian Angel. Jury Rigging allows you to repair any item with any remotely-similar item.
In terms of weapons, New Vegas' Cowboy Repeater can serve for almost the entire game.
When you have access to more caps, the Trail Carbine and Brush Rifle also fall under this. They are both harder to get hold of and more expensive to keep topped up, but in the late game the ammo for them or the caps to buy it are plentiful. All they do is fire progressively bigger bullets, but they're cheap and easy to use.
A fully-upgraded Varmint Rifle has night-vision targeting capability, and a suppressor, making it a fantastic entry-level long-range stealth weapon. The parts are also much easier to find than the suppressor for the Sniper Rifle. A critical stealth hit to the head can bring down or seriously damage almost any low-level enemy, and even higher level enemies will feel it's sting until you can get a hunting rifle or sniper rifle fully upgraded.
The Luck statistic. It aids with critical hits and the feature mentioned above, as well as giving you an edge in the random number generator. Now, in most games this wouldn't mean much, but at maximum Luck you essentially never, ever lose at the casino games, especially blackjack. If you're looking for a way to get money to pay for those expensive, pretty guns or stimpacks, the casinos are where to go. Only downside is that if you win too much, the casinos ban you. All this in addition to critting almost every other hit.
The Cowboy and Grunt perks (the latter was added in the Honest Hearts DLC) simply increase damage dealt by specific weapons. They're Boring but Practical perks designed to make "boring" weapons practical.
The Cowboy perk turns the plain lever action shot gun, a mid game gun, into the most powerful shotgun in game despite having no mods or unique versions and having less varied ammo types than the hunting and riot shotguns.
Weapon mods can do pretty plain and boring things to your guns like increase the clip size of handguns by 5, silence a pistol, reduce recoil slightly, add a short range scope or increase the range of your grenade launcher. More often than not though a gun with full mods can outpace a unique version of the same gun.
The barter perks are designed to be boring but practical: want to carry more stuff? Not an issue. Frustrated by not being able to fast travel when over encumbered? It's sorted. Want to get better deals for your money and goods? That's why the skill exists at all.
Throwing spears. Decent damage (enough to One-Hit Kill most of the low-to-mid-level humans with a critical hit/sneak attack), completely silent if you want to play stealthily, melee-oriented characters can use them for ranged attacks, and restocking them is as simple as killing a patrol of Legion mooks, who can generally be relied upon to carry them.
Ingame, rookies to the Pokémon series may fall prey to the lure of the Awesome, but Impractical moves like Frenzy Plant and Hydro Cannon, which have crazy power but often have catches (stat decrease, low PP, unreliable accuracy, recoil damage, turn loss...). More experienced players know to keep moves like Razor Leaf and Water Gun, which are learned fairly early on but are still capable of dealing reliable (if relatively low) damage if you battle smart. Plus, you can muscle through a long dungeon area without having to go back and heal PP at the Pokemon Center.
Moves like Flamethower, Ice Beam, and Thunderbolt are all used frequently in competitive play because of their high PP (the amount of times one can use it), relatively high damage, and they have a chance to inflict status effects. At some point, people are given the chance to pick between these moves and their stronger counter-parts (Fire Blast, Hydro Pump, Blizzard, and Thunder), which do more damage, but have very low PP and are inaccurate.
Soloing the game. One of the most interesting aspects of the game is catching and adding pokémon to your team to cover a diversity of types, but by using only one pokémon throughout the whole game will make said pokémon so overleveled that most enemies will be KO'd by one move from your beast and, if they ever get an opportunity to attack, unless the move hits a glaring weakness it will roughly deal 10% of your HP. At least until Pokémon Black and White, as changes to the way experience is earned have made it very difficult and time-consuming to raise the level of a Pokemon much higher than the level of what it can train against while raising the level of several that are on a lower level than that became much easier.
While Pokémon found later in the game may be more interesting, the Pokemon used to defeat the Elite Four and Champion at the end of the game are likely to be the evolved versions of Pokemon found at the beginning of the game. Some examples are: Gyarados in Generation I, Feraligatr in Generation II, Gardevoir (Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald) or Alakazam (FireRed and LeafGreen) in Generation III, and Staraptor (Diamond, Pearl and Platinum) or Heracross (HeartGold and SoulSilver) in Generation IV.
Even though the move Flash has about as much use in battle as Sand-Attack, there's no way you can go through one of the dark caves without it or a strategy guide. Especially one that resembles a maze.
Sure you can beat any League with a full team of Pokémon with high power moves, but without HMs, you aren't going to move forward in the game anytime soon. Some people teach HMs to some of their main Pokémon, so they can use the power of a main team member while at the same time moving through routes, caves, etc. Conversely, other people consume 1 teamslot to have a Pokémon precisely set up to use HMs in the overworld, these are the fan-called HM slaves, some examples are: Rhydon, Furret, Tropius and Bibarel. Bibarel is probably the best example of the trope, as it is one of the least popular Pokemon but it can be very easily obtained and it can learn every HM except Fly.
Meowth (in FireRed and LeafGreen) and Pachirisu (in Diamond, Pearl and Platinum) are really underpowered but they are your easiest way of having a Pokémon with the Pickup ability and thus gain tons and tons of items for free through the entire game.
Meowth case is worse because upon evolving into Persian, it's ability changes to Limber so you would have to be stuck with its pre-evolution form. Alternatively you can just move along in the game and don't care about the Pickup ability at all, since in FireRed and LeafGreen they just give Berries (which in the game can't be planted), instead of Potions or Pokéballs and such that the ability gives you in other games.
In Pachirisu's case, alternatively you can play luck with the Honey trees and try to catch the rare Aipom or the even more rare Munchlax, though they may have their other species ability. In the Aipom's case, it's kind of a waste because its other ability is the coveted Technician which boosts the power of moves which power is weaker or equal than 60; you could catch 2 Aipoms, each one with the different abilities, but raising both in the same team is kind of a waste too. In the Munchlax's case, upon evolving the Pickup ability changes to Immunity so it's worse.
Ask a veteran of the Pokémon games which are the best moves in the game in his/her opinion, and you'll be surprised that all the moves they mention are not attacks, but status moves. Dragon Dance, Spore, Thunder Wave, Baton Pass, Stealth Rock, Nasty Plot, Agility, Substitute, Encore, Wish, Spikes, Taunt, Swords Dance, Calm Mind... all these moves are crucial to teams, and thanks to them the attacking moves can be more deadly.
Back on the topic of attacks, teaching Normal-type attacks to your Normal-type Pokemon. Most Normal-types have a wide array of elemental attacks available to them, promising fancy super-effective hits on a wide variety of Pokemon. However, Normal attacks actually have fairly good neutral coverage, only failing to hit Rock-, Steel-, and Ghost-types well, and since the former two share two easily accessible weaknesses and Ghost is fairly easy to cover as well, those failings can be glossed over with little trouble. The big thing, though, is that through STABnote Same Type Attack Bonus, Normal-type Pokemon can use moves like Hyper Voice, Max Hate Frustration/Max Happiness Return, Double-edge, and Toxic Orb/Guts-with-Flame-Orb Facade with Base Powers of 135, 150, 180, and 210, respectively, which is comparable to the damage those super-effective hits would be doing, and without the hassle of making sure to hit the right Pokemon with the right attack(Granted, not as helpful in-game, since most competent players already know what's weak to what, but when you're dealing with other players, who tend to switch out their Pokemon fairly often, this can be a decent advantage).
Played straight and subverted in competitive battling.
Stall play style, which involves heavily defensive Pokémon and the use of moves more situated to gradually wearing down the opponent rather than direct offense, causes long battles but is very effective and to this day is still practiced regularly. The golden age of this play style was in Generation II, when Stall teams reigned due to factors like: the introduction of Steel-type Pokémon; the introduction of Pokémon like Skarmory and Blissey that were perfectly suited; the introduction of moves like Curse, Sandstorm, Baton Pass, Sleep Talk and Spikes; the re-programming of previous moves like Whirlwind and Roar; and overall because although the Special stat was divided into Special Attack and Special Defense, the stats system still functioned like in Generation I so really fast Pokémon like Crobat or Starmie could still be a bit bulky and endure a hit, and so you would need a really high Attack or Special Attack stat to OHKO the majority of Pokémon. Ever since the arrival of Generation III, which changed all the mechanics on competitive battling, Stall play style have experimented more and more setbacks each new generation, difficulting its practice, though they are still viable in today's competitive scene.
Subverted in that many Pokémon made a name of themselves for being able to break through entire teams, and especially Stall teams, thus shaping the competetive scene and returning to the roots of offensive teams. Such Pokémon are for example: Gyarados, Tyranitar, Blaziken, Salamence, Rayquaza, Lucario, Garchomp, Darkrai, and many more.
Pokemon Studio in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 can get boring very quickly, especially if it's not your first time playing. However, it gives healing items not purchasable either much later in the game (moomoo milks and full restores) or ever (max revives) in addition to giving large amounts of Vendor Trash, which will be useful in exploiting the shops in Union Avenue.
There's tons of different types of Pokéballs available for catching your 'mons, and you'll want to keep a few of each around, but what are the ones you buy in bulk? Poké/Great/Ultra Balls, which don't do anything flashy but are simple and reliable.
In Pokémon X and Y, the Hard level of the Tile Puzzle in Pokemon-Amie doesn't give as high level pokepuffs (used to increase a pokemon's affection which gives a lot of useful buffs) as Unlimited does. However, Hard difficulty games can be completed within a minute easily whereas Unlimited can take over 15 minutes for slightly better pokepuffs.
Parasite Eve, despite the loads of weapons and customizations, when an attribute or class sounds cool, you probably don't want it. The best weapon class? Pistols, because they have the shortest time from when Aya lifts her gun to when she actually shoots the first round (she's completely vulnerable and interruptable during this time). Rate of fire is also the first mod you want to get rid of, because this only affects how many shots she'll fire, and each shot's damage is cut by the rate of fire. Some of the other add-ons don't work on certain enemies too.
In Parasite Eve 2, it's often better for the most part to stick with single shots if the gun has that option. And even highly recommended to use a pistol for a good portion of the game for regular mooks. Why? Critical hits increase when firing rate decreases. In fact the highest critical hit rate weapon (at what appears to be 50+%) is actually the peashooter looking P8. It's also noteworthy to know that you get infinite basic pistol ammo throughout the game.
While some of the more exotic attachments for the M4A1 might seem to be useful, a lot of them (the M203 and the Pyke for instance) are difficult to use or use expensive ammo. The two most useful attachments in the game are the magazine clip, which adds another 30 rounds to the magazine and the Hammer, which can paralyze enemies and knock them out of their attack animations. The ammo is free to boot. In the Nightmare Mode, the later is practically a requirement to your continued survival.
You have to defend Fort Condor in order to get the Phoenix materia in Final Fantasy VII. This leads to a mini game where one can put together a very elaborate defense strategy to defend your base. You can get a variety of units, everything from birds to fire catapults to tri-stoners. But the second most easiest method to win? Get 20 fighters together and march them down the hill. They'll kill everything and halt the attack before the boss shows up. The easiest method? Lose the mini game and have your team win one very easy battle.
In Paper Mario, the normal jump, the most basic attack you have, doesn't require any FP, and any attack-increasing badge will raise its power by two if you time the attack right; the hammer only gets + 1 if timed correctly. In other words, in a game where most enemies don't have more than 10 HP, you can kill them in a single hit just by using two attack plus badges. With the Soft Stomp (2 FP) and the Spike Jump, you can virtually defeat any regular Mook around just by pressing button A with a proper timing.
In Super Mario RPG Mario's Jump attack gets a permanent + 1 damage bonus when you use it twice, up to a max of 250. It costs 3 FP to use, you can wear an accessory to jump on The Spiny, and you'll have it from level 3 onward. This renders all his other attacks but Super Jump useless (if you're good at Super Jump.)
In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, normal attack cards are typically the best way to defeat enemies, especially when combined with Card Soldier or Maleficent enemy cards.
In Re:Coded there's finish commands that let you summon pillars of light and also transform your keyblade into a BFG, but the most efficient one seems to be Mega Flare which simply makes your screen goes blank and everything is burning with all the enemies dead.
Chain of Memories Remake and Birth by Sleep gives Sonic Blade. Zoom across the screen, hit almost every enemy, causing those who aren't killed in one hit to stagger, and taking out large chunks of a boss's health.
The Mine commands in Birth By Sleep. They deal high damage with each hit, can hit multiple times, and launch enemies into the air, preventing retaliation, but standing and around waiting for your enemies to blow themselves up isn't terribly entertaining (Though you can also try to summon them under your targets if you're impatient).
The same strategy can be used in Kingdom Hearts 3D, except with Balloonga. Most people have trouble with the secret boss because they rely on awesome moves like Dark Splicer and Ars Arcanum, but the different Balloon spells stun him and take away a ton of health.
Final Fantasy games, especially the early ones, fit the "normal attacks in RPGs" to a 'T', as do a great many other older console RPGs. During extended dungeons or open world travel, and even just level grinding, using magic often is typically unsustainable. Often the only way to restore MP is to use rare/expensive items, if it even CAN be restored. The result is that frequently you're better off with a party of brawlers who rely on the considerably cheaper HP restoring items than you are with a party slot wasted on a mage who dies quickly, is targeted by enemies frustratingly often, spends most of his MP keeping himself alive, and contributes very little offense in the majority of fights, for the sole benefit of being a nuker/healer when you get to the boss (assuming he has MP left to nuke/heal with). Completely subverted in FFVI, where MP is infinitely sustainable with the Osmose spell and mages reign supreme.
In Final Fantasy I, the easiest party to beat the game with, is also the most boring: Two fighters who will turn into Knights to act as tanks, one Black Belt who will become a Master who is your primary Damage Dealer, and a White Mage. The White Mage is only there for Harm Spells earlier in the game, and Life in case someone dies during the last dungeon to an untimely Death attack. The occasional Cur4 also helps. Otherwise, the Heal Staff, and the 2 Heal Helms do 80% of the healing during the last dungeon.
Final Fantasy IV has Stop. Just run into a Malboro? Fearing it's Bad Breath? Just cast Stop and laugh as your party wails on the poor bastard while he can do nothing about it. Stop works in many situations against enemies who would otherwise me massive pains in the ass. By the end of the game Rydia will have enough MP to cast Stop almost non-stop.
Final Fantasy VI. Get a party full of imps and deck them out with Imp Armor and Imp Halberds. Then you got an army of people who kill everything (including the last boss) with nothing but the Fight command, because, well, Fight is the only thing they can do, except use potions.
Final Fantasy VIII: Zell's Limit Break consists of a series of Action Commands to trigger various martial arts moves, with the more complex the button sequence, the flashier and more damaging the attack. However, the most effective overall combination is to alternate the two most basic moves, Punch Rush and Booya. Because they're also the quickest moves and have the simplest button sequences, it's possible to get in many more hits this way than is possible with the fancier moves, adding up to greater damage overall - especially near the end of the game, when with a decent strength junction he's likely to be hitting the damage cap with every punch. The combination has acquired the Fan Nickname "Armageddon Fist."
Ditto with Irvine's limit break. Sure, you can shoot bullets that can cause many status effects (assuming they work), bullets that ignore defense (when there's an easily-obtained spell which nukes enemy defense entirely anyway), or a a huge freakin' laser beam ammo guaranteed to do 9999 damage (but good luck getting the materials to refine it from, which you'll also need to in order to upgrade weapons and refine Ultima spells). Or you can just use the cheap and plentiful fast ammo which, given a good strength junction and a reasonably quick trigger-finger, can deal easily comparable amounts of damage.
Averted by Final Fantasy X, eventually. Assume your average physical attack can do 99,999 to one enemy, the maximum damage. You can't get better than that, surely? Try doing 2 X 99,999 to the entire enemy team. The only way to do that with your average character is to Doublecast Ultima. Admittedly, it's MP Expensive, but by the time you have access to Ultima, your black mage should have access to '1 MP cost', which is what it says on the tin.
Aeons are also very powerful in the game. They cost no MP to summon, and they replace your team, doing and taking damage for you. They probably won't attack as frequently as your whole team, but they'll do more damage, they'll stop you from being killed, and some of them are frighteningly powerful. Yojimbo, for example, can kill anything in the entire game in one hit.
Final Fantasy XII makes this more apparent. Melee attacks are executed quickly while magic takes time to cast and there's a slight delay between the finished charged and the animation playing. Because of this, most players by the halfway point of the game will rely on melee attacks to damage most enemies and bosses (unless the enemy makes themselves immune to physical damage). Very flashy spells like Holy and Flare are so grapics/animation intensive that they actually delay other moves that require a flashy animation while melee attacks can still be executed. Strategtic players can use this to their advantage by having one character cast a big spell to force the enemy's spell to wait while the other two characters slice up the target.
Final Fantasy XIII averts it with the paradigm system. Ravagers, Commandos and Medics are the Boring, but Practical classes, but the other 3 classes are all vital to success in the game (although the Sentinel will probably see less use). For once, the debuffing abilities of saboteurs actually work on many bosses (even Death!), and the removal of magic points coupled with the automation of team-mates makes the Synergist class a lot more viable than manually casting a bunch of buffs every battle. Played straight when the game opens up, and every weak enemy is a 10-second chore for your Commandos and Ravagers.
Arcanum has the Harm spell. It's a humble first level spell with almost no visual effect, but you can kill almost anything with this baby.
When it comes to items, the key ring. A key takes up one square of inventory space, and you're going to collect a lot of them over the course of the game. A key ring takes up two squares and costs a few coins at any junk merchant's, but holds infinite keys.
Healing Salve: Requires one skill point investment to learn, needs two items that can be found on the ground pretty much anywhere, heals 20 hp to a neutral character and becomes more efficient the further towards tech you lean.
Balanced Sword and Featherweight Axe: Early Smithing items. No flash effects, no boosts, no bonuses. Cheap to make, easy-to-find components, quick attacks and consistently high damage.
In Dragon Quest IX, some of the rewards for the level 40 class / maxed out skill quests are Awesome, but Impractical. One exception is the reward for completing the maxed Shield skill quest. It's a scroll that allows the party member who holds it to automatically block any critical hit with a shield. It's no flashier than any other times you block with a shield, but combine it with a Paladin's Forbearance and your party will never have to worry about any enemy criticals ever again.
The Soldier class in Mass Effect 1 and 2. None of the "flash" of other classes (outside of bonus powers, but you only get one of those) but its versatile selection of weapons and ammo types means a properly-leveled soldier can handle any conceivable situation in the game, bar none. Also, the pistol. Doesn't have the range of the sniper rifle, the fire rate of the assault rifle, or the stopping power of the shotgun, but doesn't have any of the major drawbacks of those weapons either. There's a reason every playable class has one.
The game has a massive range of ammo types to use on your enemies from radioactive or explosive to incendiary and cryo rounds. The most useful rounds though are shredder rounds, which make mincemeat of organics, and tungsten which deal extra damage to synthetics (the most common enemies). While the effects are simple there are not negative effects on your fire rate or accuracy and the ammo types are amazingly easy to find
The Bastion specialization class. It improves your Barrier, for one thing. More important, when maxed out, the Bastion skill allows you to hurt enemies you've locked in Stasis. Master Stasis allows you to lock an enemy down for 21 seconds. That's 21 seconds where you can attack them without them fighting back. This makes even Thresher Maws a piece of cake.
Also happens in-story with one of the DLC weapons for ME2. The Illusive Man sends you a few of the old, reliable Mattock rifles on the recommendation of the ship's AI. He mentions that the AI warned him against ignoring "older, proven technologies" in his obsession for the latest cutting-edge advancements.
Mass Effect 3's Crusader shotgun. It fires a single slug round, but it's almost perfectly accurate and packs a hell of a punch. Though there is some debate as to whether it is Boring But Practical or Difficult but Awesome. With any pellet-spread shotgun, even a winging hit will do some damage, but with the slug-firing Crusader it is all-or-nothing. Add in its high recoil per shot which forces the player to readjust after every trigger pull, and it functions more like a no-scope Sniper Rifle than a traditional shotgun, rewarding players who take time to carefully line up headshots for One Hit Kills rather than run-and-gun
Similarly, you have the Disciple, the asari shotgun. It's not as flashy as the Graal Spike Thrower or the Geth Plasma Shotgun, but it's the lightest and most accurate shotgun (not counting slug shotguns), and can fire fast enough to make up for its rather low damage. It works really well on a power-dependent class due to its aforementioned low weight, giving it a great damage-to-weight ratio. Further, thanks to concussive micro-explosives that detonate on impact, it has a knockback feature which works even on shielded enemies, staggering them and keeping them from attacking or setting them up for a follow up shot or power use.
In terms of multiplayer characters, the Krogan Vanguard. There are many characters offering a wide variety of playstyles and strengths, but the Krogan Vanguard just takes a race that is good for melee combat and gives it a power that teleports them to melee range while refilling their shields. It is widely considered the best multiplayer character.
Non-gameplay example: In The World Ends with You, one quest has Ken Doi's ramen shop getting shut out by a new ramen shop, and Neku and Joshua have to (indirectly) help him whip up a bowl of ramen that will attract customers again. Neku can make him whip up things like curry ramen and dessert ramen, but the dish that ends up making him popular again? An ordinary ramen bowl.
Might and Magic, especially VI and VII - the humble bow (Longbow in VI, Crude Bow in VII) allows you to engage enemies from a safe distance and never runs out of ammunition. In terms of affecting play balance it's of far bigger impact than all the artifacts in the game: by the time you're strong enough to loot artifacts off dead dragons, you're tough enough not to need them, but a party equipped with bows can breeze through many an early-game challenge that would be a killer otherwise.
The combination of a bow (preferably the Black Bow of Pharis, which has the highest range), a ton of arrows(Particularly poison arrows), the Hawk Ring (which increases bow range), and the Fog Ring (reduces your visibility) will allow you to slowly but surely kill any non-boss enemy in Dark Souls (the bosses don't give you enough breathing room to snipe them) without any fear of retaliation. It's also incredibly boring.
A regular spear and shield is incredibly effective due to its ability to block and attack at the same time. Even though there are swords and other weapons that are enchanted with lightning and fire, the regular +15 spear is more effective late game than the +5 lightning spear due to the way damage is calculated.
Buff and debuff spells in general. They use turns that could be spent attacking or healing, but, especially in the case of stackable spells, such spells can provide a massive benefit in the long run, especially against harder bosses.
Grinding. It gets boring fast to kill the same enemies over and over, but the added experience, cash and items obtained this way will make the next boss fight so much easier to win.
Tales of the Abyss has the Capacity Cores, which buff specific stats as characters level up. What's the best Capacity Core for Guy? Anything that boosts his speed. Give him the Alca Forte on a second playthrough from the moment he joins your party, and he'll be fast enough to simply run away from any attack in the entire game before you reach Akzeriuth. He'll do fairly respectable damage thanks to Alca Forte's secondary damage buff, and since nothing can hit him, he will simply never die. Sure, run-in-stab-and-run-away isn't as much fun as Indignation, but it will kill basically anyone and anything given enough time.
Shoot Em Up
In Star Fox 64 experienced players will eschew bombs and homing attacks to just spam lasers, even without any of the laser upgrades. It's generally the easiest way to deal with bosses that aren't immune, and it's also the fastest way to take down Star Wolf team members.
Raptor: Call of the Shadows. You fly a fighter jet that you can accessorize with a number of different guns, missile launchers, laser cannons, etc. These are all very useful, but a necessary secondary gun is the basic machine gun. Infinite ammo and a rapid firing rate, so even if the actual damage inflicted is minimal, you can erode away anything in the game perpetually.
The Twin and Back Shots in the Thunder Force series, as they are the only weapons you don't lose when you die. In later games where only the weapon you're holding vanishes if you die, a common strategy is to switch to Twin or Back if you fear that you're about to get killed.
In Battle Garegga, if you don't have a full bomb in stock, you'll use a smaller weaker bomb if you have little bombs in your inventory. Seems like a waste, right? Well, bombs are the only way to destroy ground scenery, which often hides powerups and medals, so a common strategy is to forego using bombs as a uber-powerful weapon and instead blow up scenery that isn't attacking you.
Raiden has the Spread Shot. Though it's a bitch to fire continously prior to Raiden III, and it doesn't look as cool as the laser weapons, at higher levels the spread shot attacks at nearly a 180-degree arc in front of you; you can concentrate on dodging bullets and still damage nearly anything that's in front of you.
Similar to Raiden, the Spread Shot from Fire Shark counts. It deals pretty good damage when fired at point-blank, can shred popcorn mooks in a huge degree arc, and unlike the rarely-found but stronger flamethrower, it's the most common weapon powerup.
Some modern shmups like Gradius V allow support for analog movement via the analog stick. However, the basic 8-way D-pad still has its charm. Yes, you move at a constant speed with digital input. Yes, you only move in 8 directions. But it's these properties that make using a D-pad or arcade stick easier for some players—no having to gauge how hard to press or the precise angle to push at.
In the Touhou games, alongside the standard forward-concentration, spread, and homing shots, you'll usually have a few experimental and flashy shot types. Which will generally deal poor damage and/or be hard to use effectively. Most of the time, your best best for a quick clear is the straightforward kill-everything-in-front-of-me shot (on the other hand, the equally boring spreadshots tend to suck).
The Extra bosses follow suit. With the exception of Mokou, they're an endurance match boss fight filled with bizarre acid-trippy attacks that ends with a smaller endurance match against a single very geometrically simple and straightforward attack that ramps up over time into overwhelming density and/or speed. The likes of Flandre's "QED" or Suwako's "Mishaguji-sama" look downright bland compared to the rest of the battle, but damned if they aren't brutal notes to end on.
In the X-Wing combat sim games, the starfighter of choice on The Alliance side is... the X-wing. Durable, well-armed, nimble, and fast, it's an excellent multirole craft, more dangerous all around than the more heavily-armed B-wing, the faster A-wing, or the tougher Y-wing. This holds true in Rogue Leader as well; it's the ship of choice for getting gold medals.
The X-wing and Y-wing can be seen as interchangable versions of this trope. The Y-wing has the less impressive design, is slower, harder to control and only has 2 torpedos more than than the big all-round X-wing. It's often mentioned as being a deathtrap when having to take on enemy fighters. While it never got the iconic status of the X-wing it's a respected machine among gamers. If you get the hang on it and know how to use it you can even take out TIE Avengers with it.
It also has the relatively impractical turbo thrust (it drains stored laser power when operating, and the Missile Boat only has one laser, so it doesn't last long), and the extremely practical option of a tractor beam that renders the target caught in it unable to maneuver, making it easy meat for the missiles (which can otherwise be difficult to use, since they need time to lock on, and can be shot down while in flight quite easily if you can turn into them).
SimCity 4 has several power plants to choose from including nuclear and fusion power which have extra requirements to unlock. The most cost effective power plant by far, however, is coal, which is available from the start. It is true that the advanced ones produce no pollution, but the effects of coal pollution are tolerable if well-placed in the city limits and will save a lot of money.
One problem with coal when building a gigantic (as in whole-region), dense metropolis: space. Not wishing to have an entire small-tile city devoted chiefly to coal power plants for its power-guzzling metropolis neighbors, I once elected to run the whole town (i.e. one large-tile district of the megalopolis, pop. ~2.1 million) on a few nuclear plants in the far corner of the main city. It worked (and got a good chunk of extra Industrial zone—from where I had put the old coal plants back when the town was much smaller) as a bonus. Hydrogen, on the other hand, is just silly.
Also, transportation options play along this as well. Although many argue that rail takes up real estate on the surface and requires well placed stations as opposed to subways (which in 4/Deluxe, are theGame Breaker), however, they're cheaper, very efficient at passenger travel, and ideal for industries as usage for freight travel, since trains don't often have to put up with as much traffic as freight trucks, plus, they do not contribute to pollution.
Also, roads and avenues as opposed to highways. Indeed, highways can handle more traffic volume and have higher speed, but, they're enormous and difficult to make maneuver around obstacles (say a building or ocean), however, avenues, being a bit smaller and more maneuverable (can be built in 90 degree corners), and roads being declared "standard" amongst dense zones for movement, allow for a better flow of transportation. Likewise, either early in the game or for smaller cities and suburbs, streets actually prove to be ideal for lighter zones. The game even points this out to you quite often with having "not enough streets".
And you can combine both the advantages of avenues and roads (in the expansion) by building the roads one-way...which is incidentally what most major real-life cities do anyway.
In the SNES game Captain Tsubasa 5, there are all sorts of incredible "shoot at the goal" moves, like Tiger Shot, Drive Shot, Flame Shot, etc etc. The most effective way to score? The special pass moves. The "shoot" specials automatically give the goalee a chance to save the ball, whereas the "pass" specials will go to cutscene for a second, then the ball will more or less teleport to the destination you set. If this destination is the extreme left or right of the goal, the poor goalkeeper will basically have no chance to react as the ball bounces off the ground and rolls into the goal. This is in fact a Game Breaker and unsatisfying to boot.
In Inazuma Eleven basically all the playable characters have incredibly outlandish and flashy powers, whether to shoot the ball, to block it, to steal it or to keep hold of it, all of which consume a specific amount of "magic points", with the most surefire ones being obviously incredibly costly. Your trustiest strategy to an easy win? PASSING. Passes don't receive any special treatment in terms of style, but unlike other moves they let your players move forward without losing much stamina as well as avoiding contact with opponents (which by default results in a waste of time and magic points). Upped to eleven when you realize that you can easily trick AI goalkeepers into following one of your forwards, only to pass the ball at another teammate and either passing or simple-shooting the football in the now empty goal area.
Later releases patch this by having keeper react much faster and giving out flashy "team moves" that consume a separate kind of magic points. At the same time, you're given the ability to actually aim at the goal area from anywhere on the field, which becomes extremely useful when the enemy keeper is out of his area for some reason. It ends up being the most used action even though it's one of the least visually stylish.
Buster force from Alien Soldier. It doesn't have the insane power capabilities or flame force or lancer force, and lacks any special attributes. However, it's perhaps the most useful gun in many situations; it uses low energy, has fairly decent power, and a good firing rate.
Roadblocks in Pharaoh. In many of the City Building Series games, services are supplied by "random walkers", who leave a building in a random direction and, when they encounter an intersection, choose a random direction to travel in. Other walkers, usually delivering resources, simply go straight from one building to another. Unlike, say, SimCity games where buildings automatically supply services within a certain range, if these walkers fail to pass through an area after a certain amount of time, services will disappear and housing degrades, buildings burn down, etc. The function of roadblocks is simple: Place them in a road, and they stop random walkers while allowing destination walkers through, but these structures make managing cities vastly easier.
Stealth Based Game
The Assassin's Creed series offers a wide variety of ways to violently murder your opponents, many of them difficult and flashy. Then there are the super stealthy kills such as the Poison Dart and the Crossbow. Nothing fancy, just instant long-range death that nobody sees coming. In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations, you gain access to Assassin Recruits, whom you can summon at almost any time to deliver a quick death to your opponents without any risk of detection at all.
In Metal Gear Solid 2, you can acquire assault rifles, missile launchers, sniper rifles, grenades, and many other weapons. However, the weapon you will most often use is the M9 pistol modified to shoot tranquilizer darts (especially when you are going for a 'no-kill' playthrough). The silenced weapon doesn't trigger alerts from enemies hearing the shot, and it incapacitates enemy troops in a single hit.
All games in the series post MGS2 have an equivalent. But the one from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is probably the most practical, since stamina kills are even more important than in most games in the series.
Third Person Shooter
Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico subverts this trope with gameplay style: though your starting pistol is the weakest weapon, impossible army-beating action stunts are only possible with the pistols, which by the end of the game have unlimited ammo. This is facilitated, only in part, by a high volume of Explodium in the environment.
For the most part, the only weapon worth a damn in Freedom Fighters is the basic AK-47. Nearly everything else suffers from horrible accuracy, problems refilling on ammo, or both. Also slightly averted in that the strongest and most accurate weapon, available after you have enough squad members at your disposal to conserve ammo reasonably, also has a large enough ammo capacity that you can safely keep using it provided you can aim.
John Woo Presents Stranglehold can be entirely completed using only the pistols up to medium difficulty.
Dead Space also has several fairly original and interesting weapons, but it's perfectly possible (and not all that hard) to end the game with the Plasma Cutter - the weapon you start out with. Even if you're not going for the related achievement, you'll still find yourself using the it very often, as ammo is plentiful and damage is high.
Every weapon in the game has a secondary fire, that can do things like electrify it's last fired spear, launch a concentrated ball of fire, or other such flashy tricks. The Plasma Cutter... can turn sideways. This means the Cutter can cut limbs off from just about any angle easily, which makes it far more useful in a pinch than anything else in the game.
In fact, it's probably easier to beat the game with just the Plasma Cutter, simply because carrying another weapon means its ammo can now be found. If you didn't have the weapon, you would only find Cutter ammo and therefore have a lot more.
Most Gears of War fans rave about the chainsaw bayonette melee kill, but the simple fact is that the long-winded kill animation leaves you wide open. On the insane setting, this is certain death for the player. The less flashy Hammerburst has a faster melee knockback that won't paralyze you like the Lancer would while also offering decent damage and higher firing accuracy.
The Hammerburst being the Locust primary weapon choice will also let you find ammo everywhere.
In multiplayer (of any game in the series), using anything but the Gnasher Shotgun will result in a lot of anger from other players directed your way. It's hard to tell whether these players are "Stop Having Fun" Guys or Scrubs, because even though the Gnasher is easily the best weapon in the game, the general opinion of the community is that everything else is too overpowered.
Gears of War 3 adds the Sawed-Off Shotgun, which a player can opt to spawn with instead of the original Gnasher Shotgun. It's a power weapon in PvP, but in the cooperative "Horde" multiplayer mode it's much less attractive; it has to compete against rocket launchers, bows with explosive-tipped arrows, sniper rifles, and even a weapon that tunnels under cover before (literally) exploding out of the ground (all of which are present in PvP, but much rarer). That said, the Sawed-Off is very simple to operate and can One-Hit Kill most non-boss enemies until wave 41 (of 50). Since it's classed as a "spawned" weapon, you'll also have your ammo topped up to 4 rounds at the start of each wave, meaning you'll always have enough on hand to make an impact.
S4 League has the Detector skill. It doesn't grant special moves or grant you some sort of defense like many of the other skills do. However, it's still mighty useful: in addition to showing invisible opponents, it also indicates the locations of enemies behind walls (by showing their nametags above their on-screen locations), allowing you to launch some surprise attacks or avoid running into some sort of trap set up by enemies. Additionally, it's a passive skill (you never have to activate it) and costs no SP to use.
The HP +30note for reference, a stock character has 100 HP skill also works wonders, especially in Chaser mode where survival is a VERY high priority.
Red Dead Redemption takes place at the sunset of the old west, 1911. The best gun your going to get is the Evans Repeater, not because it's super strong or has a special effect, but because it has good range, good damage, good speed, quick reload, and a large magazine. It might as well have the word PRACTICALITY stamped on the side.
One of the best pistols in the game is the FN M1903, or High Power Pistol. Not because it's fully automatic, or a fancy lever-action museum piece, or a 9-shot revolver, but because it's clip-fed for quicker reloads, semi-automatic for fast shooting, and does high damage.
Just Cause and Just Cause 2 give players access to all sorts of nifty toys, most notably the grappling hook, which are all good and fun. However, at the end of the day, you're going to be using the pistol and SMG more than a good bit to wipe out your enemies. In the sequel, the fairly common assault rifle and grenades are pretty solid bets for both utility and effectiveness. Not as interesting in the face of rocket launchers, sniper rifles, or hooking some poor Mookto the back of a fighter jet that's taking off, but extremely efficient.
Despite the vast array of weapons available for use in Resident Evil 4, a combination of a handgun, knife and Action Commands is enough to deal with many enemy encounters. Only for large groups, shielded enemies or bosses will you ever need to break out something more powerful, meaning that the majority of the weapons you have will end up not being used nearly as often.
It's also a rarity among Star Wars games in that you can destroy AT-AT's with sustained rocket/turret fire instead of trying to tie them up with the Snowspeeder like in the movies.
Vanquish: While you can use weapons like a multi-targeting laser or a rocket launcher, the best weapons you could use are the assault and sniper rifle. The assault rifle fires quickly but the trade being firepower... although it's very easy to find (the game spews it out it ALL THE TIME) and one can fully upgrade, before the first act is even over, making it your go-to gun for the entire game since it does Cherry Tapping at a very quick rate. The sniper has range and good damage, and this before you start upgrading it.
Turn Based Strategy
In Heroes of Might and Magic a hero will get a variety of spells, including teleports, fireballs, massive buffs and even ressurections... Yet utility of a simple "Bless" never ceases to amaze, especially for ranged units.
You could also consider the spell "Town Portal" to be like this. It may not be something that wipes out armies, but it's probably the most useful spell in the game anyways.
In Armageddon's Blade, first addition to third installment in the series, we have Sir Mullich. While other heroes boost creatures' statistics, have better spells or enhance abilities, Sir Mullich has... Speed, which gives all of his units +2 to movement speed. There's a reason he's banned on tournaments.
Also, "350 gold" heroes who, by virtue of just existing, grant you 350 gold per day. They refund themselves after eight days and come up with small army to aid your main hero, not to mention granting you another hero to pick-up resources and flag settlements.
On that note, Finances which work exactly the same though not to the same extent. Then again, some of those "350 gold" characters usually start with Finances...
Logistics which give you bonus movement speed, Pathfinding which negates penalties for difficult terrain and Navigation which is Logistics on water(although it tends to suffer from Crippling Overspecialization). Boring and comes in handy almost every time.
In Final Fantasy Tactics, you have the option to equip yourself with impressive summons and fantasic magic spells. But nothing is as damaging as making Ramza a monk and just punching your way to victory.
The ninja works well here too, because of its ability to dual wield. Or you could learn the dual wield ability and give it to the monk, at which point they start using their quite painful punch attack twice.
The second punch has the added bonus of bypassing the game breaking defensive ability of Shirahadori/Blade Grasp.
The Knight and the Archer are the first two warrior classes you unlock and have relatively mundane abilities of breaking equipment and charging attacks respectively, which pale to the flashy things that geomancers, and ninjas can do. However, equip an archer with Knight powers and concentration and you have a unit who can reliably strip the enemy of his equipment from a distance.
The Chemist is the introductory mage class and can be accessed by anyone at level 1. It focuses around the use of items such as potions, and receives none of the flashy magic that other mage classes obtain. However, the Auto-Potion skill and access to guns make Chemists difficult to kill while allowing them to deal out damage at range. There's a reason that they are considered one of the easiest classes to do the Straight Class Challenge as.
At least in A2, a Time Mage is at top efficiency when it spends most of its turns using Haste, its most basic spell.
The Worms series is famous for its more outlandish weapons, but the simplicity and utility value of weapons like the Shotgun (fires in a straight line, two shots, a maximum of 25 damage each with a correspondingly small blast radius) frequently outweighs this. Particularly given that big, flashy weapons have a higher chance of backfiring or at least damaging the shooter. The Bazooka and Grenade also demonstrate this, but nothing fits the description of Boring, but Practical quite like the Shotgun.
The Shotgun is practical because it actually subverts many conventions of the game, which is the "you cant move after you shoot" and "You can only hit one target per turn". With a Shotgun, and aiming skills, you can either bunge two Worms in one turn, push two onto landmines, blow up two Oil canisters, knock two opposing worms into very bad positions, do any combination of those, or just one and go back into hiding. The tactical flexibility of the Shotgun is what makes it practical.
The Fire Punch and the Dragonball. They're melee attacks that inflict a consistent 25 and 30 damage, respectively — keyword being consistent (contrast other weapons, which inflict varying damage), so hitting an opponent that has less health than either weapon will take off is a guaranteed kill. Alternatively, you can use these attacks to knock your opponent into a mine, or better yet, off the screen or into the water.
In the Fire Emblem series, due to the high cost and limited usage of stronger weapons, the basic iron and steel weapons remain an important part of your arsenal throughout the entire game thanks to their low cost and better durability.
In Awakening, the newest entry to the franchise, characters have a variety of cool abilities they can learn; skills that can halve certain kinds of damage, improve strength when certain weapons are equipped, strike many times in one attack or kill in one strike...but arguably one of the most practical of all the abilities is the Mercenary's Armsthrift, which simply gives the user a chance to not use up weapon durability based on a percentage from doubling their luck. Since most of the units that can learn Mercenary abilities in the game are able to get their luck into the low forties without too much trouble, a 80-90% chance of not breaking the Too Cool To Use weapons of the late game becomes quite practical indeed, as well as greatly extending the longevity of utility weapons. If the mercenary in question can get to 50 luck or has the Rightful King ability, their weapon is literally unbreakable while Armsthrift is equipped, letting one use legendary weapons ad infinitum.
The cavalier class (and derivatives thereof) as a whole is considered to be the Mario of Fire Emblem's classes. Their stats are all well-rounded, with various cavaliers each specializing in one stat to a degree (each game gives you no less than three, with one usually specializing in defense and attack and the other in skill and speed), have superior movement due to being on a mount, can use two to three weapons at once, and their only major weakness is to weapons that specialize in slaying beast/horse units, which are often rare and almost never used by enemies. The mercenary class has similar stats to cavaliers, but they're on foot, start off only using swords, and some mercenary units are favored far more by the RNG than others.
The hammer weapon, which is super-effective against armored units and some cavalier-type units (again, depending on the game). A spectacular case of this is the fact that in Radiant Dawn, Ike can take out the overpowered Black Knight with one without much trouble.
Wind magic. Weaker than other magic types, but super-effective against all flying units, including the normally Resistance-heavy Pegasus Knights, and a heavy-hitting wind spell is more or less a death sentence for a Wyvern Rider.
In the Nintendo Wars series, basic Infantry spam backed up by some artillery is extremely viable in most installments. And the light tank is much more cost-effective against other units than its bigger brethren, and is faster than them to boot. There's a reason one of the most widespread tactics is known as the Mech Rush.
Scratch that. Even Game Boy Wars 3 isn't exactly immune. Watch as a Mech flood staves off a ridiculous property advantage for a while before indirects come in and start obliterating them.
In the Original GenerationSuper Robot Wars games, one of the best weapons to upgrade is the M95 Machine Gun, a basic weapon that a dozen or so of the Real Robot units get. Why? A few reasons: One, it's the cheapest weapon to upgrade in the game, this means it can be fully upgraded at a much lower cost than some of the pricier, flashier attacks. Fully upgraded its base damage is 4950, which while isn't as powerful as many of the super strong attacks, is still a very respectable amount of damage. Plus, fully upgraded weapons have a higher Critical Hit rate, not only that but they have 15 shots in them each, and can be used after moving. Throw these on the Real RobotMauve Shirt characters and have them clear the way with ease.
Similarly, the "Steel Knife" is the blandest, boringest, but most practical of the melee weapons to upgrade. It's the cheapest for what you get, works well in any terrain, AND has some impressive to-hit and crit modifiers.
For the mainstream versions, repair/resupply units like Boss Borot and they Skygraspers fit this. Most re/re units tend to be a little on the weak side, but make up for it with larger item slots (nine times out of ten, they have the max of four) and usually bigger SP pools, allowing for an extra range of "spells" to be used to help allies.
If you're trying to go for a rush strategy in Lords Of The Realm 2, an army of around 50 peasants (50 being the minimum army size) makes for an effective battle of attrition starter, as armies can destroy fields that take several turns to reclaim. If you want something more armed, Macemen are great as they are the second cheapest unit to make and are the second fastest. They can also hold their own pretty well.
Game mechanics cause this to be very prevalent in Tactics Ogre. From beginning to end, one of the most effective units in the game is the humble archer, a low level female unit with very high dexterity (ranged attack), the ability to traverse watery terrain, and amazingly high avoidance. Ranged attacks are at a great advantage because any time a melee class attacks an enemy, the enemy will be allowed a counterattack while ranged units never get counterattacked, resulting in far less damage taken by ranged units. Not only that but the game extends bow range according to terrain height so that archers can easily achieve the longest range if they get into a high spot (far longer range than mages, at least until you get the gamebreaking spells at the end of the game), shoot over obstacles, and their avoidance means they will even dodge a great many attacks against them! Even when an army of angels, dragons, hydras, golems, and terror knights are at your disposal end game, many players opt for a full third of their attack party being archers.
In Sword of the Stars, the simple Assault Shuttle buildable from the very start will remain your primary option of anti-planet attack for a long while. Bio-missiles can be vaccinated against, the really large anti-planet weapons like the Siege Driver are Awesome, but Impractical because they are too far up the tech tree to be available quickly and the majority of ship-to-ship weapons aren't too good for bombardment, leaving the Assault Shuttle as the most reliable option - at least until Argos Naval Yard introduced the Advanced Assault Shuttle.
The Armor Piercing Mass Driver is a strong example. A medium-mount weapon that only requires you to research two technologies, and can be a major part of the armament of an endgame dreadnought. It needs a few upgrades to keep up with the flashy energy weapons, but the same exact turret can be the backbone of your arsenal throughout most of the game. It doesn't have any of the specialties of various energy weapons, or the sheer damage and impact of non-piercing drivers, but it's reliable against most targets and easy to get.
Medium mounts in general might qualify. Except for missiles, they're generally blander than others. Most medium mounts simply deliver moderate damage at moderate range. Small mounts have a monopoly on point defense and tend to have long-range precision weapons. Heavy mounts range from being like the medium version, but all-around better, to a number of more exotic possibilities. Exotic special mounts are often the entire point of a dedicated ship. Nonetheless, many ships carry enough medium mounts that they comprise a substantial fraction of the ship's damage output.
Out of the 6 species, this is a theme for the Tarkas. Their hyperdrive is the simplest FTL method to use (Other species methods can be faster, but require certain conditions to do so), they don't get any unusual bonuses or mechanics other than cheaper cruisers, and their ship designs emphasize the "basic" sections rather than sections associated with special weapons, in addition to general toughness. However it's eventually subverted in that the Tarka are the only ones to have the option to research and build cruiser-sized battle riders, while everyone else is stuck with tiny Attack Drones.
In Vanguard Bandits, there's the Turbulence attack. It's easy to get stat-wise and time-wise, its attack costs are very reasonable and it has a large range. Used wisely, it can completely incapacitate anyone, even the Final Boss. But it does embarrassingly low amounts of damage even with high attack and is one of the dullest looking moves in the game.
Sensei's CO Powers in Advance Wars 2 and Dual Strike, which airdrops infantry (or Mech in the case of the SCOP) units with 9 HP on all cities under your control. They're the most basic units in the game, but depending on how many cities you have, it can easily turn into a widescale Zerg Rush.
Any CO with a small CO Power meter (Sensei included) can be considered this. Their CO Powers aren't as awesome as Samurai Spirit or Lightning Strike, but have high value for only costing 5 stars. Notably, Colin Best of all, these allow players to use them OFTEN so that it's possible to overwhelm opponents and deny them optimal use of their Super CO Powers.
Empire: Total War and Napoleon: Total War have many different classes of sailing ships, from tiny brigs to massive heavy 1st rates (over 50 cannons per side). And yet the games' resident Glass Cannon, a bomb ketch (essentially, a tiny brig with a mortar on its bow), can bring down small fleets when deployed en masse thanks to the mortar's long range and fairly good aim. A fleet consisting entirely of bomb ketches and arranged in a concave crescent formation can quickly obliterate up to three heavy first rates (which cost a lot more to build in terms of money and time), especially since the computer tends to come at you in a standard battle line (i.e. one target at a time). In fact, smaller but faster ships may serve the enemy much better as they provide a smaller target and can get in range of their cannons quicker. A single mortar shell exploding in the middle of the deck can wipe out several dozen crewmembers, including, possibly, the admiral, wreck a good number of cannons and shred sails, not to mention the hull damage. And that's not even counting the fact that they also tend to set ships on fire. And even if the enemy first rate manages to get in range of its guns (it still has to turn to present its broadside), at most, you might lose a single bomb ketch to the barrage.
There are also rocket ships, considered to be a more advanced version of the bomb ketch. However, rocket ships are even flimsier than bomb ketches, and the rockets have atrocious aim. Their main advantage is killing morale and setting ships on fire (sometimes, themselves). They also cost more than bomb ketches, and the campaign generally limits the number you can have.
From Medieval II Total War, longbow units. English longbowmen from the vanilla game might not be much to look at, but with their fast-firing, long range projectiles that are also armour-piercing, the shortbowmen and crossbowmen of other factions stand not a hope in Hell of winning the range game, and longbowmen are completely unrivalled at range until the really high-end gunpowder units come into play. They can also plant wooden stakes in front of them during the deployment phase, which render any frontal assault from cavalry a laughable joke. But wait, there's more. For the Kingdoms: Britannia mini-campaign, Welsh Saethwyr◊ are even less exciting but even more impressive than their English counterparts; even the most generous person couldn't bring themselves to call that a kilt, but with more men in a unit and more ammunition, they are the undisputed kings of pointy stick death, girly skirt or no.
The various Ashigaru units in Total War Shogun 2. They make up for their inferior stats in comparison with their Samurai counterparts through shorter production times, cheapness, and low upkeep. A few units of Yari Ashigaru can hold the middle of a formation with a spear wall while stronger units manoeuver around the enemy, or be placed around the flanks and protect the meat of your army from cavalry, Bow Ashigaru provide a cheap skirmishing element which at higher experience can even contend with their Samurai counterparts, and a few garrisoned Matchlock Ashigaru can turn even the most lopsided of sieges into a meat grinder. If you want to field an army without breaking your bank, expect Ashigaru to be the spine of your forces.
Sid Meier’s Pirates! players (especially on the classic versions) will usually grab a cutlass. It hasn't got the reach or the speed of the rapier or longsword, but you can defeat enemy captains in a hurry by getting in close, slashing low, and following up with a high thrust.
Additionally, Sloops can be Boring, but Practical ships: Not as many guns as their bigger counterparts, but are so fast and agile they can dodge enemy attacks. Slipping in between a barrage can help you ram a massive War Galleon with minimal damage to ship and crew.
Often times, when there's a hard battle in the Disgaea games, it's very easy to just go and grind several levels to bulldoze through it, but you know what can get you through a lot of battles without grinding much? Lifting. Not the most cool looking ability, but knowing how to take full advantage of lifting can easily get you through even the toughest battles.
The S.C.O.P.E. Takes the item spot that could be used for grenades or Combat Stims. Gives a +10% hit rate, and, if upgraded through the Foundry, a +10% critical hit chance. Useful so that rookies don't miss most of their shots. They are also very cheap.
Nanofiber vests. +2 Health, which could easily mean the difference between life and death for your soldier that's about to get promoted in the early game. Very cheap too. Less useful in the late game, due to armors that are Awesome Yet Practical, but still a solid choice when equipping your soldiers in the first missions.
Medikits. Dirt cheap. Heals 4 HP once per mission. A soldier carrying one is immune to poison. It cure poisonaffecting the person it's used on. Can receive a Foundry upgrade to heal 6 Hp instead of 4. A Field Medic speccedSergeant Support soldier can use it three times per mission, a Major support 4 in the Enemy Within expansion, can be used by a Lieutenant support to revive critically wounded soldiers instead of merely stabilizing them, allowing them to keep on fighting, and in the end of a Colonel support, heals 8 HP per use. 10 with the aforementioned Foundry Upgrade. Nothing fancy, but really useful.
While we are on the subject of Supports... They get a smoke grenade. Makes friendly soldiers harder to hit.
Corporal support can get the sprinter perk, allowing them to move 3 extra tiles. Good for reaching that perfect full cover over there, or a wounded soldier, or a civilian, or a meld cannister...
Instead of reviving soldiers, Lieutenant supports can get the Rifle suppression skill. Penalizes the aim of an alien by 30%, gives a reaction shot if he moves. Great for pinning down an alien for safe capture.
In Enemy Within, the Tactical Rigging allows for every soldier to carry two item. In case you don't want to be forced to make a choice between two boring but practical items.
Prototype has the Musclemass power. No fancy deviation from unarmed combat... except maybe boosting those attacks' damage outputs to endgame-useful levels once maxed out. Even the Cannonball move benefits from this, yet overuse will make it fit this trope eventually, since it's one of the more surefire(read: attacking while dodging attacks) ways to quickly down anything amidst the chaos except the game's Dragon.
Cobblestone in Minecraft. Not very fancy, but it's durable, incredibly common (all your stone automatically turns into it upon mining), and very important when it comes to crafting.
Farming crops. Farming isn't the most exciting thing to do in Minecraft (as opposed to going around slaughtering pigs and cows), but with a reasonably-sized, well-lit, and hydrated farm, you can easily produce enough wheat to constantly feed yourself with bread, at a fast enough rate that you'll never starve to death again (unless you by chance allow Creepers or Endermen to wreck your farm).
"Getting wood" is a meme for a reason, everyone. Wood is by far one of the handiest materials in Minecraft, serving as construction material, tool-crafting material, and fuel. And it's renewable, since the foliage of the trees you punch for wood contains saplings you can replant for more trees.
In a game loaded with air strikes, tanks and helicopters, the weapon that will see the most use in the Mercenaries series will be some variant of the basic Assault Rifle and RPG combo. When you crash the helicopter, blow up the tank or miss the airstrike, whatever you need dead (including a building) will eventually fall with this comparatively humble combo applied in the correct manner. The best part is that you will trip over ammunition for them, so you don't need to worry about cash or fuel costs.
The sledgehammer and mining charges are easily the most versatile weapons in Red Faction: Guerrilla. The sledgehammer can tear through almost any structure in a couple swings, and mining charges provide great building destruction, crowd control, traps, and vehicle control. They're also the first two weapons you have access too, and the sledge is a permanent fixture in your equipment.
In Grand Theft Auto V it's likely that you'll use the carbine rifle much more than any weapon because it's powerful, accurate even at long range, it has a high rate of fire, and with modification it can hold 60 rounds per clip. Also, it becomes available fairly early in the game.
The emergency services side missions are long, repetitive, and frustrating (especially if you get all the way to the end and then fail because you accidentally run over a passenger). But they yield significant benefits: a permanent health/armour boost or an immunity to fire, and a large pile of cash.
While there are several nice firearms and some cool, creative, or just plain silly melee weapons (like katanas, guitars and pet rocks), one of the best choices for weapons in the zombie survival sandbox The Dead Linger is the fire axe. It has reasonably fast attack speed, kills zombies in two hits, doesn't take up too much inventory space and, on top of everything else, can also be used to gather wood for barricades or campfires!