An Attack Drone is an automated weapon controlled by a larger system. The archetypal Attack Drone is basically a gun, a propulsion system to move it, and an AI with sensors to carry out commands. This can allow the controller to attack an enemy with a greatly reduced risk of getting themselves shot, or allow them to strike from multiple angles, or simply utilize more firepower by themselves.
The major difference between Attack Drones and Mecha-Mooks
is a matter of size and shape. A Mecha Mook is usually in the size and/or shape of a humanoid or animal, while a drone is entirely mechanical in appearance (though Spider Drones
are fairly common). In short, a Mecha Mook may look, if only on the most basic levels, like a person or animal, while an Attack Drone is unmistakably a thing
. The other difference is, as noted above, that an Attack Drone is directly commanded or controlled, directly tied to said controller as an extension of it as opposed to the more independent Mecha Mook. Also, an Attack Drone is more often than not smaller than its controller, and in many cases can be carried until it is ready to be unleashed.
These are a common accessory in shoot-em-ups and games in space settings, which aids the player in battle. It is detached from the player's avatar and will follow the main avatar around in battle. Often called "options" (as in Gradius
), "bits" (as in R-Type
), or "funnels
", or by the generic term of endearment "gunbuddies".
- Is immune to, and may block enemy fire.
- Is able to destroy enemies on contact.
- Fires weapons of its own, either in tandem with the player or automatically.
- Covers arcs of fire outside those of the player's normal weapons.
- Can be customized and enhanced by gathering powerups.
- Can be directly controlled by the second player if the game supports Co-Op Multiplayer.
Not to be confused with Drone music
or Drone Tactics
. Compare Attack Animal
(which might overlap if the drone is intelligent enough to act on instructions, rather than direct control). Contrast Orbiting Particle Shield
. Might be deployed by the, well, Drone Deployer
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Gundam absolutely loves the Attack Drone concept; it's one of the few things to appear across every continuity. In order:
- Universal Century kicked it off with bits, funnels, and incoms. Bits tend to be larger and carry their own reactors, while funnels are smaller and have to dock with their mobile suit to recharge (Nu Gundam's fin funnels are a misnomer, carrying their own reactor) While the latter two require Psychic Powers to function, incoms don't, at the cost of requiring a guidance cable.
- The non-canon manga Mobile Suit vs. Giant God: Gigantis' Counterattack, the Mega Zetanote combines this with Rocket Punch in the form of the Psycommu Arm. Needless to say, when Judau sees it in action, he's left completely dumbstruck.
- In-universe, it's explained that the bit/funnel system was made possible by the development of Newtype-based technologies as Minovsky Physics made automated drones as we would know them effectively useless.
- G Gundam has the Rose Gundam's rose bits, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Master Gundam's Jyuni Ouhouhai Daishahei technique creates mini-Master Gundams which function like Attack Drones.
- Gundam Wing has Defense Drones called planet defensors, which generate an electromagnetic barrier field. At least once, Heero tries to use them offensively, pairing them off and using the force "chain" like bolas to knock Wing Zero's beam saber out of its hand. The manga spin-off G-Unit (aka Last Outpost) introduces the Hydra Gundam, whose shoulder cannons are effectively incoms.
- In the SNES game Gundam Wing Endless Duel they can be used offensively in a variety of ways, mostly as either chained together as a sort of lightning whip, or used to shoot out electricity. But there is an attack where they fly at the enemy on their own and electrocute them.
- Gundam X has standard bits, but also has bit mobile suits, psychically-controlled Mecha Mooks.
- ∀ Gundam's rival, Turn X, can split its body into pieces and use them as bits.
- Gundam SEED starts with wired weapons called gunbarrels, said to require
Newtype powers great "spatial awareness" to operate; later in the series they introduce DRAGOONs which are more like standard bits.
- The sequel, Gundam SEED Destiny, begins introducing wireless weapons that don't require spatial awareness. It also introduced DRAGOONs that can emit beam blades, functioning as melee weapons rather than just ranged ones.
- Gundam 00 is probably the most diverse and extensive case so far:
- The first season only had GN Fangs, which are combination melee/ranged Attack Drones.
- The second season really lets loose: Cherudim has GN Shield Bits and GN Rifle Bits and the Gaddess has GN Beam Saber Fangs (each of which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin), the Reborns has Large GN Fin Fangs (basically rifle bits) and Small GN Fin Fangs (basically beam saber fangs), the Regnant has its own massive GN Fangs (which lack ranged weaponry and basically slice the enemy to pieces), and the Arche has an upgraded version of the GN Fangs from the first season. Seravee can also launch and remote-control Seraphim without transferring the cockpit. Fun is had by all.
- Gundam 00 Awakening Of The Trailblazer features the Gadeleza, a truly massive mobile armor boasting 14 Large GN Fangs (which are each roughly the size of a standard mobile suit and pack their own Phlebotinum Reactor and Wave Motion Gun), each of which carry 10 of their own regular-sized fangs that can emit both a beam saber and regular beam shots, making for a grand total of 154 remote weapons all together.
- From that same movie, all four Gundams have their own unique types (yes, plural) of Attack Drone that can pull all kinds of crazy stunts:
- Zabanya has 14 Rifle bits (fly around shooting stuff) and 14 Shield bits (block shots and ram things).
- Harute has Scissor bits, which are dual-bladed bits that slice enemies into tiny pieces.
- Raphael has two very large claw bits that each contain a Wave Motion Gun and can grab things, which can be combined with the Raphael's backpack to form a second remote-controlled Gundam, the Seravee II.
- 00-Qan[T] has Sword bits, which fly around stabbing and slicing things. They can also combine to form a shield, or combine with the main unit's sword to form a gigantic beam saber.
- Mobile Suit Gundam AGE had the Farsia using standard bits that looked remarkably like G-Gundam's Rose Bits, which could combine their firepower for bigger beams. Later, the Ghirarga and the Gundam Legilis utilize the X-Transmitter weapon that creates energy-based particle bits, giving them controllable beams and a limitless supply of bit weaponry. Finally, the Gundam AGE-FX utilizes C-Funnels, which act a lot like the GN-Sword Bits of Gundam 00's 00 Qan[T]. While they can't shoot beams at enemies, it can block them.
- Gundam Build Fighters has the Qubeley Papillion which uses the same funnels utilized by the original Qubeley, but have been modified to appear transparent, making it look like that anything getting close to it would suddenly explode as soon as the general vicinity around the machine started to glitter and sparkle.
- The Macross franchise introduced X-9 Ghost drone fighters in Macross Plus. Variations also make an appearance in Macross Frontier as the AIF-7S (used by SMS) and V-9 (used by Macross Galaxy).
- Drone fighters appeared in the original series as the QF-2000 Ghost. They're not that good, as they appear only in one episode, but they were there and drew fire from manned aircrafts.
- Lyrical Nanoha
- Chao Lingshen from Mahou Sensei Negima! included four of these in her Powered Armor for the climax of the Festival Arc.
- GaoGaiGar has GunDober and GunGrue, their personal motorcycle and mini-chopper, which transform into robots. In addition to being simply driven, they also take wireless commands from Volfogg; he even has tactical maneuvers with them. And they combine with him into Big Volfogg.
- Until Death Do Us Part: These things are the weapon of choice for assassin Fang. Additionally, they have a noise dampener on them so they're utterly silent; the fact that Mamoru's "eyes" can't detect them is a bonus.
- In Outlaw Star, Hanmyo's ship, the Torarato, can split into three ships, with her piloting the main ship, while the side ships are controlled by her two pet cats.
- In Valvrave the Liberator, the Valvrave IV/Hinowa's Spindle Knuckles are capable of doing this.
- In Rebuild of Evangelion 3.33, Unit-13 has a quartet of attack drones capable of generating their own AT Fields. The four of them together proved to be nearly an even match for an enemy Evangelion on their own.
- The first New Transfer Student Ritsu from Ansatsu Kyoushitsu is an Attack Drone. Her full name is Jiritsu Shikou Kotei Houdai, or "Autonomously Thinking Fixed Artillery" in English.
- The Sentinels from The Matrix may qualify.
- In the Cyber Punk movie Babylon A.D. fighter drones patrol the Bering Strait, literally killing everything that moves whether wildlife or illegal infiltrators.
- The Hunter-Killers and their predecessors from the Terminator series.
- The Avengers (1998): Sir August's flying armed robot insects, radio-controlled by Bailey.
- In The A-Team film the team have to fight two jet-powered Reapers.
- The Destroyer from Thor is essentially a horrifyingly powerful Attack Drone, used to guard Odin's Vault.
- In Iron Man 2, Justin Hammer and Ivan Vanko create Animated Armor "Hammer drones" to sell to the US military.
- The aliens in Battle: Los Angeles make extensive use of UAV drones as their air force. These drones are centrally controlled from large underground floating structures, and are capable of exceeding Mach 7; ramming is as good a tactic for them as firing their guns. And there's thousands of them.
- The Big Bad in Eagle Eye controls a Predator drone to chase after the protagonist, who attempts to stop the assassination of most of the government. The drone is destroyed by a Heroic Sacrifice.
- In the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), the military uses two drones to attack GORT. GORT destroys the missiles with lasers and then takes control of the drones to destroy some nearby tanks.
- In the Star Wars prequels, the Separatists use droid armies. This extends to various types of droid starfighters.
- The Falconer from Predators hunts with a little Attack Drone that perches on its shoulder between flights.
- The spherical, heavily armed, tough as hell drones Jack repairs for a living in Oblivion (2013).
- In Star Trek Into Darkness the Vengeance could launch drones that in turn were capable of launching several photon torpedoes before crashing into a target.
- In Enderís Game, the fighters launched from IF carriers are mentioned to be drones. In a pinch, they can be used as an impromptu shield, constantly moving in a cocoon-like shape around the ship, filling in "holes" in the "shield". The commanders even have a "shield integrity" gauge on the screen.
- The 1983 satire Deal of the Century involves Chevy Chase and Sigourney Weaver attempting to sell these to the dictator of a Banana Republic.
- The Night's Dawn Trilogy got the Combat Wasps as weapon platforms and supplementary (things like electronic warfare) small craft. See also on fan site.
- The Perry Rhodan series has droid ships.
- The Culture: Culture "Drones" are not this, since they're all at least Human-equivalent intelligences. However, the knife missiles occasionally seen when Special Circumstances dispenses with subtlety are.
- It helps to distinguish non-sentient drones from sentient Drones. Knife missiles are of course drones controlled by Drones. Simple.
- Scott Westerfeld's Succession series has attack drones in spades, of both AI-controlled and remotely-piloted varieties, from FTL-comm equipped forward command drones used to cut down on lightspeed lag in interplanetary-distance battles to "flockers", finger-sized kinetic kill missiles with onboard AI control, which network with each other to become a sort of computerized Hive Mind before ramming their targets at velocities normally reserved for railgun projectiles.
- Spectral Shadows has Blair Montgomery inventing some sort of half cybernetic half organic bee creatures that can essentially become this.
- In Tour of the Merrimack, the Romans use lots of unmanned drones. Though less intelligent than piloted fighters, they are far cheaper to mass-produce. They have shields, weapons, FTL drives, and Self Destruct Mechanisms to prevent them from being captured. This last feature ends up being a bit of a mistake.
- Dale Brown books have the FlightHawk and StealthHawk drones, as well as in later books whole EB-1C Vampire remote-controllable bombers.
- A bunch of nonhumanoid gardencare droids are converted into these during Galaxy of Fear. They're surprisingly effective.
- Robert Sheckley's short story "WarBird" is an early examination of this trope.
- Stargate Verse
- In the Stargate franchise, there is the Ancient drone weapon. A remotely controlled swarm of small, self-propelling projectiles that can avoid obstacles and friendly targets to attack and destroy enemies. Used to destroy Anubis's fleet and many Wraith ships. Seems to have been the primary weapon of the Ancients.
- An episode of Stargate SG-1 also had the team travel to a planet where one side in a conflict used remote-controlled drones for defense. The other side also had unmanned reconnaissance craft, but their bombers were manned.
- On occasion, the SGC would launch a small remote-controlled recon plane through the gate. They would then use that little plane to spot targets for the next thing that would go through the gate: a guided missile.
- In a later episode they armed a UAV with missiles of its own. Unfortunately it was shot down before it could use them.
- Stargate Universe introduces automated drones that attack all other sources of advanced technology, including the Destiny and the civilization built by the crew's alternate timeline descendants. In the series finale the crew make an early FTL jump to another galaxy at low power to escape them.
- Burn Notice: Michael has to deal with one at the beginning of season 3. He explains in the voice-over that it works by being given a target area, and it then kills anything in that area. So he leaves the area. Which was difficult, since it was already shooting at him.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: The episode "The Arsenal of Freedom" features an advanced series of adaptive attack drones. So advanced, in fact, that they destroyed the civilization that created them and nearly destroyed the Enterprise as well.
- Warhammer 40,000 has multiple versions of attack drones. The most prolific users are the Tau, who field entire squadrons of drones or attach them to to infantry or battlesuit units. Variants include combat drones armed with pulse carbines and grenade launchers designed to suppress infantry, drones with missile pod to assist the BFG wielding Broadside Battlesuit Teams, shield drones to absorb incoming fire, sniper models and the new shielded missile drones specifically designed to protect and assist the equally new XV104 Riptide Battlesuit. They all kinda resemble large, heavily-armed frisbees (some fans even refer to them as "Frisbees of Death" or occasionally "Bin-Lids").
- The Imperium of Man is leery of AIs, but will make use of drones slaved to a psyker's will or imbued with a limited "machine spirit." These come in the form of servo-skulls, the remains of devoted servants outfitted with logic engines, anti-gravity drives, and sensors or weapons packages. To reiterate, these are flying human skulls that act as assassins, scouts, or simple familiars.
- The Adeptus Mechanicus, on the other hand, make further use of Human Resources for their drones. Servitors are condemned criminalsnote who are given lobotomies and extensive cybernetic implants. Among their roles as technicians or unskilled labor, some servitors are rigged with heavy weapons and accompany Tech-priests on the battlefield, or support their security forces.
- Nurglite forces have Blight Drones, an unholy fusion of helicopter, rusting pile of junk, and assault cannon.
- Shadowrun has Riggers who pilot drones through a wireless VR interface, and Pilot programs for autonomous drones. Due to stealth concerns, PCs usually don't use them nearly as much as corporate security, of course.
- On the other hand, Riggers are hard to identify because they're usually two blocks away from the action, which means that a smart Rigger lives a for a very long time.
- For example, Twitch from Weregeek. And her drones (that's in character for Twitch).
- Examples include the Steel Lynx ground-combat drone.
- GURPS: Ultra-Tech has fully sapient missiles, they guide themselves but have no initiative and must be given orders by radio. There are also shurikens with basic reasoning skills.
- A few of the more serious Game Breakers that people have devised use the Allies rules to build brutally efficient Attack Drones.
- Jovian Chronicles: Utilized primarily by the Venusian forces. Not particularly durable, but they tend to be very fast and always in numbers.
- The Lucifer class terror drone is a frightening example. Basically X-9 Ghost about the size of a space shuttle designed for independent commerce raiding. Faster than all but the fastest of exos and packing immensely powerful particle cannons it easily qualifies as a Lightning Bruiser.
- This is why they let you build Remotes in Mekton. These can be used to represent everything from MIRVs to floating turrets with gatling lasers.
- Fairly common in Eclipse Phase, Extropian judicial hypercorps usually have them stationed around their coverage areas.
- BattleTech has the M-series of drone WarShips, known as "Caspar", as well as the Pavise automated defense station and the BlackWasp and Voidseeker automated interceptors. Lacking any pesky crew to house/feed/breathe/protect, they typically had raw performance characteristics far above other ships of comparable size and mass, and because they lacked squishy crew who died when the atmosphere vented, often continued to fight with damage that would have rendered a manned WarShip inert. Combined with the fact that it was not uncommon for a major system to have hundreds of Caspars and thousands of interceptor drones, when they were turned against their Star League makers during the Amaris Coup they were by far the most formidable obstacle the Star League Defense Force faced.
- While automated BattleMechs are sometimes rumored by people centuries after the fact, the Star League doesn't seem to have deployed ground-based or aerial-based attack drones at all. Only spacecraft.
- Transhuman Space depicts a future society with excellent robotics, and so a wide range of combat drones, from "brilliant" missiles up to robotic military spacecraft.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2's plot revolves around the increasing usage of drones by both the United States and Chinese forces being hijacked by a third party.
- X3: Terran Conflict has several types of Attack Drones (called Fighter Drones), which are dropped out from ship cargo bays and attack the nearest enemy ship (or you) or whatever the player designates. The small size of the fighter drones means players can shove thousands of them into cargo bays and use them to take down battleships and massive carriers.
- Mainly because it maxes out your computer's CPU, forcing the game to do triage with the AI behavioral scripts (some will stop, allowing the others to continue).
- X Rebirth's player ship has these in lieu of space fighters. The fanbase isn't entirely sure it likes the idea: though you can take control of them remotely, if the drone you're flying is destroyed you return to controlling the Albion Skunk. This takes some of the danger out of being a fighter jock, for those who enjoy that.
- The Option (a.k.a. Multiple) in Gradius is probably the Ur Example for video games. Unlike most kinds of drones, these fire the exact same shots that the Vic Viper does at any given time, literally multiplying your firepower.
- The Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game even has "Gradius" and "Gradius' Option" as playable cards, since both are handled by Konami.
- Sexy Parodius makes the Option a playable character. Like most other characters in the Parodius series, it uses attack drones, which in its case are miniature Vic Vipers.
- The Force Pod and Bits from R-Type. Also, a Battleship Raid in R-Type FINAL has among it's defenders, ships referred to as mobile turrets, essentially making them Captital-grade Attack Drones.
- Bio-Hazard Battle has these, which move around you ship differently depending on your selected character. They fire out your characters' special weapons.
- The Attack Drone from Geometry Wars Galaxies (the succinct namesake of this trope).
- The Remote from the Star Wars: JediKnight games.
- The familiars from Gauntlet Legends. A Phoenix Familiar item gives you a temporary one, and when you reach a certain level milestone you get a permanent familiar.
- Star Control has non-lethal "De-energizing Offensive Guided Interceptor" launched (up to 4 at once) by Chenjesu Broodhome ships. Three laser "ZapSats" follow the Chmmr Avatar ship in Star Control 2.
- Alucard's familiars in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
- Floyd the robot from Jet Force Gemini, though you need a second player for him to do any attacking outside of minigame areas.
- Elly's Aerods in Xenogears work like Gundam's funnels story-wise, but is only treated as another spell in game.
- Similarly, MS Saga (being a Gundam-based JRPG) has the various bits, funnels, and fin funnels available to different characters as spells. This gets somewhat jarring when those characters can use that equipment when they're piloting MS that doesn't have it, while other characters can't use it when they're piloting MS that does have it.
- Gundam Breaker allows you to equip funnel weapons by attaching the backpacks of certain mobile suits onto your unit. They end up being the most useful of weapons since their recharge time kicks in the moment they're launched and by the time they're finished, they're ready for use again in about a couple of seconds, and because they're EX attacks, they don't run on any ammunition.
- The "companion" in the graphing calculator game Phoenix.
- The squad sentry and recon drones in Battlefield 2142. The former is much more useful than the latter, as it needs a complicated lock-on to attack enemies.
- Drones in MMORPG EVE Online.
- Wireless gun pods from Front Mission Gun Hazard, which fly around independently firing machineguns for anywhere from ten to fifteen seconds before needing to be re-deployed. Normally they flutter from place to place around the player's head, but if the shield is activated, they form up in a line behind you. Unlike some of the other examples, though, these gun pods are immaterial, causing shots to go right through them.
- Jehuty Ver. 2 in Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner has 3 WISPs floating around it that mimic its base ranged attack, can grab enemies from afar like a grappling hook, and aid in immobilizing enemies in-close. For more Attack Drone-y goodness, the Vic Viper LEV in the same game comes complete with Options, which stick around so long as the LEV remains in its vehicular mode. The Quantity Award, however, goes to the Ardjet, the "cape" of which could break apart into scores of homing WISPs that slam into enemies for damage.
- In the X Box Live Arcade game Wing Commander Arena, there is a Power-Up that gives you a clone of your ship that will fly in formation with you, and otherwise mirror your movements and actions until it's destroyed.
- The Fire Buddy Power-Up from Metals Arms: Glitch in the System follows Glitch around, shooting anything he shoots. Curiously, the Buddy even switches to the same weapon Glitch is using.
- Mass Effect has these as commonly-encountered enemies used by the various opponents in the games.
- In Mass Effect 2, Tali, Legion, and Engineer Shepard all have the ability to summon combat drones. (Tali named hers Chiktikka.)
- In the endgame of 2, the Collectors defend their base using starship-scaled attack drones called Oculus, just in case somebody, like, say, the Reaper IFF-equipped Normandy comes through the mass relay and isn't immediately shredded by the various environmental hazards in the vicinity. Joker and EDI destroy a couple with the Normandy's GARDIAN lasers, another breaks into the cargo bay twice and is engaged on foot by Shepard, and Joker does a Wronski Feint through the debris field to get rid of the rest.
- The Ancipital (bipedal goat) from Revenge Of The Mutant Camels. You can also pick it up on your back as a smart turret. (You're a camel.)
- Command & Conquer examples:
- In Command & Conquer: Generals, most US vehicles can deploy one of three types of drones for a minimal fee: sentry drones to increase sight range and detect hidden enemies, battle drones with anti-infantry weapons and the ability to repair their "parent" vehicle, and (with the expansion) Hellfire drones to shoot missiles at enemy vehicles. Unlike other examples, these drones can be destroyed by enemy fire, and even targeted directly - in fact, enemy base defenses will by default target these drones first, giving the parent vehicles time to tear through the turrets and gun emplacements relatively unmolested.
- Red Alert 2 and onwards are pretty generous with the trope. The practice differs according to alignment: heroic drones (Allies: Hornets, Sky Knights and Robot Tanks) are slaved to an expensive master control (such as a seaborne Aircraft Carrier) and villainous drones (Soviet: Terror Drones, Yuri: Chaos Drones, Imperial: Sunburst Drone) are autonomous, brittle, cheap and, most importantly, disruptive to an opposing force. But one thing's for sure: since they're robots, mind control resistance and insantity immunity are always guaranteed.
- Super Paper Mario has the Pal Pill powerup that surrounded the character with 6 copies... in 8bit. They die easily however.
- A tool in Ratchet & Clank allowed the hero to enlist the help of a Sand Mouse, who would hover around Ratchet and attack enemies with a tiny, yet surprisingly powerful machinegun. Going Commando, the second game, had Synthenoids, which floated above Ratchet and fired at anything within range. The third game, Up Your Arsenal, gave Ratchet tiny robots that he could deploy for the same purpose. Deadlocked gave him two permanent bots that were a big part of the story and gameplay, and could even be customized and upgraded just like Ratchet.
- In addition to the Sand Mice, the Agents of Doom deployed by the Glove of Doom weapon and the defense drones activated by the Drone Device (also called the Drone Glove) fall under this trope.
- The Future series of the games has Mr. Zurkon, who hands out both death and hammy insults to the enemy.
- One of Jak's upgrades in Jak 3: Wastelander was a drone that hovered for a few seconds while spraying the area with gunfire.
- In a rare driving game example, Jak and Daxter's Jak X provided a defensive Red Eco drone that would disgorge an infinite stream of ammunition into anyone who got too close... for an all-too-brief time.
- In Hellgate: London, one of the classes is the Engineer, which uses several kinds of "bots", both for attacks and for buffing/debuffing purposes. He can also summon a larger "drone" which acts more like a pet, but can be upgraded with a gun, sword and armor.
- Mags in Phantasy Star Online are small robot pets that evolve when you give them items; they can heal you when your health is low, provide a shield to block an attack, and when charged up, can perform powerful attacks.
- The S.C.A.R.A.B. drone in the PSP/Wii remake of Alien Syndrome attacks enemies, blocks enemy shots, and also acts as a portable shop, where you can convert unwanted items into Resource Points or use Resource Points to buy new items.
- In Jazz Jackrabbit, some levels contain caged green birds called Hip Hops that you can rescue. Hip Hops will relentlessly attack any enemies within range, but will disappear as soon as Jazz takes damage.
- From Armored Core 3 to Armored Core: Last Raven the player could purchase a torso unit equipped with a "Exceed Orbit" function, where 1 or 2 weapon pods located on the back could detach and fire automatically at any enemies it saw (for some reason it could see through walls where as the rounds fired could not penetrate said walls, sometimes leading to waste of ammo if one wasn't careful) they came in shell-based and energy-based projectile versions, with differing damage and rate-of-fire stats, while the shell-based ones had more shots, the energy-based ones could recharge themselves when deactivated.
- Plus there are the "Orbit Cannons", a back part that launched up to three laser cannon drones that followed their selected target. The only draw back was that one only had a finite supply of these drones on any given mission, and they are weak as heck, so if your target is protected by terrain, the bits would hit the walls and explode. They do have their own power supply and energy spent only involves launching them. Plus, since the lock-on acts like a missile lock-on, missile extensions work with them too. It is fairly effective in PvP as well, since, as long as you engage them in wide open space, the bits follow your opponent wherever it goes and is fairly hard to shake unless you can outrun it or endure the withering attacks. A similar Arm Cannon variant of it in Silent Line gives an option to launch 6 at once for More Dakka.
- Previously in Another Age, the Orbit weapons were actually introduced as an unlockable inside part. Unlike its future incarnations, it did not expend energy upon usage though it was otherwise stationary.
- Bio Menace had the RoboPal, a rare example of an Attack Drone in a sidescroller.
- The three Options in the arcade version of Strider: The Dipodal Saucers are two mushroom-looking drones which fly around Hiryu and attack with lasers; the Terapodal Robopanther is a mecha panther that pounces on closing enemies and the Robot Hawk is mecha hawk that dives in airborne enemies.
- The special attack of the "r" power up in Phalanx. It doesn't shoot, but it kills most things on screen.
- The Security Bots in BioShock fulfill this purpose if hacked - instead of attacking Jack they will follow him and open fire on any hostiles. He can have up to two of these at any one time. This trend continues in BioShock 2; with level two of the Security Command plasmid, you can even summon friendly security bots on command, and level 3 lets you call in "Elite" versions with more health and higher attack power.
- First person vehicular shooter Forsaken lets you collect up to four Orbital Pulsars, small floating balls containing a laser. They spin around your hoverbike and shoot at anything you're shooting at.
- The Attack Drone in Smash TV was a destroyable one. Very annoying when you grab it..while in the middle of a horde of enemies. Another separate powerup would set up a blade barrier around you that would hack up most (but NOT all) enemies, but not fire itself. And evaporated at the end of the room.
- Tiger Heli would let you use these to decide if you wanted more forward or instead lateral shots.
- One of Sarara's special moves in Magical Battle Arena, where she launches Fin Funnel-like drones to attack with.
- Ace Combat 6's Mission 13 has Ilya Pasternak launch machine gun-equipped Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to back up his CFA-44 Nosferatu fighter.
- Ace Combat 5 has UAVs play a role in several missions. Most notably, the Arkbird and Hrimfaxi launch UAVs as a defensive measure when attacked by the player.
- The main power-ups in Shatterhand are Greek letters. Collecting three assembles a hovering droid equipped with a weapon determined by the letters combined. Some mount laser cannons or flamethrowers, others swing swords or throw grenades. All of them will block bullets and can be grabbed by the player, either to lift the hero into the air or for him to fling at enemies, although they can only withstand so much damage before disintegrating.
- You'll see at least one kind of this in every Homeworld game, which by like the trope definition by default, is nothing more than a remote-controlled space gun with a bit of armor and engines slapped onto it. The Kushan Drone (Homeworld) is a mass-produced Weak Turret Gun that stays put with its parent ship, the Somtaaw Swarmer (Homeworld: Cataclysm) is a quality-over-quantity autonomous craft which can do strafing runs (relative to the Kushan Drone) and the Progenitor Drone (Homeworld 2) is an unobtainable piece of deadly heavily armed and armored unmanned fighter technology which could only be built by a Progenitor Keeper that's just as deadly. The Progenitor Movers are unmanned, yet manually-controllable A.I. ships in Homeworld 2 canon, much like their Keeper and its Drone offsprings. The Drone Deployer article has more on this.
- Breaking away from the trend, Homeworld: Cataclysm also introduced the unconventional Somtaaw Leech microship. It's incredibly fast, undetectable to low-end enemy sensors and can be instructed to quietly attach themselves to the hull of enemy craft, screwing up systems and chewing holes in the hull.
- Half-Life 2 has Manhacks, deployed by Combine soldiers, vicious little flying robots that consist of a camera eye and a buzzsaw. Manhacks are mainly used for riot control, and often fly about in swarms, shredding any hostile they encounter.
- Again, the Super Robot Wars series, in addition to the Gundam examples listed above, also featured a number of original mecha with drones, such as the Soldifar, Ashcleef, Ashsaber, Dis Astragant, Shuroga, R-Gun Rivale, and more. Many of these Attack Drones' names follow the pattern of " Slave".
- Shin Super Robot Wars: Aya's Strike Shields are notable in that they are entirely unarmed, with no guns or blades to speak of. They're just giant blunt bits of metal that she psychically smashes into people.
- Super Robot Wars Original Generation: Meanwhile, Ing's T Link Sliders can switch between blades, beam guns, and surrounding and forming a field to trap his enemies in. The large slider on his back however is just a sheath for his BFS.
- "Teeny Ships" in Kingdom Hearts II.
- Also from the Kingdom Hearts Series are Marluxia's thorn shaped drones in Chain of Memories. These also make a comeback in Re:Chain of Memories for the second and third battles against Marluxia. He sends out three drones at a time, and they each shoot three times every time he plays a card, but can easily be destroyed as enemies or taken out one by one by Cardbreaking Marluxia.
- Terra/Lingering Sentiment in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix has an attack where he sends out several drones to surround you from different angles and shoot lasers. They chase you down, and move very quickly, even zig-zagging over your head before firing, but can be dealt with using Reflega or even jumping into them before they fire. They also disappear after a while if you didn't destroy them.
- Geist, one of the commanders of the Sai faction in the game Stormrise is usually depicted with six of these and can control them with his Psychic Powers
- Attack drones appear as a ship option in the second expansion to Sword of the Stars, A Murder Of Crows. They are the speciality of the Morrigi, who start with this technology.
- Touhou plays with these often.
- In earlier games, a pair of Drones are acquired upon gaining enough Power items, and they shoot differently depending on which shot type you choose at the beginning. They look the same regardless.
- Perfect Cherry Blossom starts each character out with two Drones. Again, they look the same regardless of shot type.
- Imperishable Night only lets certain characters even have Drones, which are explicitly named "Familiars" - all youkai characters have one or two, but only one human, although the other humans have abilities to compensate. Enemy fairies and bosses may also use Familiars, which youkai can see through and shoot through - humans are out of luck in that regard, but they can still destroy them for Time Orbs.
- There is actually a counter when you fight a named opponent showing how many slaves they've used in IN. It gets absurd when you fight Mokou, who apparently uses upwards of a thousand slaves.
- The newer games award a Drone for each number of Power (normally out of 5.00 or 4.00) you attain. Unlike earlier games, Drones look and even act differently depending on shot type.
- Also, Alice's dolls are her Attack Drones.
- As of Unidentified Fantastic Object, Nue has her UFOs to assist her as part of some of her spellcards.
- And Yukari and Ran's shikigami. And Orin's army of spirits. So many characters actually use them, that Marisa designates it as a quality for many spellcards (slave type) in her grimoire, as opposed to a mere gimmick such as Kaguya's item based attacks (all five of her original attacks also happened to use slaves).
- StarCraft and Warcraft 3 both have attack drones. Starcraft has the Protoss Carrier, with Interceptor drones that can be targeted, but never are (either you have large amounts of light attackers that are hard to control that just shoot them done as the Interceptors exit the carrier, or you focus fire on carriers themselves, which then kills the connected Interceptors). Warcraft 3 meanwhile has a large selection of temporary summonable units, generally summoned by heroes and in a few cases by normal caster units. They range from powerful monstrosities like the Dread Lord's Infernal or the Warden's Avatar of Vengeance, to swarming disposable minions like the Necromancer's Skeletons and the Tinker's Clockwerk Goblins, and everything in between. The Crypt Lord can even deploy a group of 5 permanent beetle minions as scouts or extra combat units, and can generate a swarm of untargetable locusts with it's ultimate ability.
- The Raiden Fighters games had Slaves, miniature unmanned versions of your chosen fighter. Unusually for a scrolling shooter, the Slaves will die if they take enough hits. It's possible to play as a Slave by using a certain cheat code, and Slaves have the advantage of a smaller hitbox than the normal fighters, as well as a very powerful vulcan gun that makes up for their lack of charged weapons.
- Tacticians in Killzone 2 can use air support drones to attack their enemy.
- The 194X games had powerups that called smaller planes to fight by your side, which performed the role of Attack Drones, although the fact that these games are arguably set during World War II, and as such are likely piloted.
- In Cannon Dancer, obtaining power-ups allows Kirin to project up to three phantom images of himself, which remain in place and attack simultaneously with him. They appear whenever he hits an enemy with an attack, and when he stops attacking they return to him. Although they can be placed floating in mid-air, they can't be re-positioned until they return to Kirin.
- The penultimate stage of Gunstar Heroes takes the form of a space shooter. The first player gets to control a ship, but the second player just gets to control an attack drone that can only orbit the ship.
- Allegiance, a free multilayer space combat simulator, has an interesting aversion: There are drone AI ships under the direct control of the team's commander, but they cannot attack the enemy. All the ships that can actually fight are flown by human beings; the drone ships perform "boring" (but essential) duties like mining, and must be defended by human players.
- Virtual-ON has the Bal series. Unlike others these have to be manual manipulated and set up and, because of this, the mechs are notoriously hard to use. For the player, anyhow.
- Tyrian, being a top-scrolling shoot-'em-up and a self-aware one at that, naturally features gunbuddies. These may be, depending on game mode and level, flanking firepower modules or gun arrays that connect to your ship's nose and can be fired directly into enemies ... then retrieved to be reused!
- One of the Cranial nanoaugmentations you can equip in Deus Ex is the Spy Drone, a hovering camera-bot with the ability to kamikaze into enemies and explode, dealing EMP damage.
- In BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, Nox Nyctores Nirvana, wielded by Carl Clover looks like a Mecha-Mook, but functions like an Attack Drone in an actual fight. In Continuum Shift, his father Relius reveals that he's made a similar one named Ignis.
- Antagonist Cid in Final Fantasy XII is protected by four autonomous Rooks.
- The Halo franchise has three examples of attack drones. In Halo 2, you encounter an enemy that throws out these two little balls that somehow turn into holographic clones of him that can kill you with their holographic guns and can take a lot more damage than he can, though the technology is never seen again (probably Forerunner tech the Covenant couldn't reverse-engineer). In the Halo 3 backstory though, this is taken to the extreme, with two ridiculously advanced Forerunner AIs duking it out with fleets of thousands of drone capital ships which are commandeered by the AIs after their crews die. Supplementary materials also reveal that some of the UNSC fighter-craft you see in Halo 3: ODST are actually unmanned drones.
- The Sentinels can sometimes count when they are being remotely controlled by a Monitor. The rest of the time however they have their own tasks and a rudimentary AI.
- Metroid Prime has Sentry Drones, which often fly around and spam you. They are destroyable, but pretty aggressive. Bonus points for the first appearance of them being when the Phendrana base is blacked out, so unless you have the thermal visor, you won't see them, and a mini-boss much later on, which is an INVISIBLE version, which can't be scanned or locked onto (unless with the Wavebuster, which is very good at killing the drone). There's even an underwater version in the crashed Frigate, but there are only two in the entire game and they aren't much different from the standard ones.
- In the original Marathon, the hovering MADDs — Marathon Automated Defense Drones — are among your few allies. Well, except for the ones that have been reprogrammed to attack you and equipped with grenade launchers...
- There's also the Pfhor attack drones in the second game, and the Cyborg Drones in the Game Mod EVIL, some of which are on your side, others which attack you.
- Alien freighters in X-COM: Interceptor are protected by automated drones.
- Strangely enough, the drones were actually more effective at killing you than most of the aliens, because they were agile, fast, and infuriatingly difficult to hit. The only advantage you have over them is that their weapons are relatively pathetic: it's easy to ignore them, destroy the freighter, and jump to hyperspace without losing much of your shields. If, however, you decide to attack the drones...well, you're going to need another fighter.
- In X-COM UFO Defense/Enemy Unknown you got Tanks (armed with light autocannon, missile launchers or laser cannon) and later Hovertanks (armed with plasma cannon or Blaster Launchers) which appeared so be drone vehicles controlled from HQ as they required no crew and would continue to operate after all human soldiers were out of action. Terror from the Deep had Coelacanths, basically underwater tanks (armed with a gas-propelled cannon, torpedo launcher or gauss cannon), and Displacers, drone submarines (armed with sonic cannon or Pulse Wave Torpedo launcher).
- While they can operate with all the humans on the mission down, it's not recommended as tanks can't pilot the troop transport (obviously). Aborting the mission with all soldiers dead or unconscious will result in the transport and the tanks being lost as well.
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown gives you the Super Heavy Infantry Vehicle, or SHIV: robotic minitanks that can be armed with a gatling gun, laser cannon, or plasma cannon. Other upgrades can give them the ability to suppress enemies, act as mobile cover for your soldiers, or fly.
- In Xenonauts, X-COM's Spiritual Successor, the aliens employ these in several variants.
- In Terra Cresta, your ship upgrade parts can temporarily detatch and act as attack drones. Ditto for its Spiritual Successor, Dangar UFO Robo. The official sequel, Terra Force, has Gradius style drones.
- In Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, Ohatsu's Super Mode releases demonic Attack Drones that can shoot at enemies around her. Apparently she somehow got this from previous series Big Bad Nobunaga, her uncle despite the fact that he was originally a human.
- Harpuia from Mega Man Zero series can summon them one by one, which then slowly home in on Zero.
- Thunder Force has the CLAW drones for the Fire Leo starfighters. Early CLAWs look somewhat like miniature fighters themselves but in Thunder Force IV once the Rynex is upgraded it gains new spherical CLAWS that also function as capacitors to store up power for the Thunder Sword.
- In Vega Strike all 3 major races have drones on some stations and large ships: Human use Seaxbane (crippling weapons), Rlaan use Hellspawn (pair of powerful beams, piloted by pet brain), Aera use Porcupine "mines" (very sluggish, not much ammo, but have a shield-piercing weapon, explode when approached and fit in normal missile launchers).
- The Helpers from Midnight Wanderers assists Lou/Siva by their different abilities, like Firestorm's flame breath, and they can even be upgraded the longer one keeps them around.
- The Satellites in Forgotten Worlds provide a variety of unique backup fire weapons to the Nameless Ones.
- Misteltoes serve this purpose in Hellsinker for the player characters and bosses, though some enemies also use them as ammo. This would be normal were Misteltoes not topless fairies with half of a crystal ball instead of a lower body.
- Your main power-up in the Neo Geo game Last Resort is a drone that follows your ship, blocks enemy shots and damages enemies like the R-Type Force Pod, and shoots when you do. Instead of having a separate gun that charges up, you charge energy into the drone and launch it as a projectile, then it boomerangs back to you. Since you can toggle the drone's relative position to your ship, it can be launched in whatever direction you want.
- The Multi-Body powerup in Blazing Lazers.
- Attack drones show up in a few levels in Perfect Dark. The first one to appear is indestructible, but in later levels they can be destroyed with remote mines.
- The Advent fighters and bombers in Sins of a Solar Empire are actually drones (or anima) controlled by powerful psychics, according to the manual. Each squadron is controlled by a single person, so this allows the Advent to spam fighters and bombers (they don't need to train dozens of pilots, just several controllers).
- Since space combat takes place too fast for humans to make a difference, all warships in Mission Critical deploy drones for attack and defense. The ships themselves are armed with point-defense lasers, but they prove useless against fast-moving drones and are only good at taking out anti-ship missiles. One of the plot arcs in the game is the use of an experimental serum that allows you to take control over your ship's drones and destroy the enemy.
- Several borgs in Gotcha Force have drones that can aim and fire independently from the user. The most powerful of these is Cyber Atlas, who can still use these when he merges into his super form with either Cyber Mars or Machine Red.
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty features Cypher drones, which are based on the real-life Sikorsky CYPHER-T prototype unmanned aerial vehicle. There are two varieties; the surveillance type that alerts the enemy, and the direct attack type, which does not exist in the real world.
- In Zero Wing, the ZIG has a pair of invincible drones on either side that multiply its firepower and are particularly useful for absorbing homing missiles.
- In Robo Aleste, the player's Humongous Mecha comes pre-equipped with two satellite pods that hover in front. They destroy enemies on contact and can be launched outward, and also provide 100% of secondary fire.
- In M.U.S.H.A., options, once acquired, can be placed in six different formations. Only two options can be used at a time, though more can be kept as spares in case you lose a life.
- Area 6 in Bionic Commando has a Unique Enemy that sends remote-controlled mini-helicopters after you.
- Battlestar Galactica Online has these as a type of mook belonging to unaligned Precursors.
- Nanako from Acceleration of Video Game/SUGURI has a half-dozen of these drones orbiting her, which can swarm the opponent and bombard them with laser fire.
- In Acceleration of Suguri X-Edition, one of Suguri's alternate forms is Suguri-P, who also gets this capability.
- In Silver Surfer, you can collect orbs that attach to your surfboard and can be adjusted to fire in any of three directions, though only one can be deployed on horizontal levels.
- In Dark Orbit your drones are essentially just extra equipment slots, but look like this.
- Hovering laser drones are seen in the later levels of FEAR.
- X Multiply had a pair of pods that attached to either side of the ship by tentacles.
- In FTL: Faster Than Light, these come in several flavours (anti-ship, anti-personnel, dedicated drone Boarding Party), but need the appropriate subsystem to even start using.
- To elaborate, attack drones come in 3 flavors: Boarding Drones (Boarding, which actively attack enemy personnel once on board, and Intrusion, which stun enemy crew and deal ion damage to systems), Hacking Drones (Lock down systems and temporarily disrupt them or reverse their effects outright), and Combat Drones (MK I, which move about slowly and fire one laser before moving to fire again, and MK II, which move much more quickly). There are two inversions, however, in the Defense Drone series (MK I, which shoots down missiles and incoming boarding/hacking drones, and MK II, which fire faster and shoot down lasers/ion weapons in addition to having the capabilities of the MK I) and Ship-Board drones (System Repair, which automatically repair systems at about the same rate as an Engi, and Anti-Personnel, which do the same as standard Boarding Drones but hit the guys and drones that come on board your ship). Proper use of drones can mean the difference between victory over the Rebels or defeat at the hands of any of the innumerable dangers you'll inevitably encounter.
- End Of Nations has the Shadow Revolution use drones for both defense and assaults.
- Gaiares has the TOZ System. Not only does it help you get new weapons, it also fires out the weapon you have and it blocks shots!
- Genocide 2 has this in the form of a floating capsule named Betty.
- The baby dragons in Keio Flying Squadron.
- One of Fallout 3's companions is a Mister Gutsy robot named Sgt. RL-3. The Mothership Zeta add-on has Guardian Drones, which the player can make use of with the Drone Controller. Operation Anchorage features Chinese Spider Drones. In the final mission of Broken Steel, the Sentry Bots can be reprogrammed via terminal to fight on your side, although if you hit any of them with friendly fire, they will all turn hostile once again.
- The Robot Buddy ED-E in Fallout: New Vegas has this function, along with mobile storage and crafting tools. Ulysses, the boss of Lonesome Road, is supported by a pair of respawning Eyebots, which also provide repair and healing services to him.
- Wizball has the Catelite, a power-up cat which can shoot at enemies and, more importantly, can collect the paint drops some of them leave behind when they are defeated.
- Risk Of Rain has robot drones that the player can use gold to repair, they will fly around the player and shoot at any enemy in range or heal them. After taking enough damage they will break down and have to be repaired, which costs more money each time.
- Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory has the North Korean Army deploy a large number of flying drones armed with machine guns in the streets of Seoul once war breaks out. They can only be destroyed with a non-stealth loadout (only the F2000's shotgun or sniper attachments can take them out).
- Sigma Star Saga have weapon data which allows you to carry up to three attacker nodes, with an expense of the main plane's rapid fire rate.
- Quake IV has the spherical tripodal Convoy drones that roll onto the battlefield(similar to the Droidekas in the Star Wars prequels, but weaker).
- Gate of Thunder has two flanking drones that can be turned to fire backward instead of forward.
- Vector Thrust boasts the PDU-17, which carries a small machinegun onboard that it uses to spray its target with before ramming into it and exploding after it runs out of ammunition.
- Natraps X features the Gradius Options a couple times. First is in the original video when Rockman enters the Konami Code and fully powers-up a group of popcorn enemies to annihilate him. In "Final", Thomas destroys another set of enemies and gains an Option that mimics his punches and kicks, then immediately loses it to a poorly-timed roulette.
- In The Last Angel, Nemesis has built a small army of robotic hunter killers that allow her to put troops on the ground when she needs to and that function to defend her against boarding parties.
- And every one of them has been optimised over 2000 years by an hyper-intelligent AI to be the very best at what it does, up to and including psychological warfare.
- MSF High Forum: Orchid uses these primarily. Beam Spam as well, she's a mecha kitsune with nine tail funnels...
- Ilivais X: Ilivais Q has six teardrop-shaped REACT Drones mounted on the "hair".
- Transformers Generation 1: Optimus Prime's trailer (in truck form) can transform into a mini-base with turrets and launch a small car drone for spying.
- Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: The "tweakers" generated by "Doc" Hartford's Series 5 implant, each with their own function and personality.
- Played with in Futurama. Zapp introduces his new remote-controlled drones which don't need pilots. Leela is quick to point out that the machines do in fact have clearly visible pilots, to which Zapp responds that they're merely being used as ballast and can't actually control the drones.
- While drones are currently in service, they are, at military insistence, remote-controlled and only semi-autonomous (no Terminator scenario yet!). Most are built for reconnaissance missions, bomb defusals and troop recovery, but the Predator and Reaper are armed and definitely have confirmed kills to their name. The reason for their existence is explained above: so that nobody gets killed in a bloody conflict.
- And because they're so useful in conserving service personnel, all kinds of military services would want to use them in any combat theater, be it land, air or sea.
- Truly autonomous drones are currently only used for reconnaissance and surveillance missions where their long endurance truly makes them more effective that piloted aircraft. This is besides the fact that unarmed recon aircraft are always quite vulnerable to enemy attacks and unmanned systems are somewhat expendable.
- Older Than They Think. The earliest version of what you could call a drone or cruise missile was developed by the Americans during World War One. They didn't get the bugs worked out before war's end, and kept the whole project a secret until it was revived in World War II, with drones ranging from purpose-built prop-driven proto-cruise missiles, to four-engined bombers loaded up to the gills with explosives for one-way raids.
- The first one was the Kettering Bug, while the first successful one was the Fiesler Fi-103, aka the V-1. The explosive-crammed bombers were worn-out B-17 Flying Fortresses (Project Aphrodite), or US Navy PB4Y Liberators (Project Anvil) which were stripped down, fitted with two TV cameras and a radio control system for operating from a mothership controller. They were then piloted to the target area, where the pilot would then bail out and allow the controller to fly the plane into its target.
- Unfortunately, Anvil and Aphrodite were not as effective as planned. The remote control and detonation systems were faulty at best, and most of the planes either lost control during flight, or simply exploded in midair, sometimes with the pilot still inside. However, in the few instances that they DID work, the results were pretty spectacular; one such raid managed to literally vaporize an entire enemy fortress.
- This trope's Older Than Steam: Fireships (and the highly-explosive hellburners) were old or cheap sailing ships which were deliberately filled with flammable material, set on fire and sent among the enemy's fleet to disrupt formations and cause panic among enemy crewmen. Used effectively by the British against the Spanish Armada during the Battle of Gravelines.
- Although not actually designed for combat, police bomb-disposal robots are sometimes equipped with shotguns they can use to destroy locks that obstruct their access to an explosive device.
- The earliest attack drone is the Nazi German Goliath, a metal box on treads packed with explosives. It was moved by a man with a wired remote, when they spot a target they rigged it to explode once it reached its target.
- According to an informant, the Cosa Nostra Mafia experimented with remote-controlled aircraft loaded with explosives for use in assassinations during the early 1990s. Such plans never came to pass, if they even existed in the first place.
- The Soviet teletanks, which first saw combat in the Winter War, at the start of World War II. They were basically radio controlled light tanks which came in many variants. Standard tactics were for the control tank (with radio transmitter and operator) to stay back as far as practicable while the teletank approached the enemy. The control tank would provide fire support as well as protection for the radio control operator. If the enemy was successful at seizing the teletank, the control tank crew was instructed to destroy it with its main gun. Some variants were fitted with bombs for suicide attacks. When not in combat the teletank was driven manually.