"It's a nice gun, I'll give you that. But the engraving gives you no tactical advantage whatsoever. —Unless you were planning to auction it off as a collector's item."Many games rely on the concept of Evolving Weapon, alias weapons that can be upgraded and get stronger. Sometimes, they not only get more powerful, but they also become visually fancier and more elaborate, usually to better illustrate how they improved. Alternatively, the weapons you pick up become more and more elaborate as you proceed in your quest/in the game, again in order to underline their greater power. It probably makes sense, as a beautifully decorated katana with a runic blade is far more appealing than a simple iron shortsword. Note, however, that usually the "elaborate" part boils down to just the appearance of the weapon. While the weapon itself does grow stronger, the use/attack animation/whatever is still the same. Goes well with Bling of War which may follow the same concept of looking nicer as it gets better. May also be stretched to various Mooks who get better-looking equipment as they get stronger and stronger. Don't confuse with Evolving Weapon. See also Ace Custom. Also, before writing remember that this is mostly about the concept of the weapon looking more elaborate as they grow stronger. Speculations and discussions about how the decorations should influence the effectiveness of the weapon are pointless.
— Naked Snake to Revolver Ocelot, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
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- The Dynasty Warriors franchise has this, with the various weapons becoming bigger and more decorated as they're acquired. Good luck finding all of them!
- Samurai Warriors follows a similar concept: the stronger the weapon, the more elaborate it will look.
- Hyrule Warriors also has this trope. Each weapon type has 3 different tiers, with 3rd tier weapons being the strongest. Each tier looks far more elaborate and decorated than the last. Special note goes to Zelda's rapier. The level 1 version is a fairly plain rapier, the level 2 features a wing motif in the cross guard, the level 3 features an elaborate golden guard in the motif of the royal family crest that is larger than Zelda's head.
- And again with Sengoku Basara, which however subverts this in some cases with Yoshihiro (his giant sword becomes an equally big spiked club then an axe), Musashi (his Oar&Bokuto combo becomes a pair of plain katana) and Sasuke (from three-bladed Fuuma Shuriken to circular chainsaw-like blades.) Dulcis in Fundo, some weapons (expecially in the first game) turns out to fit the Joke Item category.
- Furthermore, the manga of the first game has this: Yukimura, Shingen, Mitsuhide and Nouhime are seen using more and more elaborate weapons token from the actual game.
- In God of War this happens with the Blade of Chaos, the Blades of Athena and the Artemis Sword. Is otherwise averted with the other weapons.
- Used in the first three Onimusha games with the Oni weapons, bequeathed by benevolent demons. Your default blade is a plain katana.
- The fourth game avert this, as the weapon design is unchanged.
- In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time the main swords used by the prince gets more and more elaborate, starting from a boring palace sword and ending up with the royal Infinity +1 Sword that annihilates all mooks in one blow.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask your sword starts out pretty plain looking. When you upgrade it once, it now has two blades and a more decorative hilt. Upgrading it a second time, the sword now has a gold-colored diamond pattern along the blade and a fancier handle still. There's also an unlockable fourth sword that's technicolored and has black roses etched onto the blade, and also a sword Link uses in one of his transformations has two blades that are shaped as a double-helix.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is about the creation of the Master Sword. You start with the basic Goddess Sword, and throughout the game it gets refined by three sacred flames, evolving each time, until it eventually ends with the Master Sword.
- The shields also become more elaborate as they get upgraded. Each gets a new, more detailed design on the front, and in the case of wooden and iron shields, extra metal bands.
- Zigzagged in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Weapons generally go from simply-designed to elaborate as they get stronger. But the Royal Guard weapons, while described as stronger than the Royal weapons from which they were modified, also have much lower durability. And the Master Sword is considerably less flashy-looking than most weapons but is also one of the most reliable.
- In [PROTOTYPE 2] Heller's Shapeshifter Weapons become larger, fancier and more menacing when upgraded to second and fourth (final) levels.
- In Genji, Yoshitsune's standard swords (those found in normal gameplay without item forging or unlocking secrets) will slowly look better and better, with the tip broadening a little, culminating in the Douji Killer sword, which is so elaborate and evolved that it doesn't look like a katana anymore. The same goes for most of Benkei's clubs or spears.
First Person Shooter
- From Team Fortress 2 the Engineer's Sentry Gun and Dispenser are the most obvious, and all of the pickup or craftable weapons are more decorative than usual. Downplayed in that, rare exceptions aside, non-stock weapons are side-grades or purely cosmetic model/texture swaps rather than straight upgrades.
- BioShock is a perfect example. As you upgrade your weapons at "Power to the People" stations, the look of your gun gets more and more elaborate. The Tommy Gun getting a drum-barrel magazine when you upgrade its clip size is just one example.
- Zig-zagged in Unreal: getting powerups for the Dispersion Pistol evolves it from Ranged Emergency Weapon to Hand Cannon in five distinct steps. The "elaborate" part is played straight, as each upgrade adds more bells and whistles to its design, but "effective" is subverted, as the increase in power and ammo capacity never catch up with the drawbacks of decreased firing speed and increased ammo consumption per shot.
- In MapleStory, this is extremely evident. The very first weapon that a player receives upon choosing a class usually looks the most dull and unappealing (albeit looking relatively realistic). As the player grows stronger and obtains stronger weapons, their designs just keep getting flashier and more extravagant, to the point where it sometimes obscures the character's face!
- In World of Warcraft more powerful weapons tend to be more exotic-looking and elaborate. The same goes for armors and shoulderpads, often to a ridicolous extent.
- Level 50 weapons in ''Final Fantasy XIV suddenly become elaborately designed works of art compared to the simple weapons you were using up to level 49.
- Warframe has the Prime frames and weapons. All finely decorated with shiny energy bits, gold trimmings and other fine materials (the weapons look like they're made of ivory or porcelain), yet much more effective than the basic variants, be it in terms of mod capacity and polarities, innate bonuses or raw capacities. Justified as they are relics from the Orokin era.
- Shown above in Alice: Madness Returns, where unlike the previous game her weapons can now evolve and get a better design. There's also a secret downloadable weapon with a different design for each one of them.
- All your arsenal in the Ratchet & Clank series will improve in both strength and design, but only up to a certain level.
- In Jazz Jackrabbit 2 all your ammo (except for the electrical gun) can be upgraded if you break the right crate. The new ammo is more powerful and looks a little better in design.
- In The Elder Scrolls series, the effectiveness of a weapon can usually be easily judged just by looking at it. A standard, realistic iron or steel weapon will invariably be less powerful than the iridescent green Glass weapons, the gold-inlaid Ebony weapons, or the spiky, dark-grey-and-red Daedric weapons. Artifact weapons are often, though not always, even more impressive.
- Drakengard has the weapons become more elaborate as they level up.
- Subverted in Dragon Quest VIII and IX: some weapons can be upgraded in their "super" form (for example the Zombie Killer becomes the Zombie Buster and so on). However, the upgraded weapon looks just like the original, or it gets a different color pattern.
- In Fable III your starting weapons gain certain decorations as you level them up, befriend villagers, amass wealth, kill zombies, etc.
- In Titan Quest this is applied mainly with the armor, shields and helmets of various kinds. For example the stronger version of the Corinthian Helmet (a typical greek helm) is the same helmet but now bigger and with a different color and crest. A number of monster-specific and rare pieces subvert this trope by being either rough and jury-rigged (the former) or elegant and stylized (the latter) compared to top tier normal items.
- Diablo II too has this with armor: the more powerful the armor, the more parts of your body will cover. A slight exception is the strongest one, the Ancient Armor, which leaves the character with a "top level" armor type all over his body except for the left shoulder, which looks like as if armorless.
- Diablo and its emulators (Torchlight, Hellgate: London'', etc) have weapon types and models that repeat over several series. Later weapons are more elaborate than the first ones, but after that it blurs into subjectivity whether they're more elaborate or effective. However Legendaries have unique and more elaborate models that tell you at a glance they're more powerful. Then there's an inversion with some idiosyncratic uniques; they might do something cool, but aren't more effective for regular use than something of equal or even lesser tier.
- The higher the enhancement bonus of a weapon in Neverwinter Nights, the more impressive it will look.
- While the fact that the weapons are displayed only in sprites, Secret of Mana displays this trope through its upgradable weapon system. In some cases this involves changing one weapon into a completely new one (as an example, the standard Boomerang can be forged into a Shuriken after progressing through a certain number of tiers).
- Golden Sun plays this straight by making the weapons' unleash abilities (critical hits) become fancier and more flashy as you find better weapons while the weapons themselves look very plain. This is due to sprite limitations. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn plays the trope straight.
- The Kingdom Hearts games feature this trope with its Keyblades, though unusually for this trope, the evolution of the designs aren't gradual, but instead tend to come in leaps. The designs start a simple default weapon that looks like a stylized skeleton key, then you get the basic upgrades, which are whimsically designed "keys" based on Disney or Square Enix properties. Then you get to the Infinity Plus One Swords which are covered in intricate filigree. Compare the default, generic Keyblade, which very much looks like a key, to the Ultima Weapon, which vaguely resembles a key, but looks more like a very elaborately-designed sword.
- In Persona 3: FES, fused weapons and special weapons are much more fancy than regular ones. They're also much more effective due to bonus status effects, which you get to choose on the fused weapons (including lessening or negating your party's weaknesses). Each Infinity +1 Sword is the greatest, most elaborate fused weapon of its class.
- Most Final Fantasy games from the PlayStation era onward would feature this in some form.
- Not exactly a weapon example, but many military units from Battle for Wesnoth becomes more and more detailed and well-armed as they gain levels.
- Not exactly ingame, but those ads for Urban Rivals that show the character going from vaguely Harry Potter-esque mage to firebird-with-a-sword might count, there's also a thin redhead soldier gaining muscles and facial hair until he has a giant beard and flamethrower bagpipes.
- Seen in Age of Empires, especially with the swordsmen in the first game and the infantry in the second game (starting from a club wielding militian to a chainmail-wearing warrior with shield and longsword to a full-plated guy with a giant sword).
- Mortal soldiers from Age of Mythology. For example, an early Greek Hoplite will be a random guy with a big spear. As you buy and research more technology, he'll start gaining more armor, helmet and a shield. Also the colors indicated the general quality, with golden weapons and armors at the top.
- An old 4X space game, Spaceward Ho! includes designing your own ships. The various aspects of the ship (speed, gunpower, etc) are scalable and the higher the number, the more awesome the ship ends up looking.
- In Clash of Clans, buildings and troops get fancier looking as they are upgraded. A good example is the walls going from wooden stakes on their first level, to electric pylons at their highest level.
- The weapon and armor upgrade icons in Warcraft III are increasingly elaborate as they get better, the last one glowing for Alliance and Horde weapons.
- In the sequel of Dungeons a perfect example is given with the Ghosts' evolution line: they start with the Fright, a cute girl in a tattered gray dress carrying a knife, to the Banshee, a young girl with improbable hairstyle, a longer gray dress and a sickle and finally the Black Death, a stunning gothic beauty with a gorgeous black dress, bone wings and a giant scythe. More noticeable as the base pattern (a ghostly girl with a weapon) is kept.
- The Mobile version of Dungeon Keeper applies this trope to units (except Immortals), rooms (Except the Guard Post) and doors. Rooms become more decorated and better looking as they power up (the Graveyard starts as a dirt hill with a single tomb on it and slowly evolves into a giant stone crypt), while units will start to look more and more menacing and even gain accessories (Trolls get bigger, fiery hammers along with leather aprons and iron masks, Wizards gain more elaborated robes and staves, Mistresses get skimpier outfits with spiked bras and domino masks and so on).
Third Person Shooter
- In Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, when you buy a upgrade for one of your guns, the upgrade is reflected by the gun's appearance changing. For example, when you buy the upgrade to increase the clip size, the gun will have a larger magazine.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, the basic-looking weapons of each class are generally more balanced as far as that class of weapons goes,note while more stylistic weapons are more specialized. The Three Sacred Treasures are absolutely beautiful and all around lethal note and the Great Sacred Treasure is a whole 'nother kettle of Feyesh.note
- Warframe runs the gamut. Event-exclusive Wraith and Vandal weapons, as well as Syndicate weapons, just get a fancy new paint job. Prime weapons, on the other hand, get decked out in all kinds of gold ornamentation. While most of them still resemble their vanilla counterparts at the core, a few (such as the Latron Prime and Paris Prime) are nearly unrecognizable. All of the variants mentioned feature statistical improvements over their standard counterparts, although the exact nature of the upgrade varies from weapon to weapon.
Wide Open Sandbox
- In Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row IV, most weapons get more and more elaborate as they get upgraded. Some just get sillier such as the flashbang which , at max level of upgrades, turns into the Fart in the Jar. Beware the stench. It smells so rancid that it forces all who inhale its odor to vomit.
- The Zorg ZF-1 in The Fifth Element.
- Played straight in Zoids most of the time. Earlier Zoids tended to be little more than cockpits and guns attached to wheels or sticks vaguely resembling legs. Naturally early Zoids tend to pale in comparison to more modern Zoids which in addition to more elaborate, organic-looking designs, also have more guns, better guns, better armor, and better technology in general. As an example, compare the Garius◊ to the more modern Gojulas◊. For extra fun, compare both to the even more advanced Gojulas Giga◊.
- Parodied in the webcomic Rusty and Co.: The +1 Trident is actually a rake.
- Averted in Berserk. Before he leaves The Blacksmith, Guts receives a gift, an awesome-looking flamberge with waved edges. Just then, an Apostle attacks, and the sword proves completely ineffective against it. Then Guts happens to find what will become his Dragonslayer: a huge wedge of iron that only needs to be swung into the enemy for decapitations and skull-crushing.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Played very straight with the orks, although in their case it's more Effective Equals Elaborate: they'll add stuff like steel plates or giant bayonets or extra barrels that makes the weapon much more effective.
- Master-crafted weapons and armor are much more effective than standard equipment, and is ususally decorated with inspirational imagery.
- A bad roll on determining equipment occasionally gives standard weapons that are just prettier than normal, with no increase in effectiveness.
- Discworld has the cast discuss this trope. Sergeant Colon is of the opinion that the really shiny and fancy swords kings are usually depicted with wouldn't really be all that useful, and when in real need of a weapon, a king's sword would probably be an unassuming but very sharp blade. He is correct: Carrot's sword is the sword of a king, and it appears perfectly ordinary but is extremely effective when put to use.
- In Real Life this is partially played straight: Just compare a stone age spear to a medieval ranseur, or a bronze age sword with a Sengoku-period Katana, or a blunderbuss to a modern rifle. Of course, this can also lead to cases of Awesome, but Impractical weapons if they get too elaborate, and in cases of prolonged conflict and dwindling funds, such as for many coutries involved in World War II, military weapons will usually sacrifice as much unnecessary form as possible without affecting function.
- Before the industrial era form and function tended to go hand in hand with form often leading as development was funded by noblemen without scientific backgrounds, who needed new weapons to look dangerous before agreeing to an investment. Once mass production and optimization became important the decorations disappeared very quickly.
- Also, if you're going to go to all the effort to make something high quality, you might as well pay a little extra to make it look nice. Conversely, if you can't afford to make it high quality, how could you afford to make it look good?