[[quoteright:180:[[VideoGame/AliceMadnessReturns http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/180px-PepperUpgrades_87.png]]]]

->''"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."''
-->-- '''Naked Snake''' to '''Revolver Ocelot''', ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater''

Many games rely on the concept of EvolvingWeapon, 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 [[KatanasAreJustBetter 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 BlingOfWar 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 [[SortingAlgorithmOfEvil stronger and stronger]].

Don't confuse with EvolvingWeapon. See also AceCustom. 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.


* The ''VideoGame/DynastyWarriors'' franchise has this, with the various weapons becoming bigger and more decorated as they're acquired. [[GuideDangIt Good luck finding all of them!]]
** ''VideoGame/SamuraiWarriors'' follows a similar concept: the stronger the weapon, the more elaborate it will look.
** ''VideoGame/HyruleWarriors'' 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.
* [[RuleOfThree And again with]] ''VideoGame/SengokuBasara'', 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 FuumaShuriken to circular [[ChainsawGood chainsaw-like]] blades.) Dulcis in Fundo, some weapons (expecially in the first game) turns out to fit the JokeItem 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 ''VideoGame/GodOfWar'' 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 ''VideoGame/{{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 ''VideoGame/PrinceOfPersiaTheSandsOfTime'' the main swords used by the prince gets more and more elaborate, starting from a boring palace sword and ending up with the royal InfinityPlusOneSword that annihilates all mooks in one blow.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'' 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.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'' 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 ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild''. 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 ''VideoGame/{{Prototype 2}}'' Heller's {{Shapeshifter Weapon}}s become larger, fancier and more menacing when upgraded to second and fourth (final) levels.
* In ''VideoGame/{{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.

[[folder:First Person Shooter]]
* From ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' the Engineer's Sentry Gun and Dispenser are the most obvious, and all of the pickup or craftable weapons are more decorative than usual. [[DownplayedTrope Downplayed]] in that, rare exceptions aside, non-stock weapons are [[SituationalSword side-grades]] or purely cosmetic model/texture swaps rather than straight upgrades.
* ''VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}}'' 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 ''VideoGame/{{Unreal|I}}'': getting [[EquipmentUpgrade powerups for the Dispersion Pistol]] evolves it from RangedEmergencyWeapon to HandCannon 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 ''VideoGame/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 ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' 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 ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIV'' suddenly become elaborately designed works of art compared to the simple weapons you were using up to level 49.
* ''VideoGame/{{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 [[SocketedEquipment mod capacity and polarities]], innate bonuses or raw capacities. Justified as they are relics from the [[{{Precursors}} Orokin era]].

* Shown above in ''VideoGame/AliceMadnessReturns'', 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 ''Franchise/RatchetAndClank'' series will improve in both strength and design, but only up to a certain level.
* In ''VideoGame/JazzJackrabbit 2'' all your ammo (except for the [[ShockAndAwe 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 ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' 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 [[PowerGlows iridescent green Glass weapons]], the [[BlingOfWar gold-inlaid Ebony weapons]], or the [[SpikesOfVillainy spiky]], [[GoodColorsEvilColors dark-grey-and-red]] [[EvilWeapon Daedric weapons]]. [[LegendaryWeapon Artifact weapons]] are often, [[ExcaliburInTheRust though not always]], even more impressive.
* ''VideoGame/{{Drakengard}}'' has the weapons become more elaborate as they level up.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVIII'' and ''[[VideoGame/DragonQuestIX IX]]'': some weapons can be upgraded in their "super" form (for example the [[HolyHandGrenade 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 ''VideoGame/{{Fable III}}'' your [[EvolvingWeapon starting weapons]] gain certain decorations as you level them up, befriend villagers, amass wealth, kill zombies, etc.
* In ''VideoGame/TitanQuest'' 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.
* ''VideoGame/DiabloII'' 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 (''{{VideoGames/Torchlight}}, ''VideoGames/HellgateLondon'', 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 ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights'', the more impressive it will look.
* While the fact that the weapons are displayed only in sprites, ''VideoGame/SecretOfMana'' 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).
* ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' 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. ''VideoGame/GoldenSunDarkDawn'' plays the trope straight.
* The ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' 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 Sword}}s which are covered in intricate filigree. Compare [[http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/kingdomhearts/images/3/30/Kingdom_Key_KH.png/revision/latest?cb=20110202212252 the default, generic Keyblade]], which very much looks like a key, to [[http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/kingdomhearts/images/8/88/Ultima_Weapon_KHII.png/revision/20101024091253 the Ultima Weapon,]] which vaguely resembles a key, but looks more like a very elaborately-designed sword.
* In ''VideoGame/{{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 InfinityPlusOneSword is the greatest, most elaborate fused weapon of its class.
* Most ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' games from the UsefulNotes/PlayStation era onward would feature this in some form.

* Not exactly a weapon example, but many military units from ''VideoGame/BattleForWesnoth'' becomes more and more detailed and well-armed as they gain levels.
* Not exactly ingame, but those ads for ''VideoGame/UrbanRivals'' that show the character going from vaguely Literature/HarryPotter-esque [[http://urban-rivals.wikia.com/wiki/Kenny#Pictures 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 ''VideoGame/AgeOfEmpires'', 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 ''VideoGame/AgeOfMythology''. 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 FourX space game, ''VideoGame/SpacewardHo'' 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 ''VideoGame/ClashOfClans'', 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 ''VideoGame/WarcraftIII'' are increasingly elaborate as they get better, the last one ''glowing'' for Alliance and Horde weapons.
* In the sequel of ''VideoGame/{{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 ''VideoGame/DungeonKeeper'' 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).

[[folder:Third Person Shooter]]
* In ''VideoGame/TransformersFallOfCybertron'', 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 ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising'', the basic-looking weapons of each class are generally more balanced as far as ''that class'' of weapons goes,[[note]]First Blade, Fortune Bow, Standard Orbitars, Violet Palm, EZ Cannon, Insight Staff, Crusher Arm, Ore Club, and Tiger Claws are the 'sample' weapon of each type[[/note]] while more ''stylistic'' weapons are more specialized. The [[InfinityPlusOneSword Three Sacred Treasures]] are absolutely ''beautiful'' and all around ''lethal'' [[note]]Ornes, normally invulnerable, can ''and will'' die from a single Arrow of Light[[/note]] and the [[TransformingMecha Great Sacred Treasure]] is a whole 'nother kettle of [[VideoGame/SuperSmashBros Feyesh]].[[note]]BeamSpam, anyone?[[/note]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Warframe}}'' runs the gamut. Event-exclusive Wraith and Vandal weapons, as well as Syndicate weapons, just get a fancy new paint job. [[LostTechnology Prime weapons]], on the other hand, get decked out in all kinds of [[BlingBlingBang 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.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Deconstructed in ''VisualNovel/FateHollowAtaraxia'': Avenger's weapons are a pair of really nasty-looking, strangely-shaped claw swords named [[http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/typemoon/images/1/1f/Tawzar.png/revision/latest?cb=20130618154519 Tawrich and Zarich]]. He remarks that the strange shape makes them near-useless in actual combat, though he does manage to put up a decent showing with them regardless.

* In ''VideoGame/SaintsRowTheThird'' and ''VideoGame/SaintsRowIV'', 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.

[[folder:Other Media]]
* The Zorg ZF-1 in ''Film/TheFifthElement.''
* Played straight in ''Franchise/{{Zoids}}'' most of the time. Earlier [[HumongousMecha 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 [[MoreDakka more guns]], better guns, better armor, and [[TechnologyMarchesOn better technology in general]]. As an example, compare the [[http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20091015202621/zoids/images/b/b6/Ojrgarius.jpg Garius]] to the more modern [[http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130819112732/zoids/images/e/e0/20130819_709552.jpg Gojulas]]. For extra fun, compare both to the even more advanced [[http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20081214021924/zoids/images/f/f3/Fgiga.jpg Gojulas Giga.]]
* Parodied in the {{webcomic}} ''WebComic/RustyAndCo'': The +1 Trident is actually a rake.
* Averted in ''Manga/{{Berserk}}''. Before he leaves TheBlacksmith, 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.
* ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'':
** 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.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' has the cast [[DiscussedTrope 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. [[spoiler: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.]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In RealLife 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 AwesomeButImpractical weapons if they get too elaborate, and in cases of prolonged conflict and dwindling funds, such as for many coutries involved in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, 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?