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Emergency Weapon
One of the few times SPOON!! is an appropriate battle cry.
"...While this may not be the case of every 3D game out there, the overwhelming majority feel the need to equip you with an axe, a chainsaw, a cleaver, a dagger, a @!#%'n tuba, I don't care. All these games give you a something when you're out of ammo. I don't know why. Whatever happened to being a p***y and kicking dirt like I do?"
— Reason #1 as to why 3D games are not like real life, 3D Games - Realistic My Ass.

The problem with having Breakable Weapons (or non-Bottomless Magazines) is that, if you run out of weapons, the game becomes practically Unwinnable. To work around this, many developers are nice enough to give you a weapon with unlimited ammo to use in case of emergencies. It may not be as flashy or powerful as your main arsenal, but it's there when you need to get out of a jam.

Often, this weapon is your bare hands, because if you "run out" of bare hands, you probably have a lot more trouble on your, um, hands already than your limited weapons.

In First-Person Shooter games, this weapon might be a melee weapon which, in many cases, is so dangerous to use and/or uselessly weak that it isn't much better than nothing. Other shooting games give you a small (equally weak) gun with infinite ammo.

Some stock emergency weapons are:

Note that many FPS / RPG games have skills devoted to these weapons alongside the other ones, giving as much utility (and sometimes more) as the ammo-consuming sort.

Normally emergency weapons are the province of a ranged fighter or a melee fighter with breakable weapons. However, a few melee fighters like to keep their options for ranged combat open just in case they find themselves at the wrong range, leading to the Ranged Emergency Weapon.

This can be averted with Boss Arena Recovery, allowing the player to restock their weapons/ammunition midbattle.

Not to be confused with Hidden Weapons, although they may overlap.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    First Person Shooter 
  • Many First-Person Shooter games, at least those before Quick Melee became popular, have a unique melee weapon - often a random object that the protagonist uses like a club - which becomes iconic for the series, such as the crowbar from Half-Life
  • Doom actually includes two melee weapons: plain old fists, and a powerful chainsaw. It also includes Berserk Packs which make your punches ten times stronger, enough to instantly gib smaller enemies. Doom 3 has a similar powerup for the fists, but in addition to killing enemies instantly, it also slowed down time and made you invincible. Of course, it was only available twice in the entire game, and it was accompanied by some rather disturbing screaming.
    • Doom 3 also adds the flashlight, which deals twice as much damage as the fists and actually lets you see what you're doing, but swings twice as slowly (and, in the PC version, has shorter range). Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil adds the Grabber, which can be used to grab barrels, crates, and even most enemy projectiles and fire them back at the sender, and in addition its Soul Cube analogue gives the same bonuses as the above-mentioned power-up from the base game, depending on how many of the Hunters you've killed.
  • Chex Quest, based on the Doom engine, has the "Boot Spoon", pictured above, which can do some Zorch damage to enemies when used. Being a game about cereal, it makes sense... kinda.
  • In Marathon, you have your fists (one per mouse button) to rely on. Interestingly, by giving yourself a running start, you can do increased damage and take out weaker enemies with surprising speed; it's kind of funny to repeatedly berserker-charge an alien soldier and punch him in the face, and funnier when it makes pretty short work of the guy.
  • In Hexen, each of the classes has a different infinite-ammo starting weapon. The Fighter's fists are actually quite potent (they even have a combo attack), but the Cleric's mace is a joke. The Mage is unique because his Sapphire Wand is a ranged weapon - it fires extremely fast shots that pierce enemies, quite fast and with deadly precision. Technically it does less damage than any other attack in the game, but it fires quickly and in many cases (mainly crowd control) it is more useful than his spells. All of the starting weapons share one important quality: they can't be bounced back at you. One common mook species and some bosses have shields which can reflect missiles, but the none of the above weapons can be reflected.
  • Rainbow Six: Lockdown and the Vegas games feature pistols with infinite magazines (although limited shots per magazines), but considering the fact that in Vegas you can carry two 'primary' weapons with upwards of ten full magazines for each, there's really no excuse for running out of ammo (unless you over-specialize one of them). Though it does make you look much more Bad Ass.
    • Medal of Honor: Airborne and the 2010 reboot do the same.
    • Airborne also lets you stomp on enemies during your parachute descent, making you lethal before your feet even touch the ground. Section 8, which has all players drop in from orbit when they spawn, does much the same.
  • The Half-Life series has the crowbar for every game except Opposing Force, which gives you a slower but more powerful pipe wrench, and later a combat knife that works just like the crowbar.
  • Half-Life 2 also has the Gravity Gun, which has infinite uses and can turn any loose object in the environment into a lethal projectile, from boxes, oil drums, old tires, and iron stakes to giant buzzsaw blades, exploding barrels, and enemy grenades. Quite a fun weapon! Buzzsaw blades are particularly useful for bisecting crowds of zombies with one attack.
  • Halo has the inventive solution of letting you use your guns as melee weapons; a melee attack dealt to a sleeping or unaware enemy is a One-Hit Kill. This has become somewhat popular in games such as Gears of War, where your main gun has a built-in chainsaw bayonet for just this purpose. Also found in the earlier Call of Duty games.
    • Halo 2 and Halo 3 have weapons that only function in melee (specifically, an energy sword and a gravity hammer), but they have limited energy. Both are still usable as blunt objects once they run out, but the sword is no longer a near-instant kill and the hammer loses its knock-back ability.
  • In Darkwatch, every weapon had some bladed or spiked component to allow it to be used in melee.
    • For those few situations where a bayonet will not do, breech teeth.
  • In Golden Eye 1997, Bond can deliver a swift karate chop to take down enemies if he ran out of ammo.
    • A karate chop to the back of the neck is more powerful than any other single attack in the game, with the exception of the Golden Gun of course.
    • In its spiritual successor, Goldeneye Rogue Agent, the player is provided with a pistol with infinite ammunition, in addition to a few of the lethal uses for your golden eye.
  • Some newer games are providing very useful backup melee attacks. Counter-Strike, the Battlefield series and later Call of Duty games feature a knife that is an instant kill, and F.E.A.R. not only has pistol whips and rifle butts but also jump and slide kicks that are instant kills.
  • In Painkiller, the emergency weapon is the titular Painkiller. It's actually quite useful — its rapid-fire melee hits can keep an enemy from attacking, and its ranged secondary is powerful enough to kill most weaker enemies in one hit on Normal difficulty... and you can also fire it at a wall to create an unstoppable laser to fry your enemies by keeping the Painkiller pointed at the "hook".
    • Its "combo" attack (launching the blade extended and spinning at low speed) has even higher damage and pierces shields and armor, though it's too slow for anything but sniping. The Painkiller's also the preferred weapon for corpse juggling, which can shake gems out of defeated enemies to give you some extra gold.
  • Team Fortress 2 has a different melee weapon for every single class - A baseball bat for the Scout, an entrenchment shovel for the Soldier, a wrench for the Engineer, a Butterfly Knife for the Spy, a Kukri for the Sniper, a bonesaw for the Medic, a whiskey bottle for the Demoman, a fire axe for the Pyro, and bare fists for the Heavy. The 'unlockables' added in subsequent patches provide alternative melee weaponry on top of these.
    • Inverted with the Spy class however: the Spy's ability to Backstab makes the butterfly knife his primary weapon most of the time, while his Revolver, while still powerful, is the Emergency Weapon in case he gets caught. In fact, the Item Crafting system categorized Spy knives as primary weapon.
    • Indeed, the unlockables in the game can end up being that character's secondary or even primary weapon! For example, the "DemoKnight", in which the Demoman trades in his Bottle for various swords, his Stickybomb Launcher for a shield which grants him a Foe-Tossing Charge, and sometimes even his Grenade Launcher for Tricked-Out Shoes that give some extra health and the ability to turn while charging with the shield.
      • It seems the game is deliberately programmed to enforce this trope: one of the Spy's unlockable weapons is an icicle that, when the Spy is lit on fire, melts to grant the Spy immunity to fire for two seconds. Normally the icicle takes an additional 13 seconds to regenerate, but in Medieval Mode, where the Spy has no other weapon slots, the icicle regenerates instantly.
  • Duke Nukem 3D had Duke's Mighty Foot, which was, oddly enough, more powerful than the pistol. In fact, in the original version of the game, it was possible to set your weapon to kick and use both that and the quick-kick button at the same time, giving the impression of dropkicking the enemy several times in succession or doing That Russian Squat Dance (dealing great damage in the meantime). If you do the same while auto-kicking a frozen enemy, you can get three legs on screen!
    • Not to mention being a one-hit kill when used in combination with the shrink weapon - squish is the byword.
  • Serious Sam starts the player off with an incredibly powerful knife and a rather less powerful infinite-ammo revolver.
    • Second Encounter adds a chainsaw to the mix, though it has to be acquired first.
    • 2, in addition to the chainsaw and dual revolvers, has the Zap Gun.
    • BFE gives Sam a sledgehammer.
  • Dark Forces has a fist you can fall back on. At one point you're expected to kill a big angry lizard called a Kell Dragon or two with it. Its sequel, Jedi Knight, starts with your fists as a backup... and then you get the lightsaber, which never needs recharging and is probably the most useful and powerful weapon in the game bar none. Incidentally, in Jedi Knight, the only things that can hurt the lone Kell Dragon you can encounter are explosives and the lightsaber—energy weapon shots bounce off its skin. In the expansion pack, Mysteries of the Sith, you start with the lightsaber. The sequel to that, Jedi Outcast, has you starting out with a stun baton (cattle prod) as a backup weapon, which is actually useful against certain types of enemies, and then you get the lightsaber and never look back. Finally, the sequel to that, Jedi Academy, once again has you with a lightsaber from the beginning. In one mission, however, it's taken away from you and you have to kill the guy who imprisoned you to get it back.
  • The difference between Deus Ex and most first-person perspective shooters is readily apparent in its "backup weapons"—the infinite-ammunition close-combat weapons remain at least marginally useful to the end of the game. This is especially after completing the mission for one of the Triads—you get a melee nanotech light saber.
    • With correct augments (combat strength, bullet resistance, fast running, etc) this trope is subverted and they become very, very, VERY deadly. Not many games let you frontal charge an assault bot armed with miniguns and rockets with a sword — and win. Comfortably and easily.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution gives you takedowns, with a twist: you have to have at least one full energy cell to use a takedown, meaning there are times when you don't have the energy to take out an opponent. However, your last energy cell doubles as an emergency energy cell: it takes 40 seconds to reach a full charge after emptying it (upgradable to 20 seconds), meaning that with enough patience, you can punch or stab everyone in the game (except for three of the bosses) without worrying about recharging your batteries.
  • In Unreal, the basic weapon automatically recharges itself over time can be upgraded over the course of the game into a pretty devastating (though slow) weapon.
  • The Unreal Tournament series has the Impact Hammer, a pneumatic weapon that can deal devastating close-range damage, be used to Rocket Jump, and if you're really good, deflect certain projectiles.
    • The Translocator, meant for quickly escaping from certain death or getting around to otherwise-unreachable areas, can also be used as an emergency weapon if the need arises, since you can Tele-Frag anyone with it, but since you instead kill yourself when attempting to teleport to a disc that's been shot, it's more dangerous to try.
    • Unreal Tournament 2004 replaces the Impact Hammer with a Shield Gun that is basically the same thing but with alternate fire changed to a shield with 100 health that recharges when not active.
  • Quake II provides the blaster which, despite being an "advanced technology" energy weapon, is quite weak. The Hyperblaster, which isn't an emergency weapon in that it actually hungrily uses up ammunition, is a much more useful variant that emits the same plasma bolts, but at a much higher rate than the Blaster.
  • Unlike most FPS games, BioShock's wrench is arguably the most useful weapon in the game. With the proper upgrades, it allows you to effortlessly kill Big Daddies as well.
  • Same with BioShock, System Shock 2's wrench can be very deadly with proper upgrades. Or you can just change to laser rapier or alien crystal if you want.
    • In System Shock 2, learning to properly use the wrench is actually a requisite of completing the Impossible setting as buying upgrades becomes prohibitively expensive in cyber modules (making energy or exotic weapon skill an utter folly to pursue), enemies can take more damage than ever before, specialized ammo supplies dwindle to a trickle (especially precious armor-piercing bullets) and vending machine prices for extra ammo will make you think twice about spending your nanites like they're going out of style.
  • Prey gives you both a pipe wrench and an alien hybrid machine gun/sniper rifle that can slowly recharge one clip worth of ammo when you run out.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando has melee attacks associated with every weapon via the melee quick-hit button. The default Commando-issue Swiss Army Rifle includes a deadly strike with the retractable blade in the left glove, while other weapons resort to beaning your enemies with them. The actual emergency weapon slot is the DC-15s pistol that you fall back on if you manage to run out of ammo for all your weapons. It has infinite ammo, a recharge time, and about zero usefulness other than saving ammo. Actually Pistol-Whipping with said pistol is the weakest melee attack in the game (which wouldn't be so bad, except you can't switch to an empty weapon should you want to melee with that one instead); the console versions won't even let you use it if you've picked up something besides the aforementioned rifle until you're totally out of ammo for it.
  • The starting weapon in Far Cry 2 is an enormous machete the Big Bad slammed into the wall just above your head. Any attack from stealth with it will either kill or critically wound the target, but they'll usually shout and give away your position before they die.
  • Crysis allows you to use your fists as melee weapons in addition to a Pistol-Whipping quick-hit button. While this may sound fairly unimpressive, remember that the Player Character is clad in Powered Armor and can punch holes in brick walls. As a result, your fists wind up being one of the most lethal weapons in the game; a single punch in Strength Mode is a One-Hit Kill to everything except bosses.
    • In Strength Mode, you can also throw barrels/crates, debris, and even enemy Mooks at each other as your Emergency Weapon.
    • Crysis 2 does away with having fists in a melee weapon slot, but combines more functions into the quick-hit button. Tapping it deals a regular punch, holding it down launches a Strength Mode kick (Strength Mode is no longer a separate suit mode), and pressing it while behind an enemy deals an instant-kill Backstab.
  • Command & Conquer: Renegade had the silenced Falcon pistol. However, its status as an emergency weapon varies across the game; early on if you can consistently nail headshots it's the most useful weapon you could possibly have, but later on when you're up against multiple armored foes at a time (or in multiplayer), it falls purely into this trope.
    • On the other hand, at one point you can use it to cherry tap a tank.
  • Tron 2.0 gives you, in addition to the iconic Disc weapon, three other base weapons and a number of modifiers for all four weapons. However, using a modifier or a different weapon consumes energy, which is also used for tasks like recovering files from storage bins, so you'll find yourself using the unmodified Disc through most of the game. (It helps that it's a solid all-around weapon, as well as a defense against other Disc attacks.)
  • Heretic gives you a wooden staff you can poke enemies with and the much more useful Gauntlets of the Necromancer which can electrocute enemies at close range. The latter is especially useful when combined with a Tome of Power, as the gauntlets will heal you for the damage you deal.
  • Left 4 Dead has a pistol as your backup weapon that has unlimited ammo and it's the only weapon that you can use if you are downed. Grabbing a second pistol gives you Guns Akimbo.
  • In Alien Trilogy, when all out of ammo, your pistol will still be able to fire, but you have to reload between each shot. It's like you have an infinite number of one-bullet magazines.
  • In Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold you start off with the Auto Charge Pistol. It's very weak and can only fire one shot at a time, but it automatically recharges (giving effectively infinite ammo) and has stealth capability (firing it does not alert other enemies).
  • Singularity starts you off with the knife, which is almost useless and truly only for desperation or self-imposed challenge. It's shortly replaced with the Time Manipulation Device, which has the Impulse attack, a burst of force that does a lot more damage than the knife, and can hit multiple enemies. However, the Impulse chews up a not-insignificant chunk of the TMD's energy bar, especially early on, and you can only carry a limited number of energy charge vials at a time. If you're out, it has to recharge - slowly.

     Third Person Shooter  
  • BloodRayne 2 gives you the Carpathian Dragons, handguns fueled by blood. If they run out of ammo, Rayne can use her own blood instead.
  • Oni has limited ammunition available for guns (even though there are only two ammo types overall), and some later bosses are resistant to them. This isn't much of a problem, though, as the hand-to-hand fighting is typically the focus of combat, anyway.
  • On the two easier modes of the Crusader games, Mama's Boy and Weekend Warrior, your starting weapon has infinite ammunition. Outside of those difficulty levels...well, don't run out of ammo, is all I'll say.
  • The wrench from Ratchet & Clank not only has unlimited uses but boomerangs when thrown and when properly upgraded is described as the most deadly weapon in the galaxy.
  • The Tomb Raider series has Lara with her default dual Pistols that have unlimited ammo, which is used mainly as a backup weapon halfway through the game once you collect other guns and ammo. It's the weakest weapon.
  • In Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, you have your silenced pistol with rare ammunition (since no enemy really carries one) and a larger gun. Since it usually takes about a clip, per enemy thankfully you have Telekinesis as back-up or your main weapon. If you run out of psi energy, you'll still have Good Old Fisticuffs.
  • The first Syphon Filter had the Air Taser, which uses no ammo, had long range, counted as a silent weapon (unless the enemy starts screaming when they get lit on fire), and is pretty much an instant kill if it latches on any part of the enemy's body. The developers seem to have realized how they've made the Emergency Weapon too damn useful, so they changed it to a combat knife in later games. And killed all the fun.
    • ...Though they did include it as an unlockable weapon in at least one of the later games. One of the rare cases of a weapon appearing on BOTH ends of the spectrum. Oh, and the by the way: "long range" means technically infinite. The game is also nice enough to tell you when you're aiming at someone's head, so that street with a bunch of snipers just waiting for you to walk down becomes trivial when you realize you can sit far beyond their engagement range and fiddle with your aiming until you light them on fire.
  • In Jet Force Gemini, your basic weapon is the Jet Force pistol. It's weak, can only be fired 5 or so times before needing to pause, and has limited ammo. But if you run out, it can still fire an infinite supply of emergency pellets, which are even weaker.
  • Binary Domain gives you the infinite-ammo sidearm - a simple semi-auto pistol. It's fairly useful even when other guns are available - if you're only facing a few standard mooks, downing them with a few pistol headshots lets you save up ammo for the big guns. And if you haven't upgraded the assault rifle's precision, and don't have a sniper weapon as your secondary, the pistol is also the most precise weapon at your disposal.
  • Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. The starting weapon is the recharging "mining laser", and even fully upgraded, it's only slightly better than useless. And even that's better than Glitch's weak Melee.
  • In the first Max Payne, Max starts off with a pipe as his emergency weapon, which quickly gets upgraded to a baseball bat. One level forces you to sneak around with nothing but the bat until you find some weapons. Through the Captain Baseball Bat Boy running theme, the bat is probably the most celebrated weapon in the series's story.
  • The Snub Pistol from Gears of War is rather bad, unless you're skillful enough to fire all shots into an enemy to down them. Because of that, it's rather impractical to use unless you swap it for Boltok.

    Action 
  • The Metal Slug series gave you both options. You start with an infinite-ammo pistol which is temporarily replaced when you gain heavier weapons such as machine guns and rawkit lawnchairs, and you also have a knife to kill enemies in close quarters without wasting ammo. Well, knives, hatchets, tonfas, kicks, throws, the Vulcan Punch, and a spring-loaded boxing glove hidden in your backpack, depending on the game and character. The easy mode for the 6th game make your emergency weapon a Heavy Machine Gun (and if you play as the character that starts with a HMG in normal, you get a BFG).
  • In Silhouette Mirage, all of your attacks require Spirit. IF you run out of Spirit, your equipped parasite will be consumed to regain 100 points. If it was your last parasite, you will be given a Sloth (basic shot) parasite as well - however, this only happens once; run out of spirit with just a Sloth left and you're screwed. This is considerably more annoying in the American version, where Spirit is your Mana Meter, than in the Japanese, where Spirit was only drained by enemy attacks. Although they did grant a mercy that when you were stuck with the Sloth, you never lost it.
  • The arcade game Narc switched you from automatic fire to semiautomatic if you ran out of ammo, cutting your firing speed in half.
  • The Jazz Jackrabbit series first ammo is the Blaster, weak bullets that never are used up and are useful until you find better ammo. Although getting some rapid fire Power-ups make them very good weapons on their own.
  • Similarly, Abuse's base weapon, a simple repeating laser rifle, uses ammo to increase its firing rate (up to several hundred units) rather than to shoot at all. If its ammo falls to zero, it just shoots less quickly.
  • Later iterations of the Armored Core series had special cores that allowed up to two back-up weapons to be stored inside, for use when the main weapon ran out of ammo or got destroyed. However, the back up weapons were limited by size, so you could then only really use a small pistol or laser blade. Worked well for players that rely mainly on ammo based weapons during missions with a ton of Goddamned Bats.
  • The console ports of Ikaruga offer a "Prototype Mode" in which you have limited shots. If you use up those shots, you switch out for weaker shots that are only effective at point blank.
  • Punisher, 2005 game has 'Instant Kills'. Grab an enemy, horribly dispose of them and take their guns. Sometimes with a knife to the face. Oddly, face/knife is possible early on in the Ryker's Prison section. Someone forgot to search Frank.
  • You have a kick in Iji, but your strength stat must be upgraded enough for it to be useful. Due to this, the shotgun (which has infinite ammo) fills the Emergency Weapon role. It's essentially the only weapon you have access to on Ultimortal difficulty.

    Action Adventure 
  • MediEvil featured a skeletal protagonist. If all his weapons were taken, he'd detach his left arm and wield it as a club with his right.
    • It can also be used as a boomerang.
  • Samus' Power Beam was quickly obsoleted in many a Metroid game, especially the Primes, as you got upgrades. In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the Luminoth beam weapons required energy sources alien to Samus' Power Suit, thus turning the Power Beam into the Emergency Weapon. Of course, the three Luminoth weapons can still fire without ammo by charging a shot, thus keeping Samus from being locked out of any doors. Ammo is required for those three weapons to regain full functionality, however.
    • Samus also had a literal Emergency Pistol in Zero Mission that she uses during the Unexpected Gameplay Change stealth sequence during which she's lost her power suit. It's only able to stun enemies, and for exceptionally short periods at that; Samus herself hangs a giant lampshade on its ineffectiveness in a cutscene.
      "All I had for protection was my rather useless emergency pistol..."
    • In the original Metroid, all of the bosses could be harmed with your regular beam in case you ran out of missiles (with the exception of metroids, but they always gave you missiles when you killed them). In fact, Kraid is particularly weak against morph ball bombs. The later games are able to mix it up thanks to the Charge Beam power-up; bosses take no damage from uncharged beam shots, while charged shots are just as strong as missiles but take a second or two to actually charge up.

    MMORPG 
  • In World of Warcraft, if your weapons get broken or you get disarmed, you can still punch stuff.
    • More keeping in spirit with this trope, there are also wands. As the pure caster classes (mage, priest, warlock) are never supposed to go into melee range, they are instead allowed to wield these Stat Sticks that are limited to basic ranged attacks but never run out of juice. These wands actually have the highest listed damage of any weapons in the game (often exceeding the damage of big two-handed weapons by significant amounts), but they fail to scale with any stats whatsoever which puts their actual output in the trivial range.
    • And then there are grey weapons. Some classes (like rogues) rely on having a certain kind of weapon. If the raid's having a bad night, or the player is just out of it, their weapon can break, and then they can't use those special "must have an X equipped" abilities. In these times of desperation, a grey dagger can be better than having nothing. Note that you may encounter approximately one or two of these moments in your entire World of Warcraft career.
    • As of Mists of Pandaria, the Priest has Power Word: Solace, which does the same amount of damage as staple damage spell Smite and restores a fraction of your mana bar. However, it doesn't get any of the damage bonuses that Smite normally gets, such as from Talents or Passive Skills, so it's still only worth using when you don't have the mana for real damage spells.
  • All City of Heroes characters have the "Brawl" power which costs no endurance to use and deals low damage. It's mostly just used at low levels as a filler attack but some Brutes use it even into the mid-levels to help them generate/maintain Fury before they have an optimized attack chain.

    Platformer 
  • Mega Man always starts with his basic Mega Buster, and it never has finite ammo. If you run out of the weapon a boss is weak against, the buster can help you finish the fight. In fact, completing the entire game with only the buster is possible (save for at least one puzzle per game, but those only appear in Dr. Wily's fortresses), and it isn't too much more difficult than the regular Nintendo Hard game. The Updated Re-release, Mega Man: Powered Up!, even encourages you to kill bosses using only the Mega Buster, allowing you to play though the entire game as that boss.
    • Note that the Mega Buster actually becomes more useful than some boss weapons in later games, once the charge-shot ability was introduced in Mega Man 4.
  • American McGee's Alice gives you the Vorpal Blade, a kitchen knife that can be used as a melee weapon or thrown, after which it will reappear in your hand several seconds later. It is the only weapon that uses no Willpower for either attack.
  • Earthworm Jim has a blaster with lots of types of ammo, all of which are limited. The plain ammo is finite but refills itself slowly when low.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • In Dark Cloud, one of your weapons is blessed to never break no matter how much it is used. Instead of disappearing when its durability runs out, it loses all its upgrades and reverts to the weakest weapon in the game. Which, like losing a full power weapon, is a gut punch.
  • Summon Night: Swordcraft Story lets you use your forging hammer if all of your forged weapons break.
  • Pokémon have limited uses for all of their moves. If they run out, they can resort to Struggle, which does little damage and costs HP. Also comes into play when the opponent uses Encore, which only allows the use of the last used move. Once that move runs out, Struggle ensues.
  • Mega Man Battle Network has the same Mega Buster as the platforming series, except much less useful. Even the earliest Battle Chips do around 30 or more points of damage, and running out forces you to rely on your buster which starts off doing 1 point of damage per shot. In fact, some normal enemies are completely unkillable without the right Battle Chips.
    • Battle Network 6, or at least the Greiga version, threw the Buster lovers a bone with the main-element Crosses, Heat and Elec, both of which have great damage and range (as Busters go), and the Super Mode's insanely fast rapid-fire gun. It's still not quite as effective as using chips.
    • And it comes all the way around to awesome once again in Mega Man Star Force 2. The Buster Max giga card (the most powerful type of card, of which you can only use one at any given time) turns the Buster into the game equivalent of a Gatling gun that can chew anything in your path into little tiny crunchy bits.
  • In the Monster Hunter series, bowgun users have an infinite stock of level 1 Normal shots to utilize. This is meant to be used as a last resort, as they only cause half the damage of the weakest expendable ammo type.
  • Ein, the hero of Riviera: The Promised Land possesses a Diviner, an unbreakable mystical weapon which grows in strength with its user. He can use it as a powerful holy sword if he doesn't want to use one of the Breakable Weapons made by mortals; the other party members can use it as a rather ineffective throwing weapon in emergencies. If you play right, you can gain the Diviners of two other Grim Angels as well; like your own, they are unbreakable and can only be used effectively by Ein.
    • The Diviners of the other two Grim Angels are acquirable, however, they are one use items, as according to the game's lore, only the Angel for which a Diviner was made can use it effectively.
    • Knights in the Nightmare requires weapons to be equipped to do any sort of damage, but the Knights can also perform a very weak attack without a weapon to refill the Limit Break bar which is, of course, required to Break Out with a weapon.
  • Neverwinter Nights's mage starts with a weak wand that does piddling damage and never runs out. It's ok for the first level or two when you're limited to cantrips, but as soon as you learn proper spells and are able to buy proper wands you might as well dispose of it. The enemies become stronger very soon, but the wand's damage doesn't, so if you ever find yourself with everything but the first wand exhausted you might as well reload, because firing it will do you about as good as spitting.
    • In PnP D&D the rod of frost would be pretty neat however, as Ray of Frost is a (ranged) touch attack, and can carry sneak attacks if a rogue uses it. ** Early in the game, it's also useful for breaking chests open if you can't open them and can't deal enough damage with your normal weapon. Especially the flat chests, which have 15 damage reduction against physical strikes... truly an emergency lockpick. Or a lockhammer. Destroying a chest from afar doesn't trigger any traps that are on it, either.
  • On the magic-wielding side of things, the Final Fantasy series has the "Osmose" spell, which drains an enemy's MP to restore the caster's own and is usually cheap, if not free, to cast. Its effectiveness varies, since some enemies have 0 MP and the spell will never restore more than it drains, but it can save an Ether or two in a pinch.
    • Osmose, and its counterpart Rasp (damages MP without draining it) become viable offensive spells in Final Fantasy VI, where some enemies, including a few bosses, die if they run out of MP. A Bonus Boss in the GBA remake's Bonus Dungeon even has to be defeated this way, as it'll continually resurrect itself otherwise.
  • Harry Potter video games have introduced the Flipendo knockback jinx, a basic attack spell which consumes no Mana.

    Sandbox 
  • Dead Rising has Frank fight off the zombies with his bare hands when you can't get your hands on a baseball bat, a bench, or anything else for that matter. Being a normal reporter, it is about as useful as it sounds. Subverted as you level up, however; eventually, Frank becomes powerful enough to easily hold off enemies unarmed. You know you can stop relying on a handgun when you can start tearing out people's innards with your bare hands. These ludicrously powerful moves also are one-hit-kills on the rifle-wielding special forces that break into the mall near the end.
    • Frank also has a desperation ranged attack as well - aiming at zombies when you have nothing equipped will cause Frank to spit wherever he's aiming. That said, if he's recently drank a "Spitfire" juice, his expectorations can decapitate the undead.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion gives the character three emergency tools. In addition to being able to fight with one's fists, every character starts out with a weak fireball spell and a heal minor wounds spell, both powered by the constantly-recharging Magicka meter.
  • Dwarf Fortress has the crossbowdwarves who can utilize the crossbow as a club when they run out of ammo. It's even more useless than you'd think (unless you cross-train) since club weapons rely on weapon weight for effectiveness as well as hammerdwarf training. Many players have found dwarves armed with adamantine crossbows (the lightest metal) not even slowing down an enemy when used as a club.
    • Currently averted, due to a yet-to-be-corrected inventory bug that lets dwarves wield more weapons than they actually have hands. It's being left unfixed until scabbards are implemented.
  • In Minecraft, all tools for breaking/attacking degrade with use. However, anything that isn't a breaking tool (or weapon), including your bare hand (i.e. an empty inventory slot) can still be used to break or attack; it just takes longer (or does less damage), and may destroy the target rather than yielding a resource. Since you start with an empty inventory and the first resource you need is wood, most games therefore start with punching trees.
  • Survival Crisis Z has the knife. You can also get a chainsaw, which is a slightly better emergency weapon.
  • In Grand Theft Auto III, you have your fists at all times. You can also pick up a baseball bat for when you're out of ammo. Later games added alternatives to the bat, such as knives and chainsaws.
  • The player characters of Dead Island pack kick and stomp attacks that are surprisingly effective. They're mainly used to clear space between you and zombies, but a well-placed stomp to a prone enemy will crush the skull.
  • The characters in Don't Starve can all physically punch for a last-resort attack, but it's slow and weak enough to rarely be worth using (the game doesn't even default to attacking unarmed, even against enemies, requiring a specific command to do).

    Strategy 
  • Archers in Civilization IV will sometimes pull out knives or use their bows as weapons during combat, usually when they are defending against melee units, but it is only an animation, and not done out of an emergency.
  • In the Total War series, archers and most other ranged units will pull out a knife when out of ammo. Needless to say, they're totally useless at that point. However, some ranged units will pull out swords and are rather well-trained at using them or just so heavily-armored to the point where they can just hold off the enemy with pure defense.
  • In Pikmin, Olimar had a very weak punch that could slightly damage and distract enemies. The second game introduced the Rocket Punch for better damage.
    • This is carried over into Super Smash Bros. Most of Olimar's moves requires him to use a Pikmin to actually strike the foe, though he does have a (very few) weak melee attacks that don't use Pikmen.
  • Sword of the Stars has surface-to-orbit missiles. While they might destroy lone scouts or even small groups of starships that are Point Defenseless, they become much less useful once the enemy either has sufficient point defence or brings enough spares to the battle. No substitute for a proper battle fleet, they are.
  • Units in most Super Robot Wars titles may come with a useful no-energy no-ammo attack (if nothing else, for example, a Grungust can always Rocket Punch). If they don't, you can bet they'll come with either the option to perform a generic Attack (basically, bodyslamming the enemy), or head-mounted short-range vulcan cannons with unlimited ammo (one of many, many Shout Outs to Gundam, although vulcan ammo was notably limited there). These attacks always hit for piddling damage and are seldom necessary, but can be fun for Cherry Tapping (or conserving ammo and energy). You could, however, upgrade these weapons. Why? Most Vulcans have 10-15 shots and body-slam has infinite ammo.
    • In the first mission in Original Generation, the only character under the player's control is a mech with no weapons (it was a test run that got interrupted), which must kill eight enemies. However, since the pilot is Elzam, this is easier than it sounds.
  • Sidearms in Jagged Alliance 2 are relegated to this role by mid-game, particularly in the v1.13 update. They're not very effective against proper body armour or at long range, unless you're packing a Hand Cannon with all their accuracy issues, but the AP cost to draw and fire one is significantly lower than reloading or unjamming your primary weapon. The various melee weapons are another kind of Emergency Weapon; guns are very nearly useless at point-blank range (which is Truth in Television), and a blade or even bare fists is more use if you walk right into an enemy mook whilst clearing a building. v1.13 even includes a special blades-only inventory slot so you can give one to every team member without wasting inventory space.
  • Three of the four soldier classes in XCOM: Enemy Unknown have pistols as this. Pistols never run out of ammo and never need to be reloaded. The Heavy, however, has a single-shot rocket launcher as its secondary weapon and doesn't have an Emergency Weapon at all. Ditto for S.H.I.V.s and MEC Troopers (Enemy Within only).

    Other 
  • Should Jack run out of spears in Lost in Blue 2, he can take enemies on with his bare hands. Punches hit for puny damage, but successful dodging can lead to him taking down a tiger like a man.
  • In 4/fA, the Hanger ability becomes a set, permanent ability, with a catch: NEXTs with tank-type legs have no restriction in hangar weapons, meaning that carrying grenade launchers with gatling gun backups is perfectly valid option (obviously, barring weight restrictions).
  • In Beat Blades Haruka, the characters have attacks that require no energy to use. However, they're very inaccurate and will only ever inflict 1 damage whenever they do hit, meaning that if you ever run out energy for normal attacks, you're pretty much screwed.
  • Driv3r - Tanner's 17-bullet-per-mag 9mm Automatic. If you run out of ammo for your other guns (including several machineguns, two other pistols, one of which is silent and fires faster, a grenade launcher and an assault rifle) in a later mission, where you're facing an ass load of dudes with ALL of those guns, bend over and kiss ass goodbye.
  • In fourth edition Dungeons & Dragons, powers fall into several types depending on how often they're able to be used and how powerful they are. The At will powers can be used as many times as you want per day, but they are way less damaging than the daily powers.

Exceptions

  • While Metal Gear does include melee attacks, most bosses can only be harmed by heavy weapons (or, in one case, a sniper rifle). To help out, infinitely respawning ammo pickups are placed in the boss arenas.
    • The final boss fights are notable though in that you only have your bare fists (Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 4) or your sword (Metal Gear Solid 2). Metal Gear Solid 3 lets you keep your other weapons and even some mid-game bosses can be beaten with melee maneuvers, but if the final boss (named The Boss) manages to grapple you while you're wielding a firearm, she'll actually DISMANTLE the gun and throw away the pieces. You can pick them back up, but do try keeping the gun holstered during close-quarters combat the next time around.
  • Notably absent from Galerians - if you run out of drugs to support your Psychic Powers, you have no means to defend yourself. Not to mention that the number of drugs in the game is limited, and the number of enemies is significantly less limited. Done this way because the game is meant to be Survival Horror, and is specifically based on the original Resident Evil.
    • Although it's still possible to defend yourself by getting angry enough to have a Super Power Meltdown that's instant death to anyone near you. That's also a bad idea unless you have the right drug to stop it.
  • Resident Evil. Survival horror games often give you the almost completely useless knife, since the fear of running out of ammunition is supposed to add to the suspense.
    • The big exception is Resident Evil 4, where Leon is equipped with a much more useful knife. For the most part, you use it as an ammo-saver: you can bust open barrels and crates with it, or finish off weakened Ganados. It can also save your ammo when fighting against the Gigante; if you hop on the monster's back, you can slice it with your knife, or stab the eye of the final boss with it as well. It also becomes useful in a few cutscenes, the first time you face Jack Krauser being the best example. Later on when Krauser plants an ambush for you in normal game play, the most efficient way to hurt him is using your knife. You can empty clip after clip into him, but it takes a lot of ammo to get him to back off compared to one slash of your knife.
      • Against Krauser, the knife does about as much damage as a magnum bullet.
      • RE4 went pretty crazy with this type of tactic, actually. Apparently the programmers had forgotten that there are crazy fans who'd consider using the weak knife as opposed to more powerful guns, and kind of forgot to program in proper defense against knife usage in several bosses. Fridge Logic hits in spades when you realize that some bosses are faster to kill with a knife than with a rocket launcher.
      • Two things that make the knife so useful in the fourth and fifth games is that A. it doesn't take up an inventory slot, and B. you don't have to go into the menu to equip it. This makes it much more convenient to use, whereas in most games it's ditched because that one useless knife takes up the same amount of inventory space as, say, 50 shotgun shells.
    • Code Veronica was really the first game to make a useful knife. The ammo was VERY scarce, so most of the time Claire/Chris have to take care of zombies with the knife. Ironically, the other game featuring Claire, had probably the worst knife in the series, taking a whopping 50 slashes to kill ONE zombie. However, it's pretty common that "hardcore" fans of the series will perform knife runs, only using the knife and no other weapon unless it's completely necessary, even bosses.
    • Resident Evil 5 gives you the option of buying the Stun Rod around level 3. It is a melee weapon that is swung like a bat and delivers an electric charge. Kills the normal enemies and in groups has the potential of killing a lot of them at the same time.
  • Silent Hill contains melee weapons which tend to see more use than the guns, which have very limited ammo. Fortunately, these melee weapons are both strong and unbreakable for the first four games. Unfortunately, Silent Hill fans who were used to invulnerable wooden planks and unbending steel pipes were given a very rude shock when the prequel Silent Hill Origins came and brought the concept of all melee weapons breaking eventually. If players weren't careful and didn't conserve their best melee weapons, they would be reduced to beating down bosses with toasters, screwdrivers or their bare hands.
  • Parasite Eve, which has several survival horror elements while not being a complete example of the genre, provides Aya with a club. You can even find upgrades for the club, but like in most survival horror games, any club is just about useless.
    • Unless you spend an obscene amount of time, points, and tools to increase the strength of the club. While the lack of range remains a problem, it can become ridiculously overpowered.
      • Due to its swinging in an arc, and having little recovery time the Tonfa was very spammable, and was probably the most effective weapon vs Goddamn Bats.
  • In Dead Space, you can club enemies with a gun or stomp on them. Despite the relative weakness of these attacks, the sheer level of MANLINESS in the character's accompanying scream, and subsequent screen shake, makes them more satisfying to use than most of the actual weapons!
    • The melee attacks with your "guns" (read: hastily modified power tools with their safeties disabled) are not that useful, but Isaac's ground stomp can SEVER LIMBS from prone enemies! He must work out in high gravity. Plus it's a fantastic stress relief to just stomp those monstrosities into necromorph pulp with those heavy boots. Do it long enough in the sequel and Isaac will launch into a Cluster F-Bomb.
    • On higher difficulties, it's often the only thing to fight with.
  • Prior to Mists of Pandaria, this was what melee weapons were for the Hunter class in World of Warcraft. These were intended for use only when your pet has lost aggro or died, or you've run out of ammo. Over time, patches removed the need for ammo, the minimum range for ranged weapons, and eventually merged the melee and ranged weapon slots into a single slot. note  But when they were necessary, the primary consideration when choosing one was on stat bonuses rather than melee damage. For example, one of the most common from vanilla World of Warcraft was Ice Barbed Spear.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force, the Phaser was almost certainly intended as the Emergency Weapon, since it has its own separate ammunition supply that recharges on its own. However, it's powerful enough that many players use it even when all the other weapons have plenty of ammunition, thus conserving the big guns for that other kind of emergency. Like the other weapons, it has an alternate fire mode that fires a more powerful beam but drains the energy supply much faster. However, unlike a typical Emergency Weapon that is useful almost any time, the phaser is no more useful against the Borg than any other weapon except the I-MOD, as they adapt to it within a few shots.
  • In the Twisted Metal series, the Emergency Weapon is a set of machine guns with infinite ammo.
  • In all Fallout games, if push comes to shove (literally) you can always switch to fists (and kicks in Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics). Of course, some characters fight with their fists anyway, and there are plenty of spiked knuckles and other melee weapons available.
    • Note that Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are the only games in the series where items can get damaged. This means that in previous games, melee weapons that don't consume ammo are always usable. And some of them can kill a super-mutant in a few slashes, if your character is built properly for that. This also means that Unarmed Masters avoid much of the hassle of collecting and carrying ammo at all, although some of the best fist-weapons do use electric ammo for that extra punch.
    • Fallout: New Vegas also introduces special unarmed techniques, granted as rewards for a few unmarked quests (except the Khan Trick, which is a reward for a marked quest), and only one of them requires any points invested in the unarmed skill. Some of the more useful ones are those that can buy you time to rearm yourself, such as the Ranger Takedown (knock-down effect), or the aforementioned Khan Trick (stun effect), making your bare fists a more useful emergency weapon.
    • In the "Operation Anchorage" DLC quest, you lose all your equipment (since you're in a simulation) and have only a knife and a weak gun to start with - you have to find other weapons if you want to use them. Halfway through you reach your HQ, lose all your weapons and can then requisition a weapons package suited to your skills, most of which contain one main weapon and one weaker emergency weapon. However you rarely need to use them, since there are several bottomless ammo dispensers placed everywhere.
    • Fallout: New Vegas also gives you the Recharger pistol and recharger rifle which don't require ammo (but can still break).
  • In the first Alien vs. Predator game for the PC, if you ran out of weapons for all of your guns you ended up using your pulse rifle as a club. The exception is the fact that, given the type of enemy you face in the game, if it comes down to that you're pretty much screwed already.
    • The second replaced this with a knife, which was about as useful as you'd expect. The most recent addition to the series gives you an infinite-ammo pistol, which is generally enough to fight off a single Alien, but not much more.
    • This is, though, entirely keeping in line with the human marine, who is extremely equipment dependent. Predators fall back on wrist blades and combisticks, which use no ammo, and are effective against xenomorphs to a slight degree, and humans to a much greater degrees. Predators also have the ability to regenerate energy for their discs, electro-pistols, and shoulder cannons. The xenomorphs, however, never use ammunition, and can always fight with claws, teeth, and tail spikes.
  • The Vulcan Cannon in the original Descent. It recieved a game-breaking upgrade in II with the Gauss Cannon, but was once again Nerfed in 3 with the Vauss Cannon, which replaces both.
    • To a greater extent, the Flare. Since you can run out of energy for your energy weapons and ammo for the above, launching flares(horribly slow without energy) will always do one point of damage.
  • In the Modern Warfare games, World At War, and Call of Duty: Black Ops, the knife is meant for when you find yourself in melee situations. Since it's an instant kill, however, many people just run around the battlefield using it as their primary weapon. Combine this with the Commando Perk(allows longer melee range), Tactical Knife (faster melee speed), and Lightwight (faster character speed) in MW2 and you have what is arguably a Game Breaker.
  • In Bioshock 2, your Drill can be ludicrously useful. With the right Gene Tonics and all upgrades, you can drain health, freeze enemies, and even reflect projectiles with your drill. Played straight with each weapon's pistol whipping functionality, a quick melee strike that can be performed with any weapon, minus the Research Camera.
  • Red Dead Redemption gives you a knife and your fists as emergency weapons when you run out of ammo, but since Marston is carrying 30 guns on his person at all times this is unlikely to happen.
  • While Cave Story has weapons that use ammo, there is only one weapon (two if you count the upgraded version) that has limited ammo, the missile launcher. The ammo for the Machine Gun recharges quite quickly, even quicker if you find an upgrade for that, and the Bubble Gun recharges very slowly on Lvl 1 and very quickly on Lvl 3.
  • In Receiver, your only weapon is a single handgun, and you can do nothing with it unless you have bullets.

Emergency Energy TankVideo Game Items and InventoryEncounter Bait
Multi-Ranged MasterChoice of Two WeaponsIn Working Order
Elemental WeaponWeapons and Wielding TropesEmpathic Weapon
Chex QuestImageSource/Video GamesTeleport Gun

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