Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future
Welcome to the future. It may come used
or perhaps come standard with shiny towers and crystals
, but when it come to warfare, there's one very good indication that your Space Marines
aren't just Super Soldiers
with assault rifles. They will instead wield something not unlike a large metallic brick.
Put simply, Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future
is the tendency for more "advanced" weapons in near-future and Sci Fi
to be Handwaved
as "more advanced" or made of exotic, lightweight materials and yet be large, clumsy, rectangular, boxy things much larger than modern-day arms. This is probably based on the fact that many modern weapons use molded plastics with rounded rectangular shapes and smooth curves. At the most exaggerated extent in fiction, guns resemble rectangular prisms and melee weapons tend towards square profiles and right angles.
The most recognizable of modern compact weapons (Steyr AUG, FN P90, H&K G11) were given final form during The Eighties
, when boxy, plasticky shapes and textures were the norm in industrial design, so they may look a bit Zeerusty
by the present day.
Often used in videogames, since boxy shapes are particularly easy to render.
On the Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty
, Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future
tends towards the latter, but not always. "Enlightened"
civilizations may still keep their boxy arms around as a symbol of older times or as a realist answer of how they keep the peace. If the Enlightened civilization has an active military, expect these Space Elves
to use vaguely iPod-shaped weapons
Depending on how effective these weapons are in their respective setting, they may also be Cool Guns
Production design note: a lot of the futuristic weapon props that are actually fired on-screen are by necessity real world guns put in plastic shells. This might go a long way to explain the origins of the trope.
See also Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better
and High-Tech Hexagons
. When you apply this trope to spacecraft, the result is the ISO Standard Human Spaceship
- While most (non-mecha) guns in Macross Frontier look more or less similar to modern weapons, the heavy rifles carried by EX-Gear troops definitely play this trope straight.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 plays with this trope, occasionally playing it straight, with the likes of the Seravee's GN Bazookas, and even the mecha itself (being that mecha are weaponry, and all), but also completely averts this with the likes of the Ahead and Alvaaron, and falls somewhere in-between with the 00 Raiser, which has a mixture of square weaponry (GN Sword III's gun part) and sleek, pointy things.
- Averted by the Seburo Arms line of fictional guns used in the shared universe (including Ghost in the Shell) made by Shirow Masamune. Most of the guns actually look quite curvy, and some plain looks like a fictional version of FN P90.
- The Seburo C-25a is rather on the boxy side though.
- Warhammer 40,000: Even the lasgun used by the standard human soldiers of the Imperial Guard is hugely cumbersome◊. Notables include:
- The Imperium's Bolters, boxy,◊ huge weapons firing rocket-assisted armor-piercing explosive rounds. The shotgun is even more rectangular. Ogryn Ripper Guns need to be big and metallic, as they are designed to withstand their users wielding them as clubs.
- Extends to Imperial tanks too. Just look at the Rhino APC◊, which fans of the franchise have dubbed "Metal Bawkeses" in honor of Chaos Lord Carron.
- The Tau's Pulse Weaponry. About as boxy as it gets.◊ Definitely overlaps with Cool Guns, though. Tau weaponry is awesome.
- Averted with the Eldar. Most, if not all of their weapons have sleek, organic appearances in comparison to the other races.
- Ork weapons and vehicles tend to be boxy, since most of them are scavenged from Imperial weapons, and are ramshackled to what ever they can find and piece together.
- Gets averted in the tabletop RP Gs, however. As Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader were designed around semi-civilian characters first, the "mass produced by the billions daily" Imperial Guard and Astartes weapons were higher-tier equipment while starting guns were somewhat more familiar looking and using simple ammunition, most of which existed in lore but was rarely if ever depicted in artwork or miniatures previously.
- Several weapons in Rifts, where the boxy barrel coverings are stated to contain heavy-duty cooling systems for laser and plasma weapons. Rifts tends to cover the whole spectrum; some examples, like most Wilks guns, look more like Nintendo Zappers and are quite sleek. Coalition weaponry, for the most part, also tends to resemble modern firearms.
- Some of the advanced weapons in Shadowrun, especially the various Ares laser weapons. This can also depend on the artist, since the drawings of the guns are inconsistent from edition to edition and even different sourcebooks in the same edition.
- Traveller features a blend of modern and futuristic-looking (the latter occasionally boxy) slug-throwers. And many laser weapons are even bulkier than 40K weapons, of course, weight is one of the balance factors for energy weapons in the game (laser rifles weigh twice as much as modern assault rifles).
- In BattleTech, a fair number of weapons a 'Mech uses are boxy, and many 'Mechs themselves are also box shaped. Probably taken to its extreme in the Yeoman◊, a 'Mech resembling three boxes on legs. There are some aversions, such as the pleasantly human-shaped Firestarter◊ and the vaguely insectoid Black Python◊.
- Boxy and square is the design motif of small arms in the oppressive totalitarian future that is Feng Shui's 2056 A.D.. They're also more concealable than modern weapons. Go figure.
- Mobile Frame Zero: A lot of the human guns in the corebook are chunky pieces of kit...as are a lot of the human mechs, especially the Solar Union's workhorse Chub. Of course, those devices are usually either directly Built With LEGO, or are artist's impressions of what the LEGO represents, but either way, they're very rectangular devices. Averted with the Ijad, however, whose Spider Tanks use a lot of curved components.
Real Life/Truth in Television
- As seen above, StarCraft. The Gauss Rifle used by the marines is somewhat of a BFG, but especially in its updated incarnation, is almost a perfect rectangle. It makes sense since Terran Power Armor is equally huge and isn't good at delicate hand movements. Oddly, however, the gauss rifle can be effectively wielded without wearing Powered Armor. Somewhat averted, however, with Ghost gauss rifles, which are much smaller and resemble much more large-bore modern assault rifles.
- The Thor is a walking cluster of boxes. The Siege Tank and the Battlecruiser are also boxier in the second installment, which is a bit baffling as the faction can produce streamlined designs like the Hellion, the Banshee, and the Diamondback.
- Saints Row 2 has the AR-50 assault rifle, and while technically the game isn't set in the future, the weapon itself is a prototype developed by the Ultor Corporation.
- Battlefield 2142: Despite being made of "advanced polymers", some of the weapons are outrageously boxy and larger than their modern-day counterparts. Examples: ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊. Interestingly, the unlocked weapons which are often more popular tend to more closely resemble real guns.
- Doom's BFG9000 is bulky, boxy, and very BIG with many smaller boxy parts on it. There's also the Plasma Rifle, basically a boxy assault rifle-like weapon with an accordion barrel.
- Perfect Dark. Some of the game's "modern" weapons fall under this trope. Extra credit to the Laptop Gun, which looks exactly like you'd expect it to.
- Dystopia Inverts this by making the least advanced weapon, the Assault Rifle, look like a long box with a handle. However, it's played straight with the Bolt Gun.
- Red Faction: Guerrilla does a good boxy gun. It does several good boxy guns. Boxiest would be the assault rifle, which looks like it hasn't been unpacked from the box it came in. ◊
- Most of the weapons in Mass Effect 2 are this trope, particularly the krogan Claymore shotgun.
- Iji: your held weapon and the weapons held by the enemies are all some form of black box. The ten different weapons you can pick up on the ground (which get "downloaded" into your black boxy gun) zig-zag and downplay the trope, especially the slender and filigree Cyclic Fusion Ignition System.
- Fallout 3. By way of example, compare a conventional minigun to the futuristic "Gatling Laser," and judge for yourself which is the boxiest.
- The laser pistol and rifles in both games are basically rectangular boxes with a handle and trigger attached to the bottom. They don't even come with sights, by default.
- Baroque has very boxy weapons, including a gun where the only round part would be the space between the shaft and the rest.
- Due to an error in the update for Tower Madness (version 1.4), the graphic rendering for level 2 flamethrower turned into a giant box of doom.
- Averted with Half-Life 2's Combine Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rife, aka the AR2. It looks high tech and futuristic, but isn't boxy. Despite its shiny appearance, it's used by the Bad Guys.
- SiN Episodes: Emergence gives us the Magnum◊, Blade's default weapon. The front is so heavy and square that Blade even uses it as a melee weapon.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution feature the boxy Sanction Flechette assault rifle, Widowmaker combat shotgun and Eraser sniper rifle. While the only boxy part of the standard Diamondback revolver is its cylinder, the Laser Sight and explosive round upgrades make the top and bottom of the barrel somewhat more boxy.
- Human Revolution's Widowmaker, Eraser, and Diamondback revolver make a cameo in Team Fortress 2 (the Longsword renamed the "Machina"). Since Team Fortress 2 (late 60s-70s) takes place 60 years before Human Revolution (2027), these weapons are easily the most futuristic in the former game, and are also unquestionably the most boxy when compared to the starting weapons.
- Played straight and inverted and double subverted in Halo games. Human weapons and ships, which are primarily kinetic, are boxy and practical. Covenant plasma weapons are curved, colorful, ornate, and some what inefficient. Forerunner laser weapons are once again boxy, though also ornate.
- Borderlands 2 has Tediore weapons, which look like square, grey lumps of plastic. Justified, since they are designed to be extremely cheap, disposable guns, making embellishments counterproductive.
- The AA-12, more specifically the 2005 version.
- The Kriss .45 is an experimental submachine gun that uses an innovative recoil system and unusual stock to make it a wonderful accurate and controllable weapon that is mostly square.
- And its pistol brother the Kard◊ which looks like it was pulled from the pages of Judge Dredd.
- The MAC-10 machine pistol.
- The HK G11. It also uses caseless ammunition, making it rather futuristic. It didn't catch on (too damn pricey) and is no longer in production.
- The G11 PDW takes this and puts in pistol format.
- The P90 is basically a rectangle with holes and curves in the bottom to form the grip.
- And, of course, the PHASR. It's a less-lethal laser weapon.
- Then there's the Ares FMG, a boxy submachinegun that folds into an innocent looking metal box, and it's Russian counterpart the PP-90.
- Cascade gun prototype developed by Metal Storm Limited is actually a box on a tripod.
- The UTS-15 tactical shotgun
- The Tiger I tank is pretty much a box with treads and a turret.
- Steyr AUG averts this with a sleek, rounded shape. It is especially worth mentioning that contrary to this trope, it is often used on film when going for a futuristic-looking weapon.
- The new SABRE 5.56mm upper for the MAC-10 (already literally a box with a smaller box on the bottom) makes it legitimately look like a gritty sci-fi box rifle.
- Defense Distributed's 3-d printed handgun the "Liberator" is a plastic box on a pistol grip.
- The U.S. Army's shelved Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) project produced a gun that looks bulky and boxy enough for any future Space Marine.