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The Enemy Weapons Are Better
You're in a war zone, you're given your standard gear from your outfit, and then you carry out your mission. However, about a few minutes in, you promptly drop whatever guns you were carrying and grab the enemy's. Now wait, your side just handed you a perfectly good weapon! Why would you abandon the one you just had? Sometimes in video games (most commonly FPS games) you're more than likely to just stop using the weapons you were issued and begin using anything you can procure on sight. This is usually for two reasons:

  • The enemy rightly does have a better weapon than yours, whether it is because they have a better assault rifle, or they just have an assault rifle and for some reason your side doesn't.
  • The more common reason: you can't find ammo for your gun. The enemy carries the guns you can pick ammo up from, why not use that and not worry about your ammo?

This essentially never happens in live-action media; when the hero brings down an enemy with better weaponry, he will usually continue to stick with his own.

For this trope to work however, the character must be able to be sent in fully loaded and then have the option of keeping their own weapons or exchanging them. Usually it's the latter because they find the enemy's weapons are, indeed, better. Related to Offscreen Villain Dark Matter, in which the bad guys get more and better stuff to preserve the Rule of Drama.

Examples

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    Video Games 
  • In the World War II Call of Duty series of games, German weapons can be irresistible (especially when you're carrying around the Sten, which for some reason can't take ammo from enemy MP40s). You might pick up a Kar98K, which frequently one-shot kills, or the accurate MP40. If you're lucky you can find yourself a Gewehr 43 rifle.
    • The original Call of Duty: German Sturmgewehr 44. Superior accuracy for an assault rifle, even over long range. Fairly common during the later stages of the game. Never accept anything less.
    • Or the FG 42, the only gun that has both automatic fire and a sniper scope. There's a reason why it's considered a Game Breaker in multiplayer. Too bad it's so goddamn rare later on.
    • Somewhat averted in Modern Warfare, as ammunition tends to be shared. Swapping for an enemy weapon thus is reduced to preference (guns tend to do the same damage regardless). On top of that, 9 (if not 10) times out of 10, you're given the perfect equipment for a mission from the beginning (although about half the time this only applies for your primary weapon - your secondary will usually be a bog-standard pistol most people will trade for their favorite or the most useful enemy weapon). And heaven help you if you switch out your lovely silenced weapons when doing a stealth mission.
    • That said, in multiplayer you are usually given only two to three full magazines for each weapon - meaning that you'll be forced to swap for enemy weapons when you run dry without appropriate perks or just using the same gun everyone else is using. One trick in Call of Duty 4 is to use the M9 as your sidearm if you're using a 9mm submachine gun for the main weapon - the bullets that the M9 comes with makes a de facto extra magazine.
  • Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and expansions averts this, as ammo is universal. You can still exchange your weapons though.
  • In Medal of Honor: Airborne, most Axis automatic weapons are noticeably better than their Allied equivalents, having larger mag capacity and lower recoil.
  • In Counter-Strike, it's not uncommon to see CT players drop whatever gun they're using for an AK-47 or an SG-552. That or the Terrorists dropping whatever they were using for an M4A1 rifle.
    • You might see this in the World War II Half-Life mod, Day Of Defeat as well. A lot of players would ditch their M1 Garand for the Kar98, or their .30 Cal for an MG42.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion may have you do this, why not kill that bandit for his silver sword that you'll find very useful later?
    • This is not by accident. The level at which certain items appear in shops is slightly higher than the level at which those same items would appear in chests and on enemies. Additionally, a player has to follow a sidequest thread up to a certain point before they are allowed to enchant their own equipment, as opposed to just looting a marauder's corpse and finding an enchanted sword or somesuch. Presumably, this is to keep players from building up gold and creating their own Disc One Nuke. (The point about enchanting is even mentioned directly by NPCs, for much the same reason.)
      • Which leads to the logical conclusion reached by the author of Concerned, Chris Livingston:
    Chris Livingston: "One of the first times I played Oblivion, I was fighting alongside some NPC soldier inside the first Oblivion gate. This NPC died during a battle, so I stripped him of his armor and weapons, which were better than my current ones, and left him dead and naked on the blasted planes of the underworld. A little later I died, and hadn't saved my progress. So, when I reloaded, the NPC was there, alive. And, this time, he didn't die in the battle. He was pretty, you know, beat up, though, and since he had died the last time, I sort of thought it was okay to, you know... totally bludgeon him to death and take his cool stuff. Now that's being a dickweed."
  • Halo. Plasma weapons kick unholy amounts of ass against shields, while bullets are best for squishing actual meaty bits.
    • The plasma pistol had the most amount of asskickery of all weapons in Halo: Combat Evolved considering it did more damage than the plasma rifle, could fire as fast as you pull the trigger (faster than the rifle if you could pull fast enough), could overcharge to instantly take out the shields of anything, was easily found in large quantities, and had the fastest melee attack of all the weapons. The only drawbacks are the fast overheating and short range.
    • This is actually one of the main ideas of the Halo series: You need to know what weapon to use where, and since you can only hold two weapons at a time, you need to learn how to plan ahead and when to use your weapons or Covenant weapons. For example, one such arrangement is known as "The Noob Combo," where you shoot a shielded person with a covenant plasma weapon, disabling the shield, and then shifting back to a human weapon to headshot the enemy.
  • In Crysis, you nearly have to take the Korean's FY71 assault rifle instead of the US's SCAR assault rifle. You start with the SCAR, which beats the FY71 in power, mag size, and how much ammo you can carry, but there is nearly no ammo for it, until near the end of the game. They mostly fixed this in the sequel.
  • In World of Warcraft all enemy equipment is better. The players will end up using almost exclusively items looted off of enemy corpses, occasionally with a quest reward mixed in. Admittedly the faction leaders have some great stuff, but they're not particularly willing to part with it.
    • End-game equipment tends to reverse this trend lately, usually being offered as a reward by a faction for tokens gained from killing bosses. However, Legendary Weapons are exclusively Enemy Equipment.
    • Most current weapons are crafted by allies, with parts that just happen to be found in the main raiding dungeon, older ones however were all enemy-made.
  • Moblin swords and flaming deku sticks made for more viable weapons than your starting equipment in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, since they were three times longer than your sword or stunned enemies, respectively. Of course, their advantages are rendered moot once you get the Master Sword.
  • La Tale has a few enemies that rarely drop soul urns, materials which could be used to craft unique weapons which were almost always more powerful than an ordinary weapon, in addition to several unique special effects. Possibly subverted, in that they would be weaker than a well enchanted ordinary weapon, since the special weapons tend to be difficult to enchant due to their rarity.
  • In Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, you will almost never find ammo for American guns. In fact, you'll never find ammo for anything but the German MP-50. Enjoy playing the whole game having to use the one crappy SMG for everything.
  • Used in the Warhammer 40,000 First-Person Shooter Fire Warrior. Which is odd, considering that the Tau are supposed to have the strongest basic weapons in the universe on table, but there's not much ammo. This lasts basically up until you get the Burst Cannon, which competes through sheer rate of fire, and the Rail Rifle, which was so good it got adapted into the tabletop game.
  • You can occasionally find a weapon in a box in Shadow the Hedgehog, but the most prevalent source (especially for some of the better guns) was enemy units. Therefore, it's usually better to use a GUN weapon if you're following the dark path and a Black Arms weapon if you're following the hero path. Neutral path? Just use the best weapon possible.
  • Played with in Mass Effect 1. In the beginning, your starting equipment is the absolute worst possible in the game and will immediately be replaced by whatever you find in the first mission. Even after that, Random Drops will on average be superior to equipment you can buy yourself at the time. But after fulfilling the required conditions the best weapons can only be bought in stores.
  • In all Metal Gear games, it isn't so much that the enemy's weapons are better as it is that your side sends you in with only a token amount of equipment, which includes one small pistol at best. If you want to use anything bigger (which you invariably need to do in order to have something capable of damaging certain bosses), you'll need to steal equipment from the enemy.
    • This is actually explained in the manual for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Snake follows On-Site Procurement procedures. There's a variety of reasons for this, first and foremost that because his operations are never really sanctioned, there can be nothing that traces him back to his parent organization. Using the enemy's own equipment denies them at least one avenue for discovering who sent him. In later games, when he's working of his own accord, he still prefers to follow this particular procedure, most likely because as a wanted terrorist, it's difficult for him to acquire weaponry.
    • As Technology Marches On, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty managed to give an explanation for why you can't just grab the weapon from a downed enemy: They all use biometric scanners keyed to their carrier, which forces you to hunt down weapons in storage which are not in active use and thus not locked out.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots manages to mostly avert this. You're still primarily reliant on grabbing weapons from enemies and then finding ways to circumvent the biometric scanners, but overall some of the most versatile weapons in the game are the Operator, Ruger Mk. II, and M4 Custom you're given for free in the first fifteen minutes of gameplay.
  • In the Fallout series, it's a necessity to loot stuff from enemies. The reason is simple: most of the time there is not enough ammo to keep using a different weapon. As for guns and armor, the third game and New Vegas require equipment repairs that can either be paid for (at merchants who only do a mediocre job and almost never fully repair it) or doing a field-repair by taking apart a similar item and using its components (depends on Repair skill and destroys the spare, obviously) which is a bad thing if no suitable spare is found because it's one-of-a-kind or your current enemies don't have it. Therefore, looting guns from enemies and using them is miles more cost-effective. Armors are a bit more flexible in this regard and they also play the trope straight in Fallout 2 and 3: Enclave gear is superior to what you can get otherwise, especially Tesla and Hellfire armors.
    • The Broken Steel DLC expansion for Fallout 3 gives us the Tri-Beam Laser Rifle, essentially a laser shotgun, and is only carried by Super Mutant Overlords. This weapon is literally better when wielded by the enemy against you, but it's still an excellent weapon regardless of who uses it.
    • The later games do avert this for unique weapons, which often have numerous advantages over the standard variants your enemies are likely to be using, but can also be repaired by those standard variants. Additionally, Fallout 3's final DLC includes the "Alien epoxy" that can be used to repair weapons without having to lug around replacements for it, though in limited numbers; New Vegas adds the weapon repair kit which works the same, but can be bought or crafted in unlimited numbers.
  • Subverted then played straight in X-COM. While you can take weapons from dead aliens, your soldiers can't use them until you've researched them. Once you've done that, you'll be able to steal spare ammunition and other gear from the aliens.
    • One tactic players have developed involves researching the guns first and researching the magazines, except for Heavy Plasma, later. So their soldiers can quickly pick up guns from downed enemies and use them, albeit without being able to reload them yet.
  • Similar to the X-Com example above, UFO: Aftershock your soldiers can steal weapons and other gear from dead enemies, but there are some kinds of equipment that require special training in order to use them.
  • The Disgaea series. While you can pass bills to upgrade the items available in shops, the best equipment in the game is stolen from high level enemies. In fact the very best stuff must be acquired by stealing the second best stuff from an enemy, using the Item World to travel into that stuff, and then stealing the stuff of the enemies in that stuff.
  • Mega Man starts off with a wimpy plasma pellet gun (though in some games he can use a Charged Attack), and by defeating the bosses in the game will acquire many new weapons, most of which are more powerful than his starting gun (which he may nonetheless need to fall back on, as it's the only weapon with infinite ammo).
  • Almost every single level in Goldeneye 007 starts with James Bond equipped with the PP7, a decent but relatively weak pistol which you'll quickly trade for an assault rifle or SMG as soon as the first opportunity comes along.
  • Pathways Into Darkness plays with this trope. You get separated from your unit at the start of the game due to a botched airdrop which gives your M16 a bent barrel and makes you lose the bag of spare ammo for your Colt .45, leaving you with just a survival knife. You end up defending yourself with weapons found in the labyrinth taken off the bodies of previous explorers, including 50+ year old WWII weapons (this takes place in 1993.) When you finally reunite with your squad or rather, the remains of your squad, the only working weapon they have is an M79 Grenade Launcher. While a good weapon, it's not nearly as effective against groups of enemies as the 6-year-old AK-47 you found.
  • Americas Army provided an unusual example. Until Special Forces maps introduced the option to play as indigenous forces, the perspective for every player regardless of team was that of an American soldier using American weapons. The only way to use foreign weapons (with their own unique stats) was to take the weapon from a dead enemy soldier.
  • In MechWarrior Living Legends, this can become the case when the PureTech mutator is enabled - the Clan team can only buy Clan assets, and the Inner Sphere team can only buy Inner Sphere assets. Clanner tech is generally superior in regards to raw firepower and speed, while Inner Sphere tech has more cool weapons, armor, and is much less expensive to buy (Some Clan Medium mechs cost as much as an Inner Sphere Assault mech!). Inner Sphere players will sometimes try to blast Clanners out of the cockpit of their Battlemech so that they can steal the mech for themselves, as in most cases Clanner mechs are better for straight-up combat. The same can happen in reverse with Clanners, as the Inner Sphere has some stupidly durable mechs (like the Atlas) and awesome specialized equipment (like the Heavy Gauss Rifle and Rotary Autocannons) that the Clanners cannot buy.
  • In the X-Universe games, players frequently ditch their Commonwealth or Terran heavy fighters for Xenon heavy fighters, as the Xenon LX fighter is in most regards superior to comparable (non-Prototype/Enhanced) Commonwealth fighters (It probably helps that the LX looks cool). In the late game when players can out-produce most races, some switch over from buying (or boarding) capital ships from the six main races and instead start to produce Xenon capital ships, though this is mostly because Xenon capitals take a fraction of the time and resources to produce.
  • In the original Homeworld some enemy ships have an advantage over what you can build: the Taiidan destroyer and assault frigate have better turret emplacement (enabling them to fend off enemy strike crafts somewhat better than the Kushan ones), the Turanic Raiders' carrier is the best armed one in the game, and the Kadeshi Swarmer-class fighters (both light and advanced) and multi-beam frigates are just plain overpowered (thankfully the swarmers have little fuel, giving you an easy way to defeat them by taking down the fuel pods before they can refuel). On the Motherships parts, however, it's more balanced: the Kadeshi ones are the best armed and more mobile but has no apparent construction ability, the Kushan one is the physically tougher but takes time to release newly-built supercapital ships due the large hangar door, and the Taiidan one, lacking the hangar door, can pop out destroyers, carriers and heavy cruisers as they're built but has an enormous weak spot in the form of the undefended supercapital ship hangar.
  • In Vietcong, some missions have Steve Hawkins separated from the rest of his team, and forced to crawl through large segments of enemy-infested jungles or tunnels. Since ammunition for his original weapon is depleted rather quickly with no means of replenishing, ditching it for AK-47 or some other waepon from the VC arsenal is a necessity to make it through these missions.

    Fanfic 
  • In The Swarm of War, Warboss Bugklaw gained his name for the habit of using weapons fashioned from Zerg natural ones.

    Web Comics 

    Real Life 
  • In Real Life this practice carries an increased risk of friendly fire, particularly if the guns have distinctly different sounds. (Under real life combat conditions, soldiers spend a lot of time shooting at enemies they cannot see clearly, if at all.) This was a particular problem in 'Nam.
  • During The Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers actually preferred the enemy Type 56 (the Chinese AK clone) to their own M16s.
    • The Type 56 offered both a higher lethality and reliability in the mostly jungle environment than the M16, which frequently jammed (thanks to poor ammo and the boast that the M16 was maintenance-free).
    • The early M16's polymer stock tended to break when struck against something, which frequently damaged the buffer tube that ran through it, rendering the weapon useless. Conversely, AK pattern rifles used solid wooden stocks.
  • In World War II, German soldiers tended to prefer just about any Russian weapons or American semi-auto rifles over their standard-issue weapons if they had the option. Most likely due to reliability in winter. The Russian PPSh-41 was widely loved, to the point that a 9mm variant (using box magazines rather then the famous drum) was made for the Germans.
    • Conversely, the MP40 was a popular prize for British soldiers, since they could use the same ammo from their otherwise cheaply made Sten guns. In fact, the British specifically designed the Sten to use the same ammo and magazines as the MP38 and MP40. Luger P'08 pistols were similarly popular among American soldiers, though these were mostly as actual war trophies rather than a replacement for their own sidearms.
    • In addition, German soldiers in WWII preferred US grenades because they were less bulky, while US soldiers preferred German stick grenades because they could throw them farther. The grenade is apparently always greener on the other side...
  • During both World Wars, Italian troops preferred enemy machine guns due the extreme unreliability of the Italian-made ones.
    • Conversely, in World War II Italian submachine guns (especially the Beretta Mod. 38) were favored by both Allies and Germans, as they were inbariably reliable and robust designs that tended to have superior safeties and the Italians used them with an overpowered variant of the 9mm Parabellum round to give better punch and range. When they occupied the country after Italy switched sides, the Germans decided to confiscate most of the production of both the Mod. 38 and the overpowered round.
    • Played with by the Italian Resistance: German and Fascist-issue machine guns were superior to the Stens they received from the British via airdrop... So they took to build their own, mixing characteristics from multiple designs and comparable to the MP40. That they would still steal if given the chance.

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