Utility Weapon

This is a video game gameplay trope where a weapon in the game can be used for something other than fighting enemies; typically by bypassing obstacles or being used to solve puzzles. This could be as simple as explosives (dynamite's a popular one) which can destroy specific barriers other weapons can't touch, however on the other end of the spectrum, Metroidvania style games often give the player equipment which allows them to bypass a given obstacle but also comes in handy against the various enemies the game throws at them (for example, a jump attack which allows them to both get over large gaps and to attack flying mooks). Another popular variant is to have the player's melee weapon be an Improvised Weapon which can also be used as originally intended (e.g. repairing things, cutting through barriers, digging etc).

The reason for this trope is often rooted in the constraints of a Game Engine. If the engine was originally designed for a purely combat based game and the developer wanted to make it more puzzle based (as was the case in the 90's, when the First-Person Shooter genre began experimenting with more story based games as well as RPG Elements) then they have to modify it. Since the original engine probably already allows the player to carry and use weapons, it makes sense (from both a technical and gameplay point of view) to create weapons which can be used in puzzle solving. Another good reason is that doesn't force the player to fumble around switching from "puzzle solving equipment" to "weapons" (thus averting a Scrappy Mechanic). The Action/Adventure (especially the aforementioned Metroidvania games) genre also favours this trope, since it allows the player to both progress through the game and be more capable of fighting enemies at the same time.

Note that a weapon being used to smash through barriers (or innocent furnishings) or do anything else which any weapon could achieve doesn't count; the utility effect must be unique to that weapon (or a couple of specific weapons). Nor do weapons which happen to be the weakness of particular enemies; those fall under Achilles' Heel. Supertrope to Muzzle Flashlight.

Compare Sword of Plot Advancement for when a weapon has a non-combat use in the plot rather than gameplay. Unintended examples of this trope (for example using the recoil on a weapon to jump higher) may lead to Sequence Breaking. Within the story of the game itself, the weapon might be an Improvised Weapon (if it's a tool which could normally be used to bypass the puzzles which the game allows the player to use as a weapon) or an example of Mundane Utility (if it's something made as a weapon which just happens to be useful for solving the game's puzzles). Also related to the Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality (where abilities and weapons are more useful when they're less effective at dealing out damage). This may also function as one of the Standard FPS Guns. Often leads to a form of Equipment-Based Progression.


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    Action Adventure 
  • The Metroid games run on this trope. The basic "Power Beam" doesn't do much outside of combatNB , however all the later weapons in every game can be used to remove certain obstacles and open colour coded doors.
  • Since every dungeon in The Legend of Zelda series contains one new piece of equipment (which will be needed to kill the boss and progress further) you can bet your last rupee that it'll have a use in both puzzle solving and combat (unless you end up against a Puzzle Boss, of course).
  • The LEGO Adaptation Game series is full of these. Practically every weapon in LEGO Indiana Jones is useful for something else (the wrench for repairs, the shovel for hidden items).
  • In Ōkami, Amaterasu's brush is used both as a weapon as well as pretty much everything else.
  • The brush in Epic Mickey serves as both a weapon and a tool (this time because of the ink based environment).
  • Cave Story's machine gun can be used to jump with the recoil.
  • Castle Wolfenstein.
    • Your pistol's bullets could not only kill enemy soldiers but shoot open locked doors (very useful if you don't have any keys) and speed up the unlocking of chests (better hope the chest isn't full of explosives like bullets or grenades).
    • Grenades can be used to destroy dangerous enemies such as SS troops. They can also be used to blow open locked doors and destroy interior walls and chests to make it easier to get around.
  • In the World of Mana series, many weapons can interact with the environment: Swords cut bushes, Axes smash rocks, Whips can be used to swing across gaps, and so on.
  • In Beyond Good & Evil, Jade's gyrodisk launcher can be used both to attack enemies and to activate switches from a distance.
  • In Banjo-Tooie, Clockwork Kazooie eggs function primarily as remote-controlled Action Bombs, but they also can help collect items in hard-to-reach places.
  • In Tomb Raider (2013), several of Lara's weapons allow her to traverse the environment in new ways. For example the axe is upgraded so it can be used to pry open obstacles, and is later replaced with the climbing axe, the shotgun can be used to blast certain types of barricade out of the way and the bow eventually gets "rope arrows".
  • In the Batman: Arkham Series, most weapons have three functions: one in melee combat, one in the stealth sections, and one for exploration (although the utility and stealth functions frequently overlap). The main exception is the cryptographic sequencer, which is mainly used as a "have you beat the goons yet?" gate.
  • Axiom Verge, being a Metroidvania, has several of these:
    • The Laser Drill can be used against enemies, but it's more necessary for cutting through soft blocks.
    • The game's signature weapon, Address Disruptor, tends to do stranger things to enemies than damaging them, sometimes converting them into things that heal you instead of hurt you. It, or one of its upgraded versions, can also clear away the corrupted blocks that bar the way in various places.
  • In Rosco Mc Queen, you play as a firefighter, whose hose can be used to either stun robots or put out fires, and axe can be used to destroy them or break down doors. In addition, powerups like the titanium axe can be used for both as well (do more damage to enemies or destroy heavier doors).

    Action Game 
  • Evolva: The first five weapons are also used to cross several obstacles. The Claws can be used to break rock walls, the Flames to burn plant walls, and the Spore to break giant boulders blocking paths. The Spikes can be used to drop explosive spores which are hanging on walls, and the Stealth technique to cross plant doors that close when approached.

    First Person Shooter 
  • In Team Fortress 2, the Engineer's wrench melee weapon also repairs/upgrades his machines. In addition, several unlockable weapons can have other utility effects, such as;
    • The Pyro's "Homewrecker" allows them to remove Spy saps from the Engineer's buildings. The later-released Neon Annihilator has this ability as well, though in a weakened form.
    • The Scout's Force-A-Nature has massive recoil, allowing what amounts to a second Double Jump on top of the one he gets for being the Scout. The Atomizer adds an actual third jump (at the cost of 10 damage), and the two can be combined for more jumping power.
      • The Soda Popper allows Scout to jump in midair multiple times when enough Hype is accumulated, and the Winger allows Scout to jump higher when it's active. These (and the Atomizer) can be combined to allow the Scout to jump very high.
    • The Medic's Crusader's Crossbow primary weapon heals allies hit with.
    • The Soldier's Disciplinary Action melee can be used to hit friendly players to make them and the Soldier move faster.
    • The Eureka Effect wrench will teleport you back to your spawn, or to your teleporter exit, even if the entrance has not been built.
    • The Engineer's Rescue Ranger shotgun can be used to pick up his buildings from a distance when you right-click, at the cost of 130 metal. The Rescue Ranger's shots also repair friendly buildings they hit.
  • Half-Life 2's gravity gun can be used to lift objects around (as well as punt them into enemies, of course).
  • In Marathon, grenades and fusion bolts can (and sometimes must) be used to trigger switches from a distance.
  • In Clive Barker's Undying, dynamite can be used to blow open certain walls.
  • All Build Engine games (Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Blood, Redneck Rampage) have cracks in the walls that can be blown open with explosives. Explosives come in two varieties in these: a "rocket launcher" weapon a la Doom, and a ballistic thrown "grenade" or "dynamite" (Shadow Warrior has a grenade launcher instead).
  • The Unreal Tournament series has the Translocator, which shoots a projectile and allows to the user to teleport to it. Aside from tactical movement utility, you can Tele-Frag enemies.

  • In Gilder PRO, rubber bands can be used to trip switches; they're more useful for this purpose than for killing enemies, which give out nothing and respawn quickly.

  • Ratchet's wrench in Ratchet & Clank is a decent melee weapon, but is also used to operate a few mechanisms that resemble large bolts.
  • Duke Nukem II's flamethrower can be used to boost yourself up, like a jetpack.
  • The Apple ][ game Aztec (1982). The dynamite you found could be used to blow up enemies. It could also be used to blow holes in the floor, which could not only prevent enemies from reaching you but could also allow you to drop down to lower levels.
  • The Mega Man series has several.
    • Mega Man has the Super Arm and the Thunder Beam, the former can be used to pick up those blocks in your way, while the latter can destroy them in a shot.
    • Mega Man 2 has Crash Bombs, useful for blowing up those otherwise indestructible doors. Bubble Lead can also be used to find the fake platforms with spikes underneath.
    • Mega Man 3 has the Hard Knuckle, which is the only weapon that can break those hard walls.
    • Mega Man 4 has the Drill Bomb, for breaking those hard walls.
    • Mega Man 6 has the Power Adapter, for breaking those hard walls.
    • Mega Man 7 has several. The Freeze Cracker can be used to freeze instant-kill molten metal, Thunder Bolt can power up machines, while Scorch Wheel can burn off foliage and light up candles.
    • Mega Man 8: Tornado Hold can be used to rapidly damage an enemy, as well as lift Mega Man to a higher platform. Thunder Claw can be used to grab onto bars.
    • Mega Man 9: Concrete Shot can be used to create platforms and block lasers. The Tornado Blow allows Mega Man to do a higher jump. The Hornet Chaser can pick up otherwise-unreachable items for Mega Man.
    • Mega Man 10: Commando Bomb, for breaking those hard walls. Wheel Chaser can also be used to scale up walls.
  • And it creeps into the Mega Man X series as well. Multiple weapons are needed to solve puzzles and get new upgrades.
    • Mega Man X: Shotgun Ice can be charged to create a sled that X can ride to reach otherwise unaccessible places, charged Chameleon Sting gives X an invulnerability mode (but he's unable to damage the enemies as well) to traverse some dangerous sections or just speedrunning and Boomerang Cutter can be used to collect power-ups behind walls.
    • Mega Man X2: X gets one of the biggest collections of utility weapons on this game. Strike Chain can be used to grasp to walls and collect items, Spin Wheel can destroy floors and some specific terrain, charged Bubble Splash allows higher jumping height underwater, Crystal Hunter can be used to cristalize enemies and create temporal platforms to access other areas and charged Speed Burner can be used as an additional air dash.
    • Mega Man X3: Tornado Fang can be used to break cracked walls and the charged version allows X to cling indefinitely to a wall, charged Triad Thunder can make boulders and some structures fall to give access to additional rooms, and charged Gravity Well can lift a platform used to reach the Body upgrade.
    • Mega Man X4: As Zero first playable appearance, he gets one too. Lightning Web can be used as a wall for an additional jump, Rising Fire/Ryuenjin can be used to burn ice and wood to get some collectibles, and charged Twin Slasher can destroy some rocks.
    • Mega Man X5: Goo Shaver can destroy a placeholder unit to access one of X armor upgrades and Firefly Laser likewise is used to access another armor upgrade in a puzzle-like fashion.
    • Mega Man X6: Ground Dash/Sentsuizan can be used to destroy blocks that are part of Nightmare phenomena, and Hyoroga allows Zero to cling to ceilings and dash one time.
  • In Azure Striker Gunvolt, Gunvolt's electricity powers can be used to activate machinery. For example, in the first level, he encounters a broken elevator. By shooting lightning rods at the elevator's power source, he can use his electricity to activate it.
  • Kirby will often encounter stage hazards and implements that he'd need to interact with his Copy Ability and/or game-specific abilities to pass through, or to collect goodies, collectables and Plot Coupons. Fuses can be lit with Fire or other abilities that has attacks that are on fire, plugs can be shocked with Spark, ropes can be cut with Sword or Cutter, pegs can be smashed with Hammer or Stone, and so on.

  • Rocks N Diamonds has a downloadable Zelda Level which has bombs destroy certain walls and objects

    Role Playing Game 
  • In Skyrim, mining picks (and other tools) are needed to carry out certain actions, but can also be equipped as weapons (indeed, some NPCs will use them as an Improvised Weapon).
    • In fact, mining ore can be done faster by wielding the pick as a weapon and "attacking" the ore-vein (just don't hit any nearby NPCs). This can also be used to mine an ore-vein an NPC is interacting with instead of waiting for them to leave. The woodcutter's ax does not function the same way unfortunately.
  • In Pokémon, there are Hidden Machines, which not only teach mons attacks you can use in battles, but also outside of battles to bypass barriers. In addition, some non-HM moves like Flash or Headbutt can also be used outside battle (but aren't typically needed to progress through the story.
  • In Arcanum, axes and hammers can be used to open stubborn doors and chests. You could also use a sword to smash them open, but it'd be more likely to break.
  • In Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, every weapon you get can be used in a non-combat situation: Axes obviously cut down trees, bombs open sealed passages, the claw weapons allow you to scale walls (with the ultimate version, the Dragon Claw, allowing you to grapple distant objects), and your sword can poke switches in hard-to-reach places (which only even comes up in two dungeons).

  • In NetHack, any item can be thrown at a monster or wielded and be used to bash a monster. While some non-weapon items will cause specific effects upon hitting a monster, there some weapon items that have non-combat uses:
    • Bladed weapons can be used to pry open locked chests, though doing this carries the risk of breaking the weapon.
    • Pointy or sharp metallic weapons can be used to engrave words into the floor, though this is slow and dulls the weapon. But an athame (a specific type of dagger) can not only engrave without becoming dull, but also engraves much faster than other weapons.
    • Wands of fire and lightning can be used to throw bolts of fire and bolts of lightning at monsters, but can also be used to burn words into the floor.
    • Wands of striking, in addition to being used to strike monsters, can be used to destroy statues and boulders.
    • Wand of cold can be used to freeze pools of water into solid ice, which is useful since your character comes with Super Drowning Skills.
    • Pickaxes and mattocks are considered weapons, but can also be used to tunnel through walls, destroy boulders and statues, dig pits in the floor, and dig holes through the floor which let you fall down to the next dungeon level.
    • A bullwhip can be used to pick an object up off the ground if you're floating or riding an animal, to fish an item out of a pool of water, or can wrap around a large object and be used to pull you out of a pit.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, dwarves use battleaxes for woodcutting as well as a weapon, rather than have any form of separate woodcutting axe. Additionally, while picks are normally regarded as tools first and weapons second, they're surprisingly effective as either, due to a rather deadly piercing attack as well as its combat use relying on the mining skill (unlike axes, which use separate skills for combat use and woodcutting).

  • The particle projector cannon in MechWarrior Living Legends is a potent long-ranged Plasma Cannon, but it has great utility (or griefing) potential in its ability to screw with electronics and sensors. If an ally has an enemy NARC missile beacon on them, you can splash their feet with the PPC to destroy the NARC. The EMP effect also temporarily disables nightvision, allowing you to blind enemies at night. In the game's Tournament Play, each side would typically bring at least one PPC-equipped mech to strip enemy NARC beacons.
  • Project Zomboid allows you to explore this trope extensively, since there are more "weapons" that have mundane uses than don't. Hammers, knives, frying pans, even pens, are all usable both for their intended purposes and for dispatching zombies.

    Survival Horror 
  • All of Silent Hill: Homecoming's melee weapons. The knife can tear through layers of cloth/tissue, the pipe can force locks open, the axe can cut down planks boarding doors shut, etc.
  • The weapons in Dead Space are pretty much only used to kill enemies. But within the game's lore, most of these weapons are actually heavy duty mining and engineering tools that happen to be very good at dismembering necromorphs.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • The Hookblade from Assassin's Creed: Revelations is used for getting around the city and cutting folk up.
  • In Destroy All Humans!, the Anal Probe can (if used on a human when fully charged) cause the target's brain to pop out, allowing you to extract the DNA and use it to buy upgrades.
  • In the Rune Factory series, you can use swords in place of your sickle and your war hammers in place of your normal hammer (though not nearly as efficiently as the normal tools). This comes in handy in RF3, where using battle hammers during mining can yield metal ores like iron and copper more often than your leveled-up tool hammer (which tends to cough up jewels and crystals).

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • While Real Life tends to be devoid of (deliberately designed) puzzles like the ones you'd find in games, certain objects which might be used as weapons (knives, small axes, entrenching tools) tend to be useful for more peaceful purposes.
  • World War Z gives us the Lobotomizer, an axe that's also a shovel. So you can fortify your position and then kill the shit out of zombies. And then give them a proper burial because you're classy like that.
  • Any gun Smith gets his hands on in Shoot 'em Up, via trick shots. Mainly used to traverse or manipulate the environment around him during a fire fight.
  • In the fanfic Accident Month One, we have the Fenton Broom. It cleans up messes and can be used to both whack and shock ghosts. It's third quality is that ghosts can't phase through it, making it an ideal clean up tool for Danny to use as long as he doesn't press the taser button by accident again.
  • Ring World: the starship which the Puppeteers outfitted for the mission had nothing that could be called a weapon per se... but was so chock-full of Utility Weapons that Louis Wu christened it 'Lying Bastard' in recognition of its deceptive design.
  • Like most huntsmen in RWBY, Professor Oobleck carries a customized and extremely powerful Swiss Army Weapon. In combat it serves as a combination club/flamethrower, but otherwise collapses into a fully functional thermos. Very fitting for a man who lives in a nearly constant state of Caffeine Bullet Time.