As the technology used to wage warfare has advanced, all new weapons and tactics have risen to use them. In the process, previous methods become far less prominent, and often eventually disappear altogether. Most modern navies have all but abandoned battleships, and the only blades today's soldiers carry are knives.
But in the future... what if technology takes a sudden and (un?)expected turn? The advent of military-grade lasers and fire-control systems that are decidedly not Point Defenseless
makes missiles useless and taking aircraft into battle suicidal. All those modern aircraft carriers and missile cruisers suddenly become obsolete, and the battleship is king of the seas once more. What if personal-scale Deflector Shields
make swords and spears viable weapons again?
This occurs a lot in Speculative Fiction
, where some discovery or advance in science or technology has the net effect of rendering the last 20 to 200 years of military tactical development moot, forcing a return to the methods of an earlier time of warfare, often still with high-tech spins on the old gear. For example, if large close-combat weapons become viable again, they may develop Laser Blades
, Hot Blades
, or Vibroweapons
. This overlaps with Retro Upgrade
See also Break Out the Museum Piece
, when this happens in a more immediate sense.
Anime & Manga
- Mobile Suit Gundam introduced the Minovsky Particle, which when scattered across an area did a number on detection and guidance equipment, forcing both land and space combat back into visual ranges. It should be noted that the arming of the Zaku II with a Heat Hawk was something of a predictive move, with Zeonic designers figuring that the Federation would develop their own mobile suits sooner or later, and added the weapon just in case.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED has "Neutron Jammers", which prohibit fission reactions and jams radios. The result: no nukes, everything runs on batteries, and, you guessed it, close-range combat.
- Mutant Chronicles: When the Dark Symmetry (a cosmic horror force) is released, advanced computers become evil and electronics become unreliable. As a result, warfare (and pretty much everything else) regresses to The Seventies.
- In Warhammer 40,000, though modern weaponry has not been replaced, melee combat is back again as regular fare on the battlefields with exclusively melee-range weapons being commonly deployed, but there is no single specific reason for this having happened (aside from the expected Rule of Cool of course) - the rulebook words it implying close-combat likely renders troops unable to shoot their guns despite Pistol-Whipping being perfectly usable to give yourself an opening to fire in a melee. However, many assault troops employ Sword and Gun to get something of a best of both worlds in close-combat, though there is certainly individual troops who use only melee weapons for arming themselves.
- The old Manhunter universe had swordsmen who specialized in fighting aboard spacecraft, where guns are impractical because of the tendency of stray bullets to punch holes in the hull and/or destroy necessary equipment.
- Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars has GDI revert back to using tanks, since it was just more cost-effective. It turns out Mecha and hover tanks are too expensive to maintain. Similarly, Nod ends up abandoning subterranean burrowing vehicles due to environmental changes.
- Averted in the Dune II and Emperor: Battle for Dune games. Unlike the books (shield technology makes many projectile weapons obsolete), the various factions operate tanks, artillery, and machine guns just fine. Dune II has benefit of being set on Arrakis, where Shields are avoided to prevent the major local wildlife from going berserk. But in Emperor, all units are still usable even not on Dune, and House Ordos still uses some shielded units on Arrakis.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance CNT armour makes cyborg infantry nearly Immune to Bullets, so melee Vibroweapons have come back into fashion.
- In the Big Head Press comic Phoebus Krumm, "S-fields" enable FTL travel but disable all electronics within the field, making space warfare essentially age of sail naval combat.
- In the future of S.S.D.D advances in anti-air defense had made air and missile strikes nearly impossible, and fullerene armor made ordinary guns obsolete. Which meant most battles were fought on the ground, by men in suits armor hitting one another with hammers. "Oh, how far we have come." One of the major story arcs involves a war that ends when one side uses a Kill Sat to knock out their opponent's AA and launching a bunch of museum piece ICBMs