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You Have Researched Breathing

Milk is the one substance all mammals can consume immediately after birth. But some madman at Blizzard is either unfamiliar with the stuff or has confused "milk" with "Jack Daniels Old Time Tennessee Whiskey," because you have to be a seasoned adventurer before you're allowed a glass of it [...] Things only get more demented as you go up in level. You need a Ph.D. in Kicking Ass to slurp down a bowl of soup, and you'll need to be more than halfway to godhood before you're allowed to face the challenge and responsibility of eating pie.

So you're playing some Real-Time Strategy game such as Age of Dunecraft. Your Deadly Deathknights of Death can shoot fast-moving vehicles with their missiles, but attacking buildings or infantry with the things simply doesn't occur to them yet. Sigh. You totally thought you taught that ability.

Some building time and resources later, You Have Researched Breathing.

It's bad enough when you have to upgrade weapons and acquire new tech rather than start with all of it (especially if you researched it already last week). But if You Have Researched Breathing, then you are using optional upgrades for things that shouldn't need to be researched, that shouldn't even be on the Tech Tree in the first place: it should be second nature to that sort of unit. And yet, somehow, it isn't.

Also prone to happen in any other type of game with character customization or unlockables, such as Role-Playing Games. Yes, you can't wear boots or drink potions until you grind enough XP to level up.

Compare with Level-Locked Loot. The corollary is often Instant Expert, where Researching Breathing automatically allows those who Breathe to do so instantly and flawlessly.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • In Bunny Must Die! Chelsea and the 7 Devils, the main character Bunny can't walk to the right side of the screen until she picks up a gear item. Interestingly, she can still dash backwards, and so some people have actually beaten the game without ever picking up said item.
  • One of the complaints against Castlevania: Circle of the Moon was that you needed to find a powerup in order to run. On the plus side, said powerup was 5 minutes into the game. The minus side is the enemy guarding it is quite difficult because you can't run yet.
    • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow you need a relic to backdash and another to do a downward kick after a double jump. Sounds fine, but in pretty much every other Metroidvania Castlevania the backdash is had from the very beginning, and you can automatically kick after a double jump once you get the double jump. At least Soma isn't supposed to be a highly-trained vampire hunter, so it makes more sense than the Circle of the Moon example, but it's still quite aggravating.
    • In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Alucard has to find the Cube of Zoe relic in order to... find items from destroyed candles. That said, hearts and money and axes popping out of destroyed candles is highly implausible IRL, so perhaps all other characters had that relic with them already.
  • La-Mulana requires you to find 10 coins to purchase the ability to save the game. Even as a homage to Nintendo Hard retro games, that's pushing it. The remake removes this requirement.
    • Also unusual is that your archaeologist character can't read (not even signs written in his language) without buying a gadget for his laptop computer. It's not nearly as cheap as the game-saving item. The device that translates the glyphs costs even more money on top of that, and in this game you won't get far without it.
  • Ōkami gives the player character the option to buy an ability that lets her pee. For 20 times the price, she gets a more useful ability. Poop. Kinda makes sense, since it's exploding poop.
  • Several useful abilities are granted to you in cutscenes in Sword of Mana. Once again, these include sitting.
    • Legend of Mana is kind enough to start you out with the ability to sit. The ability to slide, tackle, and taunt, however, require intense training to discovernote .

    Adventure Games 
  • DLC Quest deconstructs this within an inch of its life. You have to collect coins in-game to buy Dl C. Literally everything other than the existence of a horse, planet, and people must be bought before it can be used. Want to spin the grindstone? Buy the ability from the shop. Want to cut down bushes in your way? Buy it from the shop. Want to move left and jump? Buy it from the shop. Want to have animation? Buy it from the shop. Want to PAUSE? BUY IT FROM THE SHOP.
  • The Quest for Glory series of games, being a hybrid of an Adventure Game with RPG elements, had this on occasion. If your character started with zero points in a skill, such as climbing, then they could never get better at it no matter how many times you tried to climb that tree. Although sometimes you could learn a skill by reading a book. In the fifth game, your character has to read a book about swimming to get over his Super Drowning Skillsnote .
    • However, this lead to an interesting exploit in the first version of Quest for Glory I, where you could add 5 points to a skill and then take back 4, allowing you to have a point in every skill and train up in everything.
    • Lampshaded in IV, where the book that teaches fighters how to climb is said to use only small words, with lots of simple, brightly colored pictures.
    • Possibly satired in the command "pick nose," where you attempt to pick your nose with a lock picking kit. If you succeed, the player is told "your nose is now open," and you can gain lock-picking skill by doing it. If you fail though, you die.
  • In Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, the aliens have a device that causes temporary Laser-Guided Amnesia. In game terms, the player actually forgets how to do everyday things by disabling action verbs. Apparently, you can forget how to talk or pick up items but can remember later.
  • Many Adventure Games rely on you having to talk to someone in order to know what to do, even if you've played it before and so know it already. Some adventure games like Monkey Island deliberately subvert this - the voodoo lady (who gives you hints) doesn't need to be talked to at all in most of the first game.

    Action Games 
  • Brink appears to play it straight with the revive syringes, which medics can freely distribute to their squadmates but can't administer to themselves until you invest points into this at a higher level. In real life, the dosage of such drugs is notoriously difficult to control, and use by untrained personnel is likely to result in Worst Aid.
  • In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, you need the "Tactical Knife" addon in order to hold a knife in your left hand and a pistol in your right. If you drop a pistol with the addon and grab another without it, however, your highly trained commando character will forget how it works. Similarly, you need the Scavenger perk to know how to... Scavenge ammo off corpses, or the Commando perk to do a Deadly Lunge, etc.
    • This was averted in Black Ops, however; you can pick up ammo from similar guns (MP5K feeds MP5K) without Scavenger. Instead, Scavenger allows you to convert ammo for one type of weapon to work in a different one — for example, you can take ammo from an AK-47 and make it into MP5K ammo.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: your character needs to take a perk in order to bribe guards to look the other way when you commit a crime. You can bribe characters in general without the perk, just not the guards, so it's not quite as severe as a lot of other examples. Still, how much experience does a person really need to master the art of...handing money to a cop?
  • In Fallout 3, you need to receive special training from the Brotherhood of Steel (or the simulation in the Operation: Anchorage DLC) before you can wear the Powered Armor. Fair enough, except that you didn't need any such training in Fallout or Fallout 2, your followers (like Charon and Jericho, who probably haven't received Brotherhood training) don't seem to, and the raiders who took over an Enclave outpost managed just fine without. You're apparently the only person in the entire wasteland who can't figure it out on their own.
    • The Vault Dweller will happily chew on raw giant insects, mutated dogs, crabs and bears that you have just freshly killed with no chance of getting infected with various parasites (as well as stick their head into a toilet covered in 200 year old fecal bacteria to get a drink), but human meat isn't on the menu until you learn a perk to eat it/overcome revulsion from it. Even without the perk, you can eat "Human meat" dropped off Feral Ghouls, with no loss to your Karma (as opposed to regular cannibalism through the perk.) Seems like ghouls aren't equal to humans in more ways than one.
    • In New Vegas, Veronica and Arcade can wear power armor from the get-go before the Courier recieves training, but other companions only gain the ability after the Courier does.
  • The Fallout: New Vegas DLC Old World Blues gives you a base which is controlled entirely by AIs, and you have to find holotapes containing their personalities and functions to make use of any of its features. This means that you have to find a holotape before you get a drink of water from the sink, and a second upgrade holotape before the sink will let you fill bottles with water to take on your journey.
  • In No More Heroes, one of the abilities Travis Touchdown can learn via being beaten up by a Russian drunkard in exchange for some plastic balls scattered throughout the city is how to run.
    • Also in the sequel, Desperate Struggle, completing all the revenge missions unlocks a reward. That is, the ability to take off your jacket.
  • Space Invaders Infinity Gene. After a few levels, your ship "evolves" the ability to... move freely in all directions. Though being able to do so is unconventional in a Space Invaders game.
  • System Shock 2. If you don't invest at least one point in a weapon skill, you can't use that kind of weapon. Even a pistol or some exotic thing that is essentially a club made of crystals.
    • Even more infuriating, it takes a full six points in exotic weapons to wield a club made out of crystal, and you have to reasearch it first, which requires full six points in the Research skill as well. The wrench, on the other hand, is your default weapon.
    • It's fun when a character who went through basic military training can't use an assault rifle. No, it's not that you aren't good at it, which would make sense if you weren't specialized as infantry, it's that you can't use it at all!
  • In Team Fortress 2 you can purchase the ability to point and laugh at your enemies.
    • As well, three of the game's rare hats are...The Scout, Sniper, and Engineer without their default hats. They need a collectable to figure out how to not wear a hat. The Spy can also unlock a misc item that is... his default suit jacket, unbuttoned.
    • Lampshaded with the the high-five taunt which includes a page where Saxton Hale claims high-fiving someone is his invention, is complicated enough that you need to pay him to learn how, and before people could only congratulate each other through punches to the face.
    • Seeing Pyroland requires everyone to have certain items, including the Pyro—when this is supposed to be what he sees all the time. This is understandable, as only being able to play Pyro with Pyroland visible would be quite annoying.
  • Mass Effect 1 let the various Player Character classes use all weapons, but they couldn't use a scope without training in that type of weapon. Shepard is a highly-trained special forces Marine who can't bend their head a few inches.
    • Mass Effect 2 has Shepard unable to use certain weapons at all without training. Most bizarrely, every class can use heavy weapons (which include everything from flamethrowers to nuke cannons) yet most require training to use assault rifles. And somehow everyone in the entire galaxy has forgotten about throwable grenades.
    • Mass Effect 3 brings back grenades and lets any class use any weapon effectively in both single-player and co-op, leading to players' joy at their CQC Infiltrator, Sniper Adept, or anything else they cared to use.
    • The first game allowed the player to switch out their armor and that of their squad. In ME2, the only way to do change the squad's was by gaining loyalty or DLC. Same in ME3, but without loyalty. While armour changes in ME2 are palette swaps only and don't affect gameplay, in ME3 each armour swap has a different passive effect.
    • Biotic abilities apparently vary wildly on the underlying level in the way unmatched by the Force. How else to explain Adepts/Sentinels/Vanguards capable of throwing people away from them in all installments, yet unable to pull them forward until the second game?
    • Try being an Adept. Right off the bat you can summon a black hole that lifts and disables every enemy in the area. But lifting a single target requires training. Several other classes can get the single target version but the black hole is Adept only.
    • Throwing grenades and switching to different kinds of ammo is an unlockable ability in ME2, even though you can figure that out on your own in both the original and the third game.
  • What's the most expensive cosmetic items you can buy in Loadout? The ability to take off your underpants and have your censored man parts jiggle around in the battlefield.

    MMORPG 
  • City of Heroes and City of Villains. Every. Single. Powerset has at least a few places where you need thousands of Mook defeats and specialized training to learn things single-bullet fire for an assault rifle fully automatic by default — and sword-oriented powersets aren't much better. At least with the power-armored melee attacks the training might be needed to coax primitive interface into overhead smash.
    • And you need to get to level 2 to learn to "rest", which is exactly what it sounds like.
    • One of the most egregious examples is the Medicine power pool. The animations for each power in the pool involve pulling out this little green device, aiming it at a target, and pushing a button that makes this green laser and mist spray out. The first two powers in each pool are available at level 6, the third power is available at level 14. The first two powers of the Medicine pool target allies, and the third targets yourself. So if you take one of the powers at level 6, it takes 8 levels for your character to be able to go from pointing the device at allies to pointing the device at him/herself.
  • In Dofus you have exactly one emote starting off with. Sitting down. Waving, cheering, playing Rock-Paper-Scissors, lying down, even farting require quests or emote scrolls.
    • Wakfu follows the same pattern, though you can't even sit down until you defeat your first monster.
  • Guild Wars 2 requires you to level up to eat certain foods. It's handwaved away as needing that level to take advantage of the magic that's baked into the food, but you'd think you'd be able to eat it anyway, just not gain any benefits, right?
    • Also, for weapon skills, you need to score a certain number of kills with the given weapon type to unlock skills beyond the first one. As pointed out by Ctrl+Alt+Del, this can get to ridiculous levels.
  • Kingdom of Loathing starts you out with the ability to equip helmets/hats, pants, weapons, and shields (or other items you want to carry around in your off-hand, which can be anything from spellbooks to stuffed animals). If you want to wear a shirt, you need to learn Torso Awaregness (sic). It's taught by a gnome in a secret area only available after ascending. If you learn it in Bad Moon, the gnome who teaches you it is kinda baffled that you don't know about your torso. Without that skill, not only are you unable to figure out how to use shirts, defeated monsters won't even drop shirts. Certain foods and drinks have level requirements as well. Also, just about all gear has some sort of stat requirement, from headgear to accessories.
    • It took a kingdom-wide effort of back-breaking labor of quenching a massive brushfire, 9 years after the game was released, for adventurers to realize that they do indeed have backs and that you can wear equipment over it.
    • Special skills are required to make certain foods and drinks. Most are believable, but it's a little weird that you need Advanced Cocktailcrafting and a high-tech still to stick a paper umbrella in a drink.
    • A skill revamp added specialized training in the arts of smirking, arched eyebrows, and many other facial expressions.
  • La Tale has books which, when read, can teach your character to use a particular emote. These emotes include the ability to point at things, the ability to stick your hand out without pointing at things, and the ability to be sad. To make it worse, these books tend to have a low chance of even working, so most of the time, your character will be completely unable to comprehend how to look angry or whatever.
  • Mabinogi has the "Rest" skill, which has to be learned. That's right, the game doesn't even give you the ability to sit down until an NPC teaches you how (to get higher ranks in the skill, you have to learn from NPCs or books). Fortunately, it's one of the first skills that player characters learn.
  • When starting Ragnarok Online every character first has to level in the novice class. This is partially because the novice classes skills include fundamental abilities, like sitting down.
  • In RuneScape, your character can, starting out, use bronze and iron armor and weapons, but it's not until higher levels of Defense or Attack that he can wear steel or any other weapons. The same goes for mining rocks — you can't mine, say, mithril at starting level, but you can mine copper and tin, even though the ore is right there either way.
    • Then, there is waiting ten levels to learn how to add a basic chocolate bar to a simple, already cooked cake. note  That's just the tip of the iceberg. The player character has to get an an absurdly high 68 Cooking just to know how to add tuna to a baked potato.
  • In World of Warcraft, it is possible to have a character that is too low level to drink a glass of milk. No, the milk isn't magical or from some exotic animal or anything. Just a regular glass of milk. This is just one food example of many.
    • You can drink plain old water from the start, but fancy water from an oasis in Uldum has to wait until you're a level 80 adventurer who's seen every part of the world and fights Physical Gods for a living. Too much fizzy power for you to handle.
    • While most of the professions have some form of logic to their research, Herbalism has you capable of identifying all plants as soon as you get Apprentice, and spotting them from thirty paces, but you can't PICK them, even though you can pick others.
    • You also need to be level 20 as a worgen to learn how to run on four legs.
    • Rogues require level 26 to sprint. To every other class, the very concept of running as hard as you can is completely alien.
    • Characters can equip hats, pauldrons and jewellery from the start, but with the exception of some vanity items, you're unlikely to find any you can wear until about level 20-25.
    • This trope is parodied by Griftah the Troll salesman who sells costly amulets that "grant" you abilities such as eating food to heal wounds and great swimming skills. All of these are "abilities" characters in the game have to begin with.
  • In MapleStory, you don't know how to sit down until you learn it in a quest.
  • In The Old Republic, both Jedi Knights and Jedi Consulars assemble their first lightsabers in a cutscene. However you will be unable to make more lightsabers unless you take artifice as a crafting skill, get it to the required level and obtain a relevant schematic.
  • EverQuest requires players to grind several levels before they can learn how to dodge during combat, as in "simply move away from an attack."
  • In Star Trek Online, you need to reach level 30 before you learn to call your ship and ask them to beam down some Red Shirts to assist. And its only available for the Tactical class.

    Platformer Games 
  • Jables's Adventure gives this one a good skewering:
    Squiddy: I will now bestow on you the power to jump. Press [Z] to clear that gap!
    [jump]
    Jables: I could already do that.
    Squiddy: Oh. Good for you then.
  • Rayman series: In Rayman 1, being magically granted running makes Rayman forget the near-useless ability to grimace. Cue an important boss battle in Rayman 3 years later, he relearns the grimace... through a god-powered artifact, the nature of which gives it a new plot-vital power this time.
    • Rayman Origins takes is a step further: you have to be granted the ability to use a basic attack!
  • In Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic has to learn several basic action moves, including the ability to walk backwards.
  • Banjo and Kazooie don't gain new moves from new items, but they "learn" them from moles instead, never bothering to figure out or improvise new moves themselves. For example, after learning to aim and shoot eggs, Kazooie needs a separate move for the underwater version.
  • Mega Man (Classic) needs to acquire certain weapons, such as the Metal Blade, to figure out that he can point his arm up. Similar things are true in most of the Sequel Series: in both Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero, Zero has to learn such advanced "Techniques" as swinging upwards, Mega Man Battle Network's MegaMan.EXE has to move into an enemy's line of fire to shoot at it, and so on. To date, the only platformer where the hero can aim his default weapon is Mega Man X7, and even there it's automatic rather than player-controlled.
  • In Metroid Fusion, Samus starts out able to grab ledges and climb up. Strangely, Metroid Zero Mission turned this into a necessary upgrade, the Power Grip. (Maybe the Fusion Suit is lighter?)

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • In Command & Conquer: Generals, the GLA workers ask for new shoes. In the expansion, you can research/"purchase" shoes to enhance their speed, for which they thank you and stop complaining. This basic thing requires a black market (high-tier research facility) too.
    • Also, your basic soldiers are equipped with assault rifles like everyone else. Angry Mobs only possess pistols from the start, but can gain assault rifles later, which also requires the involvement of black market. Don't even ask why these mobs can only be recruited late into the game when you get RPG users at the start, or why no-one else can get access to their petrol bombs.
  • Several of the traits in the Dawn of War II campaigns feature severe Gameplay and Story Segregation both from the 40K lore (commonplace for games) and from it's own storyline. Tarkus and Thaddeus need a trait to be able to equip Chainswords and Bolters respectively (in canon and preceding games, every Space Marine knows that) Not only that, Cyrus is supposedly a master scout and infiltration specialist, but he starts at level 1 and has to be taught how to drop smoke bombs, using a shotgun, etc.
  • Halo Wars is full of this for just about every commander. From having to research calling down more than one shot from your orbital space gun (that can always fire 4 shots, but will only fire 1 until you research more) to researching an upgrade for your tanks that the commander (Forge) you're using invented to — best of all — having to research the ability for your repair units to repair things (as Forge, again).
    • Additionally, during Skirmish matches when playing as the Covenant, you have to teach Hunters to equip the shield they're always shown wielding in any of the main series' campaign missions.
  • Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars Heroes can buy the "Aghanim's Scepter" a legendary staff apparently made by a wizard with demigod-like powers. This increases the power of their Ultimate Ability Allowing things like forcing debufss not to count down while the enemy is near you or making an ability global. Tiny, The Stone Giant however, picks up a tree to club people as an upgrade.
  • League of Legends champions, despite being legendary heroes in their universe, need to research their basic attacks during the game. Ashe the Frost Archer starts out being unable to shoot frost arrows, mages start without spells, musician champion Sona cannot play any songs, Corki cannot launch the rockets on his plane, Orianna's ball doesn't do anything and Gangplank cannot shoot his pistol or eat oranges. Depending on your spell choices, these situations can last for a long time. This is handwaved as the League being a sanctioned and regulated competition used to solve political disputes, so senior summoners constantly tweak the amount of power Champions use with each skill and level to keep things fair.
  • In Rise of Legends, Vinci Musketeers need to research level 2 (Imperial Grenadiers) to Volley Fire, and level 3 (Imperial Fusiladiers) to use rifle stocks in melee. It also prohibits them from attacking at range.
  • Some scenarios in Rise of Nations may take place in the information age, yet have you re-research crop rotation, patriotism and religion.
  • In Sins of a Solar Empire, your ships cannot phase jump between stars until you have researched how. Fridge Logic sets in when you realize that your faction must have jumped from another solar system to colonize your starting planet.
    • Especially when you consider that, for example, the TEC are a vast, multi-system trade alliance, which requires inter-system travel. Once again, Gameplay and Story Segregation.
  • The Zerg of Starcraft have to learn how to burrow. The only unit that doesn't have to learn it is the Lurker, probably because if they can't burrow, they can't attack; on the other hand, they are also the only unit that can burrow but takes a substantial amount of time to do so (there is some variation in the others, according to unit size, but nothing so marked).
    • Protoss High Templars in the first game have no weapon and start out with no psionic abilities, rendering them incapable of doing anything until their abilities are researched. The only thing these expensive units can do until you sink some minerals into training them is... sacrifice themselves to create an Archon that does have an attack. Keep in mind they are not trained on the field but gated in from their home planet like that.
  • In StarCraft II, Raynor's Raiders, a 5-year old rebel group shown in the first game with full and competent arsenals of all Terran units, starts out able to build only marines and medic with no available upgrades. By the end of the game, you are able to build every unit from both the first and second games (minus Valkyries, but also several units that were scrapped for multiplayer) plus you have many upgrades that would be game breakers in multiplayer, all in an in-game timespan of a few weeks.
  • In the Twenty Minutes into the Future strategy game War, Inc., you play the CEO of a multinational corporation expanding into professional military work. Despite the fact that your infantry come from cloning vats, you have to spend time and money researching vehicle designs other than a jeep and weapons other then the most basic of machine guns.
  • The Ghouls in Warcraft 3 need to spend time and money upgrading to allow them to eat the recent dead.
    • Crypt Fiends have this with web and burrow as well (hilariously causing a rather literal example of How Do I Shot Web?, although one could argue that shooting their webbing at high speed into the air to bring down flyers might be a technique they need to learn). The night elves feature this with the entire faction researching night vision, for a group that is mostly active at night for biological reasons. Chimeras have to research using their other head to spit acid. Trolls need to be taught how to regenerate, which is an innate ability to all members of their race (Years later it was explained that troll regeneration is tied to that individual troll's connection to a mystical loa that grants them their regenerative abilities. So researching regeneration apparently means instituting some kind of compulsory religious seminar). Abominations, walking piles of rotting corpses, needs research to stink. Orcish grunts and raiders needs research to know how to pillage. Tauren need to learn how to smash the ground with their totems. Mountain Giants need research to make their skin, which is stone, resistant to normal attacks. Footmen, who have a large shield from the begining, need to be trained to put their shield infront of their face. And arguably the apex example in the entire game, The apex upgrade for Druids of the Claw is learning how to roar as a bear.
  • None of the alien weapons in X-COM can be used before they are reverse-engineered by a team of scientists in your home base. The aliens are largely unintelligent, and most of the weapons look exactly like human guns.
    • Spiritual Successor UFO After Blank provides two solid justifications: the aliens are far more alien (and intelligent), and when their weapons are researched, it's not just a matter of finding out how to use them, but also learning the basic principles that the weapons work on so that they can be reverse-engineered, and also so that they don't potentially explode in the face of your soldiers (like in, say, The Fifth Element with the little red button).
    • In Vladimir Vasilyev's novelization, alien weapons are biometrically-locked, meaning a soldier can pick up what looks like a gun but can't fire it. Scientists first have to figure out how to enter the soldier's DNA into the gun's database. Doesn't explain why different weapons would have different security measures.
    • In the 2012 reboot, not only are the alien guns biometrically locked, but they also explode if the alien carrying it dies, to avoid them being reverse-engineered. In order to steal alien guns, not only do you need to research them but also capture the aliens alive — but you can't put on new equipment in the field anyway. The technical readouts after doing such research also indicate that the humans aren't just using standard alien weapons; they have to be adjusted to fit human hands, and in some cases it takes a great deal of research to find ways to lighten the weapon enough for a human to even handle it.
      • The reboot requires research into alien Weapon Fragments before the engineers can build and distribute weapon scopes for their rifles. Admittedly, the S.C.O.P.E. is built from alien parts to create some sort of "advanced targeting system", so presumably it isn't just a standard telescopic sight.
    • In The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, Outsider weapons disintegrate along with alien bodies upon death. However, as soon as you manage to obtain an alien weapon that hasn't yet been activated, all the weapons of the same type carried by aliens suddenly stop disintegrating.
  • Many things in Age of Empires are things you'd logically need to learn about before you can use them, like Gunpowder, but there are a few examples of this, like the Huns being able to research Atheism. Which would seem to imply that belief is the default state, if not for the fact that the other civilizations have to research Faith.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • As noted in this comic from VG Cats, in order to equip any given piece of equipment (often extremely similar ones), use abilities, or cast spells in Final Fantasy XII the character must first have the license for it. Made worse by the fact that the party, composed entirely of thieves, rebels, and sky pirates, isn't the law-abiding sort.
    Leo: We Dalmaskans are pretty stupid like that. Without the experience points it's a wonder we can wipe our own asses.
    Aeris: (with hat over face) Okay, I'm honestly ashamed of myself. Let's go kill cactuar until I learn how to stop being retarded.
    • Even more ridiculous with gambits: apparently, unless you find a card that tells character to, say, target an ally with a specific status ailment they are unable to figure out that it's possible to do so. Straining the limits of Acceptable Breaks from Reality is the least that can be said about this.
    • Not quite as bad but in the same neighborhood: in Final Fantasy Tactics, you have to learn how to use each item individually through the (Al)Chemist class. And in Final Fantasy X, you can use basic items like Potions normally, but you need to learn the proper ability (or be Rikku) in order to learn how to use advanced items.
    • And in Final Fantasy XIII, Sazh, Vanille, and Hope apparently forget how to do basic attacks after they become l'Cie, and of the three only Sazh gets the ability back automatically. Especially silly as they're all capable of using basic attacks before that point, and Vanille was already a l'Cie before then anyway.
  • In Neverwinter Nights, you need to spend feats in order to equip weapons and armor your class isn't proficient with. Not use, equip. That's right, unless you train for this specific purpose, a wizard (generally considered to be very smart people) lacks the understanding to hold a sword without immediately dropping it. (In the pen & paper game you only take penalties for non-proficiency.)
  • Ditto Diablo, where everything including rings and necklaces have stat and level requirements to wear them. Also, your characters are apparently so paranoid about magical items that they refuse to wield anything until it's been identified. And while in Diablo, you could wear Unidentified items, but bear the risk of it being cursed, in the sequel you can not wear Unidentified items and there are no Cursed items.
    "Alas, poor adventurer - he accidentally put on the Necklace of Self-Decapitation."
    • Also in Diablo II, your druid may know how to summon a cluster of three tornadoes, but summoning one tornado is beyond his grasp until six levels later.
    • Your mage in Diablo starts out with a level two Firebolt and is incapable of casting Holy Bolt, which according to the lore was explicitly created to be easy to cast for anyone with no particular magical talent. It gets worse in the sequel, where the sorceress and necromancer start the game with zero magical or necromantic abilities whatsoever and rely on their staff or wand to cast anything at all.
  • The VG Cats parody of Pokémon used as the page image is not that far from the truth. Some Pokémon don't learn an attack move until double-digit levels (for the uninitiated, sample low-level attacks include "Tackle" and "Peck"), Poochyena's species is "Bite" but it doesn't learn how to bite until level thirteen, and even more mind-boggling, Pidgey - a pigeon - never learns to Peck.
    • Drowzee, a pokemon with a diet made up of dreams, can only learn Dream Eater by TM. And Gastly can't learn Poison Gas attack despite being poison gas that suffocates victims with its body.
    • Lickitung couldn't learn, you know, LICK until Gen II.
    • The overlap with Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training makes this even more awkward—a Mon can only remember 4 skills at a time, and often has only one opportunity to learn a particular skill. If your Lickitung has mastered licking, you may decide to permanently erase his ability to lick things so he can learn to stomp on things.
    • Even more offending is the HM moves. A Pokémon needs to be taught a special move, and a badge that somehow allows them to use it, to have a super powerful creature punch a rock.
      • Almost no Pokémon can learn Fly naturally, despite "Flying" being a very common element, and there are nine Pokemon that can't learn it even by HM note  even though their types include "Flying".
      • The same applies to Surf, especially when you actually catch some of them while they are swimming. These could both be explained by the Pokemon just being unable to carry humans, although even that's no excuse for something like Rayquaza, a twenty-three-foot tall, 455.2 pound dragon.
      • And just to round out the HMs, Cut. In Gen I, your can start the game with a creature whose tail is literally on fire or one that's basically a living plant itself, but you're stymied by a single small tree. Even later when you have hundreds of vastly powerful creatures at your command, if none of them know Cut, you're going to be sitting there behind a small tree forever.
    • And in most games the player character is apparently incapable of running without special shoes. Maybe they are wearing sandals.
    • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games has quite a few examples of this trope. Each character has certain IQ skills, which can be turned on and off in the menu screen and more can be gained by eating Gummies, and some only affect the partner Pokémon behaviors because they're what any human in their right mind would know what to do. While the game is at least smart enough to have some skills automatically available at the beginning (like not using a ranged attack if a wall is in the way), some IQ skills which seem essential for survival must be unlocked, like the ability to not use an attack which poisons when the foe is already poisoned, attacking the foe who is weak to your element first, and avoiding stepping on traps which are sitting out in the open.
    • Some Pokémon can learn the Bite and Crunch moves through breeding. In other words, some Pokémon have to inherit the ability to bite things with sharp teeth.
  • In Tales of Legendia, you need to successfully make toast five times before learning to put jam and butter on it. Similarly, Raine Sage needs at least one star to learn that a sandwich consists of more than a slice of bread.
    • And in Tales of the Abyss, characters need to be at least level five and equip one passive skill for them to be able to run freely in battle; until then, you can only go back and forward.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, our two heroes can't walk backwards or sideways until they learn a technique from Merri. Then they can only do so if Luigi uses his Thunderhand to shock Mario. This overlaps with You Shouldn't Know This Already, because it is not enough to learn the Thunderhand: the heroes must meet Gigi and Merri before they can start walking backwards or sideways.
  • In Fable II, all your interpersonal interactions had to be learned by reading a book. This meant that it would take your character many in-game years before they learned how to do such things as fart, belch, or flip someone off due to not having found the correct book to teach you how. You also had to level up your gun skill several times before you could learn how to actually aim it.
  • Oliver in Ni No Kuni apparently went through his childhood without knowing how to jump, and is only able to master it in-game by spending one of his stamp-cards at Swift Solutions.
  • Punching things until you acquire a weapon is a standard Dink Smallwood move. In the mod Legend of the Duck Dink didn't know how to punch until he asked a wishing well for a weapon and was told "Use your fists, dummy!"

    Sandbox Games 
  • The new assassination techniques in Assassin's Creed II. Even with his current experience, Ezio still has to train to successfully pull a guy off a ledge, or grab a guard and knife him when he walks past the hay bale you're hiding in?
    • And in Monterigioni, Mario teaches Ezio how to taunt guards. At least you can pull some of the basic moves off without needing an explicit tutorial, like pickpocketing, even though the game will still deign to inform you of it.
    • In the second game, during the execution of his parents in sequence 1 Ezio gets his sword knocked out of his hand by a brute. Only when Mario gives Ezio a sword during sequence 3 he can use swords again, completely unable to pick up others' swords before that point.
    • Brotherhood and Revelations did this much better: Ezio is already a skilled Assassin and a very quick learner, so instead of learning new techniques, he adapts his already-learned skills to new equipment he gets, like the poison dart (gun + poison blade), hookblade (hidden blade + hook), and crossbow (gun + arrow). He needs very little instruction, and soon begins teaching others in their use as the expert.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has skilled crimefighter Batman pick up a few new items and skills as the plot requires. Otherwise, he has to buy them with XP. From WayneTech. The company he owns.
  • In Dead Island it's impossible to equip a wooden plank, oar or hammer or similar household items because of level requirements. Never mind the fact that absolutely identical weapons of a lower level can be used without any problem and that two identical pieces of two-by-four can do drastically different amounts of damage depending on the level.
    • This also makes leveling up mostly pointless, since it only makes the enemies harder and forces you to discard old weapons that suddenly become unable to kill anything.
  • In Prototype, you can spend Evolution Points to buy the "Patsy" ability, which allows Alex to successfully accuse others of being him by pointing and saying "That's him!"
    • It also costs EP to learn how to step on a guy's face in combat.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you can replenish your life bar by eating. However, you can't buy food until you've completed the "Ryder" mission. Fortunately, this is the second mission.

    Simulation Games 
  • Syndicate was set in the future, but you can't equip your agents with shotguns, Uzis or flamethrowers until you invent them.
    • In Syndicate Wars you have to invent many of the same weapons again, despite being the sequel and set even later.
  • The story mode of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater: American Wasteland keeps you from doing more complicated tricks before you are trained by NPC characters. So you can grind around on rooftops and telephone wires all you want, but you can't do a manual.
  • In Game Dev Tycoon it takes eight and a half years of in-game time to pass before you can research sequels, despite the fact that after eight and a half years of making games most companies have several sequels out.
  • The Sims Medieval has an example with one of the Spy's abilities. A Spy has to be level 5 to steal money from the messenger post. However, they can send and receive secret messages in the box right away. If they can already open it, why do they need to wait 5 levels before they can actually take money out? Maybe it's in a hidden compartment.
  • One upgrade in AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity is a glove you can use to make obscene gestures or give a thumbs-up.
  • In Simcity 2013, you can build no buildings AT ALL until you have built some road. This makes sense on some maps, but not the ones which already have a road going through them.
  • In Animal Crossing, you can unlock your character's emotions by making him/her to listen to Dr. Shrunk's "jokes". In City Folk, the character can keep only up to four emotions at a time.
  • Kerbal Space Program starts you out with manned rockets and simple other rocketry systems, but after that there's little rhyme or reason to the tech tree. Thermometers are pretty high up on the tree, while flat pieces of metal and octagonal scaffolding are apparently more advanced than nuclear rocket engines. You can unlock new technology by performing science experiences, such as by discovering that water is wet.

    Survival Horror 
  • In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Harry can't use his cellphone, which serves as a HUD and options menu, until he's told to take it out and use it. He is dazed after surviving a car wreck, however.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • The Civilization games require you to "research" various political and religious concepts, such as polytheism and monarchy.
    • Other weirdness is being able to build units that can do same thing, but require different techs. For example in Civ 5, you can build chariot archers without researching archery, and your cities attack enemies in the ancient era with arrows by default, but you can't build normal foot archers until you have archery.
      • As if that wasn't egregious enough, it is possible to invent gatling guns without researching gunpowder.
    • A popular mod for Civilization 4, Caveman 2 Cosmos, adds a primitive era. You have to research language, the ability to gather berries, and persistence hunting.
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri suffers almost exactly the same problem as the example above. The explanation can be found in one of the game's fictional quotes:
    Col. Santiago: I have often been asked: if we have traveled between the stars, why can we not launch the simplest of orbital probes? These fools fail to understand the difficulty of finding the appropriate materials on this Planet, of developing adequate power supplies, and creating the infrastructure necessary to support such an effort. In short, we have struggled under the limitations of a colonial society on a virgin planet. Until now.
  • In Sword of the Stars there are several techs that can be researched that open up new interface options and information screens. In several of these cases, the information is shown, but it is up to the player to organise and remember it.
    • You must also research the ability for your military forces to remember and report to you what technologies they have seen other races use in battle, and the ship types.
    • Probably the two most egregious examples are two techs in the command and control section of the tech tree. One just gives you the ability to look at sensor data and give orders at the same time. Its prerequisite is a tech that makes your ships send their sensor data to command vessels. Essentially, you have researched captains actually telling the ship in command what they see, and can now research the ability to multitask (or put buttons on the sensor display.)
  • In most Fire Emblem games, any unit will attack twice if its attack speed exceeds the opponent's by four points. In Seisen no Keifu, only characters with a special ability/item granting said ability can do this, often making other units worthless. If the wrong character picks up that item, you have to sell it to the pawn shop at half-price and buy it back at full price, because units cannot transfer items.
  • Galactic Civilizations has an interesting variant in the form of the Thalans, who come from the far future. They brought back a few one-of-a-kind pieces of very nice advanced technology... but most of the engineering and production techniques they are used to depend on infrastructure that doesn't yet exist in this time, and would be impossible to build for millenia. So while they get a big head start on production at the beginning, they have to start at the very bottom of the tech tree to rediscover basic engineering principles, while other races often have a number of very early techs pre-researched.

    Miscellaneous & Other Games 
  • While you don't actually research anything, in Illbleed your characters need to buy deep breathing to calm them down.
  • Upgrade Complete is a flash game that asks you to buy the preloader before you can start. You also have to buy the main menu buttons if you want to actually play the game.
    • In the second game you need to buy the cursor before you can play. You need to buy the ending screen too. Also the graphics, music, logo...
  • A lack of this trope is the backstory for the game QWOP. You are QWOP, sole representative for your small fictional country in the Olympic games. Unfortunately, the training program was so underfunded, you don't even know how to work your legs properly.
  • In Halo, Halo 2, and Halo 3, the Master Chief is incapable of sprinting, although he is already jogging at 18 km/h regardless. Then, in the prequel Halo: Reach, the player (another type of SPARTAN) gains sprinting as a pickup, next to the jetpack ability and active camo device. This is due to the armour not being synched sufficiently well with the wearer to run safely without breaking one's bones, which is fixed by the pick-up. In Halo 4, Cortana "rewrote the [suit's] firmware" to allow MC to sprint at all times.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted: Graceful Crane Stance gives you superhuman grace and balance, enabling you to automatically succeed on balance checks and dance around on a strand of human hair; however, if you don't want to fall out of the saddle, you'd better take Ride Charms.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition: Bear Lore.
    • Also in 4th edition, Rogues make a return to mastering very specialized weapon types instead of 3rd edition's "sneak attack with anything" paradigm. As a result, Rogues only start with proficiency in weapons they can sneak attack with, which doesn't include some of the simplest weapons in the game like a club or quarterstaff, which even the martially inept Squishy Wizard types get access to. Nor does the default rogue get the option to use a shortbow or do much at range in general, which had become a staple of the class in the previous edition. Later books contained options for the class that offered these styles of play, but only by giving up other class features in exchange.
    • The biggest cause of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards in D&D 3 is this trope applying to weapon feats, which essentially teach the warrior some new minor skill, while spellcasters keep receiving ever-growing reality-altering magical powers just for leveling up and use their feats to make those spells even better.
      • One of 3.5's most absurd feats was Research, which "expands the way you can use the Knowledge skills" to give you the ability to use a library. Note that most D&D 3.x characters are automatically literate.
    • While those who remember their ancient history will recall 2nd edition D&D where the separation of rules governing various class abilities lead to some significant logical flaws (not to mention the lack of flexibility and additional complexity). For example climbing was a thief skill. Therefore the implication was that the only way your character could have any chance at all of climbing anything harder than a ladder was to be a thief. Of course being a tabletop game your DM could work around that but it was still fortunate that they fixed it in 3rd edition with the introduction of a universal skill system that all classes have access to.
    • Those first few editions also features Weapon Proficiencies as slots which players spent to learn specific weapons. This meant a character could train and learn how to use weapons whose function is mechanically identical, but because they have different names, the character can't (rules as written) use them correctly. For example, mace and club were different proficiencies. So were dagger, dirk, and knife. According to the Core Rules, you could be a fearsome master of the long sword and the two-handed sword, but none of that would translate to a faint clue about how the claymore or broad sword might be wielded.
      • A particularly silly example happened to any character who dual classed. The dual class character had to forgo everything they knew from their old class aside from their Hit Points until they exceeded their level in their original class with their level in the new class. Then everything came back at once. In theory, a character could become a legendary 18th level Paladin, dual class to cleric and then lose all their hard-won combat training, and have to fight as a first level cleric and use none of his Paladin powers. Once he becomes a 19th level cleric, he goes right back to having all his Paladin abilities again. He could then dual class again, this time to wizard, which would cost him all his warrior skills -and- all his cleric spells until he became a 20th level Wizard, at which point he could once again sling spells as a 19th level Cleric and fight as an 18th level Paladin. You could use your old abilities before surpassing your old level, but it cost you nearly all the XP of encounters.
      • Some editions take the stance that an adventuring class is an incredibly complex discipline and, in order to learn a different one, you have to set aside your previous training to adapt to a new paradigm. Using your old skills meant no XP simply because you basically failed at your new class, didn't learn anything, and fell back to your old way of thinking.
  • FATAL has a Urination skill.
    • Worse, the game's creator has bragged that most player characters will be killed before they ever max out the urination stat. In the FATAL universe, you actually forget how to pee as you get older and have to relearn it, and most people never do.
    • It also has skills for Sitting, Spitting and Tasting.

    Other Media 

Literature
  • In ˝ Prince one of the earliest things that occurs is that the main character (a warrior with a sword) tries kicking and yelling at the mobs. Both turn out to be abilities that will level up with use. Later, a pet is hit with a stick and learns a pinball/chain lightning attack. The characters can also use any move at anytime and get some interesting effects.

Webcomics
  • In Homestuck, we find out in Act 6 that the reason we always see the kids talking in instant-messenger chat windows, even when face to face, is that they can'tnote  actually talk directly to each othernote  until they unlock the "gift of gab" badge, earned by ascending to the second god tier. For reference, getting into the god tiers at all isn't a natural part of the game progression and can easily be Lost Forever.
  • Deconstructed/parodied in this episode of Brawl in the Family.

Worker UnitStrategy Game TropesYou Require More Vespene Gas
Wham EpisodeImageSource/Web ComicsYou Have to Burn the Web
Always CloseGameplay and Story Segregation    

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