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Awesome But Impractical / Western RPG

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  • Betrayal at Krondor has the Mad God's Rage spell. The name, the very concept, and the way it looks are all awesome. However, since your mage won't stop casting it until all his visible enemies are dead, or he falls over dead or near-dead from exhaustion, it's not very practical. For groups of enemies, Firestorm provides better damage to cost ratio. For single, powerful enemies, Fetters of Rime are a cheap way to freeze them and finish them off at leisure. It's not even good as a desperation move, because you can only cast as much of it as you have stamina/health, so if you're near dead to begin with, it won't do much good. Still... damn, that's a cool spell.
  • Baldur's Gate II
    • The Imprisonment spell, which traps the victim in suspended animation in a hollow sphere deep underground permanently — without a saving throw! Downside: A level 9 spell won't be used on everyday foes, and the player will want the big foes' loot which they take with them to their new plane of existence if imprisoned. It was made useful in the Expansion Pack Throne Of Bhaal, as by this point any enemy that drops worthwhile loot is immune to the spell anyway and a spell that reverses the effect becomes more readily available.
    • There's also Lightning Bolt, which is really cool in theory but actively suicidal in practice due to its unpredictable rebounds when within any enclosed space - i.e. virtually anywhere.
    • Wild Mages have a spell that allows them to cast literally any spell they know, instantaneously, without having to have it memorized or even being at the level required to cast it; this allows them to be some of the most versatile spellcasters in the game, and potentially the most powerful. The downside is, the spell required to do so is pretty volatile and has only a one-in-a-hundred chance of casting the spell correctly, with a variety of effects if you don't; some are harmless, some are beneficial, but if you get particularly unlucky with the die roll you can end up summoning a pit fiend or turning yourself to stone. Moreso if you use a mod to play them in the first game; higher-level Wild Mages have methods improve their chances of successfully casting an unmemorized spell or making it more powerful. Low-level ones don't. So while you could try to cast Cloudkill at level one, it would most likely backfire and kill you.
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    • Wild Mages in general. The increased versatility of wild mages is generally offset by the fact that their spells can go wrong to various degrees. You might accidentally end up changing your character's colors instead of casting Magic Missile. Or you might summon a bunch of squirrels instead of dropping a fireball. That Lightning Bolt spell might be cast with an effective level that's three levels higher than your wild mage, doing more damage, or three levels lower, doing less damage. Or, if you're really, really unlucky, you can try to cast the Mage Armor spell, critically fail and cast a Gate spell, which summons a high level demon that will then kill your level 4 party that doesn't have protection from evil.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online has an impossibly cool two-handed sword named Terror. Every strike has "Nightmares" effect (target must make a will save or take additional damage to psyche), every enemy striking the wielder must make save against Fear, and three time per day it can cast Phantasmal Killer spell (target must make a will save or die). And it's made of CRYSTAL. Unfortunately you have to be level 18 to use Terror, and by that time all your enemies save about 95% of the time — if not immune to fear outright. Being crystal rather than metal, it is good for killing Mooks Ate My Equipment rust monsters.
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  • Neverwinter Nights 2 had you spend a major chunk of the mid game collecting a series of powers designed to kill the Big Bad; it turns out they weren't necessary at launch. Additionally, late in the game you get your hands on an Infinity +1 Sword, that's also often superseded by gear a player already has access to.
  • Planescape: Torment has level 9 ultimate spells with intensely cool cutscenes, which is rare in a Western RPG. Unfortunately, barring some serious Level Grinding, by the time you're able to use these you only have one enemy left worth using them on, and that's a Skippable Boss.
    • Very little grinding, in fact. Cloudkill + underSigil = lots of fast exp. However, those high level spells are fairly useless because enemies potentially worth using them on tend to have high magic resistance. Which means the spell typically takes a minute going through its complex, "awesome" animation, and at the end... does nothing. Better just spam some easy to use level 1-5 spells.
    • Gaining immunity to poison. Unfortunately, poisons attacks aren't that common in the game. And the way to gain the immunity is to eat 100 rat tails. This can only be done through a conversation with a merchant which will allow you to buy one single rat tail at a time. To buy a hundred will require hundreds of mouse clicks and enough money to pull it off.
  • The "Fallout 2 Hint Book" at (well, after) the end of Fallout 2 works much the same. Lampshaded by the ingame description.
    Well, THIS would have been good to have at the beginning of the goddamn game.
    • A more conventional example from Fallout 2 was the Pulse Rifle. Had the greatest damage of any single weapon in the game and was billed as end game equipment. The problem? All the enemies you fight had silly levels of resistance to its electrical type damage and due to the way the games burst fire mechanisms work the most basic SMG you could use would do more damage. Many of the higher level weapons suffered from this. Mini Guns did no damage to anyone with armor as damage was subtracted on a per bullet basis. The Vindicator Minigun which did decent damage per shot had punishingly rare ammo. The true king of weapons was the fully-automatic and easily acquired BOZAR Light Support weapon which combined high burst value with a decent and plentiful ammo type.
      • Well, the silly level of elect resistance came from any form of metal armor (which, to be frank, almost every human enemy towards the end wore), but energy weapons remained exceptionally useful versus monsters - particularly the Deathclaws, Floaters and Centaurs that cropped up towards the end, which tended to be resistant to physical attacks (including bullets.)
      • The biggest problem with the pulse weapons was that they had a tendency to do critical hits very often, and critting someone with an electrical attack pulverizes them - so you don't have a handy corpse to loot. You'd have to pixel-hunt for the loot at the base of the small ash puddle that was what was left of the enemy, then laboriously pick up every single drop. This would get old very fast.
    • The Solar Scorcher you could pick up from an easter egg. It's basically a powerful solar-powered laser pistol that uses no ammunition. But it's prevented from reaching Game-Breaker status by being only reloadable in bright light - if you happen to empty the six-shot capacitor during the night or in a cave, it becomes entirely useless.
  • Fallout 3
    • Big weapons in general in Fallout 3 are difficult to put to practical use.
      • The Fat Man launcher fires miniature nuclear warheads. Its unique variant, the Experimental MIRV, is a weapon that can fire eight mini-nukes at once. Problems: There's a limited number of mini-nukes (seventy-two in the entire game), and the largest bosses in the game take maybe two hits to kill with a regular Fat Man. And firing this weapon will very likely blow up the wielder along with the target. Overkill much? Fire it once for the "cool value," then sell it or stick it in a locker and never use it again.
      • The Minigun is useless in VATS, goes through ammo like a sieve, is too bulky to carry as a backup, and worst of all doesn't do the damage you'd think it should (it cannot score critical hits, ever!). It also has a long windup sequence to get the barrel spinning while your target is blasting you to hell. Since it is only really useful at close range, it is outclassed by the flamer which has equally high damage potential and fires instantly when you pull the trigger.
      • The Missile Launcher has a clip size of one and takes too long to reload between shots to use as a primary weapon, and doesn't do enough damage per shot against high hitpoint targets to warrant carrying as a backup. It is also useless in VATS at long range as it will often miss.
      • The only Big Gun that seems practical enough for regular use is the Vengeance Gatling laser. However, spare Gatling Lasers are hard to find, it deteriorates extremely quickly, rarely ever scores critical hits, and it can still go through ammo quickly if you aren't careful. Also, the only place where it's obtainable is a sanctuary filled to the brim with Deathclaws.
    • Many small guns and energy weapons also have this problem:
      • The Scoped .44 Magnum breaks down too quickly and its ammo is relatively rare, and the gun itself is difficult to find and is almost always in poor condition when found or purchased. This means you need to find several so you can repair them into a single pristine gun which starts deteriorating rapidly with every shot anyway.
      • The Alien Blaster will vaporize any standard enemy with one shot, due to its 100% critical hit chance and high base damage. But it breaks down very quickly (and can only be repaired by certain NPCs for cash) and has such a limited ammo supply that it's almost not worth using. Its best value is for headshots at Elite Mooks in VATS where more conventional weaponry won't take them down fast enough.
    • Melee weapons in general are almost always suboptimal for anything but sneak attacks. Why? Because most enemies will be shooting at you from a distance, and the ones that don't (like Deathclaws) will have melee attacks that will kill you in one or two hits and therefore should be dealt with at range anyway. While Min-Maxing your stats and perks to do insane damage with the Shishkebab while investing in the best-quality armor, defensive perks, and combat drugs to help you survive until you reach your target is a viable (and fun) option, it's never going to work as well as plain old Boring, but Practical small guns.
      • Jack the Ripper takes the cake. It's a Chainsword with strong base damage that hits (read: gives Critical Hits a chance to proc) over 30 times a second and has a great crit rate, chewing through high-level enemies like nobody's business. He also degrades in quality incredibly quickly and can only be repaired by cannibalizing the already-rare standard Ripper for parts or spending lots of caps at merchants. Expect to switch back to the equally-awesome but far more practical Shishkebab after it craps out in the middle of a long quest one too many time.
    • The expansion DLC also adds a perk possible only at level 30 which results in a nuclear explosion around you when you hit 20 HP. While this sounds very awesome, it's not at all useful because while you aren't harmed by it, any nearby allies may be, and the nuclear explosions are actually rather small and it likely won't affect any enemy shooting at you. Therefore it only can really have an effect against enemies like Deathclaws, which cut through your HP so fast you'll likely be dead before you hit 20HP and it goes off.
    • There's also the Rock-It Launcher, an improvised device that uses the Vendor Trash you pick up as ammo. Generally useless junk like bent tin cans and coffee mugs become lethal weapons with it. It's quite a bit of fun to watch a super mutant killed by a teddy bear. But in terms of utility, it's not all that strong as the ammo still has weight and weighs you down, and thus it can't even be as useful as a simple assault or hunting rifle with weightless ammo. But fun to play with just for the novelty. Barring specific mods, the Rock-It makes a very loud vacuum cleaner sound all the while you have it out. If the math's correct, it will drive you stark raving bonkers in 16.14 seconds.
  • Fallout: New Vegas
    • Consider the ARCHIMEDES II Kill Sat: When you fire it, it brings down a rain of punishment. Problems? Finding the tracking device you fire it with is a Guide Dang It!, you only get to fire it once every 24 hours, it takes almost ten seconds to reach full charge, the tracking device inexplicably weighs 15 pounds, and you can hit yourself with it if you're not careful. It's even lampshaded in Veronica's personal quest, where she learns that the Brotherhood of Steel sacrificed half their numbers for what she calls "glorified artillery."
    • It's hard not to get caught in the blast from the "Big Kid" ammo for the GRA Fat Man.
      • The Fat Man in the base game is even worse, where its high weight is coupled with an extreme lack of ammo, a pitiful 14 (or 12, with the "Wild Wasteland" trait) compared to 70 free ones in Fallout 3 along with the DLC having their own mini nukes. It also does 1000 less points of damage than its Fallout 3 counterpart, and if you try and strengthen it with the Demolition Expert and Splash Damage perks, it will only make you more likely to have it blow up in your face. On the plus side, it's a fair bit more useful than its counterpart in 3, since the Sequel Difficulty Spike means that there are actually regularly-appearing enemies that would warrant a shot from the Fat Man to take down.
    • The Meltdown perk causes a plasma explosion whenever you kill an enemy with an energy weapon, which inflicts damage proportional to the killing weapon's damage. Since the players and their companions aren't immune to Meltdown's explosion, the perk turns using energy weapons at close range into suicidenote  and will quickly kill your melee companions. Meltdown is actually fairly useful to a player who uses energy weapons only for long range, but a player who isn't focused on energy weapons will have a hard time meeting the skill requirement of 90.
    • The king of this trope has to be the Holy Hand Grenade. Available only in Wild Wasteland playthroughs, it's basically a hand-thrown grenade with similar properties to a Mini-Nuke. Too bad there's only three of them, and because they're hand-thrown and have such a large and deadly blast radius, it's extremely likely you will be caught in the blast as well...
    • Remnants Power Armor has the highest Damage Threshold of all armors, but degrades the fastest, is very expensive to repair, has lower Rad Resistance than the T-51b, gives a Charisma penalty due to its Rage Helm, and there's only two of its kind in the game (three if you include the lighter Gannon Tesla Armor), one of which is earned from Arcade Gannon's companion quest, the other of which is found in a hard-to-reach Deathclaw-infested location.
    • The Stealth Suit Mark II from Old World Blues. Sure, it gives you +25 Sneak, +1 Perception, +1 Agility, and +20% to Stealth movement speed when fully upgraded, and automatically injects Stimpaks and Med-X, but tends to waste the former drug and get you addicted on the latter, and is for some reason classified as a Medium armor, therefore carrying a 10% running speed penalty, despite having a lower DT than the higher-level Light armors. Also, it talks.
    • Mercy, the unique grenade machinegun, uses 40mm grenades instead of the usual 25mm, which means it packs more punch, but its ammo is significantly heavier in Hardcore mode, as well as being rarer and more expensive. Better traded for the 25mm Grenade APW from Gun Runner's Arsenal. The truly worse part of this is it's only in Dead Wind Cavern and guarded by the Legendary Deathclaw. Mercy becomes more of a Bragging Rights Reward with this in mind.
    • The ordinary grenade machinegun is already a prime candidate for the trope, it is incredibly heavy, difficult to repair, eats expensive 25mm grenades like it's candy, can easily hurt or even kill the user if not aimed carefully and will generally be total overkill for the vast a majority of foes. Consider then that Mercy uses an even heavier and more expensive ammo type in exchange for even grosser overkill.
    • Just like Fallout 3, the Alien Blaster is the most powerful weapon in the game, and if you have the Jury Rigging perk, can be repaired with Energy pistols. The big downside, it only has 222 of its ammo, and once it runs out, it becomes completely worthless. Worse, it replaces the YCS/186, which is a unique Gauss Rifle, and the YCS uses microfusion cells as ammo (something that is somewhat easy to get). In order to get the Blaster, you need to turn on Wild Wasteland, but in the long run, you're better off with the more practical YCS/186 instead of the awesome Alien Blaster.
  • Fallout 4
    • For the most part downplayed, at least as far as weapons go. Many weapons are simply too heavy or use uncommon ammo to carry around and use all the time, but that hardly means you'll never use them. However unlike in previous titles the lack of item health or skills mean you don't have to build a character around the idea of using awesome guns. With this in mind, There are plenty of points in the game when you'll know a tough fight is ahead and head back to base to dust off the minigun and fatman.
    • The Gatling laser is sadly this now. It uses fusion cores for ammo, the same as power armor. Without the right perks or weapon upgrades, it will eat fusion cores at unacceptably high rates for its damage.
      • Even if you fix the ammo consumption, you'll still have to contend with more ammo management issues. Because the weapon always uses the highest charged core in the inventory when reloaded or equipped, you can't just insert a partially-charged core, fire it for a while, insert a new core, sell the nearly-depleted core when you're done, and be done with it, clean and simple. No, instead, you'll have to micromanage the charge level and shot output of all the boatloads of partially-charged cores it'll produce, or else settle for an lower shot output when you run out of fully-charged cores.
    • The Broadsider is certainly this. It's a naval cannon scavenged from the USS Constitution, rigged to a metal frame. It does a lot of damage, and shooting it as just as fun as it sounds. However, it's also very heavy, short-ranged, difficult to aim, only holds one shot (three if you upgrade it, but that's still not great), and uses extremely rare cannonballs. The Junk Jet, a fan favourite weapon from 3, has also been reduced to this. The most obvious is that junk is now incredibly useful for giving you crafting components for all kinds of crafting, so why would you want to get rid of it? Not to mention, unlike conventional ammunition, junk often has a weight, so you can't carry much.
    • Once again, the minigun. It's still heavy and has a long spin-up time before it actually starts firing, and it has the lowest damage per bullet of any gun so against heavily armored opponents it can only inflict Scratch Damage. And that's assuming that you actually hit- it's a fantastically inaccurate weapon so most of the bullets fired will miss. And it's got a very long reload animation.
    • Rather than simply throwing out 8 Mini-Nukes in one go, the Experimental MIRV Launcher is now much more ammo-efficient and sends out one nuke that splits up and rains multiple huge explosions directly down on enemies. The problem? It stops traveling horizontally in mid-arc, so the payload will drop down dangerously close to the wielder. This makes it far less useful for taking out enemies at a distance and increases the chance of you getting caught in the blast if you didn't lob it at just the right angle. You'll know you got it wrong if it instantly kills you.
      • Averted with the Wounding and Explosive legendary modifications - these two are such Game Breakers in their own right that any weapon with them is insanely overpowered, especially weapons that put out large amounts of ammo. The Explosive Perk's splash damage can be a liability to the player and friendlies, but it's not a fatal drawback when you can also mow down disproportionately high-leveled enemies in just a few seconds.
    • Far Harbor adds the Harpoon Gun to this list. A very awesome heavy weapon that can be modded to fire either standard large harpoons or a Flechette Storm of smaller projectiles, either of which will inflict heavy damage, it suffers from having the longest reload time of any weapon in the game, which is especially bad given that it's a single-shot weapon. It's also got fairly limited range, further making things bad. It can be good at picking off single targets from stealth, but against groups or against single targets tough enough to survive the first hit (like Deathclaws and Fog Crawlers), you'll be cut to pieces before you can reload it for a second shot.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Due to the weapon customization system in Mass Effect, you can make guns like this. The default shotgun (no modifications) can fire a reasonable number of bullets before overheating, but you can turn it into a one shot killing machine. It can only fire one shot before overheating, yet it kills most enemy grunts in one shot and it sounds like a cannon. For those about to rock indeed.
    • The M-920 Cain aka "Nuke Gun" from Mass Effect 2. The final heavy weapon to research, it is for all intents and purposes a nuke cannon, and it works as advertised - anything within a very wide area of the target dies in a very pretty mushroom cloud. However, it eats most of your heavy weapon ammo with one shot, requires four seconds of charging before it fires (not a good idea when under fire in one of the situations you would want to use something this powerful), and has such a large blast radius that there are very few opportunities in the game where you can fire the Cain and not hit your own party. Most of the time, the Avalanche cannon or Collector Particle Beam are much more practical.

      The Cain is useful, no doubt about it. What makes it impractical is that it can be used for, at most, a half-dozen fights throughout a twenty five hour game. Using it on anything weaker than a Praetorian is pointless overkill, and if you miss, you won't get another shot. Except on the final boss. In the Final Battle, the Cain suddenly becomes simply awesome, as Harbinger drops heavy weapons ammo when killed, presumably so as to compensate for the Cain's impracticality in this case. You'll have to waste him a couple of times to get enough ammo to fire the damn thing again, but in case you brought the Cain instead of one of the less insane weapons, you'll still be able to complete the fight.
    • Also, the Blackstorm Energy Projector, which is a heavy weapon that one gets by pre-ordering the gamenote , is a gun that fires black holes, but it's not as useful as you might think seeing as it needs to charge up just like the Cain, meaning the enemies may have moved or strafed away by the time the black hole detonates, and unlike the Cain, when it hits, it doesn't necessarily kill everything in the immediate radius. However, it still has a few uses, and is one of the easiest ways to deal with the rapidly arriving Collector platforms in the Collector Ship mission.
    • And the Geth Plasma Shotgun makes every heavy weapon Awesome But Impractical. Its charged attack does more damage than every heavy weapon except the Cain - and it uses conventional thermal clips. You'll never use heavy weapon ammo again!
    • Mass Effect 3 adds an Awesome, But Impractical tactic: Hijacking Atlas units. Sure, the idea of stealing a mech from the enemy is amazing, but the crystal canopy protecting the pilot is so tough, by the time you shatter it, the thing will be about five shots away from being destroyed - and that's assuming your squadmates don't destroy it before you can draw a bead on it. Even if you can jack it, chances are there's only going to be about two or three mooks left to use it on, at best. To add insult to injury, the best way to set up an Atlas for hijacking in order to get the achievement for doing so is to use a free Atlas you're given in one of two missions.
    • The Claymore shotgun dishes out a ton of damage...but there are other shotguns, like the Wraith, that dish out nearly as much and weigh considerably less.
    • The Scorpion heavy pistol's sticky bombs are neat, but the delay means that in some cases, most notably if you take one to Mars with a New Game+, it can make an otherwise fairly simple boss fight Unwinnable because it reaches and dismembers you before enough go off to kill it. Its low ammo capacity doesn't help.
    • In ME2, you learn that a species that was wiped out by the Reapers 37 million years ago had some kind of weapon that one-shotted a Reaper Capital ship and ripped a deep trench in another planet in a different system at some point in their future. Unfortunately, that species only got off that one shot and there were more lots more Reapers, which is why it's speculated to have been a weapon made out of defiance rather than a practical military application.
    • The Javelin is devastatingly powerful, and its ability to kill people through virtually any cover with the right build is certainly amusing, but its ammo capacity is tiny and you need to be really good at predicting what targets are going to do, because the Javelin isn't Hitscan in the way that other sniper rifles are.
    • In ME3 EDI points out that while the Krogen clans are formidable having fought each other on their homeworld for centuries, they don't have enough ships to actually transport their forces en masse, or the resources to actually fight a prolonged war. Requiring their allies to provide both for them in order to avert this.
  • NetHack has the "huge chunk of meat," obtained by casting stone to flesh on a boulder. It's food. It will never spoilnote . It has a nutritional value of 2,000, the highest in the game; eating one will definitely cure hunger, weak, or fainting status. However, unless you're in the latter condition, eating a huge chunk of meat is guaranteed to put you in "oversatiated" status, in which your movements will be stifled and eating anything will cause you to choke to death. And you can't really carry it around either; it's extremely heavy. Good for feeding to your pet dragon, though.
  • The Roguelike Ancient Domains of Mystery has a learnable spell called Wish (or, for divine casters, Divine Intervention) which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin: you get a wish. Unfortunately, the spell is extremely difficult to learn even for high level wizards, attempts take so long that you will usually be forced to abort by hunger or risk starving to death, and if you have teleportitis it will interrupt your reading. Even if you do manage to learn it, it costs 3000 PP to cast (enough to put it out of range for many characters even with casting from hit points; one of this game's Self Imposed Challenges is to craft a character who can) and takes 10 points off of one of your stats. It's much easier to simply use Potions of Exchange to polymorph a large pile of worthless rings until you get Rings of Djinni Summoning, which can give you a wish, and then use those to get more Potions of Exchange until you have infinite wishes.
    • The Moloch Armor has an obscenely high PV (damage reduction) value of +50. The problem is that it weighs so much you won't be able to even pick it up unless you have Strength of Atlas active, and it comes with huge DV (dodge chance), to-hit, to-damage, Dex, and speed penalties.
  • Diablo II:
    • The druid's Armageddon spell can be used while in werewolf form and causes a rain of meteors to follow you, but the meteors hit randomly and do very little damage compared to the sorceress ones. Not to mention acquiring it requires putting points in pretty much all of the elemental skills, regardless of whether you're going to use them or not (and, if you're a werewolf, you won't use any of them).
    • The Barbarian can pull the badass trick of dual-wielding throwing weapons. This has only been successfully utilized by a select few individuals for Player vs Monster or PvP due to how limited one's choices for dealing consistent damage with them are.
    • The Sorceress' awesome-looking Thunder Storm is Exactly What It Says on the Tin but even maximum-twinked damage from it is relatively pitiful compared to more boring utility lightning skills. The multi-headed Hydra spell is a fireball-shooting stationary turret that does little damage at maximum and many monsters are immune to fire anyway. She can also activate a skill that leaves fire in her wake wherever she walks that when used, even if you again take max-twinked damage into account, is effectively cosmetic.
  • Might and Magic 7 has the relic poleaxe named Splitter. Its gimmick is explosions. Every blow from the axe makes a thundering Michael Bay-class fireball centered where the blade strikes something, with perfectly obvious effects on the party. Sure, the axe grants + 50 fire resistance to the wielder, but having to tape the pieces of the party sorcerer back together every time you hit something it battle isn't worth the fireworks. Besides, by the time you start tripping over relics you should be swimming in great gear anyway, so it's not worth it even if you can muster up the resistances.
  • Baldur's Gate II has a similar item, the Club of Detonation. Anytime it hits, it has a random chance of triggering a Fireball spell centered on the wielder. On the one hand, it's relatively easy to make the wielder immune to fire (you just have to kill a red dragon. No big deal, right?) On the other hand, it's much more difficult to make your entire party immune to fire.
  • Certain games from Ultima have the Armageddon spell ("Imbalance" in Ultima VII Part II — Serpent Isle). The spell kills all enemies on screen as well as all enemies not on screen. It also kills your entire party, all bystanders - and everyone and everything in the world except for you and Lord British (and Batlin in Ultima VII)! Naturally, the game becomes Unwinnable at this point, so there is absolutely no reason to use this other than to see Lord British's reaction (and to find out why Batlin sided with the Guardian).
    • Ultima IV had the Skull of Mondain, an item that would kill all non-party members in the immediate area at the price of wrecking the players Karma Meter.
    • Ultima IV also had the Mystic Swords, which do more damage than anything in the game... but are short-ranged weapons. It's actually more practical to just sell them and buy spell reagants, Magic Wands and Bows for your party instead; they do less damage per hit, but their range ensures you'll take far less damage from enemies than you would spending several turns running up and engaging them in close quarters.
  • In the same vein as the above, Sierra's Quest for Glory series has the Thermonuclear Blast spell, which, when cast, essentially causes a nuclear explosion that destroys everything in a mile's radius — centered on, and including, the caster. The spell first turned up as a fake spell listed in the manual of one of the early games, as if the spell existed in the game (it didn't). The final game in the series revisits the joke by actually making the spell available to the player, though casting it is highly unwise.
    • There's also the vast majority of combat spells for the mage: to wit, the mage gets Flame Dart, Force Bolt, Lightning Ball and Frostbite throughout the course of the series, each spell having a different elemental affiliation (Fire, Force, Lightning and Ice, respectively). The problem is that the mage gets Flame Dart in the first game, which means it has a lower casting cost (5 magic points) than any of the later spells (8/10/15 magic points, respectively), making it far more efficient to use, and subsequently to level grind for higher damage. There's almost no reason to use any other offensive spell, as even things that should be strong against fire still take a lot of damage from it (and very few things are resistant to fire, with most enemies taking more damage from it!), and two high level Flame Darts do more damage than two high level Frostbites, for a third of the cost to boot. Coupled with the fact that you only need minimal grinding to make the Force Bolt spell strong enough to overcome puzzles, and that the Frostbite and Lightning Ball spells work for puzzles regardless of your skill level with them (and are only used in two puzzles (Frostbite) or one puzzle (Lightning Ball)), and you'll be a flame-slingin' mage for the entire series because it just makes more sensenote .
  • In Ultima IX: Ascension, the fourth level two-handed sword technique is an elaborate figure-8 slash that your trainer Duncan describes as this amazing technique that he could never master. To learn it, you have to sail (or make a bridge of objects) to a deep ocean dock off the coast of Yew, then risk drowning as you dive to an underwater crypt containing the book with the technique. Unfortunately the move does a piddling amount of damage, is very hard to aim, hits only at the very end of the swing, and takes so much time to use that you could have done a lot more damage just by using regular attacks.
  • Many of the Gnomish Engineering devices in World of Warcraft fall under this trope, especially the cloaking device and the mind-control cap, which seem really cool in theory but have such a short duration that they are essentially worthless.
    • In later expansions Engineering in general became more useful, though as far as usefulness goes compared to the mostly passive benefits from other professions, their devices still qualify. Even if played safe only with devices that don't backfire, its more things to keep track of on top of your regular combat abilities.
    • Any mechanical item in the tabletop RPG, as well. All of them come with such high difficulty to use and such a long list of drawbacks that you're better off pretending they aren't there.
    • In the classic game, warlock could summon two very powerful demons: the Infernal and the Doomguard. The Infernal
was difficult to use (for one thing, it would turn against you if you let the Enslave Demon effect run out) but powerful in the right situation. The Doomguard was even stronger, but required a 5 player summoning ritual, one of whom would die from the ritual, and if the warlock was not fast enough with Enslave Demon or was the one who died, then you had just unleashed a powerful demon to attack the party. Later expansions made this spell into a normal but short-term summon, although the Doomguard itself was made weaker; less awesome, but a lot more useful.
  • Enslave Demon similar skills. Enemies powerful enough to be worth enslaving without being immune to it are hard to find, even now that it has become fairly reliable. And even then you won't be able to take your new pet very far, as such targets are mostly found in Dungeons. Though it can be a blast when you get that chance, and as of the latest Warlock questline, absolutely required to win in at least one encounter.
  • The cloud serpent mounts look gorgeous, but are so huge that they can't pass through lot of openings, and the only camera positions that let you see where you're going are either full zoom in (in which case you can't even see it) or full zoom out (in which case you can't see the details that make it so gorgeous). Many players do the long series of quests to get them, but often stop using them shortly afterwards.
  • Certain Hunter pets take a lot of effort to tame, but statistically they are the same as any other pet from the same family, just with an unique color. As far as families go, Direhorns currently take the cake, requiring a level-capped Hunter to grind elite mobs on a fairly secluded isle to learn how to tame them, and then tame one on that same isle. And their unique ability certainly counts as well, deflecting all spells cast in front of the Direhorn for 6 seconds... if they are single-target and only target the pet itself, that is.
  • Several Legendary items introduced in Legion have useful effects but are Overshadowed by Awesome because there's more useful legendaries, and players are only allowed to equip two. So a necklace that grants an absorb effect every thirty seconds is nice, but a dps will ignore it in favor of something that boosts their damage. Made even worse in Battle for Azeroth with any legendary that uses the head, neck, shoulder, or chest slot since those are reserved for Azerite armor which is considerably more powerful from the very start.
  • The Shapeshifter specialization available to Mages in Dragon Age: Origins, which allows a Mage to transform into a spider, bear, or insect swarm, sounds pretty awesome. It's not, for a couple reasons. The Mage can't cast other spells while shapeshifted. Worse, the damage done by the shapeshifted form is dependent on the Mage's Strength, which will naturally be abysmally low if you focus on Willpower and Magic instead, thanks to a glitch.
    • Any spell with an area of effect and friendly fire will be this on higher difficulties, since there are no situations where you can depend on your companions' AI to neither wander into the blast radius nor hit you with it if you're standing too close to an enemy (or both). Even on lower difficulties (in which friendly fire is deactivated), you still can't trust an AI-controlled character to use Fireball or Cone of Cold. They won't kill you themselves, sure, but the game doesn't consider being frozen in place or knocked prone by an explosion to be "friendly fire," so those things can still easily happen to you. (This is one of the things the sequel fixed about combat.)
      • These spells are made even less practical because the non-friendly fire AoE spells are more powerful anyways, making the more impressive looking elemental AoEs extremely wasteful in terms of the time and mana used to actually use them.
    • Storm of the Century, the king of Awesome, But Impractical. It does tremendous damage over a large area: any non-boss caught in it will die very quickly, and even bosses will get pretty beaten up. The impractical part? It's a combination spell, meaning you have to cast two high level elemental spells on top of one another, each of which has a long enough casting time on its own to qualify as Awesome, But Impractical. Oh yeah, and the caster(s) have to be under the effects of a certain long term self-buff, which is pretty useful in itself, but requires an additional skill point investment, and makes the storm even more expensive overall. And that bit above about friendly fire? Yeah, better hope you know how to wrangle your ally AI well enough to keep them out of the area, or they'll die just as quickly as your enemies.
    • The fourth-rank Rogue talent that grants a one in five chance to evade any physical attack sounds great, and can save your bacon when neck deep in darkspawn, but its unpredictable activation can be a pain in the backside - not only does it interrupt your autoattack chain, meaning you lose an attack and need to manually order your Rogue Warden to start attacking again, it also interrupts Rogue talents - and the Stamina cost of, say, Arrow of Slaying or Scattershot is not so low that having it interrupted by your own automatic, inescapable dodging isn't going to be a complete nuisance.
  • Fable features the Divine Fury/Infernal Wrath spells, which cause amazing amounts of damage, only problem is that they cost incredibly high amounts of EXP to level up, and require your character to stand in place charging the spell for 10 seconds to do anything, and then, only things in the immediate vicinity will get hit.
    • Made even worse by the fact that if you're hit during the charge up period (unless you have physical shield), the spells fizzle out.
  • In S.T.A.L.K.E.R., pretty much any explosive weapon besides hand grenades. In the first two games, rifle-launched grenades are hard to come by and typically limited in use without farming them from a specific faction, often have a pretty pathetic blast radius, and the launchers themselves are also often hard to find unless you know specifically where to find them. The RG-6 Bulldog revolver grenade launcher is definitely this - it's damn heavy, you can't sprint with it out, it takes forever to reload, but you can launch six grenades at something within a matter of seconds, so if you decide to raid the Freedom base on your way north you can get one and a load of grenades for it, and it's hilariously effective inside the CNPP where the grenades are incredibly dangerous to Monolith troops, and once you run out you can just drop it. The RPG is even more into this trope, as one rocket from it can kill virtually anything you come across, but in the first game you're only guaranteed to find one or two rockets in the entire game, and it's even heavier than the RG-6. In the third game, they edge more towards Difficult, but Awesome, as some traders will stock the weapons and grenades after a certain point, and you can upgrade your carrying capacity more easily.
    • Strangely enough, pistols become this later after midway through the game. After a certain point the common pistol caliber switches from 9x18 to .45 caliber, which is heavy and just doesn't do that much damage. By the time it does, you'll probably be carrying an assault rifle for day-to-day work, a sniper rifle if you're lucky, and a shotgun for varmint cleanup, and a pistol is just extra weight that you probably won't use, despite all the cool .45 caliber pistols around. On the other hand, you can find a Hand Cannon chambered for 9x39 mm sniper rounds. Both the pistol and the ammo are absurdly heavy. Not that it stops most people.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind:
      • The Hammer of Stendarr in the Tribunal expansion is a MASSIVE war hammer that does insanely high damage, but breaks on the first swing and weighs half a ton, rendering it nigh-unusable.
      • Vampirism. It gives you some extra powers and some massive stat boosts that can break the stat caps... but sunlight will kill you, you can no longer use any shops or services in Vvardenfell, and you can only complete quests for House Telvanni, the Mages' Guild, and one of three well-hidden vampire clans.
      • Lycanthropy. You turn into a werewolf and get massive boosts to your killing power, and can murder anyone without acquiring a bounty. Unfortunately, you can't use any equipment, cast any spells, or pick up any items while you're a beast. And if an NPC sees you transform, then you're marked as "kill on sight" by everyone.
    • Skyrim:
      • Two-handed weapons tend to suffer from this, battleaxes and warhammers moreso than greatswords. Since they're so heavy they're remarkably slow and pull you forward with every swing, leaving you susceptible to attack (this is also when the AI uses them), and since they occupy both of your hands you're better off using a faster one-handed weapon in one hand and a spell or shield in the other.
      • High-level shouts often fall in this category. Storm call summons a lighting storm for massive damage but doesn't differentiate between friends and foes and takes ten minutes to recharge, preventing you from using other shouts for the duration. Also using it inside a city or a town will incur a bounty that will pile up as more citizens are accidentally killed.
      • 'Master' level Destruction spells are powerful and flashy if you can get them off, but they have an absurdly long charge time during which you're vulnerable to attack and being interrupted. Even if you do get one off, lower-level spells do more damage for the magicka and do so more quickly and reliably.
      • The Werewolf and Vampire Lord transformations from the Dawnguard DLC. While both are cool, neither one gains much in the way of synergies with the perks you'll gain as you level up (Vampire Lords can gain some benefit from a few Conjuration perks, but not much). Vampire Lords gain perks by killing enemies using a life-drain spell that unfortunately doesn't improve as you gain level, so it becomes less and less effective as you face more durable enemies. Kill an enemy with any other power and you've lost that XP. Werewolves at least level by eating the hearts of dead opponents, and it doesn't matter how they died so gaining perks is relatively easy for them. You'll still run into the issue of Werewolves being limited to just running around and meleeing enemies and the fact that as you progress and get the stronger Shouts, Armor, Weapons, and spells your combat ability actually diminishes if you decide to transform. Quite a few players choose to go with being a Werewolf or Vampire just for the disease immunity and don't bother with the other powers.
      • The Bend Will shout is your ultimate reward for beating Dragonborn, rank 3 will let you charm nearly anything in the game without Contractual Boss Immunity, even dragons. However, unless you rushed to do Dragonborn as soon as getting the prerequisites, you'll likely be powerful enough that mind controlling enemies is a distraction for you at best, and the two shout-specific dragons you can get are much stronger and don't have the availability issue of random dragons, plus the dragon riding you can do amounts to little more than glorified auto-pathing, as you can't control the dragon directly, just tell it where to fly to and take in the scenery while it does.
    • In an in-universe example from the series' backstory, Wulfharth Ash-King, the ancient King of the Nords who has died and come back to life at least three times, was a Dragonborn with a monstrously powerful Thu'um. It was so powerful that he couldn't be sworn into office as High King of Skyrim verbally. Scribes had to draw up his oaths as a result.
  • The highest damage output spells in Avencast: Rise of the Mage also have very impressive animations. Unfortunately spells are cast by button combinations that also move your character slightly and enemies can continue to move during the attack animation, so they're quite unlikely to actually hit.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Battle Meditation is the skill that made Bastila so important in the first game, and you can learn it - and it does give useful bonuses, especially at higher tiers. Unfortunately, its brief duration and inability to be part of the Force Enlightenment omni-buff mean that ultimately you will not be using it that often.
    • Later in the game, you can make class-change certain party members into Jedi. While this does grant them Force powers and the ability to use lightsabers, it causes them to lose out on the feats they'd normally gain from their base class, typically winding up as Masters of None compared to specializing them in their initial roles or using your party members who are already Jedi. Bao-Dur is the most extreme example, as it not only ruins his unarmed offense (potentially including his unique damage boost/stun passive) and high skill growth, but his stats are absolutely terrible for becoming a Jedi and he can't equip any armor that doesn't restrict Force usage.
      • Each character gets a bonus to unarmed combat every few levels, however that is tied to class level. Once they become Jedi they start all over again and get feats they already have every few levels. This really only effects Bao-Dur and the Handmaiden as they are most useful unarmed. Although they gain force powers, they're stuck dealing the same amount of damage as enemies get tougher.
  • Last Stand at Union City: the chainsaw, just like in real life.
  • Icewind Dale has the Chain Lightning spell, which can hit many opponents with lightning damage. It also has a very strong chance of bouncing back at you or your party members. Keeping everyone many screens away from the caster will not protect them. Unless the room is jam-packed with enemies, casting it is a mistake.
  • In Ravensword: Shadowlands, the game features blunderbuss guns. It sounds awesome on paper, but in practice, even the highest-level ones prove unreliable (not always making a hit even if you're aiming straight at the target), and don't deal nearly as much damage as the highest-level crossbows.
  • The Legend of Dragoon:
    • At Dragoon Level 5, each character gets a spell that summons a dragon to attack the enemy. It sounds like an incredible attack until you realize that you could do the same amount of damage with only a couple weaker spells for a much lower cost. The only ones really worth using is the White Silver Dragon, since it does a lot of damage and heals the party, or the Sea Wave Dragon. This is also due to the high magical attack of Shana/Miranda and Meru.
    • Dragoon form itself becomes this in the late game, since the majority of the endgame bosses can cripple it with the Dragon Block Staff. This includes the final battle.
    • The Ultimate Wargod accessory causes a character's Addition to always succeed. But it costs 10,000 gold in a game only MetalSlimes drop more than one or two hundred. In the time it'd take to farm the gold necessary to buy two or three Ultimate Wargods, most players will have perfected their Addition timing anyway. Lastly, equipping an Ultimate Wargod prevents usage of other accessories such as Rainbow Earringnote  or Mage Ringnote .

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