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Emergency Weapon

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"...While this may not be the case of every 3D game out there, the overwhelming majority feel the need to equip you with an axe, a chainsaw, a cleaver, a dagger, a @!#%'n tuba, I don't care. All these games give you a something when you're out of ammo. I don't know why. Whatever happened to being a p***y and kicking dirt like I do?"
— Reason #1 as to why 3D games are not like real life, 3D Games - Realistic My Ass.

The problem with having Breakable Weapons (or non-Bottomless Magazines) is that, if you run out of weapons, the game becomes practically Unwinnable. To work around this, many developers are nice enough to give you a weapon with unlimited ammo in case of emergencies. It may not be as powerful as your main arsenal, but it's there when you need to get out of a jam.

Often, this weapon is your bare hands, because if you "run out" of bare hands, you probably have a lot more trouble on your, um, hands already than your limited weapons.

In First-Person Shooter games, this weapon might be a melee weapon which, in many cases, is so dangerous to use and/or uselessly weak that it isn't much better than nothing. Other shooting games give you a small (equally weak) gun with infinite ammo.

Some stock emergency weapons are:

  • Tools, such as a crowbar, wrench or lead pipes.
  • Sports equipment, particularly baseball bats or golf clubs.
  • Just punching or kicking stuff, as mentioned above.
  • Knives, or if you're really lucky, a Cool Sword.
  • Chainsaws, on occasions where they have unlimited fuel, though these often tend to be quite useful beyond just being an Emergency Weapon.
  • A weak sidearm, either with infinite ammo or the ability to fire random litter.

Note that many FPS / RPG games have skills devoted to these weapons alongside the other ones, giving as much utility (and sometimes more) as the ammo-consuming sort.

Normally emergency weapons are the province of a ranged fighter or a melee fighter with breakable weapons. However, a few melee fighters like to keep their options for ranged combat open just in case they find themselves at the wrong range.

Some players like using the emergency weapon as their main form of attack because of the added humiliation of Cherry Tapping opponents with it. Some games even award achievements for it.

This can be averted with Boss Arena Recovery, allowing the player to restock their weapons/ammunition midbattle.

In military-themed films and TV shows, soldiers whose primary weapon is a rifle may carry a pistol as a close-quarters defense weapon. Films and TV shows about law enforcement may depict officers carrying a small backup pistol in addition to their main service weapon. Both of these are done in Real Life, although films and TV shows sometimes exaggerate the proportion of soldiers/cops with backup weapons. While pistols are being more commonly issued as backup weapons to soldiers in the 2020s, in WWI and WWII, it was usually only officers who got pistols. Real Life tank crews in the 2020s may be issued Personal Defense Weapons, which are small, full automatic weapons, in case they have to defend themselves.

Not to be confused with Hidden Weapons, although they may overlap.


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    First-Person Shooter 
  • Crysis 2 does away with having fists in a melee weapon slot, but combines more functions into the quick-hit button. Tapping it deals a regular punch, holding it down launches a Strength Mode kick (Strength Mode is no longer a separate suit mode), and pressing it while behind an enemy deals an instant-kill Backstab.
  • In Alien Trilogy, when all out of ammo, your pistol will still be able to fire, but you have to reload between each shot. It's like you have an infinite number of one-bullet magazines.
  • Unlike most FPS games, BioShock's wrench is arguably the most useful weapon in the game. With the proper upgrades, it allows you to effortlessly kill Big Daddies as well. Using the "Wrench Lurker" Gene Tonics with both Electro Bolt and Insect Swarm give Jack a huge boost (150% or 200%) against stunned Splicersnote  along with the boost from "Wrench Jockey" (350% or 550%).
  • In BioShock 2, your Drill can be ludicrously useful. With the right Gene Tonics and all upgrades, you can drain health, freeze enemies, and even reflect projectiles with your drill... but unlike the melee option in the first game, it requires fuel. Played straight with each weapon's pistol whipping functionality, a quick melee strike that can be performed with any weapon minus the Research Camera.
  • Blake Stone starts you with the Auto-Charge Pistol. It's very weak and has a cooldown between shots, but it does not require or consume ammo and is silent, so it doesn't alert enemies when fired.
  • In Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold you start off with the Auto Charge Pistol. It's very weak and can only fire one shot at a time, but it automatically recharges (giving effectively infinite ammo) and has stealth capability (firing it does not alert other enemies).
  • In Blood (1997), Caleb has his trusty pitchfork that will be your best friend against lone zombies or for rushing an unaware cultist and stun-locking him, saving valuable ammo for tougher and/or more numerous foes. Being a pitchfork, its range is reasonable once you get used to it and each of its four prongs even has its own little hitbox for added realism.
  • Chex Quest, based on the Doom engine, has the "Boot Spoon", which can do some Zorch damage to enemies when used. Being a game about cereal, it makes sense... kinda.
  • Command & Conquer: Renegade had the silenced Falcon pistol. However, its status as an emergency weapon varies across the game; early on if you can consistently nail headshots it's the most useful weapon you could possibly have, but later on when you're up against multiple armored foes at a time (or in multiplayer), it falls purely into this trope.
  • Some newer games are providing very useful backup melee attacks. Counter-Strike, the Battlefield series and later Call of Duty games feature a knife that is an instant kill, and F.E.A.R. not only has pistol whips and rifle butts but also jump and slide kicks that are instant kills.
  • Crysis allows you to use your fists as melee weapons in addition to a Pistol-Whipping quick-hit button. While this may sound fairly unimpressive, remember that the Player Character is clad in Powered Armor and can punch holes in brick walls. As a result, your fists wind up being one of the most lethal weapons in the game; a single punch in Strength Mode is a One-Hit Kill to everything except bosses. In Strength Mode, you can also throw barrels/crates, debris, and even enemy Mooks at each other as your Emergency Weapon.
  • In Darkwatch, every weapon had some bladed or spiked component to allow it to be used in melee. For those few situations where a bayonet will not do, breech teeth.
  • The difference between Deus Ex and most first-person perspective shooters is readily apparent in its "backup weapons"—the infinite-ammunition close-combat weapons remain at least marginally useful to the end of the game. This is especially after completing the mission for one of the Triads—you get a melee nanotech light saber.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution gives you takedowns, with a twist: you have to have at least one full energy cell to use a takedown, meaning there are times when you don't have the energy to take out an opponent. However, your last energy cell doubles as an emergency energy cell: it takes 40 seconds to reach a full charge after emptying it (upgradable to 20 seconds), meaning that with enough patience, you can punch or stab everyone in the game (except for three of the bosses) without worrying about recharging your batteries.
  • Doom:
    • Doom actually includes two melee weapons: plain old fists, and a powerful chainsaw. It also includes Berserk Packs which make your punches ten times stronger, enough to instantly gib smaller enemies.
    • Doom modification Trailblazer gives you fists as well as a machete - which can be thrown and is, unusually, also a Game-Breaker. Upgrade it and it becomes a spammable Sword Beam-emitting, head-lopping, wall-ricocheting frisbee of doom that flies through enemies and instantly teleports back in your inventory when it's done.
    • Doom³
      • Fists, with a similar berserker powerup as the original. In addition to killing enemies instantly, it also slows down time and made you invincible. Of course, it was only available twice in the entire game, and it was accompanied by some rather disturbing screaming.
      • The flashlight, which deals twice as much damage as the fists and actually lets you see what you're doing, but swings twice as slowly (and, in the PC version, has shorter range).
      • The expansion Resurrection of Evil adds the Grabber, which can be used to grab barrels, crates, and even most enemy projectiles and fire them back at the sender, and in addition its Soul Cube analogue gives the same bonuses as the above-mentioned power-up from the base game, depending on how many of the Hunters you've killed.
    • Doom (2016): The pistol takes this role in the game. Unlike the other pistols in the series, it has infinite ammo, and can be charged to do more damage, but it's not very powerful compared to everything else in your arsenal.
  • Duke Nukem 3D had Duke's Mighty Foot, which was, oddly enough, more powerful than the pistol. In fact, in the original version of the game, it was possible to set your weapon to kick and use both that and the quick-kick button at the same time, giving the impression of dropkicking the enemy several times in succession or doing That Russian Squat Dance (dealing great damage in the meantime). If you do the same while auto-kicking a frozen enemy, you can get three legs on screen!
  • In DUSK, Duskdude starts with a pair of sickles that do weak damage but attack quickly. He can later upgrade them into a much more powerful sword that's capable of blocking attacks. Both melee weapons have an additional use: they can deflect projectiles.
  • You start 8Bit Killer equipped with a handgun which has quite a piddling rate of fire and deals only 1 point of damage per bullet, but doesn't consume your Universal Ammunition. It still remains useful for dealing with enemies that fall in a few shots.
  • The starting weapon in Far Cry 2 is an enormous machete the Big Bad slammed into the wall just above your head. Any attack from stealth with it will either kill or critically wound the target, but they'll usually shout and give away your position before they die.
  • Far Cry 3 definitely goes the route of "iconic weapon" for its machete - it's used for everything from stealthily picking off bad guys to skinning animals for their hides, with a few upgrades making it deadly on par with your actual guns in solo engagements or even against small groups of enemies. Some loading screens even mention that Jason is famous throughout the islands for his use of the machete, encouraging you to live up to the legends as much as you can. Of course, you can also upgrade to an even better, sixty-year-old Japanese tanto.
  • In GoldenEye (1997), Bond can deliver a swift karate chop to take down enemies if he ran out of ammo. A karate chop to the back of the neck is more powerful than any other single attack in the game, with the exception of the Golden Gun of course.
  • Goldeneye Rogue Agent, the player is provided with a pistol with infinite ammunition, in addition to a few of the lethal uses for your golden Electronic Eyes.
  • Many First-Person Shooter games, at least those before Quick Melee became popular, have a unique melee weapon - often a random object that the protagonist uses like a club - which becomes iconic for the series, such as the crowbar from Half-Life
  • Half-Life:
    • The series provides a crowbar in most games, to the point where it's the iconic weapon.
    • Half-Life expansion Opposing Force gives you a slower but more powerful pipe wrench, and later a combat knife that works just like the crowbar.
    • Half-Life 2 adds the Gravity Gun, which has infinite uses and can turn any loose object in the environment into a lethal projectile, from boxes, oil drums, old tires, and iron stakes to giant buzzsaw blades, exploding barrels, enemy grenades, and Manhacks. Quite a fun weapon! Buzzsaw blades are particularly useful for bisecting crowds of zombies with one attack. You still have your trusty crowbar but it will be mostly relegated to just killing pesky headcrabs (especially the Poison and Fast variants) in a single hit.
    • Half-Life: Alyx averts the trope; Alyx has no specific melee weapon, due to the difficulties of doing melee combat in VR. You can improvise a weapon in a pinch, but they're not terribly effective against most enemies.
  • Halo has the inventive solution of letting you use your guns as melee weapons; a melee attack dealt to a sleeping or unaware enemy is a One-Hit Kill.
    • Halo 2 and Halo 3 introduce weapons that only function in melee (specifically, an energy sword and a gravity hammer), but they have limited energy. Both are still usable as blunt objects once they run out, but the sword is no longer a near-instant kill and the hammer loses both its power and knock-back ability.
  • Heretic gives you a wooden staff you can poke enemies with and the much more useful Gauntlets of the Necromancer which can electrocute enemies at close range. The latter is especially useful when combined with a Tome of Power, as the gauntlets will heal you for the damage you deal.
  • In Hexen, each of the classes has a different infinite-ammo starting weapon. The Fighter's fists are actually quite potent (they even have a combo attack), but the Cleric's mace is a joke. The Mage is unique because his Sapphire Wand is a ranged weapon - it fires extremely fast shots that pierce enemies, quite fast and with deadly precision. Technically it does less damage than any other attack in the game, but it fires quickly and in many cases (mainly crowd control) it is more useful than his spells. All of the starting weapons share one important quality: they can't be bounced back at you. One common mook species and some bosses have shields which can reflect missiles, but the none of the above weapons can be reflected.
  • Left 4 Dead has a pistol as your backup weapon that has unlimited ammo and it's the only weapon that you can use if you are downed. Grabbing a second pistol gives you Guns Akimbo.
  • Left 4 Dead 2: You can trade both pistols for a melee weapon or Hand Cannon, both of which kill regular zombies in one hit. However, if you're downed and you have a melee weapon instead of either pistol type, the default pistol replaces your melee weapon until you're helped up.
  • In Marathon, you have your fists (one per mouse button) to rely on. Interestingly, by giving yourself a running start, you can do increased damage and take out weaker enemies with surprising speed; it's kind of funny to repeatedly berserker-charge an alien soldier and punch him in the face, and funnier when it makes pretty short work of the guy.
  • Medal of Honor: Airborne and the 2010 reboot do the same. Warfighter extends this to the entire secondary slot, which now includes shotguns and submachine guns. It also lets you stomp on enemies during your parachute descent, making you lethal before your feet even touch the ground. Section 8, which has all players drop in from orbit when they spawn, does much the same.
  • Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi: The Cane Sword, the weakest weapon in the game. Once you get enough ammo, you're going to be using guns as much as possible, but the Sword still comes in handy if you're running low, the enemy is too close or weak enough that you don't want to waste bullets on them, or it's taking too long to reload.
  • In Painkiller, the emergency weapon is the titular Painkiller. It's actually quite useful — its rapid-fire melee hits can keep an enemy from attacking, and its ranged secondary is powerful enough to kill most weaker enemies in one hit on Normal difficulty... and you can also fire it at a wall to create an unstoppable laser to fry your enemies by keeping the Painkiller pointed at the "hook". Its "combo" attack (launching the blade extended and spinning at low speed) has even higher damage and pierces shields and armor, though it's too slow for anything but sniping. The Painkiller's also the preferred weapon for corpse juggling, which can shake gems out of defeated enemies to give you some extra gold.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist has a melee function that lets you whip enemies with the butt of your gun, though it will do very little damage unless the enemy is not armored. The sequel introduces proper melee weapons and when charged up, can do quite a bit of damage. This makes it quite handy to have until you can get some more ammo again.
  • In the original PlanetSide, the various empire-flavored knives are emergency weapons carried in every loadout bar the MAX Powered Armor. The knife is pretty pathetic, dealing very little damage with poor range unless the secondary powered mode (i.e. revving up the Chainblade) is activated, which still requires at least two stabs to kill. Pistols were intended to be this but are never used by anyone other than infiltrators, as the Healing Shiv and Magic Tool are more useful and take up the same sidearm holster.
  • Prey (2006) gives you both a pipe wrench and an alien hybrid machine gun/sniper rifle that can slowly recharge one clip worth of ammo when you run out.
  • Quake II provides the blaster, which fires fairly slow and weak energy projectiles at a fairly slow pace. At least it has unlimited ammo.
  • Quake III: Arena had the gauntlet. It was the only melee weapon in the game, but it does deal a fair amount of damage by the standards of emergency weapons and was unlimited use. The game would keep track of how many gauntlet kills you'd racked up in a match, and the announcer would call "Humiliation" every time you pulled one off.
  • Rainbow Six: Lockdown and the Vegas games feature pistols with infinite magazines (although limited shots per magazines), but considering the fact that in Vegas you can carry two 'primary' weapons with upwards of ten full magazines for each, there's really no excuse for running out of ammo (unless you over-specialize one of them). Though it does make you look much more badass.
  • Serious Sam
    • The original game starts the player off with an incredibly powerful knife and a rather less powerful infinite-ammo revolver.
    • Second Encounter adds a chainsaw to the mix — although it has to be acquired first, it's often one of the first three weapons you find in each time period.
    • 2, in addition to the chainsaw and dual revolvers, has the Zap Gun.
    • BFE gives Sam a sledgehammer and a Desert Eagle that has inherited the old revolvers' infinite ammo.
  • In the Shadow Warrior (2013) reboot, Lo Wang's weapon of choice is his favourite katana. Rather than simply being something you pull out as a last resort when you run out of ammo, the katana makes for a very potent primary weapon as it can be upgraded to deal more damage and is also capable of powerful Ki Manipulation as Lo Wang grows in strength. There's a more powerful demon-slaying katana, the Nobitsura Kage, up for grabs too.
    • The sequel has the Eternal Infinitor - infinite ammo uzi, but you can only customize it with the weakest grade of weapon mods. And of all the melee items in the game (and there are a lot), the Arm of Orochi is the only one with free-use Force Slash attacks, making it indispensable for close-quarters combat with enemies that dodged your bullets until you ran out.
  • Singularity starts you off with the knife, which is almost useless and truly only for desperation or self-imposed challenge. It's shortly replaced with the Time Manipulation Device, which has the Impulse attack, a burst of force that does a lot more damage than the knife, and can hit multiple enemies. However, the Impulse chews up a not-insignificant chunk of the TMD's energy bar, especially early on, and you can only carry a limited number of energy charge vials at a time. If you're out, it has to recharge - slowly.
  • Star Wars: Dark Forces Saga:
    • Dark Forces games have a fist you can fall back on. At one point you're expected to kill a big angry lizard called a Kell Dragon or two with it.
    • Jedi Knight, starts with your fists as a backup... and then you get the lightsaber, which never needs recharging and is probably the most useful and powerful weapon in the game bar none. Incidentally, in Jedi Knight, the only things that can hurt the lone Kell Dragon you can encounter are explosives and the lightsaber—energy weapon shots bounce off its skin.
    • In the expansion pack, Mysteries of the Sith, you start with the lightsaber.
    • The sequel to that, Jedi Outcast, has you starting out with a stun baton (cattle prod) as a backup weapon, which is actually useful against certain types of enemies, and then you get the lightsaber and never look back.
    • Finally, the sequel to that, Jedi Academy, once again has you with a lightsaber from the beginning. In one mission, however, it's taken away from you and you have to kill the guy who imprisoned you to get it back. You do not get any backup weapon to replace it, but your force powers allow you easily rip a gun out of the hands of any mook if not kill them outright.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando has melee attacks associated with every weapon via the melee quick-hit button. The default Commando-issue Swiss Army Rifle includes a deadly strike with the retractable blade in the left glove, while other weapons resort to beaning your enemies with them. The actual emergency weapon slot is the DC-15s pistol that you fall back on if you manage to run out of ammo for all your weapons. It has infinite ammo, a recharge time, and about zero usefulness other than saving ammo. Actually Pistol-Whipping with said pistol is the weakest melee attack in the game (which wouldn't be so bad, except you can't switch to an empty weapon should you want to melee with that one instead); the console versions won't even let you use it if you've picked up something besides the aforementioned rifle until you're totally out of ammo for it.
  • The first weapon you find in System Shock is a lead pipe which requires no ammo to crush enemies' skulls. In System Shock 2, you can find a wrench which needs no ammo and can be very deadly with proper upgrades. You can also change to laser rapier or alien crystal if you want, which similarly require no ammo but need investing experience points into proper weapon skills.
  • Team Fortress 2 has a different melee weapon for every single class - A baseball bat for the Scout, an entrenchment shovel for the Soldier, a wrench for the Engineer, a butterfly knife for the Spy, a Kukri for the Sniper, a bonesaw for the Medic, a whiskey bottle for the Demoman, a fire axe for the Pyro, and bare fists for the Heavy. The game offers unlockable weapons, including many melee options that have more utility than just bare damage — this often makes the stock weapons fall into this trope on a meta level, as despite how unlockables are designed to be sidegrades with new power but new drawbacks, many are considered by players to be direct improvements since function over pure emergency damage that they have guns for makes them vastly more useful (such as the Soldier's "Escape Plan", a pickaxe that gives him bonus running speed just by holding it out, or the Heavy's "Fists of Steel", metal gauntlets that protects him from incoming gunfire).
  • Tron 2.0 gives you, in addition to the iconic Disc weapon, three other base weapons and a number of modifiers for all four weapons. However, using a modifier or a different weapon consumes energy, which is also used for tasks like recovering files from storage bins, so you'll find yourself using the unmodified Disc through most of the game. (It helps that it's a solid all-around weapon, as well as a defense against other Disc attacks.)
  • In Unreal, the basic weapon automatically recharges itself over time and can be upgraded over the course of the game into a pretty devastating (though slow) weapon.
  • Unreal II: The Awakening also has a dispersion pistol, but unlike the first game, this really is a emergency weapon and nothing more.
  • The Unreal Tournament
    • The Impact Hammer, a pneumatic weapon that can deal devastating close-range damage, be used to Rocket Jump, and if you're really good, deflect certain projectiles.
    • The Translocator, meant for quickly escaping from certain death or getting around to otherwise-unreachable areas, can also be used as an emergency weapon if the need arises, since you can Tele-Frag anyone with it. Since you instead kill yourself when attempting to teleport to a disc that's been shot, though, it's more dangerous to try.
  • Unreal Tournament 2004 replaces the Impact Hammer with a Shield Gun that is basically the same thing, but with alternate fire changed to a shield with 100 health that recharges when not active.
  • Wolfenstein 3-D has the simple army knife.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Binary Domain gives you the infinite-ammo sidearm - a simple semi-auto pistol. It's fairly useful even when other guns are available - if you're only facing a few standard mooks, downing them with a few pistol headshots lets you save up ammo for the big guns. And if you haven't upgraded the assault rifle's precision, and don't have a sniper weapon as your secondary, the pistol is also the most precise weapon at your disposal.
  • BloodRayne 2 gives you the Carpathian Dragons, handguns fueled by blood. If they run out of ammo, Rayne can use her own blood instead.
  • On the two easier modes of the Crusader games, Mama's Boy and Weekend Warrior, your starting weapon has infinite ammunition. Outside of those difficulty levels...well, don't run out of ammo, is all I'll say.
  • The Snub Pistol from Gears of War is rather bad, unless you're skillful enough to fire all shots into an enemy to down them. Because of that, it's rather impractical to use unless you swap it for Boltok. Also, your main gun has a built-in chainsaw bayonet for anyone who gets too close.
  • In Jet Force Gemini, your basic weapon is the Jet Force pistol. It's weak, can only be fired 5 or so times before needing to pause, and has limited ammo. But if you run out, it can still fire an infinite supply of emergency pellets, which are even weaker.
  • In the first Max Payne, Max starts off with a pipe as his emergency weapon, which quickly gets upgraded to a baseball bat. One level forces you to sneak around with nothing but the bat until you find some weapons. Through the Captain Baseball Bat Boy running theme, the bat is probably the most celebrated weapon in the series's story.
  • In MDK, Kurt's sniper helmet has an infinite supply of basic bullets you can use if you run out of other ammo, which is mostly situational anyway. Max in MDK2 similarly has a single handgun with Bottomless Magazines which he can fall back on if he somehow runs out of all Throw-Away Guns.
  • Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. The starting weapon is the recharging "mining laser", and even fully upgraded, it's only slightly better than useless. And even that's better than Glitch's weak Melee.
  • Oni has limited ammunition available for guns (even though there are only two ammo types overall), and some later bosses are resistant to them. This isn't much of a problem, though, as the hand-to-hand fighting is typically the focus of combat, anyway.
  • In Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, you have your silenced pistol with rare ammunition (since no enemy really carries one) and a larger gun. Since it usually takes about a clip, per enemy thankfully you have Telekinesis as back-up or your main weapon. If you run out of psi energy, you'll still have Good Old Fisticuffs.
  • The wrench from Ratchet & Clank not only has unlimited uses but boomerangs when thrown and when properly upgraded is described as the most deadly weapon in the galaxy.
  • The original Star Wars: Battlefront games give most classes an emergency blaster pistol, which does fairly low damage but has infinite ammo. For some classes, these are their best option for close combat against enemy infantry (the heavy ordnance classes' rocket launcher takes forever to reload and the sniper rifle is ill-suited for close range). In the second game, getting enough pistol kills in one life unlocks the Precision Pistol (essentially a fully-automatic sniper weapon) to replace it.
  • The first Syphon Filter had the Air Taser, which uses no ammo, had long range, counted as a silent weapon (unless the enemy starts screaming when they get lit on fire), and is lethal if it latches on any part of the enemy's body. The developers seem to have realized how they've made the Emergency Weapon too damn useful, so they changed it to a combat knife in later games. And killed all the fun.
  • The Tomb Raider series has Lara with her default dual Pistols that have unlimited ammo, which is used mainly as a backup weapon halfway through the game once you collect other guns and ammo. It's the weakest weapon.

  • Similarly, Abuse's base weapon, a simple repeating laser rifle, uses ammo to increase its firing rate (up to several hundred units) rather than to shoot at all. If its ammo falls to zero, it just shoots slower.
  • Later iterations of the Armored Core series had special cores that allowed up to two back-up weapons to be stored inside, for use when the main weapon ran out of ammo or got destroyed. However, the back up weapons were limited by size, so you could then only really use a small pistol or laser blade. Worked well for players that rely mainly on ammo based weapons during missions with a ton of Goddamned Bats.
  • You have a kick in Iji, but your strength stat must be upgraded enough for it to be useful. Due to this, the shotgun (which has infinite ammo) fills the Emergency Weapon role. It's essentially the only weapon you have access to on Ultimortal difficulty.
  • The console ports of Ikaruga offer a "Prototype Mode" in which you have limited shots. If you use up those shots, you switch out for weaker shots that are only effective at point blank.
  • The Jazz Jackrabbit series first ammo is the Blaster, weak bullets that never are used up and are useful until you find better ammo. Although getting some rapid fire Power-ups make them very good weapons on their own.
  • The Metal Slug series gave you both options. You start with an infinite-ammo pistol which is temporarily replaced when you gain heavier weapons such as machine guns and rawkit lawnchairs, and you also have a knife to kill enemies in close quarters without wasting ammo. Well, knives, hatchets, tonfas, kicks, throws, the Vulcan Punch, and a spring-loaded boxing glove hidden in your backpack, depending on the game and character. The easy mode for the 6th game make your emergency weapon a Heavy Machine Gun (and if you play as the character that starts with a HMG in normal, you get a BFG).
  • The arcade game NARC switched you from automatic fire to semiautomatic if you ran out of ammo, cutting your firing speed in half.
  • The Punisher (THQ), 2005 game has 'Instant Kills'. Grab an enemy, horribly dispose of them and take their guns. Sometimes with a knife to the face. Oddly, face/knife is possible early on in the Ryker's Prison section. Someone forgot to search Frank.
  • In Silhouette Mirage, all of your attacks require Spirit. IF you run out of Spirit, your equipped parasite will be consumed to regain 100 points. If it was your last parasite, you will be given a Sloth (basic shot) parasite as well - however, this only happens once; run out of spirit with just a Sloth left and you're screwed. This is considerably more annoying in the American version, where Spirit is your Mana Meter, than in the Japanese, where Spirit was only drained by enemy attacks. Although they did grant a mercy that when you were stuck with the Sloth, you never lost it.
  • TAGAP gives you an Uzi with infinite ammo, which can be Dual Wielded. The problem? It does pretty low damage and has a clip size of just 15 bullets. The third game replaces it with a plasma pistol that can be recharged via a hand crank.

    Action Adventure 
  • MediEvil featured a skeletal protagonist. If all his weapons were taken, he'd detach his left arm and wield it as a club with his right. It can also be used as a boomerang.
  • Metroid:
    • In the original Metroid, all of the bosses can be harmed with your regular beam in case you ran out of missiles (with the exception of Metroids, but they always give you missiles when you kill them). In fact, Kraid is particularly weak against morph ball bombs. The later games are able to mix it up thanks to the Charge Beam power-up; bosses take no damage from uncharged beam shots, while charged shots are just as strong as missiles but take a second or two to actually charge up.
    • Samus' Power Beam was quickly obsoleted in many a game, especially the Primes, as you got upgrades. In Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the Luminoth beam weapons required energy sources alien to Samus' Power Suit, thus turning the Power Beam into the Emergency Weapon. Of course, the three Luminoth weapons can still fire without ammo by charging a shot, thus keeping Samus from being locked out of any doors. Ammo is required for those three weapons to regain full functionality, however.
    • Samus also has a literal Emergency Pistol in Zero Mission that she uses during the Unexpected Gameplay Change stealth sequence during which she's lost her power suit. It's only able to stun enemies with fully charged shots (uncharged shots do nothing), and for exceptionally short periods at that; Samus herself hangs a giant lampshade on its ineffectiveness in a cutscene.
      "All I had for protection was my rather useless emergency pistol..."
    • The pistol (now called the "Paralyzer" thanks to Super Smash Bros. Brawl) returns in Metroid: Other M during the epilogue when Samus has to race out of the Bottle Ship in her Zero Suit. This time, it is capable of stunning Pirates even with uncharged shots, but it's still pretty useless in combat. It's really only used in the sequence to short-circuit closed gates and open them.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild gives Link infinite bombs. Their utility as a damage dealer is questionable: they only do 12 damage and have a very long cooldown, and the most basic bokoblin enemy has 13 health. Despite this, they're still quite useful. They have a huge blast radius and knockback that sends enemies flying, which gives you time to breathe and also tends to knock enemies' weapons out of their hands for you to steal.
  • Mystic Towers provides Baron Baldric with unlimited copies of the Ice spell, the weakest of the five. It's generally not hard to find something better, but it's there if you need it. Also, in the event that you manage to pin down an enemy in a situation where it can't fight back, Ice is convenient for taking it down cheaply.

  • In World of Warcraft, if your weapons get broken or you get disarmed, you can still punch stuff.
    • More keeping in spirit with this trope, there are also wands. As the pure caster classes (mage, priest, warlock) are never supposed to go into melee range, they are instead allowed to wield these Stat Sticks that are limited to basic ranged attacks but never run out of juice. These wands actually have the highest listed damage of any weapons in the game (often exceeding the damage of big two-handed weapons by significant amounts), but they fail to scale with any stats whatsoever which puts their actual output in the trivial range.
    • And then there are grey weapons. Some classes (like rogues) rely on having a certain kind of weapon. If the raid's having a bad night, or the player is just out of it, their weapon can break, and then they can't use those special "must have an X equipped" abilities. In these times of desperation, a grey dagger can be better than having nothing. Note that you may encounter approximately one or two of these moments in your entire WoW career.
    • As of Mists of Pandaria, the Priest has Power Word: Solace, which does the same amount of damage as staple damage spell Smite and restores a fraction of your mana bar. However, it doesn't get any of the damage bonuses that Smite normally gets, such as from Talents or Passive Skills, so it's still only worth using when you don't have the mana for real damage spells.
  • All City of Heroes characters have the "Brawl" power which costs no endurance to use and deals low damage. It's mostly just used at low levels as a filler attack but some Brutes use it even into the mid-levels to help them generate/maintain Fury before they have an optimized attack chain.

  • American McGee's Alice gives you the Vorpal Blade, a kitchen knife that can be used as a melee weapon or thrown, after which it will reappear in your hand several seconds later. It is the only weapon that uses no Willpower for either attack.
  • Earthworm Jim has a blaster with lots of types of ammo, all of which are limited. The plain ammo is finite but refills itself slowly when low.
  • Mega Man always starts with his basic Mega Buster, and it never has finite ammo. If you run out of the weapon a boss is weak against, the buster can help you finish the fight. In fact, completing the entire game with only the buster is possible (save for at least one puzzle per game, but those only appear in Dr. Wily's fortresses), and it isn't too much more difficult than the regular Nintendo Hard game. The Updated Re-release, Mega Man Powered Up, even encourages you to kill bosses using only the Mega Buster, allowing you to play though the entire game as that boss.
    • Note that the Mega Buster actually becomes more useful than some boss weapons in later games, once the charge-shot ability was introduced in Mega Man 4.
  • Ratchet & Clank's Omniwrench is this: Ratchet starts the game with it and it uses no ammo. The downside is that the wrench can't earn XP that could go to other weapons, and has such low damage it's only useful against the weak swarmer enemies and smashing boxes. While it is helpful in the early game when you have few weapons, by the time you're a few hours in you'll never run out of ammo on all but the hardest of difficulties (where the Wrench is even less effective).
  • In Rolling Thunder, if your pistol runs out of bullets, you can still actually fire. The catch is that the bullets you'll fire are Painfully Slow Projectiles.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • In Dark Cloud, one of your weapons is blessed to never break no matter how much it is used. Instead of disappearing when its durability runs out, it loses all its upgrades and reverts to the weakest weapon in the game. Which, like losing a full power weapon, is a gut punch.
  • In Digital Devil Saga, the main characters fight by transforming into demons. If they are caught by surprise or are forced to revert to human form, they have guns as emergency weapons. Some enemies are actually weak to gun attacks, though the guns generally do less damage than any other attack in your arsenal.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Throughout the series, if all else fails, you can still use your fists. The Breakable Weapons present in the series prior to Skyrim were the most common cause of resorting to this.
    • In additional to your fists, Oblivion has a weak Fireball spell that every protagonist starts with. It's easy enough for non-mages to cast, and your Mana Meter recharges fast enough that the spell can be cast without end.
    • These return for Skyrim, though due to the game no longer having Breakable Weapons, it is rare to be left without a weapon.note  If you lack a weapon, you can still punch people. Barring that, you have a basic Flames spell available. As with Oblivion, the spell is not particularly great, but it's always available to all races so players are never at a lack for some kind of offensive capability. Additionally, once you reach a certain point in the main quest, Thu'um Shouts become accessible to the player. You get the initial word of "Unrelenting Force" as part of the main quest, and the Thu'um cooldown is separate from any of your other meters, so it can be used even if you are out of Magicka or Fatigue. It does extremely minimal damage on its own, but can stagger enemies to allow for escape.
  • On the magic-wielding side of things, the Final Fantasy series has the "Osmose" spell, which drains an enemy's MP to restore the caster's own and is usually cheap, if not free, to cast. Its effectiveness varies, since some enemies have 0 MP and the spell will never restore more than it drains, but it can save an Ether or two in a pinch.
    • Osmose, and its counterpart Rasp (damages MP without draining it) become viable offensive spells in Final Fantasy VI, where some enemies, including a few bosses, die if they run out of MP. An Optional Boss in the GBA remake's Bonus Dungeon even has to be defeated this way, as it'll continually resurrect itself otherwise.
  • Harry Potter video games have introduced the Flipendo knockback jinx, a basic attack spell which consumes no Mana.
  • The Citadel DLC of Mass Effect 3 has the M7 Lancer, a gun that uses a cooldown system instead of ammunition, like the guns in the first game.
  • Mega Man Battle Network has the same Mega Buster as the platforming series, except much less useful. Even the earliest Battle Chips do around 30 or more points of damage, and running out forces you to rely on your buster which starts off doing 1 point of damage per shot. In fact, some normal enemies are completely unkillable without the right Battle Chips.
    • Battle Network 6, or at least the Greiga version, threw the Buster lovers a bone with the main-element Crosses, Heat and Elec, both of which have great damage and range (as Busters go), and the Super Mode's insanely fast rapid-fire gun. It's still not quite as effective as using chips.
    • And it comes all the way around to awesome once again in Mega Man Star Force 2. The Buster Max giga card (the most powerful type of card, of which you can only use one at any given time) turns the Buster into the game equivalent of a Gatling gun that can chew anything in your path into little tiny crunchy bits.
  • In the Monster Hunter series, bowgun users have an infinite stock of level 1 Normal shots to utilize. This is meant to be used as a last resort, as they only cause half the damage of the weakest expendable ammo type.
  • Neverwinter Nights's mage starts with a weak wand that does piddling damage and never runs out. It's fine for the first level or two when you're limited to cantrips, but as soon as you learn proper spells and are able to buy proper wands you might as well dispose of it. The enemies become stronger very soon, but the wand's damage doesn't, so if you ever find yourself with everything but the first wand exhausted you might as well reload, because firing it will do you about as good as spitting.
  • Pokémon have limited uses for all of their moves. If they run out, they can resort to Struggle, which does little damage and costs HP. Also comes into play when the opponent uses Encore (must repeat the last move several times), Taunt (must use attacking moves), Disable (cannot use a certain move for several turns), Torment (cannot use the same move consecutively), or Imprison (cannot use moves shared by the opponent), and/or if your Mon is holding a Choice item (boosts a certain stat, but locks in your first move) — if due to any combination of these and depleted PP, your Mon has no usable moves, it will use Struggle.
  • Ein, the hero of Riviera: The Promised Land possesses a Diviner, an unbreakable mystical weapon which grows in strength with its user. He can use it as a powerful holy sword if he doesn't want to use one of the Breakable Weapons made by mortals; the other party members can use it as a rather ineffective throwing weapon in emergencies. If you play right, you can gain the Diviners of two other Grim Angels as well; like your own, they are unbreakable and can only be used effectively by Ein.
    • The Diviners of the other two Grim Angels are acquirable, however, they are one use items, as according to the game's lore, only the Angel for which a Diviner was made can use it effectively.
    • Knights in the Nightmare requires weapons to be equipped to do any sort of damage, but the Knights can also perform a very weak attack without a weapon to refill the Limit Break bar which is, of course, required to Break Out with a weapon.
  • Summon Night: Swordcraft Story lets you use your forging hammer if all of your forged weapons break.

  • The player characters of Dead Island pack kick and stomp attacks that are surprisingly effective. They're mainly used to clear space between you and zombies, but a well-placed stomp to a prone enemy will crush the skull.
  • Dead Rising has Frank fight off the zombies with his bare hands when you can't get your hands on a baseball bat, a bench, or anything else for that matter. Being a normal reporter, it is about as useful as it sounds. Subverted as you level up, however; eventually, Frank becomes powerful enough to easily hold off enemies unarmed. You know you can stop relying on a handgun when you can start tearing out people's innards with your bare hands. These ludicrously powerful moves also are one-hit-kills on the rifle-wielding special forces that break into the mall near the end.
    • Frank also has a desperation ranged attack as well - aiming at zombies when you have nothing equipped will cause Frank to spit wherever he's aiming. That said, if he's recently drank a "Spitfire" juice, his expectorations can decapitate the undead.
  • The characters in Don't Starve can all physically punch for a last-resort attack, but it's slow and weak enough to rarely be worth using (the game doesn't even default to attacking unarmed, even against enemies, requiring a specific command to do).
  • Dwarf Fortress has the crossbowdwarves who can utilize the crossbow as a club when they run out of ammo. It's even more useless than you'd think (unless you cross-train) since club weapons rely on weapon weight for effectiveness as well as hammerdwarf training. Many players have found dwarves armed with adamantine crossbows (the lightest metal) not even slowing down an enemy when used as a club.
    • Currently averted, due to a yet-to-be-corrected inventory bug that lets dwarves wield more weapons than they actually have hands. It's being left unfixed until scabbards are implemented.
  • In Grand Theft Auto III, you have your fists at all times. You can also pick up a baseball bat for when you're out of ammo. Later games added alternatives to the bat, such as knives]] and chainsaws.
  • In Minecraft, all tools for breaking/attacking degrade with use. However, anything that isn't a breaking tool (or weapon), including your bare hand (i.e. an empty inventory slot) can still be used to break or attack; it just takes longer (or does less damage), and may destroy the target rather than yielding a resource. Since you start with an empty inventory and the first resource you need is wood, most games therefore start with punching trees.
  • Survival Crisis Z has the knife. You can also get a chainsaw, which is a slightly better emergency weapon.


  • OpenXcom — a remake of 1994 X-COM — allows to add this feature in mods.
    • The XCOM Files has Good Old Fisticuffs. Civilians suddenly became quite capable of beating early enemies. Using ranged weapons as clubs is still impossible, unlike some other mods.
  • In Age of Empires III (Definitive Edition), this is the default behaviour for light infantry type units, specifically archers and rifle infantry, who are usually forced to do a pityful pistol whip in melee. This is frequently a losing battle even against melee focussed units they usually counter. Meanwhile, other primarily ranged units like Musketeers and light cavalry avert this trope by generally packing at least some punch in melee. Settlers/villagers are an odd case, as they pack much more of a punch in melee (somehow) but also always default to their ranged blunderbuss attack.
  • Archers in Civilization IV will sometimes pull out knives or use their bows as weapons during combat, usually when they are defending against melee units, but it is only an animation, and not done out of an emergency.
  • Sidearms in Jagged Alliance 2 are relegated to this role by mid-game, particularly in the v1.13 update. They're not very effective against proper body armor or at long range, unless you're packing a Hand Cannon with all their accuracy issues, but the AP cost to draw and fire one is significantly lower than reloading or unjamming your primary weapon. The various melee weapons are another kind of Emergency Weapon; guns are very nearly useless at point-blank range (which is Truth in Television), and a blade or even bare fists is more use if you walk right into an enemy mook whilst clearing a building. v1.13 even includes a special blades-only inventory slot so you can give one to every team member without wasting inventory space.
  • In Pikmin, Olimar has a very weak punch that can slightly damage and distract enemies. The second game introduces the Rocket Punch for better damage.
  • Super Robot Wars:
    • Units in most titles may come with a useful no-energy no-ammo attack (if nothing else, for example, a Grungust can always Rocket Punch). If they don't, you can bet they'll come with either the option to perform a generic Attack (basically, bodyslamming the enemy), or head-mounted short-range vulcan cannons with unlimited ammo (one of many, many Shout Outs to Gundam, although vulcan ammo was notably limited there). These attacks always hit for piddling damage and are seldom necessary, but can be fun for Cherry Tapping (or conserving ammo and energy). You could, however, upgrade these weapons. Why? Most Vulcans have 10-15 shots and body-slam has infinite ammo.
    • In the first mission in Original Generation, the only character under the player's control is a mech with no weapons (it was a test run that got interrupted), which must kill eight enemies. However, since the pilot is Elzam, this is easier than it sounds.
  • Super Smash Bros.: Most of Olimar's moves requires him to use a Pikmin to actually strike the foe, though he does have a (very few) weak melee attacks that don't use Pikmin.
  • Sword of the Stars has surface-to-orbit missiles. While they might destroy lone scouts or even small groups of starships that are Point Defenseless, they become much less useful once the enemy either has sufficient point defense or brings enough spares to the battle. No substitute for a proper battle fleet, they are.
  • In the Total War series, archers and most other ranged units will pull out a knife when out of ammo. Needless to say, they're totally useless at that point. However, some ranged units will pull out swords and are rather well-trained at using them or just so heavily-armored to the point where they can just hold off the enemy with pure defense.
  • Three of the four soldier classes in XCOM: Enemy Unknown have pistols as this. Pistols never run out of ammo and never need to be reloaded. The Heavy, however, has a single-shot rocket launcher as its secondary weapon and doesn't have an Emergency Weapon at all. Ditto for S.H.I.V.s and MEC Troopers (Enemy Within only).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Battletech and BattleTech (2018): All 'mechs can engage in physical attacks as long as enough limbs (both legs or one leg and one arm) are intact, even if all other weapons are destroyed or out of ammo. Doing so is generally seen as a desperation move, though some 'mechs (like the Hatchetman) are intentionally designed to use physical combat as a first resort. Any 'mech that has an Energy Weapon installed in the head or centre torso also has one of these, as energy weapons cannot run out of ammo and the 'mech is disabled if either of the two locations are destroyed.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • 4th Edition: Powers fall into several types depending on how often they're able to be used and how powerful they are. The At will powers can be used as many times as you want per day, but they are way less damaging than the daily powers.
    • 5th Edition:
      • Most everyone carries a melee weapon and a ranged weapon, including spellcasters. This way, a strength-based character can throw javelins at distant foes, while dexterity-based characters can use rapiers and shortswords in melee. While it's almost expected for a Fighter or Barbarian to carry around various sidearms (usually throwable ones) on top of their main melee choice and ranged option, a Wizard can also benefit from keeping a dagger or small knife on their belt; small blades are useful as tools, and sometimes you just cannot rely on your spells at all (like fighting in an antimagic field). Likewise, Rogues might want to carry a club or light hammer for dealing with skeletons and other unbackstabbable undead. Even if a character lacks proficiency in a weapon, it's still better to pick it up and use it however clumsily rather than relying on your fists (unless you are a Monk or took the Tavern Brawler feat).
      • Spellcasters also get Emergency Spells in the form of cantrips, little spell effects that can be cast without using a spell slot or preparing it in advance - and many cantrips can be quite potent (in fact for one class, their Eldritch Blast cantrip is their bread and butter power).
  • The One Ring: Daggers have the worst stats of any weapon but cost zero Encumbrance to carry. Every adventurer starts with a dagger and one point of proficiency alongside their specialized weapons.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: Thematically. Every hero in the game has some method of doing damage, so even if only a support character is left standing, the heroes still have a chance of winning.

  • In Beat Blades Haruka, the characters have attacks that require no energy to use. However, they're very inaccurate and will only ever inflict 1 damage whenever they do hit, meaning that if you ever run out energy for normal attacks, you'll be in trouble.
  • Alan Wake II: If Alan and Saga are desperate for some space in a fight, or even worse, plum out of bullets, their last hope beyond running to a Break Room is to use their melee attack. The resulting Pistol Whip is pathetically weak compared to any other weapon, and leaves them open to reprisal by the Taken, but never runs out and can be spammed fairly quickly.
  • In Armored Core: For Answer, the Hanger ability becomes a set, permanent ability, with a catch: NEXTs with tank-type legs have no restriction in hangar weapons, meaning that carrying grenade launchers with gatling gun backups is perfectly valid option (obviously, barring weight restrictions).
  • Crypt of the NecroDancer has glass weapons that are extremely powerful, but break if you take any damage, leaving you unarmed. If this happens, a glass shard weapon will appear that acts like a reskin of the regular dagger (only does one damage and has no range unless it's thrown, which leaves you completely unarmed with absolutely no weapon)
  • DRIV3R: Tanner's 17-bullet-per-mag 9mm Automatic. If you run out of ammo for your other guns (including several machineguns, two other pistols, one of which is silent and fires faster, a grenade launcher and an assault rifle) in a later mission, where you're facing an ass load of dudes with ALL of those guns, bend over and kiss ass goodbye.
  • Fatal Frame:
    • The first game has the Type-14 Film, the second-weakest film type in the following games. It isn't infinite like the Type-07 in the other games, but it is the one film you can always restock at a save point.
    • Starting from the second game onward, there is the Type-07 Film. It's the weakest of the film types, but you have an infinite supply of it; this makes it a good film to use when snapping at the many, many hidden and vanishing ghosts in the game and it's still around, even if you have used up all your stronger films.
  • Should Jack run out of spears in Lost in Blue 2, he can take enemies on with his bare hands. Punches hit for puny damage, but successful dodging can lead to him taking down a tiger like a man.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: Spring Bean and Chili Bean. The former isn't single use, but like Chomper they're vulnerable for a moment after each action; they're good to fend off zombies at the beginning, but they'll need some cover in the end. The latter, meanwhile, is good as not-emergency weapon too in that it helps stunning zombies behind the victim.


  • Notably absent from Galerians - if you run out of drugs to support your Psychic Powers, you have no means to defend yourself. And the number of drugs in the game is limited, and the number of enemies is significantly less limited. Done this way because the game is meant to be Survival Horror, and is specifically based on the original Resident Evil.
  • In 1980s sci-fantasy Shoot 'Em Up, Gondomania by Nihon Bussan/AV Japan, your hoverbike riding samurai has to earn money to pick up the weapons lying around the battlefield. If you have no money and ran out of weapons to shoot/throw, your samurai has an endless supply of weak throwing knives to hurl at foes.
  • Aliens vs. Predator:
    • In the first game for the PC, if you ran out of weapons for all of your guns you ended up using your pulse rifle as a club. The exception is the fact that, given the type of enemy you face in the game, if it comes down to that you're screwed already.
    • The second replaced this with a knife, which was about as useful as you'd expect. The most recent addition to the series gives you an infinite-ammo pistol, which is generally enough to fight off a single Alien, but not much more.
    • This is, though, entirely keeping in line with the human marine, who is extremely equipment dependent. Predators fall back on wrist blades and combisticks, which use no ammo, and are effective against xenomorphs to a slight degree, and humans to a much greater degrees. Predators also have the ability to regenerate energy for their discs, electro-pistols, and shoulder cannons. The xenomorphs, however, never use ammunition, and can always fight with claws, teeth, and tail spikes.
  • AMID EVIL has the Axe of the Black Labyrinth, a melee option and the only one of your weapons that doesn't use mana. One swing does more damage than many of your early ranged weapons, and it has the ability to pull enemies towards you at close range. It's more than capable of dealing with most of the basic mooks you'll see in each chapter and is a viable option for when you need to save mana.
  • While Cave Story has weapons that use ammo, there is only one weapon (two if you count the upgraded version) that has limited ammo, the missile launcher. The ammo for the Machine Gun recharges quite quickly, even quicker if you find an upgrade for that, and the Bubble Gun recharges very slowly on Lvl 1 and very quickly on Lvl 3.
  • In Dead Space, you can club enemies with a gun or stomp on them. Despite the relative weakness of these attacks, the sheer level of MANLINESS in the character's accompanying scream, and subsequent screen shake, makes them more satisfying to use than most of the actual weapons!
    • The melee attacks with your "guns" (read: hastily modified power tools with their safeties disabled) are not that useful, but Isaac's ground stomp can SEVER LIMBS from prone enemies! He must work out in high gravity. Plus it's a fantastic stress relief to just stomp those monstrosities into necromorph pulp with those heavy boots. Do it long enough in the sequel and Isaac will launch into a Cluster F-Bomb.
    • On higher difficulties, it's often the only thing to fight with.
  • Descent:
    • The Vulcan Cannon in the original game. It received a game-breaking upgrade in II with the Gauss Cannon, but was once again Nerfed in 3 with the Vauss Cannon, which replaces both.
    • To a greater extent, the Flare. Since you can run out of energy for your energy weapons and ammo for the above, launching flares(horribly slow without energy) will always do one point of damage.
  • If you're unarmed in Eternal Darkness, you can actually slug away with your bare fists, but Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs when you see how pointless trying to punch an Eldritch Abomination is in practice. Thankfully, outside of one scripted event, each character's melee weapon is unbreakable and quite powerful to use in hacking off enemy limbs and heads, with projectile weapons often being inferior to the various melees until you move far enough in the timeline to be using rifles and shotguns.
  • In all Fallout games, if push comes to shove (literally) you can always switch to fists (and kicks in Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics). Of course, some characters fight with their fists anyway, and there are plenty of spiked knuckles and other melee weapons available.
    • Note that Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are the only games in the series where items can get damaged. This means that in previous games, melee weapons that don't consume ammo are always usable. And some of them can kill a super-mutant in a few slashes, if your character is built properly for that. This also means that Unarmed Masters avoid much of the hassle of collecting and carrying ammo at all, although some of the best fist-weapons do use electric ammo for that extra punch.
    • Fallout: New Vegas also introduces special unarmed techniques, granted as rewards for a few unmarked quests (except the Khan Trick, which is a reward for a marked quest), and only one of them requires any points invested in the unarmed skill. Some of the more useful ones are those that can buy you time to rearm yourself, such as the Ranger Takedown (knock-down effect), or the aforementioned Khan Trick (stun effect), making your bare fists a more useful emergency weapon.
    • In the "Operation Anchorage" DLC quest, you lose all your equipment (since you're in a simulation) and have only a knife and a weak gun to start with - you have to find other weapons if you want to use them. Halfway through you reach your HQ, lose all your weapons and can then requisition a weapons package suited to your skills, most of which contain one main weapon and one weaker emergency weapon. However you rarely need to use them, since there are several bottomless ammo dispensers placed everywhere.
    • Fallout: New Vegas also gives you the Recharger pistol and recharger rifle which don't require ammo (but can still break).
  • While Metal Gear does include melee attacks, most bosses can only be harmed by heavy weapons (or, in one case, a sniper rifle). To help out, infinitely respawning ammo pickups are placed in the boss arenas. The final boss fights are notable though in that you only have your bare fists (Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots) or your sword (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty). Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater lets you keep your other weapons and even some mid-game bosses can be beaten with melee maneuvers, but if the final boss (named The Boss) manages to grapple you while you're wielding a firearm, she'll actually DISMANTLE the gun and throw away the pieces. You can pick them back up, but do try keeping the gun holstered during close-quarters combat the next time around.
  • In the Modern Warfare games, World At War, and Call of Duty: Black Ops, the knife is meant for when you find yourself in melee situations. Since it's an instant kill, however, many people just run around the battlefield using it as their primary weapon. Combine this with the Commando Perk (allows longer melee range), Tactical Knife (faster melee speed), and Lightweight (faster character speed) in MW2 and you have what is arguably a Game-Breaker. The earlier Call of Duty games have more Halo-esque gun melees.
  • Parasite Eve, which has several survival horror elements while not being a complete example of the genre, provides Aya with a club. You can even find upgrades for the club, but like in most survival horror games, any club is just about useless.
    • Unless you spend an obscene amount of time, points, and tools to increase the strength of the club. While the lack of range remains a problem, it can become ridiculously overpowered.
      • Due to its swinging in an arc, and having little recovery time the Tonfa was very spammable, and was probably the most effective weapon vs Goddamn Bats.
  • Red Dead Redemption gives you a knife and your fists as emergency weapons when you run out of ammo, but since Marston is carrying 30 guns on his person at all times this is unlikely to happen. In fact, the only times the knife is likely to see use is for some of the hunting challenges.
  • Resident Evil. Survival horror games often give you the almost completely useless knife, since the fear of running out of ammunition is supposed to add to the suspense.
    • Resident Evil 4:
      • The game for the most part is a big exception, as Leon is equipped with a much more useful knife. For the most part, you use it as an ammo-saver: you can bust open barrels and crates with it, or finish off weakened Ganados. It can also save your ammo when fighting against the Gigante; if you hop on the monster's back, you can slice it with your knife, or stab the eye of the final boss with it as well. It also becomes useful in a few cutscenes, the first time you face Jack Krauser being the best example. Later on when Krauser plants an ambush for you in normal game play, the most efficient way to hurt him is using your knife. You can empty clip after clip into him, but it takes a lot of ammo to get him to back off compared to one slash of your knife.
      • Against Krauser, the knife does about as much damage as a magnum bullet.
      • Two things that make the knife so useful in the fourth and fifth games is that A. it doesn't take up an inventory slot, and B. you don't have to go into the menu to equip it. This makes it much more convenient to use, whereas in most games it's ditched because that one useless knife takes up the same amount of inventory space as, say, 50 shotgun shells.
    • Resident Evil – Code: Veronica was really the first game to make a useful knife. The ammo was VERY scarce, so most of the time Claire/Chris have to take care of zombies with the knife. Ironically, the other game featuring Claire, had probably the worst knife in the series, taking a whopping 50 slashes to kill ONE zombie. However, it's pretty common that "hardcore" fans of the series will perform knife runs, only using the knife and no other weapon unless it's completely necessary. It helps that, due to a Good Bad Bug, the knife ignores enemy Mercy Invincibility when aimed down and can strike numerous times in a single slash, making downward slashes more powerful than handgun bullets.
    • Resident Evil 5 gives you the option of buying the Stun Rod around level 3. It is a melee weapon that is swung like a bat and delivers an electric charge. Kills normal enemies and in groups has the potential to kill a lot of them at the same time.
    • In Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Ethan Winters gets his first combat experiences when he is attacked by his wife, Mia, who he has to fight off in a close-combat encounter, with a nearby Hatchet against the attacker's Butcher Knife. The hatchet comes in handy when Ethan gets his left hand chainsawed off shortly after, and has to fight the subsequent foe with only one functioning limb. He loses the hatchet soon afterwards when ambushed by Jack Baker and dragged into the family house, and has to spend the next few encounters playing cat and mouse with the unkillable madman. Following this, he begs for aid from a Police deputy investigating the property, and whilst the cop refuses to give the frantic Ethan his gun, citing Ethan's suspicious behaviour, he does humour his pleas by giving him a foldable pocket knife, which becomes Ethan's Melee Weapon for the rest of the game. As expected, it's not an impressive weapon, but it's unbreakability means Ethan always has a means of defending himself.
      • In Resident Evil Village Ethan's melee weapon is now a hunting knife he finds in the titular abandoned village when he first stumbles into it. Fitting with the game's more action-packed focus Ethan never has to use it in any story context save cutting himself free of his bonds to shoot Miranda at the climax and instead, thanks to the game's abundance of Ammo through either Crafting or The Duke's services, Ethan's main form of attack will always be his guns, with little fear of running out. Other melee weapons exist as post-game unlockables, but the hunting knife still qualifies as the dedicated last-ditch weapon because it's impossible to drop from your inventory.
  • Silent Hill contains melee weapons which tend to see more use than the guns, which have very limited ammo. Fortunately, these melee weapons are both strong and unbreakable for the first four games. Unfortunately, Silent Hill fans who were used to invulnerable wooden planks and unbending steel pipes were given a very rude shock when the prequel Silent Hill: Origins came and brought the concept of all melee weapons breaking eventually. If players weren't careful and didn't conserve their best melee weapons, they would be reduced to beating down bosses with toasters, screwdrivers or their bare hands.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force, the Phaser was almost certainly intended as the Emergency Weapon, since it has its own separate ammunition supply that recharges on its own. However, it's powerful enough that many players use it even when all the other weapons have plenty of ammunition, thus conserving the big guns for that other kind of emergency. Like the other weapons, it has an alternate fire mode that fires a more powerful beam but drains the energy supply much faster. However, unlike a typical Emergency Weapon that is useful almost any time, the phaser is no more useful against the Borg than any other weapon except the I-MOD, as they adapt to it within a few shots.
  • In the Twisted Metal series, the Emergency Weapon is a set of machine guns with infinite ammo. Later games gave it a power-up that would run out, turning it into a viable weapon until it ran out and reverted to normal.
  • Prior to Mists of Pandaria, this was what melee weapons were for the Hunter class in World of Warcraft. These were intended for use only when your pet has lost aggro or died, or you've run out of ammo. Over time, patches removed the need for ammo, the minimum range for ranged weapons, and eventually merged the melee and ranged weapon slots into a single slot. note  But when they were necessary, the primary consideration when choosing one was on stat bonuses rather than melee damage. For example, one of the most common from vanilla WoW was Ice Barbed Spear.