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Penultimate Weapon

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So you just found out that The Dragon is the hero's father and got the Final Ultimate Maximum Infinity Times One Sword, now you just got to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon and... wait, what? Why is this random sword you found better than the supposed "ultimate weapon"?

The reality is, just because everybody you've ever met hailed your shiny weapon as the mightiest in all the world doesn't always mean that they're right. Or, perhaps that sword truly is the most powerful sword in existence... when cutscenes call for it. Sure, it may be able to slice the entire palace in half, but when you're actually playing the game, the new one just happens to have 5 more attack points. And don't get too attached to that new sword you found — expect to find a weapon that outclasses that in, or for clearing the Bonus Dungeon.

The weapon version of Overrated and Underleveled. Quite frequently overlaps with Sword of Plot Advancement. May be replaced by an Infinity -1 Sword.

Video Game Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 

    First Person Shooter 
  • This can happen in Borderlands with Atlas guns. They're supposedly the best you can get, but due to the random weapon generation system, it's easily possible to get much better guns from the (allegedly) worse brands like Tediore and Vladof, sometimes even from the exact same loot source.

    Driving Game 
  • Need for Speed:
    • The BMW M3 in Need for Speed: Most Wanted definitely counts. You can get much better results from a fully tuned Vauxhall Monaro by the time you recover it.
    • The boss cars in Pro Street are nearly useless. For beating the Grip King, you get an M3. Yay. You're probably driving at least a 911 Turbo if not a Pagani Zonda at that point. The Speed King's GTO is one of the slowest cars in the game, not to mention its complete lack of downforce which prevents you from even going fast at all without randomly flipping over and exploding into pieces. And even discounting the many glitches in drag that allow you to build a 3.5 second Toyota Supra, the Mustang you get from the Drag King is probably worse than any other RWD car you can buy except the Aston Martin. And the ultimate end boss car is a Lancer Evo. The only sensible boss car is the Drift King's RX-7.
  • Gran Turismo 3 has the late game professional events, notably Like The Wind. For completing this event, you get the Mazda 787B. Yay, yippie woop-de-do, a LeMans Prototype as my reward. Too bad that this is an S-License event—and endurance races are available once you have an IA License. Said endurance races reward you with a far superior Formula One car, that is, if you have the luck to earn it thanks to the crappy in-game prize system.

    Fighting Game 
  • Expect to do a lot of grinding if you want the Ultimate Weapon for your favorite character in Dissidia Final Fantasy (and yes, it's different for all 22 of them)... but turns out that the actual Ultima Weapon is a huge case of Guide Dang It! requiring special passwords, materials, and Item Crafting recipes to create. And even then, it is a Situational Sword which is only at its best when you have max HP.
  • In the Soulcalibur games, characters who get Soul Edge, supposedly the most awesome sword ever (except to people who know about the less evil Soul Calibur), will sometimes have a Legendary weapon that trumps Soul Edge.
    • This varies, however, depending on the particular stats and effects of each character's particular Soul Edge and Legendary Weapon.

  • Strangely, the Kingdom of Loathing has three. At about level five, you get to smith your class's "Epic Weapon", which has a high power, gives a large stat boost, and (for some classes) doubles the duration of buffs that they cast. Soon after that, you get to turn it into the "Legendary Epic Weapon", which has even more power, a larger stat boost, and triples buff duration. During the final part of the Nemesis Quest, the LEW upgrades to the Ultimate Legendary Epic Weapon when fighting your nemesis's One-Winged Angel form. The ULEW all have the highest possible weapon power (coupled with a lower-than-normal requirement to equip), large stat boosts, all the benefits of the older forms, and give access to a special combat move when equipped - and for buffing classes, the buff duration is quadrupled.
    • Then, when it all comes down to it, it doesn't match up to half the weapons you find later on.
  • Any ultimate weapon in World of Warcraft that's from an earlier expansion pack (or, goodness forbid, from the unexpanded game). Thunderfury, for example. When new expansions come out, the very best and hard to get stuff from the previous one is eclipsed by lowly quest rewards before long. More, Cataclysm made it so that it was finally true what people had been incorrectly (exaggeratedly) claiming about the previous expansions: the lowest new items are immediately a match (almost) for the best old ones.
  • Happens a lot in MapleStory. Considering the max level being lv 200 and the highest level equipment available overseas in the (original and content-heavier) Korean version being 140, there will always be much room for game designers to add better and stronger equipment in the future.
    • Not only could new equipment come out, new, more dependable methods of improving existing equipment have come out often over time. Any weapon considered good before new items used to enhance equipment come out, would be less good because it becomes easier (though usually either more risky or costly) to make something better than before.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has the Relic Weapons, hugely powerful grindsinks of weapons said to contain the powers of gods of your class...that usually show up as third best in any best in slot guide after the current Tombstone and 8-man raid weapons, and sometimes even behind Crafted Gear.note  Although they occasionally alternate between Ultimate Weapon and Penultimate Weapon, as the patch cycle tends to update the relics on the off patch and unlocks the next set of gear on the main patch. And that's for each expansion cycle. Once the next expansion comes out, expect whatever tremendously laborious and special weapon (that in one case was a sentient being now collecting dust in your retainer's inventory) to be immediately surpassed by the starter version of the new expansion's "Ultimate Weapon" cycle, for you to repeat the upgrade process all over again. Like, the exact same process, only with different names attached.

    Real-Time Strategy 

    Role Playing Game 
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura's "Quench Life" spell, described in-game as One-Hit Kill against any living creature. Some creatures just need to be one-hit killed multiple times before grasping the principle of death.
  • CrossCode: At first glance, the Infinity Spiral Drill appears to be the strongest weapon in the game, due to its reference to Gurren Lagann, its description claiming it has infinite power, and the amount of sidequests required to obtain it. However, it turns out to be weaker than other weapons around the same level in terms of stats and modifiers. It also has a drop rate increasing modifier at the cost of any EXP gain, ultimately making this weapon a glorified stepping stone for getting better gear. Even its ascended version, the Singularity Drill, is still a farming weapon that is overshadowed by most other ascended gear.
  • The Excalibur from Final Fantasy is second in power to the Masamune, which is found in the final dungeon. Odds are good, though, that you'll let the Fighter/Knight keep using Excalibur - it can only be used by Fighters/Knights, while the Masamune can be used by anyone, so you'll probably give it to your Thief/Ninja or Red Mage/Red Wizard.
    • In the Dawn of Souls release for the Game Boy Advance, you obtain the Ragnarok after defeating Shinyru on the 20th level of Lifespring Grotto. However, after you complete all 40 levels of Whisperwind Cove and kill the weaker Death Gaze and obtain the less powerful Lightbringer, you can find a treasure chest that contains the Ultima Weapon, a sword that does damage based on the wielder's HP, making it twice as strong as the Ragnarok.
    • The 20th Anniversary Edition tops this with the Barbarian Sword, which has 134 attack, where the Ultima Weapon could only go up to 100.
  • While you spend at least one-third of Final Fantasy II chasing after the Ultima spell, it really isn't that great if the player doesn't max out every spell, weapon level and stat; otherwise a Flare or Holy spell does more damage.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, the Legend Sword that Cecil gets upon his Heel–Face Turn is quickly outclassed, but can be upgraded to the much better Excalibur near the endgame, once you get some special ore and take it to the Ultimate Blacksmith. Excalibur still turns out to be the Penultimate Weapon though, as following a secret path in The Very Definitely Final Dungeon leads you to the vastly better Ragnarok.
    • Then in the Updated Re-release, even Ragnarok is one-upped—in the GBA version you get the Lightbringer, and in the DS version you get the Onion Sword.
  • The Twelve Sealed Weapons from Final Fantasy V. Even though four of them are the most powerful weapons of their respective types, they end up being inferior to those gained elsewhere.
  • The Ultimate Weapons from Final Fantasy X are very powerful weapons that outclass anything you'll get from vendors or chests, but you can use the crafting system to make custom weapons that are better. And if you want to take on Side Bosses like the Arena Monsters or the Dark Aeons, you'll have to.
  • The Ultima Blade in Final Fantasy XV is the ultimate upgrade to your base weapon the Engine Blade, it's inferior to only one One Handed Sword in the game, Balmung, as well as most of the Royal Arms. But with that said you'll probably be using it more often than either of those. Royal Arms decrease your health when you use them, so they're only going to be used sparingly against enemies that you really need to use them on. But the Balmung is even worse since it loses a whopping 4% attack power for every point of MP you've spent. The amount of attack power lost in a single Warp Strike will make it far weaker than the same technique with the Ultima Blade, so you'll probably just end up spamming Warp Strikes with the Ultima Blade anyways.
  • Final Fantasy Legend III: The Xcalibr is the legendary sword that only a special hero can pull from the stone! You also can't enter the Underworld until you have it. However, in terms of stats, it's actually outclassed by the Defense sword that you can buy en masse in the Dwelg town. The only reason you really need Xcalibr is to fight bosses, as it bypasses their damage reduction and deals double damage to them.
  • The Eternal Sword in Tales of Phantasia is outclassed by some Bonus Dungeon weapons. It doesn't stop other Tales games from using it as a proper Infinity Plus One Sword. Tales of Eternia reverses this, as it's the Excalibur that serves as the Penultimate Weapon to the Eternal Sword.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Lloyd's Material Blade is outclassed quickly by the Ninja Sword found in the last dungeon (to add insult to to injury, the Final Boss is also weak to it) and two sidequest rewards (the Valkyrie Saber and the Kusanagi). Lloyd's Devil Arm should outclass all of them unless you have been running from most of the fights. Even sadder, the paper fans you can buy in Luin are at least as good as, if not better than, the Material Blade. Funnily enough, the scene where Lloyd gets the Material Blade is accompanied by this quote: "I doubt you have a blade in your possession that can match it." Guess what? You can get one of these sword sets before that point.
  • Tales of Vesperia: Yuri is temporarily lent the Dein Nomos around halfway through the game. Most players probably didn't think they'd to get to keep it, but given how much the sword had been built up and the awesome power it commands in cutscenes, you might expect this to be A Taste of Power where you get to wield the Infinity +1 Sword. It's actually an incredibly average weapon. Though it will probably be the strongest sword in your inventory when you first get it (assuming you aren't on a New Game Plus with endgame equipment) you'll find better ones long before you're required to give it up. The only really noteworthy thing about it is that it teaches Yuri the Special skill, but it's not even the only weapon in the game that can do that. The real Infinity +1 Sword later turns out to be a different weapon, though it's part of the same set as Dein Nomos.
  • In Eternia, the Eternal Sword might also still count depending on when you get it. As it was only the ultimate weapon in terms of sheer power, sacrificing other stats for it. Not to mention its Time element weakens it against certain enemies. The game had a few other weapons like it too. The true Infinity +1 Sword was the Last Fencer. While not as strong in terms of sheer strength, it had no element, and the advantage of raising all stats at once. It also may or may not be named after one of titles Cless gets in Tales Of Phantasia. So um... Take That!?
  • In Tales of Xillia, the Devil's Arms are supposedly the most powerful weapons in the world, each embedded in the body of a powerful Optional Boss. By the time you're strong enough to actually defeat these bosses, the Devil's Arms you get from them will probably be outclassed by weapons you already have. (Elize's is heavily outclassed by a toy princess staff she gets from a couple of pink-obsessed valley-girls.) There's a sidequest you can do to unlock their true power, but it can only be done after beating the game, and it involves beating the game's strongest superboss, so even then they're more of a Bragging Rights Reward.
  • Although the Dragon Sword is implied to be the Infinity +1 Sword of the first Breath of Fire, it is outclassed by not only the Trirang and the Emperor's Sword, but one weapon you can buy from a store, the Flame Sword.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: While the weapons listed under Infinity +1 Sword and Infinity -1 Sword are all among the best in the game, they can be beaten using a Daedric weapon you've custom enchanted yourself with a powerful soul. (The single most damaging weapon in the game would be a Daedric Battle Axe custom enchanted with a Damage Health spell, using Almalexia's soul trapped in Azura's Star for the maximum number of blows before being drained.)
  • The Ultimate Bat in Earthbound is an Infinity Minus Four Weapon; there are actually four more bats in the game with greater offensive power, three of which are discovered in the course of normal gameplay. The Legendary Bat is quite strong, but the super-rare Gutsy Bat is the true Infinity +1 Sword, not because of its raw power but its higher Critical Hit chance.
  • Star Ocean
    • A lot of the strongest weapons in the game are found in the post-game dungeons. However, people will just refer to a crafted weapon due to three things - crafted weapons can be made prior to the post-game dungeons; crafted weapons have "free" slots, meaning the player can synthesize any upgrade on it (in particular the ATK/DEF +30% combo); and finally the strongest weapons all have negative "upgrades" that the player must "remove" via crafting, and that is another level of hassle.
    • In Star Ocean 2, Claude's Penultimate weapon is the Eternal Sphere, which stuns enemies with each blow. It's very much out-classed by the Levantine found in the final dungeon, with nearly twice the attack power.
      • That depends on if you have an angel armband equip or not. For almost all the games fights the eternal sphere is the best because all competition is obtained nearly after the main story is finished and every attack you do throws out 12 stars that stun the enemy and do half the damage of your standard attack. Once you equip an angel armband though the eternal sphere loses its edge over better swords because every attack does this regardless of the weapon and you get some rather hefty stat boosts plus all element immunity. Of course this awesome item can only be obtained if you manage to beat one of the hardest bosses in the game.
  • Sword of Vermilion is a repeated offender. The titular sword is not the strongest sword in the game, there is a stronger blade in an obscure dungeon. It's not even a Sword of Plot Advancement, getting it is optional and it can be missed. (Especially by Save Scumming, as getting it requires you let something bad happen to your character.) Also, the game features two items called Ultimate Sword and Ultimate Armor. Neither of them is. And the Dragon Shield, which is heralded as very powerful and requires a little backtracking to get, still isn't as powerful as a shield you can simply buy in the very next town - but at least you get the Dragon Shield for free.
  • In Chrono Trigger Masamune is hailed as the legendary sword wielded by the hero and you need to spend some time recovering it from its broken state. While it is strong when you first get it, at this point you're only around one-third of the game, and you'll find stronger weapons for Frog soon enough. However, completing a late-game sidequest allows you to strengthen it, whereupon it becomes Frog's true strongest weapon.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, the Vorlik Blade is the Infinity +1 Sword. In the the expanded Gamecube rerelease Legends, however, it plays Penultimate Weapon to a secret sword that can only be claimed through 100% Completion.
    • Which is all but worthless except as a Bragging Rights Reward, because the Vorlik can hit the damage cap anyways.
  • In Tactics Ogre, the Penultimate Weapon is the Brynhildr, which drives much of the plot and plays a vital role in the final dungeon. However, it's outclassed by multiple weapons in the PSP remake.
  • The Dual Blade in the Lufia series is rarely the game's strongest weapon. The Ancient Cave typically provides more powerful weapons, and the Might Sword in Fortress of Doom can be obtained from Hydras long, long before you even know where the Dual Blade is.
  • While not exactly weapons, this trope can apply to certain mons in the Pokémon franchise due to their extremely flattering Dex entries. The legendary Regigigas, for example, was said to have moved entire continents by pulling on them with a (very durable) rope. Rampardos, a prehistoric but otherwise unremarkable 'mon, just so happens to have slightly higher attack power. Even Arceus, the Olympus Mon that reputedly created the Universe, only has a base stat of 120 for each of its statistics. While this gives it the highest base stat total in the series, this does mean a fair number of Pokemon are individually faster, stronger, or more durable than the creator god.
  • Shadow Hearts: All the games have a penultimate weapon (the first game even had penultimate armor) available in the last two dungeons, usually in chests and some obtained in the trials. These weapons can't be found anywhere else, so once you sell them, they're gone. Some of the trials require less damage done to win, so these are worth holding onto. Karin in Covenant actually gets two, one got at the end of Disc One, and the other found in the penultimate dungeon. The real ultimate weapons are usually found in side quests.
  • The Silver Sword of the Gith is unquestionably the most powerful weapon in Neverwinter Nights 2, but this doesn't make it good — it's untyped, has stat bonuses for every stat (but middle-level at that), and offers a variety of narrow benefits. Monks especially find it frustrating — while it gives a bonus to unarmed combat, it has to be equipped for this, so the monk is now armed. On top of that by the time it reappears in the Mask of the Betrayer expansion the system is set up to let you make a weapon that's probably better out of random junk.
  • Yoshitsune in Persona 4 and Persona 5. It has the unique skill Hassou Tobi which deals light physical damage to all foes 8 times. This makes it the single most powerful attack skill in both games provided you're not using DLC. The strats for defeating the superbosses in these games with just the protagonist will invariably involve Hassou Tobi spam. The best part? Yoshitsune is WAY too easy to obtain for how powerful it is in both games. It's not the Ultimate Persona of its arcana (Ultimate Arcana Personas cannot be fused unless the corresponding social link is maxed) in either game, and in Persona 4 it doesn't need any Ultimate Personas as Fusion Material. In Persona 5 it requires the Ultimate Persona of one arcana... that's tied to story progression.
  • Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen plays this absolutely and irredeemably straight, forcing you to collect the legendary silver (!) equipment before you enter the final dungeon, then giving you better equipment of each type if you search the right treasure chests in that dungeon. Ultimately, the stuff isn't even necessary for beating the final boss, apart from the previous But Thou Must!. Actually, using the better equipment you gain in the final dungeon makes the final bossfight significantly harder. In fact, in many of the Ys games, the final boss can only be damaged with the penultimate sword.
  • In OMORI, the Basketball is described as Kel's ultimate weapon, and it does give him massive stat boosts. However, a popular strategy involving Kel is the so-called "Kel Nuke", where you boost Kel's speed as high as possible, then use the skill Run n' Gun (deals damage based on Kel's high Speed instead of his mediocre Attack). For this purpose, it's better to equip the Chicken Ball weapon, since it gives him an even higher Speed boost.

    Survival Horror 
  • The crowbar in Silent Hill: Homecoming will become your preferred weapon for most of the rest of the game, as it's a Jack of All Stats that's fast but not as fast as the knife, has good range but not as good as the pipe, and powerful but not as powerful as the axe. There are times you'll need something stronger or faster, but in those times you're likely to reach right past your other melee weapons and grab a gun instead.
  • Out of all the weapons like axes, knives, bats, crowbars, and even guns found throughout Silent Hill: Downpour, the one you want to hang onto is the Fire Hook, which is obtainable as early as when you reach Silent Hill's streets. It has the highest range out of all melee weapons, is unbreakable, only incapacitates enemies (not killing enemies is mandatory for the best ending), and has the secondary purpose of reaching fire escapes. It even beats out the weapons found in the green lockers.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Warframe features the Hate, a scythe wielded by the deadly Stalker. He's got about a 1/100 chance to drop the blueprint when killed, and that's assuming you can get him to show up at all. Given the power of his far-more-common bow, the Dread, you'd expect the Hate to be comparably strong. It's completely outclassed by the Anku, another scythe available through Clan research that doesn't even require any special resources to build. To add insult to injury, the Anku's only a mid-tier weapon, leaving the Hate near the bottom of the totem pole.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade:
      • Lyn's final weapon is the Sol Katti, only obtained in the final chapter, designated just for her, and supposedly on par with the Legendary Weapons. In reality, the Sol Katti has a Might of 12, which isn't just significantly worse than Durandal's 17 or Armads's 18, but it's also below that of a common Silver Sword that you can buy in bulk at that point. It does have some other properties to it, like anti-dragon effectiveness, a boost to Resistance, and a somewhat higher crit rate, but even that's overcome by the fact that the Sol Katti weighs 14, making it one of the heaviest swords in the game, and heavier than even most axes. This does not play ball with Lyn, a character who already tends to get weighed down a lot—most of the time, she's better off using a Silver Sword, her Mani Katti, or not fighting at all.
      • Eliwood's Durandal suffers from similar problems—it's a much better weapon than the Sol Katti due to its higher Might and its boost going into Strength instead, giving it very high attacking power, but it's also quite heavy, weighing Eliwood down by 7 when Eliwood already has some mild Speed issues. Curiously, it had a much more manageable weight in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, when it was merely an Infinity -1 Sword.
    • In the DS remake of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, both Starlight, the ultimate magic, and Falchion, the Sword of Plot Advancement, fall into this. Starlight has the same Might as Thoron and Excalibur, but with fewer uses and a lower crit rate, so it's pretty much only good for killing Gharnef (who is otherwise invincible). Killing Gharnef is how one obtains Falchion—which only the desperately mediocre Marth can wield, and which has the same Might as a Silver Sword. It does deal triple damage to dragons and the Final Boss, but common dragons can be dealt with using forged Wyrmslayers and Dragonpikes instead, while the Final Boss is so strong that Marth doesn't stand much of a chance of beating him even with the Falchion outside of Normal Mode. Add in the fact that getting Starlight requires you to trade in two highly valuable items, and many players skip Starlight and Gharnef completely in favor of finding other ways to kill Medeus.

Non-Video Game Examples:

  • Homestuck presents the Zillium weapons as the ultimate ones, but John upgrades his even further.

Alternative Title(s): Infinity Times One Sword