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Real-Time Weapon Change

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This trope is where you can change your weapons in a video game without pausing or using a Power-Up to change them. Usually this is accomplished by using one or two buttons, for one or two way switching respectively.

This usually involves a tradeoff of convenience and versatility, since pausing gives time to choose almost any weapon, while this trope usually limits the weapons in order to save for time. The latter is of course necessary in many multiplayer games (especially online games), where pausing isn't even possible, so menus leave players vulnerable. That reason makes this trope ubiquitous in First Person Shooters and MMORPGs.

Also, in an FPS, the most common forms are the scroll wheel and/or number key with PC games or the D-pad with home console games. Or just a single button if a character is only capable of carrying a handful of weapons.

The name comes from the E3 2006 Sony conference that also coined the trope names Giant Enemy Crab, Attack Its Weak Point, and the index This Index Hits for Massive Damage; the topic of "Real Time Weapon Change" was touted as a "great new feature" of Genji 2.

Compare Changing Clothes Is a Free Action.

Contrast Real-Time with Pause.

Not to be confused with Midfight Weapon Exchange (where you switch weapons with someone else).


    open/close all folders 


  • In Contra: Hard Corps, whether or not the game is paused, one button will cycle through the available player weaponry, indicated by a row of icons at the top of the screen.
  • In the game based on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for the Nintendo Entertainment System the only way to switch weapons was to hold Select and press a direction of the D-Pad to switch weapons during gameplay.
  • Zombies Ate My Neighbors offered two dedicated buttons for changing weapons and special items, unless you were playing the Sega Genesis version with a 3-button controller, in which case you had to press the appropriate fire button while holding down another button.

    Action Adventure 

  • Cave Story allows switching weapons real-time or through the inventory.
  • Exile for the BBC Micro used a complicated set of keyboard controls that required pressing a separate function key to select each weapon, the protective suit and the Jet Pack; transferring energy between weapons was done by holding down the appropriate function key plus the shift key. The later Amiga versions introduced joystick and CD32 pad controls that could bring up a weapon selection menu, but the hotkeys remained an option so long as a keyboard was available.
  • The Legend of Zelda:

    First Person Shooter 
  • A common feature of most modern PC FPS titles. Usually the number row will allow you to select from between three to five weaponsnote . Duke Nukem 3D maps the entire number row on the keyboard to an arsenal of weapons.
  • Team Fortress 2, like any normal FPS, only lets you choose from a set amount of weapon slots; generally 3 (a primary, a secondary and a melee), but 4 for the Spy (disguise kit) and 5 for the Engineer (build/destroy panels). The point where this trope becomes relevant is when you start getting dropped weapons to swap the default out with; they can be switched around through a less-streamlined menu, but only actually swap at a resupply cabinet (or after dying), while swapping between active weapons is, comparatively, this trope. Further, there is a button for switching from the current weapon to the next most previously equipped weapon, allowing a player to quickly toggle between a pair of weapons. Many players will cycle through their weapons after spawning to set up a pair of weapons that they expect to need to switch between most frequently. Some alternative weapons even include faster weapon switching as advantages of equipping them, encouraging the player to use them in quick combination with other weapons. For example, The Reserve Shooter is a shotgun that does bonus damage to aerial targets, but requires another weapon to get them airborn first.

    Hack and Slash 

  • Devil May Cry:
    • The first Devil May Cry allowed you to switch between the Alastor sword and the Ifrit gauntlets by clicking the right analog stick.
    • Devil May Cry 2 lets you swap out your firearms on the fly.
    • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening lets you switch between two equipped firearm and melee weapons while attacking for awesome combos. The Nintendo Switch version lets you switch between all weapons in your possession.
    • Devil May Cry 4 and Devil May Cry 5 allow both weapon and Style switching when you take control of Dante for even more awesome combos.
    • The reboot DmC: Devil May Cry allows Dante to RTWC between Angel weapons (area attacks), Demon weapons (power attacks), and Human weapons (guns and bombs). It's vital to complete the platforming section.
  • Dynasty Warriors:
    • Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce give the ability to switch weapons not only in the middle of combat, but in the middle of a combo. This is kept and improved upon in the seventh main game.
    • In Arslan: The Warriors of Legend, all characters are equipped with at least 2 weapons in battle. The charge-shift mechanic allows them to freely swap between their weapons during normal combat and even mid-combo, allowing for a seamless transition into their next weapon's combo string.


  • Final Fantasy XI allows a player to make macros to change gear on the fly. However, because swapping out any weapon causes your Limit Break gauge to be instantly depleted, this is actually used more often for clothes, leading to bizarre circumstances where a character will be seen to briefly put on a specific pair of pants while activating an ability, only to remove them immediately afterwards.
  • Guild Wars lets you create up to four "weapon sets" that you can freely switch between.
  • In Guild Wars 2, each profession may quickly swap between only two weapon sets. Since the skill system is a bit different than in the prequel, utilizing this feature is practically required for chaining skills and waiting out long skill cooldowns. The exceptions to this mechanic are the Engineer and the Elementalist; Elementalists can instead change between elemental attunements, giving them four skillsets for each weapon they wield, while Engineers have access to Kits, utility skills that swap out their weapon skills for a different set of attacks. The Bladesworn elite specialization for the Warrior gives up the ability to switch between equipped weapons, but its profession skill equips the gunsaber, which acts as a second weapon with its own skills.
  • Phantasy Star Universe and Phantasy Star Online allow the player to choose weapons to switch in real time. In PSU you assign weapons to one of 6 rows of equipment slots and change them by holding down a button and using the D-Pad/arrow keys. PSO has you hit a button combination and sort through a small window with the name of every weapon in your inventory using the D-Pad/arrow keys.
  • World of Warcraft, to avoid exploits with macros, puts a 1.5 second (1 for Rogues) cooldown on all ability use immediately after changing weapons in combat.

    Platform Game 

  • The Doppelganger soul in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow enables Soma to switch between two sets of equipment and souls at any time. The Glyph Sleeve in Order of Ecclesia similarly allows Shanoa to swap between three glyph loadouts.
  • Mega Man:
    • When they came on the SNES and PlayStation, the Mega Man games starting with 7, and the Mega Man X games from the beginning, added a function for the shoulder buttons to switch weapons, in addition to the pause menu in previous games.
    • Mega Man ZX Advent uses the touchscreen to switch forms without pausing. The original forced you to use a ring menu which paused the game.
    • Rock Man 4 Minus Infinity lets the player do this by using the A and B buttons on the second controller.
  • In the platforming stages of Vice: Project Doom, the Select button cycles through the weapons whose icons are shown at the bottom of the screen. It similarly allows you to select your secondary weapon in the shootout stages.

    Real Time Strategy 


  • Enter the Gungeon lets you change your weapon using the mouse wheel. However, given the Bullet Hell nature of the game, you can dramatically slow down time while changing weapons by holding the Left Control key if you need a moment to asses the situation.
  • NetHack has a variant; you can assign a primary and secondary weapon and switch between them at the press of a single hotkey.

    Role Playing Games 

  • In Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Elden Ring, whenever you open the menu and switch weapons, the game does not pause, which technically counts, but it truly fits when you set a fixed amount of weapons, spells, and items to be swapped on the fly with the d-pad, at the cost is added encumbrance. In Dark Souls III, hardcore PvPers exploited this by quickly swapping weapons in-menu mid-combat to switch to a larger, stronger weapons to maximize riposte damage without sacrificing weight load.
  • Divinity: Original Sin and its sequel have Turn-Based Combat where exchanging weapons costs part of the character's Action Points for the turn.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, you could switch between two weapon sets (alternatively: weapon+shield, two-handed weapon, two weapons, or bow), though it took time as the character had to sheathe the old weapon and draw the new one. Too bad this option was only useful for Arcane Warriors (who could switch between a Magic Staff and a melee weapon) and for transporting bulky weaponry, which took up space in the inventory but didn't encumber the character "wielding" it. This option was removed from Dragon Age II.
  • In Final Fantasy XV, you can set four weapons (including magic) as your "Mains", and switch between them instantly by pressing the D-pad.
  • Kingdom Hearts III allows you to to equip up to three Keychains for Sora's Keyblade at a time and freely switch between them during combat, even mid-combo.
  • The Elder Scrolls series allows this in the form of hotkeys. Under normal circumstances, you would have to open your inventory in order to change weapons. By assigning two different weapons to two different hot keys, you can switch between them in real time.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X gives the player a melee and ranged weapon and they can switch between the two at the push of a button or when they use an Art with the weapon they aren't currently holding.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 allows the player to switch between three Blades with the only offset being that most Blades have a cooldown period between switching (and also from the start of the battle) which differs between Blades, although there is a stat that reduces the cooldown time. The only Blades that can switch without a cooldown are Pyra and Mythra since they are the Aegis and share the same body.

    Shoot Em Up 

  • Andro Dunos uses one button to cycle through firing modes: normal shot, reverse shot, diagonal lasers and "Way."
  • Axelay uses two buttons to cycle through the player's three chosen weapons.
  • Eliminate Down had a three-weapon system that could be changed without pausing: a forward Spread Shot, a back Reflecting Laser Spread Shot, and a four-way diagonal that shot surface-crawling missiles.
  • Gate Of Thunder also allows you to switch once you have enough power ups.
  • Hellfire allows you to change the direction of your weapon, ahead, behind, two-way vertical, or four-way diagonal by pressing a button. The M2 ShotTriggers rerelease of this game allows you to change how weapon type is changed, such as using your direction of movement.
  • Thunder Force, although you start out with one choice until you grab a Power-Up.
  • Vertical Force dedicated one of the Virtual Boy's two cross-shaped pads to switching out AI drones.


  • Every game in the God of War games has at least one alternate melee weapon that you can switch between on the fly.
  • It was added to Diablo II with the Expansion Pack. It also resulted in the addition of eight cells of wielded item Hammerspace which could be used to lug around items too. Skills set on your left and right mouse buttons would also be saved to a weapon set.
  • Torchlight and II allows you to switch between one set of equipment and another since both are developed as a Spiritual Successor to the Diablo series and, like in the above example, each set saved whatever was set on the left and right mouse button slots.
  • Path of Exile allows you to switch between equipment sets, with the caveat that you can only use the active ability gems slotted into the currently active weapon set, but not the other one. In other words, you switch not only between weapons but also spell/ability sets.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Travis has apparently wised up and keeps all of his beam katanas on him. That they all have their own battery meters and he is invulnerable while changing swords makes this option capable of making certain attacks piss easy to avoid or absorb.
  • The Ace Combat games allow players to change between standard missiles and special weapons with just one button press.
  • The Naval Ops games put all of your ship's weapons (guns, missiles, torpedoes, etc.) on a menu on one side of the screen and you can go up or down in real time.
  • Jagged Alliance 2, which, though being a turn-based game (in combat), allows you to switch weapons on the fly.
  • In Half-Life 2, you can use the number keys or mousewheel to switch weapons as usual, but you can also hit G to swap between the Gravity Gun and your previous weapon - because you're going to be using the Gravity Gun a lot.
  • In American McGee's Alice you can use the number keys to switch between weapons.
  • The first two Metroid Prime Trilogy games let you select both beams and visors by means of the C-stick and d-pad respectively. Corruption instead has the player select visors by holding the minus button, hovering the cursor over the desired visor, and releasing the button; the beam selection system is replaced with a beam stacking system. The Trilogy compilation ports Prime 1 and Prime 2 to the Wii, and there beam switching is similar to Corruption's visor change, except you use the plus button to bring up the beam menu.
  • In Assassin's Creed Altair can change weapons in real time by pressing up (Hidden Blade), left (Dagger), right (Longsword), or down (Fists) on the D-pad. Ever since Assassin's Creed II the player can set their own shortcuts, with the default arrangement swapping the Dagger/Short Blade for Medicine. Weapons or tools not assigned to a shortcut can be manually equipped from a radial menu; one in AC2 and Brotherhood, and two (for primary and secondary weapons) in Revelations. Trying to equip something that's already equipped will cause the character to sheath/unsheathe their weapon, pound their fists or flick their Hidden Blade(s).
  • The original Red Faction had real-time weapon change with no limit on the number of weapons available. You'll often have a dozen on hand, making this awkward, especially since you have to recognize the weapons by profile if you want to swap quickly. Later games like Red Faction Guerrilla did limit how many you could hold.
  • In a variation, some turn-based JRPG like Final Fantasy or Breath of Fire let you change your weapon and shield during your turn, in case the one you have equipped matches the opponent's elemental affinity poorly. Sometimes you can even still attack afterwards.
  • The "Quick Select" menu in the Ratchet & Clank games can usually be set to pause or not, although the first game didn't have pausing as an option.
  • In the Nintendo DS versions of the Rune Factory series, you can bring up menus for your weapons, items and magic using the shoulder buttons.
  • Escape Velocity has a key to rotate through secondary weapons. (All primary weapons are always selected.)
  • The Dead Rising games let you choose your weapon or health item by pressing the shoulder buttons. Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop lets you use the d-pad to chose which of your four gun types to use, while in aiming mode.
  • Perfect Dark actually has three ways to change weapons: simply pressing A to select the next one in your inventory, holding A to choose from a HUD menu or pressing start to choose from the list in the pause menu.
  • Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 utilize this system.
  • In Dragon's Crown, selecting an equipment item slot will allow the character to switch to that equipment during dungeon runs. Useful for when melee classes temporarily lose their main weapon or when magic-users need to use a different elemental staff.
  • In the freeware fighting game Terrordrome the Game: Rise of the Boogeymen, Classic Jason can alternate between using an axe and a pitchfork as his primary weapon with a certain move input.
  • Most versions of Myth History In The Making allow you to cycle forward and backward and select weapons using special keys. (A different key pauses the game; as usual, all other controls are relegated to the joystick.) This was averted in the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC versions, which featured a vastly different control scheme.
  • While you technically can pause in Dead Space, you can't open inventory at the pause menu, you have to project the hologram to alter your inventory with the chance of Necromorphs slicing you from behind.