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Video game heroes face a variety of threats, from Goddamned Bats through human enemies to an Eldritch Abomination or ten. In order to survive these encounters, the hero is going to need something that makes him different, a special ability that justifies why he is the one saving the day. If the game boasts a radical gameplay innovation, the hero's power is likely to be closely related to it, explored and upgraded throughout the entire game.

Some games give this defining power to the player from the moment they take control. This trope is about the games that don't. In these games, the first level is completely devoid of the game-defining power, instead drilling you in its more basic mechanics. It's only after you've learned the fundamentals that you receive the shiny fun gameplay mechanic you've seen in all the trailers.

In terms of The Hero's Journey, this corresponds to the (belated) Supernatural Aid. Recent games (especially from the Science Fiction corner) like to infect their heroes with The Virus or The Corruption in the end of stage one, which power their supernatural abilities for the rest of the game. Others don't use "powers" per se, but give their heroes unique weapons, usually Forged by the Gods, which give them an edge over the enemies that normal weapons can't and double as a Sword of Plot Advancement. The superpower variety is especially popular in RPGs, while unique and/or gimmick weaponry is commonly found in Action-Adventure games and shooters. In harder games, an Early-Bird Boss will attack the heroes before they receive their new powers, requiring the player to overcome this obstacle with only their ingenuity and the options they've been given up to this point.

Contrast Powers in the First Episode where the superpower is introduced early on, 11th-Hour Superpower, which involves a sudden power-up right before the climax, A Taste of Power, which lets you have a (nearly) full set of powers for a while before taking them away, and Mid-Season Upgrade, where a major upgrade is added near the middle of the plot.


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    Adventure Game 
  • In Life Is Strange, the first episode has you play through a dream sequence and then goof around in class for a bit to learn the basic mechanics. Max doesn't manifest her Time Master powers (which provide the basis for the game's rewind mechanic) until she witnesses Chloe getting shot, at which point everything's rewound and you get to replay the same scene with the benefit of her powers.

    Action Adventure 
  • H.A.W.X.: Off Mode, which represents disabling failsafes in your plane to let you push its limits. It changes your view and subtly alters (increases) your abilities. Not really a direct increase in power, but qualifies as it's a game-defining ability given to you a while in, after the basic tutorials.
  • In inFAMOUS, the game starts out right after the explosion, and Cole has to limp his way to safety without any powers. By the second level, he can shoot lightning out of his hands, although his more spectacular abilities don't manifest until much later.
  • In In Famous Second Son, Delsin doesn't get his powers until he's made a run across the shoreline to get to a party at his tribe's longhouse, pulling off potentially lethal parkour stunts in the process.
  • Metroid:
    • Some of Samus' iconic abilities such as the morph ball and missiles aren't starting abilities in many of the series' games, but are typically acquired towards the beginning of the game since they're such an integral part of the series' gameplay.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. You start the game with the general Samus gear, but after the assault on Norion and Samus successfully saving the planet from destruction, she gains Hypermode.
  • In Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, you play for about two minutes as a human (literally as soon as you walk out of the first room, you're in a Hopeless Boss Fight), then spend the rest of the game as a super-powerful vampire.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, you shortly gain the power to control time after you retrieve the dagger, which isn't until the end portion of the first level.
  • In Prince of Persia (2008), you don't get the magic attack, Double Jump, and auto-rescue from Bottomless Pits until you actually team up with Elika by the end of the prologue. Thankfully, there aren't any instances where you would need them (especially the last part) until then.
  • The Legend of Zelda games tend to make you go through some portion of the game before you get a unique item or ability that you'll use through the rest of the game.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: Link gets the Pegasus Boots, which greatly speed traversal and are so integral to the play experience that they get their own button, after the first major dungeon.
    • Ocarina of Time only gives you the titular ocarina and lets you play as adult!Link after the first three dungeons. Going back to child!Link is only available after the Forest Temple.
    • Majora's Mask also gives you the ocarina (or rather makes you reclaim it from the one who stole it) only the near the end of the first cycle. Moreover you're stuck in Deku Link form since the beginning of the game until you retrieve the ocarina, limiting your abilities (though also granting new ones).
    • Oracle of Seasons gives you the Rod of Seasons upon your first trip to Subrosia, after the first dungeon. You don't gain access to its full complement of abilities until you've completed at least three dungeons.
    • Oracle of Ages likewise runs you through the first dungeon before giving you the Harp of Ages, though it doesn't reach its full potential until 3/4 of the way through the game.
    • The Wind Waker gives you the titular Wind Waker when you get to Dragon Roost Island, in time to teach you the Wind's Requiem, the song that allows you to control the winds.
    • Phantom Hourglass gives you the titular Phantom Hourglass after you visit the Temple of the Ocean King the second time. The first time you visit it, your life is directly drained when you step out of the safe zones.
    • Twilight Princess introduces Link's wolf transformation right after the player has finished the tutorial missions, but the ability to transform is only unlocked after the first three dungeons.
    • Skyward Sword gives you the Skyward Strike after you get the Goddess's Sword, after you've gotten used to fighting with a regular sword.
    • In A Link Between Worlds, the "merge" power isn't obtained until the first dungeon has been completed.
    • In Breath of the Wild, the four Sheikah Slate runes (Bombs, Cryonis, Magnisis, and Stasis) are acquired throughout the Great Plateau. Completing each Sheikah rune shine is required for getting the Paraglider, which itself is required to get down from the Great Plateau without dying.
    • In Tears of the Kingdom, Link is effectively stuck on the Great Sky Island until he demonstrates mastery of the Ultrahand, Fuse, Ascend and Recall abilities in the nearby shrines; he is required by the plot to acquire a Heart Container to open the door leading out... to the only platform on the island situated over a lake.
  • In [PROTOTYPE 2], Heller doesn't get infected until after the tutorial level.
  • In Saints Row IV, you gain the ability to sprint really fast and jump ridiculous heights not too far into the game. The powers are very useful (for the most part) and remain so for the entire game. The Super Jump lets you scale buildings easily and long jump far distances while the Super Sprint power renders cars obsolete as you can run faster than everything else. Some powers aren't so useful such as Death From Above (you need to go really high to deal a lot of damage) and the Super Sprint tornado (cause a tornado behind you, good for Mayhem missions but bad for actually running).
  • Second Sight plays with this one a bit thanks to the Anachronic Order the levels are played in. In the first level you actually play, Vattic gains his basic powers as he needs them in the early levels (e.g. psyblast when he's caught by an armed guard, charm when he's about to be found, etc). But in the second level, which is actually a Flash Back, he's got no powers at all.
  • The monster detecting radios from the Silent Hill series.

    Fighting Game 
  • In Duel Savior Destiny Taiga starts off as a normal, athletic human and gets pitted in a fight against a thirty foot golem. While he does surprisingly well, there's no way he can win. Luckily, he gets to become the first ever male Savior Candidate when he summons a magic sword and blows it up.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Bayonetta:
    • The game starts with the Handguns weapon equipped in the prologue of the first game, whose moveset is functionally identical to the guns you get at the end of the prologue, except that Wicked Weaves can’t be used for story reasons, allowing players to get used to the combo system before permanently upgrading combo finishers in every subsequent chapter with flashy Ao E attacks.
    • In Chapter 3, Bayonetta gains the ability to Wall Run during scripted full moons. Justified as it is actually a natural ability of the Umbran Witches; Bayonetta is an amnesiac at the start and only remembers this ability after meeting Jeanne for the second time.
  • In Dante's Inferno, you kill Death as a tutorial boss and steal his scythe, but at first it works the same as Dante's polearm. After beating some mooks, but before getting into Hell proper, you get Beatrice's Cross as a weapon.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • New weapons (mostly of demonic nature) such as Dante's Devil Arms and Nero's Devil Breakers, which are acquired either through flashy cutscenes, mission intervals, or defeating bosses. You'll only have your starting equipment at first, but the games are generous enough to give you something new to experiment with by the second or third missions. The main characters are superpowered already, but this makes them even more powerful.
    • There's also Devil Trigger, which usually isn't acquired until you're a few missions into the game. In the first game, Dante gains the ability after acquiring his first Devil Arm, Alastor. The third game has him acquiring it after his first battle with Vergil, where he's defeated and impaled with his own sword, Rebellion. Nero from the fourth game acquires it after resurrecting and acquiring Yamato, the sword that once belonged to Vergil.
    • In Devil May Cry 4, Nero's core mechanics for his Devil Bringer arm (Snatch and Hell Bound) are unlocked when he absorbs the Evil Legacy item in the second mission, since the first mission is completely a tutorial/warm-up fight in nature.
    • DmC: Devil May Cry is more straightforward with its gameplay mechanic progression than the classic Devil May Cry games. At first, Dante only has his BFS and two handguns, then Mission 2 unlocks the ability to transform his Rebellion into Angel/Demon forms (as a way to teach you the Stance System and Real-Time Weapon Change mechanics), then Mission 3 gives him the ability to Angel Dash (the platforming becomes more varied by this point).
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, like Devil May Cry, grants you the Ripper Mode until about one third through the game.
  • Onimusha:
    • In Onimusha: Warlords, your attacks do hurt the demons, but won't kill them. You shortly later gain the Oni Gauntlet.
    • Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams doesn't let you use actual oni powers until halfway into the game.

  • In the first Disney's Magical Quest, Mickey won't get his first costume until the beginning of the second level. In the other two games, you won't get the first costume until partway into the first level.
  • In ESWAT, your character gets promoted after the first two level (or third, in the arcade version), giving you an heavily armed Power Armor.
  • Jak II:
    • The game takes a while to give you your first gun, and unlike in the Grand Theft Auto games it's mimicking, you don't have the option of finding some yourself before that point. Shooting hadn't been a major game mechanic in Jak until then.
    • By a similar measure, you don't get the JetBoard permanently until the second act of the game, getting you used to running and Long Jumping first.
    • Dark Jak can't be set off in the first mission, and triggers on its own during the second, before giving you free reign. Indeed, since Jak is the only "dark warrior" by this stage, it is a much straighter example overall.
  • Jak 3: Wastelander:
    • The first two weapons as well as Dark Jak are made available to you into or after second mission, which is still essentially a tutorial. On the other hand, even the first Light Jak ability and JetBoard again aren't obtained that quickly.
    • The ability to drive vehicles into Wasteland is unlocked after fifth mission and even then it's just a runt without guns that won't last long in the harsh desert infested with the Marauders — the actual armed vehicle is unlocked after seventh mission or so.
  • X does not get his dash in Mega Man X until he comes across an Armor Capsule in Chill Penguin's stage. However since Mega Man X2, the dash has been a default ability of X.
  • In Mega Man ZX Advent, you don't get Biometal Model A until the beginning of the second stage. That means you are in your basic human form for the intro stage.
  • In Mega Man Zero, you don't get his signature Z-Saber until partway through the boss battle for the first stage (instead relying on the buster).
  • Sonic Colors DS doesn't give you the well known boost (it's basically a pseudo-third installment in the Sonic Rush series with some alterations) until Tropical Resort Act 2. The first "real" wisp power after that (Red Burst) is at the start of the second zone, where once you've got used to the boost, the wisp powers really come into play. Additionally, the Wii version doesn't give you your first "real" wisp power (Cyan Laser) until Tropical Resort Act 3, but you get the boost from the start of the game.
    • Sonic Unleashed starts Sonic off without the ability to Air-Boost, wall-jump, stomp or use the Lightspeed Dash with him obtaining the abilities roughly on a per-continent basis.
    • Knuckles Chaotix starts you off as just Knuckles alone to do some light platforming before you rescue Espio. Then Knuckles and Espio are set loose into Isolated Island so that the player can learn the basics of the Combi-Ring mechanics in relative peace. It's only once you clear the zone(and special stage if you opt to jump into the ring at the end) that you're given the opportunity to properly select your player character from the rest of the gang and can start tackling the game proper.
    • In Shadow the Hedgehog Shadow starts off Westopolis completely unarmed and unpowered. Shortly into the zone he can obtain a few basic pistols and street signs to mess around with the weapon mechanics and after a brief combat encounter he obtains a Chaos Emerald, allowing him access to Chaos Control and Chaos Blast.
  • Super Mario World doesn't give the feather power-up, which grants flight, until the first level of Donut Plains (the second world of 7 in the main quest).
  • In Viewtiful Joe, you don't get the V-Watch until shortly into the first level. Barely an example, but you do have to fight your first few enemies without it.
  • In Yo! Noid 2: Enter the Void, the Noid only gets his yo-yo after finishing the first level and accessing the Hub Level. The opening cutscene shows the yo-yo disappearing, but it's never explained how Noid got it back.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • In Achron, you don't get access to the time window until the second mission of the campaign.

    RPG — Eastern 
  • The Shadows in Blue Dragon. You're powerless in fights before you get them and after you lose them at the end of Disc 2.
  • In Chrono Trigger, Crono and the gang (besides Robo and Ayla) gain magic during their first trip to end of time, just in time to fight enemies that are nearly immune to regular attacks, but are vulnerable to magic.
  • Final Fantasy does this a lot. III and V both give you the Jobs after the first major dungeon, and you don't get the Espers until pretty well into the story of VI, though you have the advantage of each character's unique skill. The other games do similar things to varying degrees, but these are the most obvious.
  • In Final Fantasy XII, you don't get to even use the Gambit system until quite a bit into the prologue, and even then it's still a lot later before you actually get to customize them.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII, all characters start at about the Iron Weight and don't receive any superpowers (including the Paradigm Shift system or, indeed, the ability to get Character Levels) until they get to say "hello" to Anima at the end of the prologue]]. He says "hello" back by making them L'Cie, whose power grows almost exponentially with time until they either succeed or fail at their Focus (ie, task). This is lampshaded from the start, when the heroes discover that formerly-tough Elite Mooks are little more than Cannon Fodder for them now.
  • In .hack, Kite starts off as an average player, with nothing particularly special about him. After playing through a level or two like this, he gets the Twilight Bracelet, which allows him to fight hacked enemies, and thus makes him the only one able to take on Morganna.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, you can't actually fight the Heartless until you gain a Keyblade.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, the (lengthy) prologue has you play as Roxas, whose combat mechanics are very similar to the first game's and has very few options. Once you get control of Sora, you get the much more varied KH2 combat mechanics and several more options, most notably Drive Forms.
  • During the first chapter of The Last Story, at the moment Zael thinks Syrenne was killed, the spirit of the Outsider gives him the Gathering power, which not only allows him to bring Syrenne back to life, but also attracts enemies to him to protect his friends. As the game progresses, this power becomes more influential for the success of the quest.
  • In The Legend of Dragoon, you don't get the Dragoon abilities until a few hours in.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, just before Act 2 starts, Rean is finally able to control his Superpowered Evil Side and is able to use Spirit Unification that gives him buffs, immunity to most status effects, changes some properties of his crafts, and gains one S rank to his Limit Break. It's only limited by the fact that it only lasts for 3 turns but players can use it indefinitely as long as Rean has 100 CP to spare.
  • In Legend of Legaia, each of the three main characters have a period of time when they first join where they don't have a Ra-Seru, which greatly increases their ATK stat and allows them to catch Seru and learn magic. Particularly pronounced in Gala's case, where he will be very much The Load for the first two dungeons you explore when he joins.
  • In the sequel, Legaia II Duel Saga, Lang doesn't gain access to his Origin, Galea, until about a fifth of the way through the game.
  • In Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, all characters have a unique charged special attack...except for Tia. Tia Taking a Level in Badass later in the story is accompanied by unlocking her charged special attack, the aptly-named Fatal Shot.
  • The Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force games typically don't give Mega Man access to his transformation abilities (varies depending on the gamenote ) until he's beaten the first, second, or third major boss. From the third Battle Network onward, this also includes modifying MegaMan through the Navi Customizer.
  • The Neptunia games have a habit with doing this with the girls' HDD transformations.
  • This is relatively common in the Paper Mario series.
  • Pokémon:
    • The ability to catch Pokémon has never been available from the start; the player usually has to reach the second town, and possibly make their way back to the first, before being given a set of Pokéballs to use.
    • From Generations III to V, the Running Shoes would follow a similar tack, allowing the player to get used to walking before giving them the ability to sprint like a madman. Starting with Generation VI however, they're available at the start of the game.
    • Generation VI games introduce Mega Evolution after either the third gym (Pokémon X and Y) or the fifth (Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire).
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon and Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon didn't allow use of Z-Moves until after completing the first trial, since Z-Crystals replace badges as the Plot Coupon of this generation.
    • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet gives you your Terastalizing ability only after you get to the school (you get the Tera Orb, which lets you do it, from the very trainer who used it against you some time ago).
  • The tutorial stretch of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse consists of scavenging for Relics to sell for cash and basic combat with weak demons that pose minimal threat, then ends with a Hopeless Boss Fight. Since your smartphone is damaged in a way that you cannot use the series' signature Demon Summoning Program, the demon horde you're up against quickly beats you down to death. Then you meet Dagda in the underworld, who resurrects you back in the world of the living and repairs your smartphone fully, allowing you to finally summon demons.
  • White Knight Chronicles: It takes about half an hour of gameplay that set off the chain of events that lead or Leonard obtaining the titular White Knight. Said chain of events includes the wine cart your party is delivering to the princess's ball being attacked by a troll, a palace guard leaving the palace's front doors open, an attack on the palace, the king getting assassinated, and The Hero taking it upon himself to get the princess to safety, respectively.
  • Wild ARMs 2 had the protagonist Ashley being able to transform into Knight Blazer, a Superpowered Evil Side armored guy, and Ashley gains new attacks and a really awesome theme song.
  • The Monado from Xenoblade Chronicles 1 is initially introduced as the one weapon that can damage the Mechon while Dunban is wielding it in the prologue. Its key ability to show its wielder the future — and thus give them a chance to do something about it — doesn't make a gameplay appearance until Shulk officially picks it up a few hours in.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Rex starts out as a regular fighter and doesn't become a Driver until the end of chapter 1, when he bonds with the Aegis. The party also doesn't gain access to the ability to bond with Blades other than the story ones until they reach the second town.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: About midway through Chapter 1, the Flame Clock mechanic is unlocked, increasing the party's power as they kill enemies but inflicting penalties if it runs low from exploring too much without killing anything. The mechanic is immediately removed at the end of the chapter barely an hour or two later, and replaced with the actual superpower, Interlink.

    RPG — Western 

    Shooter — First-Person 
  • In BioShock and BioShock 2, you first start out with a basic weapon, but by the end of the first level, you gain a plasmid. It knocks you out, but you then have the ability to shoot everything from lightning to bees at your enemies.
  • In the first two Borderlands games, the skill tree isn't available at all until you reach level 5. In the Pre-Sequel this is lowered to level 3. All character classes play exactly the same until that point.
  • In The Darkness, Jackie gains the power of the Darkness only after he "dies". This also applies to the sequel wherein the power of the Darkness is released only after he suffers an injury by the second level of the game.
  • In Doomł:
    • The Soul Cube (only on Nightmare difficulty) and the Artifact are second level superpowers, but never really get powerful or useful until a little bit later.
    • The Super Shotgun from Doom II is available in a side room on level 2. If you know the secrets, you can have both the Plasma Rifle and the BFG 9000 before you even hit the 10th map.
  • In FEAR 2, after you fight through the first level as an ordinary soldier, you gain the power of Slo Mo after a surgery.
  • The HEV suit and later the Gravity Gun in Half-Life 2. Not so much with the original Half-Life, though, where you get the HEV Suit around ten minutes in (after learning how to walk, push buttons, and chew gum), and it is upgraded for the third act.
  • In Quake IV, Matthew Kane doesn't become Stroggified until the end of the first Act. This process is the reason that he's able to penetrate so much deeper into Stroggos than anyone else, as well as providing him with a higher HP limit and the ability to read Strogg.
  • In Project: Snowblind, the game seems to start out as a fairly generic shooter, but by the second level, you're rebuilt with as a supersoldier who can use Infrared Vision, has bullet time, Ballistic Shielding, Cloaking, and the power to shoot lightning out of his hands.
  • Resistance only gives you your health regeneration after you've beaten the first level. There aren't any health packs, so any bullets you take can't be healed for the rest of the level, making this section irritatingly difficult.
  • In Shadow Warrior (2013), Lo Wang doesn't gain the ability to use chi powers until midway through Chapter 1, where he has to make a pact with Hoji in order to survive.
  • In Singularity, you receive the Time Manipulation Device early on, which lets you control time to a certain extent.
  • In TimeShift, you only receive your time controlling suit when you reach the second level.
  • In TimeSplitters Future Perfect, you get the Uplink after you get to the rebel base.

    Shooter — Third-Person 
  • Advent Rising doesn't give Gideon any of his birthright superpowers until after his Doomed Homeplanet is destroyed.
  • In darkSector Hayden gains the power of the Glaive shortly after he gets infected.
  • In Dead Space 1 and 2, the plasma cutter, stasis module, and kinesis module aren't given immediately.
  • In Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Kyle has no Force powers until after he visits his father's workshop. Then, he gives up the Force by the time Jedi Outcast begins, where you play the first three levels as a mercenary until the plot leads him to become a Jedi again.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising throws you into action with the most basic weapon you can possible get: a no-stats no-mods aptly-named First Blade. After you clear the first chapter for the first time, say hello to nine different weapon types, with twelve weapon models in each type — including his signature bow.
  • In Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, you start out the game with no powers, and it seems like a fairly generic shooter. By the end, you're a psychic god.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • The first Ratchet & Clank is only a Ratchet game until the end of the first level, where Ratchet meets Clank. Even then, Clank doesn't get his signature helicopter abilities to boost Ratchet's jumps until Kerwan, which is the third or fourth level depending on whether you go to Aridia first.
    • Even more noticeable in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. You play a tutorial level and two full levels as Ratchet only, meeting with Clank only well into third level, though he has his abilities from previous game available right out of bat.
  • Splatoon: You're locked to your starter weapon (the Splattershot Jr.) until you reach Level 2, and aren't able to choose from weapon classes other than Shooters until Level 3, with the basic weapons of each class not being fully unlocked until Level 9. Meanwhile, the full extent of Character Customization isn't unlocked until Level 4, at which point the various shopkeepers deem you cool enough to switch out of your Starter Equipment and experiment with new looks (and, in conjunction, ability loadouts).
  • Warframe has the modding system. When you first start the game, your starting weapons will have fixed stats, while your starting Warframe will only get minor stat boosts from levels. You have to progress through the tutorial quest to unlock the requisite functionality in your Liset, which will let you take advantage of those levels that your equipment has been gaining. Fortunately, the quest's enemies are weak enough that you're not significantly handicapped.

    Simulation Games 
  • In most RollerCoaster Tycoon entries, you generally start each category with the absolute basic ride types and have to work with those to earn money for the bigger rides. It often takes a few months of research in order to develop those rides, as well, and may take longer or shorter depending on how much you set your research to. Specific examples:
    • Thrill rides: The starter Scrambled Eggs/Twist and Pirate Ship are available early and have the stats of the gentle rides. It often takes a few months of research for stuff like the 3D Cinema, Launched Freefall, or Go-Karts to be available.
    • Roller coasters: The most common starter roller coasters are the Wooden coaster and the Junior coaster. While the Wooden can be made into a high-powered coaster, the Junior coaster contains the fewest elements of the steel-type coasters and it takes until the Looping or the Corkscrew coasters to open up with the different elements available and make a high-value coaster. Even the Wooden can be subjected to this, as you can't make designs that are too twisted and tight without first researching the articulated trains (or else suffer from intensity penalties from lateral-Gs).
  • Similar to RCT above, Zoo Tycoon gives you animals that are fairly easy to take care of at first, and whose requirements to be satisfied are easier to fulfill. A few have a big draw (such as the lion), but most of the big draw animals tend to be after you've placed a few exhibits with animals that are easier to satisfy first.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • Unlike Assassin's Creed that used A Taste of Power, you start 2 as an Italian youth with just his fists. Ezio does not gain the Hidden Blade until some time later.
    • There's a meta example here as well: At the end of the first game the series protagonist Desmond gains Altair's Eagle Vision, which leads to the first hints that he may have more of a role than as a Living Macguffin. In the next game his acquisition of his ancestors' movement and fighting skills have a similar feel, giving little tastes of "real world" freedom and power.
    • Assassin's Creed III zig-zags this trope: Haytham has a hidden blade from the get-go, but Connor spends a long time training with Achilles before he gets his and the signature outfit.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, the player starts out as Bruce Wayne, and needs to obtain the Batman gear.
    • In Batman: Arkham Knight, you start out as Batman, but the first appearance of the Batmobile (where you'll be spending roughly a third or more of the game) is roughly 15 minutes into playing the game.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Riddick's eyeshine treatment could be considered this.
  • In Dishonored, you don't get granted with supernatural powers until after you've escaped from Coldridge Prison. Dishonored 2 and Dishonored: Death of the Outsider are the same way — Emily (or Corvo) doesn't gain/regain their powers until after escaping Dunwall Tower and meeting Meagan at the Dreadful Wale, and Billie doesn't gain her powers until after rescuing Daud. The only exception is Daud in The Knife of Dunwall, who has his powers long before the game starts.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake starts out with more or less nothing. After several sneaking levels, Snake meets the Mk2 Metal Gear and is given a proper weapon and any New Game Plus weapons.
    • Making the first part of the game somewhat more difficult than sections near the end where you can just tranquilise your enemies.

    Strategy Game 
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Mystery of the Emblem and the remake hand Marth the title shield at the end of Chapter 2. Its only in-game function is to open treasure chests, admittedly, but its storyline powers are rather more impressive.
    • Fates's Avatar gains the ability to transform into a dragon in Chapter 5, just one chapter before the Big First Choice.
    • In Three Houses, the player gains the ability to turn back time the battle in Chapter 2 as Sothis doesn't want to watch your students get killed.
  • Valkyria Chronicles III: While you get Kurt's Joint Assault early, you don't get Imca's Macross Missile Massacre and Riela's Valkyria mode until well into the game. Getting that latest one turns the game very easy, intentionally so.
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Squadsight is a Sniper ability that gives them unlimited shooting range with their rifle as long as another squad member can see the target. It is generally considered the defining skill of the class. It's also not available until Corporal rank.
    • In both this game and its sequel, the first mission (before you even get control of your base) gives you a squad of four rookies with no special abilities, just an assault rifle and a grenade. Once you complete that mission, the survivors will get promoted to Squaddie, giving them a Character Class and its accompanying weapon and skill. For most of the game you'll be relying on these abilities to bail you out when something goes wrong, but on the first mission, all you can do is pray that your rookies hit their shots.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In the Portal games, the first few test chambers have no portal gun, and the next several use a gun that only shoots blue portals, with the orange portals being generated automatically.

    Non-video game examples 
Anime & Manga
  • Flight became this in Dragon Ball. It was introduced halfway through the first series, as a special ability of the Arc Villain. By the beginning of Dragon Ball Z, not being able to fly was considered a liability in combat.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Nen is introduced after the conclusion of the first arc, and is prominent throught the series onwards. Certain abilities were retconned into Nen usage but the protagonists, and audience, get an exposition dump a quarter of the way through the Heavens Arena arc.
  • In Inuyasha, the titular character got his father's legendary Tessaiga less than ten episodes into the series and learned how to (inconsistently) use it's Wind Scar ability roughly a dozen episodes later.


  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls: Joint Resonance provides a substantial boost in strength for any practitioners who know the technique, which happens to be pretty much the whole EAT class if Noel intends to keep his promise. Hilariously, Joint Resonance is mastered by all in the second arc.
  • A characteristic of With Strings Attached. The four are sent to C'hou entirely normal (if de-aged somewhat). It isn't until Chapter 8 that the Fans intervene to save John's life after he's magically attacked, turning him into a Winged Humanoid in an Emergency Transformation. And it isn't until Chapter 14 that Ringo unexpectedly crops up psychic, requiring the Fans to maneuver the other two into magic so the group will be balanced again. Due to delays, they're not all fully powered up until Chapter 19, almost halfway through the book.

Films — Animated

  • In Turning Red, Mei doesn't get her giant red panda form until 15 minutes into the film and doesn't gain voluntary control of it until the second act.


  • The Stormbringer could be considered this for Elric of Melnibone in The Elric Saga.
  • The Sommersword in Lone Wolf, obtained in the second book where you quest for it. Also an infinity +1 sword.

Live-Action TV

  • Kamen Rider Wizard has the four Dragon Styles that Haruto unlocks as early as Episode 9, though he spends a few episodes gaining all of them, with the last one obtained by Episode 19. It's to the point where when it came time for him to gain a Mid-Season Upgrade, it isn't a shiny new form like the previous Kamen Riders (unless you count All Dragon as one), but rather a gadget that allows Haruto to split himself into four different copies, each in a different Dragon Style.
    • Unlike most series featuring Multiform Balance, where the main Rider gradually earns more forms, increasing his arsenal as the series goes on, before getting his Super Mode, Kamen Rider Double already has his own set of 6 GaiaMemories (making for 9 different combinations) right off the bat by episode 1 (since the series does not start with their Origin Story).
    • Likewise, Kamen Rider Kiva starts off the series with three alternate forms besides his default. He gains his final Super Mode earlier than many other Riders, though there was also a real life reason: the original Kiva costume was so heavy that it almost killed the stuntman once, so they swapped over to the lighter Emperor Form costume and used it as often as they could.

Tabletop Games

  • Call of Cthulhu can do this as well for a character who starts learning spells, and their fate will likely be as horrid as the Dark Heresy psychic's.
  • Latent psychic powers could do this in Dark Heresy and spin-offs, much to your later lamentation thanks to Power Incontinence and Blessed with Suck.
  • Functionally, this occurs in Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder for non-magic using characters. By fourth level or so, many can do things or survive wounds that would be virtually impossible for flesh-and-blood humans. Alternatively, a character could begin without any unusual powers and take a magic-using class at second level. Magic users start with supernatural powers.
    • If the already superhuman abilities of Pathfinder are treated as "Normal" for the setting, then the Mythic Adventures expansion allows "normal" Pathfinder characters to become mythic heroes who outstrip their vanilla kin. The Wrath Of the Righteous Path starts delivering these Mythic powers by the end of the first sixth of the adventure.
    • Rangers in particular during 1-3.5rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder have no obviously special powers, just lots of Bad Ass Normal skills, but after a few levels start gaining spells and mystical bonds.
    • In the original Dungeons & Dragons releases (prior to 1st Edition) clerics didn't get a single spell until achieving second level, despite healing and buffing spells being the cleric's primary remit.
  • Much like the Knights of the Old Republic games above under Western RPG, most Star Wars games allow a character to be a latent Force user and eventual Jedi. In some eras of the game, this is the default assumption for would-be Jedi.
  • Some World of Darkness games suggested playing a prologue about your day-to-day struggles before the supernatural wreaks havoc on your life, making you a part of it. You're just a normal worker, student, or other person before you are changed forever. Hunter: The Reckoning might provide the best example. Starting as normal humans, the players encounter the supernatural and react — and develop powers there and then to use for exactly the reaction they're attempting.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: Zachary Foxx was an ordinary human, but the injuries he sustained in the pilot required an Emergency Transformation to replace half his body with cyberware and add the Series 5 implant. Unlike the other three Rangers whose already-existing abilities are merely amplified by the implant, early episodes show Zachary as not quite at ease with his bionics.


Video Example(s):


Life Is Strange

Max gains her powers after you've played through a dream sequence, a Justified Tutorial in Jefferson's class and enjoyed the title sequence. When they manifest, you go back to the point where she woke up, and get to use them to redo the conversations you just had (serving as a handy tutorial to explain how the rewind works on top of the more familiar adventure game mechanics).

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Example of:

Main / SecondHourSuperpower

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