Inventory Deadweight

Playing through Shadow Warrior was an interesting experience, but one thought I kept coming back to is how useless the pistol ended up being.

It’s the first weapon Lo Wang finds on his quest and thus permanently takes up the hotkey right besides the sword, which stars as Shadow Warrior‘s most prominent weapon. From the moment I fired my first shots, I decided I was never going to upgrade the pistol any. Weak, inaccurate, and slow, it’s a blight on Lo Wang’s arsenal that I never again used willingly after acquiring the PDW. Everything it can do, other weapons can do better.

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This meant it was always frustrating when things got frantic and a wrong click of the button meant I pulled out this revolver instead of the PDW or the sword, either of which would have been fine even if I made a mistake. It got to the point where I considered going into the game’s options and reassigning the hotkeys altogether. The pistol, no matter how classic of a gaming weapon, was deadweight.

I see this happen more frequently in games, where new items are introduced that aren’t necessarily adding much and which may fall by the wayside entirely. It’s a trick to make the game feel more diverse, though I feel it was more prominent prior to Borderlands, when boasting about the number of guns in a shooter was still a viable marketing strategy.

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However, this is not exclusive to shooters and not even necessarily a bad thing. Competitive games and RPGs will invariably see some items, perks, and even entire builds vanish into the lowest tiers, too useless and niché to see any kind of serious play. However, this deadweight is still part of the overarching puzzle and it has always fascinated me to hear about players who found out some unique setup to suddenly make it viable again, often followed briefly by a round of nerfs as people rush to exploit this new meta.

For a majority of games, however, it’s just annoying. To have a weapon you’re never going to use but keep finding ammo and upgrades for. To constantly see it in your inventory or have its useless slot permanently mapped to your buttons. Take something like Twilight Princess or even Skyward Sword, which give you both a slingshot and a bow for all your ranged needs. While generally spaced somewhat apart across the adventure, it leaves you with a useless bit of wood in your inventory when the much-cooler bow is finally unlocked.

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This made more sense in Ocarina of Time, where Link could only use kid-friendly weapons while in his child form.

Generally speaking, such deadweight tools I find illustrative of poor design. If a component of the game ceases to be relevant, then it probably needed some more utility or be tossed entirely. Situations where such extra baggage exists to complicate a competitive meta are a niché exception and, of course, a subjective dislike for a weapon doesn’t mean it’s deadweight for everyone.

Wait… Is anybody using the pistol in this game?

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