Time to put the Two-Weapon Limit Out of its Misery


Premium Fraud
Nov 6, 2014
Laggyteabag said:
Yeah, being limited to only 2 weapons kinda sucks. Going from BioShock 1/2 to BioShock Infinite is a pretty big change. In the former games, I used every weapon in the game to some extent, and I used quite a few of them a lot, but in Infinite, I cannot remember ever using some weapons in the game as I tended to stick with my revolver and my SMG because they were useful in a lot of situations whereas some of the more exotic weapons were very situational, and thus never got used.
I have the complete opposite take on this. In games where I can carry everything, I tend to just stick to the basics and save the larger weapons for the largest enemies. In both Bioshock 1/2 I really only used the pistol, assault rifle and shot gun.

In Bioshock Infinite I felt like I had a greater weapon variety, since I was constantly running out of ammo and having to switch to whatever weapons I could find.


New member
Jul 10, 2008
It wouldn't hurt to have more games that carried on the torch of old gaming conventions. There is room for all kinds of different styles but too many companies are focused on doing the exact same thing as the other guy, which has been the "two gun limit, etc." style for a while.


Disciple of Trevor Philips
Jan 15, 2015
Bad Jim said:
StreamerDarkly said:
As an example, in Halo the specialized weapons such as rockets, sniper, and shotgun have known spawn time and locations - these are hotly contested by both teams which promotes map movement and map control. If you know every player on the map is already loaded to the gills, there's less incentive to move or establish control.
In the days of Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament the item spawn points were just as heavily contested in any team game with half decent players. It's just that the weapons were largely balanced in UT and Quake 3, so teams focused on the quad damage, health/armour pickups, and whatever OP weapon did exist (BFG in Q3, Redeemer in UT).

Also, if you can carry every weapon on the map, you have more incentive to move around it, because you are making yourself more powerful each time you pick one up. With a two weapon limit, you can pick up two weapons and then you are only moving around to deny your opponent weapons.
Acknowledged. Halo didn't do anything that Quake hadn't already thought of, aside from a recharging shield instead of a decaying one. In fact, in addition to not requiring as much aiming skill, I think everyone would agree that Halo was a more forgiving game to the player on respawn.

However, the article appears to promote everyone having a full weapon palette without doing anything to earn it. That just seems like bollocks.

Daaaah Whoosh

New member
Jun 23, 2010
You're not allowed to max out all your stats when you start an RPG, because the stats you choose drastically change the way you play the game. If you could be a mage/sowrdsman/bowman/woman all at the same time, there'd be no reason to go back and play again. With a game like Halo, on the other hand, you can sasy "Last time I used the rocket launcher here, this time let's try the Energy Sword". There are no "shotgun only" enemies, just enemies that are easier to kill with a shotgun. If you don't have a shotgun, suddenly you have a dangerous situation where you have to use quick thinking and ingenuity to survive.

I'm reminded of Firefight in Halo:ODST. There were weapons that were really good in certain situations, but bad in others. Like the silenced SMG: it sucked for everything but killing Buggers. So when the swarms started raining down, you had two options: either 1) you told Dave to hold the SMG and he kills everyone for you, while everyone else runs for cover. Dave will be vulnerable during all other rounds, so you protect him until his time comes. Or 2)You make a mad dash to the SMG rack, dodging plasma fire from all sides. Your friends suppress as best they can, kicking and punching anything that dares to get near until you can effectively end the threat. When situations changed in Firefight, everyone had to work together to plug the holes, and often they had to fight their way over to the power weapons, rather than hoarding them in their back pockets. Not having the right weapon for the job ramped up the tension, and turned the hunters into the hunted; it's not a power fantasy, but it can be devilishly satisfying when you run out of ammo, pick up a Brute Shot, and finish off the Chieftan with some well-placed explosions and a blade to the back of the neck.

Also, enemies in Halo don't take cover, and you can dodge the vast majority of their projectiles. In fact, an experienced Halo player can take fire from about a dozen enemies at 50m and survive just by strafing.


New member
Jun 17, 2010
Sometimes the two weapon limit can work, when the game is built around it and new weapons can be easily swapped in and out on the fly...

And then there are the other games, the games that just take the two-weapon limit because that's what everyone else is doing, even if it conflicts with the rest of its design.

One game in particular that comes to mind is Alpha Protocol, a decent spy game but certainly not without flaws, in it, there's only 4 weapon types in the game, and only two of them share a physical "slot" on the PC's body, it's galling to see an empty chest-holster for a pistol when I have dual SMGs strapped to my hips and a shotgun slung over my shoulder, are we to accept that a sidearm would have just been the straw that broke the camel's back there? If the shotgun and assault rifle could have been given separate slots, (maybe shotgun slung across the back of the hip) there would have been no reason to limit you to only half that loadout, while not the most elegant thing in the world, I can imagine a highly trained spec ops type being able to carry a pistol, a rifle, a shotgun and a pair of SMGs on their body. And then there's the other mechanics of the game, being able to invest skill points in use of various weapons, actively discouraging you for swapping out to any weapon you don't have training in, and the weapon mods, which further restrict you to one loadout, as it stands, you might as well choose two weapons right at the beginning of the game and never change them.

All in all, it's an endlessly frustrating aspect of the game, because the two-weapon limit is at its most unhelpful and even least realistic, and that's saying something.


Swamp Weather Balloon Gas
Apr 11, 2011
medv4380 said:
Shamus Young said:
2. Having only two weapons makes the game more strategic!

I would think that a situation where you have more options is the one where you have "more strategy". Strategy is about making decisions. With many options,
No strategy is about working within a confined box.

Lets take Chess as an example. If I said you can have 8 pawns, or 8 of any piece you want you'd pick 8 queens. Anyone who says otherwise isn't thinking clearly. What's the strategy in having the most advantages weapon for the situation? It's certainly a strategy, but one mostly employed by cheaters who like to give themselves unlimited rockets. It has less to do with strategy, and more to do with brute force.
but you can't pick eight rocket launchers in any game, ever

chess is actually closer to doom (dear god did i just type that) in that you do get every weapon at your disposal, but it's limited by ammo distribution

it'd be more like only being able to have two different piece types and your king, but you'd be limited to the amount in normal chess (like 8 pawns, 2 rooks/bishops/knights, or 1 queen), and the rest of the board would be cleared out

it sounds interesting on paper, but it basically removes the possibility of seeing any of those other pieces being used, so you'd better be damned sure that those pieces can carry the game's entertainment

Slegiar Dryke

New member
Dec 10, 2013
SupahGamuh said:
Play Shadow Warrior '13 Shamus. You won't be dissapointed.

Another solution might be what Hard Reset did (made by the same devs as Shadow Warrior '13, wich they are in fact ex-People Can Fly devs, they know their stuff), it has exactly 2 weapons... but with tons of different upgrades that basically turn them into the equivalent of 10 weapons.
holy hell, that system was so much fun after a bit of tinkering and playing with different early configurations....it was so much fun cause depending on what you picked early on, you could deal with a few tough situations in fun different ways.....I've gotta go back and play it again sometime, especially with the added chapters, it's a pretty good game overall ^^


New member
Dec 25, 2010

Why are we just forcing this into an ultimatum of one or the other? Both systems have their strengths and weaknesses. Their pros and cons. Both are suited to different types of games. I'm gonna take a bit of a leaf out of Jim Sterling's book. There is no perfect weapon system. There are only perfect weapons SYSTEMS. And we're not even talking about all the hybrid systems out there like Far Cry 2's for example as someone so excellently mentioned.


New member
Nov 21, 2011
bificommander said:
I seem to remember FEAR having a 3 weapon limit, which translated into a one-weapon limit: The assault rifle and shotgun were basically mandatory, as both were lethal, practical, and most importantly, ammo was plentyful. The third slot was more or less picked from a rotating list of powerful weapons. By the time you ran out of ammo, you had hopefully found a new weapon pickup that you still had ammo for.

Yeah, not much strategy there.
Haven't played FEAR in a while but i remember using all weapons in that game. My most favourite the "needle gun" that could get enemies stuck in walls.

Anyways my point is that i vaguely remember that you didn't really have a lot of ammo for each weapon so you had to swap guns in quick intervals but i could be wrong.

Personally the 2 weapon slot sucks, you are always stuck with an assault rifle of a kind and some other weapon that mighe be useful in some situation.


Noisy Lurker
Apr 10, 2020
The only good thing about the 2 weapon limit is the ease of swapping weapons. It is a little flow-breaking when you have to find the key/cycle the menu in the heat of battle to find the weapon you're looking for.

Other than that, 2 weapons destroyed my enjoyment of Bioshock Infinite, and dulled the already supremely mediocre Duke Nukem Forever. I never was a fan of Halo, but it never bothered me in it, so I guess they just did it right. At this point, if I see a game with a 2 weapon limit, I'm probably not going to play it. I just get so bored or frustrated.

Texas Joker 52

All hail the Pun Meister!
Jun 25, 2011
Arguably, it all comes down to the game itself. A two-gun limit should never be mandatory, or necessarily be the norm, but for some shooters, having only two guns on you simply works. But, if I'm going to be entirely honest, I'd have to go with a three-weapon or four-weapon limit. I might get some flak for using Destiny as an example, since I know it can't be the first game to go with a three-weapon system, but it's the one I know, and it's recent enough to be convenient:

-One 'Primary' Slot for your general-purpose, bread-and-butter type of gun. Basically your variants of Assault Rifle or SMG.

-One 'Secondary' or 'Special' Slot for more specialized weapons, like Sniper Rifles, Shotguns, maybe the odd Grenade Launcher.

-One 'Heavy' Slot for those big guns that have limited ammo, but are a must-have when you really want to make sure something stays dead, like a vehicle or large enemy. Basically, your Rocket Launchers, Beam Cannons and so on.

-Lastly, if a game wants some real variety in the weapons, have one last 'Misc' or 'Unusual' slot for those guns that don't fit in any of the other three slots. Like Stun Guns, Crossbows, Dart Guns, or even more specialized equipment like Laser Designators.

-Grenades, if at all possible, should be entirely separate from the three/four-weapon limit.


New member
Jan 20, 2011
I couldn't stand Bioshock Infinite because of the two weapon limit.
I was having such a good time in that game before I realised I couldn't hold more than two weapons.
Then I just wanted to know how the story ended.


New member
Dec 5, 2008
Incidentally, Strafe has now met its Kickstarter goal. Apparently it just needed Shamus to remind the world of its existence.


New member
Feb 17, 2009
A couple of questions (somewhat rhetorically) put to Shamus :

1) Do you not find that an imposed two-weapon limit can be a deliberate source of difficulty and challenge in a game? That having the right weapon to hand all the time is just a little dull?

2) Is the two weapon limit (or at least a four weapon limit) really going anywhere unless console designers come up with ultra-complicated controllers?

3) Did you ever actually play an FPS like you imply in the opening vignette? Because I played plenty of Unreal Tournament and all sorts of 90s FPSes and my response was usually to have one weapon for medium-long range and one for close range and that's it. Go and play some Unreal Tournament, start with the full array of weapons and I would expect that you'll basically end up using 3 (the chaingun, the flak cannon and the rocket launcher).

Darkness665 said:
Borderlands both. Four active slots 72 slots in backpack.
I found the weapon system in BL2 to hit the right balance - when travelling into the unknown you end up running a bit of everything, with your backpack allowing you to shake things up every so often. Returning to my third question above though - more often than not, 3 of my 4 choices through BL2 were SMGs, changing only to select the right element for the situation.

Barbas said:
I think saying that Halo ruined FPS games is a bit like blaming the current mostly-bad state of DLC releases on the first company to embrace the method.

Sorry, but it had to happen.


New member
May 13, 2010
Weirdly enough I've grown to really really like the two weapon limit! (Three or more sometimes, depending on small arms)it is a fun restriction to put on myself, and I do it in nearly every game I can. Particularly the GTA ones when I tend to use only concealable weapons.

Tons of fun.


They will not take our Fluids
Jun 5, 2008

I always hated the two or whatever weapon limit. Even when I was enjoying Halo I still hated it.

I've said it from the beginning that you can create as much strategy with a million weapons depending on how you design the game, because games are infinite, an art that can be twisted in any way. Hell, why not make it so you can choose how many weapons you can carry? Holy Shit! I think I've bent space and time with that one.

It's only just a limit on what it could be. Because no matter what, having the choice between many popular military guns and interesting alien power weapons will always win. Plus you feel more like a badass.



New member
Apr 10, 2011
I totally agree with the OP 2 weapon limits in needs to go (in SP atleast) Since most players stick with the default mid range accurate assault rifle with the 2nd slot taken up with either the best shotgun or sniper weapon. I'm playing Gears of War 3 atm and for most of the game so far I've just stuck with the Mk2 Lancer Assault and Torque Bow, I've used the Gnasher Shotgun and Long Shot Sniper in Gears 1&2 and prefer the Torque Bow for most situations. All the other weapons in Gears 3 I've used once and dropped straight away since they aren't as good or lack the ammo to give up a weapon slot.

The two weapon system is made even worse by the fact that devs don't even properly incorporate it into the level design and progression, rather than giving out the best mid (less so) short / long range weapon early in the game, devs should hold them back until later to allow the player to use the less optimal weapons they wouldn't use otherwise, That's why Serious Sam gives you a pistol at the start and slowing works up to stronger weapons allowing the player plenty of time to experiment with each new weapon before giving another, it doesn't give the double barrel shotgun before the single barrel as the latter wouldn't be used.

It's also worth remembering that the vast majority of gamers never replay their games or even finish the 1st playthrough with any advantage of foresight in which weapons to pick is moot for devs who design around this fact.


New member
May 25, 2011
Shamus Young said:
Meanwhile, STRAFE is an attempt to recapture that bygone genre, and they're having trouble hitting just $186k. (As of this writing, it looks like they're going to be a little short.)
The reason Strafe isn't doing well has nothing to do with being a niche genre, it just looks like a complete piece of shit that's try to sell itself as nothing other than a blatant nostalgia grab, with terrible graphics being one of its main selling points. You're obviously aware that games like Wolfenstein: The New Order exist, so why not try using that as an example instead? It may not be quite Call of Duty, but 400,000+ sales in its first month is not exactly unsuccessful. Then you have games like Far Cry, Fallout, GTA and Saints Row, which may not be straight shooters but which have a lot of elements of old-school shooters in them such as multiple weapons, non-regenerating healths, and so on, and they are some of the most successful franchises around. I believe GTA 5 remains the most successful anything ever. There's a reason Half Life 3 is one of the most anticipated games ever, and however badly Duke Nukem Forever turned out it was certainly something a lot of people were looking forward to on the assumption that it would be an old-school shooter.

The success of some and anticipation for others makes it very clear this is not a small, niche market. The problem is simply that virtually no-one is even trying to make this kind of game any more. People don't want a game that looks like it was made in the '90s but avoids the attention to design that made those games good, they want a game that looks and feels like a modern game but simply offers something more than the endless CoD clones we keep getting.

1. It doesn't make sense for you to carry around 10 guns!

Are we really saying we'd rather have realism than fun?
In many cases, realism is a large part of the fun. A game like Wolfenstein that throws zombie Nazis and Mechahitler around can get away with all kinds of nonsense, but if you're supposed to be playing a real soldier in WW2 set in the real world, even something as minor as carrying too many weapons can be an unacceptable break. Sure, Iron Man can have all kinds of different weapons built into his suit, but most games don't have you playing as Iron Man. Just because something isn't perfectly realistic in every sense doesn't mean you can just throw up your hands and declare realism irrelevant; the assumption is always that things are like the real world except where otherwise stated.

2. Having only two weapons makes the game more strategic!

I would think that a situation where you have more options is the one where you have "more strategy".
Your answer doesn't make any more sense than the objection. Strategy can come both from choosing the right equipment for the job and from being forced to figure out how to use limited equipment to do a job it may not be best suited to. Either way can work just fine depending on how the game is designed. Where CoD falls down in this regard actually has nothing to do with limiting you to carrying two weapons, but is simply because virtually all the weapons you can choose between are functionally identical. Other than the occasional situational weapon (generally rocket launcher or sniper rifle) conveniently left right where you need them, your choice amounts to "assault rifle" or "assault rifle that looks slightly different". Allowing you to carry every weapon in the game simultaneously wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to the amount of strategy involved. Left4Dead, on the other hand, is a great example of a two weapon limit done right. You have a weak backup weapon, and get to choose between three weapons that all work very differently from each other, some of which are better in some situations, but none of which are ever truly useless. And of course, it hits the realism point above nicely as well; despite the obvious silliness of being in a zombie apocalypse, not constantly finding weapons everywhere and carrying an entire arsenal on your back helps greatly with the feel of the game, not just the gameplay.

Drops a Sweet Katana

Folded 1000x for her pleasure
May 27, 2009
As someone said above, the two weapon limit exists to simplify weapon selection on a control with limited buttons. On consoles, switching between two weapons with a single press of a face button is must more preferable to say navigating a weapon wheel, cycling through multiple weapons to get the one you want or, even worse, do what Half Life 2 did, which often required no less than two button presses to switch to a different weapon other than your quick selected ones. I think the best way to circumvent the problem is to have weapons with alternate fire modes, which allows your effective weapon count to increase from 2 to 4. It would also give devs a chance to make some really fun and interesting guns without making them useless novelties.