We take a look at some of the most iconic tools of destruction to ever grace our screens.
The gaming world is filled with more evil super-weapons than an 80s spy movie. We’ve got more maniacs, evil geniuses, misguided scientists and evil super-beings than we know what to do with – and most of them want to destroy humanity in a hundred different ways.
The bad guys in video games have tried everything from enslaving all the fluffy animals in the Green Hill Zone, to turning humans into Stroggs and generally trying to blow everything sky-high.
So to celebrate all the heroes that have foiled dastardly plots, and all the evil beings who plotted them, we wanted to take a look at some of the biggest, baddest super-weapons that have threatened to put the bad guys on top.
The Metal Gears
Game: Metal Gear Series
Weapon type: Bipedal tanks
Weapon intent: Nuclear weapon dispersal
Created by: Aleksandr Granin
Destructive power: All life on earth by nuclear war
In a world with vampire soldiers, teleporting zombie soldiers, nano-machines and more clones than an app store – it’s a wonder anyone in the Metal Gear world is infatuated with the Metal Gears at all. However, the namesake of the franchise are some of the most sought after creations in the whole damn military world.
The name Metal Gear refers to a collection of bipedal tanks that are capable of launching nuclear warheads from practically any point on the globe. Their designation was coined by the Soviet scientist Aleksandr Granin in Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater when he described them as the “missing link” between infantry and artillery.
The Metal Gears have been used by almost every shady military group around the globe in an attempt to either blow up a rival power, or bend the rest of the world to their will.
Whether you’re talking about Metal Gear Shagohod, Sahelanthropus, Arsenal, Metal Gear Rex (arguably the most famous) or any other of the often oddly named creations, the Metal Gears have been used by almost every shady military group around the globe in an attempt to either blow up a rival power, or bend the rest of the world to their will. As a highlight, Metal Gear Rex was a bipedal tank that used a form of railgun tech to launch missiles instead of regular propellant, which made the weapon virtually untraceable, and gave the user the power to toss warheads around like a game of Hot Potato in a dark room, without anyone knowing where they came from.
The Metal Gears mark the turning point between modern military and a sci-fi future. They pose a threat to humanity in a very real, very poignant way, but also give us a glimpse at a future where buttons can be more terrifying than bullets.
The Majora’s Mask
Game: The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
Weapon type: Ancient evil mask
Weapon intent: Curses, hexes, large-scale destruction
Created by: An ancient unnamed tribe
Destructive power: Clock town and surrounding regions
Termina seems like a pretty pleasant place in The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. The Gorons, Zora, Deku and Terminians seem to be living in relative peace, and everyone is looking forward to honouring the Four Giants in the Carnival Of Time in Clock Town.
That is until the Skull Kid comes knocking and decides to drop the moon on everyone. Maybe he wasn’t invited to the festival, maybe the Majora’s Mask is making him do it, or maybe he’s just jealous of Link’s sweet green hat.
Either way, the Skull Kid uses the corrupting power of the mask to cause a whole host of catastrophes across Termina, from poisoning the Great Swamp to freezing the whole Snowhead region and the poor Gorons living there.
The Skull Kid uses the corrupting power of the mask to cause a whole host of catastrophes across Termina…
The Majora’s Mask’s powers aren’t stated explicitly in the game, but it does seem hellbent on the total destruction of Termina, either by environmental or celestial means. The mask salesman describes it as “an accursed item from legend that is said to have been used by an ancient tribe in its hexing rituals. It is said that an evil and wicked power is bestowed upon the one who wears the mask.”
The Majora’s Mask is a symbol of mysticism and mystery in an otherwise straightforward world. For players coming off the success of beating Ocarina of Time, the introduction of an object so powerful that it can strip Link of his heroism in an instant is a shock to the system, and it’s a story so filled with uncertainty and darkness that it knocks both the Hero of Time and the player way outside their comfort zone.
Game: Final Fantasy VII
Weapon type: Genetically engineered super soldier
Weapon intent: Become one with the lifestream
Created by: Shinra and Professor Gast
Destructive power: The whole world (Giant meteor)
There’s probably a whole separate list that we could devote to the Biggest Baddest Super Soldiers in gaming, but when characters are bred as weapons they bear mentioning as a fixture in the World Destroyer’s Hall of Fame. This spot in our list could easily belong to Psycho Mantis from the Metal Gear series, Alma from F.E.A.R. or Nemesis from Resident Evil. But none of those alternatives quite hit the spot between cold indifference for human life and menacing intent on total destruction that Sephiroth did. Maybe I’m biased because Final Fantasy 7 is one of my all time favourites, or maybe I just never forgave him for what happened to Aeris.
On the surface, Sephiroth is a tall, stoic war hero… but beneath that he’s an unholy killing machine who’s hellbent on watching the world burn…
On the surface, Sephiroth is a tall, stoic war hero with silver hair, a giant sword and a penchant for buckles and leather coats. But beneath that he’s an unholy killing machine who’s hellbent on watching the world burn using the power of his (kind of) mother Jenova. She’s an ancient space monster, and there’s a whole story there, but we don’t have time for all that.
Sephiroth was once the pride and joy of a paramilitary group known as SOLDIER, which was run by the Shinra electric power company (they never really explain how a power company built an army). Upon discovering that he was artificially augmented using genetics from an ancient being called Jenova or “The calamity from the sky,” Sephiroth goes a little bit off the deep end.
He promptly burns his home town, kills everyone living there, and makes off with the remaining body of Jenova. He then plots to combine his already considerable power with that of Jenova to summon a huge meteor that will scar the world, allowing him to meld with the spirit energy of the planet called the lifestream and essentially become a god.
So, long story short – man-made superweapon and all-around bad dude, wants to destroy a sizeable chunk of the planet and become all-powerful.
Quite ambitious for a guy that worked for a power company… But at least he’s aiming high, right?
The Faro Virus
Game: Horizon: Zero Dawn
Weapon type: Robot dinosaurs
Weapon intent: Strip the world of biomass
Created by: Faro Automated Solutions
Destructive power: The whole world (dino-plague)
[Spoilers ahead for Horizon: Zero Dawn – skip the following paragraphs if you don’t want to know how the robot apocalypse happened in the story.]
Unlike the rest of the superweapons on this list, when we enter the world of Horizon: Zero Dawn, the Faro virus and the machines have already ravaged the landscape. Roughly a thousand years before we join Aloy on her quest for answers, an Elon Musk-style genius named Ted Faro was heading up Faro Automated solutions.
Faro was originally making robots that would help humanity. But as these things often go, he eventually started taking on military contracts and building robots to replace tanks in military theatres across the globe. The robots were designed to take small amounts of biomass from the environment to fuel and maintain themselves over long periods of time (i.e. they eat living things to survive). Eventually, one of the researchers noticed a glitch in the robot’s programming, a glitch that encouraged the robots to grow, to spread, and eventually to stop responding to orders. They turned on their operators, and began looking for more biomass to fuel themselves and keep the robot-apocalypse rolling.
When we enter the world of Horizon: Zero Dawn, the Faro virus and the machines have already ravaged the landscape.
Researchers determined that once the Faro robots began spreading, they would be able to strip the earth of all life within 15 months – every plant, animal and human would be gone. Then the robots would lay dormant on a desolate planet and wait for more food to arrive.
It was only by the success of Project Zero Dawn that any living matter survived on earth. Roughly a hundred years after the eradication of all life on the planet, an AI named GAIA began reseeding earth with new life and began the process of shutting down the robots and sprouting humans like seedlings. Not a bad outcome for a world destined to be eaten by robotic monsters.
Wait, that was our world? Well then, I’m going offline for a while.
The Halo Array
Game: The Halo Series
Weapon type: Giant space-rings of death
Weapon intent: Destroy all life in the galaxy
Created by: The Forerunners
Destructive power: All biological life in the galaxy
Back in 2001 the Halo rings were a novel and exciting place to set a sweeping military conquest. Standing on a hilltop and looking up at the enormous length of the first Halo arcing into the sky way above you was like a breath of fresh air amidst the standard military shooters of the early 2000s. It was a whole new dimension, and like many other sci-fi fans it kept me asking – what is this huge structure? Where did it come from? What’s it here for?
The Forerunners… built the Halos as a means of wiping out all organic life in the surrounding planets, in order to slow the advance of The Flood.
Well, those of you familiar with the Halo franchise will know that it isn’t just some oddly shaped lump of celestial rock that The Covenant conveniently built military bases all over. No, the Halo from the original game in the franchise is actually one of twelve original Halo rings that are littered throughout the galaxy as a last resort. The Halo rings were built by the Forerunners, a super-powerful race of godlike beings that were once the leading superpowers in the galaxy. They built the Halos as a means of wiping out all organic life in the surrounding planets, in order to slow the advance of The Flood, the parasitic beasties that liked nothing better than a squishy glob of flesh to latch onto and pilot around like a cross between The Thing and the world’s worst version of the common cold.
100,000 years before the events of the Halo series, the Flood were created out of the last surviving members of another ancient race The Precursors, who tried to make themselves essentially immortal. Unfortunately they only managed to turn themselves into squishy mutants. So the Forerunners activated the Halo Array and wiped out all their food sources, leaving the Flood to starve.
Game: The StarCraft series
Weapon type: Swarm of constantly evolving aliens
Weapon intent: Eat, evolve, eat more
Created by: Originally from Zerus, modified by the Xel’Naga Amon
Destructive power: All biological life in the galaxy (assimilated)
If you ever find yourself taking a transgalactic road trip across the known universe – hope you don’t run into the Zerg. In the world of StarCraft, the Zerg are arguably the most feared race in the universe; they’re always hungry and looking for new worlds to devour, and they are capable of adapting to environmental conditions in order to survive. Meaning you won’t be safe hanging out on some backwater ice-planet – the Zerg can still find you, eat you and make bits of you a part of their swarm.
The Zerg are arguably the most feared race in the universe; they’re always hungry and looking for new worlds to devour, and they are capable of adapting to environmental conditions in order to survive.
The Zerg were once a race of arthropodal aliens at home on the planet Zerus, where they were happily evolving and diversifying as the dominant life form on the planet. However, at that point the Xel’Naga named Amon intervened, messed with their DNA and gave them “Purity of Essence,” meaning they had more capacity to alter their DNA and evolve to cover more of the galaxy.
The intention was originally for the Zerg and the Protoss to be melded into one to create a hybrid army for Amon. The Xel’Naga also created The Overminds as telepathic leaders to guide and shape the Swarm as they spread out across the stars, looking for new worlds to colonise and new DNA to assimilate into the Swarm. The Overminds never really had the freewill to control the Swarm, only the deeply embedded directive to grow and become powerful enough to assimilate the Protoss. This eventually led them to stripping human worlds in the Koprulu sector, looking for beings with psychic potential that could allow the Swarm to rival the Protoss.
It was only by the death of the Overminds and conversion of Sarah Kerrigan from her human form into the Queen of Blades that the Zerg were able to separate themselves from their programming and begin to act autonomously. By working with the Protoss and the Terran, Kerrigan led the Zerg in a campaign against the Xel’Naga Amon at the end of StarCraft 2.
So there you have it, just a few of the gigantic, deadly mechanical, biomechanical and organic creations that have threatened life as we know it. What did we leave off the list that has you reaching for the nearest doomsday button? Let us know in the comments!
Nathanael Peacock is a freelance games journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. If you missed it, check out his recent personal story about using games as pain relief. And why not say hey on Twitter?