Be it a pistol, a knife, or a crowbar, the first few stages of most FPS titles typically force players to make do with underpowered weaponry and meager resources. Eventually, however, gamers are granted access to a grander arsenal, and the shotgun often remains the go-to for most of a new playthrough.
Sure, iconic firearms like the BFG or the railgun may pack more of a punch, but there’s no denying that the shotgun is usually as effective as it is satisfying. From Doom 1993 to Doom Eternal and everything in between, shotguns have been a cornerstone of FPS gaming, and these are the best of the best.
Lever-Action Shotguns (DUSK)
Dusk is a modern love letter to classic shooters such as Quake and Doom as well as an homage to fan-favorite horror franchises like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Evil Dead. Graphic and gruesome, it’s also a return to a time in which “ludicrous gibs” were a major selling point in FPS games.
While it’s dispensed with in favor of the super shotgun early on, the dual-wield lever-action shotguns in DUSK are hefty, brutal, and as badass as a pair of weapons can be. Given the setting, most players will instantly be reminded of Ash Williams’ iconic boomstick.
There’s something to be said for either Subject Delta’s damaging double barrel in BioShock 2 or for Booker DeWitt’s impactful, plume-emitting China Broom in BioShock Infinite, but the standard shotgun from the inaugural BioShock title simply cannot be beaten. Loud, powerful, and boasting quite a bit of recoil, this thing feels like an absolute menace, and woe befalls any splicers who run afoul of it.
Compatible with various types of ammunition and upgrades, it’s a danger to everything from Spider Splicers to Big Daddies, and the iconic dust-up that’s triggered when the player picks it up in Rapture’s Medical Pavillion is one of the game’s highlights.
Sawed-off Shotgun (Blood)
A game that very likely helped to inspire DUSK, Blood was a ’90s Doom clone that leaned even more heavily into the horror aesthetic of Id’s iconic 1993 FPS outing. One of a handful of games to be developed on the Build engine, Blood was outrageously ambitious and served as an excellent sendoff to a style of games that would fall out of favor following 1998’s Half-Life.
Blood‘s arsenal was one of its most memorable aspects, and the fast-firing shotgun was certainly a key feature. It’s perhaps the most effective weapon in the game, and its ease of use put the comparatively slower Doom shotgun to shame.
Blundergat (Call of Duty: Black Ops 2)
Call of Duty‘s multiplayer components have always been popular, but, in 2012, Treyarch’s zombies mode, which originally debuted in 2008’s Call of Duty: World At War, was receiving newfound attention. The DLC zombies map Mob of the Dead was heralded as one of the series’ best to that point owing partially to the introduction of the Blundergat, a legendary zombie-slaying weapon.
A quad-barrel shotgun that can see players through dozens of waves of undead, it’s lethal from the get-go, but, when pack-a-punched or enhanced via the Acid Gat kit, it becomes something truly special.
Handheld Graviton Accelerator (Dead Space)
Better known as the Force Gun, Dead Space‘s Handheld Graviton Accelerator was supposedly intended for mining, but, as it happens, it’s pretty good at blowing necromorphs to bits, as well.
When Isaac Clarke initially gets his hands on what essentially works as the game’s shotgun, it’s a bit underpowered and lacking in impact. However, once upgraded, it becomes a powerful tool capable of plowing through the contorted undead. While more precise weaponry is sometimes necessary when targetting limbs, there’s often no better feeling than letting loose with a devastating piece of machinery such as this.
Combat Shotgun (Rage 2)
Sort of an open-world take on 2016’s Doom, Rage 2 was an unexpected follow-up to the oft-forgotten 2011 FPS title Rage which enthralled some players with its thrilling combat but confounded others thanks to its cluttered world and next-to-nonexistent story.
Despite the mixed reception, Rage 2‘s arsenal was universally appealing, and its Combat Shotgun was relentlessly devastating. Rage 2′s combat system emphasized speed and style, and there’s nothing cooler than performing an evasive slide before double-jumping over an enemy and decimating them while in mid-air.
Hydra (Resident Evil 5)
A perfect representation of the over-the-top nonsense of Resident Evil‘s fifth mainline installment, the Hydra is a triple-barreled sawed-off shotgun that the characters fire with a single outstretched arm, something that would destroy the limbs of lesser franchise protagonists.
Available for purchase after the game’s more traditional shotgun, the Ithaca M37, is fully-upgraded, the Hydra absolutely obliterates zombies. While three barrels would be considered overkill in just about any other franchise, when dealing with Resident Evil‘s frustratingly-obdurate undead, no measures are too extreme.
Akimbo Model 1887 (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)
One of the most notoriously imbalanced guns in Call of Duty history, Modern Warfare 2‘s Model 1887 was utterly broken when the game first launched. Though developer Infinity Ward eventually rectified the situation, for the first few months of the game’s lifecycle, the Model 1887, despite its classification as a shotgun, had enough range to hit targets clear across most multiplayer maps.
To make matters worse, when dual-wielded, these things were downright unstoppable. Modern Warfare 2 was perhaps the most chaotic Call of Duty multiplayer experience of all time, and the Model 1887 was a perfect reflection of that.
VK-12 Combat Shotgun (F.E.A.R.)
Taking clear influence from the Max Payne duology as well as from The Matrix, F.E.A.R. was an early seventh-gen horror shooter that prioritized heavy-duty weaponry and bullet-time combat. While it featured awesome weapons that could fire disintegrating energy beams or pin baddies to walls, nothing came close to the uncontested badassery of the VK-12 Combat Shotgun.
It may have appeared to be fairly run-of-the-mill at first, F.E.A.R.‘s shotgun is ridiculously powerful, and blowing enemies apart in slow motion is as impactful today as it was when the game first debuted in 2005.
Super Shotgun (Doom 2)
It may lack some impact today owing to the dated visuals and audio design of 1994’s Doom 2, but the Super Shotgun set the standard for armament in modern FPS games. The original shotgun may have been useful, but, a double-barreled blaster loaded with demon-destroying potential, the Super Shotgun is as effective on the game’s final level as it is in some of its earliest.
Huge, slow, and purposeful, the Super Shotgun makes everything else in the Doom Guy’s arsenal look like a toy. Even the BFG-9000, a weapon that definitely boasts more power, isn’t as cool as Doom 2‘s Super Shotgun.
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