Far Cry 4 - M-700
Carried from Far Cry 3 into the mountains of Kyrat, the M-700 is a plain but reliable sniper rifle favored for stealth-inclined players. Its reload is far more interesting with its abundant use of left-side screen space as the gun traverses across your monitor and back.
Half-Life: Opposing Force - Spore Launcher
Shepherd’s logical action of picking up a baby of those creatures from another dimension trying to kill him gives us this Half-Life memento of an impromptu feeding session followed by—what else?—deadly vomit.
Killing Floor 2 - Dual 1858 Revolvers
The gun nuts at Tripwire earned their reputation as reload wizards from Red Orchestra’s authenticity, and Killing Floor 2’s high-fps, motion-captured animations are . The Gunslinger’s dual reloads pack so much refinement, the above GIF had to be slowed down to more easily observe the entire reload from start to finish. Nearly every other reload style is a blast to watch, a popular favorite being the smooth for rifles and SMGs.
Max Payne 2
With enough kills chained during Bullet Time, Max whirls into a camera-orbiting move that’s less of a traditional reload and more of a sudden urge to pirouette his pain away. Still, it’s a stylish ode to Payne’s cinematographic influences, especially if you keep “Ave Maria” playing in your head the entire time.
Max Payne 3
Rockstar gleefully embellished Max’s gun-fu in his third killing spree, with the best animated touches emphasizing Max’s familiarity at juggling a small armory of guns. Reloading a one-handed gun while holding a two-handed weapon in the offhand is one of the best displays from the world-weary monologuer, as he tucks the bigger gun beneath his arm to free up his hand to change magazines.
Metro: Last Light - Shambler
The ramshackle design of Metro’s arsenal is already a pleasure to behold, but the Shambler shotgun’s revolver-style reload is one of the most unique of the series. The small toss between Artyom’s left and right hands as he feeds a shell into each clamp is a dash of detail and personality.
Overwatch - Torbjörn's Rivet Gun
Blizzard’s penchant for polish is on display in Overwatch’s reloads. Most of the cast would be right at home in this gallery, such as Torbjorn’s screen-spanning scrap refill, the only time I can think of molten liquid being poured into a gun.
PlanetSide 2 - Commissioner
The powerful Commissioner revolver is a trusty companion in PlanetSide 2’s massive warzones, and its split cylinder reload and automated spin bring that subsequent thrill of badassery after some bullseye frags.
Postal 2 - Beta Shotgun
The well-known of Postal Dude elegantly shoving a fistful of shells into his awaiting shotgun embodies creative reload animations dispensing with silly real-world rules such as gravity and jams. The animation’s absurdity is even better experienced firsthand in the thick of Postal 2’s chaos, so definitely grab either the DLC or the to see it for yourself.
Resident Evil 4 - Broken Butterfly
Console players have long recognized Leon Kennedy’s reloads in Resident Evil 4 as those of an expert zombie slayer, and the 2007 PC port brought his expertise into sharper detail. The Broken Butterfly revolver is a top pick; Leon’s nonchalant no-eyes-needed head tilt as he dumps out the cartridges and the almost lazy-looking single-bullet toss into the cylinder are just pure awesome.
Rise of the Triad - Dual Pistols
The challenge of animating an elaborate akimbo reload is smartly executed in Rise of the Triad, a fantastic world where air resistance is a myth and wrist strength reaches mutant levels.
Shadow Warrior 2 - Springchester
A lever-action flip might be passé by now, but Shadow Warrior 2’s Springchester exaggerates the pull-flip sequence so strongly that it's a wonder Wang isn't ducking for cover on the backswing.
Squad - M4
With all the arsenal acrobatics, it's nice to sometimes plug some realism back into restoring ammo to a weapon. This M4 reload from Squad reinforces the no-frills approach and the professionalism of the soldiers you play as therein, particularly with the confident-looking hand movements and double-check of the ejection port for a clean mag transition.
Titanfall 2 - 40mm Cannon
The Titans of Titanfall 2 are massive robots shooting equally massive guns, but their reloads pleasingly mirror human hand movements at a bigger scale. I love the small gears spinning open the ammo box housing and the slight jiggle of the barrel cover responding to the charge handle slamming forward.