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The crabs of PC gaming, ranked

Crabs!

PC Gamer Ranked are our ridiculously comprehensive lists of the best, worst, and everything in-between from every corner of PC gaming.

Crabs! In games, crabs come in many forms, from a tasty ingredient in your stew to a challenging foe on the battlefield to a nigh-unbeatable endgame boss. These many-legged monstrosities, like armored spiders from the sea, can be found across all genres—a looming mechanical unit in a strategy game, a dungeon terror in a hack-and-slash, or something that simply crawls into your underpants in an pixelated adventure.

Why has it taken so long for us to rank the crabs of PC gaming? Well, due to quirks in maritime law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it was previously illegal to put a bunch of videogame crabs on a numbered list and judge them. 

But thanks to the tireless work of our lawyers, millions of dollars spent on political lobbying, and the re-location of our website's servers to an abandoned oil platform in international waters, we've finally got a legal loophole big enough to protect us from both prosecution and vengeful sea captains.

The Criteria

Number of Entries: 19

What's included: Giant crabs, not-so-giant crabs, mechanical crabs, alien crabs, magic crabs, weapon-wielding crabs, crabs that are probably not really crabs but are crab-like or at least have "crab" in their name so we consider them crabs even if they're not crabs.

What's not included: A lot of crabs in a lot of games are pretty much just, you know, regular crabs. There's nothing particularly remarkable about a crab that is just a crab, so the standard crabs of Abzu or Soma or Genshin Impact, that are simply wildlife to look at or ingredients to be harvested, are not on this list.

Crab Score™: To rank these crabs, our staff of marine biologists carefully considered every crab's attributes—crabtributes, if you will. Each crab has been given a Crab Score™—a deeply complex and highly secretive calculation that we have trademarked and will not explain.

Here are PC gaming's crabs, ranked from worst to best.

19. Mudcrab (The Elder Scrolls)

(Image credit: Bethesda)

It says something that, in a world filled with dragons, vampires, and interdimensional demon hordes, mudcrabs still command quite a bit of conversation among the locals. And why, exactly? It's hard to imagine a more boring and harmless enemy, farmed by low-level characters for easy XP and ignored by anyone else unless they hear combat music and can't figure out why it's playing. "Oh, it's a dumb mudcrab in a river twenty yards away, slowly scuttling in my direction. Now I have to kill it before I'm allowed to fast-travel."

A few exceptional mudcrabs have risen above the muck—the mudcrab merchant from Morrowind, the ghost mudcrab from Oblivion, Pincer the pet and Old Salty the giant, and of course the posh mudcrabs with the top hats and monocles that someone thoughtfully modded into Skyrim. But those are just a few bright points, statistical anomalies that barely raise the average. And that's what mudcrabs are, sadly. Average. —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 60

Image

Skyrim mods: Questing forever
Skyrim Special Edition mods: Special effects
Skyrim console commands: Endless possibilities

18. Giant Crab (Legend of Grimrock)

Legend of Grimrock

(Image credit: Almost Human Games)

Few creatures are as loathed as the Giant Crabs of Legend of Grimrock. They're huge, they're scary, they do tons of damage, their shells cover a ton of HP, and they're very convincingly animated as they scuttle back and forth and sideways in the narrow dungeon passages. This is a gross giant crab capable of seriously and instantly messing up adventurers unprepared for them.

There's nothing technically wrong with being a giant dangerous violent monster. In fact, on the Crab Internet where crabs would vote on the best crabs, crabs would probably give this crab a Crab Score™ of 100. But crabs aren't voting for crabs here, we are. And we don't really like this crab. —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 62

17. Lava Crab (Stardew Valley)

Stardew Valley

(Image credit: Concerned Ape)

These little critters can be found in the deep levels of Pelican Town's mines and although there are plenty of dangerous monsters lurking in the depths, the worst these cheeky crabs can do is slightly startle you. The lava crab disguises itself as a rock, only revealing itself and attacking the player if approached. They are pretty tough for your average crab and you'll need to knock the rocky shell off its back to attack it, and all before it scurries away into the cavern.

The Stardew lava crab holds the very essence of what it is to be a crab: a mischievous character, hidey-hole master, perfect scuttler, and it has a great drop rate for explosives. However, I will have to dock some major points for the absence of pincers and its lacklustre appearance, which are both very important for overall 'crabbiness.' —Rachel Watts

Crab Score™: 65

16. Discipline Crab (Zork)

Zork Discipline Crab

(Image credit: Infocom)

Not a whole lot is known Zork's Discipline Crab, other than that it is vicious and will attack on sight, it lives in a throne room, and it wears a tiny crown. As angry as it is, it will retreat if badly wounded, even at the cost of leaving its precious crown behind.

I love the idea of a crab simply wandering into a throne room and deciding it must therefore be royalty, wearing a wee little crown, and psychotically attacking any visitor who dares enter. Though, how does it know I didn't walk in there to pledge allegiance to the crabby little king or queen? Maybe it shouldn't be quite so hostile. That's no way to get loyal followers. —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 68

15. Pants Crab (Leisure Suit Larry 3)

Leisure Suit Larry 3

(Image credit: Sierra On-Line)

There's nothing more difficult for Leisure Suit Larry than having sex, and there's no sex joke too obvious for Leisure Suit Larry. So, in the third game, when Larry strolls onto a beach and gives a credit card to a young topless woman named Tawni in exchange for sex, you know A) things aren't going to go well and B) and there will definitely be a joke about crabs.

After Tawni stops humping Larry so she can use her new credit card to buy a Ginsu Knife (another easy joke in the '80s), a bunch of crabs crawl into Larry's pants. He jumps up and complains about the crabs (real ones) but Tawni thinks he's complaining about crabs (pubic lice). So Larry is once again out of luck, though at least he's acquired a knife he needs to cut the grass to fashion a grass skirt so he can acquire an erotic statue that will let him pick up a towel that can be used after he showers so he can get into the aerobics studio. Adventure games, right? 

Anyway, this is a so-so crab and I'm definitely not a fan of cheap sex jokes. —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 69

14. King of Crabs (King of Crabs)

King of Crabs

(Image credit: Robot Squid)

There are a lot of crabs in King of Crabs, a sort of never-ending battle royale where the more fellow crabs you kill and eat, the bigger you get. I don't really like the game that much—it's really just a noisy .io game where crabs can wield baseball bats and flamethrowers—but the crabs look nice and scuttle pretty convincingly. They drop hamburgers when they die, though. I guess I was expecting, I dunno... crab meat? —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 70

13. Hungry Crab/Golakka Crawler (Hearthstone)

(Image credit: Blizzard)

These are the boys you really want in pinch. Crabs are designed to target a particular tribe of minions. In the case of Hungry Crab (the OG), it's Murlocs, whereas Golakka Crawler is a counter to pirates. Their Battlecry effect enables them to destroy any minion of the requisite type, regardless of size, and the crab receives a stat boost in return. (Essentially it eats the other minion.) Crabs are 'tech cards' you add to your deck to counter a meta that's overrun by the tribe you're attempting to target. Generally speaking, the pros think tech cards are pretty bad outside of tournament play, because you really have to be seeing a shit ton of whatever you're targeting in order to feel the benefit. 

Crabs are also somewhat unloved because they're such a blunt tool. If you don't hit what you're aiming at, it means you're playing an understatted minion which does nothing. But for many players, that bad feeling—and indeed the data against using tech cards—is outweighed by the occasional feeling of euphoria you get from playing a Golakka Crawler onto a Pirate on turn two and winning the game on the spot. Ideally followed by the saltiest of messages from the aggro player whose day you just ruined. Suggested reply: "Aha, me hearty!" —Tim Clark

Crab Score™: 70

12. Auroral Megalops (Sunless Sea)

Sunless Sea

(Image credit: Failbetter Games)

First Mate Tubbs says there be deep-crabs bigger than whales out there in the Unterzee, that the Auroral Megalops you see in the waters off Fallen London is just a wee baby version of the real thing. I don't know if I want to credit that—I reckon a Megalops is big enough. I seen one snatch a zailor right off the deck and eat him whole. That said, we done et plenty of Megalops in turn. Crack open their shell with a broadside then scoop that glowing meat right quick. You gotta eat quick too, it goes bad fast, does Megalops meat. 

I wouldn't worry about the fact that they eat us and we eat them. I mean, eating something that ate a person isn't the same as eating a person direct. I should know.—Jody Macgregor

Crab Score™: 72

11. Fight Crabs (Fight Crab)

(Image credit: Playism)

I'm on board with Fight Crab's Fight Crabs, especially since they can be armed with guns, swords, and lightsabers. Why shouldn't a crab go into battle holding a loaded revolver in one claw and a battle axe in the other? Why shouldn't they use magic spells and ride scooters and swing enormous two-handed (two-clawed) hammers? It's about time crabs had something to kill with besides their pincers.

Problem is, Fight Crab is a physics fighting game, which mean the crabs usually look pretty damn silly, even when they're the size of tanks and are smashing each other with cars and using telephone poles as clubs. Giant crabs with weapons? Great. Giant crabs with weapons that lurch and wobble like they're in a 10-legged game of QWOP? Not great. —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 75

10. Hermit Crab (Fallout 76)

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Hermit crabs are both adorable and amazing. They don't produce their own shells, instead making their homes from the shells other creatures leave behind, or whatever fits them best, sometimes even man-made objects. They then discard their home for something bigger when they grow. I love that about them.

So when the enormous hermit crab in Fallout 76 came charging at me—and when I say enormous, it was occupying most of a truck as its shell—it was hard not to smile and say "Awww." Of course, I ran backwards while emptying my shotgun into it while saying "Awww" because it's a massive mutated rampaging beast capable of ripping into me with claws the size of a park bench and it was about 20 levels above me. But still. Awww. —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 77

9. Hermit Crab (Spelunky 2)

(Image credit: Mossmouth)

Three attributes you don't want to see in any single enemy are stealth and poison and being a crab. Spelunky 2's hermit crabs are clever little bastards, hiding under chests and pushblocks, and sometimes even under explosive crates. There's no indication they're hiding there until those little eyestalks peek out and by then it's just too damn late.

When they're not hiding they're scuttling and climbing around, happily blowing green poison bubbles at any adventurer seeking to stomp them. Explorers hate them! But as much as Spelunky players loathe the hermit crab, they're pretty darn good at being crabs, crab-wise. —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 82

8. Headcrab (Half-Life series)

(Image credit: Valve)

A good crab should provide you with more than an enemy to fight or a butter-drenched meal to consume: it should also give you something to think about. In the case of the headcrab, the question is: Is Gordon Freeman wearing a helmet, or what? I think he is, because he has a HUD and also because roughly 7,000,000 headcrabs have jumped onto my face in Half-Life games and yet I've never been turned into a zombie, which would suggest some head protection. But it's also weird to think he's been wearing a helmet throughout the entire Half-Life series. (Canonically, he had a helmet but ditched it at some point.)

Even after nearly a quarter century, headcrabs are still pretty scary, or at least startling. There are newer flavors—fast, poison, and in Half-Life: Alyx, armored—but I'm still a fan of the original, fleshy, gross pinkish standard headcrabs. Especially Lamarr, wherever he is now. —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 85

7. King Crab (BattleTech)

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

It may not be the only crab on this list that weighs 100 tons, but it's the only crab that wields dual Autocannon/20s. Though the Atlas and MadCat cut a more iconic silhouette and appear in most of MechWarrior's marketing, they don't quite match the dumb-and-deadly look of the lumbering King Crab, with its hunchbacked posture and big-ass claw hands. It's also sort of the final boss in Harebrained Schemes' 2018 BattleTech, which gives it some recent cred. —Evan Lahti

Crab Score™: 86

6. Karkinos (Ark: Survival Evolved)

(Image credit: Studio Wildcard)

Karkinos is a crab so big that to make it fall in love with you, you must first batter it unconscious by firing literal boulders at it from a catapult. Once you've won its loyalty with rock-based violence and kibble, it's an indispensable partner and mount, capable of carrying things around in its huge claws. And by things I mainly mean other dinosaurs and human players, which it can also fling great distances.

There's not much not to love about this huge crab. It eats spoiled meat. It's immune to radiation. Very few creatures dare attack it. As a mount it turns on a dime and is just as happy traveling on land as it scuttling along the bottom of the ocean. That's a damn good crab! —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 88

The Top 5

5. Rift Herald (League of Legends)

League of Legends

(Image credit: Riot)

Within the first 20 minutes of a League of Legends match, there is an incredibly powerful boss that spawns in the northern river—a monstrous crab named the Rift Herald. Like any good crab, this beast has two enormous pincers and it'll take an enormous chunk of health off you if it gets you with one of its haymakers. But it's well worth it to kill one because once you do, you can pick up an item that summons it against your enemies.

I've probably summoned hundreds of Rift Heralds in my time, and it never gets old. If you drop them in the enemy lane near a tower, it'll charge in and take off an enormous chunk of its health, often giving you tons of bonus gold so your team can snowball and win the match. It's amazing. Crabs are so often depicted as clunky and slow, but the Rift Herald is an alpha crab, an absolute monster, and I love it. —Steven Messner

Crab Score™: 88

4. Giant Crab (Dark Souls 3)

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

The thing about being a big-ass crab is that it sucks. Can't scuttle efficiently. Too much gravity weighing that carapace down. What are you even gonna grab with your heavy claws? A giant's pinky finger? To make matters worse for the big-ass crabs in Dark Souls 3, they're stuck in a tiny pond at the center of a poison swamp, surrounded by hyper aggressive meat men stuck to crucifixes. Sure, the odd Ashen One rolls through, gets a bit too confident and tries to take down a big-ass crab on occasion. But even when one of the big-ass crabs bashes the Ashen One over the head until they are dead, they just dissolve into ash—not a surprise, I suppose—commune with the cosmos, and return once again to try and fail to beat up the big-ass crab in a parallel timeline. 

So the big-ass crabs are relegated to munching on poison swamp detritus. No tender human meat for these suckers. Mandibles untouched by the good stuff for some time, and experimenting with the crucifix dudes never works out (they smell awful, meat tastes like a pine tree). All this to say the big-ass crabs in Dark Souls 3 rule, if only for trucking along in these tough times. (Honorable mention: The massive hermit crab using a castle tower as a shell cut from Dark Souls 2).  —James Davenport

Crab Score™: 90

3. Crawmerax the Invincible (Borderlands)

(Image credit: Gearbox)

I respect whoever decided that Borderlands' ultimate, big bad super boss should be a giant alien crab. Technically he's a crab worm, but the word "crab" is in there and he's got giant pincers so I assume that's not disqualifying. My one experience with Crawmerax was walking into his lair with my Borderlands crew, thinking we were hot shit since we'd already cleared everything else in the General Knoxx expansion. Crawmerax obliterated us in about five seconds.

In my head canon, then, Crawmerax actually is invincible. That's a rare honor when so many crabs are just fodder enemies. Also, he has one giant eye instead of a crab's typical eye stalks which have always kind of creeped me out. You're a cool crab, Crawmerax.—Wes Fenlon

Crab Score™: 92

2. Megalith (Supreme Commander)

Supreme Commander

(Image credit: THQ)

The bigger the crab, the better the crab, and this is a very big crab indeed. The biggest. The baddest. The most hit points. (And the most expensive.) Armed with dual proton cannons and a nanite torpedo launcher you'd think this absolute unit of a unit was more machine than crab. And... obviously it is. It is 100% machine and 0% crab.

But it's still damn crabby. It can scuttle backwards while firing, instead of having to turn around. It even lays eggs, just like real crabs. And this crab isn't safe even if you kill it, as it's death explosion will do massive amounts of damage to any units in the area (I don't think real crabs do this). Don't fuck with this crab. —Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 95

1. Baltimore Crabs (Blaseball)

(Image credit: The Games Band)

There's simply no finer team in Blaseball than the Baltimore Crabs, though that should perhaps be said in the past tense since, after winning three Blaseball championships, they have ascended. As it is written in the Book of Blaseball.

The Crabs are a classic, timeless sports story, going from worst to first to battling a cthulhu-like Peanut God and being imprisoned in another realm behind a gate in the clouds. In the first Blaseball season the crabs went 38-61, second worst in the league, but the addition of a pitcher with 87 fingers and some other notable roster changes took them to the playoffs in season five. Buoyed by blessings, they took the championships in season six, eight, and ten. And then, they were gone, far too good for this world. Claws up!—Chris Livingston

Crab Score™: 95

Crabs: What to read next

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