Power! Maximum power! Sometimes, it’s a prize for a game well played—a chance to turn the tables on your enemies and let rip with furious vengeance. Sometimes, it’s an accident, especially in multiplayer games, with one weapon dominating and developers racing to fix it before the whole game implodes. Either way, it’s usually pretty fun if you’re the one pulling the trigger. For a while.
Here then are our picks for the most overpowered gear in PC gaming history. They’re not necessarily the biggest guns. Sometimes, the smallest things can tip the balance. But whatever the boom, they’re the toys and choices most likely to break their games over their knees. Without outright cheating with mods or rewards like Metal Gear Solid’s infinite ammo bandana, naturally.
Fortify Intelligence Potion - The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind
Any alchemist will tell you, this seemingly innocent potion is the Devourer of Worlds. Your intelligence is the stat that lets you make potions—the higher, the better. Seen the loophole? Yes. By mixing up some Fortify Intelligence, you can yank your intelligence up by the bootstraps, making better and better versions and growing smarter by the second. Soon enough, you’ll be able to mix crazily overpowered potions to do just about anything, as well as sell any you don’t want and never have to worry about money again. Using this trick, and a few others, speed-runners were able to finish the game in 15 minutes back in 2006. But of course, they’ve been working on it since. With other tricks, they’re down to a casual 3:14 now.
The Dirty Diaper - Ultima VII
As an early game with a focus on world simulation, there’s a million and one ways to break Ultima VII over your knee. One of the most infamous is being able to use sleep and poison potions from your backpack on enemies, forcing them to drink. But that’s nothing compared to the Diaper. “Load” it by using a clean one on a baby—try Lord British’s castle if you like—and you’re ready to go. Throw it at any enemy and they freak out and stop fighting. Any enemy. Warriors. Dragons. It doesn’t matter. A little poo and they lose their shit. Best of all, you’re never short of ammo.
Also a strong contender, like most Ultima games, the Armageddon spell. Which kills just about everyone in the world except you and the villain. Good luck actually finishing the game though.
The Experimental MIRV - Fallout 3
Nuclear war, warns Fallout, is very, very bad. Personal nuclear missiles? Awesome! The Fat Man is one of the most impractical weapons in the game due to a lack of ammo, needing as it does special mini-nukes. One hit turns just about anything into a splattered pile of goo. But that’s just ‘kill’. For overkill, you need to raid the National Guard depot for this baby, which fires eight mini-nukes at once. In fact, it won’t fire unless you’ve got them. It’s so powerful that if you shoot it at your feet, it’ll launch you up to the map ceiling. Don’t expect to survive the process, though.
The Rocket Launcher - Quake
Oh, yes, yes, it’ll turn your enemies into mist, no problem. But that’s not what made the rocket launcher so important. Quake being one of the first true 3D shooter games, and the first with such fluid physics, testers soon discovered that by aiming at the ground and using the blast to propel themselves through the air, they could absolutely destroy the level designers’ hard work—hop over impossible obstacles, speed past bosses, generally become sore-footed superheroes. You don’t get much more powerful than that, even if it does mean some very sore feet afterwards.
Dr. Boom - Hearthstone
There are several Hearthstone cards that could go in this list, including the likes of Starving Buzzard, Undertaker, and Gadgetzan Auctioneer—all of which eventually felt the sweet kiss of the nerf bat because they enabled degenerate play styles. But the most OP card currently in circulation remains defiantly unnerfed. However you look at it, Dr Boom is undercosted: it’s a neutral card that gives you a beefy 7/7 creature, plus two attendant 1/1 Boom Bots, each of which dishes out 2-4 random damage when they die. Dropping him on the board is roughly equivalent to swinging a giggling wrecking ball at it. The card is playable in literally any Hearthstone deck, and has consequently earned itself nicknames like “Dr Balance”, “Dr. Seven” (because everyone plays him immediately on turn seven) and, less prosaically, “Dr. Cancer”.
(Incidentally, to save time, here’s the first part of your comment already written up for you: “Are you crazy? Is your brain literally made of jelly? Clearly, the most OP card is....”)
Lava Core - Divinity: Original Sin
A spell that can kill a final boss in one hit? That’s got to be worth including. Much like Ultima VII, this one works because Divinity: Original Sin is designed around systems, many of them exploitable—a common one being to jack up a character’s strength and have them throw barrels around. This one though even surprised the developers. The Lava Core scroll is a hard to get, one shot item that you can’t turn into a book. Most players will use it at some point to get past a tricky fight, since the rules state that if it burns an enemy, that enemy is toast. Unlike many RPGs, bosses don’t have immunity to these rules, which is why you can easily do things like teleport someone away from their guards. Or, in this case, get a one-hit kill on a terrifying Void Dragon, who dies wondering where the heck their epic battle went. Poor thing. So sad.
Satellite Rain - Syndicate Wars
For most of Syndicate Wars, you control a quartet of gun-toting trenchcoat warriors armed with the best guns an all-powerful corporation can buy. That’s a lot of guns. But when you’re really serious, it’s time to raise the stakes. Satellite Rain unleashes the pain from space, firing tungsten-uranium rods from orbit to wherever you decide doesn’t need to exist any more. Cue an apocalyptic series of explosions to kill and knock down everything in the vicinity. Not subtle, but a good way of reminding people who’s in charge. Those not living in a Matrix style stupor, anyway.
Knife Gloves - Dead Rising 2
Sometimes, the hardest thing about a weapon is forcing yourself not to use it. Dead Rising offers a great playground full of toys to find, make and experiment with, including deadly vacuum cleaners, electrified bingo ball cages and a leaf blower that fires gemstones. But really, all most players need is to tape some knives onto a boxing glove—doable almost at the start—and let everything fall before them. Not quite as bad as the Small Chainsaw from the first game, but much easier to acquire. At least there’s still the fun of playing dress-up running through the action.
Knights Of The Round - Final Fantasy VII
Finally, a much beloved classic. Final Fantasy has no shortage of overpowered weapons, but their king is… well, King Arthur. And twelve of his best friends. It’s an absolute pain in the neck to get this skill, involving much time and chocobo breeding. But! Cast it, and for the next few minutes your small army of helpful knights will beat the living poop out of anything in front of you. You can’t couple it with Quadra Magic for ultimate overkill, except with a glitch, but you can at least have the next party-member mime it. Just when the enemy’s hurting has finished, it starts all over again.