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Many games rely on the concept of Evolving Weapon, alias weapons that can be upgraded and get stronger. Sometimes, they not only get more powerful, but they also becomes fancier and more elaborate, usually to show better how they improved. Alternatively, the weapons you pick up becomes more and more elaborated as you proceed in your quest/in the game, again in order to underline their greater power. It probably makes sense, as a beautifully decorated katana with a runic blade is far more appealing than a simple iron shortsword.

Note, however, that usually the "elaborate" part boils down to the appearence of the weapon. While the weapon itself does grow stronger, the use/attack animation/whatever is still the same.

Furthermore in some cases not only weapons but also armor pieces and other items will be subjected to this trope. May also be stretched to various Mooks who gets better-looking equipment as they get stronger and stronger.

Don't confuse with Evolving Weapon. See also Ace Custom.

Examples of Elaborate Equals Effective include:


  • Shown above in Alice: Madness Returns, where unlike the previous game her weapons can now evolve and get a better design. There's also a secret downloadable weapon with a different design for each one of them.
  • Dynasty Warriors has this, with the various weapons becoming bigger and more decorated as they're aquired.
  • Samurai Warriors follows a similar concept: the stronger the weapon, the more elaborated it will be.
  • And again with Sengoku Basara, which however subverts this in some cases with Yoshihiro (his giant sword becomes an equally big spiked club then an axe), Musashi (his Oar&Bokuto combo becomes a pair of plain katana) and Sasuke (from three-bladed Fuuma Shuriken to circular chainsaw-like blades.) Dulcis in Fundo, some weapons (expecially in the first game) turns out to fit the Joke Item category.
    • Furthermore, the manga of the first game has this: Yukimura, Shingen, Mitsuhide and Nouhime are seen using more and more elaborated weapons token from the actual game.
  • In God of War this happens with the Blade of Chaos, the Blades of Athena and the Artemis Sword. Is otherwise averted with the other weapons.
  • Final Fantasy VII has the non-evolving variation.
  • All your arsenal in Ratchet: Deadlocked will improve in both strength and design, but only up to level 10.
  • Several weapons from The Elder Scrolls series. A standard iron or steel weapon will invariably be less powerful than the iridescent green glass weapons, the gold-inlaid ebony weapons, or the spiky, dark-grey-and-red Daedric weapons. Daedric artifacts are often, though not always, even more impressive.
  • Used in the first three Onimusha games with the main weapons. The fourth game avert this, as the weapon design is unchanged.
  • Drakengard has the weapons become more elaborated as they level up.
  • Not exactly a weapon example, but many military units from Battle for Wesnoth becomes more and more detailed and well-armed as they gain levels.
  • In Prince of Persia: Sands of Time the main swords used by the prince gets more and more elaborated, starting from a boring palace sword and ending up with the royal Infinity+1 Sword that annihilates all mooks in one blow.
  • Not exactly ingame, but those ads for Urban Rivals that show the character going from vaguely Harry Potter-esque mage to firebird-with-a-sword might count, there's also a thin redhead soldier gaining muscles and facial hair until he has a giant beard and flamethrower bagpipes.
  • From Team Fortress 2 the Engineer's Sentry Gun and Dispenser are the most obvious, and all of the pick-upable and craftable weapons are more decorative than usual.
  • Subverted in Dragon Quest VIII and IX: some weapons can be upgraded in their "super" form (for example the Zombie Killer becomes the Zombie Buster and so on). However, the upgraded weapon looks just like the original, or it gets a different color pattern.
  • In Jazz Jackrabbit 2 all your ammo (except for the electrical gun) can be upgraded if you break the right crate. The new ammo is more powerful and looks a little better in design.
  • Non Video Game example: In Real Life this is partially played straight: Just compare a stone age spear to a medieval ranseur, or a bronze age sword with a Sengoku-period Katana, or a blunderbuss to a modern rifle. Of course, this can also lead to cases of Awesome but Impractical weapons if they get too much elaborated.
    • Before the industrial era form and function tended to go hand in hand with form often leading as development was funded by noblemen without scientific backgrounds, who needed new weapons to look dangerous before agreeing to an investment. Once mass production and optimization became important the decorations disappeared very quickly.
  • The Zorg ZF-1 in The Fifth Element.
  • Parodied in the Web Comic Rusty and Co: The +1 Trident is actually a rake.
  • In World of Warcraft more powerful weapons tend to be more exotic-looking and elaborated. The same goes for armors and shoulderpads, often to a ridicolous extent.
  • In Fable III your starting weapons gain certain decorations as you level them up, befriend villagers, amass wealth, kill zombies, etc.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask your sword starts out pretty plain looking. When you upgrade it once, it now has two blades and a more decorative hilt. Upgrading it a second time, the sword now has a gold-colored diamond pattern along the blade and a fancier handle still. There's also an unlockable fourth sword that's technicolored and has black roses etched onto the blade, and also a sword Link uses in one of his transformations has two blades that are shaped as a double-helix.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is about the creation of the Master Sword. You start with the basic Goddess Sword, and throughout the game it gets refined by three sacred flames, evolving each time, until it eventually ends with the Master Sword.
  • Seen in Age of Empires, especially with the swordsmen in the first game and the infantry in the second game (starting from a club wielding militian to a chainmail-wearing warrior with shield and longsword to a full-plated guy with a giant sword).
  • Mortal soldiers from Age of Mythology. For example, an early Greek Hoplite will be a random guy with a big spear. As you buy and research more technology, he'll start gaining more armor, helmet and a shield. Also the colors indicated the general quality, with golden weapons and armors at the top.
  • An old Civ style space game, Spaceward Ho includes designing your own ships. The various aspects of the ship (speed, gunpower, etc) are scalable and the higher the number, the more awesome the ship ends up looking.
  • In Titan Quest this is applied mainly with the armor, shields and helmets of various kinds. For example the stronger version of the Corinthian Helmet (a typical greek helm) is the same helmet but now bigger and with a different color and crest. A number of monster-specific and rare pieces subvert this trope by being either rough and jury-rigged (the former) or elegant and stylized (the latter) compared to top tier normal items.
  • Diablo II too has this with armor: the more powerful the armor, the more parts of your body will cover. A slight exception is the strongest one, the Ancient Armor, which leaves the character with a "top level" armor type all over his body except for the left shoulder, which looks like as if armorless.
  • The higher the enhancement bonus of a weapon in Neverwinter Nights, the more impressive it will look.
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