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That zombie's got armor! I want armor!
Coach, Left 4 Dead 2

For whatever reason, the player is not allowed to pick up and use the weapons, ammo, and equipment of fallen enemies. Instead, he must either find the same weapons and equipment lying around by themselves, or simply can't pick up weapons at all outside plot events that give them to him. Often this doesn't extend to ammunition; once the player has a gun, enemies with the same gun may well start dropping ammunition for it. This isn't really as unrealistic as it may seem; knowing where your weapon came from means you can tell it's well-maintained and not booby-trapped or locked out in some way, but it's fairly safe to assume someone who was just shooting at you is carrying ammunition that works in the gun they were carrying.

This is a staple of the stealth genre, and is often hand waved/justified by the items having fingerprint scanners or some other form of user identification; Truth in Television, in fact; security systems using biometrics or a chip mounted on a ring or bracelet (or even implanted into the owner's hand) have been studied by several gun companies.

In real life, a soldier will be trained to pick up an opponent's weapon only as an absolute last resort. This is because of a laundry list of issues that most fictional depictions skirt around. (A biggy is that when opposing forces are using guns with very different reports, say a US M16 and a Viet Cong AK-47, friendly soldiers will tend to shoot at anything that sounds like the enemy...) In the case of police, weapons owned by criminals are evidence and tampering with them could destroy a later court case. On the other hand, in that absolute last resort when you're out of ammo for your own weapons and surrounded by enemies, it will feel unreasonable if the game prevents you from picking up the gun from the dead Mook next to you.

Within gaming tropes, contrast Exclusive Enemy Equipment and Randomly Drops. Related to Good Guns, Bad Guns. Compare Statistically Speaking.

In other media, contrast In Working Order.

Examples of Unusable Enemy Equipment include:


  • Many, many First-Person Shooter games. Nowadays it's less prevalent: the player character can pick up and use enemy weapons. In less modern shooters, however, defeated enemy grunts would often lie as corpses on the ground with their weapon in plain view, but you'd be unable to take it unless they spawned the appropriate weapon/ammo item while dying. As noted above, this isn't necessarily unrealistic.
    • Averted in the Granddaddy of them all, Wolfenstein 3D. Every human enemy, save for the bosses, dropped their weapon when killed, giving you that weapon if you didn't have it before or adding to your ammo count if you did. The game even starts with the scenario that you take the pistol from a guard you shanked.
    • Golden Eye 1997 for the N64 averts this trope completely until it comes to dual-wielding. Even if you have one pistol, if you kill a guard also using that pistol, you only get ammo for picking it up - you must find a guard using two such pistols, kill him, and pick up both of the dropped weapons in order to dual-wield them.
    • Most Tactical Shooters will forbid you from carrying enemy weapons except to take as evidence, the reason for this is simple, they are either poorly maintained or is different from what your team is carrying, this is true in Real Life as taking an enemy weapon to use will lead to friendly fire incidents.
  • In Call of Duty 5 World at War, the player will see many Japanese officers with a Katana, sometimes even using them, but they can not be pickup up or used by the player after killing the officer.
  • While the player character in Overlord is unable to pick up the enemy equipment, his minions can. And they'll pick up a lot, causing some laughs when you realize some of your minions are wearing pumpkins, beards (yes, beards), and a flower in a patch of dirt as headwear. Could be considered justified as you ARE the Evil Overlord, and no self-respecting one would be using such non-Doomy Dooms of Doom objects for their personal armament, plus the minions will happily fork over gold and other things that would be valuable and useful to you.
  • In the Metal Gear Solid series, the player is unable to use the weapons of fallen enemies. MGS2 hand waves this by explaining that all the guards' weapons use a DNA-based security locking system and therefore won't work for anyone but the original owner. The explanation given in Metal Gear Solid 3, which is set in 1964, is that Naked Snake doesn't trust the reliability of weapons they may have been poorly maintained, instead preferring fresh weapons from armories. Also, at one point during the game (MGS2), the protagonist must infiltrate the enemy's base by disguising himself as a guard. But for some reason he can't just kill one and take his uniform, he must be given one during a plot event. The same thing needs to be done in MGS3, but you must steal the uniform from a specific officer because you need his security clearance and it just so happens that you have a mask that matches his face.
  • The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay also does the DNA-gun thing. Enemy guards actually do drop their assault rifles when killed, but the rifle electrocutes you if you try to pick it up. Guards with pistols and shotguns can be freely liberated of their arms once downed, though.
    • In Assault on Dark Athena, the rifles are no longer DNA-encoded, which means when you find a merc you can take his weapon no matter what. However, the most commonly encountered enemy, the Ghost Drones, have their rifles surgically attached to their arms. Semi-averted in that you can use their guns while using their body as a meatshield, but this inhibits your ability to move.
  • Warhammer 40000: Chaos Gate does not let you pick up Chaos Weapons on the grounds that (to quote the manual) "No self-respecting Space Marine would deign to touch a weapon used by a minion of Chaos". (In fairness, canon would insist that the weapon would turn against the righteous bearer or cause him to sprout tentacles or something anyway. Chaos-tainted artifacts are the ultimate in non-user-safe.)
    • Which is odd, because Logan Grimnar, head of the Space Vikings Wolves is explicitly stated to use a Daemonic axe he looted from the corpse of a chaos champion, and mastered using only his willpower. Guess the rules don't apply to Chapter Masters.
      • The Space Wolves may as well have their motto be "Screw The Rules." Logan was looked upon as out of his damn mind even by his fellow Space Wolves when he decided to do it, before they realized "holy shit it WORKED."
    • Warhammer 40000: Fire Warrior averts it as all weapons can be used indiscriminately. La'Kais doesn't suffer any of the consequences for using Chaos Weapons since the Tau have an innate resistance against the Warp.
    • And then there's the Ork weapons, which only work for them because they actually shouldn't work for anyone at all.
    • The Tau also got something for their Battlesuits and Stealthsuits as they have a fail safe system that will fry any human/ork who tries to steal the armor. One guardsman learned it the hard way.
      • And, at least in human case, it would be pointless anyway, as somebody openly using reverse-engineered alien equipment would piss off either Adeptus Mechanicus or Inquisition, or if less lucky both of 'em.
      • As in using it as an Improvised Weapon and blasting the enemy before dumping it off a bridge or a cliff or some sort of crushing. But salvaging enemy weapons as your own is pretty difficult for a human for any race. Ork weapons are explained above, Eldar weapons are psychically controlled even for something as simple as a Shuriken Catapult, Tyranid and Necron weapons are pretty self explanatory, this is Tau's way of handwaving why stealing their weapons don't work.
  • In the Splinter Cell series, Sam Fisher, for whatever reason, can't use the guns of fallen enemies. For ammo and weapons, he must find them laying around by themselves. This becomes ridiculous in the Xbox version of Double Agent, where at one point a choice made earlier in the game can net Sam a pistol carried by a guard... but it is impossible to take the pistols from any other guards!
    • This was lampshaded at one point in Chaos Theory, where Sam can find an email yelling at a Mook for ordering the wrong ammunition, that only Sam can use. By extension somewhat justifying the trope, given that all the weapons shown are modeled on real weapons, very few of the enemies would carry ammunition for the weapons Sam uses. Also, no one in their right mind would trade a FN F2000 with suppressor and grenade launcher (specially designed for firing less-lethal rounds) for a terrorist's AK-47.
    • Averted in Conviction, where Sam can freely take weapons from fallen enemies.
  • In Gothic players can always take and use the weapons of defeated enemies (even huge orc-axes), but never their armor. This leads to the best armor from the Old Camp being inaccessible. There are plot reasons why you'd never normally get it, but still...
    • It is interesting to note that you can't get the armor, but you could definitely wear it, if you got it through other means (by using cheats, for example). Every armor on every human enemy is an actual, wearable item with its own stats -- you just can't take it from them. This applies even to things that look like they should be part of the NPC model instead, like Xardas' black robe.
      • This was changed in the sequel, where this and some other kinds of "armor" don't actually exist as separate objects anymore.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 features an aspect of this trope. Late in the game one will get access to an experimental rifle that fires small explosive rockets. This features a trigger mechanism that reads the fingerprint of the first person to use it and then limits its use to that person. Said mechanism can be reset by a PC or NPC with sufficient skill in electronics.
    • The beginning of the game was also made artificially harder by the fact that, while your mercs started out with peashooters, the enemy Red Shirts had rifles and body armor that would much more often than not disappear with them. It's only after you finally did get access to your own supply of rifles that the Red Shirts would start dropping them regularly...
    • One of the ways to get around this was to literally STEAL the equipment from a desired enemy by using one of your more stealthy mercs to sneak up on the enemy, loot him, and run.
  • Bungie plays with this one quite a bit:
    • Pathways into Darkness was unusual in that YOUR equipment was the unusable stuff at the start of the game. (Due to making a hard landing thanks to a defective parachute, your M-16 gets a bent barrel, the bag with all the spare ammuntion is lost in the jungle somewhere, and your Colt .45 sidearm is empty for some reason.) Oddly enough, when you reunite with your squad or rather, the remains of your squad all of their M-16 rifles have bent barrels, too!
    • Marathon had all but one type of enemy weapon happen to break during its wielder's death animation.
    • In a rather useful aversion, Oni not only allows you to strip and disarm enemy weapons, but the lack of One Bullet Clips means that it's advantageous to do so just after an enemy reloads. Likewise, if you see an enemy using a forcefield (the kind that stops bullets, but not punches), you can pick it up after you drop them, with same level of power remaining. Hence, making a punch to the face more effective, as it makes their equipment much more usable.
    • While the first Halo game ignored this trope for the most part, some items (FRG, Sword, Shield, Wraith) still cannot be used. The second and third games clean this up for the most part.
      • They also justified why you couldn't use those weapons. The FRG and sword had self destruct devices in them and blew to pieces as soon as dropped. There was no way to snipe the elites out of the sealed-shut wraith, and hijacking hadn't been programmed yet. The jackals' shields however, were never given any justification, and Halo 3 came and went with still no ability to wield them.
        • It was possible at one point to snipe an elite before he got into his wraith. You still couldn't drive it though. Unless you hacked, also revealing it to have the same crosshair as the rocket launcher.
    • In story the Elites will rather fight bare handed rather than used a loaded human weapon right next to them.
  • This is also present in so many video game RPGs that making a list of them would be useless. You can have a random encounter with an enemy who is a knight with sword and shield, wearing armor, but you're never going to get the sword, shield, or armor unless it comes as a random drop. Exceptions include:
    • The Elder Scrolls games: Since Morrowind, you can access an enemy's inventory and take all of their equipment, including their weapons, armor and ammunition. You can even loot some of the arrows you shot at them! Some enemies, however, show equipment on their models that is not actually in-game equipment and therefore cannot be looted.
    • Every single piece of enemy equipment in Titan Quest is a usable item. If they have a shiny weapon, you will get it. However, most pieces are far below normal quality.
    • Vagrant Story shoves this in your face, painfully. You can actually see each individual piece of equipment that each enemy has equipped, but you have only a tiny chance of any piece of that equipment being a Random Drop and hence obtainable. The game doesn't attempt to explain this.
    • Betrayal at Krondor allowed you to loot everything off of your fallen enemies, from weapons and armor to their rations.
    • An earlier counterexample is the Ultima series, in particular Ultima 6 and 7 and their related sub-games, in which every single lowly guard drops his sword, armor, et cetera when killed. The effect is that you quickly stop looting the junk because you simply can't carry two dozen sets of armor around.
    • The Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale games are also counterexamples since humanoid enemies will drop their equipment on death (except things for which it would not make sense, like ghosts. The final bosses are also exempt). The games even keep track of the amount of arrows in opponents' quivers and the like: The faster you kill an archer the more arrows you can get to use yourself, and enemies can run out of ammunition and be forced to engage you in melee. However, it's also hardly worth the effort to pick every sword and armor up since they weigh a lot and don't sell for much. Normal ammunition can't even be sold at all.
    • In Fallout. all armor save for the Powered Armor worn by the Brotherhood of Steel could be looted. In Fallout 2, armor wasn't lootable; apart from the game-balance issues, presumably the idea of shooting the enemies through their armor and then using it yourself feels a tad unrealistic. The Powered Armor exception was pointed out in-game too: One of the paladins of the Brotherhood of Steel mentions that you'll never encounter a non-brotherhood soldier in their trademark power armor since with it fully encasing the wearer, the latter dying means the armor has been shot to unwearable bits.
    • In Fallout 3, anything that the enemy carries, wears, or uses, can be stolen. Early in the game, it's a good idea to leave your dead enemies rotting in their underpants. This extends all the way up to the Enclave and Brotherhood armors, which you can easily pilfer off the dead. However, no armor you find this way will ever be in 100% top condition. You can even loot the power armor, but you can't use it until 2/3 of the way through the main story quest. Unless you have the Operation Anchorage DLC, which will not only give you Power Armor training much earlier, but also a nigh-indestructible T-51b.
  • Nicely averted in Syphon Filter. Normally, shooting someone in armour will destroy said armour. However, if you shoot them in the head, the armour is intact and can be looted.
  • Half Life
    • In Half Life 2, after you're weapon-stripped in Half Life 2, your only remaining weapon gains a weapon-destroying effect itself... which means every weapon dropped by dying enemies is disintegrated before you can grab it to rebuild your arsenal. Not that you really need to.
    • The first Half-Life has an interesting example with the Hive Hand weapon. Unlike every other weapon the player can't retrieve it from the corpse of an enemy that wields it, because it's literally attached to them. There are two Hive Hands that have been previously removed and the player can acquire, but other than that they can't be used.
    • The Opposing Force Expansion Pack takes this a step further, as you eventually get to use live aliens as weapons.
  • Shining Force 2 has a few bosses that can drop items. These items can't be equipped, but one of them can be used to cast spells.
  • Avoided entirely in Nethack: if an enemy is using an item, you can loot it off their corpse when they die. But they don't all leave corpses behind--which is far worse, since you'll need food a lot more than you'll need (say) even more rusty pig-iron broadswords.
  • This is present to some extent in Knights of the Old Republic, where most weapons and armor (especially blasters) cannot be collected, but ancillary items (medpacks, stims, grenades, etc.) are commonplace drops. Since loot is randomized, this makes sense, but it also leads to the odd situation of an enemy dropping an item he isn't even carrying, such as Dark Jedi dropping a blaster rifle. Boss battles are a major exception to this trend, but this is the case sometimes even then (e.g. the Sith governor of Taris wields a double-vibroblade that can't be scrounged).
  • In the Crusader games, you can get ammunition, ordnance, medical supplies, money, and other equipment off of dead enemies... but never weapons or shields.
  • In the X-COM series, all equipment used by the aliens will show up as an 'Alien artifact' and will be unusable. It is still possible to interact with these items... usually by accidentally blowing them up, which prevents you from looting them post-battle. After researching the specific weapons/items, you will then be allowed to outfit your squad with those weapons in addition to looting them off the corpses of your enemies. This is basically how you "level up" your weapons as you precede through the game.
  • In Dark Sector, the trope is somewhat averted by being able to pick up the guns, but they blow up in your face after 30 seconds due to 'infection governors'. Why you can't loot the ammo is anybody's guess.
    • If you watch the blinking of the sensor, most of them are very close to the weapon's magazine.
  • This trope is avoided somewhat in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Some enemies do in fact drop weapons that you can pick up and use, ranging from simple clubs to a BFS that's more than twice the length of Link's body.
    • But effectively played straight with Phantom Ganon's sword, which is only dropped in rooms where there are no other enemies anyway.
      • Which is secondary to the fact that you don't want to pick it up anyway, since watching how it falls is a puzzle hint.
    • Twilight Princess averts this only when it comes to arrows. Much like the Oblivion example, you can pick up enemy arrows that get stuck in the ground before they fade or burn away, and recover your own fired arrows from an enemy if you can see them sticking out of it.
      • And you get the Gale Boomerang and Ball and Chain from beating the two minibosses that use them.
    • Skyward Sword plays with this trope a bit. In the fourth dungeon, Ancient Cistern, you obtain a whip which allows you to retrieve items from afar. Unfortunately, it can't temporarily snag weapons from enemies, instead only stealing Monster Horns (for upgrading your equipment) from certain Bokoblins. Later on, the boss of Ancient Cistern (Koloktos) must be defeated by disabling its limbs, which allows you to pick up one of its swords (which are able to smash through pillars) and go buck wild on it. Unfortunately, you can't take the sword with you outside of the boss room.
  • World of Warcraft has a notable quest where you need to collect weapons from specific monsters (which you could actually use, if you so wish), but as with all quest drops, the chance to get one is far lower than you'd expect. In fact, the chance of another weapon is higher.
    • Related are the boars that don't have livers.
    • And humans that don't have skulls. You'd think you could recognize which do by them not having floppy organ-sacs on the top end of their necks...
      • The standard Hand Wave is that you, in the process of killing the mob, destroyed the body part in question. In classic Blizzard style, this response fits all scenarios, ranging from the plausible to the... not.
      • Hard to imagine destroying a troll's ears or tusks in the course of killing it.
  • Particularly noticeable in the Jedi Knight games. Despite the fact that the player is allowed to pick up any gun dropped by dead enemies, they are for some reason unable to pick up dropped lightsabers.
    • Much like the sissy defaults for dismemberment, this can be overcome by the flipping of a few flags in one's INI file.
  • There are often weapons which enemies in Fire Emblem are seen using, but the player cannot actually obtain.
    • If you cheat to get them, they will usually still work, the most notable one is the final bosses magic book in FE7 which would let anyone use magic. Nils could actually do damage!
    • This trope is justified with Fire Emblem's beast enemies. In these cases, the "weapons" are fangs, claws, or other parts of the beasts' anatomy.
      • Although in Fire Emblem the Sacred Stones, you could take monster weapons with some glitch abuse. It was pretty much the only way to teach anyone but Knoll or Ewan dark magic, and the only way to let Myrrh attack at all once her stone broke.
  • In Resistance: Fall of Man you can't get the fireball shooters used by Chimeran Titans when they die. Justified twice over, as said guns are as big as you are... and Titans die when their cooling units overload and explode, blowing them apart. It similarly justifies not being able to get the weapon Slipskulls use from their corpses by having it mounted onto their arm with metal bands. There's no obvious reason the Arc Cannon can't be recovered from Hardfang corpses, though -- it's just not there when you try. If you look closely, they literally vanish in a puff of smoke; no, there's no apparent reason why.
    • In the game's New Game+ mode, both the Slipskull weapons and the Arc Cannon are available to the player, alongside a couple of fancy new pieces of kit that you had no way of knowing existed. Of course, it might have been helpful to actually tell the player this at some point...
  • There was oh so much stuff lying in the background of the Resident Evil series. Most notably, you find a squad of dead soldiers in the sewers of RE2 with MP5s you cannot claim. Also, doesn't it seem odd that none of the hundreds of zombified police officers are carrying their sidearms or ammunition?
    • How about one of the farm tools that the Ganados were using as weapons. They just seem so much more effective than the knife...
    • In Separate Ways, Ada does eventually get the option of buying one of the crossbows that the enemies are always using on you.
    • Face it: Wesker's Samurai Edge would've been a nice spoil of war after facing him so many times in 5.
  • Ghost Recon lets you choose a set of weapons at mission start, but you can't use the weapons your enemies drop after you kill them. In Advanced Warfighter, you can at least scavenge the ammo out of them if they're the same caliber as one of your weapons.
  • Flash RPG MARDEK is released intermittently in chapter format, with items and stats impressively being carried over from chapter to chapter. Unfortunately,chapter 2 stacks you with staffs - Unusable Friendly Equipment because no one in the act can actually use staffs, no matter how good they are.
    • in Chapter 3, however, Gloria can wield them, making it more of a Chekhov's Gun
      • However, the actual trope is played straight, as a number of enemy characters wield weapons none of your characters can, including knives, walking sticks, and guns.
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery has moloch armor, occasionally dropped by one of the nastier enemies in the game. Technically wearable, but heavy enough to crush many characters to death, and it slows you to a crawl. Though the PV bonus it gives is admittedly nice.
  • A common staple in Nippon Ichi games, though considering everyone and their grandmother (sometimes coming up as a storypoint even) is portrayed as having Cthulhu-sacking prowess, it's generally accepted they simply annihilated the other person's equipment along with the entirety of the enemy. Which doesn't explain how it comes back when you get them revived at the hospital, but there you go. If you see something you like, you must either steal it with a special item (it doesn't have to be used by a thief, but it's much harder otherwise) or capture the enemy and take the items away.
    • The Disgaea games in particular have Geo Panels that can clone your characters - the clones are hostile and replicate the original exactly, down to the equipment. It is impossible to steal their equipment even with the specialty items listed above, and only a weapon in the third iteration has the potential to knock only one of those items off the enemy when they do die to it; if you could freely steal equipment from the enemy, it would (much sooner than usual) snap the game in half.
  • Wizardry games shows names of opponents' weapons, but those are just strings, not really equipped items and as such may or may not be reflected in loot. In Wizardry 7, T'Rangs poke Shock Rod, Stun Rod and Psi Rod into PC. Shock Rod has Drain (stamina) 20% in their hands and Drain 50% in PC's. Cool, but as a weapon it's mediocre. Stun Rod is Paralyze 65% Drain 35% for them, but only Paralyze 20% Drain 75% for PC (same damage as for weakest foe armed). Attacks with "Psi Rod" are even more dangerous, but... oops, no such equippable item in game. The same in Wizardry 8, with some numbers changed.
  • The Quest for Glory series was notorious for this trope. Even if you were equipped with only a dagger and leather armor, and you just killed dozens of enemies carrying scimitars, spears, maces, scale mail, shields, ball and chains, etc. they would invariably be too 'damaged' or 'worthless' for you to pick up, if the game even acknowledged their existence in the first place.
  • Megaman Zero 4 averted this. Zero's new weapon, the Z-Knuckle, is some kind of energized hand attachment which enables him to literally tear weapons off of enemies and use them himself. There's a huge variety of weapons and gadgets he can steal this way, but he can only use one at a time, and most of the projectile weapons have limited ammo (which a certain upgrade part can regenerate).
  • Eve Online mostly averts this. In the case of player ships, a subset of the gear that the killed player was using will drop, and can be used by anybody with sufficient skills and a capable ship. However, NPC drops are only loosely related to the equipment they may have been observed to use during the fight.
    • Played completely straight by Rogue Drones, which only ever drop crafting materials, and The Sleepers who never drop their overpowered armor plating, missiles, or beam cannons.
  • In Team Fortress 2, weapons dropped by enemies act like medium-size ammo boxes, giving you 50% ammo, 100 metal (Engineers), and 50% cloak (Spies). The exception to this is the Heavy's Sandvich, which restores health to the person that picks it up, the Scout's baseball, which can be used by other Scouts, and the Engineer's toolbox, which fills ammo completely.
    • However, you cannot actually obtain the items collected this way, as in have them in your inventory. While the weapon drop system renders this a non-issue, it would break the fandom apart if you could get a hat by simply collecting it off of a corpse. The game does make one exception though: killing someone currently wearing a Ghastly Gibus or any of it's variants would grant you a Gibus of your own, if you do not already own one.
  • 4X game series Space Empires, and possibly other games that use tech trees, allows you to capture enemy ships and study them for new tech. However if they have Ancient Ruins, or Racial, technology you can't use it because only empires with that tech tree have access to it. If you're lucky you might have found those ruins as well or are the same sort of race.
  • Averted very, very well in the PC game Siege of Avalon. You can strip dead enemies down to their underwear (and sometimes take that too, though this doesn't change the dead enemy model having underwear) if you feel like it, though actually carrying that equipment in your bag can be problematic due to a bag of limited size and only being able to wear so much stuff at once. The same items can be thrown on the ground (and stay there until you come back for them!) if you decide you don't actually want them, but they can't be put back on the corpses. Unfortunately. That could have been funny, dressing up a dead enemy whose people are on a religious rampage against everything your people have touched in your old clothes and a silly hat...
    • The engine of Neverwinter Nights allows for this as well; any equipment a humanoid enemy possessed can be flagged as droppable, and looting the armor or weapons of a dead enemy will actually remove it from the corpse's model. The official campaigns go back and forth on this; generally, the expansions are more likely to let you loot enemy equipment, but it varies from encounter to encounter. Unofficial modules, of course, can run with it any way the creator likes.
  • Browser-based nation simulation game Cybernations has a variant: when troops engage in ground battles, the winner loots the loser's equipment, which is instantly converted into money.
  • Averted with nearly all weapons in Dwarf Fortress, and the ones your dwarves can't use themselves can be used up to ten at a time in traps. Armour used to play it straighter, as dwarves couldn't wear any other race's armor, but now they can use goblin or elf armor (because all three are the same average size). Kobold and human armor is still unusable.
  • In City of Heroes, you can't pick up any enemy weapons, even when your character is using guns rather than shooting lightning out of their eyeballs. Which is a shame, since a lot of those guns look extremely cool. Fortunately, there are various unlockable skins avaliable for those with the Assault Rifle powerset, and for the rest of us one can sometimes get a chance to wield a gun through temporary powers with limited ammo.
    • This trope is especially noticeable when you consider how lacking in offense some Archetypes are, particularly in the early game. A low-damage type like an Earth/Empathy Controller, for instance, could certainly find use for that fire axe or sword no matter where they are in the game.
  • In designs made with Unlimited Adventures, by default, goblins and brigands and other humanoid enemies have a lot of items that they drop after death and that can be collected. However, this just means that after making short work of a gang of orcs, you are faced with a giant pile of useless items (some literally useless, like the basic helmet, which does not do anything at all) which, if picked up, will just encumber your PCs until you find a shop and sell them for tiny amounts of money (unless the design author turned up the prices to Game Breaker levels.)
  • Mass Effect 2: You can't pick up the guns from enemies, you must wait for the weapons to show up lying around on their own somewhere. Once you do find one, however, every character capable of using it gets their own copy.
    • In the PC version, you can mod the ini file to make enemy drop their weapon (noticeably the Heavy Machinegun from enemy Guard Mech), but the weapon will disappear after a while, in your hands, even if you are in the middle of using it to blast at enemies. It's also an incomplete and incredibly buggy feature, so enable it at your own peril. The YMIR gun is Awesome but Impractical, and most of the other guns aren't worth picking up.
  • In Dungeons and Dragons, many magic items are usable only by characters of a particular alignment (Good, Evil etc.), and generally players are opposed in alignment to their enemies. This prevents the use of some NPC item by player characters.
    • In 2nd Edition D&D the magic weapons of the Drow (underground evil elves) turn to dust after being exposed to sunlight. Drow equipment based on radiation magic works just like magically enhanced items, but neither needs to be actually enspelled nor can be disenchanted as common variety. This disintegration doesn't bother Drow themselves, as they raid surface rarely and only at night anyway.
    • In 3.5ed, PCs, especially Rogues and Bards can train the "Use Magic Device" skill and somehow use it to fake an alignment... or race... or class. Making such gear merely difficult to use.
    • On the other hand magical equipment in D&D generally tends to grow or shrink to fit the wearer "from halfling to ogre size", effectively eliminating the most realistic reason for a player being unable to use enemy equipment.
    • And now, in 4th Edition, holy symbols -- which used to be trinkets that did nothing but allow you to cast many of your divine spells -- are now as scalably powerful as any magic sword, suit of armor, etc. However, this mechanic highlights the edition's Gameplay and Story Segregation: it's not really a moral qualm for any good fighter or even paladin to wield a sword or wear armor with Spikes of Villainy, but now clerics are left the option of either upgrading to a defeated enemy's evil-deity-specific symbol to get a power boost (even though it wouldn't actually change their religion), keeping their old junk, or going through an hour-long ritual to convert the evil symbol into a sort of "raw magic" that will only go 1/5 of the way towards creating the good version of the same item.
      • Although this seems to be at best a matter of personal taste more than an actual instance of this trope -- 4E holy symbols are by all appearances functionally generic divine-caster implements in terms of game mechanics, and if you can use one by virtue of being the right class, you can use them all (though only one at a time, of course).
      • In cases where it came up in my game, the party just happened to know about a simple ritual that swapped holy symbol properties.
  • In the Tabletop RPG Deadlands: Hell On Earth, the Black Hats use vehicles and weaponry equipped with self-destruct devices that trigger if anyone without an identity chip tries to use them. Said chips are surgically implanted in the Black Hats, and naturally self-destruct if anyone tries to remove them.
  • Generally averted in Borderlands. Not every enemy drops their gun, but it IS a common occurrence. As each gun has many randomly generated elements, and some rare guns have distinct effects, you can get a hint or even know outright what weapon the enemy will drop when you kill them. Characters cannot equip armor (Besides a personal energy shield, which DO drop from every shielded enemy) however, and therefore you can never take the armor worn by enemies such as the Crimson Lance.
  • In Pitfall The Lost Expedition, Harry passes by crates full of TNT throughout the game and is assaulted by enemies that throw it. You cannot use it yourself until a friendly character hands you some during a cutscene late in the game.
  • Justified in Iji, where part of the reason many later enemies explode is to stop enemies taking their weapons. You can also partially avoid this by hacking them so they still leave some/more ammo though.
  • In Assassin's Creed games, neither Altaïr nor Ezio can use the bows archers drop. Brotherhood continues the proud tradition with the new crossbow- and arquesbus-users, though you can loot their ammo for Ezio's use.
    • On the other hand, you can snatch enemy melee weapons almost at will. While usually their weapons aren't anything special, spears can be thrown and be used to disable large groups of enemies with a singe spin.
  • Scarface the World Is Yours. A 'boss' in the last level can and will spam you with rockets if you have bad luck. Once you nuetralize him, only one rocket is available for use despite the territory you must cover from then on. In the majority of the game, weapons can be looted and tossed in the back of special cars. See how many chainsaws you can collect?
  • In Resonance of Fate, you can't pick up any of the guns from dead human enemies. You'd probably want to -- their handguns do about 100 times more damage than yours and they have shotguns and assault rifles which you can't get at all -- but they all vanish with the enemies when they die. Some large enemies will drop weapons, but they're broken and not human-usable anyway so they can only be used for Item Crafting (how the Tinkerer manages to make tank-sized weapons into normal gun parts, in such a way that you can disassemble the gun parts and get the tank weapons back is left unexplained).
  • In Knights of the Old Republic and its sequels, loot is randomized and somewhat rare. This means that you cannot take the blasters the enemy was just using against you. More ridiculously, it also means that an enemy may drop an item they obviously aren't even carry, such as Dark Jedi dropping blaster rifles.
  • Averted to a degree in Deus Ex. The game seems to be inconsistent at times about whether the guy you just stunned/kill will drop ammunition or grenades, for example, but almost everyone and their dog seems to have spare combat knives on hand, whether or not they pulled one on you. Very rarely do you get to actually scavenge a proper firearm, at least early on.
  • Mostly averted in Final Fantasy XI, as many beastmen that you fight use weapons and shields that actually have the same texture models as player-usable equipment. On the other hand, some beastmen dropped items, such as the Quadav Helm, explicitly say that playable characters cannot wear them, and are generally either used for Twenty Bear Asses quests or for synthesis materials.
  • Played straight in Rainbow Six (or at least the earlier games), although justified. In addition to practical reasons listed above, most missions require suppressed weapons, which the bad guys rarely have. No ammo drops either, as enemies rarely use the same ammo, and when they do, it's generally a non-compatible magazine style. Annoyingly, (unless I'm mistaken) you can't get ammo off from your fallen comrades either, even if they are using the same weapons. Made slightly more annoying since there are no One Bullet Clips.
  • Some Monster Rancher games have unusuable enemy monsters. In 2, there was a series of wild monsters whom you could fight and obtain cards for, but never own. In 4, in addition to your rivals having monsters you can't, several of the game's bosses are actually old monster species from past games--with proper movesets, even, although you're still not allowed to use them. In EVO, this gets downright silly, as some of the enemy monsters are perfectly normal things you could theoretically get, but aren't allowed to. For example, a Piroro/Gitan crossbreed--it's an opposing monster, and Piroro and Gitan are in the game, but you're not allowed to fuse them.
  • The playable characters in Undercover Cops cannot wield knives, bottles, bats, or axes. This is kinda justified considering they can all shoot energy beams and wield weapons 2 or 3 times their size.
  • The World War II Medal of Honor games, such as Medal Of Honor Frontline, prevent the player from picking up weapons from enemies. This is usually for gameplay purposes: the player would either have no need for the weapon (like a K98 bolt-action rifle) because superior ones are available in large numbers, or the enemies all carry the same guns as the player and simply provide ammo. However, almost all enemies will still drop ammunition for American weapons, suggestion that either the M1 Garand is able to chamber both .30-06 and 7.92mm Mauser, or that the K98s are all loaded with .30-06 rounds.
  • A non-videogame example is the Lawgiver from Judge Dredd. The gun is encoded to fire only when its registered user pulls the trigger. Any attempts by anyone else results in the loss of a limb by way of a small explosive charge. Of course, it is possible to override this function in an emergency, as Senior Judges have access to instructions on how to do this.
  • In Minecraft, Zombie Pigmen's gold swords and Skeleton's bows would once never drop upon their deaths. The 1.2 patch made these items Rare Drops, with a chance for these weapons being enchanted.
  • White Knight Chronicles and its sequel revolve around a quintet of five 20 foot-tall suits of living armor known as Incorrupti. Each Incorruptus has its own human pactmaker--four of them are full-time members of the player's party, and the fifth is the Big Bad (Wannabe). But one of those four is a Sixth Ranger Traitor, who's hiding the fact that their Inccoruptus is the evil Black Knight. Its a poorly kept secret, even in-game, yet gameplay-wise the game treats it like the character in question just doesn't have an Incorruptus at all.
  • Sword of the Stars got Boarding Pods and the ability to capture enemy ships in an Expansion Pack. But the captured ships will inexplicably vanish after the battle is over so you can't use their (possibly superior) technology.
  • One of the more interesting Real Life examples was the Russian habit of deliberately building railroads at a different guage then the rest of Europe. This was to prevent them being used by invaders.
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