Say what you want about peering down the scope or iron sights of a rifle and carefully lining up that perfect headshot. It can be rewarding. But sometimes, you’re too lazy or impatient for that. Sometimes, you just want to rush in, get up close, vaguely aim in a foe’s general direction and see him fly across the room. In that case, the shotgun has been scratching that particular itch ever since Doom lit up computer screens in 1993.
In this list, we’ll be counting down the 10 most satisfying-to-use shotguns to grace the realm of shooters. Factors include overall damage and range, the weapon’s visual design and animation, its general sense of kickback and bloodletting, and ragdoll physics, among others. Without further ado, let’s pop in some buckshots and get right into it!
10. Quad-Barrel Shotgun (Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon)
When you’re creating a homage of 80’s action cinema, you’d better include one heck of a shotgun. Thankfully, Ubisoft’s recent downloadable hit Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon brought the goods when it came to a stylish scattergun. Once fully upgraded, the shotgun sported not one or two, but four barrels, as well as incendiary rounds. Even the animations for the shotgun are superb, as Rex Colt brandishes the weapon by resting it on his forearm.
Unfortunately, as cool as the shotgun looked and sounded, it just didn’t provide that much visual impact. Enemies and wildlife would usually just slump to the ground when shot, which probably has more to do with Far Cry 3’s base physics and collision engine. It’s what keeps this shotgun from ranking higher on this list, though it’s definitely a powerful and sleek weapon nonetheless.
9. Red Faction Shotgun (Red Faction Armageddon)
At first glance, Armageddon’s shotgun doesn’t seem all that special. It shoots, it does good damage at close range, and its ammo consists of shells. YAAAAAAWWWNNN. Next, please.
Well, that’s where you’d be wrong, because once you use this gun for an extended period of time. Everything just clicks. Literally. Pretty soon, the game’s generous auto-aim, combined with the plentitude of alien enemies and the squishy sense of impact you get when blasting them away, all make for a stimulating shotgun spree. No joke; the fluid ‘snap’ of the auto-aim followed by the crunchy ‘blam’ of your shotgun can be truly addicting, as evidenced by the game’s relentless horde mode.
8. AA-12 (Spec Ops: The Line)
(Skip ahead to 7:40 in the video to see it in action)
This one’s awesomeness may have been accidental. When players first picked up the AA-12 in Spec Ops: The Line, they probably expected a formidable but restrained automatic shotgun. What they actually got was a gun that could kill most enemies in one hit, could be fired and reloaded with startling speed, could turn a foe’s head into something resembling a crushed tomato, and was effective at unthinkable distances. As a result, it was hard to let go of, and each time it ran out of ammo and needed to be swapped, gamers shed a silent tear.
It was also hard to escape the thought that the weapon was probably the result of some unfinished weapon testing and balancing. So yes, Spec Ops: the Line’s AA-12 may just be an overpowered weapon amid an otherwise balanced arsenal. But hey, when it’s this much fun to use, we’re not complaining. Listening to Mogwai’s heavy metal riffs in the background was just icing on the cake.
7. Blitz Cannon (Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando)
The Ratchet and Clank series will never have any problem with going onstage at a Weapons Award Ceremony and walking away with some sort of trophy. Fortunately, this extends to shotguns as well, with the Blitz Cannon from Going Commando being a notable highlight.
An upgraded version of the Blitz Gun, the Blitz Cannon didn’t just look real cool with its bulky design, but was also a formidable weapon in its own right. Able to take you through pretty much the entire game, it’s heavy and rapid blasts collided with enemies in a gratifying way and often sent them flying upon death. Blitzkrieg Bop, indeed.
6. Hydra Shotgun (Resident Evil 5)
If Resident Evil 5 downplayed its series’ horror roots by setting its levels during the day and giving you a co-op partner, then it utterly obliterated them by giving you this beast of a shotgun.
Attainable once you fully upgraded the M23, this triple-barrel shotgun could itself be upgraded numerous times. It cost a hell of a lot to do so, but once fully powered, you could utterly decimate the zombie horde. Even boss enemies didn’t stand much of a chance, and although it didn’t carry as many rounds as some of the game’s other shotguns, it’s raw power more than made up for the fact.
5. Sawed-Off Shotgun (Doom II)
One must never forget the classics, and indeed, Doom II’s sawed-off double-barrel shotgun laid the groundwork for all high-powered scatter-blasters to come. Arguably one of the game’s biggest new additions at the time, it’s high damage output was capable of laying waste to even some of the game’s toughest demons, and it could clear multiple enemies from a crowded hallway.
However, one of its neatest features was its balance in comparison to the original single-barreled shotgun. Three times as powerful but also burning through twice as much as ammo and having half the fire rate, there was a legitimate choice to be made when it came to using this new shotgun as opposed to the old one. It’s something that added a bit of depth to the game, and a very similar system would later be used by the Serious Sam games.
4. SP12 (Hitman: Blood Money)
How ironic that a game emphasizing stealth happens to have one of the most satisfying shotguns in gaming. The SP12, known in real life as the Spas-12, was a devastating weapon in Hitman: Blood Money. Pretty much a guaranteed kill at close range, the weapon also had a respectable clip size and relatively speedy reload rate.
However, the ensuing ragdoll physics after firing said gun was the true reason it was so fun to use. Enemies would be hurled across the room almost every time, which never ceased to put a smile on players’ faces. It wasn’t concealable and therefore had to be found in a hidden briefcase within the level, but that only made eventually letting loose with it feel even more rewarding. In a game where patience is required to perform at the absolute best, it’s always great to have stress reliever to fall back upon.
3. Boneduster (Bulletstorm)
We’ve come to a point in the gaming industry where simply ejecting shrapnel at high velocities just won’t cut it. No, we need shotguns that don’t just send folks flying, they must also separate a fellow’s top half from his bottom half.
That’s where the Bonduster shotgun from Bulletstorm comes in. Dismemberment is all well and good, but the gun can also spew incinerating rounds as a form of secondary fire and can even be used to friggin’ juggle people in the air. The various achievable skillshots, combo opportunities and leaderboards in the game meant that the Boneduster kept shotgun fans busy for a good while.
2. Bob Hollinger’s “Mean Ass Shotgun” (Call of Juarez: Gunslinger)
When Silas Greaves enters the Sherrif’s office in the second level of Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, and the camera pans over to Bob Hollinger’s shotgun on the wall with a resulting comic book style cutscene showcasing it, you know that thing means business. And when you then pick it up and use it to nail the fellow coming down the stairs behind you, any lingering suspicions are instantly washed away.
Featuring a thunderous boom and some absolutely bloody kill effects, Hollinger’s “mean ass shotgun” effortlessly earns its name and is easily one of the most satisfying shotguns to ever grace a TV or computer screen. It’s devastating. It’s heavy. It’s loud. It would look great mounted on a fireplace. What more could you want?
1. Flak Cannon (Unreal Tournament 2004)
Let’s say your answer to that last question was “one whose shrapnel can bounce off walls”. In that case, this inventive weapon from the Unreal Tournament series of multiplayer shooters for you. Coming in at the number one spot, the Flak Cannon.
It’s not that this gun has a gratifying sense of impact (although it does), or that it looks incredibly slick and has traceable projectiles (it also does). It’s the way that the wall-bouncing shots completely open up the possibilities. Zig-zag your shots down a hallway to keep other players guessing. Nab a guy from around the corner. Shoot into an elevated room you can’t see into and let the flak cannon do its magic. Coupled with a grenade launcher as a form of secondary fire, the Flak Cannon has proven time and time again to be one of the most imaginative and deep weapons in a series known for imaginative and deep weapons. Never before has a shotgun been so satisfying to use while also being so innovative, and that’s exactly why the Flak Cannon tops this list.
Alas, there are so many great shotguns out there that we there were bound to be some worthy contenders that came just shy of making this list. Below are some honorable mentions of shotguns that we left out, but are nonetheless powerful, beautiful(ly efficient) and useful components of their respective game’s arsenal.
- Left 4 Dead
- Gears of War
- Half-life 2
- Devil May Cry 3
- Serious Sam series
- Call of Duty: Black Ops
- Ratchet and Clank series
- Uncharted series
- Resistance series
- Tomb Raider (2013)
Which video game shotguns are your favorites? Let us know, and keep your sights on Kaboom Shark for more features to come!