Two guns, one MMO: Why dual wielding continues to appeal

If one is good, two must be twice as good, right? Doesn’t always apply to all situations, but it seems true enough for MMO weapons. Generally, implements of death in online games come in one of three varieties:

  1. A single, oversized weapon
  2. Two of the same smaller weapons, one held in each hand
  3. A stat stick that looks pretty and must never be thwocked on the noggin of an enemy

As of late, I’ve really been gravitating toward classes that hold two pistols in games. My KOTOR 2 hero is a double-blaster Jedi, my SWTOR Gunslinger is the same (sans Force powers), my playthrough Illuminati in The Secret World had dual pistols, and my Guild Wars 2 Engineer has twin NES Zappers at the ready.

One of my very first MMO characters was an Adventurer in Anarchy Online, a class that used two pistols and could also turn into a dragon (presumably the dragon didn’t go around with dual pistols because that would be too metal even for MMORPGs). If I ever went back to WildStar right now, I’d probably go with the Spellslinger, which is a remarkably neat class except for its disrupt mechanic (I don’t like blinking around the place).

And I know it’s terribly cliché to have a hero dual wielding pistols, because that’s like every action movie ever. It’s one of those things that projects an unstoppable talented machine of death while avoiding the truth that anyone doing this in real life would miss pretty much anything they were trying to kill. Otherwise we’d have cops and troops running around with dual pistols (come to think of it, wasn’t this the premise of Hot Fuzz?). But sometimes things are cool and appealing for a reason, and right now this fits my playstyle appetite.

I love running and gunning with twin guns. I’m OK to trade off the accuracy and range of, say, a rifle if I have the option, because two pistols looks better and can often offer faster fire. It makes the game feel more dynamic and exciting while giving me the option to blast away from a distance. And many of the classes mentioned have additional abilities that add flavor and complexity to what could just be really boring pew-pewing.

Maybe this is the silly boy in me, but I still haven’t gotten tired of this weapon setup. For me, it’s the combination of three elements that make twin pistols so enjoyable: the wicked look, the ranged gameplay, and the mental fantasy of playing a gunslinger in different environments. It’s amusing to me that I’ve played such characters in fantasy, contemporary, and futuristic MMOs, which speaks to the widespread appeal that dual pistols has with devs and players.

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7 thoughts on “Two guns, one MMO: Why dual wielding continues to appeal

  1. Dobablo May 8, 2017 / 9:45 am

    Cultural counterpoint. cf RoboCop.
    Murphy goes guns-akimbo and dies.
    Robocop uses a single hand-canon.
    The RoboCop – Prime Directives miniseries makes a point of the new RoboCop having ungraded tracking software that lets him duel-wield handguns.

  2. Isey May 8, 2017 / 9:46 am

    I did love the Witch Hunter in Warhammer with one pistol and sword. Still dual wielding, but a twist. I would love to see a single pistol setup option. Would work well in a western themed MMO…..

  3. Geldarion May 8, 2017 / 9:47 am

    Definitely my thoughts as well. Dual slinging is the best, and I think our in-game choices have been mirrored in those games. I think it is because all of those classes in their feel also hearken back to the Wild West fantasy, to the gunslingers of yore, even though they didn’t dual wield, themselves. It also could be the influence of Japanese culture, since the samurai was like the gunslinger that was its contemporary, but it frequently had paired weapons.

  4. Bhagpuss May 8, 2017 / 11:58 am

    I like something with a continuous beam you can sweep around like a firehose. I use greatsword on my mesmer and staff on my druid for exactly that reason although they are both horrifically inefficient. I’ve always loved channeling attacks in MMOs.

    I did use dual pistols on my first engineer but my second and third both use rifles.

  5. Ocho May 8, 2017 / 1:10 pm

    Me, too! If dual pistols is offered, I’m usually one to play that. My TSW character was dual pistol/elementalism. My GW2 character rolls with a scepter, which is the closest thing to a pistol that an elementalist can wield.

    STO has dual pistols, too, but they’re always an “expose” weapon and giving the captain anything other than an “exploit” weapon (and give your BO’s exposes) feels like the “wrong” choice.

  6. Cobweb Wood May 9, 2017 / 2:10 am

    Mythbusters says it isn’t as bad as you think 🙂

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