Poll Question 174 – How do you feel about starting a mod with no weapons?

28th May 2010

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

In the HunterVille mapping competition, one of the “Honourable Mentions” starts without a weapon. Unfortunately I didn´t find the crowbar the author placed near the beginning, so I had to struggle through until I found another one (It was right next to me, so it was completely my fault!)

At the beginning I was incredibly frustrated, but that frustration turned to motivation quite quickly. I knew I must have missed something but I wanted to see if I could still finish the map. FYI, if you throw a desktop computer at a headcrab enough times you can kill it.

The whole episode got me thinking about how I feel when I start a mod with no weapon.

On the one hand, I like it because right from the start I am on the defensive. I can´t go running around without being careful just in case I run into an enemy. I also get a sense of achievement if I find a weapon that has been hidden.

On the other hand, not having a weapon changes the way I view the mod and mostly that is a negative view. I hate not having a weapon, because it goes against the reason for my playing of the mod. I got incredibly frustrated playing Minerva when you lose your weapons for a while.

If I had the choice, I would start with the gravity Gun and a few items I could use to defend myself, that at least would make me more confident in exploring without feeling a need to skulk around.

I would be interested to here the opinions of both players and mappers for this question.

The Poll


  1. Hehe, I like mods without weapons 🙂 My mod doesn’t have weapons too actually. So, yeah, it’s cool.

    This no weapons thing mostly works for horror games though. Like you said it makes you go defensive and you’re ready to be scared, goodie.

  2. SPY

    amazing that untill now most people have choosen the option of Don’t mind as answer, but this pole just begun, so this can change.

    i did answer I don’t like it, simply because I like action, a lot of it, with weapons. still, this said I have to admit that our newest sp-mod Final Project also starts without having a weapon. but, you get one before you can get done any harm. so it’s more a cosmettic messure so to speak. personaly I hate it to have to proceed through a map with enemies without a weapon, what looks to me like a stealth mappart then, and I HATE thealth !! but that’s just personal like I said.
    am interted to hear what other think of this subject, always interesting to hear for me as a mapper.


  3. What a horrible idea. I definitely do mind.
    For me, the whole point of HL2 is to attack or defend against the odds.
    What are we supposed to use instead? Harsh language!

    1. MNM

      Well both HL and HL2 starts this way…

      1. But a game is a lot longer than 99% of maps.

        1. MNM

          True, but just because it’s shorter you expect any and all non-shooting-at-people-time(Technical term time!) to be stripped away?

          1. No course not, but because it’s longer you don’t always have to get straight into the action they way action mods have to.

            1. MNM

              Ahh but why couldn’t the non-action be at the start instead of later on? Unless you’re an actionfreak that needs explosions within 3 seconds of starting a mod or else you quit of course^^

  4. m.anderson

    Story and mood above all boys.

  5. bobdog

    If it is intentional, I would hope the author would make note somehow, even some on-screen text, that says you need to sneak past your foes. Unfortunately, stealth does not work particularly well for the HL series (anyone remember the infamous stealth part of “The Gate”?). That said, a large percentage of maps have you start without weapons, but generally you find one right before your first enemy.

    I think what is perhaps MORE effective is when you must start without the HEV suit, so you have no idea how much damage you’re taking. Several recent maps have gone for some extended periods without the suit, and that definitely makes you much more cautious. (Another poll, perhaps?)

  6. Rikersbeard

    Starting a mod weapon less is fine if you do not need them. Maybe it is a long puzzle section or a non-combat mod so this would be fine. But I think you should always start with a basic melee weapon where you can, at the very least, attempt to defend yourself and smash open boxes or barricades. Sometimes you are meant to find weapons in game, but if you miss them you end up dying over and over again, which can be extremely frustrating. Then you are forced to look for walkthroughs or vids to help you, or cheat through the consol. Diminishing your enjoyment of a new mod from the very start is not the best experience……
    I voted ” I don’t like it” mainly for combat mods.

    Starting with the gravity gun could be nice but I feel it is to powerful, unless you start with some heavy combat.

  7. CrowbarSka

    I kept weapons from the player during the starting scenes of Union to make them feel more vulnerable. Several of my playtesters said it worked. As long as you don’t throw too much at the player and still give them a reasonable chance of survival, while still threatening them enough to make them feel fear, it can have a great effect.

  8. I said “I don’t like it”, even though I don’t mind–if it’s for a short time, etc. If I don’t find one soon, though, I may not pay attention to things around me as much as I should, because I’m looking for my crowbar! (Other weapons are acceptable, too.)

    In Eye of the Storm I missed most of the Breenetta-cast because I was looking for weapons (and suit?).

  9. This poll is relevant to my interests, as the mod I have planned will only ever get the gravity gun (and one specialty weapon), and for a significant portion of the game not even have any weapon at all, specifically requiring the player to use environmental hazards and play enemies against enemies in order to survive.

    1. I think I should add that it depends on how the mod is introduced and “taught” for how the player is going to react to not having weapons.

      When the player starts a mod out with no weapons, there is a basic assumption that if there are enemies showing up, that there will be a weapon somewhere needed to deal with them. If a weapon isn’t present in this case, the initial impression is that the weapon was hidden somewhere and the player missed it. (and the even more initial assumption that the mod author is stupid for even allowing you to miss the weapon that you need to deal with the enemies)

      However this can be addressed (i hope) with scenes that show these enemies being handled without weapons. For instance: a headcrab attack is timed so it will be triggered while you are waist deep in water. (and that traveling through that waist deep water is the only way to advance through the map) Even though you don’t have any weapons, since you are in the water when the headcrab attacks, it will fall into the water after its attack, drown and die, prompting you as to a method of how you can deal with any future headcrab encounters.

      Part of the reason why Half Life has been such an enjoyable series is because of how well the route the player is supposed to take is communicated to the player. Doors that don’t open at all are usually left purely as textures and lack handles that can be moved. Invisible walls are generally only used in areas that the player shouldn’t even be able to get to without cheating and will generally SHOW that a path is obstructed by filling it with junk and debris. Because of this subtle communication, the player starts following that path without even being consciously aware of it, which keeps the linear nature of the game from being obvious at all.

  10. well “Research and Developement” mod had no weapons as such on the start of it, with only the bug bait. I enjoyed that. so I guess it depends how the mod or map is set up.

  11. jgoodroad

    If you think about it, when you don’t have a weapon, you don’t have to fight anything, which is why I go on the alert when I get a weapon…more so if it is a powerful one (like an smg…or a rpg) and less so if it is a crowbar, most maps are linear so If you end up fighting combine without a proper weapon it means you missed something, or your suspost to run past them.

  12. Pyro

    I personally like it. It makes it a lot more fun, because you have to explore and look around more, as opposed to just straight up running & gunning.

  13. unknown

    If it is done properly, I think a mod is a lot more successful if the player starts off with no weapons or a very weak weapon such as the crowbar. The crowbar offers limited protection but is useful in terms of smashing open crates and tearing down most crude, wooden obstacles that stand in your way.
    On the other hand, having no ballistics in your arsenal takes away the luxury of distance when fighting an enemy, which makes any encounter a lot more personal and leaves the player feeling more vulnerable. While we kill most enemies we encounter in traditional Half-Life games, the event of running from the enemy rather than killing it should be part of the gameplay.
    Since Half-Life 2 does not have any enemies like the Gargantua, it is impossible to create a scenario where the player has weapons, yet is defenseless against the enemy. In Half-Life 1, the player is forced to turn around and run, when encountering the Gargantua, in spite of having numerous rifles and explosives. In some cases, the only way to defeat the Gargantua was to use the environment’s help (Rail Power Generator, Airstrike Controls).
    The only way to recreate something like this in Half-Life 2 is by giving the player only a crowbar. This forces the player to think carefully and avoid the stronger enemies in the game. It no longer places Gordon on top of the food chain, and makes the game a lot more suspenseful.

  14. samzala

    wow, I certainly did not see this coming when I made the map

  15. Kyouryuu

    Another option, rather than denying the player weapons outright, is to pair them with weapons that are ineffective against the threat. For example, if you enter into an area with a Pistol or Crowbar and a Strider bursts through the wall, you’re not going to stick around to fight it. You’re going to run away.

    The same is true of most of the “boss” type enemies in the game. Even if they could be taken by small arms fire (I don’t think they can), you ultimately control how much ammo is available.

  16. Zekiran

    I think that while I don’t mind at all, in fact I think it’s fun to find the weapons as you go, what more matters is that whatever you have on you – or don’t have, as the case may be – is in-story accurate.

    Dumping a player directly into battle, or with a squad and such, I would certainly expect them to have weapons. “Waking up” somewhere, I would not expect them to.

    So each mod / map should be treated differently, I think. For my part I think sometimes when a mod starts out and you have stuff on you already, it implies too much. Also that it kind of takes away from the exploration aspect of some maps, if you’ve got everything you need to go kill stuff and don’t need to bother with looking around.

  17. Absolutely the way it should be. You should work for your weapons. No weapons for free, except the crowbar. The obvious exceptions would be short maps and gauntlet and arena type maps. All this is contingent upon the author having enough time to incorporate a weaponless start into his/her mod.

  18. eXeC

    The mod I code for starts the player with no weapons. The initial melee weapon is very prominent and it is impossible to progress to an area with enemies without the weapon, this stops gameplay problems.

  19. Berrie

    As always with these kind of polls it depends on the circumstances.

    It’s a great way to bring tension to the situation. Forcing you to run away or rethink the way you solve a situation. But it needs to be made clear and presented properly.

    I choose; I like it, because a lot of mods start out that way.

  20. Supercancer

    It all depends on what the map/mod is about. If it’s a small map/mod that has already given you a “briefing” in it’s description, then I think you should have weapons. However, if the mod/map intends to follow a storyline, then I don’t think you should start with any weapons. I like receiving weapons in places that you would expect to find them.

    Take “The Citizen” for example, you can receive one of the crowbars in an emergency cabinet. It’s set pieces like those that give me a better grasp of survival than if I were to find a bunch of guns scattered on a kitchen table.

  21. Michal

    I like it. I like the way original game or add-ons start even in mods.
    PS: LOL – killing headcrab by throwing things on him by hand

  22. I had to say no to no weapons, I notice that enemies can kick at you or hit you, but you as the player do not have that option. The ability to at least punch some one out you’re up against would be cool.

  23. Anon_250669

    i dont mine in 1187 I start with no weapons its still awesome

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