One Bullet Clips

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One thing that videogames have come to acknowledge is that if you have three hundred rounds for your pistol, you can't just shoot it three hundred times without a break, since most weapons aren't belt-fed. Today, almost all games with firearms require a reload period while an animation shows the player character removing the previous magazine and inserting a new one. So now it's totally realistic, right? Um, well...

...Try just shooting one round in a videogame, then reloading. The animation will show your character removing a magazine from the gun, often dropping it or even throwing it away in the process, and loading a new one. But the number of rounds you have available for reloading will go down by just one. Moreover, even if the magazine is retained during the reload animation, you'll never load a magazine and find it's that same one with one cartridge missing; instead, your remaining ammunition is treated as if you're carrying it in the form of single-round stripper clips that are invisibly consolidated into as many full magazines as possible, with ammo from discarded mags magically returning to your stock. It's almost like the FPS Elves take a break from sweeping up spent brass and plastering over bullet holes to climb into your webbing and sort your ammo out for you.

Another thing that is rarely simulated is chambered rounds; usually when a magazine-fed closed-bolt weapon is reloaded without being empty, a round will remain in the chamber from the previous magazine. This will mean after reloading you'll have a full magazine plus an "extra" round in the chamber; generally in a game the chambered round is ignored to allow for a Dramatic Gun Cock which would be pointless in reality since save for empty reloads the gun will never have stopped being cocked.

At the extreme end of the spectrum, if the rounds are visible during the animation but not loaded one at a time (as with, for example, a revolver speedloader) lazy programming could mean the player is treated to the curious sight of a reload where they insert more rounds into the gun than they actually have.

On the other hand, if you scavenge a weapon or ammo off of the enemy, you will typically find at most one magazine of ammunition to go with it (an exception is when you just swapped it for another, when you might get a more generous starting amount). However many shots he might have fired at you, it seems he was down to his last magazine (or frequently half magazine) when he died; this is even the case if his in-game model shows him to be carrying a whole unspent belt of ammunition draped across his body or a bandolier full of spare magazines and grenades. Apparently the Mooks have Bottomless Magazines, but they only work for them.

This tends to be a Rule of Fun thing; manually consolidating ammo between half-empty magazines wouldn't exactly be entertaining, and while it potentially makes reloading a more complex decision than "press button when not shooting," having half-magazines lost completely or remembered doesn't exactly fit the style of a more arcade-y shooter. Obviously, this trope doesn't apply to weapons that are manually loaded with single shots such as RPGs, and typically also doesn't apply to weapons with internal magazines that are loaded with single rounds like shotguns, though sometimes the latter use a fixed-length reload animation no matter how many rounds are actually being put into the gun.

Examples of One Bullet Clips include:

Played Straight[edit | hide | hide all]

Action Adventure[edit | hide]

  • In Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Nathan Drake's reload animation for the Moss 12 pump-action shotgun always shows him loading three shells and pumping.

First-Person Shooter[edit | hide]

  • Almost all FPS games except the ones near the classic end of FPS realism scale (with no reloading) and a handful near the realistic end of the scale. Half Life, Halo, Doom 3, Call of Duty, the Medal of Honor series, FEAR, the list goes on. The classic exception is any game featuring the M1 Garand; this is Truth in Television to an extent, as the weapon is tricky to unload while under fire and typically US soldiers were instructed to fire off the rest of the en-bloc clip rather than do so.
  • Particularly aggravating in Call of Duty - the game actively encourages the player to abuse this trope, by increasing the reload time of every weapon in the game when empty (except for some reason United Offensive's Gewehr 43 and World at War's M1 Garand and M1919 Browning, which all reload faster when empty, though the M1 Garand's case makes sense). There is an additional step involved in reloading if the chamber is empty (you have to pull the charging handle/slide back, then release it to chamber a new round), on the other hand, you aren't considered to have an extra bullet to fire since you now have a chambered round and a full magazine... many games ignore this fact and have only one animation for reloading any given weapon, typically showing the player character rack the charging handle after inserting the new magazine (even if there's still a round in the chamber, which would eject a perfectly good bullet from the gun in real life) or, worse, simply replacing the magazine and leaving the 'chamber a new round' step out entirely.
    • Also particularly ridiculous in Call of Duty Black Ops, as when reloading the Python (a 6-chamber revolver) your character is clearly shown taking all six bullets/shells and taking them all out of the chamber at the same time, regardless of how many shots out of six, and then only loading as many bullets as had been fired. Every other revolver in the series partially avoided this by using speedloaders, which the Python can also use in multiplayer with the correct attachment.
    • The first two games are actually somewhat schizophrenic about this trope. The bolt-action weapons all follow these rules except for the Lee-Enfield, which can only be manually reloaded if there are five or less bullets left in it. Additionally, the BAR in 1, along with the Bren, Gewehr 43, and SVT-40 in 2, do not have alternate reload animations for emptying the magazine.
    • Call of Duty: World At War mostly follows this, with one exception. When using the Double-Barreled Shotgun, you may reload after firing only one shell. If you do, the reloading animation will show you blocking the other shell with your thumb while shaking the spent shell out.
    • Shotguns that are loaded one shell at a time in this series go to both extremes - the pump-action ones are always pumped at the end of a reload no matter how many shells are loaded, while the automatic ones (excluding the SPAS-12 in Black Ops) leave the chambering step out entirely.
  • In Half-Life, this is Handwaved as a function of the HEV suit. It's also guilty of the "reload more visible rounds than you have" bit with the revolver, but not the shotgun - it actually reloads faster if you have shells already loaded, and its reload cycle can be interrupted between shells (both essential anti-zombie features).
    • Half-Life does accurately handle the chambered round in one case: when reloading a non-empty Glock 17, the chambered round is kept for a total of 18 shots rather than the supposed maximum of 17. Also, the slide does not retract if the Glock is reloaded in this way, whereas it does if the gun is emptied prior to reloading it. This is not the case for the USP from Half-Life 2, however - the slide will always magically lock back at the start of a reload.
  • Similar to the Call of Duty one above, Left 4 Dead applied a similar mechanic to the Auto Shotgun. If you had just one round in the gun before you started to reload, you performed the standard animation. If you reloaded from empty, your character took an extra second to cock the gun. Justified in that you need to chamber a round in the gun before firing and the "auto" part took over. It dips back into Fridge Logic territory again in the sequel, though, where both Tier 2 shotguns will do the cocking animation regardless of how many rounds are left in the gun, but the animation can be interrupted to fire the gun, eliminating the drawback.
    • Every other gun however follows this trope, excluding the pump shotgun in the first game and the pistols in the second.
    • Left 4 Dead actually averted this before the first patch, as reloading magazine-loaded weapons early would result in the rest of the magazine being lost. This granted a huge advantage to the shotguns, and was quickly patched out.
  • In Team Fortress 2, picking up fallen enemy's weapons instantly gives you half your max ammo capacity back. This is considerably odd since someone can pick up a half broken glass bottle and receive more bullets.
    • Indeed, the original Team Fortress had several types of dropped ammo, and you could even pick up ammo you could not use. This resulted in an annoying shuffle where teammates had to swap ammo to make the most of it. And if you just killed an enemy that doesn't use the same types of ammo as you do, tough luck.
    • Spies can recharge their cloaking devices by picking up the aforementioned baseball bats and bottles. Engineers can also build sentry guns from them.
    • The Scout's Force-A-Nature has a 2-round capacity, and if you reload after only firing one shot, you lose the other one. This is definitely intended by Valve, as an attribute in the game files sets "scattergun no reload single" to 1.
    • It was mentioned in an Ubercharged article that all the classes have a miniature ammo factory somewhere on them that automatically converts ammo.
      • And now with the Scout's new weapon, The Holy Mackerel, that factory can now process dead fish as well.
      • But you can't get ammo or metal from dropped hats, even though they were crafted out of enough metal to build 36+ guns.
  • The Firearms mod for Half-Life averts this. Partially-empty magazines are still partially empty if the player reloads them. Shotgun reloads can be interrupted after each shell. Most guns retain a round in the chamber if reloaded while there is still one round in the magazine; exceptions are programmed in specifically in the cases where the weapon's real-world counterpart would not behave that way (revolvers; Sterling submachine gun). In the case of the revolvers, there is a distinct reload animation for each of the possible number of shots fired: if reloading only two bullets, the character would place a thumb over the remaining four to keep them in their chambers. The empty chambers were then reloaded one at a time, and the reload could be canceled partway through, similar to the shotgun. The mod's motto, after all, was that it's all about the guns. Its successor, Firearms: Source, has done away with certain features such as magazine merging which was not seen as adding anything to gameplay.
  • Crysis can't make up its mind, magazine-fed weapons realistically have the +1 statistic and faster reloads if they aren't completely empty. At the same time, magazines are filled from the reserve and not individually tracked.
    • On the other hand, enemies DO have limited ammo, often falling back on their sidearms if they use up their assault rifle rounds. You also get more ammunition if you kill the enemy before he can get off too many shots.
  • Halo follows this trope to the letter. Maybe the MC stores his magazines/grenades/reserve weapon (in H1) inside his suit, which also contains a universal speedloader, it's the only logical explanation.
    • Lampshaded by some marines in the game, who will occasionally shoot a few rounds into downed enemies (when there are no other obvious targets remaining) and sometimes say things like "Don't mind me, just emptying the magazine," as they do so.
    • This may be a callback to the below-mentioned Marathon, which required the player to expend their remaining ammo in order to reload to a full magazine.
  • The PC game Combat Arms allows this trope with reload in that you retain all ammunition, but each weapon's ammunition is tied to the (instance of the) weapon itself; if you drop your weapon in favor of another weapon or another instance of the same weapon, you get as much ammunition as that other instance had. If it's empty...
  • The Golden Gun and Rocket Launcher in Goldeneye 64 are the only weapons that don't do this, both because they only have a single shot per reload. Other guns play it totally straight, especially in multiplayer: if you have an empty gun in multiplayer, and you get killed, the next person to grab that gun will find it with 10 bullets in it.
  • In Quake Live, picking up weapons gives a set amount. For example, picking up a rocket launcher gives 10 ammo, and a lightning gun gives 100. This also applies to weapons dropped by players, no matter how much ammo the player had before he/she dropped the weapon.
  • Every gun in Quantum of Solace follows this trope except for the Golden Gun, which you don't get reloads for, and any weapon fed with loose ammo, such as the pump-action shotgun, the LTK revolver, and the Revolver Grenade Launcher. Interestingly, the last two examples will have you eject ALL the rounds in the weapon (spent ones get dumped, unfired ones go back to ammo pool) and then reload the chambers individually. Interestingly enough, guns picked up from NPCs will always have a random number of rounds missing from the magazine, completely regardless of whether or not they have actually fired any shots, implying that enemies just walk around with half-loaded guns all the time.
  • Sin and its sequel, Episodes play this one straight, but even more maddening is the fact that the shotgun in Sin: Episodes, which uses a magazine, will always be pumped after reloading no matter what (ejecting a shell). Since it also is pumped automatically after firing a shot also, Blade is in essence ejecting an unused cartridge with every reload.
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is similar to Crysis in this regard. Reloading an empty weapon requires the protagonist to cock the gun to put the first round into the chamber. In addition, reloading before a gun is empty adds one extra bullet to the next magazine (excluding belt-fed LMGs, which are always re-cocked no matter how many bullets you had left). However, despite the HUD only showing how many magazines you could fill with your remaining bullets, magazines are not actually tracked.
    • Also averted in previous Rainbow Six games, where you start each level with X magazines, each holding Y bullets - all tracked individually. You never just drop a mag unless it's empty, instead you put it back in your pocket. Whenever you reload, any non-empty magazine you're holding is kept, and put at the bottom of your loading queue. Meaning that if you're the kind of person who reloads when half of your magazine is gone, then more often than not by the middle of the level you'll be reloading with half-empty mags.
  • Perfect Dark has it with all guns, but especially amusing is the sight of a full clip being loaded into a revolver no matter how many bullets are left. The Jackal sniper rifle in Zero avoids this by being single-shot.
  • Home Front plays it straight.
  • Cry of Fear any magazine-based weapon loses all bullets in the mag when reloaded. Of course, Simon is a disturbed teenager, not a soldier. Given his already remarkable proficiency with the weapons, he can be forgiven for not thinking of simply saving the magazines and manually topping them up from each other.

Role-Playing Game[edit | hide]

  • In the Fallout series, you can always reload the exact number of bullets needed directly from your inventory, never spending a magazine. This is made even more confusing by the icons for ammunition items in one's inventory, many of which ambiguously feature a container of loose bullets, chains of linked cartridges, and partly loaded magazines that look like they could fit in one or two of the many weapons that will take a given type of ammunition.
    • Also, if you have a submachine gun drawn and stand around without doing anything for a few moments, your character will change magazines and throw the old one over his/her shoulder, over and over. Apparently you have infinite magazines available.
    • Taken to extremes with weapon mods in Fallout: New Vegas, where you could be loading normal magazines into a weapon, then stop, add an extended magazines attachment to it, and suddenly every magazine loaded into it is extended.
      • However, New Vegas also averts the trope with revolvers; you'll reload exactly as many bullets as you've fired, be it one, three or four, or the whole clip.
  • Not only is this trope possible in Parasite Eve II, complete with ejecting spend bullet cartridges etc. But Aya reloads at the end of every encounter automatically. Making it possible, if you time it right, to reload your weapon ejecting all the cartridges, and then before she's even started putting more bullets in the automatic-reload kicks in and she ejects all another full set of bullet cartridges from the weapon.
  • Mass Effect 2 explains the "ammo clips" as actually being heat sinks for the weapons. Somehow, any leftover "coolness" in the discarded heatsink is retained so you don't lose shots for reloading early. Also, the lore states that the heat sinks are standardized, such that all weapons use the same design, thus explaining why you can use your enemy's dropped heat sinks to reload.
    • This, however, does not explain why you can have 0 shots remaining for your Sniper Rifle but 60 shots remaining for your Assault Rifle. Standardized heat sinks would imply that you can use any of the ones that you have with you for any of your guns at any time.

Stealth Based Game[edit | hide]

  • In Metal Gear Solid the trope is played perfectly straight; in the original game Snake can reload instantly simply by unequipping and equipping his current weapon, and keeps all his ammo. In a rare example of the entire magazine teleporting back into the player's inventory along with the bullets, if the player actually finishes a magazine, it's stored in their inventory despite being discarded on the ground during the reload animation. Moreover, Snake loads three tracers at the base of each mag, yet never encounters an entire magazine of consolidated tracers.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 eliminated the instant reloads (largely because of how easy they'd made the previous game's Shagohod boss) and required the actual reload animation play out; this showed him taking out the old magazine and tucking it away for later. However, almost all weapons have a Dramatic Gun Cock which usually ejects a non-spent round, which is never deducted from the player's total, and all weapons that aren't single-shot follow this trope to the letter.
      • Special mention must got to the highly Unorthodox Reload of the long-barreled, scoped Desert Eagle. Due to a glitch, rather than inserting just a magazine Snake mimes reloading with a whole other gun which he places into the space occupied by the first.
      • Also actually averted by the Type 17 pistol, which required a speedloader to reload. You cannot reload it unless your entire mag is empty.

Survival Horror[edit | hide]

  • Averted in the original "Resident Evil" games, where your character will not go through a reload animation without first emptying the magazine. To reload a partially loaded gun, you must access the inventory screen and combine your ammo with the gun.
    • Interestingly enough, in the "Outbreak" spinoff of the Resident Evil series, characters find both filled magazines and individual shells, and if you reload using the latter, your character has to reload each shell individually. Magazines can be used to reload instantly, but only when the weapon is empty.
    • This happens a lot with shotguns in third-person shooters. For example, in Resident Evil 4 Leon always loads two shells into his shotgun(s), regardless of how many shells you actually load with it (Egregious in the case of the Striker, which, when fully upgraded, can hold a staggering 100 shells, but still only needs two to fully reload).
      • Speaking of RE4, this is also averted with the Hand Cannon: Leon is shown loading three shells into the chamber when he reloads, which is the number of bullets the gun actually holds. Upgrading its capacity at all makes him start using speedloaders instead.
      • Furthermore, in RE 4 Leon picks up loose bullets as opposed to actual magazines and clips. Since he carries these in boxes, and doesn't have any magazines in his inventory, it's unknown where he gets the magazines from. Although, having to watch Leon load 15 individual bullets into a magazine would get extremely aggravating.
  • Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game): Dark Corners of the Earth plays this beyond straight: any weapon can be reloaded at any point by removing its magazine (or clip, or shells, etc.) and putting a new one in, even if the weapon is already full.

Third-Person Shooter[edit | hide]

  • Also, many Third Person Shooters, such as Max Payne and Resident Evil.
  • Dirge of Cerberus had a peculiar case... the Giant Hydra, final form of the Hydra if you choose to upgrade it trough the power route, could take down just about any common enemy with a single shot...and then reload, since you cannot load more than a single bullet inside at a time; literal one bullet clip.
  • Gears of War takes this to baffling levels because of its "Active Reload" mechanic. Reloading a gun starts a slide that takes a few seconds, but stopping the slide in a thin bar will reload faster. Missing the bar will cause the gun to jam, making the reload take longer than simply waiting. However, hitting a small area inside the bar will trigger a "Perfect Reload," which will bestow bonuses (typically to some combination of damage, rate of fire, recoil reduction, effective range, or shot prep time on some heavy weapons)--but only to the bullets it actually replaced. This means that doing a mid-mag perfect reload will show the character ejecting a magazine and replacing it with another, but only bestows a bonus to a number of bullets within the new magazine as were absent in the previous one. The first two games overwrote previous Perfect Reloads whenever a new reload was attempted (i.e., 8 perfectly reloaded rounds left in a 30 round mag will leave a mag with 22 perfectly reloaded rounds after a fresh Perfect Reload), while the third allows all Perfectly Reloaded bullets to keep the bonus until they are fired or it expires. YMMV on which of these models makes more sense.
    • That's right, the bonus from loading your gun harder expires. But that's another can of worms entirely.

Turn Based Tactics[edit | hide]

Wide Open Sandbox[edit | hide]

  • The Godfather: The Game plays this fully straight.
  • In Scarface the World Is Yours, gunfighting on foot follows the trope, but entering a vehicle abruptly prevents you from reloading until the magazine is emptied.
  • STALKER: Shadow Of Chernobyl follows this trope with the player's weapons, with a few exceptions; most notably, switching ammo types with the shotgun requires the player to manually unload the tube magazine in the inventory menu. Enemy weapons are a mixed bag; the player has to unload actual guns manually rather than removing and hoovering up magazines with their shoes, but the rest of an enemy's ammo is simply depicted as boxes of bullets or shells.
    • You can also use it to use a mixed load. For example, the shotguns can often use the regular pellet shells, a dart shell and a slug. If you take the time to juggle it, you can have it so your gun is loaded with one type, then the next, then the last type, and so on.

Exceptions[edit | hide]

Action Game[edit | hide]

  • Reloading in Mafia wastes any ammo remaining in the current magazine.

Beat'Em Up[edit | hide]

  • Averted in, of all places, Die Hard Arcade (or Dynamite Deka), where every firearm has a set amount of ammo - and if enemies fire said guns at you, they'll be down that many rounds when you get your hands on them.

First-Person Shooter[edit | hide]

  • Bungie Software has gone from one end to the other of this trope:
    • Pathways into Darkness had its ammunition management integrated into its inventory system, in which everything that can hold another item (including guns that hold a magazine and magazines that hold bullets) were treated as generic "containers" openable with a click of their disclosure triangle (exactly the same as the Macintosh Finder's list view, similar to Windows Explorer's TreeView), and items can be moved in and out of each other with a drag and drop. Individual magazines and the bullets in each one are all tracked as separate items, although you can not repack bullets from one magazine to another. In case you're wondering how all this works in the heat of combat, the game pauses whenever you click outside its main window.
    • The Marathon trilogy neatly sidesteps the whole issue by having no reload function, your character instead only reloads after emptying a weapon.
  • Keeping with its other attempts at a realistic portrayal, SWAT 4 prevents you from taking rounds out of your enemies' weapons, as they're evidence and in most cases not actually compatible with your current loadout (especially when using non-lethal or less-lethal arms). Also, when reloading, one simply switches to the next magazine with rounds still within it. Shotguns are still required to load in one round at a time, as well.
    • However, the game ends up averting it so hard that later missions of the game have you and your SWAT team of five (including you) raiding dangerous cults, going toe-to-toe with domestic terrorist organization with only about four magazines. The worst offender seems to be when you're expected to secure an entire hospital AND prevent the assassination of a foreign diplomat being treated there for wounds taken in a failed suicide attempt. And no, there's not a single security guard to be found. The only law enforcement in the nation seems to be you five, your sniper backup, and the guy who drives the van.
    • That said, as the game constantly reminds the player, SWAT is a police force and life-saving organization first and a military unit second. Thus SWAT never intends to kill people until all other options have been exhausted (or said person is clearly threatening a civilian or officer). As a result, they are not intended to be firing a high volume of rounds.
  • The Rainbow Six series, based off the work of Tom Clancy, is very accurate in its depiction of firearms. The ammo counter shows the number of rounds in the weapon, and the number of magazines in reserve, however in Vegas the number is not tracked internally. Instead Vegas just keeps track of the number of magazines the rounds you have left would fill. In its more tactical predecessors though, if you reload a half-full magazine, it jumps to the back of the line, and you may just put it back in later. This can lead to a player carrying six magazines with two bullets each. Rainbow Six is also very realistic with this "fast loading" by actually showing the magazine size + the one bullet left in the chamber. Shotguns, on the other hand, track individual shells, and they must be reloaded one at a time.
    • Unfortunately for those who prefer more firearm simulation, compared to its predecessors, later Rainbow Six games fall prey to the Reality Is Unrealistic trope as far as weapon effects are concerned.
    • The first Rainbow Six, as well as its expansion (Eagle Watch) and even the sequel, are pretty realistic for game weapons. As the series became less about planning and realism and more about action (the switch from a dedicated planning screen to a field hand-signal system in the Vegas games, for example), the realism of the weapons started to go downhill.
    • Operation Flashpoint does this as well, minus the "+1" reloading.
  • In Day Of Defeat, reloading means disposing of the entirety of the current magazine, regardless of its content.
  • Frontlines: Fuel of War gives you 3 magazines. Reloading will just drop the mag, wasting any bullets still left in it, which makes it really annoying if you play a lot of games where this trope comes into play.
  • The PC series Battlefield gives you limited ammunition, and you find yourself losing any bullets left in a discarded magazine. The exceptions to this rule are the Battlefield: Bad Company spinoffs and Battlefield 3.
  • In Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, any ammo you currently have in your magazine is discarded with it. It has to be noted, however, that you get so darn many magazines in the course of the game that preserving ammo isn't really necessary.
  • In Urban Terror, you toss a magazine - kiss it goodbye. Having only 2 to 4 mags means that even a good player can run out of ammo pretty quickly, sometimes meaning that you have to toss your weapon and pick up another, which may or may not have ammo, often leaving you with just a knife.
  • If you toss your magazine in the Ghost Recon series, kiss it goodbye. The tutorial at the beginning of the first game actually makes a point of saying that it is better to sacrifice a few bullets and reload than to have a magazine run out in the middle of a fight.
    • However, there is no animation for racking the gun on an automatic weapon, regardless of whether or not there were any bullets left in the magazine.
  • If you unload a weapon in System Shock, you lose the magazine if, and only if, the weapon has been fired. So, if you have a thirty round Flechette weapon, and fire only one shot (technically impossible, but whatever), then unload it to put in a different kind of ammo, say goodbye to that magazine. Generally not a problem towards the end of the game, but it made you count your bullets at the start, or use the lead pipe like a madman.
    • Not quite. The game actually keeps track of the unspent ammo in an ejected magazine. If you have three seven-round magazines, fire four rounds from one, eject it and load another and fire three rounds, and eject it, you'll have two magazines left. It doesn't happen very often (most people just empty their magazines entirely, or don't keep track of each individual round), but System Shock actually is one of the most realistic aversions of this trope.
    • Curiously, the sequel, System Shock 2, followed this trope to the letter.
  • Averted in the Delta Force series of first person shooters by Novalogic. In these games, if you reload, even if you only used a few bullets, the entire rest of the magazine goes to waste. Needless to say, one should almost never manually reload a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the game, which due to its large magazine, the player usually can only carry 2 spare magazine. The games (or, at least, Land Warrior) do keep track of the extra bullet in the chamber, however, so you can reload with one bullet left in the magazine and get to keep that bullet anyway.
  • The Quake II mod "Action Quake" tracked magazines. Players have only 2 or 3 extra magazines unless they choose the bandolier as their optional equipment, so knife fights aren't uncommon.
  • Averted in Condemned, in which you simply can't reload guns. At all. Also, guns you scavenge off corpses will only be fully loaded if you managed to take their previous holder down before he could squeeze a shot, otherwise they'll be down by the correct amount of bullets, or even empty (in which case you're probably dead).
    • Condemned 2, however, allows the player to scavenge ammo from dropped weapons and find ammo in supply lockers, but not carry reloads. This ultimately meant that the player had one magazine, and that was it.
      • However, you can carry two of the same weapon after a performance-based upgrade, in which case you CAN reload but the ammo is taken out of the other gun.
  • Fully averted in America's Army, where the game keeps track of the individual magazines, so if you fire a bullet and reload you can later re-reload that magazine with one less bullet. It also keeps track of whether a round is in the chamber.
  • Unreal had the Automag, which is the only weapon in the game that needed a reload every few shots. In fact, even the Automag avoids this trope, because while you have to reload every magazine, you can't reload manually - the only way to do it is firing the remaining bullets or switching it out. Additionally, you can't see the amount of bullets left in the magazine (though you can hear the gun clicking in the last five shots). Originally, Unreal Tournament's Enforcer was also meant to work like this, though all that remains of this is the animation in the game files.[1]
    • Unreal II the Awakening plays this trope straight, though.
    • Conversely, you have a limited number of clips/magazines in the WW 2 mod Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45, and you reload by removing the entire thing. If you run out and you're the only one on your team with that kind of weapon, you'll have to dump it for a replacement from dead soldiers.
    • Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 averts this trope hard, not just with tracking magazines and not individual rounds, but there is no bullet counter at all, even for loaded magazines. When reloading an SMG magazine for instance, the only information it gives you is how heavy it feels ("heavy" means fully/almost fully loaded, while "very light" means only a few bullets left). It's like Trespasser, but without the voices.
      • The Darkest Hour mod for Red Orchestra naturally also averts this trope; however, if you choose a class equipped with the M1 Garand, you can reload it mid-clip. Doing so does take longer than an empty reload, because the clip has to be ejected manually if it still has bullets.
    • The Infiltration mod did much the same thing.
  • Averted in The Darkness: If you reload a weapon before you empty the entire magazine, the remaining part of that magazine is gone (for pistols this is because Jackie doesn't bother reloading them normally). Careless players might take a while to realize where all their ammo went when they had around 100 bullets beforehand.
  • OPERATION 7, a tactical MMO FPS, deals with this realistically like the Rainbow Six series. Since there's no way to consolidate partial magazines at any time, you could wind up with mags that are a third-full or worse.
  • Firearms, a mod of Half-Life also had this, although it did allow you to consolidate partially loaded magazines at any time during gameplay.
  • Averted in Duke Nukem 3D, where the pistol fires twelve shots before reloading. Players can't trigger a reload sooner, except by switching to another weapon and switching back. The same is true of Blood's double-barreled shotgun, being on the same engine. Note however that these are the only weapons in either game that even need to reload at all.
  • E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy has you lose the magazine if you reload with bullets left in it.
  • "Metro 2033": Mostly played straight due to the scarcity of ammo in the game, but one of the shotguns in the game doesn't necessarily fully reload every time. The ammo is put on a belt on the sides of the gun, and it can hold up to six shells at a time. However, the slot on top of the gun can't be accessed which means if you completely ran out of ammo before reloading, one slot will be empty. If you were to fire the gun then reload again, you would be at full ammo though.

Light Gun Game[edit | hide]

  • Light-gun game Operation Wolf would only get you more ammo by the magazine. Reloading is automatic, too, so if you want to avoid it you'll need to waste a few rounds.
  • Virtua Cop 3 provides an example of actually accounting for the chambered round. Practically every gun from the default pistol with unlimited ammo to the ones you collect from pickups will keep the chambered round upon reloading when you haven't spent the full clip. You even get to see a cross-section of the magazine and chamber so you can view the entire process as well as have the ammo counter go up by 1 when a round is kept chambered. Though every other aspect of the ammo system plays this trope straight.

Platform Game[edit | hide]

  • Averted for comedic purposes in Contra: Shattered Soldier - the intro movie shows one of the main characters loading individual bullets into magazines. (Turns out that they're Bottomless Magazines once the game starts.)

Role-Playing Game[edit | hide]

  • The first Xenosaga game used ammunition for both mecha and some characters, but there was no reload mechanic in battle; rather, characters started off each battle with the necessary ammunition. Then again, since the weapons themselves occasionally phased into existence, it's unclear as to why ammunition couldn't do the same (and, in fact, in the case of KOS-MOS it did, so go figure).
  • Averted in the Sega Genesis version of Shadowrun. Ammuntion was listed in number of magazines instead of bullets, and characters would only reload when their magazines were empty. However, it is possible to reload in the pause screen. Doing so when the magazine isn't empty brings up a warning: "You still have ammo left. Reload?" Accepting would discard the ammo left in the half-empty magazine.
  • The classic RPG Wasteland had variable-sized magazines, but once loaded you can't unload or otherwise salvage the ammo inside if you have to either reload or unjam the weapon. In other words, reloading a weapon results in losing the ammo which was left in the weapon before reloading. Consequently, reloading a fully loaded weapon by mistake is equivalent to tossing away a full magazine.

Shoot'Em Up[edit | hide]

  • Classic wild west shooter Outlaws is an interesting case. In this game there are only boxes of bullets and shells which are manually loaded into their respective firearms one at a time.

Stealth Based Game[edit | hide]

  • Averted in the first Hitman game. If you reload, the entire magazine is tossed away.
  • In the original 80's version of Castle Wolfenstein (the non-3D one), the character only wielded one pistol, and did not store any extra bullet magazines. Thus if he came across enemy bullets, he only reloaded if they had more bullets then he currently had.
  • Siren avoids this issue by simply not using weapons that have detachable magazines. The guns in the game are either revolvers or hunting rifles; you reload the cylinders or internal magazines with loose bullets. It also deals with the corollary by not letting you take weapons from fallen enemies.
    • The sequel/remake, Siren: Blood Curse, acts in much the same way, the only differences being that the rifles are now single-shot instead of repeating, double-barrel shotguns (which can be sawed down) are thrown into the mix, and you can take weapons from enemies (although you can only carry one weapon at a time, and there's usually only one person with a gun in the level—either you or an enemy).
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater does account for already-chambered bullets when reloading.

Survival Horror[edit | hide]

  • Averted in Eternal Darkness: when revolvers (the most common firearm) are reloaded, only the spent shells are dropped, and each bullet is reloaded one at a time (you can even stop before the revolver is full by letting go of the reload button or moving). Weapons like shotguns and single-shot rifles also avert this trope; however, in the one level where a character acquires magazine-loading weapons, this trope is played completely straight.
  • The revolver, double-barrel/pump-action shotguns, and hunting rifle in Alan Wake all have to be reloaded one shell at a time, which will slow Alan down if you have him trying to run from the Taken. Reloading can also be stopped if you have to let loose a round or two to get some breathing space, or find a Safe Haven.
  • When reloading an empty unscoped rifle in Cryostasis the protagonist is shown using a speedloader to reload. However when you try to reload a non-empty rifle the protagonist takes the required amount of bullets from the next ammo pouch and loads them in manually.

Third-Person Shooter[edit | hide]

  • In Oni, individual rounds aren't tracked, only whole magazines (not that they could be given Oni's universal ammo system), so reloading with a shot left in the weapon wastes it (and magazines are very hard to come by). Enemies carry finite numbers of ammo magazines, and reload, so their weapon will have exactly as many bullets in it as they had left to shoot at you (so, it's best to kill him just as he reloads.)
  • SOCOM games tend to do this. When reloading, you simply switch between magazines you're carrying on you, so you could end up with any number of One Bullet magazines if you're not budgeting how you use each magazine.
  • In the video game adaptation/sequel to The Thing, if you reload a magazine based weapon, the remaining bullets in the replaced magazine are gone forever.
  • In Operation Winback, reloading your sub-machine gun or shotgun while there were still bullets in the magazine led to those spare bullets being discarded as well. Unfortunately this was kind of redundant as your starting pistol was very accurate, did decent damage, granted you a bonus if you completed a mission using no other weapons... and had infinite ammo.
  • Arm A: Armed Assault keeps track of the amount of ammunition in each magazine in your inventory, only throwing away magazines if they are completely depleted. If you have multiple semi-depleted magazines, they are sorted in order of decreasing bullets.
    • The sequel Arm A 2 and its expansion Operation Arrowhead continue this behavior, militantly so. However, it should be noted that the U.S. M1014 shotgun and clip-fed weapons are some of the few that do NOT work "properly" as identified in the trope definition. In the real world these weapons use integral magazines, loaded one round at a time or with stripper clips. Tactical doctrine for the M1014 calls for the soldier to load additional shells at any opportunity, while the others in the real world typically can't be reloaded until the internal magazine is emptied. ARMA 2 breaks this, where you are never able to load single rounds and never prevented from reloading, and instead mime reloading with an invisible magazine, which somehow replaces every round currently in the weapon with a fresh one. The game's other shotguns are more correct in this regard, since they actually do use magazines.
  • Alien Swarm averts this, whenever you reload mid-mag you lose any bullets you had left, and get a note saying how many you lost if it's a significant amount. Especially annoying when you're using a minigun, and you reload it after taking two shots because that's what you always do in shooters, and promptly lose half of the precious ammo you started the level with. However, to compensate for inverting the usual rule about reloading, the game has a Gears of War-esque tactical reload that cuts down reload speed to about a third.
  • BloodRayne doesn't reload weapons. She fires until the magazine is empty (or she finds a better weapon) and then tosses the entire gun to grab a fresh one.

Turn Based Tactics[edit | hide]

  • Jagged Alliance 2 works similarly, except that when the squad isn't in contact with the enemy, reloading a partially full weapon transfers rounds from the new magazine until the weapon is full. This allows partial magazines to be consolidated between battles.
    • The characters seem to haul a Bag of Holding full of empty magazines of every size and description, though; it's possible to load an arbitrary number of, say, 10-bullet magazines of 7.62 WP bullets into an AK-47 (three magazines of 10 at a time, obviously) and have a fully loaded 30-round magazine, or vice versa with the Dragunov sniper rifle (although that leaves you with a loaded 10-round magazine and a 30-round magazine with 20 rounds remaining). Note that in some fan mods of the game such as some iterations/builds of the famous and continually evolving v1.13, using magazines not suited for a weapon (such as feeding a 7-shot pistol a 30-round SMG mag of the same caliber) costs extra action points
      • And both fail to address the fact that the SVD and AK-47/AKM use different kinds of ammunition (7.62x54mmR vs. 7.62x39mm) ... and the game also allows the same generic '7.62' ammunition to be loaded into the PPSh (which actually fires 7.62x25mm rounds). They're all Warsaw Pact rounds and all 7.62mm caliber, but that doesn't make them the same stuff.
        • Averted in 1.13. Not only was the above issue fixed, it also features every kind of production ammo ever made, some of the wildcat cartridges, and a couple of fictional ammo types, just for fun.
  • Likewise the first two X-COM games, in which every magazine is a separate inventory item, and the number of bullets in each is tracked realistically.
  • Averted to an almost ridiculous extent by 7.62 High Calibre. If you have a box of bullets, but no magazine, it takes significantly longer to reload your gun as you have to insert the bullets into the existing magazine one at a time. Revolvers take longer to reload the more bullets you've fired (no speedloaders). Swapping a half-empty magazine for a full magazine doesn't give you a chambered round, but you also don't lose the half-empty magazine (you can refill it later). Guns that are reloaded one round at a time (bolt-action rifles and shotguns) take longer to reload the more rounds you're reloading at one time. The only exception to the realism rule here is that, if you tape together two magazines, the game treats them as a double-capacity magazine instead of two separate magazines with a speedier reload time.
    • Each gun also requires its own model of magazine that takes up inventory space, with some magazines (like the ammo boxes for machine guns or drum mags) taking up large amounts of space. The magazines all need to be individually filled with ammo, which is best done before combat. Ammo quality is also tracked by the bullet.

Wide Open Sandbox[edit | hide]

  • Averted in Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Whenever you pick up a gun, you get X number of magazines with Y number of bullets in each. When you reload, you throw the magazine, and any bullets left in it, on the ground.

Genre Busting[edit | hide]

  • Sidestepped in Pathologic. The revolver is reloaded offscreen (the character pulls it down to their side first), avoiding the need for custom animations depending on how many bullets it currently has. The rifle is reloaded on-screen, but it has a literal one-bullet clip, so the trope doesn't apply. Played straight with the shotgun, however—your character always chucks the shells out of the gun, regardless of whether or not one is still unspent. The shotgun is also guilty of the "reload more visible shots than you actually have" subtrope.
  1. A certain mod for UT, Oldskool Amp'd, has the Automag's reload much more manageable via a key and an ammo counter.