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What's better: Quake 2's railgun or the currency 'Gold'?

Vote now!

Last time, you decided that elaborate corridor architecture is better than funicular fights. I wholeheartedly agree with you, but needed to check because the number of video game funicular fights compared to real-world funicular fights did suggest they might be wildly popular. Now we know. As we continue the mission, this week I ask you to choose between the evils of violence and money. What's better: Quake 2's railgun or the currency 'Gold'?

Quake 2's railgun

I gasped the first time I fired Quake 2's railgun, laughed the second, and still feel warm every time since. It's a simple sci-fi design, a tube with a bit of bendy pipe and a exposed tech panel which glows red with painted-on light. Chunky yet elegant. Then you click and PIOHW! The railgun spits a spiral of blue particles with a white trail running through the middle, and whatever stood in its way has likely now been replaced with a bloody shower gibs. That rail spiral is still maybe my favourite video game weapon special effect.

Quake 2's railgun occupies that pleasant spot on the risk/reward spectrum with great power but a notable pause between shots. Hit, and anything that doesn't burst will be mighty wounded. Miss, and you'll need to dodge until it's ready to go again. It's not a huge cooldown, mind. It has a speed and efficiency which feels so powerful. Point, click, delete. Point, click, delete. And the slug pierces every enemy in its path. Wonderful.

It felt even better to master the railgun in online multiplayer. Sure, other players make deadly foes than AI, but the real enemy was lag. Without dialup connections and no modern lag-compensating technologies, you needed to predict your enemy's movement and aim where they would be in 100-200 milliseconds. To nail them with a weapon which had neither splash damage nor spread was skill (or luck, but no, it always skill for me).

Other Quakes have railguns but none is nearly as magical. The modern Dooms channelled the railgun's spirit into their Gauss Cannon and Ballista but no, they're not what I want either. Hoping back into Quake 2 this morning to capture a wee video for this post, I then spent another 20 minutes running around going PIOHW! PIOHW!

Yes, I did use cheats to beat on baby baddies with the railgun, and I'm not remotely sorryWatch on YouTube

The currency 'Gold'

Forget your Florins, Orens, Crowns, Sovereigns, Guilder, Gil, Gilberts, Dollars, Dinars, and Daves. In this fantasy video game, our currency is Gold. Gold what? Just Gold, don't worry about it. You get an object shaped like a coin and it's called 1 Gold and you should be happy with that.

On one hand, currencies rooted in history are a form of worldbuilding. On the other, using a generic name for money (close to the most generic term, just one step above an apple costing '10 money') makes it easier to slip into that world and feel at home in it. If you're not puzzled by a currency name and don't need to make an effort to remember it, there you are, existing in that world as easily as its native inhabitants.

I like how brazenly video game-y it is, too. Gold. Just Gold. Maybe Gold Pieces, if we're feeling extravagant. But mostly just Gold. One standard unit of gold.

This also spares me the problem of returning to a RPG after a months-long break and being baffled by everyone talking about Alfreds or Whangles or Mrirens. I'm sorry, friend, I understand these objects are important to you but I don't even remember what they are, let alone how I would get 200 of them for you.

But which is better?

PIOHW! Goodbye. But what do you think, reader dear?

Pick your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments to convince others. We'll reconvene next week to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.

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Quake II


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About the Author
Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.