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Welcome to the future. It may come used or perhaps come standard with shiny towers and crystals, but when it come to warfare, there's one very good indication that your Space Marines aren't just Super Soldiers with assault rifles. They will instead wield something not unlike a large metallic brick.
Put simply, Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future is the tendency for more "advanced" weapons in near-future and Sci Fi to be Handwaved as "more advanced" or made of exotic, lightweight materials and yet be large, clumsy, rectangular, boxy things much larger than modern-day arms. This is probably based on the fact that many modern weapons use molded plastics with rounded rectangular shapes and smooth curves. At the most exaggerated extent in fiction, guns resemble rectangular prisms and melee weapons tend towards square profiles and right angles.
Often used in videogames, since boxy shapes are particularly easy to render.
On the Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty, Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future tends towards the latter, but not always. "Enlightened" civilizations may still keep their boxy arms around as a symbol of older times or as a realist answer of how they keep the peace. If the Enlightened civilization has an active military, expect these Space Elves to use vaguely iPod-shaped weapons.
Depending on how effective these weapons are in their respective setting, they may also be Cool Guns.
Production design note: a lot of the futuristic weapon props that are actually fired on-screen are by necessity real world guns put in plastic shells. This might go a long way to explain the origins of the trope.
See also Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better.
- Aliens and Avatar, both directed by James Cameron, have some seriously boxy guns.
- Starship Troopers. The Verhoeven movie gives us these wonderful gems.
- The third movie, Marauder, exaggerated the hell out of this. The guns handed out to the survivors of the shuttle crash are wider than the actors' arms, and from top to bottom are wider than their heads.
- District 9 has a good example [dead link].
- Several of the phaser designs that The Federation uses on Star Trek (especially from TNG onward) fit this mold, most noticeably the phaser rifle.
- Warhammer 40,000. Notables include:
- Even the lasgun used by the standard human soldiers of the Imperial Guard. There are lots of variant designs ranging from Vintage Blunderbuss to squint-and-it's-AK, but most common ones (and iconic - appearing on the covers) are boxy. Some of these patterns are mentioned as the easiest to mass-produce and/or the most sturdy.
- The Imperium's Bolters, boxy, huge weapons firing rocket-assisted armor-piercing explosive rounds. The shotgun is even more rectangular. Ogryn Ripper Guns need to be big and metallic, as they are designed to withstand their users wielding them as clubs.
- The Tau's Pulse Weaponry. About as boxy as it gets.
- Averted with the Eldar. Most, if not all of their weapons have sleek, organic appearances in comparison to the other races.
- Several weapons in Rifts, where the boxy barrel coverings are stated to contain heavy-duty cooling systems for laser and plasma weapons. Rifts tends to cover the whole spectrum; some examples, like most Wilks guns, look more like Nintendo Zappers and are quite sleek. Coalition weaponry, for the most part, also tends to resemble modern firearms.
- Some of the advanced weapons in Shadowrun, especially the various Ares laser weapons. This can also depend on the artist, since the drawings of the guns are inconsistent from edition to edition and even different sourcebooks in the same edition.
- Traveller features a blend of modern and futuristic-looking (the latter occasionally boxy) slug-throwers. And many laser weapons are even bulkier than 40K weapons, of course, weight is one of the balance factors for energy weapons in the game (laser rifles weigh twice as much as modern assault rifles).
- As seen above, StarCraft. The Gauss Rifle used by the marines is somewhat of a BFG, but especially in its updated incarnation, is almost a perfect rectangle. It makes sense since Terran Power Armor is equally huge and isn't good at delicate hand movements.
- Saints Row 2 has the AR-50 assault rifle, and while technically the game isn't set in the future, the weapon itself is a prototype developed by the Ultor Corporation.
- Battlefield 2142: Despite being made of "advanced polymers", some of the weapons are outrageously boxy and larger than their modern-day counterparts. Examples:  [dead link]  [dead link]  [dead link]  [dead link]. Interestingly, the unlocked weapons which are often more popular tend to more closely resemble real guns.
- Doom's BFG9000 is bulky, boxy, and very BIG with many smaller boxy parts on it. There's also the Plasma Rifle, basically a boxy assault rifle-like weapon with an accordion barrel.
- Perfect Dark. Some of the game's "modern" weapons fall under this trope. Extra credit to the Laptop Gun, which looks exactly like you'd expect it to.
- Dystopia Inverts this by making the least advanced weapon, the Assault Rifle, look like a long box with a handle. However, it's played straight with the Bolt Gun.
- Red Faction: Guerrilla does a good boxy gun. It does several good boxy guns. Boxiest would be the assault rifle, which looks like it hasn't been unpacked from the box it came in. link
- Most of the weapons in Mass Effect 2 are this trope, particularly the krogan Claymore shotgun.
- Though averted in Mass Effect 3 with weapons from other alien cultures: the Quarian Arc Pistol, the Salarian Scorpion, the Asari Disciple shotgun, the geth pulse rifle, sniper rifle and plasma shotgun are all fairly sleek. Some human weapons are sleek too: the M-8 Avenger and N7 Valkyrie beinf prominent exceptions.
- Iji: your held weapon and the weapons held by the enemies are all some form of black box. The ten different weapons you can pick up on the ground (which get "downloaded" into your black boxy gun) zig-zag and downplay the trope, especially the slender and filigree Cyclic Fusion Ignition System.
- Fallout: The third one. By way of example, compare a conventional minigun to the futuristic "Gatling Laser," and judge for yourself which is the boxiest.
- The laser pistol in New Vegas is just a box with a trigger.
- The laser rifle is literally just a benchtop laser bolted onto a makeshift gunstock with a battery and trigger. It doesn't even have sights.
- Baroque has very boxy weapons, including a gun where the only round part would be the space between the shaft and the rest.
- Due to an error in the update for Tower Madness (version 1.4), the graphic rendering for level 2 flamethrower turned into a giant box of doom.
- Averted with Half Life 2's Combine Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rife, aka the AR2. It looks high tech and futuristic, but isn't boxy. Despite its shiny appearance, it's used by the Bad Guys.
- SiN Episodes: Emergence gives us the Magnum, Blade's default weapon. The front is so heavy and square that Blade even uses it as a melee weapon.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution feature the boxy Sanction Flechette assault rifle, Widowmaker combat shotgun and Longsword sniper rifle.
- The AA-12, more specifically the 2005 version.
- The Kriss .45 is an experimental submachine gun that uses an innovative recoil system and unusual stock to make it a wonderfully accurate and controllable weapon that is mostly square.
- The MAC-10 machine pistol.
- The HK G11. It also used caseless ammunition, making it rather futuristic. It had been approved for deployment to West Germany's armed forces, and then The Great Politics Mess-Up happened — it suddenly became unnecessary to defend the former West Germany from the former East Germany, and it was too expensive to outfit the combined army with new rifles when there was now a surplus of other Kalashnikovs and other assault rifles available for much less.
- The P90 is basically a rectangle with holes and curves in the bottom to form the grip.
- And, of course, the Personnel halting and stimulation response rifle, aka the "PHaSR". It's a less-lethal laser weapon.
- Then there's the Ares FMG, a boxy submachinegun that folds into an innocent looking metal box, and it's Russian counterpart the PP-90.
- Cascade gun prototype developed by Metal Storm Limited is actually a box on a tripod.
- The UTS-15 tactical shotgun
- The U.S. Fire Arms Manufacturing Company "ZIP 22", which was so boxy it was not obvious how one even held it, and so badly made it killed the company that manufactured it.