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The ability to change your weapons in a video game without pausing or using a Power-Up to change them. Usually this is accomplished by using one or two buttons, for one or two way switching respectively.

This usually involves a tradeoff of convenience and versatility, since pausing gives time to choose almost any weapon, while this trope usually limits the weapons in order to save for time. The latter is of course necessary in many multiplayer games (especially online games), where pausing isn't even possible, so menus leave players vulnerable. That reason makes this trope ubiquitous in First Person Shooters and MMORPGs.

Also, in an FPS, the most common forms are the scroll wheel and/or number key with PC games or the D-pad with home console games. Or just a single button if a character is only capable of carrying two weapons.

The name comes from the E 3 2006 Sony conference that also gave us the trope names Giant Enemy Crab, Attack Its Weak Point, and For Massive Damage, which touted this as a "great new feature" of Genji 2.

Compare Changing Clothes Is a Free Action.

Contrast Real Time with Pause.

First Person Shooter and MMORPG examples should be limited to notable forms and aversions:

  • When they came on the SNES and Play Station, both Mega Man and X added a function for the shoulder buttons to switch weapons (with the pause menu still there of course).
    • Mega Man ZX Advent uses the touchscreen to switch forms without pausing. The original forced you to use a ring menu which paused the game.
  • Thunder Force, although you start out with one choice until you grab a powerup.
  • Eliminate Down had a three-weapon system that could be changed without pausing: a forward Spread Shot, a back Reflecting Laser Spread Shot, and a four-way diagonal that shot surface-crawling missiles.
  • Hellfire allowed you to change the direction of your weapon, ahead, behind, two-way vertical, or four-way diagonal.
  • Each God of War game has at least one alternate melee weapon that you can switch between on the fly.
  • Torchlight (and many other action RPGs) allows you to switch between one set of equipment and another.
    • When this was added to Diablo with D2's Expansion Pack, it also resulted in the addition of eight cells of wielded item Hammerspace which could be used to lug around items too.
  • In the Castlevania Sorrow games, playing in the Julius modes lets you switch between sub weapons.
  • Guild Wars lets you create up to four "weapon sets" that you can freely switch between.
  • The original Devil May Cry allowed you to switch between the Alastor sword and the Ifrit gauntlets by clicking the right analog stick.
    • Devil May Cry 3 lets you switch melee weapons while attacking for awesome combos.
    • Devil May Cry 4 allows both weapon and style switching for even more awesome combos.
  • Final Fantasy XI allows a player to make macros to change gear on the fly. However, because swapping out any weapon causes your Limit Break gauge to be instantly depleted, this is actually used more often for clothes, leading to bizarre circumstances where a character will be seen to briefly put on a specific pair of pants while activating an ability, only to remove them immediately afterwards.
  • Phantasy Star Universe and Phantasy Star Online allow the player to choose weapons to switch in real time. In PSU you assign weapons to one of 6 rows of equipment slots and change them by holding down a button and using the D-Pad/arrow keys. PSO has you hit a button combination and sort through a small window with the name of every weapon in your inventory using the D-Pad/arrow keys.
  • In No More Heroes 2 Desperate Struggle, Travis has apparently wised up and keeps all of his beam katanas on him. That they all have their own battery meters and he is invulnerable while changing swords makes this option capable of making certain attacks piss easy to avoid or absorb.
  • The Ace Combat games allow players to change between standard missiles and special weapons with just one button press.
    • Similarly, Real Life jet fighters allow the pilot to switch weapons with either a single button press, or just use a different button for different weapons.
  • The Naval Ops games put all of your ship's weapons (guns, missiles, torpedoes, etc.) on a menu on one side of the screen and you can go up or down in real time.
  • To avoid exploits with macros, World of Warcraft puts a 1.5 second (1 for Rogues) cooldown on all ability use immediately after changing weapons in combat.
  • Like any normal FPS, Team Fortress 2 only lets you choose from a set amount of weapon slots; generally 3 (a primary, a secondary and a melee), but 4 for the Spy (disguise kit) and 5 for the Engineer (build/destroy panels). The point where this trope becomes relevant is when you start getting dropped weapons to swap the default out with; they can be switched around through a less-streamlined menu, but only actually swap at a resupply cabinet (or after dying), while swapping between active weapons is, comparatively, this trope. Further, there is a button for switching from the current weapon to the next most previously equipped weapon, allowing a player to quickly toggle between a pair of weapons. Many players will cycle through their weapons after spawning to set up a pair of weapons that they expect to need to switch between most frequently. Some alternative weapons even include faster weapon switching as advantages of equipping them, encouraging the player to use them in quick combination with other weapons. For example, The Reserve Shooter is a shotgun that does bonus damage to aerial targets, but requires another weapon to get them airborn first.
  • Cave Story allows switching weapons real-time or through the inventory.
  • Jagged Alliance 2, which, though being a turn-based game (in combat), allows you to switch weapons on the fly.
  • In Half-Life 2, you can use the number keys or mousewheel to switch weapons as usual, but you can also hit G to swap between the Gravity Gun and your previous weapon - because you're going to be using the Gravity Gun a lot.
  • In ~American McGee's Alice~ you can use the number keys to switch between weapons.
  • The Strikeforce spinoff installment of Dynasty Warriors give the ability to switch weapons not only in the middle of combat, but in the middle of a combo. This is kept and improved upon in the seventh game.
  • The first two Metroid Prime games let you select both beams and visors by means of the C-stick and d-pad respectively. Corruption instead had the player select visors by holding the minus button, hovering the cursor over the desired visor, and releasing the button; the beam selection system was replaced with a beam stacking system.
  • The Legend of Zelda used this in Phantom Hourglass, which utilized the touchscreen by having all the items in the lower left corner ready for use with a quick tap. The small number of items in the game compared to other Zelda games was actually more conducive for this. Skyward Sword has a system similar to that used for the visors in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
  • In Assassin's Creed Altair can change weapons in real time by pressing up (Hidden Blade), left (Dagger), right (Longsword), or down (Fists) on the D-pad. Ever since Assassins Creed 2 the player can set their own shortcuts, with the default arrangement swapping the Dagger/Short Blade for Medicine. Weapons or tools not assigned to a shortcut can be manually equipped from a radial menu; one in AC2 and Brotherhood, and two (for primary and secondary weapons) in Revelations. Trying to equip something that's already equipped will cause the character to sheath/unsheathe his weapon, pound his fists or flick his Hidden Blade(s).
  • The original Red Faction had real-time weapon change with no limit on the number of weapons available. You'll often have a dozen on hand, making this awkward, especially since you have to recognize the weapons by profile if you want to swap quickly. Later games like Red Faction Guerrilla did limit how many you could hold.
  • In a variation, some turn-based JRPG like Final Fantasy or Breath of Fire let you change your weapon and shield during your turn, in case the one you have equipped matches the opponent's elemental affinity poorly. Sometimes you can even still attack afterwards.
  • The "Quick Select" menu in the Ratchet and Clank games can usually be set to pause or not, although the first game didn't have pausing as an option.
  • In the Nintendo DS versions of the Rune Factory series, you can bring up menus for your weapons, items and magic using the shoulder buttons.
  • Escape Velocity had a key to rotate through secondary weapons.
  • The Dead Rising games let you choose your weapon or health item by pressing the shoulder buttons.
  • Perfect Dark actually has three ways to change weapons: simply pressing A to select the next one in your inventory, holding A to choose from a HUD menu or pressing start to choose from the list in the pause menu.