In the real world, nuclear weapons are no joke. Nukes are terrifying weapons that have already killed thousands, and the threat of global catastrophe loomed over the US and the Soviet Union for decades during the Cold War. In the 2000s, we’re less worried about global nuclear conflict, but nations still have thousands of nuke ready to go. It’s a frightening prospect — but we’re not talking about real-life here. We’re talking about the escapism of video games. Sometimes we just want to see things explode!
And that’s why we’re going to discuss the greatest nukes of gaming. We’re putting a special focus on nuclear weapons you can use or interact with — these nuke examples aren’t just plot points. If you can build, launch, or disarm the nuke, it belongs on this list. Check out the awesome power of these fake superweapons — we’ve got 12 examples of the biggest booms below.
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The Soviet Suppository [Red Alert 2]
The Command & Conquer games gave gamers our first taste of nuclear destruction and invented the customary end-game RTS superweapon. The Soviet’s Nuclear Silo really came into its own in Red Alert 2 — you can use the superweapon during the Soviet Campaign against an unsuspecting America. If you’re playing as the Allies, this weapon is the bane of your existence in multiple missions.
Nukes were extremely powerful. After building the expensive Nuke Silo, players would have to wait 15 minutes before launching the superweapon. That gave the Allies a short window to either shut down the Soviet’s Power Generators or destroy the Silo itself. If they’re unsuccessful, the nuke can target anywhere on the map. It destroys most buildings instantly, and leaves a glowing field of green radiation that continues to damage any units.
Compared to the real thing, though? Nukes aren’t exactly devastatingly powerful. That can ruin a strategy in an online multiplayer match, but they can’t destroy your main base in a single strike. There are way more powerful nukes on this list.
Ride Into The Nuclear Sunset [Saints Row 4]
You might not be able to literally launch a nuke yourself in Saints Row 4, but you do get to ride one. At the start of the game, the Saints raid a terrorist facility, taking down tangos with their silenced MP5s — this is a game series that started out as a GTA-style open-world gang simulator, by the way.
Once the Boss reaches the rocket, you’ll heroically cling to the side and disarm it while Aerosmith plays in the background. Your old friends talk about your great sacrifice. It’s so over-the-top and dramatic, I couldn’t not put it on this list of great video game nukes.
Enjoy the biggest booms or lessons on the nature of deterrence on the next page.