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Noob Tube is internet slang used in first person shooter games to refer to the attachment of an under slung grenade launcher to assault rifles. By pressing the designated button, a player can switch from the assault rifle’s standard fire mode to the grenade launcher’s explosive ordinance. Because it is relatively easy to kill another player with the grenade launcher (as opposed to standard fire mode which requires accuracy) and the attachment’s tube-like shape, “Noob Tube” has become associated with newbie players who opt for grenade launch mode.
In 2004, A used named 67thRaptorBull commented on Scenyx Eentertainment Community Forums about a complaint on Halo 2, which was launched on Xbox on November 9th, 2004. He dubbed the Fuel Rod Cannon “Noob Tube”. The phrase was used to describe the under slung grenade launcher attachment of assault rifles in 2005, for EA’s Battlefield 2. When Call of Duty was released in November of 2007, the under slung grenade launcher attachment quickly took on the Noob Tube mantle and searches for the term exploded. However, “noob” weapons have been traced all the way back to Counter-Strike, with the Auto Shotgun being referred to as a “noob stick” Other games predating MW2 like Rainbow Six and SOCOM have had weapons referred to as “noob (noun)” While no exact date or game can lay claim to the title of origin of the phrase due to lack of data, Halo 2 is one of it’s earliest instances, while Modern Warfare was responsible for making the phrase mainstream.
Kobe Bryant @ 0:35 and Jimmy Kimmel @ 0:44 showing us how to Noob Tube:
On the Google Insight chart, the term starts rising at December of 2007, which is a month after Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was released. [November 5th, 2007]. As Noob Tube was flat before the release of Modern Warfare, we can safely say that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was responsible for the mainstream rise of Noob Tube.
While other Call of Duty contemporaries, such as Battlefield: Bad Company and Medal of Honor, feature Grenade Launchers, the phrase “Noob Tube” is mostly related to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and its sequel, Modern Warfare 2.
In Game Use
While a minor annoyance in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, its sequel Modern Warfare 2 bumped up the irritably factor of Noob Tubes in two ways, the first was a challenge that required the player to make 20 kills with the grenade launcher attachment in order to unlock the under slung shotgun, also known as a Master Key.
This meant that in order to unlock all weapon attachments to complete the associated challenge and get the weapon’s player card title, the grenade launcher HAD to be used. The second way was the Scavenger Perk; the Scavenger Perk would allow players to pick up ammo from defeated enemies, which also allowed the Grenade Launcher to be restocked with ammo.
A player with Scavenger could get his entire kills using the Grenade Launcher without having to die and respawn to stock up on ammo; another perk, called One Man Army, allowed a player to switch between weapon classes at the expense of losing a secondary weapon. This allowed a player to continually select their “Noob Tube” and One Man Army class over and over which lead to infinite grenades without having to risk being shot while running to retrieve fallen enemies supplies.
Infinity Ward attempted to balance this by including a few counters: The first was the Blast Mask, which reduced the damage of explosions. However, this proved to be unpopular as the Blast Mask took up the equipment slot of a player, which meant that they could not carry other equipment such as a Claymore Mine or Tactical Insertion, and the Blast Mask obscured the player’s vision field as well as removed their radar from the screen.
Another counter was a minimum range requirement; this basically meant that the Grenade fired from the Grenade Launcher had to travel a certain distance before exploding, so that if a player was close to a noob tuber and the noob tuber fired his grenade at him, it would not explode; however, a direct hit from the grenade would still kill the player due to the force of the grenade shell.
A third counter was the Riot Shield. The riot shield would reduce damage from explosives and protect the player from bullets; this was balanced by the fact that the player using the riot shield would be limited to their secondary weapon or using the riot shield as a melee weapon.
Supporters of the noob tubing, or “Tubers”, claim it is a legitimate weapon, and point to its continued inclusion in video games as proof. Another characteristic they point out about the grenade launcher is that it is much more effective than hand thrown grenades against campers.
Campers don’t tend to move once they have found an effective spot, and throwing a grenade in can give them time to move away, wait for it to explode, and resettle. A Grenade Launcher shot will explode on contact and prevent the camper from having any time to react.
Critics of the “Noob Tube” on the other hand, feel like that the grenade launcher makes it too easy for a non-experienced player to get kills and that it requires no skill to use. A player can simply fire at their target, and if it hits nearby, then they get a kill without the precision needed from using bullets.
Enterprising trolls, known as griefers in the video game community, can generate lulz by using the noob tube. Players who consider themselves too “pro” to use the noob tube will have a rage reaction after being killed with it. This reaction, of course, feeds the troll and generates lulz as seen in this example: (NOTE: NSFW, Contains strong language)
The Term “Noob Tube” has come to acquire another meaning, and is now used as a euphuism for male genitals. The phrase “Would you like to see my Noob Tube?” is a perfect example of this, and currently appears on T-shirts.
Halo: Reach & The Pro Pipe
Credit to this goes to Stoffe for pointing it out to me. In Halo: Reach, the UNSC Grenade Launcher is known by the community as the “Pro Pipe”, which is a direct challenge to the “Noob Tube”. The UNSC Launcher does detonate on impact with the enemy, however the Grenades can be bounced off a surface to connect with their target.
What makes it more difficult and thus a “Pro Pipe” is that there is no special cross-hair displayed for the grenade launcher; instead the player must depend on their own understanding of how a Grenade Launcher works as well as the kinetics of a grenade bouncing off a surface.
From the Halo: Reach Wiki:
The grenade launcher has two firing modes. The first launches a single grenade at around normal grenade speed: after hitting a surface, the grenade detonates on impact with an opponent or after the time of a frag grenade’s detonation, in which case the grenade will explode after bouncing off the ground once. The second firing mode shoots a grenade that explodes when the player wishes. This is performed by holding down the trigger, which fires the grenade but merely primes it; it will only explode after the trigger is released.
The Grenade Launcher has multiple nicknames among the fan community and Bungie alike, including “pro-pipe”, a reference to the numerous grenade launchers in first-person shooter games, which have been collectively dubbed “noob-tubes”.
Once again, credit goes to Stoffe.
Future of the Phrase
With the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, one would expect a rise in searches for the term; however, against all expectations, it has fallen for multiple reasons. One reason is because of the mechanics in Black Ops; for starters, Scavenger no longer resupplies the grenade launcher.
Another perk, (Flak Jacket) provides the benefits of Blast Mask without the drawbacks. Third is competition, The Master Key makes a return as does an under-slung Flamethrower.
Fourth is price, with the new currency system, every attachment has a price and the most expensive attachment is none other than the Grenade Launcher, at a cost of 3000 Call of Duty points. It would appear that “noob tubing” is becoming a thing of the past.