Last time we looked at the best and worst weapons MWO has to offer - now we round up the rest. As I said before, there’s nothing outright bad in here, but it’s stuff that you should only consider in certain circumstances (like if you run out of tonnage for medium lasers or if you don’t have the crit slots for a gauss rifle).
Twice the range of the medium laser, but bulkier, heavier and generates plenty of heat. It’s not a terrible weapon, but if you’ve got the hardpoints, there’s no real argument for taking it over a couple of mediums. If you've got few hardpoints and plenty of slots and tonnage to spare, it's not a terrible choice, but I much prefer the large pulse laser. Speaking of which...
Now, I like the large pulse a lot - it hits harder than the large laser and makes an awesome noise, but I can’t in good conscience put it in the “unequivocally good” section. Like the large laser, it’s bulky and heavy and it generates even more heat than the large - enough that it’s difficult to keep it heat stable on anything smaller than a heavy. It can really shine on an assault mech, and that’s where you’ll see most people using them. Downside is that effective range is similar to the medium laser. Within that range, anything using them is a notable threat, but getting an assault mech to within 300m of a target gives your opponents a lot of time to pelt you with longer range stuff.
AC2/5/10/20 + UAC/5
I’m lumping the autocannons together here, because none of them really stand out that much from each other. The AC/2 fires twice a second, has a 720m effective range and doesn’t do a lot of damage - as you step up the calibres, the range and ammo per ton drops, the firing rate slows and the weapon weight, damage and heat generated increases. Top of the tree is the AC/20 which has a 270m effective range, takes four seconds to cycle and hits like a truck. It’s difficult to say that there’s a sweet spot in there at the moment, they’re all much of a muchness depending on your style of play. I personally stay clear of the AC/20 because it’s so damned heavy and hot, and if you want to use an AC/2 effectively you probably want to take a couple of them, and it’s tricky to hold them on target to get the maximum benefit out of them. The UAC/5 is an AC/5 that can fire twice per firing cycle, but comes with a chance to jam. While it’s jammed you can’t use it at all, and unjamming it is like playing a Dance Dance Revolution minigame, so I personally can’t be bothered with it. Reports from the developers suggest a tweak is coming which will change the unjamming mechanic and hopefully make it more useful again.
Like anything that isn’t an energy weapon, you need to load up on ammo for your autocannons, which means you a) need to find the tonnage for the ammo, b) you can run out and c) the ammo (like the gauss rifle) can explode when it gets hit. Autocannons are great for front loading your damage, but you really have to be aware of the disadvantages.
The LB-10X does the same amount of damage as the AC/10 but fires a burst of pellets rather than a single shot. The burst is fairly tight but ultimately you’re not doing all the damage you’re putting out there to a single part of the target, so it’s going to take longer to kill it. It IS a bit lighter than a standard AC/10, and it does have SOME application for shooting at fast light mechs (where hitting with a couple of pellets is better than missing with a single high damage shot), but it’s difficult to recommend. In tabletop BattleTech it has the option of firing the pellets or firing a standard autocannon slug, and if this gets implemented it’ll be a much more versatile weapon.
SRMs are worth packing on if you have the hard points and space free for them, but they're difficult to focus a build around. 270m range and x points of damage per shot are very nice, but you do have to be mindful of the spread and the flightpath they take. Basically you're at optimal range at around 100 or 200m. Anything in between and you're going to have odd spread on it and not get your damage concentrated on single components. As a side note, missile weapons in general fire based on how many launch tubes are physically present on the model. One of the Ravens, for example, has a single launch tube, so even if you stick an LRM 20 in there it'll fire the 20 shots one at a time in succession instead of in a 20 shot cluster. With SRMs this can be a real pain in the backside, as you want to be hammering them with all the damage in one go rather than drip feeding it. The SRM4 is my personal favorite as I find the spread a lot easier to manage than the 6.
Streak SRM 2
It’s an SRM2 but it’s guided, and it won’t let you fire unless it has a confirmed lock. At present it always homes on the centre torso, which along with the head is one of your two guaranteed kill zones. Unfortunately the CT tends to be the most heavily armoured part of a mech so it can take a while to burn through all that plating with these. If you can mount several of them (as you can on some Centurion and Catapult variants) you can make something that’s a terror to light mechs and is a terrifying flanker. A pair of Streak 2s does as much damage as an AC/10 or PPC (if all four missiles hit), so having a Catapult armed with six of them start hammering your rear armour is a very sobering experience. Worth noting that while it’s great for swatting light mechs because it can lock on, beware of trying to use it while you’re in a turning battle. You’ll have tone and lock, but if your target has a really high angular velocity you’re going to miss and waste ammo.
Decent range, good damage, but weighs seven tons, uses three critical slots and generates as much heat as a large pulse laser. If we had bigger maps these would get a lot more love here, but with most engagements taking place inside of 300m the PPCs range advantage is lost. There's talk of PPCs getting some sort of electronics scrambling effect, and if and when that arrives it may be necessary to bump the PPCs up in the desirability scale, but for now they're an ammoless AC/10 that overheats like crazy. They’re also one of two weapons in the game that has a minimum range, in this case 90m. Inside of 90m the damage done drops off linearly until at 0m you’re doing zero damage. It’s not necessarily a problem, but you can bet that a smart pilot seeing you armed with them is going to run at you as fast as possible so your lightning cannon does less damage. I can see the appeal, but I’ve never been able to make them work for me.
Half the weight, tonnage and damage of a medium laser, the small is good to throw into a mech when you’ve got a little bit of tonnage left, or if you’re running a light mech you can mount a bunch of them and fire repeatedly without worrying about shutdown as much. I have a feeling that the double heat sinks are going to make the small laser’s use fade out as soon as people can afford the DHS upgrade cost, as there’s not many mechs where you’ll have a half ton kicking around but not a full ton.
The LRM is the only indirect fire weapon in MWO. The damage done by an individual LRM is constant across all the variants, and the launchers just fire different numbers of missiles in each volley (with corresponding increases in heat generated, weight, cycle time and critical slots required). As with SRMs, the number fired at once is limited by the physical launch tubes on your space robot, so if you’ve got an LRM 20 and you only have 10 tubes you’ll fire two rapid volleys of 10 missiles. The LRM really shines when you’re playing with an organised team and you have someone to run ahead and lock targets for you (preferably with a TAG laser) so you can stay in cover and rain missiles down on them. LRMs are undoubtedly effective but there’s a few downsides - first, their ammo requirements can get pretty hefty so you’ll need to pack a fair few tons if you want to get more than a couple of LRM 20 volleys off. Second, the LRM is the only weapon that your opponents can shoot down in mid flight, providing they’re equipped with an Anti Missile System. An AMS can’t knock out every single missile in an LRM 15 or 20 volley, but it can greatly reduce its effectiveness. Thirdly, they have a minimum range. Inside of 180m you can still fire the things, but they will do precisely no damage (and your opponent will be treated to a bunch of unarmed missiles bouncing off his cockpit). Finally, and this one is the real deal breaker for me, LRM boating is BORING. Put cursor on target, wait for tone, fire. Repeat. Yes, you’ll do a shedload of damage without putting yourself at risk, but that’s not really what I play MWO for. I play it for the explosions, the limbs falling off as an ammo explosion gets triggered, the intense satisfaction of coring an assault out from behind in a mech 50 tons lighter than it - none of which you get when you’re 500m out making it rain.
And that’s the lot. “What about TAG, NARC and AMS, you idiot!” you may be shouting at your screen. Well, firstly, I can’t hear you through that, calm down. Secondly, I consider them to be more in the vein of equipment than weapons and as such I’ll be covering them off in a future piece once more of the things like ECM are in the game. From the looks of the proposed mechlab redesign a lot more of the weapon stats will be brought to the fore and make the choices on offer more transparent than they are now, but I hope that in the meantime this has helped some of you.