Gatling as a starter weapon hurts the game

DooplissDoopliss Kickstarter Backer ES1, Space Cat Posts: 12
I was originally going to title this "Everspace undervalues velocity" due to the widely-agreed power of stuff like the Beam Laser and Coil Gun, but that seemed like biting off more than I could chew and the Gatling is definitely the messiest instance of what may or may not be a general problem. So first I'll be arguing that the Gatling has serious problems as a weapon, and next I'll be arguing that this is in fact a bad thing.

Why the Gatling is underpowered
The Gatling's low velocity hurts it badly - especially when you're dogfighting at close range, but also in places where you wouldn't really expect it. As we know from fighting Outlaws it doesn't take a lot of swerving to avoid a Gatling shot, and even at the Gatling's maximum range the target's movement corrections can take a pretty significant chunk out of your DPS. Needless to say it gets much worse as you get closer, and once you're past 500 meters or so no amount of skilled tracking will deal relevant damage to someone changing direction at speed (which most enemies, early-game or otherwise, will do if you close). Under most combat situations, the Gatling's DPS is exaggerated compared to what the game's other weapons will put out.

Even when shots aren't missing, the delay between firing and hitting is more inconvenient than one would expect. Traverse time means you don't start damaging them until a significant while after you start shooting, and it also means you waste any shots launched after the last fatal shot was launched but before the target actually explodes. In the past I've toyed with switching targets before my old target actually explodes, but I've found the scatter and small corrections mean that Gatling damage fluctuates quite a lot even when you'd expect it to be stable, and doing so often just leaves the target alive.

The description says that the Gatling is popular against stationary targets, and this is accurate, but stationary hull damage is also the least important form of damage in the game. Turrets, drones and even Frigate hardpoints are almost universally flimsy, and since they attack predictably you're not really punished for spending an extra second or half-second hitting them with mediocre damage instead of good damage. The easier a target is to hit, the less time a damage increase saves in killing your target.

By all rights, I should like the Gatling. I like setting up a line of attack, zipping in and hammering a target before they can do proper evasive maneuvers. -BEEP-, I even like it when they do go into evasive maneuvers and it becomes a struggle to keep them on target. But even when everything goes right - even when the target is flying directly at me, and weapon velocity should matter the least - the Gatling isn't significantly better than any of the other options. It's not a good weapon.

Why the Gatling's weakness is a problem
It's not necessarily a bad thing for a starting weapon to be bad - the idea with starting weapons is to get off them, after all - but in this case its bad in specific ways that make the game less accessible and entertaining.

Firstly, the Gatling's problems go to the ability to deal meaningful damage with it at all. I can pretty consistently complete the game at this point unless I do something dumb like teleport-spam off the map and learn that there's an instakill zone, but I still can't keep a bead on a swerving target with the Gatling. Once you get to close range it takes just as much leading as the Scatter Gun, but you only need to land a couple hits with the Scatter Gun while you need to keep the Gatling trained on the target long-term. This basically means that, until you find a better hull weapon, mixing it up at close range is basically a non-option against reasonably-dodgy enemies.

Secondly, hull damage is just more necessary than shield damage, especially in the early game. Hammering down an Okkar ship's shields with hull weapons certainly isn't ideal, but trying to bring down an Outlaw ship with your Pulse Laser is completely non-viable. This means that, if your hull weapon is no good, you can't really counteract it aside from making heavy use of missiles.

Finally, your ability to get off the Gatling depends mostly on your between-runs progress. If you've made a trip or two to Sector 4 and got a weapon blueprint you like, or even a Scanning Probe blueprint to help you find a weapon floating around, your starting hull weapon is almost irrelevant. This means the weapon's disadvantages are borne almost entirely by people just getting their feet wet in the game, not because they don't know how to adapt yet, but because more experienced players simply don't have to adapt.

What can be done about it
The simplest solution would be to increase the Gatling's velocity, and potentially decrease its wind-up time. Leading targets would still be necessary under this system, but doing so would be more viable against dogfighting targets. The Gatling here would be more of the close-range knife-fighting weapon we associate with machine guns in robot/space games and serve you decently, but not excellently, against early-game fighter craft.

Another option is to simply give it a damage increase. The Gatling in its current state is somewhat of a finesse weapon that doesn't reward finesse - you have to get in close to use it, you have one of the strictest leading requirements in your arsenal once you do, and in exchange you get merely solid damage. If accuracy under these conditions rewarded you with really good damage instead of just pretty good damage it would still be a massive pain for newbies, but it would encourage lining attacks up smartly and not getting bogged down. There's a risk that this would make it muscle too much in on the Scatter Gun II's territory, but I admittedly kind of think of the Gatling in its current state as a worse Scatter Gun.

If you want to distinguish the Gatling more, one option is to increase its range to 2 km or so. This would turn it into a sort of artillery weapon, hammering predictably-moving targets from a distance. This is a niche the game doesn't currently have filled, with existing long-range weapons either having homing properties or having a high velocity (hitscan for basically everything other than the pulse laser). The downsides here are that it doesn't do much to help newbies going for the natural instinct to mix it up in close range, and it may be that "reverse throttle and gun them down as they fly directly at you" is an overpowered strategy already, but if you're not trying to deter that it would certainly give the weapon more staying power.

Well, I went on long enough that you'd be 100% justified not reading it at all, but thanks very much if you do decide to read it.

Comments

  • FistOfPubertyFistOfPuberty Common Backer ES1, Customer Posts: 7
    I don't know, I think you might be using it for a role it's not made for. The Gatling, in my experience, is a fantastic in-your-face weapon that chunks through hull armor in seconds. To best utilize it, I find that getting to a range where velocity doesn't matter is essential. The weapon's high spread makes it largely ineffective at its max rated range. Increasing its range to 2km without changing its spread would make it a handy blunderbuss for taking out missiles but not much else. It doesn't do a whole lot of damage, and I think this is acceptable, as it is a starting weapon.
  • DooplissDoopliss Kickstarter Backer ES1, Space Cat Posts: 12
    edited October 2016
    I'd suggest that when you say "a range where velocity doesn't matter", you also mean "a speed where velocity doesn't matter". Getting closer means you have to do less leading, but it also means you have to do drastically more turning to account for the same change in direction from your target. It might be that M&K makes target-tracking easier, but IME tracking anything faster than a G&B Heavy Fighter isn't really viable at close range with a controller - and even if you do catch up, you lose time you'd otherwise be dealing damage with a weapon that requires less catching up.

    Again, the Gatling's perfectly fine against stuff moving slow enough that you can hit all your shots, but hull damage is also significantly less important against stuff moving slow enough that you can hit all your shots.
  • DarlothDarloth Customer Posts: 24
    If I'm 5 meters from a G&B heavy fighter and I'm doing hull damage to it, since the turret is shooting me in the face, for certain, guaranteed, I want to be doing a LOT of hull damage to it.

    The gatling is actually pretty good at that.
  • ForavenForaven Member Posts: 121
    I don't think the gatling is underpowered. It does well, especially upgraded but very fast enemies are a challenge to hit with. The only reason we find it weak is because weapons like the coilguns and beam lasers clearly outperform it because they hit instantanously, are pinpoint accurate, long ranged and do fairly well against both shields and hull. The problem is not that the gatling is UP but that other weapons don't have comparable weaknesses.
  • davidbananas999davidbananas999 Member Posts: 7
    This is a very well-written thread. I appreciate that a lot. Props for that.

    As far as the gatling goes, i completely agree. I switch out my gatling and salvage it as soon as i can each run. I started making it much farther when i stopped using it.
  • DeadEch0DeadEch0 Common Beta Backer ES1, Customer Posts: 37
    edited October 2016
    Foraven said:

    I don't think the gatling is underpowered.The problem is not that the gatling is UP but that other weapons don't have comparable weaknesses.

    I agree, I liked that gatlin for what it was, but since the arrival of coil gun II, I rarely use anything else. Yesterday I tried 2x fire rate mod mk3, 1x energy consumption mk3, along with a weapon overdrive mk3, core extender mk3 and devastator... no comment.

  • GiraffasaurGiraffasaur Moderator, Space Cat Posts: 1,102
    edited October 2016
    DeadEch0 said:

    Yesterday I tried 2x fire rate mod mk3, 1x energy consumption mk3, along with a weapon overdrive mk3, core extender mk3 and devastator... no comment.

    Swap that Energy Consumption mod out for another Fire Rate mod and get yourself a Sub-Routine: Daredevil; let the fun begin.

    In regards to the main topic of the thread, I think the OP is on to something with increasing the range of the Gatling Gun. It doesn't inherently make the weapon crazy good because the difficulty of leading will be increased significantly more as well, but it does make it more viable in more situations where other weapons fail. This would bring the Gatling Gun back into the picture, for certain builds.
  • gustavo_sanchezgustavo_sanchez Member Posts: 14
    Actually, the Gatling is my main weapon when starting. I don't feel it's UP at all.
  • Iron_ClawIron_Claw Member Posts: 18
    Are you using a controller? That might be the reason, it's actually fairly easy to use with the KB&M, as you can accurately position your fire to hit the enemy. Just get in close and follow. Also, remember it is a starter weapon. If you don't like it, replace it quickly or buy the perk that gives you starter equipment/resources. At a high enough level, you can choose between three options, one at least having a better weapon.
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