Mythbusting PS2 - Weapon Balance (LMG Edition) - [Image Heavy]

Discussion in 'PlanetSide 2 Gameplay Discussion' started by BrbImAFK, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. BrbImAFK

    Mythbusting PS2

    Episode 5 - Weapon Balance (LMG Edition)

    I've been seeing a lot of threads and comments on the forums complaining that <insert enemy empire> is OP, and <insert your empire> is UP, and this weapon is broken and that weapon isn't balanced and so on. In a (probably pointless) attempt to quell these seemingly endless threads and comments, I've decided to spend some time analysing the weapon stats in detail.

    I'd love to include actual gameplay data in this analysis, but since the demise of the Oracle of Death, there is no site that provides decent stats for analysis (and no, DasAnfall doesn't provide decent stats).

    As such, I'm going to confine this review to a purely technical analysis to see whether the actual weapon statistics give any indication that we might have a problem. For this week's episode, I've decided to start with the LMG's, given that so many people main Heavy Assault.

    Let's find out whether there really is any cause for concern!

    • First off, I main VS and obviously, like most people, I have biases. However, when I write factual / informative articles like this one, I do my best to be as objective as possible.
    • I based all my data off the latest spreadsheet available from Iridar's awesome website. There were a very few gaps, so I filled those in from in-game data.
    • I spent many hours analysing the data, and I think I've done a pretty good job. If you want to debate my methodology or conclusions, go right ahead (so long as you back your comments up! :p ). Please do NOT, however, say "well, it doesn't feel that way to me" or somesuch, because that's a purely subjective opinion, and everybody will have a different one.

    Test Methodology
    1. Data was collected from Iridar's spreadsheet as noted above. Where gaps were identified, ingame data was collected to fill them.
    2. The LMG's were broken up into categories of similar weapons to allow decent comparisons. The division was made primarily on the weapon's role or on specific, shared characteristics.
    3. Each category of LMG's was then assessed based on default statistics as well as on the most likely attachment loadouts. Attachments were only considered where they differed between weapons e.g. if all weapons in a category can access a suppressor, and the impact of that suppressor is identical across the weapons, then the impact of a suppressor was not analysed as we won't learn anything from it.

    Test Results


    Before we get into the detailed, individual weapon analysis, let's take a brief look at the overall stats of the LMGs :


    Starting with Damage and Rate of Fire, we can see that (to nobody's surprise) the NC have the highest damage and slowest firing weapons. At least in this respect, TR and VS are pretty similar.


    In terms of accuracy, the VS have a good performance in terms of hipfire accuracy compared to the TR and especially the NC. However, when you come to aimed accuracy, the NC are the clear winners with a good spread of accuracy models. The TR have some good accuracy models and some bad accuracy models. With one exception, the VS pretty much only have bad aimed accuracy.


    In terms of vertical recoil and FSRM, the TR generally have the lowest recoil and the highest FSRM, which is in keeping with their "shoot 'til the mag is empty" philosophy. The NC have the highest recoil overall, but do have a decent spread across the whole range of recoil values. For FSRM, the NC are generally pretty low as, with their high damage and low RoF, they should generally be bursting more than the other two empires. The VS turn in a mediocre performance, with middle-of-the-road vertical recoil and generally high FSRMs (very nearly as bad as the TR!).


    It should come as no surprise to anybody that the NC has far and away the most accurate weapons in terms of horizontal recoil. The TR have a few excellent weapons while the rest have fairly poor control and the VS are stuck with mostly middling-to-bad weapons.

    It should be noted that one of the main drivers of horizontal recoil accuracy is the maximum number of kicks in any given direction imposed by the horizontal recoil tolerance. The vast majority of LMG's only allow 2 kicks in any direction, but a number of them drop to 3 kicks. The NC has 1, the VS has 2 and the TR have 3.


    Finally, we come to reload speed and magazine size. In general, the NC and TR have a good spread of reload speed options, with relatively large magazines. The VS has relatively fast reloads, but pays for that with generally smaller magazines.

    Now that we've got a good feel for the LMG class as a whole, let's start analysing individual weapons.

    CQC Hipfire


    I've put the LA1 Anchor, the MSW-R and the Orion VS54 together because they all share great rates of fire, excellent hipfire, slow projectile velocity and small magazines with fast reloads. The Betelgeuse 54-A is included here because it's basically an Orion clone.

    So, what are the primary differences between these weapons?

    Damage and RoF, obviously. While three of the guns share a damage and RoF profile, the Anchor has better damage and worse RoF. In terms of DPS, the Anchor puts out 1,670 DPS while the other three do 1,788 DPS. The Anchor is going to have to shoot more accurately and get more headshots in order to be competitive. The Anchor also has slower reloads than the others, despite having the same size magazine.

    The next major difference is that the Anchor and the MSW both have right-pull recoil bias, while the Orion and Betelgeuse have equal left-right shake. Normally this would make the Anchor and MSW harder to control in terms of recoil, but given that these are all CQC weapons designed for hipfire, I don't consider this to be nearly as much of an issue as if these were medium- to long-ranged weapons designed for ADS.

    The last obvious difference is the horizontal recoil itself, with a spread of about 0.04* (I don't know how to do a degree symbol, so * will have to serve). However, based on Iridar's calculations, 0.04* basically represents about 0.6 pixels or, to put it visually, about 10% the size of a Planetman's chest at 60m : - [Had to use a link, because you can only have 20 images in a thread]

    I don't know about you, but given that these are hipfire weapons designed for CQC, as far as I'm concerned the recoil difference is so small as to be negligible.

    So let's move on to looking at these weapons with some attachments on.


    With the exception of the Betelgeuse, which as an Auraxium weapon can't have any attachments other than scopes, all three weapons have access to identical Suppressors, Flash Suppressors, Forward Grips and Scopes (1x, IRNV, 2x, 3.4x and 4x). The Orion has access to a Laser Sight, while the MSW and Anchor have access to Soft Point Ammo and Advanced Laser Sights.

    With these attachments on, the three guns now have almost identical Hipfire accuracies, but the SPA gives the MSW and Anchor significantly better damage profiles. The Betelgeuse, having no attachments, is basically a straight downgrade from the Orion, with only it's Heat mechanic to compensate (and not having to reload is a decent advantage).

    While I believe that these guns are pretty well balanced overall, if I had to rank them I'd probably go with MSW-R, Anchor, Orion, Betelgeuse. If you've got good aim (30%-35% accuracy and HSR or better), I'd probably swap the MSW and Anchor around.

    CQC High-Damage


    I've classed the EM1, T16 Rhino and VX29 Polaris together as they are the only LMG's that share a 20m maximum damage range.

    These weapons are really, really similar in my opinion. Horizontal and vertical recoil are virtually identical (as per the calculations in the CQC Hipfire section), but the Polaris has a right-pull bias while the Rhino has ZERO first shot recoil, making it a bursting monster.

    Rate of fire, bloom, ADS accuracy, projectile velocity, reload speeds, magazine sizes etc. are similar or identical.

    The one big difference is on the hipfire, where the Polaris clearly outclasses the Rhino and EM1.


    For attachments, these guns share identical Suppressors, Flash Suppressors and Scopes (1x, IRNV, 2x, 3.4x and 4x). However, this is where things start getting very different. The EM1 and Polaris have SPA, Advanced Laser Sights and Forward Grips, while the Rhino has HVA, Advanced Forward Grip and a Laser Sight. In addition, the Polaris has access to a Compensator and a 6x Scope, while the EM1 and Rhino get Extended Magazines.

    To analyse these attachments, I've looked at two separate builds. All guns get their ammo, but one build uses a Laser Sight for hipfire, while the other build uses a Grip (and Compensator on the Polaris) for ADS.

    As you can see from the statistics above, the EM1 and Polaris are clearly better than the Rhino at close range and at hipfire, while the Rhino is probably the best at longer range and while ADS.

    For CQC, hipfire and close-range combat I'd rank these weapons as Polaris, EM1, Rhino. For ADS and short-medium or longer ranged combat I'd rank them as Rhino, Polaris, EM1.

    Short-Medium Range, High Capacity


    I ranked the EM6, T9 CARV and SVA-88 together (along with the T9A Butcher, which is a CARV clone) as they share high capacity magazines, relatively low bullet velocities, similar damage and accuracy profiles, relatively high RoFs and similar recoil patterns all with 3-kick tolerances.

    In fact, there are very few significant differences between these guns. The biggest one that leaps out at me is the RoF, which results in 1,670 DPS for the EM6, 1,788 for the CARV, 1,833 for the Butcher and 1,664 for the SVA.


    For attachments, obviously the Butcher doesn't get any. All three weapons get identical Suppressors, Forward Grips (although there is a tiny difference in the impact on equip time), Laser Sights and Scopes (1x, IRNV, 2x, 3.4x and 4x). The EM6 and SVA both get Compensators, HVA and 6x Scopes while the EM6 and CARV get Flash Suppressors, and the EM6 gets Extended Magazines.

    As before, the guns are extremely similar. If I had to rank them on close-range and hipfire I would probably go with SVA > EM6 = CARV > Butcher. If I was ranking on longer ranges it would probably be EM6 > SVA = CARV > Butcher.

    Medium Range, All-Rounder


    I've ranked the GD-22S, T32 Bull and Pulsar LSW together as, in general, they're pretty middle-of-the-road, doesn't-excel-at-anything guns. They've got decent recoil, middling RoF, reasonable hipfire and ADS accuracy, middling magazines with relatively fast reloads and fairly good bullet velocity.

    I've also lumped the two NS weapons in here as generalist, non-focused weapons, purely for completeness and comparison. I won't be looking at these in detail, as they're not empire specific.

    In general, you'll find that these weapons have a very similar base with tiny tweaks in various directions to make them "different". Horizontal recoil is very similar, but the Pulsar has a 3-kick tolerance. Both the Pulsar and GD-22 have right-pull bias. The GD-22 has relatively high vertical recoil, but low FSRM, so it tends towards bursting, while the T32 has low recoil and high FSRM making for far longer bursts. Reloads are fast and magazines are relatively small, and you'll find that reload speed is generally in proportion to magazine size.

    That said, the GD-22 and T32 both have better hipfire and ADS accuracy than the Pulsar, but the Pulsar has slightly better DPS.


    All three weapons get identical Suppressors, Forward Grips, Laser Sights, Flash Suppressors and Scopes (1x, IRNV, 2x, 3.4x and 4x). The Bull gets SPA, HVA and a Compensator while the Pulsar gets Extended Magazines.

    For close-range and hipfire, I'd rank these weapons as T32 Bull > GD-22S = Pulsar. For longer ranged ADS usage, I'd probably go with T32 Bull > GD-22S = Pulsar again.



    I've groups the SAW-S, CARV-S and Flare together as they're all -S variants with access to all the attachments.

    Once again, you can see that these guns are virtually identical. Very similar horizontal and vertical recoil, slightly different FSRM's (but offsetting the vertical recoil), virtually identical accuracy, medium-large magazines with proportional reload speeds and similar mid-tier bullet velocities. Although the damage profiles and RoF are a little different, the DPS works out nearly identical.

    As all these weapons have identical attachments and, as noted above, are virtually identical statistically, I'm not going to spend any more time on them.

    Long Range


    I've grouped the SAW, TMG-50 and Ursa together because they're all empire specific long-range weapons (with the GODSAW included here as a copy of the SAW). They have generally good bullet velocities, high damage models, low RoF, accurate ADS and so on.

    One thing I would note is that, stock, the GODSAW is a clear upgrade over the SAW, while the Betelgeuse and Butcher are pretty clearly downgrades of the Orion and CARV.

    Things to note here are the TMG's 3-kick tolerance, the excellent vertical recoil and FSRM of the Ursa and the stupidly long reload speed of the SAW.


    All three weapons have access to identical Suppressors, Laser Sights, Compensators, HVA and Scopes (1x, IRNV, 2x, 3.4x, 4x and 6x). The SAW has an Advanced Forward Grip, compared to the other two's normal Forward Grips, and the Ursa has access to Extended Magazines and the Flash Suppressor.

    The only real difference here is the Grip and, as you can see from the stats, it doesn't really make a substantial difference.

    In terms of rankings, I'd be going with Ursa, TMG-50, GODSAW, SAW.


    Based on the analysis above, I think it's pretty clear that, in each category of LMG, the empires are pretty well balanced, with the vast majority of differences being extremely minor.

    If I had to raise any issues at all, it would be simply that the VS arsenal is extremely middle-of-the-road and bland. They don't really have anything that stands out about them:
    • The NC have high damage and low RoF.
    • The VS have slightly better hipfire accuracy and far worse ADS accuracy than the TR or NC, who are relatively well spread out.
    • The NC have high vertical recoil and low FSRM, while the TR have high FSRM and low vertical recoil. The VS just sit in the middle, with almost all their weapons being medium recoil, with medium-to-bad FSRM.
    • The NC and TR have a good spread of magazine sizes and reload speeds, while the VS weapons are almost all in the same categories.
    Overall, it means that the weapons in the NC and TR arsenals tend to feel far more varied than the weapons in the VS arsenal, which tend to be relatively samey.
    As far as balance goes, I think the LMG's are really well balanced, but I would like to make the VS arsenal more varied, potentially giving them an actual niche, rather than just the generic, in-between weapons they are now.

    • Up x 9
  2. Demigan

    Well finally a pretty good comparison. Most players analyse a single stat and then some smuck comes along saying "but weapon x does <something the first weapon wasnt designed for> better!"
    I like how you lumped weapons with similar stats together rather than lumping specific things together like "starter LMG's" which have wildly differing stats and usage.
  3. blackboemmel

    Nice work.
    This should help the Planetmans to see how green the gras on the other side really is.
    Of course there will still be some space to discuss or explain why LMG XYZ is UP/OP even though the numbers seem to be OK.
    My personal method to compare LMGs so far was very easy:
    I just went to the leaderboard of different LMGs and compared those stats: Accuracy, K/D, time in use etc.