Please comment on firearm strategies that you find effective in this thread and feel free to ask questions. Thanks!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
IV. Assault Weapons
V. Firearm melee attacks
VI. Damage type effects
VII. Strategic Considerations
When you're on the ground, you have four possible approaches to weapon combat. You can use melee attacks (see my melee combat guide for info on that), pistols, rifles or assault weapons. The four weapon types have different skills that affect them so it is in your interest to keep to one type of weapon. This guide discusses the "2" special attack for each weapon.
Note: all normal attacks (the "1" key attacks) do equal damage and have equal range, that being long range.
Pistols are strong in that the pistols available are versatile in their effect and have short cooldown times. They are weak in that there is no AoE Exploit pistol and that the AoE Expose pistols are short range. The affecting skills for pistols are Close Combat Training, Security and Firearms.:
Stun Pistol (EXPOSE, damage: low, cooldown: 6 seconds, range: long, not AoE): Shot is a guaranteed 2 second stun (unless the target has resistance or immunity active). Good for controlling difficult enemies and could be useful in PvP as part of a team strategy.
Compression Bolt Pistol (EXPLOIT, damage: very high, cooldown: 6 seconds, range: long, not AoE): Shot has 66% chance of knocking the target down and back 1 foot. It's comparable in function to a sniper rifle except you can use it while moving. Probably the best gun for taking advantage of exposes as they happen around you.
Wide Beam Pistol (EXPOSE, damage: high, cooldown: 9 seconds, range: short, arc: moderate): Will hit up to four targets but is short range. Does slightly more damage than Dual Pistols at the expense of hitting one less target at maximum.
Dual Pistols (EXPOSE, damage: high, cooldown: 9 seconds, range: short, arc: moderate): Will hit up to five targets but is short range (note: the damage is about four times what the tooltip indicates). Probably the best gun for getting exposes, provided you can afford to be close to enemy lines.
Rifles are strong in that they have long ranges, do a lot of damage and have decent cooldown times. They are weak in that they do not have good firing arcs on their AoE attack and, overall, do not hit a lot of targets. The affecting skills are Assault Training, Soldier and Firearms.
Sniper Rifle (EXPLOIT, damage: extreme, cooldown: 9 seconds, range: long, not AoE): Shot has a 66% chance of knocking the target down and back 8 feet. It only affects one target at a time and when you activate the attack your character will kneel down and be unable to move for about two seconds. Useful against boss characters or in PvP; if you can deal with having to stop moving this is the most devastating single-target ground weapon attack available.
High Density Beam Rifle (EXPLOIT, damage: moderate, cooldown: 9 seconds, range: long, arc: narrow): Will hit up to four enemies and is guaranteed to push affected enemies back up to 25 feet. Note that it does NOT knock down your enemies and has a narrow firing arc. This rifle is situationally useful as a crowd control device for when you absolutely have to get an enemy away from you.
Pulse Rifle (EXPOSE, damage: very high, cooldown: 12 seconds, range: long, arc: narrow): Will hit up to four enemies and has a 33% chance of knocking the affected targets down and back 16 feet. The main drawback is that your enemies need to be close together for the AoE to be effective.
Split Beam Rifle (EXPLOIT, damage: very high, cooldown: 12 seconds, range: long, arc: moderate): Will hit up to three enemies and has a good firing arc. If you're looking to go for AoE damage this is probably the rifle to use.
Assault Weapons are strong in that they can hit a lot of targets and have good firing arcs. They are weak in that their range is only moderate and that they do not do single target damage well. The affecting skills are Assault Training, Special forces and Firearms.
Full Auto Assault (EXPOSE, damage: very high, cooldown: 12 seconds, range: moderate, arc: moderate): Will hit up to four targets (note: the damage is about four times what the tooltip indicates). This is comparable to the dual pistols special attack and can garner Exposes quickly and at decent range. It has the highest damage of all assault weapon special attacks.
Arcwave Assault (EXPOSE, damage: high, cooldown: seconds, range: moderate, arc: moderate): Will hit up to three targets and has a 33% chance of knocking the affected targets down and back 16 feet. You may find that the Blast Assault is more effective at doing the mass carnage that assault weapons are designed for.
Blast Assault (EXPOSE, damage: high, cooldown: 15 seconds, range: moderate, arc: moderate): Will hit up to five targets and has a 66% chance of knocking back enemies 8 feet. This is a great weapon for knocking down and Exposing a lot of enemies at once.
Auto-Targeting Assault (EXPLOIT, damage: high, cooldown: 15 seconds, range: moderate, arc: moderate): Will hit up to four enemies. It's similar to a Split Beam Rifle and can Exploit multiple enemies effectively.
Every firearm has a AoE Cone melee attack that is by default bound to the "3" key. These are very important for keeping enemies away from you should they get too close as these melee attacks will almost always knock down and back the target(s) a good distance and will, 50% of the time, stun them as well. Remember that your enemies will get knockdown and stun immunity as they suffer these debuffs! It's also worth remembering that these are also Expose attacks and can be part of a general attack strategy, especially if you're using an Exploit weapon.
Pistols use the Palm Strike melee attack. It's very quick and effective.
Rifles use the Rifle Butt melee attack. Identical to Palm Strike in function.
Assault Weapons use the Melee Strike melee attack. This is MUCH slower than a palm strike or rifle butt but does the same damage and other effects. This means that you will have a harder time defending yourself in melee if you use an assault weapon.
Damage Type Effects
These are similar to the ship weapon versions except that there is a 5% chance of them triggering instead of a 2.5% chance (except Antiproton, which is identical in that its effect is 20% extra critical damage).
Phaser: 5% chance of +2 hold. This means 2 seconds of hold. This is useful but is difficult to take focused advantage of because you can't plan for when it takes effect. Also, hypos remove the stun.
Disruptor: 5% chance of 10% lowered damage resistance. Quite useful but it is not known if this affects a target whose shields are still active.
Plasma: 5% chance of the target getting a plasma fire damage over time effect. Not very effective against someone who can cure it (science officers) but very useful against targets who have no such cure.
Tetryon: 5% chance of the target losing an extra 45 shields. Not especially valuable since this is not a lot of damage and doesn't affect targets whose shields are already down.
Polaron: 5% chance of the enemy having a weapons malfunction for 5 seconds. This is useful but is difficult to take focused advantage of because you can't plan when it takes effect. Also, weapon power cells remove the malfunction effect and enemies using melee attacks (including martial arts and Bat'leth attacks) are completely unaffected.
Antiproton: 20% extra critical damage on all attacks. This is probably the most useful damage type effect but antiproton weapons are not common. For the most part you will find them only as badge-only purple items.
My personal suggestion would be to use Antiproton weapons if you can get them and plasma weapons if you can't. If it is proven that disruptor weapons work against shielded foes, use them instead of plasma weapons (and please, let me know!)
1. In PvE, for pistol users, try using dual pistols first to get exposes and then switch to a compression pistol to snipe exposed targets. Short cooldown on the two guns makes for more opportunities to do this but the compression pistol is single-target only.
2. In PvP, a pair of compression bolt pistols will give you some serious sniping power while on the run, allowing you to take sniper shots potentially every three seconds. This will be much more effective if your teammates can get exposes on the enemy for you.
3. In PvE, for rifle users, try using a Pulse Rifle to get exposes and then switch to a Split Beam Rifle to capitalize on those exposes. Moderate cooldown and pretty straightforward.
4. In PvP, a pair of sniper rifles is pretty devastating to take out single targets but you will need to deal with the fact that you will stop every time you make your sniper shot.
5. In PvE, for assault weapon users, try using an Blast Assault to get exposes and knock down your targets and then switch to an Auto-targeting Assault to capitalize on any exposes. The cooldown is long but the burst effect of this is quite strong.
6. In PvP a pair of Blast Assault weapons will knock over large groups of enemies when you need it; this is an excellent crowd control plan.
7. While potentially dangerous, an extremely aggressive strategy can include closing to melee against your enemy or enemies and using your melee attack to knock them down and possibly stun them. This makes for a powerful setup for a strong special attack, particularly if the enemy or enemies were already wounded and are likely to die from the special attack.
8. Another extremely aggressive strategy is to close with an enemy and repeatedly palm strike or rifle butt them until they're exposed and then shoot them with an Exploit special attack. This works especially well with compression pistols. If you really like this you probably should consider using a melee weapon with a firearm for backup.
9. It is my understanding that High Density Beam Rifles are very important in certain STF scenarios in order to keep enemies at bay. For those purposes you will probably want to bring two High Density Rifles and switch to them for that portion of the STF; they aren't very effective for other uses due to their low damage and poor firing arc.
10. Remember: hypos remove hold effects, weapon power cells remove malfunction effects and shield recharges remove expose effects. Using these at the right time could spell the difference between victory and defeat, especially in PvP.
Split beam can only hit 3 targets, auto targeting can hit 4. Sniper rifles cooldown is 9 seconds, not 12. There are a few more that I think are errors but I don't feel like going to a vendor right now and confirming it.
Its great that you're compiling this information and all, but your accuracy is a bit off. Might wanna stop by a vendor and read the descriptions on some weapons.
edit: Typed this out several months ago, not sure how accurate it still is. Given how hard it is to read when not in a spreadsheet, might wanna just stop be a vendor and look at the weapons.
I'm almost certain that I already know the answer, but I want to double check:
The only abilities that affect ground weapons all belong to Tac officers, correct? In other words, those points I've spent in Starship Phaser Weapons only affect space combat (yes, I'm aware that the answer to that question is already in the name of the skill, but bear with me), and have nothing to do with ground combat.
This means that there will be no skill-related difference in damage or cooldowns regardless of my choice, correct? I'll do the same basic dps with a phaser rifle or an antiproton rifle, so I should base my choice on the proc I desire, right?
This seems a little odd to me- I imagine that knowledge of phasers would apply equally to space and ground, i.e. if I knew how to optimize my ship's phaser systems, I should be able to optimize my phaser rifle, too.
You should add some notes to the Pulse Rifle. Its the only expose weapon with a range of 30 meters that can hit multiple targets, plus its secondary attack does a decent amount of damage (just a little less than a split beam). You should always be able to line up your shots to hit at least 2 targets, hitting more than 2 can be a bit tricky unless the enemy is clogging a doorway. Its my personal favorite expose weapon. Max range, solid damage, more than one target.