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Rapid Fire Lasers are a shocking embarrassment, need buffs.

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Galactic Starfighter
Rapid Fire Lasers are a shocking embarrassment, need buffs.

Verain's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 05:35 PM | #1
Of the eight ships in this game, Rapid Fire Laser Cannon is present on the three who make their living with their blasters- both scouts, and the type 1 strikes (I initially posted this with the type 2 missile strike included- but he gets the superior light laser cannon). Despite this availability, it remains an awful cannon, chosen almost never. Rapid Fire Laser ends up in competition with EVERY other laser in the game, and it is almost always strictly worse, and is never chosen.

Rapid Fire Lasers have a short range, a moderate dps that drops off rapidly, and a medium-low tracking penalty. In this category they are joined by burst laser cannon and light laser cannon, both of which are better.

Here is a graph of weapon by accuracy that someone kindly created for the GSF forums in another thread:

You will notice that light lasers rule on dps (not damage per shot), with burst right behind. While burst cannons do drop off sharply with distance, lights an rapids fall off at similar rates. There's no point you'd want that rapid fire laser even if it wasn't encumbered with other bad features.

That essentially rules it out for both scouts- if you want the short range laser, you will pick light, which is more damage per shot and per second, but you are more likely to pick the burst on the type 2 scout. I'm not aware of any pilot who runs it on their scout, and I've seen serious attention given to laser cannon, quad, and light, in addition to the likely over budget burst laser cannon.

Which leaves the type 1 strike as the big tragedy, however. The Type 1 strikes have four weapons, and it's vitally important that they do, as their entire system ability is swapping guns- they have the low range niche shield weapon ion cannon, the quad laser (functionally quads and laser cannons are almost identical except that quads offer 7% more damage but consume 15% more energy), the long range armor piercing heavy laser (with huge tracking penalties and a tiny targeting circle)... and of course, the rapid fire lasers.

Which very few take. I have mastered ions and rapids on one of my type 1 strikes (Gladiator), specifically for finding out if there's some hidden reward. The simple fact is, this weapon is weak for the job of being close and doing stuff, and with the build that I used on that one (ion/rapid/cluster) I spend almost all my time close (the targets that I can't take close I simply don't engage). But, you would expect that heavy/rapid and ion/rapid would both offer you something cool in that spot...

But they sort of don't. Both the builds that could use the RFL don't seem to be as effective as they could be (ion/rapid/cluster, heavy/rapid/any), and this is sad.

Here's the problems with this gun:

1- The strengths of this gun are done better elsewhere.
The gun has a lowish tracking penalty- 0.8% per degree. Burst does this better, with 0.5% lost per degree. Both have a 34 degree firing arc, but burst is much more accurate at the edges (-12% for burst, -22% for rapid fire, and this is on top of upgraded RFLs having 110/85/75 versus 117/87/72 accuracy ratings). Both have the exact same ranges and the same short range.
For light lasers, with the narrower firing arc, you might expect better performance. At 30 degrees (the most for light laser), it has a -25% penalty, a point at which rapid fire lasers still have -19%. That's not a sizable advantage.

2- The hidden strength of this gun sucks.
The gun's design purpose appears to be low power consumption. With a base 16 and a ludicrously mandatory talent of 8% reduction taking it to 15.6, this gun can do a lot of damage per magazine. "That's great news!" said no pilot, ever. To have the decreased power reduction be mandatory (one of the top three) instead of optional just makes this worse (if it was swapped with the 2 degree increased firing arc / 5% less tracking penalty, that would be a great improvement). This likely means that the gun is intended for new pilots, but if a weapon should have such a low baseline power the later upgrades should eventually make it competitive at the higher end, but in fact it has the same upgrades as other guns- it just leaves out the good ones (shield piercing, armor ignore) and puts the bad ones in the mandatory line (less power consumed).
I wanted to point this out early because a dev COULD be reading it, and it's clear that this is both the intended strength of this gun, and one that no one is interested in at all, nor does it help, nor is it good, and nor does it even make SENSE for the type 1 strikes, who will NEVER have the thought of changing to a MORE EFFICIENT weapon. Most players don't care much about this number- there are high consumption guns that give players pause, but a low consumption gun is about as appealing as bringing a Prius to a rally race- high consumption guns are interesting because they let us trade in resources. Low consumption guns aren't, because we don't go OOM on our normal weapons that often- certainly not enough to justify a niche. If you, no matter WHO you are, are thinking that this niche justifies the rest of this, then keep reading, because it totally doesn't.

3- The weaknesses are crippling (weakness: short range)
The scouts don't see this as a weakness. They have one option each that is better at range- laser or quad laser- and the rest have the same range as RFLs. For them, it's just a matter of taking the better gun, which is NEVER rapid fire laser. For type 1 strikes you can consider this in addition to the slighlty longer range ion, or in addition to either of the longer range options. The problem here is that the tracking penalty only adds up near the end of the arc, and quads are higher dps than rapids starting at less than 1km, and go much further than rapids. Many pilots will stick with their slightly less than optimal shots rather than switch to a low range weapon, because the moment the enemy pilot hits boost they will again be firing a suboptimal weapon and have to swap back.

4- The weaknesses are crippling (weakness: low dps)
The scouts, again, don't care, because they just don't pick this pickle of a gun. The strikes can not really afford to switch in a low dps weapon for the narrow situation it beats their existing cannon on damage. At no point do you find yourself wishing, even with a steady bead on an opponent at 800 meters, that you were wailing away with rapid fire lasers. The dps is just not good enough to worry about. In the best case scenario, the dps is only a few percent better than the quad option, and often isn't even that much more than heavy! And remember, the moment you open fire you are already behind on damage compared to those. This is because:

5- The weaknesses are crippling (weakness: rapid fire)
When you are flying around not shooting, I want you to picture your guns having a charge. This charge can be spent when you click the button. Bampow! You dealt damage. This opening salvo is sometimes all you can get. It's clearly one of the strengths of the burst laser cannon- the ability to say hello with a solid blast of damage- but EVERY gun has more charge than the rapid fire laser, and it suffers greatly for it. A quad will be around 350, a light 400, a burst over 700, a heavy over 360, but your rapid fire laser is right around 200. This means your second shot, when it lands, will only put you a bit over the quad, light, or heavy option you gave up for it, and you better hope you have that bead.

Your opening salvo:
Time 0:
Heavy: 400ish 0.5
Quad: 355ish 0.37
Light: 400ish 0.3
RFL: 225ish 0.23

About a quarter second in (0.25-0.23), the RFL has shot a second time.
Heavy: 400ish
Quad: 355ish
Light: 400ish
RFL: 450ish

At this point, with both shots having hit, the RFL is only barely above the others opening salvos.

About a third of a second in, everyone else gets their second shots except for heavies, who aren't even supposed to be in this close range race:
Heavy: 400ish
Quad: 700ish
Light: 800ish
RFL: 450ish

By the time we're at half a second on target, the RFLs have had three shots, and everyone else in the game has shot twice:
Heavy: 800ish
Quad: 700ish
Light: 800ish
RFL: 675ish

Now as time expands, we WILL approach the dps numbers in the chart or on the table- numbers which also hate the rapid fire laser cannon, but not by as much. But this is important- over a half second firing window, or MANY of the low time period firing windows, the RFLs are either dramatically behind or barely even. Shooting fast is a HUGE downside, and needs compensation!

6- The weaknesses are crippling (weakness: rapid fire)
"You just did this one, Verain!"

Oh, I'm not done yet.

Forgetting about the fact that you walk in to battle with a fifth of a second of damage ready to go instead double or triple that as the other GOOD lasers have, we have another issue. This one is subtle. When you are flying, your reticule both aims your lasers, and steers your ship. Unless you have a steady bead on someone, these two things are at odds. Flying around a satellite in particular frequently involves wanting your ship to move in a different direction than you are shooting. But this penalty is not paid equally by all! Burst lasers obviously excel at this- with a firing rate of about every 2/3rds a second, you can quickly take your mouse, track to the opponent, fire your laser, then move back to where you want to fly, and the better of a pilot you are, the less disruptive this is to your intended course. The Rapid fire pilot, with around a third of this time, simply has no choice but to hold their cursor over the enemy until such time as they are concerned their ship will crash or the enemy flies LOS, at which point he tries to adjust.

This means RFL ships are less maneuverable than ships with any other laser.

LESS maneuverable!

7- The weaknesses are crippling (weakness: high skill required)
"You just are bad, learn to aim!"

Well, maybe... but why don't the other guns have this restriction? It stands to reason that if you opt in to a harsh restriction, there should be some reason for that. But, there isn't (as demonstrated above). Simply put, it's hard to hold the cursor on someone for every single shot for any period, especially if they have high lateral movement relative to you (turn fight / dog fighting / boosting). The other points all just assumed that you are ok exhibiting the high degree of skill necessary to land multiple hits on a target, but I figured I should bring this up too- it's much easier to fire, take aim, fire, take aim, with any other gun but this one. In fact, your firing reticule might be in the correct position BETWEEN shots, while the quad user would have been able to deliver a solid second shot because he released his click and then pressed a new one. It's clear that that playstyle isn't designed for this gun, but that playstyle is substantially easier- successfully doing the harder one should be a bit more rewarding on the gun that demands it (you get a good reward with ANY gun should you be bead on perfect for your whole attack run, but this one falls off entirely should that not be true, but the others do not).



There's a bunch of ways to fix this.

1- Keep the strengths and weaknesses, but make the cannon more rewarding. This could be done by boosting the damage and accuracy of the gun. There should be some range or situation where you think "AH I HAVE RAPID FIRE LASERS YES". Right now, that situation is "flying slowly at close range towards a stationary or disabled target", and, of MUCH importance, you would STILL rather have any other laser in that case- burst and lights are more dps by a lot, and quads are only off by a couple percent in that situation. It's certainly not an opponent at the edge of your generous targetting circle- your RFL dictates you turn towards that direction, which is often not what you want. With a substantial accuracy and dps boost (say, 10% to all accuracies, and 10% to damage at medium and long with a 15% boost to short), the RFL left to the few tasks it is good at will actually feel rewarding.

2- Emphasise the strengths, especially the intended ones.
There's no way to emphasize the power consumption strength. It could be removed, or not. It is without concern to any but the newest pilot, who is still much better off taking a different laser for learning, and also accidentally dealing damage when he DOES line up a light, quad, or burst hit. But the other strengths- such as a lower tracking penalty than most, and a big area of fire to sweep- could be emphasized. Drop the tracking penalty to 0.3, less than any other gun in the game, and mildly up the dps at low range (5%) and at medium range (10%). Now if you can see it, and it is in range, you can likely hit it for some damage.

3- Mitigate the weaknesses while keeping the gun interesting.
In this case, we choose to up the range of this gun a bit, changing the long range to 5000. We up the dps by a decent amount, say 10% at all ranges. Perhaps we change the accuracy from 110/85/75 to 110/90/80, more similar to quad lasers. Perhaps we swap out the power consumed (mandatory tier 2) with a more powerful version of itself (-20% power consumed) available at tier 4, colinear with the 8% crit choice- that way if some madman actually wants to not go OOM, this laser stands alone in that regard, while the rest of the sane pilots don't have to pick the weakest buff multiplied by the weakest number for the one cannon in the game that least needs it. If the enemy flies away or dies when you have 40% of your battery remaining or 46%, who cares? No one goes OOM and wins with that last shot with RFLs.

4- Add something cool to this gun. Most of the guns that people like have something cool in the mechanics, on the regular chart or talents. Maybe they pierce shields, or go really long range, or make a bunch of damage immediately, or are good if you can hold on them for a few seconds at close range (something RFL sounds like it would be good at but is not). But, pretend that instead we add a specific debuff to this gun, where being hit with it makes you take 5% more damage from the next rapid fire laser shot, stacking to five. The debuff lasts, say, six seconds (and a talent could maybe make it last 9). Now you have a situation where, with a full stack of this, the damage you take would really hurt. Alternatively, give the gun very good evasion piercing, in the same way other guns pierce shields or armor. In this path, you add something NEW to the gun.

Please don't leave it like this. This gun being so weak hurts type 1 strikes most of all- they don't have a good close gun option, with light lasers and burst lasers denied them, and they really want one- but it being so weak also means we never see it on a type 2 strike, and scouts of both types have less build diversity as they never want a rapid fire laser.

Armonddd's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 06:32 PM | #2
I hate to be that guy, but I'm trying to do homework and can't justify to myself this long a distraction. Is there a tldr (beyond "rapids suck")?

More importantly, what's your take on rapids vs lights specifically? I always figured lights lost out unless you could guarantee more time on target, though I suppose that's looking at damage per second instead of damage per shot. IIRC rapids have better firing arcs and tracking penalties with comparable DPS dropoff (though I could be wrong on any three of those counts).
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Zharik's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 07:08 PM | #3
So I read a bunch of that, and skimmed a little of it. While you boil it down to numbers (when your personal ability to land hits with the gun in question matters in the equation) you have excellent points. I've always viewed the rapids as "nickle and dime" guns... can shoot a LOT (really with a cheaper blaster engineer and F1 you can shoot for nearly ever) but individual hits don't do as much damage. I've also viewed this as the "more skilled players will excel with this setup if they can hold the target in their sights" gun. But alas the front loaded damage with all shots makes this false. The only way I see to adjust this as a viable weapon is to... add a damage variable to ALL guns. Why does gun X always do exactly the same damage at each range category? Why are there no variables in that? Perhaps if the various minimum/maximums were adjusted so that there were different guns which offered better options as various ranges/situations. I would suggest that the slower firing weapons receive the biggest difference in the min/max damage ranges to compensate for "front loading" the damage as it is done now. Faster firing (rapids, lights) would have the smallest (perhaps even zero) variance in the damage output of successfully landing a hit.
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Verain's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 07:15 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Armonddd View Post
I hate to be that guy, but I'm trying to do homework and can't justify to myself this long a distraction. Is there a tldr (beyond "rapids suck")?
No. If I wanted to make a short post, I would have done that. I'm not going to eliminate my point by point comparison and buff recommendations because someone in the audience might have mistaken this for effing twitter. Not everything on the internet needs to be friendly to short attention span folks.

More importantly, what's your take on rapids vs lights specifically?
The only ship that gets to make this choice is the Type 1 Scout. I point out that the lights are almost entirely better. The only advantage a rapid can have is at the very edges of the targetting circle, where damage is negligible to begin with- it takes that kind of tracking penalty to shrink the very large advantage lights have, and the harder to analyze stuff, such as as the difficulty of staying on target and the maneuvering penalty, aren't even accounted for then. Lights are a good choice for a novadive or blackbolt. Rapids are not. No one else gets that choice anyway.

IIRC rapids have better firing arcs and tracking penalties with comparable DPS dropoff (though I could be wrong on any three of those counts).
The tracking penalties (again, I'm just repeating my post) are larger for lights, but even at the edges lights are still a viable weapon. You would have to go to 36 degrees (impossible for lights and I think you'd need a crew member for rapids) for rapids have the same dps as lights. This means that even with the lesser tracking penalties, the lights never actually fall behind. This is is because rapids suck, and need a buff.

The advantage grows in the situations where you can actually get kills- steady bead based attacks. But even at 20 degrees offset, the lights are still beating the rapids on average.

DamascusAdontise's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 07:18 PM | #5
I tried rapids, even fully upgraded. Despite the fact you can shoot nearly forever it is extremely "cursor on target" dependent. I look at rapids like a good idea in concept, but in the current meta your not allowed enough time on target to get the full benefit of the RoF and High Efficiency.

Not sure what needs to happen to make this a viable choice? (crit seeking perhaps?) but IMO it is just a sub par choice. Unless you happen to be flying against noobs who stand still for 30 seconds plus then.... perhaps it has a function as a noobie french tickler.

(The only thing I actually use it for is locking missiles as the arc is considerably larger than my main HLC)

Verain's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 07:25 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Zharik View Post
The only way I see to adjust this as a viable weapon is to... add a damage variable to ALL guns. Why does gun X always do exactly the same damage at each range category? Why are there no variables in that?
It's actually kind of surprising that there's no damage roll, given that there are hits, misses, dodges, and crits. I don't think adding variability would up the value of the gun except under narrow circumstances, however- I think you just need to buff the gun.

I'm not opposed to a damage roll on weapons either, as long as it's more like 320+(0-40) and not 100+(0-480) to get an average of 340 damage.

Verain's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 07:26 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by DamascusAdontise View Post
(The only thing I actually use it for is locking missiles as the arc is considerably larger than my main HLC)
I think you mean you like the arc at close range because while you are trying to lock missiles at close range your heavy laser can't also shoot. I don't think that's really about the missiles, and the missile arc is independent of the gun arc (which I think you know but someone reading might not).

Delta_V's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 07:50 PM | #8
One correction - the 2nd Strikes don't get Rapid Fire Lasers; they only have access to Lights, Quads, and Heavies. Not that it changes the argument any , but still.

Other than that, I agree completely.

Verain's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 08:01 PM | #9

No, it doesn't change the argument, but I should edit my point to exclude the Type 2 strikes, who I excluded pretty much right away. Instead I should not bring them up.

(edit: removed)

Armonddd's Avatar

02.16.2014 , 08:12 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Verain View Post
No. If I wanted to make a short post, I would have done that. I'm not going to eliminate my point by point comparison and buff recommendations because someone in the audience might have mistaken this for effing twitter. Not everything on the internet needs to be friendly to short attention span folks.
There's a difference between twitter and "I don't have half an hour right now to read this but I'm curious and would like to have some sort of idea what's going on because your posts are interesting". Kind of a big difference.

But, thanks anyway.
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