UT3 Weapon Rundown: Bio Rifle

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Games, Unreal Tournament

UT3Biorifle0

Always the red-headed, or in this case the green-headed, stepchild of the weapon set in Unreal Tournament, the Bio Rifle in UT3 might actually end up being worth using — or maybe not, only time will tell. Primary fire shoots out small globs of bio goo. Secondary fire charges up the weapon with up to ten times the normal amount of ammunition, which will deploy as a single large glob when released.

UT3Biorifle1

The primary fire of the BioRifle is the same as has always been: Fire a single glob of bio goo. And, as always, it is pretty much an inferior weapon. Single globs of goo do 21 damage, pretty much the same as an Enforcer bullet, except unlike an Enforcer bullet they don’t hit instantly and have a ballistic trajectory. The primary fire globs will stick around for about three seconds, but they’re not particularly deadly. Stepping into a glob only does 10 damage, half of what you’d get with a direct hit. And, yes, enemies must step directly into the goo for it to have any chance of damaging them at all.

Chances are, the only time you’ll bother with the primary fire is if you missed your first shot, which should always be a charged up secondary fire, and are desparately spamming while trying to run away. I would like to see something with the primary fire changed because it just doesn’t seem all that useful to fire 21 damage globs, especially given the other weapons. On the other hand, I’d much rather see the Bio Rifle’s functionality as this unique, trap-laying sort of weapon improved than simply making it a slightly less inferior DeathMatch tool by pumping up damage values, or something.

UT3Biorifle2a

The secondary fire is also the same as in previous games: Charge up goo and unleash a single ball of death. For some reason this just feels significantly more satisfying than it ever has in the past, though. Probably because the goo, even on the lowest details, looks the most organic it ever has, and behaves that way too. When you manage to land a direct hit on an opponent with the secondary fire, the glob you fired will now stick to your opponent momentarily before exploding, which is a great little touch and it allows you to use the secondary at close ranges without blowing yourself up in the process. I haven’t done extensive testing, but I’m pretty confident the secondary fire does damage based on how much ammuntion has been loaded, such that 1 ammo used in the secondary fire will do 21 damage, while 10 ammo used will do 210 damage. I suspect that, like the primary fire, enemies that step into secondary globs on the ground will take only half the normal damage. One thing to note is that a fully charged secondary glob will remain on the ground much longer, I’d like to say up to 15 seconds, or 5 times the normal length of time. However, any weapons fire that strikes this glob will detonate it, and it’s quite big and easy to shoot.

UT3Biorifle2b

The goo mechanics in UT3, from what we’ve seen so far, are a bit different from previous UT installments, and so are worth looking at a bit more. First of all, splash damage when goo detonates has been pretty much completely removed from this game. In fact, almost all splash damage values in UT3 seem to have been halved from UT2004, which isn’t a terrible idea considering how excessively big environments were in UT2004. In particular this seems to affect the goo, though, as goo has never had quite as big an explosion radius as say, a rocket. Halving that already-smaller radius seems to have left us with a situation where stepping directly into goo that’s lying on the ground, causing it to detonate and explode, only does half the damage that a direct hit would cause. Even though this is kind of counterintuitive, considering direct contact should imply zero distance between two objects, from what I understand this is actually normal for the game when dealing with small radius explosions.

Personally, I feel like that’s a bad choice. In order for an opponent to be damaged by piles of goo, they must be standing directly on top of them. Area-denial by strategic deployment of goo is made less effective because simply not stepping on it completely voids the threat of harm. Moreover, unlike previous versions of the Bio Rifle, you can no longer “build up” a pile of goo by firing the primary fire into the same spot. Primary fire globs will now detonate any other globs that are lying around, making the strategy of peppering an area with primary fire globs even more ineffective. Oddly enough, firing secondary globs into secondary globs will build up a larger glob, and the most effective way to pepper an area with goo seems to be shooting single secondary globs at a charged-up glob that has landed somewhere in the environment.

Then there’s also the bit about charged-up secondary shots sticking to your opponent momentarily before detonating. This is a neutral change to me, as it does keep you from blowing yourself up with the secondary fire, but it gives your opponent a chance to fire off a final shot and potentially kill you, or grab a powerup and potentially survive the attack. Surviving a fully-charged secondary glob seems unlikely given the small space of time you have to grab health or armor, but I’ve done it a few times already, so it is possible.

All in all, most people have had positive reactions to the new Bio Rifle, but I’m skeptical about whether it will be a worthwhile weapon in the long term. It usually takes a few months for everyone to get the game and get used to everything before the real winners and losers get shaken out. Since no new functionality was added to the weapon, though, and some functionality was actually taken away (splash damage, primary goo stacking) I’m skeptical about whether it’s going to come out ahead. I’ve seen some interesting things done with the weapon, though, and hope that maybe we’ll see some similarly cool modifications to it in the future. Heck, in Unreal Championship 2 the thing has some kind of gas mode, so maybe we’ll even see Epic incorporating that sort of new functionality into the weapon if, in a year, the statistics I’m sure they track for BioRifle kills are significantly under par for the other weapons.

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