UT3 Weapon Rundown: Shock Rifle

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Games, Unreal Tournament

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Lethal, elegant, requiring years of training to truly master, the Shock Rifle is the katana of First Person Shooter weapons. If the Katana is the soul of the Samurai, then the Shock Rifle is the soul of an Unreal Tournament player. It’s always been a dominant weapon in Unreal Tournament, but a lot of factors made it the single weapon you needed to have in Unreal Tournament 2004. From the looks of things in UT3, it isn’t necessary in DeathMatch, though it’s still one of my favorite weapons there. In vehicular gametypes I expect it to be a necessity simply because it’s so versatile.

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Primary fire is a hitscan beam that does 45 damage. The only significant difference to its functionality in UT2004 is that it takes maybe one or two tenths of a second longer to refire. However, major changes to maps and player movement have made the primary fire far less dominant. By reducing the exaggerated movement options, map scale was brought much more into line with player scale, meaning that DeathMatch encounters now are more likely to take place in a medium range where all weapons are effective, rather than at long range where only hitscan can be reliably used.

Although vCTF-Suspense has some long-range vistas, particularly across the bridge or from the lower level to the top of the tower, these are usually fairly contained. I consider it a necessity to pick up the Shock Rifle on this map, as it’s still a footsoldier’s only effective long-range option against Mantas and Raptors. Others contend that the Stinger alone is enough to deal with these threats. Personally, I feel like delivering a fair amount of damage with precision is more important than firing the Stinger and hoping that it sprays enough bullets in the general direction of the target to destroy it. In medium to close ranges against these vehicles, though, the Stinger is definitely superior, so your strategy should be dictated by whether your opponent is directly attacking you and coming closer or whether they’re otherwise occupied or at such a distance that they can’t close it quickly.

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The secondary fire is the trusty shock core projectile, but these have been changed slightly to make them a more effective option in their own right. The refire rate on the secondary fire seems to have been upped a tad, and the damage for a direct hit with a shock core has been increased to 55 per hit, so a secondary fire core followed up by a primary fire beam will kill a freshly spawned player. The speed of the projectile core has also been increased, which is, again, an improvement in this firing mode’s basic functionality.

While the Shock Rifle’s beam excels at long range, the cores are an average weapon in middle and close ranges. Although the core itself is not very menacing at mid range, it’s not something you can ignore either, and not simply because each core is a bomb waiting to go off. Cores move at a speed comparable to rockets and have a similar blast radius, so even though they don’t deal quite the damage a rocket does, they will take an opponent down if given the chance. Further, the cores have one unique feature that can make them situationally quite good: Shock cores will detonate other flying projectiles that come in contact with them. So firing a shock core at an opponent may detonate the rocket he just fired with your name on it. At close range utilizing the splash damage is a lot easier. It’s not the best DeathMatch weapon at those ranges, but it suffices in a pinch.

Oddly enough, the secondary fire of the weapon is a big part of why I consider the Shock Rifle a must-have in vehicular gametypes. With the current state of the beta demo (and, as far as I know, the first box version of the game), the Manta is such a dominant vehicle in skilled players’ hands that you need all the options you can get against it. In my Impact Hammer rundown I detailed how that weapon’s secondary fire can be useful against Mantas, but a skilled driver can easily defeat that strategy. The Shock Rifle secondary will knock back oncoming Mantas significantly, though, so if a Manta driver attempts to run you over, head-on or not, firing a core at him will beat him back. If he keeps coming you can keep firing as fast as he comes, and it’ll only take four or five before he’s toast. If he backs off or runs away, you’ve got the primary beam to use on him.

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Then there is the combo. The combo is the main draw of the UT3 Shock Rifle, as it was in the original game. The combo is quick, big, and deadly. I have no idea about the size or damage in comparison to other games, and this is tricky to figure out without access to the script. As a point of reference, the combo in the original UT did 250 damage (maximum) and in UT2004 it did 200 damage (maximum), so I expect it to do a maximum of between 200-250 in UT3, leaning towards 250. It feels like the combo has a highly damaging core area, where most of the damage takes place, and a steep damage fall off outside that area. What this means is that it’s probably going to kill an opponent if it hits, and outside of that they won’t be damaged much. Overall the combo is very satisfying, and in DeathMatch I might even say it seems even a little too dominant, as if the other features of the gun are only there to supplement the combo.

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The combo is what really fills in the weapon and makes it so versatile, but the combo is best used at medium ranges. At the long ranges seen in vehicular maps it loses some of its lustre. In UT2004 the combo was best used to destroy oncoming Mantas or to kill the drivers of oncoming Scorpions. Although the combo still seems like it will be an attractive option for destroying Mantas, since the Scorpion is now a closed-top vehicle you can no longer kill the driver with a strategically placed combo above the vehicle. I would like to say that a combo at the front of the vehicle could deflect its trajectory away from you, but with the Scorpion being a nearly immovable object by any form of force, I am skeptical if that would work reliably. However, a combo is a significant amount of damage, and given enough distance, a combo attack on an oncoming Scorpion followed up by Shock cores could dispatch the vehicle.

Overall I feel like the weapon is a good mix of the original Shock Rifle and UT2004’s, and might actually be the best one yet.

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