Someone recently asked me about the various differences between the guns in PSU after wanting to try out fG. Since there doesn't seem to be any guide talking specifically about the various ranged weapons, I thought I might make this into a humble guide.
The way I'm writing this guide, I assume that most people already have basic knowledge of PSU, like linking PAs to weapons, Status Effects, etc. If there's anything you think I should clarify, feel free to point it out.
About Bullet Photon Arts
The various ranged weapons in the game can all fire without them, but you absolutely need to use bullets to get the full power and effects of ranged weapons. Bullets have 5 main stats:
- PP Cost: Pretty straightforward, this displays the PP consumed from your weapon with each shot.
- ATP % mod: This literally boosts your character's base ATP and weapon att by the percentage. This gradually increases with the bullet's level and is a very important stat as it can reach over 170% on most weapons at high levels. (Displayed as att in the bullet's stats.)
- ATA % mod: Same as the ATP mod, but affecting accuracy. Unlike the ATP mod, this usually stays under 100%. Starts out very low, but gets closer to 100% as the bullet gains in levels.
-SE Level: This indicates what level of Status Effect your bullet will inflict, with higher level SEs being easier to inflict, longer lasting, or more damaging in the case of DoTs (Damage over Time). Fire bullets inflict Burn, Ice does Freeze, Lightning does Shock, Ground does Silence, Light does Confuse and Dark does Virus. The SE level a bullet can attain depends on what weapon it is used on.
- Elemental %: All main bullets have their own element, and this affects the damage increase done on monsters of the opposite element, just like the % on melee weapons. Note that this is only visible on the weapon that has the bullet equipped.
Bullet levels can also affect the number of projectiles per shot on some weapons like the shotgun and crossbow. Another important thing is that bullets have stronger and weaker elements of each pair. Ice/Fire, Lightning/Ground and Light/Dark bullets typically have a 5% difference on the ATP mod at the same level, the first mentionned in each pair being weaker. The only exception to this is with Cards, where Light is actually the stronger element, supposedly to compensate for techers' lack of good Light damage techs.
About PA Fragment Bullets
While each weapon has 6 standard bullets, one for each element, there are also special elementless bullets that have special effects not found on the special bullets. These bullets don't follow the usual stats found on the standard bullets, and can have effects like Launch, Piercing, Def Down and so on. These special bullets can be acquired from the Item Exchange mission of the Parum Guardians Branch mission counter by trading in PA Fragment items. These frags can be gained from completing an S or S2 mission with an S ranking. Keep in mind that, while some of these bullets are very useful, such as the rifle's Killer Shot, most of them are highly situational, or sometimes not quite worth using over an elemental bullet. Also, PAs gained by trading in PA Fragments are often called Ultimate PAs (or Ult PA), although they aren't always better than regular PAs.
Two handed guns
- Rifles are primarily a supportive weapon. They do have an impressive 40% element at bullet levels 31+, the best range in the game, 195~200% ATP mod at lv 40, and good att on the weapon itself, making it a good damage weapon despite its single bullet shots. The rifle's best qualities however, are its SE Lv4 starting at bullet level 21, and the ability to knockdown enemies on every shot at lv 31+. This allows you to burn bigger monsters, shock melee monsters and confuse annoying spellcasters from a safe distance, all while keeping them from attacking thanks to the knockdown. Beware the rifle bullets' very slow leveling speed though.
- Shotguns are your brutal, up-close-and-personal damage weapon. They have a slow firing speed, mostly due to the pumping animation after each shot (pumping photon weaponry, go figure), and this can leave you vulnerable to attack if you're not careful with positioning. What really makes shotguns awesome though, is that it fires 5 projectiles per shot at bullet levels 21+, which really adds up when your character has high base ATP at high levels. With a solid 180~185% ATP mod and 23% element at lv 40, shotguns are hands down the most damaging guns on single enemies when used at point blank. Shotguns also have a very nice PP reserve, and a decent SE Lv 2 that can find some use if you need to quickly apply a SE thanks to it's 5 bullet shots. Also of note is the shotgun's ability to hit two very close-by hitboxes with every projectile of a shot.
- As a "techer" gun, bows tend to be ignored by gunners, but as a gun with its own special properties, it deserves mention. Bows are similar to rifles in that they fire single shots, have very good range and have high elemental % (only 2% less than rifles). What bows have over rifles though, is the ability to ignore enemy defense, which makes them excellent against high-defense enemies or bosses that aren't innately bullet-resistant. Bows also have slightly higher stats on the weapon itself, and is the only other gun to get SE Lv4. Bows do have a somewhat slower firing speed due to a longer delay before firing. Bow bullets also level much faster than rifle bullets do.
- Grenades are the AoE weapon of gunners, and are the only gun that can hit multiple hitboxes of a single target, making it an excellent boss killer. They have a decent 27% element and a highest 235~240% ATP mod at lv 40. An important effect of grenades is that it causes blowback, sending enemies flying horizontally when hit. While this may be great on bigger monsters to make them flinch, be careful when using this on packs of smaller monsters, as it's easy to send them all flying in different directions and annoy your teammates that might have tried to use AoE techs, skills or laser cannons. Try to shoot in front of the pack to blow them all in the same direction towards a corner, where you can keep pushing them while your teammates roll in with skills, Ra-techs, etc. Grenades also get SE Lv 3 which makes them a decent choice when trying to deal SEs on multiple enemies. Beware of its high PP consumption.
- Ah, lasers. The ranged equivalent of pre-nerf Chikki slicers. Broken, but in a good way. These cannons fire a straight laser beam that pierces and hits any enemy it goes through. The beam itself looks narrow, but it actually hits enemies in a range about as wide as your character, if not slightly more. It has the second highest ATP mod of guns with 115~220%, a crazy elemental % of 45% at bullet lv31+, and even gets SE3 at 31+. And it just gets worse on Gunmasters with lv 41+ bullets. Oh and it has the third best range after rifles and bows, and first-person aiming. Definitely a gunner's weapon of choice for both damage and inflicting SEs when dealing with packs of smaller monsters. The only downside is that it doesn't hit multiple hitboxes of a same monster. But we can't have everything now, can we? Besides, there's melee and grenades for that.
- Twins are the masters of versatility. Great mobility and all around good damage. Twins are not only the only two-handed guns to get strafing, but they also have first-person aiming, and fire two projectiles per shot. Twins do start out weak, but become very potent damage weapons at high bullet levels, with 175~180% ATP mod and a very nice 36% element at 31+ on top of the double projectile shots. They only get SE2, but are still decent SE weapons thanks to their fast, straight firing and double shots. Excellent when you need to return fire while dodging projectile attacks from Gaozorans, Olgohmons and the like.
- Handguns are the basic ranged weapon. It does a bit of everything, but not as well as others. It has strafing, first-person aiming, gets SE3 at 21+, and has an average 23% element at 31+. The problem with handguns is that most classes that get high level bullets have better guns for most of the handgun's uses. Still, it becomes really useful on Protransers with lv 40 bullets, on fortefighters as their only ranged weapon, or on other classes for quick tagging.
- Crossbows are the shotgun's lighter cousin. They start out very weak, shooting like a handgun at low bullet levels with one projectile and SE Lv 1, but really starts to shine as you level up bullets and gain extra projectiles per shot and higher SE, up to 3 bullets and SE lv 3 at lv 21+. Despite its somewhat low bullet stats with 150~155% ATP mod and 18% element, the crossbow remains a decent damage dealing weapon thanks to its triple shots, fast rate of fire and strafing. It's main use however, is to inflict SEs. With SE3 and fast, triple firing, you can quickly spread Shock through a dangerous group of Vahras or Burn multiple resistant enemies while strafing through attacks in close range unharmed. Crossbow bullets take a while to level, but are well worth the investment.
- Another "techer" gun, cards are often overlooked by the other few ranger classes that can use them. Cards have the special ability of firing projectiles that will home in on the enemy that was targeted in red when fired. This effectively enables you to strafe from side to side, dodging attacks while tossing out cards and let them hit your targets. It takes some practice getting used to the aiming, but works very well once you get used to it. All in all, cards are a surprisingly good damage weapon with decent firing speed, slightly more range than twin handguns, triple projectile shots starting at lv 11, an ATP mod of 165~170% at 31+ and 27% element at 31+. Cards are also a decent SEing alternative with SE lv 2 thanks to its triple shots. The main downside to cards is the significant delay between the time when the shot is fired and the projectiles home in on the target. Because of this, cards are generally more useful when fighting more resistant mid-sized, larger monsters or bosses as smaller ones tend to die before the projectiles get to them, especially when playing in larger groups.
- Machineguns are the fastest firing guns in PSU. As such they have very low att stats on the weapons themselves to compensate for the quick rate of fire, which makes them totally dependant on the character's base ATP for damage. Because of this, higher ATP classes or beasts/casts might get better damage out of machineguns. All in all, mguns are a pure damage weapon, meant to supplement your melee weapon when monsters get knocked out of range. They quickly fire over a short distance ahead as long as the button is held down, automatically make you strafe while shooting, but best of all, every hit has the normal flinching on smaller monsters, allowing you to flinchlock a monster or spread the flinching through a pack to slow their advance. Bullets sport the average 165~170% ATP mod for one-handed weapons and 24% element at lv 31+, but retain the useless SE Lv 1, making them ill-suited for spreading SEs despite their rapid fire. One last important use of machinegun is drawing aggro. Monsters hate being shot at, and the rapid firing can quickly turn a monsters attention to you, which is always useful in getting some heat off your hunters, or keeping that power-buffed Vahra from getting too close to your frail techers.
Every gun has its own use, and most of them are highly situational. You need to consider how the weapon fires, but also elements, and SEs. Playing a Ranger type is all about finding your own favorite set of weapons, learning how to switch depending on the situation, and most of all getting those bullets leveled! After that, it's all about aiming and shooting. It takes some time and effort, but it's well worth it in the end.
This ended up being much longer than I thought... Anyways, please note that most ATP% values were taken from PSUpedia as I didn't have all leveled bullets on hand when writing this. Also, feel free to post here or PM me if you find any mistakes or if I forgot anything.
EDIT: Updated with a new PA Frag Bullet section as suggested by SuperChoco, and added images to each weapon type.