Machine Guns And You
Unlike rifle echelons, which come in many forms, MG echelons are relatively straightforward: They mow down enemies. Ideally really quickly, because they have limited magazine sizes and are sitting ducks while they reload.
On paper, there's many different skill classes that could, in theory, allow to differentiate various echelon types. But in practice, the prohibitively high cost of rolling for, and deploying MG echelons means they're all but limited to ranking maps, a handful of boss fights tailored to them (and even there ARs can work for those fights, as long as you bring armoured units – and with M16A1 and M4A1mod3, you don't even need shotguns), and for "I absolutely hate every single fight on this map and don't care about costs, make it go away".
As such, you're likely not going to be levelling, much less deploying, more than a few MG echelons for now. And with the enemies we have now, the only relevant MGs on EN are those that front-load all their DPS and skills on the first magazine. This should be enough to delete enemy echelons before a reload is needed, or at the very least deplete them so severely that the rest cannot do significant damage. Minimizing hits also means that for SGs, the most relevant stat is armour, as this determines how much damage they can absorb (per hit) before their HP suffer.
Later on, other enemy formations we don't yet have will call for different MG skills to be deployed against them, but the best MGs for these roles aren't available to EN yet either, so there's no point in preparing for it yet.
MGs come in three kinds:
Passive skill MGs / The Big Four#
Their skills are always active, and as such, always useful, even on the first shot. This makes MGs with these skills the big four – M2HB, PKP, PK, and MG5 on EN. For MG echelons, you will want as many dupes of these as possible. (Though the composition of what are the "big four" changes as digimind evolution becomes available, making e.g. BAR viable.)
have skills that are… not great for the most part, but at least they activate on the first magazine, and autocritting allows some interesting equipment setups. The usual recommendation is LWMMG, M1919A4 and Mk48. These can be used as fillers to substitute better MGs in a pinch, but should be replaced with better ones as soon as possible. (Which normally isn't very soon, given their drop rates…) FG42 technically also shares their skill, but her stats are just too awful.
MGs with skill cooldowns of 8+ seconds are mostly irrelevant to EN – their performance on the first magazine (the one that should end the battle) is usually worse or equal to LWMMG's, making them not worth the effort of raising them:
- Exception here is Negev – since she buffs armour and her skill stacks with every reload, she can be very useful in some boss fights (like Judge's), since her DPS are going to be ridiculous after a few seconds. Still, on the first magazine, LWMMG is better; those boss fights can also be handled by M4mod3 / M16A1 / AR-15 mod3, so Negev is far from mandatory to level.
- This also means that MG3's unique ammo box is frankly useless. It's amusing to watch, but her DPS is lower than LWMMG's with or without it.
- BAR is kind of an exception, since she'll later get a digimind evolution that will make her useful… but until then, she's best used for her bunny outfit.
As long as your MGs have enough accuracy to hit (ballpark: enemy evasion * 2 to 3), crit scopes will bring the best DPS. Failing that, EOTechs or ITIs, whichever bumps up your accuracy enough.
- Exception here are the Hunting Impulse MGs: Since the skill makes half their magazine autocrit anyway and bumps their accuracy, EOTechs are generally recommended, as they boost damage of critical hits, and have enough acc buff.
- For the other two slots you can only choose one kind of equipment anyway.
- Negev's skill has such a high uptime that even she wants a maxed out ammo box. It'll take longer to max out her skill, but that's offset by putting more bullets in the enemy.
- As always, when in doubt, plug your enemy stats into the combat simulator and figure out the best loadout from what you have. Since you're interested in first magazine performance, hit the "plot DPS graph" button and look at your totalled DPS at about the 6s mark, when all your MGs have finished their magazine.
Are largely interchangeable – as long as they have enough armour, they're useful. Most of the time, all have enough armour, though you'll still want to bring the highest you can find among your inventory (ideally SAT-8, but good luck getting her).
Shotguns generally want armour and accuracy scopes, since otherwise they can't hit the broad side of a barn. That leaves the ammo slot:
- Almost all Shotguns use buckshot. Period. People who tell you to use slugs are retarded and dont understand how it works. Buckshot has +damage and +crit damage. Slugs only add a multiplier, but this multiplier is IGNORED for skills that use a damage multiplier (like M37's) as it isnt actually part of the damage stat, effectively counting as if YOU HAD NO AMMO EQUIPPED AT ALL for skills. Slug effect applies to normal attacks ONLY. All it does is compress your damage (which would normally be in 3 hits to 3 targets) to 1 target. It seems good on Saiga, but her skillshots count as skill attacks and thus dont apply the slug effect either.
- The only shotgun that has any business using slugs sometimes is USAS-12, whose skill boosts her RoF. And even on her, you normally want her to have buckshot, so she can knockback more enemies.
- KR wiki note on Slugs: "슬러그는 5성짜리도 장비 증폭 캡슐이란 멸칭까지 붙을 지경이다." : Translation - Slugs, even though being 5 stars, have a nickname of 'Equipment Enhancement Capsule'.
As for formations, there's not many, and you will mostly deploy them in T or K layouts:
- Most of the time, you will want to bring 3 MGs, 1 SG and 1 HG, with the HG preferably being K5 or Mk23.
- Some enemy formations will eventually have high enough damage that you'll need 3 MG, 2 SG layouts. You'll notice when you need the extra tanking ability.
- While the game recommends a 2 MG, 1 HG, 2 SG formation and even gives you an achievement for it… don't. Its DPS will be fucking awful, and EN doesn't yet have the kind of battles that need it. Spitfire will be useful when we do, but she's not that much of an improvement over Contender/K5/Mk23 even for this layout.
- On CN/KR, you will sometimes see 2 MG, 2 HG, 1 SG formations. This only works on CN/KR, because it needs HGs we don't have yet (namely, M1895's mod3). With the guns we have on EN, this will always have lower DPS than 3 MG 1 HG setups.
- For data sim ranking, bring 4 oathed, passive skill MGs with maxed out crit scopes and an oathed Contender.
Example: Basic Bitch T Pose#
The most basic bitch MG echelon, you might as well call it a 0331. T formation lets you maximize the buffs you get from the average SG and damage-buffing HG; with none of them providing a significant armour buff, wasting the MG buffs isn't a big deal either. The Big 4 have more complementary buff tiles that let you maximize them better.
Example: Anti-Judge 2SG#
EN's first viable 2SG use case: This weird looking setup is what you want against Judge; she'll send two streams of attacks against 9 and 6, which get tanked by your SGs, and also randomly attacks 1245 or 4578 with DoT stacks. This leaves Negev (or whoever your hardest-hitting MG is otherwise) completely unharmed; the other MGs can assist her until they soaked up enough damage (ca. one link worth, if you want to S-rank the fight), then have to be retreated.
Alternatively, you can put Negev on 4 (so she can buff the SGs) and move her to the front at the start of the fight, she shouldn't take too much DoT damage that way with the Judge incarnations EN has currently.
Author: Chiaki Matsuda
Tags: Autism First Steps Stats