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MG-H1 Watchman: Highly Technical Weapon Guide

MG-H1 Watchman is a Terran Republic LMG with a beautiful model artfully crafted by /u/d0ku. Embracing the Terran faction trait, Watchman has the highest Rate of Fire among LMGs, and overall it looks and feels like a big brother to the TORQ-9 Assault Rifle.

Players have been asking for an LMG like this for a long time, and now that we have it, let’s take a deeper look to try and figure out how fast should you be throwing money at the monitor.

The following guide will be taking a good close look on the weapon, but if you want just a short summary:

It’s a great weapon for short range up to 20-50 meters. If you mainly go for headshots, it is very easy to kill multiple enemies inside buildings.

/u/flub1337, the first player to earn an auraxium medal with Watchman

Stats

DAMAGE 125 @ 10m – 100 @ 55m
RATE OF FIRE 857 RPM
VELOCITY 550 m/s
AMMO 125 / 375
RELOAD TIME 5.525 sec / 7 sec
UNLOCK COST 1000Certification Pointsor 699 Daybreak Cash

Auto

Damage Output

Watchman’s damage output is above average, equal to 143 @ 750 weapons, like T9 CARV and Orion. This is pretty much as high as LMGs go, and it’s a solid amount of damage. 

Watchman has two tiers of damage degradation, which is typical for LMGs. However, low damage-per-shot weapons lose less absolute damage over range, though higher damage-per-shot weapons have longer Minimum Damage Range. So while they lose more damage over range, that process happens slower. For example:

  • LA1 Anchor: 167 @ 10m – 125 @ 75m -> loses 42 damage (25%) over 65m.
  • T9 CARV: 143 @ 10m – 112 @ 65m -> loses 31 damage (21.6%) over 50m.
  • Watchman: 125 @ 10m – 100 @ 55m -> loses 25 damage (20%) over 45m.

If you imagine a Super Anchor with 641 RoF – that’s what it would take for a 167 damage weapon to match Watchman’s DPS – and compare how their DPS changes over range, you will notice that Watchman starts dealing more DPS at ~61m.

Click to enlarge

Of course, it doesn’t mean Watchman will actually be more effective at range than Anchor. Higher damage-per-shot weapons are naturally more effective at range.

Watchman has access to two Ammo attachments that affect its performance in a meaningful way, and it should be always used with one of them:

  • Soft Point Ammunition (SPA) – increases Maximum Damage Range from 10m to 15m at the cost of reducing Projectile Velocity by 5%.
  • Impact Ammunition (IA) – increases Minimum Damage from 100 to 112 at the cost of reducing Magazine Size from 125 to 100 rounds.
watchman ammo options
Click to enlarge

In terms of raw DPS, SPA is better within 20m, and IA is better outside that range. 

  • SPA is most powerful at 15m, where it has a 1.6% advantage.
    • DPS: 1785 @ 15m – 1428 @ 55m
  • IA is most powerful at 55m, where it has a 12% advantage.
    • DPS: 1785 @ 10m – 1600 @ 55m

Extended Mags

As a 125 damage weapon, Watchman has very consistent and clean BTK Thresholds. As long as the standard infantry target is within Maximum Damage Range, it will be killed without any overkill whatsoever, both with headshots or bodyshots, with or without Nanoweave. Going even 1cm outside the Maximum Damage Range will increase the BTK by 1 and TTK by 0.07. The main function of SPA is to postpone this effect by extra 5m.

However, Watchman has a super high Rate of Fire, and among other advantages, it means Watchman’s TTK is not as penalized when going to the next BTK Threshold. For example, the 500 RoF Gauss SAW requires extra 120ms to kill an enemy 1m outside of the Maximum Damage Range, while Watchman requires only extra 70ms.

Impact Ammunition

Impact Ammunition provides a noticeable damage boost at range, and makes damage degradation even less of an issue. For example, if we take our previous example with Super Anchor, but add ammo attachments this time, you’ll notice that Watchman starts dealing higher DPS at any range further than 20m.

Or if you compare Watchman with Impact Ammunition to CARV. Both degrade to 112 damage, but one fires at 857 RPM, and the other one at 750. Watchman will overtake CARV’s DPS at 15m already.

Bullets-to-Kill and Time-to-Kill

Standard Infantry

BTK Distance, meters Time to Kill, seconds Target
SPA IA
4 0 – 15 0 – 10 0.21 Headshots
5 16+ 11+ 0.28
8 0 – 15 0 – 10 0.49 Standard Infantry
9 16 – 35 11+ 0.56
10 35+   0.63
10 0 – 15 0 – 10 0.7 Nanoweave
11 16 – 32 11 – 48 0.77
12 33 – 47 49+ 0.84
13 48+    

 Heavy Assault

For the sake of brevity, BTK and TTK are listed only for the first threshold.

BTK Distance, meters Time to Kill, seconds Target
SPA IA
6 0 – 23 0 – 27 0.35 NMG / Adrenaline + Headshots
7 0 – 39 0+ 0.42 Resist Shield + Headshots
13 0 – 24 0 – 30 0.84 Resist Shield
15 0 – 23 0 – 27 0.98 NMG / Adrenaline + Nanoweave

Notes

  • Within Maximum Damage Range, Watchman kills in 4 headshots, same as 143 damage weapons. Given Watchman’s higher RoF, it makes for an incredibly fast headshot Time-to-Kill, rivaling the infamous AF-4 Cyclone.
  • Against Heavy Assaults, Ammo Attachment choice has no effect on TTK all the way up to medium range. Depending on enemy health and overshield energy, there could be some situations where SPA still kills faster, but since SPA deals at most 2 extra damage, these situations are highly improbable. 
  • Against full-health targets, Impact Ammunition doesn’t come into play until 35m against standard infantry, and 48m against Nanoweave Infantry. 

Effective Range

Hip Fire Accuracy

HIP CONES OF FIRE 2.25 / 2.75 / 2.75 / 3.5 / 0.1

Watchman has better than average starting Hip Cones of Fire, same as dedicated CQC LMGs like MSW-R and LA1 Anchor. It’s still pretty far from being able to comfortably hip fire at everything that moves, but you can land some decent shots at the center mass of an enemy a few meters away, and high Rate of Fire ensures good consistency. 

Laser Sight

Laser Sight provides a few extra meters of effective Hip Fire range, but it’s nothing breathtaking, and it will not confer any new combat options, like being able to reliably hip fire for headshots, or being able to take on enemy Heavy Assaults without ADSing.

ADS Accuracy

ADS CONES OF FIRE 0.25 / 0.25 / 0.25 / 0.3 / 0.05

ADS accuracy is both strength and weakness of this weapon. 

On one hand, it has fairly terrible Cones of Fire for stationary positions. Even in situations where you can afford to stand still, you cannot squeeze any more accuracy out of the weapon. It is definitely one of the meaningful downsides of the Watchman.

On the other hand, the 0.3 ADS Standing Moving CoF is hands down the best among all LMGs, period. Most other LMGs have 0.35 or 0.4 CoF.

This is honestly a weird and unexpected quality on a “bullet hose” type of weapon. However, this is somewhat compensated by relatively high Cone of Fire Bloom.

Cone of Fire Bloom

Despite dealing only 125 damage per shot, Watchman has the same Bloom per Shot as 143 damage weapons.

   Watchman T9 CARV
Hip ADS Hip ADS
Bloom per Shot 0.1 0.05 0.1 0.05
Bloom per Point of Damage Done 8 * 10-4 4 * 10-4 7 * 10-4 3.5 * 10-4
Bloom per Second 1.43 0.715 1.25 0.625
Standing Moving CoF 3.5 0.3 4.5 0.4
Click to enlarge

Watchman starts with better Cone of Fire, and it will hold an accuracy advantage for the first 8 shots – up to 2000 damage. After that, CARV and other similar 143 @ 750 will have a more efficient Cone of Fire. However, this doesn’t really matter outside of prolonged magdumping scenarios.

For example, by the time both weapons would fire 3000 damage, CARV’s CoF advantage would be only 0.05, and a 0.1 advantage by 4000 damage. Basically, as long as you keep your bursts within 15 rounds or so, you will not feel any downside to higher Bloom per Shot, but there will be a meaningful accuracy advantage for the first several shots. 

Recoil

VERTICAL RECOIL 0.28 / 0.3
FIRST SHOT RECOIL MULTIPLIER 2.5x
RECOIL ANGLE 5 / 10
HORIZONTAL RECOIL 0.18 / 0.22
HORIZONTAL RECOIL MAX INCREASE -0.015
HORIZONTAL RECOIL TOLERANCE 0.5

Recoil Analysis

  Watchman T9 CARV MSW-R
VERTICAL RECOIL PER SECOND 4.14 5 4.375
FIRST SHOT RECOIL 0.7 / 0.75 0.8 0.875

Watchman’s Vertical Recoil has a bit of random to it, but it’s not a big deal. The gun fires so fast that recoil will average out, and you won’t notice it. Vertical Recoil per Second is slightly lower than for MSW-R, and generally isn’t very high for an LMG with such a high DPS. 

First Shot Recoil and Multiplier are somewhat high, but still better than for competition.

As a more interesting feature, Watchman has some negative scaling applied to its Horizontal Recoil. 

 

Horizontal Recoil

Stock Forward Grip
Shot # Min Max Min Max
1 0.18 0.22 0.135 0.165
2 0.18 0.205 0.135 0.15
3 0.18 0.19 0.135 0.135
4 0.18 0.18    

After just a few shots, Watchman’s Horizontal Recoil scales down to the level of T32 Bull, which is downright incredible for a weapon with such a high DPS. 

  Stock Forward Grip
AVERAGE HORIZONTAL DEVIATION 0.15 0.113
MAXIMUM HORIZONTAL DEVIATION 0.40 0.270

These numbers are calculated for 10 round bursts and take scaling into account. Without Forward Grip, Watchman’s Average Horizontal Deviation is only 7% higher than for MSW-R and Orion with a Forward Grip.

T9 CARV has noticeably worse Horizontal Recoil Tolerance than all three, and will have ~60% higher Maximum Horizontal Deviation. 

Recoil Angle is average. A slight bias to the right with a bit of Variance to it. Most of the time you won’t even notice it, though statistically it will result in a minor impact to overall accuracy, giving the Watchman a slight nudge towards being a bullet hose.

Recoil Recovery

RECOIL RECOVERY DELAY 0
RECOIL RECOVERY RATE 18

Watchman has better Recoil Recovery than vast majority of other LMGs, and this is good, because it increases the effectiveness of burst fire, making it easier for Watchman to repeatedly take advantage of its better starting Moving CoF. 

Velocity

VELOCITY 550 m/s

Watchman’s velocity is average for a CQC LMG, and it’s about average on the overall velocity spectrum as well. It’s not too low, but you will definitely have to do some conscious leading when engaging enemies beyond medium range. 

Conclusion on Effective Range

Due to bad minimum Cones of Fire and low damage per shot, as well as high-ish FSRM and average velocity, Watchman has a somewhat limited effective range overall. 

However, Watchman gives you a lot of tools to keep itself under control, such as its affinity for burst firing, stable recoil and good Standing Moving ADS CoF.

So within that “limited effective range”, a properly handled Watchman will be more effective than your average CQC bullet hose like T9 CARV.

Another thing is consistency. The effective range of other CQC LMGs is roughly equal to Watchman’s, but their performance becomes noticeably worse as the range grows, while Watchman – especially outfitted with Impact Ammunition – will perform nearly equally well at 20m and 40m.

Just keep in mind that no matter the user skill, there eventually will be a stone wall of range where Watchman is simply not effective, and hitting shots and getting kills relies mostly on luck and enemy Exposure Time

Exposure Time is how long the enemy spends out of cover, susceptible to your shots. Given enough Exposure Time, pretty much any weapon can kill any target at any range, but Exposure Time is the one thing you have the least control of. 

Finding exposed targets is easier for flanking classes, such as Light Assault and Infiltrator, but it comes much less naturally to Heavy Assaults. Often you have to land shots on just a tiny part of enemy hitbox sticking out of cover, and Watchman may well let you down, if the enemy is too far.

And when you do stumble on an exposed enemy, often you’ll have just a few moments before they make it into cover, and you won’t have enough time to pepper the enemy with weak Watchman’s shots.

Utility Stats

Ammo Capacity

  Watchman Stock Watchman IA T9 CARV MSW-R
MAGAZINE SIZE 125 100 100 50
DPM @ MAX DAMAGE 15 625 12 500 14 300 7 150
DPM @ MIN DAMAGE 12 500 11 200 11 200 5 600
AMMO POOL 375 375 400 250
DAMAGE TOTAL 46 875 46 875 57 200 35 750

Watchman has a respectable ammo capacity, overall close to the bountiful T9 CARV, and more or less keeps up even while using Impact Ammo.

Reload Speed

  Watchman T9 CARV MSW-R
RELOAD SHORT 5.525 sec 5.4 3.045
RELOAD LONG 7 sec 6.2 3.305

Watchman takes a lot of time to reload, which makes it somewhat annoying to use, especially for those who suffer from reloaditus – an obsessive-compulsive disorder that forces the player to reload their weapon after every engagement.

If we wanted to assess how efficient is the Watchman, we could calculate how much “damage” it reloads per second, and compare it other LMGs:

Reload Damage per Second = Average Damage * Magazine Size / Reload Speed
Where Average Damage = (Maximum Damage + Minimum Damage) / 2

  Watchman T9 CARV MSW-R AVERAGE LMG
SHORT RELOAD DAMAGE PER SEC 2539 2361 2093 2786
LONG RELOAD DAMAGE PER SEC 1904 2056 1929 2260

We can see that Watchman has good efficiency, though it’s still ~10% below average.

However, the issue is not time efficiency, but the fact that reload takes so darn long. Every second added to the Reload Time has an exponentially increasing negative impact, increasing chances of being engaged on, or missing a kill opportunity.

All that said, in terms of Short Reload, Watchman is very comparable to CARV, and as long as you avoid the unusually punishing Long Reload, you’ll be fine most of the time. Seriously, d0ku, what the hell were you thinking, putting the charging handle so far to the right and front?

Equip Time

  Watchman T9 CARV MSW-R
EQUIP TIME 1125 ms 1200 800
UNEQUIP TIME 250 ms 250 250
FORWARD GRIP PENALTY 150 ms 50 150

Watchman’s Equip Time is about as expected for a full-sized LMG, and roughly equal to CARV overall.

Pros and Cons

PROS

  • Short headshot TTK, access to SPA.
  • High DPS.
  • Low damage degradation with Impact Ammo.
  • Controllable recoil for an LMG.
  • Best in class ADS moving accuracy.
  • Effective at bursting.
  • Good and consistent Hip Fire for an LMG.

CONS

  • Bad ADS still accuracy.
  • Limited effective range.
  • Average Projectile Velocity.
  • Takes a lot of time to reload. Long Reload is especially punishing.
  • High Bloom per Shot makes long bursts undesirable, especially from the hip.
  • Low damage per shot.
  • Smaller Ammo Pool compared to other “big” LMGs.
  • No access to Suppressor.

Recommended Attachments

Flash Suppressor is the only barrel attachment available to Watchman, and despite having unique looks, it functions exactly the same as for other weapons, and generally there’s no reason not to use it.

Technically, both Forward Grip and Laser Sight are viable, but I recommend the Forward Grip to further improve on Watchman’s strong point – easy handling. Forward Grip will reduce the number of shots required to fully scale down Horizontal Recoil, and reduce Recoil Angle and its Variance, somewhat increasing the overall effective range of the weapon, which is Watchman’s weak point. Laser Sight will make hip fire slightly better, but that’s about it. 

Impact Ammunition

Soft Point Ammunition is taken for competitive close quarters fighting, especially indoors, while Impact Ammunition is taken to boost your performance at medium range. Generally, unless you KNOW you will be soon fighting a lot of enemy infantry at close range, Impact Ammo should be your go-to attachment. 

Optics, as always, are up to personal preference, but I would highly recommend staying away from scopes with magnification higher than 2x. Watchman just doesn’t have the effective range and accuracy to warrant it.

Tips and Conclusion

On the surface, Watchman looks like a typical bullet hose, but it’s actually a bit more nuanced, and to take advantage of everything it has to offer, it needs to be properly handled. You have to fire in bursts, which is made easier by excellent Recoil Recovery statistics. At the same time, high FSRM may make Watchman feel less controllable than it is. 

At the end of the day, Watchman’s most defining feature is short headshot TTK within Maximum Damage Range. Otherwise, it is effectively a sidegrade to the default T9 CARV. 

Apart from the First Shot Recoil, Watchman requires noticeably less recoil management, but more Cone of Fire management – burst firing, in other words. 

You have to be mindful of Watchman’s reload. Unlike MSW-R, you can’t just reload on the go, and you have to be ready to switch to a sidearm in case you get caught while reloading. At the same time, Watchman’s reload disadvantage is somewhat overblown – as long as you avoid being hit by a Long Reload, it won’t be much different from other “big” LMGs.

Overall, Watchman is a welcome addition to the Terran Republic arsenal. It provides veterans with a stylish answer to Anchor’s headshot TTK, and this time without the TR Recoil™.

Easy recoil makes Watchman a suitable option for less skilled players as well, and it’s not like Watchman is too difficult to handle. Just remember to cut your bursts at about 10 shots and you’re good to go.

Watchman’s biggest downside is its inability to reach out to distant targets. Even when you can afford to stand still, there won’t be any accuracy boost. Couple that with low damage per shot and you can pretty much forget about even trying, unless the enemy will be exposed for a long time. That’s the price you have to pay for the combination of high DPS and easy recoil.

AF-4 Cyclone

AF-4 Cyclone: Highly Technical Weapon Guide

AF-4 Cyclone is a New Conglomerate SMG, available to all classes. It features highest damage per shot, and lowest rate of fire among SMGs.

It was one of the first three released SMGs, and remained relatively unchanged for a long time. During that time it had enjoyed booming popularity and hype of being the best SMG in the game.

Only recently Cyclone faced an adjustment in recoil statistics, and perhaps now it’s a good time to look into this phenomenon. Was Cyclone really that good, and is it still? What’s the reason for so much hype? Let’s dig in!

Stats

Cyclone stats

Headshot Damage Multiplier: 2
Minimap Detect Range: 40
ADS Movespeed Multiplier: 0.75

Damage output

SPA is a no-brainer attachment for all SMGs, so before talking about damage, let’s adjust for SPA:

Maximum Damage Range: 6m -> 11m
Projectile Velocity: 360 m/s -> 342 m/s

  <11m 23m 31m 42m+
Bullet Damage 167 141 123 100
DPS 1815 1533 1345 1087
Bullets-to-Kill
(nanoweave)
6 (8) 8 (9) 9 (11) 10 (13)
Time-to-Kill 0.47 (0.65) 0.65 (0.74) 0.74 (0.93) 0.83 (1.11)
Damage per Mag
(Ex. Mags)
4175
(5845)
3525
(4935)
3075
(4235)
2500
(3500)

 

Note: in this table, I’ve skipped the 112 damage tier at 36-37m. 

As expected from an SMG, Cyclone can deliver superb performance at close range, and capable of a scary 3 headshot kill, which takes only 0.184 seconds. 

However, due to 4 tiers of damage degradation, Cyclone rapidly loses effectiveness as range increases. Cyclone remains usable at 30-40m, depending on attachments, but cannot compete with traditional automatic weapons further than that. 

Higher damage per shot does give Cyclone an advantage over other SMGs in ranged combat, where high damage per shot is generally desirable

It’s worth noting that Cyclone has largest damage per magazine out of all 1st generation SMGs, and the biggest benefit from Extended Mags, as well as nice Short Reload.

Rate of Fire

Cyclone has lowest rate of fire among SMGs.

That can be a disadvantage in close quarters, reducing the consistency of damage output, as explained in greater detail here.

However, lower RoF has an interesting interaction with Cyclone’s weird horizontal recoil, making it more stable on average. More on that below.

Cone of Fire and Bloom

Cyclone cones of fireHip Accuracy w/ ALS: 0.6 / 0.75 / 0.6 / 0.9

As with all SMGs, Cyclone has average ADS accuracy in all stances, and the same CoF Bloom for both ADSing and Hip Firing.

This goes with the theme of a mobile weapon: you’re given an incentive to move as much as possible and utilize the 75% ADS movement speed or full movement speed while hip firing.

Unlike with most primary weapons, staying stationary or crouching does not provide an accuracy boost, and this limits Cyclone’s effective range.

All SMGs enjoy the best hip fire accuracy among all primary weapons, and access to Advanced Laser Sight allows you to improve it even further. 

It’s worth noting that 125 damage SMGs have the bloom of 143 damage weapons, so they bloom more per point of damage done. Unlike them, Cyclone has the same bloom as other 167 damage weapons, so it can sustain fire more effectively. More details here.

All of this combined makes Cyclone one of the best hip fire weapons in the game, and contributes to Cyclone being better at range than some other SMGs.

Why good hip fire is important?

There is a detailed explanation of this in my Gunplay Guide, but let’s quickly go over it. 

Hip firing is underrated in PlanetSide 2. On paper, it seems simple: ADSing gives more accuracy, and more accuracy is better, right? Well, not always.

In close quarters, ADSing can give you too much accuracy. It provides you with a tight stream of bullets, and an enemy can take just half a sidestep to dodge the entire stream.

ADSing also has a lot of disadvantages: it takes time, slows you down and reduces your field of vision.

Hip firing gives you a spray of bullets, and if at least part of Cone of Fire overlaps with enemy hitbox, you’re likely to deal at least some damage.

It’s easier to avoid a laser pointer than a flashlight. Take a look at this comparison:

hip-vs-ads-hits hip-vs-ads-misses

A slight crosshair movement leads to all shots completely missing in ADS mode, and only slight coverage reduction with hip fire. 

While obviously you want to maximize your damage, sometimes it means giving up a portion of damage output to prevent giving up all of it.

Most players will have much easier time spraying enemies from the hip and doing consistent damage, while being able to move fast and dodge enemy fire. 

The higher the Rate of Fire, the more consistent will be the damage distribution over Cone of Fire area, and this is where Cyclone is a bit lacking compared to other SMGs.

However, an SMG with ALS may face the same issue of being too accurate even when firing from the hip, and that makes SMGs a but hard to use. 

For most weapons, ADSing for headshots provides the fastest theoretical time to kill.

But SMGs with ALS can hip fire for headshots within 10m, shaving off the time it takes to aim down sights, and that is what makes them so powerful in CQC. 

This is also one of Cyclone’s strong points, as it has that mentioned quick 3 headshot kill, though it takes a skilled user to perform that consistently.

Recoil and how it was changed

This is the part of Cyclone’s statistics that was adjusted in recent patch.

Statistic Cyclone
before nerfs
Cyclone
after nerfs
Armistice Eridani
Recoil Angle 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 20 / 20
Vertical Recoil 0.24 0.3 0.15 0.2
Horizontal Recoil 0.212 / 0.304 0.212 / 0.4 0.35 / 0.39 0.3 / 0.39
Horizontal Recoil Tolerance 0.7 (2 kicks) 0.9 (2-3 kicks) 0.9 (2 kicks) 0.9 (2 kicks)
Avg. Horizontal Deviation 0.215 0.260 0.3 0.285
Max. Horizontal Deviation 0.650 0.850 0.770 0.840
First Shot Recoil Multiplier 2.25x 2.5x 2x 2x
Vertical Recoil per Second 2.6 3.26 2.24 2.5
 
Cyclone recoil pattern
25 shots fired

The maximum horizontal recoil and horizontal recoil tolerance were raised. But Cyclone’s minimum horizontal recoil remains low. 

This means that Cyclone will have a bit higher average horizontal recoil per shot, and potentially has a chance to snap out of control with 3 kicks in the same direction, but it is statistically unlikely, especially considering Cyclone’s low RoF.

On average, Cyclone will still remain more stable than Armistice or Eridani. 

The nerfs have considerably raised Cyclone’s vertical recoil per second, but it still remains controllable when compared to bigger guns.

Of course, NS-7 PDW will still be more capable at range, but it won’t perform as well in close quarters.

 

Effective Range

Cyclone is deadly within 11m and effective within 23m. And with Advanced Laser Sight, it can effectively hip fire over a large portion of that range bracket.

It’s still usable within 30-40m, depending on attachments, target type and player skill.

Just keep in mind that Cyclone is an SMG, and will suffer obvious disadvantages when going against bigger guns at medium+ range, though 75% ADS movement speed can help reduce the gap.

Attachments

1x Reflex makes for an easy scope choice, since Cyclone is not effective at ranges that would warrant higher magnification. 

SPA is also a no-brainer attachment for all SMGs. 

Rail and Barrel attachments are not so straightforward, and all of them can be viable for certain playstyles. 

The “MLG” players with excellent aiming skill might prefer Forward Grip + Compensator combo, and ADS for headshots at all times.

The main purpose of this setup is to increase headshot accuracy in 10-20m range bracket, and overall effective range will be improved a little.

This combination will seem completely bewildering to most people and for a good reason. Personally, I’d never use this combination as well. But I see this working for select few exceptional infiltrators.

Flash Suppressor makes an okay Barrel slot filler, especially at night. 

Suppressor will tank the effective range, and it probably doesn’t make much sense to use on infiltrators, since cloaking sounds will direct enemies to your position anyway. But it could work on a cocky Light Assault build.

Extended Mags vs. ALS comes down to playstyle.

If you’re careful about your engagements and mind the Long Reload, ALS will give you excellent dueling potential. You’ll have to always engage enemies one by one, though.

Extended Mags will make Cyclone a bit more general-purpose than strict 1v1 CQC fights.

You will have to ADS more often, but have the ability to engage more than  one enemy at a time, won’t go through Long Reload as often, and be able to take out beefier targets outside optimal range.

Playstyle

You can find some guidelines on how to use an SMG here.

Truth Behind the Myth

myth

Cyclone is often called “the best”. Be it “the best SMG for NC infiltrators” or “best SMG overall” and even “best weapon in the game, period”.

Why does it receive such praise and is it deserved? To find the answer, we have to look at the bigger picture.

If you don’t mind reading a wall of text, /u/Quinnocent gives an excellent explanation here

Weak Competition

Compared to other 1st generation SMGs, Cyclone is indeed too good. You may even say “overpowered”.

Cyclone has a great combination of all the important stats:

  • better hip fire than Armistice
  • better DPS than Eridani
  • noticeably longer effective range
  • higher damage per magazine
  • potentially fastest time to kill with headshots

Basically, Cyclone can perform nearly as well in close quarters as other 1st gen SMGs, and it can better engage at range, and it performs even better in skilled hands.

Lack of clear disadvantages

Cyclone’s disadvantages are statistical and not easily perceivable by players.

1) Low Rate of Fire means that statistically Cyclone is less consistent when spraying in close quarters, and loses more TTK as range increases.

An excerpt from the Weapon Mechanics Guide:

…let’s compare two SMGs:
AF-4 Cyclone: 167 @ 6m – 100 @ 46m / 652 RoF
SMG-46 Armistice: 125 @ 6m – 84 @ 42m / 896 RoF

They both have similar DPS and effective engagement ranges. At 6m, they have the same TTK of 0.47. However, when crossing the bullet damage threshold from 6m to 7m, Armistice’s TTK will increase to 0.54, and Cyclone’s TTK will increase to 0.56.

They both will need one additional bullet to kill, but Armistice fires those bullets at a much faster rate, so it’s a less of a problem for that weapon.

This determines how much of a penalty is inflicted by using Suppressor, and generally for engaging the target outside the maximum damage range.

2) Less consistent horizontal recoil. Sometimes Cyclone can get out of hand and kick more than others. But on average it will perform better.

3) Higher vertical recoil per second than for other SMGs, but still very controllable.

While Cyclone has ~35% more vertical recoil per second than other SMGs, this disadvantage can be safely ignored, because Cyclone’s vertical recoil is still very mild when compared to larger primary weapons.

Specifics of TTK Calculations

Cyclone is often praised for the best headshot time to kill. But where does it come from?

Let’s compare 1st gen SMGs:

  DPS Headshot BTK Headshot TTK
Armistice 1867 4 0.201
Cyclone 1815 3 0.184
Eridani 1787 4 0.24

 

As we can see, the difference between their Damage Per Second is minimal. The big disparity in headshot TTK has to do with how Time to Kill is calculated:

TTK = (BTK - 1) / ( RoF / 60)
or
TTK = (BTK - 1) * Refire Rate

The Bullets-to-Kill is reduced by one, because there is always one fewer Refire Times between shots.

Spread fingers of one hand before you. You’ll see five fingers (hopefully), and four gaps between them. Fingers are bullets, and gaps are Refire Times. 

The reason why Cyclone’s TTK is so short is because there are only two gaps between the three shots.

However, the longest Refire Time means Cyclone receives bigger penalty for missing.

Let’s take a look at how number change if the user misses 50% of shots:

  DPS Headshot BTK Headshot TTK
Armistice 1867 8 0.469
Cyclone 1815 6 0.46
Eridani 1787 8 0.48

 

Now they are only 0.01 or 0.02 seconds apart. The difference will continue to diminish as amount of shots increases.

To summarize, Cyclone can offer better performance in ideal circumstances, but will face greater punishment outside them. 

 “Most PlanetSide 2 battles are CQC”

This is another popular statement, which creates the logic of “Cyclone is strong in CQC, so it’s the best weapon overall”. 

The problem with the statement “most PS2 battles are CQC” – it’s not specific enough.

Some PS2 players enjoy playing for the objective, they are competitive, and will try to capture as much territory as possible. Often they’re organized and even use voice comms.

A lot of objectives, such as capture points and generators, are located indoors. 

And from that point of view, majority of their battles is indeed fought in close quarters. Especially if they often use Galaxy drops to bypass enemy defenses and the medium-long range part of battle, and drop straight on point. 

Often these players are most vocal in community. So naturally they will put greater value into a weapon like Cyclone. 

Just keep in mind that’s not the only way to PlanetSide 2, as long as there is no incentive to play for the objective, any playstyle is valid.

Cyclone Heavies

Most other New Conglomerate classes already had powerful automatic weapons for CQC, but this wasn’t the case for Heavy Assaults.

Cyclone became the first automatic CQC weapon, available to NC HA. Suddenly they had a high DPS weapon with excellent hip fire. 

In contrast with slow-firing, average DPS unwieldy LMGs, Cyclone does feel like a godsend. 

“Cyclone Heavies” became a thing. They are able to dominate close quarters fights against LMGs of enemies, while remaining competitive at 20-30m, which can’t be said about other factions’ SMGs.

This is the biggest contributor to Cyclone hype.

Crowd mentality

Say something often enough and it becomes the truth. A lot of people praised Cyclone for reasons above, and other people started repeating it. At some point Cyclone’s hype became a self-sustaining effect: people praise it because people praise it.

This issue is only made worse by certain vocal community members that make a point to repeat just how overpowered the Cyclone is whenever it is mentioned.  

Closing thoughts

Cyclone was and still is overpowered when compared to other SMGs.

The recoil nerfs were not enough to tone down its effective range, they merely made it less consistent.

Other SMGs do certain things better: Armistice is better for CQC spraying and NS-7 is better at range. 

But only Cyclone does it all sufficiently well, and gives opportunity for skill to shine, which arguably makes it the best SMG overall.

That said, I would rather see other SMGs buffed to Cyclone’s level than Cyclone nerfed further. SMGs overall are a fairly weak class, and could use some buffs across the board.


The guide is now concluded. Special thanks to /u/HansStahlfaust for suggesting the topic, as well as to /u/Mustarde, /u/EclecticDreck and /u/CryoXVS whose feedback shaped this guide.