Well, with big news from Arena Net talking about some of the new changes to Engineers in the next beta event, it got me thinking about Rifles versus Pistols. Both are the only two weapons (outside of kits) that Engineers can equip. The Rifle is a 2 handed weapon and the Pistol is a one handed with the option to dual wield or use a shield. As it currently stands, only the pistol/shield combo lets you go all Captain America on people, so it might be worth it for that fact alone. But onto the real debate as to which is better and why. Essentially, I will be covering the strengths and weaknesses of both.
Let’s start with the rifle, undoubtably the simplest of weapons to choose from because its consistently the same and never changes. You have 4 skills that each provide something unique to the rotation. So lets list off the skills
Deliver a quick rifle shot from the hip.
Combo Finisher: Physical Projectile (20% chance)
Immobilize foes with a net shot.
Immobilize (2s) unable to move
Fire a cloud of shrapnel that causes more damage the closer you are to your foe.
Within 8 feet: 560
Within 16 feet: 490
Within 24 feet: 420
Within 32 feet: 350
Fire a blast so strong it launches your foe as you fall backward.
Enemy launch distance 450
Self knockback distance 300
Blast the ground, damaging nearby foes and leaping to your target.
Leap Damage: 420
Landing damage: 420
Blast Radius: 10 Feet
Combo Finisher: Leap
Hip shot is your basic auto attack skill, it shoots the target. It doesn’t do anything other than that, so if you want it too, you are most likely out of luck. Although, it can be used in conjunction with other skills (like fire wall) to produce a combo effect, which is unique among all the other skills.
Net Shot immobilizes foes, which rains all over melee’s parade, but really only prevents enemy escape and aids in your own escape. This skill is always going to be invaluable in a PvP scenario because it allows you and your allies to catch up to your enemies and assists in their eventual murder.
Blunderbuss is the odd skill here (although it makes sense) in that it rewards you for being closer to your target. Realistically and odd skill for any melee, but it’s not completely unheard of in games. This basically turns your rifle into a shotgun, and shot guns hurt more the closer you are (never personally experienced a shotgun shot, but considering what it does, it makes sense). This skill didn’t work last beta, so to be fair, I wont go any further until its fixed.
Overcharged Shot is a dual effect skill, knocking both you and your opponent back a total of 750 units away from each other. However, because it also knocks you and your target down. This is a situational skill at best. Knocking yourself down when in the midst of a battle can do more harm to yourself than good, especially when you are outnumbered. However, when its a 1v1 scenario, than this skill proves to be very effective. 750 units away if a very far distance, and if used correctly, can allow you to effectively disengage against any target who is out for your blood. So this skill is situational at best and only effective in a PvP scenario, or when you are running away from a mob.
Jump Shot is by far, my favorite skill in the Engineer’s arsenal. This skill hits twice, dealing damage on launch and land. This skill also allows you to also cross over gaps, rough, and otherwise impassible terrain. The damage isn’t negligible either. You can use this to close the gap and get in range of a point blank blunderbuss shot. Or, you could use it to get away. Either way, it has a multitude of uses.
Now to go over the Pistol.
Fires a shot that explodes on impact, bleeding nearby foes.
Area of Effect: 5 Feet
Bleed (25s) -172 Damage over time
Combo Finisher: Physical Projectile (20% chance)
Poison Dart Volley
Fire a volley of darts that poison foes.
Poison (35s) – 172 Health, -33% Reduced Healing
Number of Darts: 5
Discharge a lightning shot that blinds your target and confuses each subsequent foe it hits.
Blindness (3s) Next outgoing attack misses
Confusion (3s) -72 health per skill used
Maximum Targets: 4
Unleash flames from your pistol to burn foes.
Within 15 feet(9s): -3,006 Health
Within 30 feet(6s): -2,005 Health
Within 45 feet(3s): -1,002 Health
Coat the target area with a glue puddle that immobilizes foes.
Immobilize (1s): Unable to move
Glue puddle duration: 6s
Glue puddle radius: 20 Feet
Create a magnetic field that reflects projectiles and can be released to push back foes.
Electrify your shield, preparing to throw it at foes. If you are hit, the shield discharges, stunning your attacker.
Explosive Shot is really cool because it deals AoE damage and inflicts a burn. In fact, if you look at all the skills, the Pistol screams AoE damage. This being one of the many skills that do this.
Poison Dart Volley is also a really cool skill because when joined up with Explosive Shot, the damage will start rolling. Plus, reducing the amount of healing the target receives is honestly what makes Pistols remotely viable in a PvP scenario where movement is the most important thing. And since everyone heals, this skill is fantastic.
Static Shot is very useful, but not as useful and Poison Volley. The main problem is that Blind is tricky and next to impossible to time since you cannot force your opponent to use a particular skill and anyone with a good eye will blow the blind on a waste skill (hip shot is a good example here). However, the Confusion aspect is what saves it. Blind is a useful skill, yes, it can be required in a PvE scenario, but it pales in comparison to the other skills.
Blow Torch is a mini flamethrower, to be honest, I would rather have the flamethrower, but thats just my opinion. However, a quick burst at close range can deal quite a bit of damage as this skill mirrors Blunderbuss.
Glue Shot is the movement halting effect that pistols get. However, you have to have a secondary pistol and give up your Captain Americaing ways. So this depends on taste and if the other two skills are worth it. However, and AoE snare is, still, fantastic.
Magnetic Field is cool. That’s really my only comment on it. The knockback effect is nice, and I haven’t honestly tested the projectile reflection. Assuming that during the duration, all projectiles are reflected, this skill is amazing for stalling ranged heavy teams or mobs. So it has applications in PvP, but it is a skill without a lot of hard information on it.
Static Shield lets you go all Captain America on some people (this means that there needs to be a round shield with a star in the center, YOU HEAR ME ARENA NET!?!?). Stuns are the best form of CC in any game because it completely prevents the target from doing anything. 3 seconds is all that is required to heal yourself while still continuing the flow of damage on the target. 3 seconds is also how long it takes for your whole team to burn down a single target. So its got applications in PvP and PvE.
So here is where it gets interesting. And my stance is that Rifles are for PvP and Pistols are for PvE. I say this because Rifle’s lack damage, but make up for it in incredible amounts of mobility. However, Pistols deal tremendous amounts of damage and AoE damage. Given any kind of scenario where damage is the most important (PvE), the Pistol will win. And since in a PvE scenario, your mobility is not as crucial as your damage output. Even if you only use the pistol and the shield, you will still deal quite a bit of damage between explosive shot and poison volley. Throw in the second pistol and you then are able to dish out quite a bit of single target damage as well. Throw is a turret and a couple extra weapon kits and suddenly, you have a high damage output set up. Rifles lack damage, but make up in utility, which doesn’t save you in a PvE situation.
So Pistols dominate in damage, especially in a PvE setting. Now PvP, only Glue Shot and hoping that your target is dumb enough to run into is asking for much. However, PvP is where the Rifle really shines. Every single game with PvP has, and always will, center around the need for mobility. Since the Rifle provides 3 forms of affecting mobility, this is the superior choice. Although, you do lose out on a stun, but a single stun will not save you as much as a Overcharged Shot or a Jump Shot. A stun wont get you up a hill, and in order to get that stun, you have to forgo your only mobility altering ability (yay alliteration!). So if you use pistols, you get high damage, but you trade Glue Shot and damage for a Stun and more defense. So to be honest, neither will save you from a warrior who has you pinned down. But then again, in its current state, nothing will save you from a warrior.
So Rifle for PvP and Pistol for PvE. This is a simple breakdown, and I am sure many of you can see my reasoning. Plus, I have written about these things before, so you are always welcome to browse the achieve of doom! Or older stuff that hardly ever gets read. Either way, these are my opinions and until I see the new changes (especially with land mine being changed), I reserve the right to pull any of this back. But, as it stands, Rifles win in my book. But I am a PvPer at heart.