A Buyer’s Guide to Assault rifles in Ghost Recon Online

Hi guys, hope everyone has been well and that you are having a good holiday season — it’s been a while since I did the blog thang…sowwy. RL has been soaking up all my time as you may have guessed.

As for gaming, I see from my Steam stats that a lot of the old timers here at BASHandSlash.com are playing the latest CoD (BO II). Part of me is very happy that the tradition lives on and part of me wishes we could roll the clock back to CoD2. But, before the memories of me Kar’ing it up on the streets of Carentan leave me teary eyed, I wanted to write a little bit about a very overlooked F2P shooter out there, Ghost Recon Online (GRO).

I’ve given you guys some intros to GRO a few months ago and now that it is in full open Beta, everyone has a chance to try it out. I can’t remember a time, well maybe since CoD2, that a game has me so hooked. Don’t get me wrong, there are still tons wrong with the game:

The bad bits are bad

For the pessimists out there, here’s a sampling of the negatives: http://ghost-recon.ubi.com/ghost-recon-online/en-US/forums/index.aspx

The good news is that the game continues to get patched and the fundamental concept that Ubisoft has come up with for this game is quite good. For that reason, I do put up with the laggy hit registration and glacially slow (mis-) match making.

The good bits are good

One of the big draws for me to this game is the emphasis on team-play. Everything in the game is geared towards cooperation with your teammates. Whether it’s the maps that funnel you into a complementary fire team, the useful tether display that instantly make you aware of your teammates, or the awesome in-game voice-comms — everything is geared to making you and your team fight as one.

Personally, I’ve been playing as an Assault class since the Closed Beta and I’d like to help you new Assault Class guys navigate through the purchasing of Assault Rifles (AR’s) in this game.

Guide to buying Assault Rifles

Assault Rifles (AR’s) in GRO all have wicked amounts of recoil and they take some getting used to. They also can be quite pricy and picking the wrong gun can really be frustrating as it will take you weeks of play to earn enough Requisition Points (RP) to get another gun (unless of course you decide to fork over real cash for it ;)

I should first say that picking a weapon is a personal choice and should reflect, as in most games, your gameplay style. Your decision on a particular gun should also take into account the map you are playing, your teammates and your opponents.

For example, I tend to be more of a run’n gunner (ya, not a good thing if you are going to play a game like GRO), I like to always be on the move, so I like a gun that has great handling characteristics and can be readied quickly; however, there are times when I don’t mind camping it up. For that reason, I like to have a range of choices waiting for me in my arsenal.

The first thing to know about selecting AR’s is to check out the in-game stats.

The way the stats are presented have changed in the new patch (0.9.1) and some have been renamed for clearer understanding.

  • Damage per second (DPS): The higher the number, the better
  • Damage: Damage per round, higher the better.
  • Fire rate in rounds/min: Higher is better
  • Magazine size (was Ammo pool): Higher is better
  • Accuracy: Higher is better
  • Control (was Recoil):  Higher is better. Control is essentially the inverse of Recoil.
  • Ready time in seconds (was Handling): The lower the better. Ready time is the time it take to bring the weapon into firing position.

Additional parameters:

  • Reload time – lower is better
  • Fire mode: Ideally, you would like to see all three here, auto, semi, burst.

Damage per second

Damage per second, or DPS, is one way of evaluating AR’s in GRO…it’s not necessarily the best way, but it is a way. In 0.9.1, DPS will be shown along with the above stats for all guns. We will quote DPS in our appraisal here, but ultimately, it is just another number. Probably a better way to rate a gun in GRO is to factor three parameters together; e.g. Accuracy x Control x DPS, given that DPS alone won’t necessarily mean that your rounds will hit the target.

 

AR Families

To generalize, AR’s come in families: M27,MK, AR, AS Val…F2000…etc. Each family tends to have a versatile base-weapon type and then, typically, two additional types: a close-quarter-battle type and a sniper-variant type. This is not always true, but it’s a good generality.

The base weapon is usually the most configurable and you can choose from many different modules to modify it so that it behaves more like a Close Quarter Battle (CQB) gun or more like a stand-off weapon. Of course, you can leave it as a multipurpose gun.

The CQB weapon type (sometimes you can see these designated with the letter “C” for compact) typically come with non-moddable bits (grips, or bipods as an example). They are typically harder to control but have high fire rates, high dps values and low quick-to-ready times.

The sniper variants (SV) have long ready times, but are very accurate.

 

Here are my choices for GRO AR’s. Remember, my choices are somewhat biased and (as I said above) weapons should be selected for your own style of game and the map you are on.

Level 1-4 weapons

M27 GI: The Starter weapon

The first gun you get in GRO is the M27 GI and frankly it can take you a long way. I used fairly successfully up to level 15.  This gun has a good fire rate, but one of the lowest damage per second values in the game at 362. Compare that to the 501 dps for an AR-21 (the highest dps of the AR’s).  Damage per round is a measely 31 and at 700 rounds per minute, the fire rate is a bit low when compared to level five weapons or higher. Having said that, I love the controllability and you can fire on the run with this puppy. Try and use this as far as possible thus saving your Requisition Points (RP) for higher level goodies.

M27 C

This is one of the first guns worthy of plunking down your RP on.

Part of the M27 family, the “C” (or compact) version of the M27 is an excellent run’n'gun weapon for those sitting in economy class. This gun can be bought at Level 5 for only 1350 RP’s. Its 900 rpm fire rate is eye-popping and its damage rating 31 dpr is similar to the M27 GI. The DPS though is scary at this level at 465! The big down side is the recoil on this thing. If you try and pick off anyone of 20-30m away, you’ll probably die trying unless you are crouched/prone and/or in cover. I have seen a lot of good players using this thing up to about Level 20. If you can’t handle the incredible recoil though, give this a pass.

The rest of the M27 class is rather disappointing and there are better weapons just around the corner for you to RP all over.

Level 5-9 weapons

AS Val

The As Val is a Level five gun and probably the best of the AS family guns.

It costs 2500 RP and deals 26 damage per round at 900 rpm, for a DPS of 390. The fire rate is as high as the M27 C, but the DPS is much lower and you will find yourself exposed more often given that it takes much longer to bring someone down: so you will die more often. The big plus here is that the AS Val has excellent accuracy, nearly as low recoil as the M27 GI and a respectably low ready time. It’s the first gun I used in GRO that reminded me of Call of Duty’s AR’s. If you are relatively stealthy, you can use this gun to get head shots from quite a long way away or run around with it out-drawing Recon’s with their SMG’s. This is the first gun I bought with RP and it was a lot of fun to play as it didn’t require too much concentration — I hate thinking.

I passed on the As Val C as it is a bit harder to control albeit having much higher dps. It’s good for what it’s supposed to do at close range, but I like the fact that the As Val can match its close quarter battle (CQB) capability and also is a formidable mid range weapon.

Sadly, once you get past Level 10, the As Val becomes of minimal use and I have not used it since.

The VSS guns are also in here, but I found them wanting. They really are only good if you like camping or countersniping. They take a long time to settle and their damage per second, though good, is offset by a limited optical site which is so narrow it becomes of little use — as you’ll find out when you get blindsided from the side for the fortieth time. I was not surprised to see the VSS guns on sale a few weeks ago. Few people are using them given their limited capabilities.

Level 10-14 weapons

Mk16

Given the popularity of the Mk16 SV variant, this is an overlooked weapon. The baseline gun of the Mk16 family, it is an outstanding weapon and I use it even today in my Class 30 battles. It is a Level 10 gun and costs 3750 RP. Its rounds deal 39 damage at a very lethal 403 dps rate. The big plus with the Mk16 is that it has both great lethality and low recoil.  By adding a grip and a suppresor to this thing I can get the recoil down even further. The downside is the poor fire rate (620 rpm), but as I said dps is not the whole story. Other AR’s can have such high recoil you will never get your rounds to register, so you should really think about the “effective DPS” of a gun. The probability of hitting someone with the Mk16 is very high and thus its effective DPS is very high in my opinion.

I highly recommend this gun and it should be the first AR you buy as it is just so damned versatile.

Mk16 SV

The sniper variant of the Mk16 family is very useful in its countersnipe role and I still use it today in my class 30 skirmishes. It is a Level 10 gun and can be bought for 4500 RP. It has a 413 DPS, 40 damage per round and a slow 620 rpm fire rate.

This gun is for camping out with and should be outfitted with a a 3.5x scope and used on long/thin maps with little flanking: read “Markov Station”.

As for the Mk 16 CQC, wait for the Sar 21C.

Level 15-19 weapons

Sar 21C

The Sar is one of the most popular AR’s in the game. Name the player and chances are he is using or has recently used the Sar 21C. The other rifles in the Sar family aren’t worthy of note, but the compact is. A level 15 weapon, its 8000 RP price tag is hefty, but so is its 800 rpm fire rate and 40 damage per round value, giving it the second highest DPS of the AR’s at 533. Only the AR 21 has a higher number.  The only issue I have with the Sar 21C is that its recoil is starting to creep up (Control is only 21) and thus you’ll probably find it useful to purchase a flash suppressor to bring down the kick.

The Sar 21C is blessed with high accuracy, high damage and can be used in limited run’n'gun mode as well as in camp mode.  This is the gun to have once you are past Level 15. Once you have used it a while, it’s ability to “crit” will have also gone up and thus it is not uncommon to see top players use the Sar 21C’s in high level matches.

The other Sar 21, for example, is meh. Check out the stats.

You can tailor this thing a bit, but really it doesn’t stand up to the Sar-21C.

Level 20-24 weapons

ACR C

Skip all the ACR* guns, unless you like going CQB. If so, then the ACR exception is the compact version. In fact, only buy this guy if you are simply frustrated at being owned by level 30′s and their equipment and cannot wait for the F2000. The ACR C is built for CQB. It’s really low Ready Time competes favorably with Recon SMG’s, so you’ll have fun pwning those dudes. You can bump the Control up a bit as well with add on flash suppressors.  The cost of this weapon is mid-way to the F2000 and is worth it. It can’t be modded too much so it has to be used in the CQB role as it comes standard with a grip.

*I compare the ACR SV against other SV’s in the AR 21 SV section, below.

One of the better players in the game, [NJP]Highpants, has had much better experiences with the ACR and recommends them. Here is what he has to say about the ACR family:

Do not skip over the ACR family of guns because of their similarities to the Mk 16. While their “DPS” values may not be staggeringly high, the actual time to kill is on par with every gun it faces. This is because the ACR guns have extremely low recoil, some of the lowest amongst all the assault rifles. Its ease of control allows for consecutive shots to make contact with your target. In a sense, it is the polar opposite of the AR-21 C. With relatively low damage per shot and a very high control factor, the ACR is a gun that struggles at point blank and handles its own nearly any other range.

Also, note that the ACR family can use 40 round extended mags as opposed to the 30 round extended mags of the Mk16 family.

Level 25-29 weapons

AR 21C

Probably the most frustrating weapon in the AR arsenal. Don’t be fooled by the incredible 570 dps on this weapon (highest of the AR’s). This thing is far from the beast the DPS stat alone would suggest. The really important number to look at is Control. That number is 3. Ya, 3. This thing is a bucking bronc, an unmanned fire hose and an earthquake combined. The only way to get any measure of acceptable utility from this weapon is to add an MB53-Muzzle Brake. The MB53 will bring Control to a borderline 19 value; however, the brake doesn’t have flash suppression, so you will only see massive flashes every time you fire.

The lack of control will want to make you resort to using burst or semi fire. Don’t. You’ll just get killed by Sar 21C’s on full auto. The whole point of a compact CQB weapon is to use it up close and for that you’ll need the weapon to be in full auto. One other thing about CQB, you’d theoretically like to have low Ready Time. Sadly, at 0.49s you’ll be out drawn at every turn by ACR C’s, and just about most SMG’s.

To sum up. You’re firing blind, wildly dispersed and you’re beaten to the punch by nearly two-tenths of a second most times.

If you have gotten this far, save your money and buy the ACR C or wait just a little while and get the F2000.

AR 21 SV

The sniper variant of the AR is the much better choice. the Sniper-Variant is a worthy successor of the MK 16 SV. So, if you like firing off rounds from behind cover (aka camping), or if you enjoy the mid range game, this is the puppy for you. Add a decent scope on this and you’ll finally grow to like Markov Station or Chertanovo LZ. The key stat here is the Accuracy number. It’s way up there at 88 and that makes every Recon sniper out there worried.

In truth, the long range accuracy is not amazing (it would have to be closer to 100 to be so judged) — mid range though, this thing will shoot the eye out of a flea.

Some will argue that the  ACR SV is superior, but really this superiority only comes in handling/recoil and frankly the Mk 16 SV is too close to the ACR SV in capabilities to warrant the exorbitant price of the latter — for me, the ACR SV is just not worth the money. True it takes some practice to get used to the AR 21 SV, but once you have gotten used to this puppy and added a muzzle brake and a premium sight to it, you won’t regret the choice.

Level 30- weapons

The F2000 currently represents the GRO weapon endgame, at least as far as assault rifles. Relatively speaking, the F2000 is truly the acme of AR weapons.

There are three F2000′s to currently choose from. The base F2000, the more expensive SP or the crazy expensive stealthy SD. For me, the best bang for the buck is the base model, which can be modified to a much greater fashion.

The F2000 is the premiere gun in the game and has both good dps, awesome accuracy and with the addition of grips and flash suppression, great controllability. The Ready Time can be brought down to 0.59s and Control cranked up to 59 by selecting the proper modules.

This is a very versatile gun and I use it in both CQB, run’n'gun and sniper suppression modes.  I feel that the SP and SD variants are a bit of a waste as the F2000 is adequate for any job and the SP and SD are simply too specialized to be worth the money.

Summary

Most Assault players will want to have two AR’s in their arsenal, regardless of their level: one that works well in tight, close quarter battles and one that will be useful on long thin maps.  There are few AR’s, with possibly the exception of the default Mk 27 GI (< Level 5) that fit that bill, so you’ll probably need two.

My choice for the end game at Level 30 (GRO will undoubtedly add more levels in the future) are the following:

F2000 – for close quarter/generic maps

AR 21 SV – for the long thin maps

 

Additional Guides

XxStalkerxX has an excellent AR guide on the official forums: XxStalkerxX’s Guide

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