Escorts get Heavy, or do they?

So the new season has launched, among other changes, a new heavy weapon slot on most of the escorts, raiders and a few of the 7 weapon destroyers is active. This allows players to insert a heavy weapon into that slot.

I have collected three of these thus far and will try and get a fourth when I eventually pick up the new escort ship ‘Smuggler’s Heavy Escort’.

The default unit which is available free from the dilithium store if you own an eligible ship, is the ‘Hyper Excited Ion Stream Projector’ That title is quite the load 😉 It has what initially seems like a cool animation for its firing but is a little over the top really. That’s cool I suppose.

I feel like they over nerfed this thing. It has a slower firing rate, does solid damage but is not enhanced by special firing modes like FAW, BOL, SV, RF, etc. All of that would be fine if they didn’t also have the thing draw weapon energy. They should have at least let it have its own separate power.

The slow firing rate is not as bad as it looks since weapons fire in sequence anyhow and 4 seconds for a ship firing 7 other weapons is probably enough. I don’t feel it adds that much extra punch to the ships I have tested it on thus far. That will take a while to really determine. The special attribute to the Ion Stream is the ability to chain hits up to 5 enemies with progressively stronger damage, but they have to be in a line. That is not exactly an easy thing to do in the heat of combat. Could be very effective in conjunction with a gravity well that pulls enemies close together I suppose.

The second version is the one I got from the Caitian Shikaris Escort, I wrote up here. This ship gets you the Railgun which does heavy kinetic damage. The graphic shows omega weapon amplifier but that is from another console set and is not exclusive to the Railgun. This hits a single target and gets a little bonus to shield penetration. It might do well with a ship set up for shield drain, maybe tetryon weapons or a science oriented captain with a ship that is good at depleting enemy shields. I didn’t have the best of luck using it on my ships thus far but again it is hard to determine how effective it is when using 7 other weapons. I did get several kills with it in a finishing role after knocking down enemy shields. The damage output is not as solid as torpedoes but it is always on target with that 360 arc. Even with a torp launcher at each end, typically you only have 180 degrees of total torpedo arc, the 180° wide angle launcher notwithstanding.

The third weapon is acquired from the latest reputation system and it is the Flak Shot Artillery. This guy has an bonus ability to damage up to two extra random targets in the area with 1/2 damage to each. It does get the bonus 20% shield penetration like the Railgun.

This unit could possibly take the place of a torpedo launcher for the captain looking for that extra energy weapon. It doesn’t do anywhere near the damage of a quantum or photon launcher but for the captain that isn’t into torpedoes it could provide a little bare hull punch for those delicious moments when you see that shield facing drop. Of course I prefer to have a big fat quantum sandwich in those moments, but that is just me 😉

It is a bit odd that these are called “heavy weapons” but they are not really “heavy hitters” are they? Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to have some extra punch on escorts and raiders but I still think they should not draw weapon power, that would make them more useful since their damage wouldn’t come at the expense of the damage output of the remaining energy weapons equipped. I would also rather of had it fire a little slower with even more damage, then it would be a “heavy” weapon. Maybe a seven second recharge and double damage 🙂

Overall I think I am getting the most mileage out of the Ion Stream unit and despite its crazy ‘what am I compensating for’ massive electrical discharge, it does provide the best overall performance in my limited testing thus far.

The problem I have with kinetic energy weapons is the fact that most of the time the enemy shields are up and the weapon is doing very little real damage. It is however robbing power from the weapons system that could be used on energy weapons that are actually knocking the shields down. Torpedoes are easy to time, I always have them in reserve so that they are ready to fire when I see a failed shield facing, BAM here’s that quantum sandwich.

These two ‘heavy’ weapons that utilize kinetic damage, do not hit anywhere near as hard as most torpedoes. So even if I get a shot off on exposed hull with these, there is no real impact damage. When a shield facing goes down, you have a six second window before is cycles back on and that is assuming the captain doesn’t have a BOFF ability or consumable on the ready to recharge it faster. With human opponents (and Romulan Mogais) you will also have to contend with the captain turning the drained shield facing away from your attack. I really feel like the Flak and Railgun should do 100% shield penetration. It’s not like they are hitting that hard and they cannot be enhanced by BOFF abilities. In short, they are heavily nerfed and maybe that’s where Cryptic came up with the name “heavy” weapons 😉

I would like to see them revise the kinetic versions of these new heavy weapons to either do way more shield penetration, or way more damage, or have some other passive effect with each hit. Until then I’ll have to use the ‘Ion Bolt of Zeus’ for my heavy weapon. It actually doesn’t have great DPS but it is a 360 arc weapon and it hits very hard with initial impact damage and relatively high DPV.

FYI on a different topic: I have written numerous posts about torpedoes and one launcher that always gets people talking and arguing is the Omega Torpedo Launcher which I have said is the most powerful in the game. I still think it is or at least one of the top 3. See “Damn the Torpedoes” There are a lot of arguments about the global cool down on torpedoes slowing the one per second firing rate. In a test whereby I had a second person time on a stop watch how long it took for me to manually empty the five charges. I took a cruiser and parked it with all weapons off except the Omega Launcher and manually clicked the mouse until all five were gone. The watch said 6.4 seconds and I believe there was a delay from my reaction time. It appears that the activation time of 0.5 seconds does not apply to this launcher and the global cool down doesn’t either until all five charges are gone. HOWEVER, if another torpedo launcher fires, I tested this as well, then the global torpedo launcher cool down appears to apply as the firing rate slows to about half. Every time the other launcher fires, regardless of how many torpedoes are still loaded, it goes into cool down. Furthermore after the launcher empties its five charges it appears to then follow the global cool down as there is a delay of about 1.5 seconds or so before it can be fired again and even then you have to wait until charges begin to reload. The charges reload a bit slower than the firing rate so it cannot just continuously fire torpedoes at the fastest rate. It will however maintain a solid 3 seconds average as long as you want. I believe that this remains the highest DPS torpedo launcher in the game, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best launcher.

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5 thoughts on “Escorts get Heavy, or do they?

  1. Thanks for this post. I have been patiently working on the Competition Rep but nowhere close to getting that Flak Shot Artillery yet. I am however curious about the currently available Heavy Weapons so this gives me some additional insight.

    The Reddit discussions seem to indicate that the free Hyperexcited Ion Stream Projector is worthless. Most seem to say the Railgun is the best in-slot, followed by the Flak Shot Artillery, so I am surprised to read that your experience is quite the opposite.That said if the free weapon is in fact the best performer, it’s great news because that means I don’t need to grind for the other options.

    1. Maybe they are seeing something I am not. DPS hunters often overlook actual damage. I have written extensively about the difference between high DPS and fast and efficient kills. Damage that is 75% absorbed by shields is not effective.

  2. My shield draining Sci toon has been using a Kelvin Photon torp alongside the Gravimetric torp and its console. With doffs frequently reducing cooldown I see torpedoes shooting almost constantly. I think this is my best ship for quickly killing one target.

    Have you tested with vs without heavy weapon on otherwise the same loadout in your Top Gun challenge? I might need to try that myself, if the heavy weapon doesn’t contribute much, my other weapons need that power.

    1. Funny you should ask that about with/without on Top Gun. I did it with Admiral Sager’s Kumari, the current Top Gun Champ and ran good times but not record breaking and with a weak secondary toon K’Rod in the tactical escort with near identical times too close to call. If it didn’t drain the weapons power it would be nice.

  3. I’m using the Flak on a T6 T’liss. It’s a better fit than the Ion aesthetically and I’m finding it to be more effective too. I can fly past a target (or cluster of targets) and it will often deal the killing blow on anything left in my wake.

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