TL;DR at the bottom if you don't like maths.
I want to preface this with a couple of things:
1) This assumes that Fallout 76 uses the same Damage Reduction calculations as Fallout 4. This also assumes that the wiki is correct and that the numbers are accurate. I've done my own work to determine the enemy's stats using Awareness.
I'm going to be using the Level 62 Charred Feral Ghoul for this hypothetical, because it's the softest high-level humanoid enemy I could find. Scorched are slightly tougher, and Super Mutants are significantly tougher. This means that the Charred Feral Ghoul is the target that a minigun fares best against.
Level 62 Charred Feral Ghoul: 85 DR / 140 ER
Minigun versus target, Basic/Expert/Master Heavy Gunner Maxed:
A level 45 minigun deals approximately 22 damage per bullet, with maxed Basic / Expert / Master Heavy Gunner. For simplicity – let's consult the big ol chart of damage-y numbers and look for a close situation. 22 Damage versus 85 DR. 85/22 = 3.8. So let's use the chart's example of 25 damage versus 100 DR as a comparison, because I'm too dumb and lazy to do the math myself.
According to our handy-dandy chart, 25 outgoing damage versus 100 resistance results in the target taking a grand total of …
Your minigun is only dealing 30% of the listed damage
Minigun versus target, Basic/Expert/Master Heavy Gunner Maxed, with Stabilized:
So let's take it a step further, and assume you're using Power Armor with the Stabilized perk to ignore 45% of an enemy's armor. That 85 DR Ghoul now has effectively 47 DR. 47 / 22 is 2.13, so let's consult the chart and compare 50 outgoing damage versus 100 resistance, and we find that that 50 outgoing damage means the 100 DR target is now taking …
Your minigun is only dealing 39% of the listed damage
Against a ghoul.
That wailing naked lump of animate flesh takes only 9 damage per shot from a minigun, even should the attacker have all heavy weapons perks equipped.
Comparison: Deathclaw Gauntlet
Let's compare this to a melee weapon – a deathclaw gauntlet. My character has 15 strength, Iron Fist and Incisor – but let's ignore Iron Fist and Incisor for now. An unmodified level 30 Deathclaw gauntlet is listed at 68 damage per hit. Each point of STR adds +10% melee damage, so a 15 STR character deals 170 damage (250% of 68). Conveniently, 170 is exactly twice the DR of the charred feral ghoul, so let's consult the chart and use 100 outgoing damage versus 50 resistance. Against a target with 50 resistance, 100 outgoing damage results in the target taking …
Only a 36% reduction.
So let's say, hypothetically, that my unmodified deathclaw gauntlet with 15 STR and no perks can swing once per second. The minigun with all relevent perks fires 27 times per second. So, our paper DPS looks like this:
Minigun: 594 (22 * 27)
Deathclaw Gauntlet: 170
The minigun is outputting 22 damage and attacking a target with an effective DR of 47 with Stabilized, meaning 61% reduced damage. The Deathclaw gauntlet is outputting 170 damage and attacking a target with a full 85 DR, meaning 36% reduced damage. So the actual damage per second looks like this:
Minigun: (22 * 0.39) * 27 = 231.66
Deathclaw Gauntlet: (170 * 0.64) = 108.8
Now, that doesn't look too bad … except for the fact that this is comparing an optimized minigun build versus a 15 STR character with an unmodified melee weapon at only level 30, who isn't using Incisor or Iron Fist (Incisor alone would boost the Deathclaw Gauntlet's DPS by about 50% in this scenario). And in this test, the enemy is a Charred Feral Ghoul – which has about half the DR of a similar-level super mutant, and slightly less than a Scorched of similar level. As resistance grows, the minigun gets worse and worse.
And that's not even touching on the issue of ammo economy and weapon condition.
By scaling back armor values on enemies (and increasing health pools if need be), automatic weapons would become much more valuable. Alternatively, baking 'armor shred' into the Commando, Heavy gunner and Guerilla perks would go a long way to making automatic weapons better (e.g. every consecutive shot on an enemy allows you to ignore 4% of its armor for 5 seconds, stacking up to 25 times).
Fallout 76's damage resistance formula is heavily biased in favor of slow hard-hitting weapons, and against weaker fast-firing weapons. This makes melee weapons particularly viable because almost all melee weapons fit the profile of 'slow and hard-hitting'. Compound this with resource management of collecting vast amounts of ammunition, and automatic weapons become a miserable experience on the whole outside of two-shot and explosive weapons. Enemies either need lower armor values, or automatic weapons need armor shredding capability.
Also, buff the shiskebab. Weapons dealing both ballistic and energy damage are inherently punished by this system since armor applies twice to the outgoing damage.
© Post "Damage Reduction needs to be overhauled (or, why automatic guns suck)" for game Fallout.
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