Disclaimer that I collected and used an Elysian Detachment D-99 army for several years as a young teen, so I am emotionally compromised to some degree when it comes to the Accatran pattern lasgun.
So I’ve done some testing and a good amount of playing with the Accatran pattern lasguns on the Veteran and feel ready to lay out my thoughts on where they’ve gone right and where they’ve gone wrong. Obviously with the very restrictive and insufficient methods for acquiring and comparing weapons I can’t produce a definitive set of data to back these feelings up, but for testing them I found an instance of each variant with a similarly high damage roll and with a rating spread between them of no more than 15 to 20 and tested them repeatedly with a mix of feats against each enemy in the Meat Grinder, mostly on Malice difficulty. The last of these was done at the 385-405 rating range and the tl;dr is:
I also have some less important aesthetic criticisms which are pretty small fry really but I’ll start with them because they’re simple before diving into my somewhat rambling thoughts on each variant specifically.
General Visuals Feedback
Though I think overall FS has done a good job of translating the Accatran’s design into the far higher fidelity context of a videogame (with the exception of the VIIa, we’ll get there). They’re too long and the lamp pack being just bolted onto the side when the Accatran has had an integral lamp pack just above the barrel since it’s very first depiction in Imperial Armour 3 is downright baffling. That’s the long and short of it, I know it’s very unlikely to change because it’s asset work but honestly I’d pay good money for a set of skins that changed their models to be between halfway or maybe two thirds of the way to the length of the Kantreal MG IV from their current ones and with an integral overbarrel lamp pack. Just something a tiny bit closer to their original Forge World sculpts and a bit more in line with their bullpup nature.
The low point of the family, the Mk II just kind of sucks. Poor damage per shot and DPS, more recoil than the VId, conventional damage drop off (does more damage at close range, less the further out you get), a tendency to blow through ammo given its high rate of fire and low damage output, in spite of consuming only one charge from the powerpack per shot. Even if the Mk II was to receive a substantial shot in the arm with regard to damage I still wouldn’t really like it because with its close>far damage drop off it would then simply be a better infantry autogun with good close range damage, high ammo capacity and much more controllable recoil. Just about the only thing I like about the Mk II is that it seems to have quite nice dodge mobility, but that’s the kind of thing that makes a good weapon better, not a poor one worthwhile.
My suggestion is a total rework: Something that the lasguns currently in game lack is a burst fire model similar to the behaviour seen with the Kantrael MG IV carbines used by the Scabs, and I think the Accatran Mk II would be a great candidate for this if the MG IV itself isn’t going to occupy it. Damage per shot would need a substantial bump to near the MG IV with a burst of 3 bolts, each costing 2 ‘charges’ from the magazine, or slightly lower damage with a 5 round burst at 1 charge per shot and a slightly uprated RoF.
Throw in a switch to the standard lasgun inverted damage drop off model where it loses damage at close range and I think you’d have something that is both substantially better for actually killing targets and also feels more like a lasgun (which have been positioned in Darktide as the medium range combatants dejure), while still promoting mobile play (bursts work well for pacing yourself with a cadence of dodge, acquire a target for headshot, fire, dodge, acquire, fire or other kinds of moving and firing). Maybe give it a little more zoom on its irons to bring it closer to the Kantrael and Lucius’.
Substantially better off than the Mk II, the VId’s only real problem is that it is a horde clear ranged weapon in a Tide game, which is fundamentally less valuable. The most potent use of ranged in Tide has always been the ability to remove or disable high value targets (specials, elites, bosses, monsters etc.) at range rapidly. This isn’t to say that it’s the only thing a ranged weapon should do and hyperspecialised ranged weapons have their own drawbacks, but if your ranged weapon can’t do that reliably, it’s always going to be second rate. There are other tools available for horde control and clear, chiefly most of the Veteran’s best melee weapons like the powersword are horde clear monsters and his grenade is also a horde clear/control tool, so the Mk VId despite being a lot of fun to blaze away with always feels to me like I’ve taken in a somewhat suboptimal option and am letting my team down to a degree as a result.
My suggestion is a doozy on this one and I think it’s likely too much to ask of a clearly overstretched development team at such a late hour: Give it an underslung krak grenade launcher as its special attack that consumes your grenades to fire. Underslung GLs for their lasguns was one of the icnonic model and gameplay elements of the Elysian Drop Troops, and since the Mk VId references being derived from their standard arm, the Mk IV explicitly, it would seem an ideal fit in fluff terms.
In gameplay terms, with high single target damage, stagger and penetration, this would essentially allow the player to exchange one horde clear tool (his frag grenades) for a limited resource single target deleter while letting the regular lasgun fire of the Mk VId take its place. The biggest problem aside from the obvious workload of creating and implementing it would be that the Psyker can also wield the Accatran iirc, but since his ‘grenade’ is already a single target deleter, simply leaving him on the old version of the VId would I think be more or less okay.
This one’s in a pretty good spot, does plenty of damage (outstripping the other two for DPS handily at every range out to 50m, peaking at 2-3 times the DPS of the Mk II and about a quarter more than the Mk IVd in my tests) with controllable recoil and is easily my favourite and most effective to use of the Accatrans currently in game. Its only problems are that it has a bugged 50m maximum range where the bolts just abruptly disappear (at least I think it’s bugged, I reported it as one and it was acknowledged so hopefully that bodes well to it being fixed), and that is ugly as sin. The bizarre swoop of the stock midsection, the enlarged flash hider, the generally mishapen alterations to proportions. I cannot wait to get a skin for the Mk II or VId Accatrans simply so I can slap it on this and model swap it to look like them.
My only suggestion here would be to fix the range and to again, give it the lasgun damage drop off inversion. It’s something I’m not usually a fan of but if it’s going to be a thing in Darktide I’d rather it was consistent, both to give the lasguns an identity but also to again avoid the Accatrans simply being flatly superior alternatives to the unwieldy infantry autoguns.
Anyway, even if the more big idea suggestions in here like the UBGL and visual reworks are obviously unviable for a launch implementation, I would love to see any attempt to integrate them into post-release content down the line, and other ones are more immediately pursuable, like the sorely needed rebuild of the Mk II.
Edit: they fixed the range bug on the VIIa while I was writing this post.