- "The whole is more than the sum of it's parts."
Without guns, your plane won't last long in Skytopia. Well, not unless you bribe every pirate you come across... but sometimes you don't get that luxury, and you're forced to fight. It's important that you keep your weapons, your plane, and yourself, ready for anything. On the other hand, having a gun isn't a sure-fire solution to every problem. You, as a pilot, need to know how to use it, both as an independent weapon, and as part of your plane's arsenal. You need a good plane too - don't forget to check out the Planes Summary for more info on those.
There are five different types of weapons (each type is detailed below) and three sizes; small, medium and large. You can only install a weapon in the same size slot; for example, you can't install a Medium Machinegun in a Small slot, and you can't fit a Small Howitzer in a Large slot.
Don't forget that each weapon has its own distinct pros and cons, and your tastes may vary. Find out which weapons work best for you, and work up from there. If you're not sure, use patrols to experiment, and don't be afraid to switch weapons.
Finally, don't forget that, whilst each gun has its own distinct behaviour, that behaviour can be slightly modified by the use of weapon mods like Extended Barrels, Improved Swivel Mounts, and so on and so forth.
Not all weapons have the same chance to hit, and all weapons have a certain chance (about 5%) to miss a shot no matter what. You can tell when you hit a plane by small black clouds appearing near the target plane. Missed shots show no extra effect. Effective Accuracy is affected only by your gun's Accuracy stat and the target plane's Silhouette. Planes performing combat maneuvers also have a temporarily reduced Silhouette, making them harder to hit. How much of the plane is in your arc, the speed of your plane, and performing maneuvers yourself do not effect accuracy.
A Critical Hit is easily identified by a small orange explosion on the target plane, instead of a black cloud. Critical hits deal much more damage (up to more than double normal damage if one has Crack Shot) than normal hits, and in addition critical hits never miss, and ignore Armor Class. Since a shot is either Critical or not before it is checked to "miss," less accurate guns will not score fewer criticals. Most guns have a 5% base chance of causing a critical hit (check the Gunsmith page for specifics) and this may be modified with Gun Mods.
When a bullet fails to break through a plane's Armor Class, it will visually bounce off the plane, rather than create a hit. This bouncing effect means the bullet caused no damage whatsoever. A target's armor class is subtracted from the normal hit damage of all incoming guns; if the target's armor class is a greater number than the per shot damage, all normal hits on that plane from that gun will bounce. There is no in between; either all normal shots will bounce on a given plane, or all shots will hit and deal a certain amount of damage. Critical hits are not affected by Armor class, and thus they are the only way to do damage to a plane that bounces your bullets.
Not mentioned in the game's gun screen is a feature of some weapons; Multi-shot, which means each "shot" or tap of the space bar, produces more than one projectile. Autocannons fire two to four bullets per "shot" (depending on gun size) and flaks fire 20 projectiles per "shot." There is no way to increase the multi-shot number or add multi-shot to a gun that does not have it. However, certain NPC only planes have special gun arcs that may have multi-shot.
Damage per projectile is determined by dividing the gun's reported damage number by the number of projectiles; it is not known how the game handles increases of damage that result in a fraction, however the game appears to use the full damage amount. Each individual projectile acts as a unique bullet; each individual projectile may hit, miss, or score a critical hit. Each projectile simply has the same accuracy and critical chance as the whole gun.
- "You can get more of what you want with a kind word and a gun, than just a kind word."
- Al Capone
Now we get down to business - but there's one other thing you should see first; the Gunsmith is an invaluable resource that has the specific stats of each weapon in each size, and the modifiers for weapon modifications.
So, if you want to know more about each kind of weapon, read on!
- "Bog standard, these fellas. Can't go wrong with 'em! Reliable, rapid fire, decent firepower, nice accuracy. Not the king of the skies or the fanciest gun, but they get the job done, know what I mean?"
- Mechanic, Isla di Pisa
The default gun choice, Machine guns are universally effective and are strong in almost every area, with very few negatives. Despite being the standard, cheapest guns, Machine guns are quite easily one of the best weapons, so don't think you have to buy new guns for your plane to be effective.
- Decent accuracy bonus (+20)
- Relatively high Rate of Fire
- Average sized firing arc
- Fire the longest on one "clip" of ammo by far
- good consistent damage
- Low damage per bullet means higher Armor Class planes may ignore most hits
- Poor for hit and run tactics, as pirates must remain in your arcs to take damage
- "When it comes to putting up walls of lead, nothing beats the Autocannon. What they lack in firepower, they make up for in sheer number of rounds in the air and rate of fire..."
- "But it's like being headbutted to death by a mob of kittens."
- Unknown Azure League Pilot
- "But it's like being headbutted to death by a mob of kittens."
Autocannons are super high rate of fire, small caliber weapons. Featuring a slight damage per second boost over Machine Guns, the negatives far outweigh their positives except when targeting fast Performance planes. Autocannons will do no damage to any plane with a non-zero Armor Class except for critical hits (which are still only 5% of shots). Despite common claims, (See Gunsmith) Autocannons do not cause more damage on critical hits relative to other guns, nor do they have a higher % chance per bullet for critical hits. Autocannons also burn through ammo at a troublingly high rate, getting 1/3 the ammo/time of Machine guns.
- Slightly higher damage per second than machine guns (about 20%)
- Very high rate of fire damages enemies that graze your arc for the briefest time while firing
- Low firepower makes taking out heavily-armored enemies significantly harder
- Infamously high rate of "bouncing bullets"
- Chews through ammo like crazy (3x the rate of the Machine Guns)
- High rate of fire means a pirate must stay in your arc to take full damage.
- Not significantly stronger than Machine Guns for most targets
- "You wish to know why I use the Longarm over others? Well, it is truly a weapon of finesse, not like those clumsy and primitive howitzers, or incessantly rattling machineguns. One simply has to focus, wait for the right moment, and then fire. Elegant. Decisive."
- Court of Violets Pilot
Small to medium bore cannons (usually in the 40mm range), Longarms are long-ranged weapons suited for taking precise shots at airborne hostiles. Their rate of fire is nowhere near that of the machinegun's, but their accuracy and damage makes up for it, and they make quick work of Performance planes. All in all, Longarms trade potential damage for near-certain accuracy levels and the longest stock range. Respectable per-bullet damage ensures that pirate Armor Class will never bounce Longarm fire as well.
- Very long firing arc; best range of all weapons
- Extreme accuracy
- Decent firepower
- Firing arc has very limited width
- Slow rate of fire
- Moderate ammo consumption
- "These babies aren't exactly subtle, but who needs that when you've got a gun that can blow a hole clean through a Leviathan in one shot? BOOM! Hahaha!"
The heaviest weapon available to Skyrates, the Howitzer is a gun of extremes. It is effectively the least accurate by far, the strongest per-bullet by far, and shares the honor of slowest-firing weapon with the Flak Cannon. Howtizers will almost never naturally hit a small Performance type plane, but their critical hits deal a devastating 50% extra damage, meaning most performance planes will be taken down in one or two critical hits. Tactically, high per-shot damage also means a single well timed shot will deal a full second's worth of damage, even to a plane grazing one's arc; this can be used to great effect in hit and run tactics.
- Incredible amounts of damage when it hits
- Good range
- 50% extra critical damage
- Lowest rate of fire
- Consumes a lot of ammo per shot
- Very low accuracy, inconsistent
- "Not your grandpa's flak in any sense of the word, these are more like the shotgun he keeps over the mantlepiece. They put out a wave of shrapnel and shot that can really tear up any planes that get caught by it. Their accuracy suffers - especially versus small, fast planes like the Nova and Ingersoll - and their range is rather poor, however."
- Echo Academy Weapons Instructor
The Flak cannon scatters a large number of munitions per shot, a good number of which will score Critical Hits on an intended target. Due to the critical hits, each shot of Flak is practically guaranteed to do a respectable amount of damage to any given plane, regardless of Armor Class, Silhouette or Accuracy. Because of this, flaks do more damage than most other weapons, despite their low literal Damage per Second; the DPS stat for a flak is deceptively low, since most of the damage comes from criticals, which deal extra damage, and don't miss or bounce. Non-Critical Flak shards are low damaging, but the shards that are accurate enough to hit add a small amount of damage if they are not stopped by Armor Class.
- Widest arc of all weapons
- Extremely high critical rate
- Good damage on any plane
- Lower than average ammo use
- Shortest arc of all weapons
- Lowest rate of fire
- Low literal "DPS"