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BioShock’s plasmids are useful, and becoming a big daddy is incredibly satisfying, but ultimately the multiplayer mode comes down to that time honoured video game tradition of shooting guns at other players. Some you’ll recognise from one or both of the single player games, while others are new to this mode. Either way, they all have unique features that you should familiarise yourself with if you want to score your fair share of kills.
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The crossbow is unlocked at rank 10, and it functions as a sniper rifle. It’s very slow to both fire and reload, but it does quite a bit of damage and is accurate from a very long range. Long range is exactly where you want to be with the crossbow; in close quarters you’ll be woefully outgunned but at a distance there’s nothing stopping you from getting headshots. It’s a finicky weapon that’s tough to score kills with at first, but with practice it becomes deadly.
Rank 21 unlocks an upgrade that increases the crossbow’s damage at the expense of its rate of fire, while at rank 31 you’ll get an upgrade that does the reverse. The former is far more useful since you should be going for damaging headshots as opposed to rapid fire body kills, which is the domain of other weapons.
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The elephant gun is the last weapon you’ll unlock, at rank 18. It’s dreadfully slow to both fire and reload, and it only has two shots per clip. But headshots are a one hit kill, and if that’s not your style then two body shots plus a plasmid blast can usually finish off an enemy. Much like the crossbow you won’t want to stand toe to toe with enemies, but instead either attempt to snipe or come at them from behind. If you can get the jump on an enemy with this gun then it’s unlikely they’ll be able to recover.
A rank 25 upgrade adds a scope, while a rank 39 improvement increases the gun’s damage but lowers its rate of fire. The elephant gun’s rate of fire is already awful so dropping it a little more won’t hurt, and a damage bonus is never a bad thing. The scope is nice if you prefer sniping, but in general the second upgrade will probably serve you better.
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The grenade launcher is unlocked at rank 6, and it’s a powerful weapon. The amount of damage it deals is huge, and it’s great for taking out clumps of enemies. It’s weakness is that it’s very slow to both fire and reload, which means you’ll almost always need to get the first shot off if you want to win battles with this thing. Despite it’s lack of speed it’s a very diverse weapon, because it can be used successfully from a variety of ranges and against both single enemies and groups. Just remember that accuracy still counts; it has a decent splash radius, but one miss and you’ve given your enemy enough time to gain the upper hand.
Rank 17 unlocks heat seeking grenades, while rank 33 increases the speed at which the grenades fly through the air. Heat seeking sounds nice, but it comes at the cost of decreased damage and a smaller explosion radius, a combination that essentially renders the gun impotent. You’re better off ignoring it and waiting for the second upgrade.
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You’ll get the nail gun at rank 14. It takes a moment to spin up and start firing, but once it gets going it has the highest rate of fire among all guns, along with the largest clip. The time it takes to rev up can often mean the difference between winning a fight and losing one, so try to keep it on the verge of being ready by tapping the fire button constantly. It’s best used in close quarters, because at a distance it becomes very inaccurate. You’ll find it to be particularly useful against groups of enemies.
The rank 23 upgrade increases its clip size, while the rank 37 enhancement improves damage at the expense of accuracy. Accuracy shouldn’t be your concern with this gun anyway, and the clip is already pretty large, so the latter is probably the more useful of the two. The first upgrade does have its uses when taking on groups or big daddies though, so you really can’t go wrong with either one.
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The pistol is one of two weapons you’ll start with, and it’s probably the most underappreciated gun in the game. It’s accuracy, rate of fire and damage are all middle of the line, so at first glance it’s rather unremarkable. However, its average stats also mean that it’s useful to one degree or another in pretty much every situation, allowing you to put up a fight at all ranges. It’s usually best to stay at mid-range though, where you can avoid the worst of weapons like the shotgun and nail gun but still have an advantage over slower weapons like the crossbow.
The rank 5 upgrade increases rate of fire at the expense of accuracy, while at rank 27 you can increase damage at the expense of rate of fire. The former makes the pistol better at short range, while the latter increases its long range capabilities, but beyond that neither one is really superior to the other so go with whichever improves the distance you’re more comfortable fighting at.
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The shotgun is the other weapon you’ll start off with, and, unsurprisingly, it’s a high damage, slow firing weapon that’s only accurate at close range. You’ll want to get right in your opponent’s face when you’re using this gun, so try plasmids like Aero Dash and Houdini to let you quickly close the gap between you and your opposition.
Rank 9 opens up an upgrade that increases the shotgun’s rate of fire at the expense of its effective range. Rank 29 gives you access to faster reload times, but with a slower rate of fire. The first upgrade is the more useful of the two, since you shouldn’t be fighting at range with the shotgun anyway and if you need more than one clip to take out an enemy you’re already in trouble.
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You’ll gain access to the tommy gun almost immediately, at rank 2. It’s similar to the nail gun in tactical terms, and while its rate of fire is slower and its clip smaller it doesn’t need to be spun up in advance. This is another weapon best used up close, and like the nail gun you’ll find it handy against groups of enemies. Since you’re allowed to carry two guns it makes a good compliment to a slower, longer range weapon.
At rank 13 you’ll be able to increase the clip size, while at rank 31 you can exchange rate of fire for better recoil control. Since there’s no downside to the first upgrade it’s generally the more useful of the two, and while recoil can be a problem when fighting groups of opponents you’re probably better off practicing to control it than you are relying on an upgrade.