Shotgun is sadOnce the golden child of personal weaponry, the Shotgun has been left behind by buffs to other weapons and buffs to enemy resists.
At the start of the game the shotgun deals 60dps @ 5 damage/pellet, while the SMG deals 50dps @ 5 damage/bullet with perfect accuracy. Very quickly you get piercing ammo bringing the SMG to 80dps @ 8 damage/bullet and you mass produce it for military science. So the shotgun is quickly outclassed by the SMG, whether up close or at range or soft vs hard targets, the SMG is always better.
A little later you can largely replace the SMG with the Car MG, which has +50% firing rate and longer range - now mobile bullet weapons are up to 120dps - the shotgun is still at 60dps.
We can also mention the flamethrower: which inflicts a 100dps, -20% movement speed debuff to all units splashed (along with other effects). At this time the shotgun is still inflicting 60dps which is spread over targets (and misses!) and suffers badly from physical resists. Also the Rocket Launcher inflicts 200dps and cuts through resists.
With blue science, finally the Combat Shotgun brings the shotgun up to 144 dps @ 6 damage/pellet - rivaling the car! (except against physical resists), still lame compared with the flamethrower and rocket launcher. The very next tech the Tank MG brings mobile bullet weapons up to a whopping 240dps at 16 damage/bullet, enough damage to cut through physical resists like a hot knife through butter.
It takes a very long time to get the Piercing Shells upgrades as they are High Tech science, even then it only brings the shotgun up to 307dps @ 9.6 damage/pellet - the raw damage might be higher than the Tank MG but the ability to deal with physical resists is much less.
Finally comes the Uranium Ammo, bringing the SMG up to 240dps @ 24/damage bullet, and the Tank up to 720 dps at 48 damage/bullet. Oh yeah and the Atomic Bomb, bringing the rocket launcher to like over 9000 damage.
SummaryThe Shotgun is spending most the game dealing somewhere between half as much and slightly less damage than mobile bullet weapons. It is dramatically and disgustingly outclassed by the Flamethrower, which is basically walking godmode vs units. It is also outclassed by the Rocket Launcher in an "anti-material" role as the shotgun is pretty much stopped cold by Big Worm's physical resist not to mention running up close to worm-defended nests is kind of suicidal for most the game.
As well as being gimped in the damage department the Shotgun has a host of disadvantages: it requires getting close to enemies, it can miss, it can inflict accidental friendly-fire, it spreads rather than concentrates damage, it inflicts an unusually large movement speed penalty on the character and the upgrades aren't shared with other weapons unlike bullet and flame weapons.
Really the only pro of the shotgun is cheap ammo: however the Flamethrower is disgustingly cheap to use vs units (though not structures), and the Rocket Launcher is very cheap vs structures (but not units), and altough piercing ammo isn't cheap you have to mass produce it anyway. What's worse, the shotgun is entirely reliant on upgrades to remain relevant, unlike the Flamethrower and Rocket Launcher both of which only need modest upgrades (for Flamethrower +70% damage makes it a death sentence to Behemoth Biters, for Rocket Launcher you don't need damage upgrades because you get nukes and you have to research up to lvl5 shooting speed anyway to unlock rocket silo). A reliance on upgrades negates any benefit of cheap ammo: what you save on ammo, you'll more than spend on upgrades. And cheap ammo isn't really a good pro anyway: personal ammo will never be more than a tiny fraction of a factory's production.
Make the Shotgun great againPossibilities:
- Increase the pellet damage and shotgun dps, to be competitive with bullet weapons and deal with resists better, I'd say at least +50% damage for pellets maybe as much as +100%.
- Lower the upgrade costs since the upgrades aren't shared with a defensive turret (or add a shotgun turret? probably not). If the upgrades cost, say, half as much, it'd go along with the cheap ammo thing.
- Add a third kind of shell, SMG gets two "weapon upgrades" (the Car and Tank) and 3 ammo types. Shotgun has just one weapon upgrade (Combat Shotgun) and only two ammo types. A middle tier of shotgun shell could help even out the progression and help ensure the shotgun isn't get badly left behind.
- Add shell effects, like a stun/stagger effect, or explosive/incendiary shell. Adding a bit of "true aoe" would help compete with the flamethrower.
- Nerf Tank MG. atm it is +50% firing speed +100% damage, maybe something like +150% firing speed +20% damage: same dps but physical resists would still relevant at least before uranium ammo and it would seriously have the munchies for ammo. You'd still have ramming and the tank cannon and poison capsules to take out physical resist targets before uranium ammo.
- Nerf flamethrower. The fact that the barest splash is a death sentence to every unit in the game (and applies a slow debuff!) is kind of hard to compete against. Maybe a less potent but stacking debuff would be more balanced so you'd have to give a behemoth a bit of a hosing to make it burn to death and it'd make damage upgrades beyond the third more relevant as with more upgrades less hosing would be required.