@ hyde

I wouldn't say significantly.

The problem is lack of diversification from "tried and true" set ups (usually meaning right after this AI raid I'm going to Tara, and I'm not interested in swapping gear).

Here's the thing, Anger of xan, say, as your preferred AR rifle, has a enormous max damage and critical, while an envy is significantly lower.

https://aoitems.com/item/280722/anger-of-the-xan/ 910 max damage + critical

https://aoitems.com/item/280724/envy-of-the-xan/ 696 max damage + critical

basically, that's about 30% higher.

base damage is 268 vs 320 which isn't a huge difference: about 20% higher.

base damage+critical is 556 vs 670 (20%)

The tried and true setup for AR soldiers, traditionally, has been basically: stack assault rifle skill, stack FA skill, stack AO skill so you can always hit your target. But in PVE, this becomes somewhat of a moot point when simply putting perks into the right slots will allow you to reliably hit your target.

The appropriate setup for PVE AR soldiers is a crit based setup with secondary stats in add damage, AAO, then AR/FA/burst/HP/AC, etc.

With:

15% targeting scope

5% snipers friend

5% in awakened pad

3% in gauntlet pad

5% in chest

3% on ACDC

2% on board

2% x2 on sleeves

2% in hat

you're at 44% plus base I think is 3%.

That will immediately raise your damage output by a minimum of 15% over SMG soldiers based on white damage (if same levels of crit were used for each setup), but because the SMG setup can't reliably use so much crit, the difference is much larger. It's larger still vs low AC mobs (RK vs SL), but the actual increase is more complex and hard to quantify since many aspects of an encounter can change.

Regardless, here are some basic numbers.

SMG has a lower damage, AND lower multiplier.

268*5.0 = 1340 + add dmg

696*5.0 = 3480 + add dmg

Average damage at 20% crit= 0.8*1340+0.2*3480 = 1768+add dmg

The AR multiplier (for soldiers) for Assault Rifle is higher, afaik, at 3.2k AR, it's about 5.2

So, your base damage is 320*5.2 + add damage = 1664 +add dmg

a critical is about 910*5.2+add damage = 4732 + add dmg

At 47% crit your average damage is: 0.53*1664+0.47*4732 = 3106+add dmg

The kicker is that you can boost the already much higher critical damage by a much larger amount on AR vs SMG.

So, we're starting with smaller numbers, multiplying by smaller numbers, and the critical multiplier is lower on SMG. Whereas, on AR we're starting with bigger numbers, the multipliers are higher and the crit multiplier is higher. The concession is that SMG has more attacks per minute (max 34ish on SMG, vs max 28ish on AR), and SMG has max 10 extra flingshots per minute.

That means that the SMG gets about 44 hits for every 28 the AR does.

Accounting for hit frequency:

3106 base damage * 28 = 86968

1768 * 44 = 77792

So even after accounting for the SMG hit frequency (assuming Envy+ratata), the AR wins out.

But, there's a bit more.

Next we have to add burst. And burst is a big contributor to AR damage. Burst bullets cannot crit, but the base-max damage on AR is significantly higher than it is for SMG. For example, it's possible to get 10k bursts on AR soldier, while it's rare to break 8k on SMG.

Based on the addition of burst, numbers just keep adding on for AR:

3 bullets * 60s/8s recharge * 1664 =37440 (AR)

3 bullets * 60s/8s rech * 1340 = 30150 (SMG)

FA is approximately even on both weapons and subject to some random distribution, but AR should come out slightly ahead just based on the tail of the distribution where a bullet early in the FA misses/is deflected and then the min damage on the AR starts to mean something, but realistically both weapons should be comparable.

So, in order to make a solid PVE setup using AR, the basic concept is to max the geometric increases. And this is what constitutes the conceptual design. When you consider how to boost damage, you want to use geometric multipliers, not linear. Linear multipliers is stuff like add damage.

Perk damage is comparable for either setup, assuming AR soldier uses Ranged energy perkline which is where the bulk of his perk damage comes from.

One of the biggest problems AR soldiers have is not knowing that the RE perkline requires RE. Even veteran soldiers I've spoken with over the years didn't know that raising RE skill was valuable. By maxing RE, AND buffing it, the perkline adds about 8k damage/minute. The perk damage scales with skill so the high end skill RE results in massive damage boosts from the non-skilled ones.

I agree with Hyde that an SMG+PDKP will most definitely outperform an AR soldier, but trust me on this, AR soldiers are not BAD, if you set them up for crit.

FYI - the problem with setting SMG soldiers up for crit is that you end up with pretty low AR, like 2900-3k which is enough for most stuff, but, like, if you're fighting phobettor, and you're missing him due to low AR... that's not going to fly.