Ballistic Weapons are weapons that fire projectiles, as opposed to Energy or Missiles, and function as the basic "guns" in-game. They have modern-day equivalents, like cannons, shotguns, sniper rifles, and machine guns, making it easier to grasp how they're supposed to be used in-game.
There are two main kinds of Ballistic Weapons. Direct fire and indirect fire.
All other ballistic weapons fall into the direct fire category.
Ballistic weapons differ in their usage depending on their type. Small-caliber auto cannons are good at destroying Battle Armor and damaging Light Mechs. Their high rate of fire along with their extreme range and ammo capacity make them best as harassing and sniping weapons. Higher caliber rounds have much shorter range and longer reload times, making them more suited for destroying slow and heavily armored targets. They are still effective at destroying light mechs and aircraft, but at a much shorter range.
Gauss rifles deliver massive damage to a single pinpoint target, so they excel at destroying components on enemy mechs. They have a slow firing rate and limited ammo, but their ability to deal all their damage with a single accurate projectile makes them perfectly suited for anti-aircraft fire. Gauss rounds have a fast, but not instantaneous travel time, so they must be led against against moving targets. Like auto cannons, light Gauss Rifles have longer range and heavy Gauss Rifles have shorter range.
Many ballistic weapons have a damage dropoff, that is to say, they do less damage the farther away the target is. For most weapons this damage dropoff starts at the weapon's maximum range, and just a few meters beyond the stated maximum range, the weapon does no damage. Some weapons, like the RAC2, have a smaller dropoff rate and can damage targets many tens or even over a hundred meters past their normal maximum range.
A note on damage dropoff coupled with damage types: The base damage is modified by the damage type before subtracting the lossage for distance. Significantly, this has the effect of giving kinetic- and light kinetic-type weapons increased effective range against air assets than against ground assets, since the damage type modifier against air assets is much higher.
- Some ballistic weapons, like the Long Tom Artillery, HVACs, HAGs, and LtGauss are the longest range weapons in the game that don't require a lock on.
- Ballistic weapons tend to do more damage than Energy weapons and tend to have more focused damage with less splash damage than missile weapons.
- Ballistic weapons typically produce very little heat.
- Some ballistic weapons cause screen shake making it more difficult for enemies to return fire.
- Ballistic weapons don't require a lock on.
- Because ballistic weapons fire a projectile, there is a learning curve in establishing the correct lead on a target in order to register a hit.
- Ballistic weapons are typically very heavy, meaning an asset can mount fewer of them than missile weapons or energy weapons.
Ballistic weapons consume ammo, which means that players either need to purchase extra ammo before leaving the hangar or will regularly need to find a friendly APC or return to base in order to continuously fire their weapons. The exception to this are Mguns, HMguns, and BA ballistic weapons, these ballistic weapons do not consume ammo.
Many ballistic weapons will overheat or 'jam' when fired continuously (represented in-game as a bar under the weapon name on the weapons display). If the weapon happens to overheat, it will become unusable for a short time (3s-10s depending of the weapon), after which it will be fully cooled or 'unjam' and be usable again. In most cases overheating the weapon is unwanted because the normal cooling rate is a faster way to cool the weapon, exception being Hyper-Assault Gauss Rifles, which are intended (and more effective) to shoot until overheat is reached.
Types of Ballistic Weapons in MWLL