So, I wanted to do something like this for a while now. With the ever-growing influx of new Greenbeards – especially after that recent sale – and myself hitting 750 hours not long ago, I finally decided to wrap up some of my knowledge and hand it down to Grey- and Greenbeards alike. Some of the tips may be obvious to some of you but may be new to few.
This guide is going to be separated into two parts: Part I is going to be a general list of information I think is useful to know to get better at playing and understanding the game.
Part II is a more in-depth guide for the class I played the most: The Gunner. Here I will discuss that specific role, the weaponry, and some fun builds.
But first, a little disclaimer: Never let other people tell you how to play! You don’t have to use ‘Meta’ builds or tactics; as long as you’re having fun playing the game you are fine. But if you struggle, or someone is telling you to try a different approach to do this or that, be open and take advice! The game has a lot of hidden mechanics. Even I learn new stuff occasionally here or in the Subreddit.
Part I: General Knowledge and Survival Tips
There are a lot of mechanics hidden in DRG the game never tells you about in an obvious manner. Some of them only appear as tips during loading screens, some are written down in the Miner’s Manual and some need to be discovered by oneself.
The following passages will handle parts of the gameplay and will be thematically divided. Be aware, however, that there are no hard borders between these gameplay-parts and therefore, the tips are equally as useful in most situations you may encounter.
I won’t discuss how to kill certain enemies or how to finish different objectives or machine events in the following, as there are other guides out there focusing on these exact things. I will rather tell you some more basic stuff you should know and follow, so you can finish your mission successfully.
Part I.1: Your Best Friend the Laser Pointer
I can’t stress this one enough: Use your laser pointer (default key: Ctrl)! It is one of your most versatile tools. While using it you can see the outline of your teammates and Molly, supply drops, the refinery and the Minehead, as well as a very rough estimation of everyone’s ammo reserves in the form of 4 bars below their health bar.
With a left click you can ping a location and draw the attention of your team to that spot. If you come across something you want to revisit later, you can set a waypoint by additionally pressing ‘E’. That waypoint only appears on your screen when using the laser pointer and as a blue dot for you on the terrain scanner. And, if you don’t know what a certain thing, plant or mineral is, the laser pointer will show you its name on its screen and pinging it will trigger a voice line.
Always watch your fire! You can use the outline feature not only if you get lost – but in combat, too. Want to throw a C4 or a cluster grenade in the swarm in front of you? Quickly check if no one’s in there! Running blowthrough rounds? Check for teammates behind that particularly big bug! It may take some time to get used to do that and to take in all the information in a stressful situation, but it will certainly prevent some teamkills. Friendly fire may be not that important on lower hazards but will hurt a lot more once you get to the harder difficulties.
If you are soloing a mission, you can order Bosco around with your laser pointer. Just ping an enemy that needs to die, a mineral that needs to be mined or a spot on the ceiling that needs to be illuminated. If used properly, Bosco may save you a ton of work! He can even build a pipeline for you or repair the pinged node if you are alone in an On-Site Refining.
Part I.2: Team Play and Communication
If you are in a team – always try to stick with your fellow dwarves. There may be situations where you need to roam around, but as soon as something unexpected is going to happen, get back to your team. If that’s not possible in time, get to another dwarf who is separated as well. You are much more likely to survive with someone watching your back.
Equally as important: Communicate! You don’t even need to use the text or voice chat (although it makes communication a lot easier); Deep Rock has some amazing mechanics to show your intentions. If you see a mineral you want the Scout to reach or the Engi to platform, ping it. Is there a big enemy that needs to be taken care of asap? Ping it. Press ‘X’ to shout if you want the team to follow you or if you’re down. Do you want to thank a certain member of your team, show your gratitude after a hard fight or your readiness before one? Use ‘V’ to salute! Don’t forget: If you don’t Rock and Stone, you ain’t coming home.
Same applies for certain actions. Ask before you call the drop pod at the end of a mission (especially when you are not the host). Make sure your team is ready before you pop a Dreadnought cocoon or start the uplink during a salvage operation. And ask before taking a second resupply. There is some dwarven etiquette, be sure to follow it.
In addition to that, be aware that certain actions during the mission will cause bugs to swarm. Take care that your team is ready or tell them what you want to do.
The number of announced swarms in an egg hunt is always tied to the number of eggs you need to collect: 4 eggs cause 1 swarm, 6 cause 2 and 8 cause 3. You won’t know which egg is going to trigger them, but you can prepare yourself knowing this.
A similar thing happens on Salvage Operations: Getting near a severed leg is going to spawn a wave after some seconds. Same applies for a random leg (per Mule) that is dug out.
Lastly, while somewhat random, the waves on a Point Extraction are timed. You can expect the first swarm around the 5-minute mark and constant spawns at around 20 minutes.
Part I.3: Combat
During a swarm and on random encounters with bugs, have an inner tier list of dangers in your head. While this one may vary per class and player, everything that spits or shoots needs to die as fast as possible. A single acid spitter was once nearly the cause to wipe my team on the last stage of an EDD. Ranged threats are dangerous, especially when hidden, so be sure to ping that Menace, that Acid Spitter or that Spitballer! Ping and take care of Spawners and Breeders as soon as you can, as they can cause a lot of damage and confusion with their hatchlings. And again, ping bugs that may become a danger to your team as soon as you spot them, such as Grabbers, Oppressors or Bulk Detonators. Same goes for static environmental threats, such as Stabber Vines.
In addition, and this one may be obvious: Aim for weakspots! In most cases, a bullet in the head hurts a lot more than one in the body. And if you see anything glowing on a bug, be sure to spray some bullets in it. It will drastically reduce the time it takes to kill that bug and therefore increase your chances of survival.
In that sense: Try to be as ammo conservative as you can and use your pickaxe when possible. You don’t need to kill these two Swarmers running at you with your Minigun, just slap them once with your trusty tool and you’re good. And get the power attack as soon as you can buy it in the weapon terminal, it can be extremely useful during a lot of situations: If you are swarmed and need some air to breath, just hit the pack and get away. Plus, some enemies – like the Oppressor – are weak to melee damage, so the power attack, paired with the active perk Berzerker, will kill them fast and efficient.
Part I.4: Exploration and Ammo-Management
Be always on the lookout for Nitra and have a Resupply ready before you start any major event (eggs, uplink and refuel on salvage, Ommoran battle [here, have even two landed: one on each of Dotty’s side], Machine Events etc.). Nothing lets you fail a mission faster than an empty ammo bag, a lot of bugs around and no resup in sight. If there’s a swarm coming and you know your team is low on ammo, don’t hesitate to call in a pod. Even though you may not need it before the fight, the drop won’t magically disappear. Try to call it in a well accessible location, though!
On a side note, consider a resupply before leaving the stage of a Deep Dive. You may need the additional ammo when you land in the next stage and Nitra is rarely scarce during DDs.
If you enter a new cave, especially a big one, be careful and take your time. Throw a flare as high/far as possible, briefly check the terrain and possible present enemies and always look up. Spot that Cave Leech before it spots you!
Take your time during missions without wasting it (unless you want to speedrun, of course). Better be prepared and cautious, than getting spitballed while being eaten by a Cave Leech. Prepare battle grounds and explore the cavern before you start a major fight, get the minerals you need – you get the point. But try to do that as efficient as possible, as more time in the deeps also means more bugs – and your ammo isn’t infinite.
In that same sense: Don’t be greedy. If you know you probably won’t survive another five minutes in the cave, get out. Don’t start a machine event if there’s already a ton of bugs around and your Nitra deposit empty. Don’t go for that one gold vein if you’re likely to get downed in the process. Failing a mission and wasting 15 minutes to an hour because you were greedy is way mor disappointing than the lost chance to infuse a core – you may encounter an easier event in your next mission!
And if you really need to call the pod and get out fast, know that minerals in your inventory will be added to your mission pay – except for stuff that is part of the secondary objective, you need to deposit that before leaving the cave. But you can not only deposit into the Drop Pod, but also into Molly after Evac is called – as long as she didn’t start running back.
Speaking of it, be aware that the Drop Pod is the closest thing to a ‘safe zone’ you get in the game. Especially on Egg Hunts, Point Extractions and Deep Dives, be sure to not just YEET out and blindly in your doom. I’ve seen a lot of teams getting wiped in the first few seconds of an EDD-stage because of a sheer mass of bugs or spitballers waiting outside the gates of the Pod, or a gaping abyss at the end of the ramp. Take a look, check your terrain scanner, set up turrets or even use a shield if things go south too fast – bugs can’t enter the Pod and most of them can’t hit you directly as long as you are in it. Be sure to clear the landing zone before moving on.
Part I.5: Miscellaneous
As for the last part of this little general list, some quick tips you may not know. There are a ton of these you could miss, and my list won’t be complete either, as I will just mention what’s coming into my mind right away.
While using the terrain scanner, you can press ‘Space’ to make your dwarf turn into the direction the scanner is aligned.
If you ever feel annoyed of the glowing crystals in the REZ, you don’t need to destroy them completely to get rid of the radiation. You’ll notice a bright glowing spot in their center; just hit that once with your pickaxe and the radiation should be gone.
If you are in a Deep Dive and struggle with a Black Box, you can leave the area, fail the event and restart it later (unlike the uplink and refuel beacons in a Salvage Operation).
If you need to fall down a ledge and there is a Zipline or a Pipeline below you, you don’t need to press ‘E’ in the right moment, you can simply hold the key to attach to the structure. In a similar way, holding ‘E’ while riding a pipeline will stop you at the point where it needs further construction or maintenance.
If you struggle with mining, machine events or secondary objectives on an Escort Duty, finish the Ommoran first. You don’t need to repair Dotty anymore and spawns are going to be minimal.
You don’t actually need to complete a machine event to earn money and XP. If you don’t feel confident enough to do any of them you can just start them, run away and let the timer tick out. You won’t be able to infuse the core, but you’ll still notice the event’s payout at the mission’s end screen.
You can pet Lootbugs, Doretta’s Head, Hexawing Gniffers and Cave Vines if you press ‘E’.
Part II: How to Gunner
This is going to be the core of my guide; here I am going to highlight the Gunner class of DRG. I will talk about your role in the team at first, then I will discuss your equipment, the mods you can buy and the Overclocks you can forge. I will take a brief look at the most useful perks for your role and will end with some build recommendations.
There is going to be some subjectivity, I admit that. I don’t claim to know everything the game has to offer but I have seen a lot of things, tried a lot of combinations and configurations; my recommendations and advice are backed up by my experiences in the game.
Even though I have these experiences, my playstyle may not match yours – and this is fine. The goal of the game is to have fun.
Let’s get going!
Part II.1: Your Role
First off: To understand your role in a team, you need to understand the other classes. The simplest way in doing so is to play them; even if just done briefly, you’ll get to know why a certain player does that, pings this or plays the way he or she does. I won’t go into detail here, as there are other guides out there with way more knowledge on these specific classes, but I will give a simple summary.
The Driller: Equipped with either a Flamethrower or a Cryo-Cannon, he is the master of the elements, crowd control, area denial and close-range combat. His power drills allow him to quickly alter the terrain around him, clearing sightlines in preparation of a combat or digging shortcuts between caves. His C4 is excellent for clearing big groups of enemies, and, if used correctly, to quickly down any teammate.
The Scout: A master Scout is able to ascend and become a literal god. His grappling hook allows him to zip around the caves with unmatched mobility; kiting swarms, rescuing downed dwarves or reaching otherwise inaccessible minerals while doing so. His flare gun buffs every team, as a bug you can see is way less dangerous than one you can’t see coming. His weapons are well suited for far-range targets, especially ones that need to die asap. While every class could theoretically concentrate fire on that warden 50 meters away, it would drastically reduce the swarm-killing abilities of your team. A scout can take care of any HVT before they become a threat and disrupt the flow of combat.
The Engineer: Way more proactive than the other classes, the engineer helps to keep the team alive by cancelling any incoming threats with platforms, turrets and mines. Stuffing the holes of a supply drop, turrets that watch your back while mining, setting up traps behind your line of fire – these tasks are his department.
Now that this is out of the way, we will get into a more in-depth look at the Gunner. So, what’s your role in a team?
Obviously, at first glance: Combat. You excel at killing bugs of all sizes in pretty much all ranges. You can take quick care of beefy single targets such as Praetorians and Wardens, as well as of groups of grunts. In the best case, nothing survives your rain of fire, in the worst case every enemy that gets too close is seriously low on health. You are the frontline – but make sure to never be in the way of your team.
We will take a better look at your killing abilities in a second when we will discuss your weaponry, but there are other things to highlight first.
When it comes to mobility, you are equipped with the Zipline Launcher. With it you can quickly traverse big chasms (especially downwards) and carry heavy objects, such as Aquarqs or Nanite Bombs.
It is a handy tool in battle, too. You can hang from it, increasing your overview over the battlefield and allowing you to rain fire from above. On it you can make the most out of the Autocannon and its splash damage while also simply recognizing good chances for a grenade or spotting downed dwarves to throw a shield.
Be warned, though: If you take too much damage while riding a Zipline, you will fall off and potentially into your death. Take care of every ranged enemy as soon as you see them.
Although sometimes seen as cheesy, you can put up a horizontal zipline just above the uplink/fuel cell/black box you encounter to be save from any ground-based enemy while being still inside the triangulation zone. In a similar way, put them up before an Ommoran fight. Just put up two ziplines as steep as possible and make them cross right over Doretta. Or put up three of them, with two steep ones on either side of Dotty (parallel to each other and in Doretta’s driving direction) and the last one as a horizontal connection between these two.
Other than these rather obvious tasks, you can use the Zipline Launcher in a more preparing way, too. I like to set up Ziplines on Point Extractions from the Minehead to the upper (or lower) levels/tunnels of the cave as soon as possible, so you and your team can quickly access them. Also, if you dig through a patch of dirt and may not be able to quickly climb the distance back up when you need to get back to Evac, just set up a Zipline in advance. It may save you some sweet seconds. Or, if you encounter a Dreadnought or expect a heavy battle in a rather vertical cave, set up ziplines to cancel potential fall damage. Be creative and think ahead!
And of course, we need to talk about the Gunner’s shield – your ability to create a safe bubble for up to 9 seconds that blocks nearly all incoming damage, boosts your shield regeneration and allows you to block and cancel enemy movement.
The use of it separates the Greenbeards from the Greybeards – even though it may be highly situational on how, when and where to use it. With that in mind, coordination is key in using your shield. Sure, you can use it to revive a fallen dwarf or to save yourself from a horde of bugs or a barrage of Mactera projectiles. But to master the shield you need to master the art of reading the combat. You need to know the situation of your team at any time of the battle. Where are the other main damage dealers relative to the bulk of the swarm? How much health and ammunition do they have left? Are they capable of managing ‘their’ portion of the swarm without help? Do you see bugs running towards them they didn’t notice yet? Do you save the fallen scout or the two other dwarves still barely standing? Do multiple people need to resupply at the same time?
A superior shield is one that is thrown before the threat becomes a threat at all, cancelling it in the process – but without being useless as you would have managed to take care of it anyway. Yet again – it is often better to be safe than sorry.
There are some things you need to be aware of when putting down a shield. It blocks basically all damage from the outside – that affects your bullets, too! Don’t expect to hit an enemy that’s behind a Gunner’s shield.
While the shield can’t block the damage of a Praetorian’s acid or radiation AoE, the faster shield regeneration you experience inside it counters the effect. Be aware, though, that this means it is possible for you to lose health inside the shield in missions with shield disruption warning!
Lastly, Oppressors, Sandsharks and Q’ronar (and to a lesser extend Bulk Dets, if frozen) are the single most lethal threat if you are in a shield. Their movement/AoE attacks can’t be cancelled by the shield and will cause you to get thrown out of your safe zone. If you are already low on health/try to resup or revive this can easily be a mission ender.
Part II.2: Gunner’s Weaponry
Now it’s time to take a more in depth look at your Guns. I will give you a short description of each weapon before we will take a look at the modifications and the Overclocks.
Let’s start with your primaries.
‘Lead Storm’ Powered Minigun
The Lead Storm is a high DPS, medium accuracy weapon without a magazine, so you don’t need to reload. Its already pretty high DPS of 150 can be further increased by mods. (Side note: The game reads a RoF of 30 but this is actually not true. You fire only 15 rounds per second that deal damage; every second round is only a visual effect to make the weapon feel like it is firing faster.)
You’ll be able to shred through everything, especially if you hit a weakpoint. It is amazing in killing large, tough targets fast but can also be built into a pretty decent swarm killer.
A sweet bonus is the chance to stun every enemy that gets hit by the Lead Storm. Although recently nerfed, the base stun chance of 20% for 1s is capable of saving your very a*s more than once.
Keep in mind that it has a spin-up! You can’t fire right away; the weapon needs some time to spin up before it shoots and a little longer until it is on full accuracy. Similarly, it spins down again once you release the trigger. It stays at maximum accuracy for a moment before it decreases until the barrels stop completely.
Also, even though you don’t have a magazine, you can’t fire endlessly. While holding down the trigger, the weapon will build up heat the longer it fires, indicated by a gauge on it’s top. After reaching the red part it will eventually overheat and jam, rendering your weapon useless for 10 whole seconds! Although you can use your secondary during that time, I highly recommend to never let it come to this if you don’t use Aggressive Venting.
You may notice that you can press ‘R’ to spin the barrels while not firing. Even if that won’t improve your cooling in any way, you can still use this to your advantage: Press ‘R’, let the barrel spin and quickly change to your secondary. When you need the Minigun again, switch back and, if you are quick, you can use this initial spin to start firing a little bit faster.
Now to get to the Mods. I will highlight the interesting ones but will talk briefly about the choices I find rather unintersting or less useful than other mods in that specific tier.
Tier 1: This one’s mostly about Improved Motor vs. Improved Platform Stability. IM adds a whopping 4 RoF while IPS reduces your base spread by 25%. While it may be tempting to go for more accuracy, I recommend using IM if you don’t run an Overclock that increases your spread. The minigun’s accuracy isn’t that bad, especially not on medium range. You can take Magnetic Refigeration if you either want to fire as long as possible or in a lot of short bursts but I don’t really recommend it over the other two mods here.
Tier 2: If you are used to the weapon, I recommend High Velocity Rounds. If you still struggle to be ammo efficient and run out of ammo (way) faster than with your secondary, go with the Oversized Drum but change it later. Trust me.
Tier 3: That’s a tough one. I usually go with Blowthrough Rounds as this mod shifts the Lead Storm a little more into a swarm-killing role, but the other two mods are amazing, too (especially with the recent changes to the Minigun’s stun mechanic). I still feel that the base stun chance and duration is ok enough, so I don’t feel the need to run the Improved Stun, but this may be up to preference. Hardened Rounds will increase the armor-breaking by 200% – if you are focusing on heavy targets like Praetorians or even Grunt Guards and can’t get a good angle, this will speed things up by quite a lot. You can’t pick a wrong option here, just play around and see what feels the best for you.
Tier 4: This tier is heavily influenced by the Overclock you run and by your experience with the weapon and (you guess it) your personal preference. I used to run Lighter Barrel Assembly for a long time but changed that eventually. It is a nice QoL Mod but once you get used to the longer spin-up time and react accordingly fast it opens up the other two options. Magnetic Bearings got buffed recently and I highly recommend this one if you are going to fire in bursts, reposition and start firing again (see Lead Storm and Burning Hell OCs). Otherwise, I recommend Variable Chamber Pressure to further increase your DPS.
Tier 5: This one’s going to be controversial. For me, there is only one viable option: Hot Bullets. It will add 50% of the weapon’s damage as heat on every bullet fired, as soon as your heat meter gets red, dealing 15 further damage on ignited targets (be aware that it counters a Cryo-Driller or the Scout’s Cryo-Grenades, though!); this is particularly handy on bigger bugs. I try to never overheat, as the forced downtime (even with Aggressive Venting) scares me off a little and after countless hours using the Minigun I am very aware of how long to fire and when to stop. Cold as the Grave is a great option if you don’t have that awareness (yet) and/or if you face a lot of smaller bugs. I tried Aggressive Venting twice or thrice but never got used to it (even with the recent buffs). I try to kill everything that comes at me before it reaches me, so it always felt a little counterintuitive. It halves your downtime, though, and I can totally see the utility of the fear chance in a team that gets overrun by a swarm – yet again, this is what shields are for.
The Overclocks for the Lead Storm offer some interesting choices, so let’s take a brief look at them.
A little more Oomph! is a great option for a standard allrounder build. Take this one if you want more damage without downsides.
Thinned Drum Walls is a great OC if you still feel the need for additional ammo but want to take the extra damage in T2 instead.
Compact Feed Mechanism gives you 800 more rounds but lowers your RoF by 2. I’m not sure if this trade-off is worth it; I wouldn’t run or recommend it. Use it only if it’s the only OC you have or can’t, for the sake of Karl, manage your ammo consumption.
I like Exhaust Vectoring very much. It is basically a tamer variant of the Lead Storm OC that still preserves the base stun chance and duration. The lower accuracy can easily be countered in T1, making this a solid choice for any non-gimmicky build.
Burning Hell turns the Minigun into a flamethrower, heating things up fast in a cone in front of your gun (80 heat per second and 20 fire damage). You will deal a ton of damage with this OC and a good build around it. I highly recommend this one if no Cryo-Driller is in your team.
Bullet Hell (don’t confuse these two) is a fun one. It kind of turns the Lead Storm into an Autocannon, dealing ‘Area Damage’ due to the ricocheting bullets. Great for Swarmageddon warnings and a lot of fun, but maybe not suited for Haz5s or EDDs if you aren’t used to them, as it lowers your overall damage output and makes the gun – even with the increased accuracy in T1 – damn inaccurate.
Lead Storm as an OC will drastically increase your damage but will lower your stun chance and duration significantly and will force you to stand still while shooting. You can counter this if you are ‘Bunny Hopping’ (walk, run, fire while in the air, stop upon landing, repeat). If you get used to this, you will be able to shred anything in front of your gun in mere moments. Give it a try, especially on Eliminations.
‘Thunderhead’ Heavy Autocannon
Ah, the Thunderhead. Use this one if you really want to pump up your kill count. You can build this weapon to either become a violent swarm killer or an excellent single target weapon while stii maintaining some crowd clear. Its DPS aren’t as high as the Lead Storm’s but you can make that up with hitting and killing multiple targets at once.
The rounds fired apply two different kinds of damage: Direct damage if a target is hit directly and Area damage that is applied to all enemies within a certain radius (including the one that took the bullet directly). While Direct Damage gets boosted by hitting a weakpoint or a frozen target, the Area damage will stay the same.
In a similar way – and this is going to be important later on when we will discuss the Mods – the Thunderhead has an unique RoF-Fire mechanic, where you start at a baseRoF that increases exponentiallyuntil you reach your TopRoF. I will spare you the math at this point but will later talk about it as understandable as possible. Take a look into the wiki if you want to learn more about it. All you need to know is that the base RoF is 3,4 with a base RoF scaling of 0,4 which makes you reach the base max. Rof after 1,2s.
As for its role as a splash damage weapon, its base accuracy is pretty bad; you can see this by the broad ‘crosshair’ of the weapon. Your rounds will cover a big area and you don’t have that much control over your direct hits at longer ranges.
Unlike the Minigun, the AC has a magazine and therefore needs time to reload – for 5 whole seconds. Keep that in mind, especially if you don’t run the Born Ready Perk (which is basically a must on this weapon).
It took some time for me to get used to this weapon as it feels and plays very different compared to the Minigun (especially with no Overclocks). While the Lead Storm will melt any danger that comes after you in a straight line, the Thunderhead applies its damage in a radius, horizontal to the plane you fire at. Its RoF is way lower, and it takes unsatisfyingly long to kill bigger targets with it.
That was until I understood my new role that got handed on me with this weapon. You are no longer raining fire on a single target, you are now bombarding the whole swarm at once. You don’t kill A bug, you kill All bugs.
Let’s now take a look at the Mods.
Tier 1: Unlike to other weapons where I eventually got used to the base ammo count, I highly recommend running the Expanded Ammo Bags in this tier. You increase your total ammo by a whopping 50%! The bigger magazine is neat, but 110 rounds are enough in most situations and direct damage mods are debatable on most ‘standard’ builds.
Tier 2: Right off the bat: You don’t really need the better accuracy. It’s not the weapon’s task to be accurate and this mod only applies to some niche builds, so I will ignore it here. Otherwise: This is where the math starts. You have two different options here that do seemingly the same (or at least very similar things) with a different approach. Improved Gas System increases your Top RoF by 2, Lighter Barrel Assembly makes you reachyour Top RoF 50% faster – but BOTH mods add some to your base RoF: IGS by 0.3 and LBA by 0.6. Keep that in mind for now.
Tier 3: We will focus on Supercharged Feed Mechanism here as it is the most interesting in combination with the T2 Mods. The other two apply to builds that are more niche, so I’ll make it short: If you want to go for a single target build with the AC you most probably will run the Big Bertha OC and won’t need the High Velocity Rounds, otherwise give it a try. Loaded Rounds add some more Area Damage, which is neat, but not really needed in a lot of builds. There are some exceptions though (like Neurotoxin Payload, where your Area Damage is heavily penalized).
Now back to SFM. This Mod is basically IGS with another name, adding 2 Top RoF and 0.3 baseRoF. If you combine this with either of the in T2 discussed mods, you will get different results. If you run IGS+SFM you will have a baseRoF of 4, and a Top Rof of 9.5, reaching it after 2.16s.
LBA+SFM will net you a baseRoF of 4.3, holding your Top RoF at 7.5 but reaching it after only 0.92s. I highly recommend the latter combination.
(Side Note: This scaling is further altered by the use of Big Bertha or Combat Mobility. Please take a look into the wiki if you want to understand the scaling for these two OCs.)
Tier 4: This one depends on your build and intentions. You won’t need the bigger Radius of Shrapnel Rounds if you run an OC like Carpet Bomber; otherwise, it may come in handy. The Hardened Rounds are a great option if you want to prepare bigger bugs like Praetorians or Shellbacks for your team. You can s*rip them ‘nak*d’ in a matter of moments running this Mod. It speeds up your own killing abilities, as well.
Tier 5: These ones are all great options, although I tend to stick to the higher damage that Feedback Loop provides (even though it got nerfed in U34). The Damage Resistance at full RoF is great if you are not used to the weapon and find yourself in the middle of a swarm often. I’m personally not that big of a fan of Suppressive Fire, as I want the bugs to be in one tight place, so I can damage them all at once. If they have fear applied to them, they tend to run in different directions, countering the AoE-damage I could deal. It is, however, a great option in pair with the Neurotoxin Payload OC.
Let’s conclude this part with a look at the Thunderhead’s Overclocks:
Composite Drums gives you another magazine worth of ammo and a slightly faster reload. Can’t do anything wrong with that one.
Splintering Shells is basically the clean Carpet Bomber. Pair it with the bigger radius in T4 and you’ll get a pretty decent AoE clear.
Carpet Bomber is probably my favorite OC for this weapon. It may lower your Direct Damage by a lot but will turn up your swarm clearing abilities to 11. Highly recommend it. Seeing all those Grunt carcasses ragdolling around is just something different.
I must admit that I don’t have that much experience with Combat Mobility. It lets you walk faster while firing and gives you a decent buff on base Rof and RoF-scaling while halving your magazine size. I should probably give it a try once more.
Big Bertha. Such a majestic name. It increases your Direct damage while penalizing your ammo, magazine and RoF. The high Direct damage, paired with the still decent AoE will make you kill swarms and bulkier targets alike nice and fast.
Neurotoxin Payload will change the way you play the gun. Instead of killing bugs in chunks right away under sustained fire you become more of a supporter in combat, dealing damage over time while only firing bursts. Extremely ammo efficient and useful, as the toxin-effect will not only damage, but also slow down most bugs.
‘Bulldog’ Heavy Revolver
Ok, we got the primaries, now it’s time for your trusty sidearms!
A well build Bulldog can become a true beast, deadly on all distances. With the right perks and Overclocks it can turn into a pocket sniper or a decent swarm killer – either way, it packs a punch.
It is a rather regular revolver, loaded with four rounds (except if you run two certain OCs). Its base damage of 60 is already pretty high (higher than the base M100 Classic!) and can further be increased. Furthermore, it has a neat base weakspot-bonus of 25%.
If you don’t want to build it into direct damage you can also get nice AoE effect for the rounds, turning the Revolver into a mini version of the Engi’s PGL.
These two options allow the Bulldog to be a perfect companion for either Minigun or Autocannon. And even with only the base stats – if you face an emergency situation, the Bulldog may solve that problem for you. But let’s dive into the Mods:
Tier 1: Both mods here are great. Which one you choose is basically determined by your intentions – if you want an accurate weapon to take care of bigger targets (to counter the Autocannon’s weakness), get Perfect Weight Balance. If you tend to use the Explosive Rounds later on and use it to just spray into a swarm, get the Quickfire Ejector.
Tier 2: This one is rather tough. The base damage is already very high, so I don’t see the need to use the Increased Caliber Rounds (only if you want to go for a full damage build). The Floating Barrel is nice if you want to spray and still be somewhat accurate. I tend to run the Expanded Ammo Bags on a lot of builds as it gives you another 50% worth of ammunition and cancels the penalties in some of the more famous Overclocks.
Tier 3: Which mod you choose here is again more ore less predetermined by the playstyle you want to follow. For a sniper-y build I would go for the Hollow-Point Bullets. Blowthrough Rounds are great and often slept on, but 60% weakspot damage bonus is a lot. Otherwise, if you want to kill multiple enemies at once with some nice AoE, go for the Explosive Rounds. Be aware though that you trade it for 30 direct damage!
Tier 4: Expanded Ammo Bags will give you another 12 bullets – if you run both ammo-mods you doubled your base ammunition. I may repeat myself here, but I recommend this one over the High Velocity Rounds. In most cases your base damage is enough, and you don’t hit an important breakpoint by choosing to increase it. It is a great if you run the Six Shooter OC, though!
Tier 5: Both are good choices, although I tend to give Neurotoxin Coating a slight favor as the extra damage and slow effect of the poison are very useful in a lot of sticky situations. Plus, the chance to apply the Neurotoxin applies to all enemies hit by the Revolver, including the ones hit by Explosive Rounds! If you intend to kite and burst fire a lot, though, I recommend giving Dead Eye a try.
Now let’s take a look at the Overclocks:
Chain Hit is the Bulldog’s only clean OC. It gives you a 75% chance to hit another nearby enemy if you hit a weakspot. Although a little gimmicky, it is certainly fun to use.
Homebrew Powdergot both nerfed and buffed in U34, increasing the damage range. If it’s your only OC you can use it as it doesn’t give you a huge penalty, but I personally find it a little boring.
Volatile Bullets triples your damage against burning targets while taking 10 direct damage from your weapon. Although weak on its own, this OC becomes a true monster if paired with a flamethrower Driller, the Gunner’s Incendiary Grenade and/or the Burning Hell OC and Hot Bullets mod for the Lead Storm.
Six Shooter was a community favorite until it got nerfed recently. It is still pretty strong if you want to burst fire all your shots at point blank into an unfortunate bug in front of you. I recommend you take either the Expanded Ammo Bags in T2 and HVR in T4 for a Burst Fire build or the Floating Barrel in T2 and extra ammo in T4 for a more ammo-efficient loadout.
Elephant Rounds doubles your damage by the cost of basically every other stat of the weapon. Although a lot of fun to use in combination with a full damage build (160 damage plus weakspot bonus!), I recommend mixing it with other mods to make up for the penalties.
Magic Bullets is a fun one as it effectively increases your accuracy to 100%. Every bullet that hits terrain ricochets into a nearby enemy (in a 5m radius), allowing you to just loosely spray into the direction of a swarm and killing the bugs. Especially fun with Explosive Rounds as the explosion triggers when the bullet hits the ground and again when it ricochets into an enemy.
BRT7 Burst Fire Gun
The BRT is your alternative sidearm. It fires in bursts of three bullets and is therefore slightly more inaccurate than the Bulldog and better suited for close- to medium-range combat; although it can take on bugs far away if you get used to the gun. The base damage is also slightly higher than the Bulldog’s (provided that all three rounds hit the target).
The fire rate of the BRT is much higher than the Revolver’s, making it a more all-roundish weapon than the default sidearm. However, it can be turned into a formidable killing machine if build right or even into a pocket shotgun.
There is not much else to say, so let’s dive into the mods.
Tier 1: All options are viable here; you can’t do anything wrong with any of them. I tend to recommend the Floating Barrel for a more standard build, though, just for that extra bit of accuracy to kill spitters or menaces on the ceiling (especially when paired with the AC).
Tier 2: Disabled Safety does the trick for me here. The weapon is accurate enough (in my tase; if you wanted a more accurate weapon you would have run the Bulldog, anyway) and the reload takes reasonable long.
Tier 3:An interesting choice, as both mods increase your DPS, but doing so in different approaches. The High Capacity Magazine nets you more damage per magazine (important information if you just want to dump your whole magazine into a Dreadnought’s a*s) than the Increased Caliber Rounds. I personally like to run the latter, so I can make the most out of every burst.
Tier 4: Another rather hard choice. I don’t usually run armor breaking on the weapon if I use it together with the Thunderhead, and I therefore want a more weakspot-focused sidearm. With that in mind, Hollow-Point Bullets sound tempting but the Expanded Ammo Bags give you 72 more bullets – that’s 60% of your base ammunition! I advise you go for the more ammo unless you run an Overclock that stocks up your rounds or you really want to use the BRT only in front of a big, meaty weakspot. If you pair the BRT with the Lead Storm you could consider taking the armor breaking, but 72 more bullets are still a huge deal.
Tier 5:This one’s an easier choice, at least for me – I’m just not that big of a fan of the Longer Burst. It is unnecessary inaccurate and feels like an overkill most of the time if your aim is good enough to hit the mouths of most bugs at least once. Plus, the Burst Stun is excellent to pin targets to a position, giving you room to breathe or time to take out that warden on the other side of the cave – for everyone.
As you can see, I struggled to give you some hard recommendations for mods here. I have run the BRT a lot and found there is really no way to build it completely bad. You need to consider your primary and therefore the focus of your sidearm, though. Let’s take a look at Overclocks.
Composite Casings gives you 36 more rounds and 1 additional RoF. Take it if you want to go for one of the other options in T4 (or if you really want a lot of ammo without downsides).
Full Chamber Seal adds +1 damage and let’s you reload slightly faster. Again, you can’t make anything wrong with that, but I recommend Composite Casings over this one (if you want a clean OC) as you can use the extra ammo to take a mod that lets you deal more damage overall.
Compact Mags gives you another 84 bullets but penalizes your RoF and reload time. It honestly never did the trick for me – if I want more ammo, I take Composite Casings.
Experimental Rounds adds 9 damage per shot but decreases your magazine size and total ammunition. Both penalties can be countered; take it if you want to build something like a pocket shotgun or a high-damage problem solver.
Electro Minelets lets you shoot, well, Electro Minelets. Once they hit the ground, they take a short moment to activate and will electrocute every bug that runs over them afterwards, slowing them down and dealing damage over time. A pretty fun one if paired with blowthrough rounds and stun, although a little gimmicky and needs time to learn for the best use. I recommend giving it a shoot.
Micro Flechettes is a tough one. I’ve seen people recommending it, even considering it their favorite OC for the BRT – but for me it always felt extremely underwhelming. It gives you a lot more ammo (it doubles it, actually) and increases both your magazine and accuracy in the process – but penalizes your damage by 11. It nets you a total damage of around the damage you deal with the base weapon and makes the BRT surprisingly accurate, but everything takes painfully long to be killed. Even a regular grunt needs two bursts (or one six-shoot burst) – even with a shot to the face. Can’t really recommend it; if you want an accurate sidearm that deals a lot of damage, just take the Bulldog.
Lead Spray turns your BRT into a real pocket shotgun, dealing tons of damage and making it inaccurate as hell. Just build it towards maximum damage and RoF and burst everything down point-blank – you’ll see that even a Dreadnought will die in a matter of seconds. There are other ways to build it and counter the penalties, sure, but this is definitely the most fun one.
The Gunner’s grenades are all focused around dealing damage in a more traditional way, further increasing his swarm-killing abilities.
The Sticky Grenade is your default throwable. It sticks to nearly every surface – bugs, your teammate’s face, an Engineers flying turret, you name it – and deals 20 damage on impact, 90 damage on direct explosion and another 130 area damage upon explosion (1.5m full dmg. radius, 4m radius in total). Plus, it fears the bug it lands on (and has a chance to fear after explosion), making it extremely useful in turning that Praetorian around so you can unload on its weakspot. You carry 6 of them into battle. It’s maybe the most versatile of the Gunner’s throwables (although I find it a little boring).
The Incendiary Grenade will apply a carpet of fire after hitting a surface. It may be a bit weak on its own for bigger targets, but can easily clear a swarm of regular grunts. It pairs especially well with the Volatile Bullets OC for the Revolver. Make sure you don’t take it with you if there is a Cryo-Driller in the team. You carry 4 of them.
My favorite throwable for the Gunner, the Cluster Grenade, is often referred to as team-killer-nade. While this is true, if thrown at an unfortunate moment, it is very useful against bigger hordes. It explodes after a short while, turning into 9 smaller bomblets that deal 40 damage each and have a 50% chance to stun creatures for 1.5 seconds. You carry 4 of them as well.
Tools, Equipment and Perks
To end this chapter, let’s look at your tools and lastly, your perks. I run basically the same set-up for every build – I got used to these and don’t feel the need to change them as they fulfill the needs I have.
I recommend choosing the T2 mod depending on your primary – Serrated Edge if you run the AC, Shockwave with the Minigun. In reality, I am too lazy to change it and run the bigger radius all the time. It’s great for clutch situations.
Zipline Launcher: 211
I find the increased angle in T1 is more versatile than the increased length – even though the longer line actually increases the reachable height (26.49m compared to 24.63m)! Most of the times you can’t make use of it, though, because the cave you are in doesn’t allow you to stand back far enough.
I take the fall damage reduction in T3 as I think the default velocity while riding the zipline is enough. The mactera that shoots you down would’ve hit you anyway, with this mod you maybe won’t die from fall damage at least.
Shield Generator: 123
Longer duration all the way. Being able to stand in a safe zone for 9 seconds saved my dwarven a*s more than once. The default radius is enough to fit the whole team inside, so I don’t see the need to increase it; the faster recharge is the better option here as you can use it again faster.
‘Barracuda’ Armor Rig: 1213
Boosted Converter may recharge your shield slightly faster but resets every time you take damage. T2 is a choice of philosophy; Healthy nets you more in total and may safe you from that hit that would’ve otherwise killed you (and adds a permanent bonus that can be restored with red sugar). Breathing room is the only viable option in T4; both AoE mods are rather useless (the choice is between 8 damage [the base health of a swarmer is 12] and a chance to stun enemies that I never, in all my time playing the game, noticed). 6 seconds invulnerability is just extremely strong, giving you time to get away, resupply or save another downed dwarf.
I run basically the same perks on all my builds, which is probably a waste (you will see why in a second), but I’m too lazy to change them all the time depending on my weapons. And they work, so… Yeah. I will give you recommendations for alternatives, though:
Iron Will is great for some missions, where your team gets wiped and you need to get back up on your feet to save the day, and useless for most missions in total. Although you could run a perk that is useful every mission, I never felt that I was missing something and was glad to have IW if needed.
Dash is probably one of the best Perks in the game. It saves you from a lot of sticky situations (pun intended) and gets you out of the danger zone to reposition. This one’s a must (in my opinion) on every class except scout.
Alternatives (for IW):
Field Medic (as a kind of inverted Iron Will), especially because of its passive effect. Revive downed teammates faster or, if necessary, instantaneous.
Berzerker is great if you run it together with Iron Will and Vampire. You can heal yourself while IW is active by killing all bugs around you (although a single Power Attack can have the same effect) or get away from bugs if you are surrounded.
(Beast Master is an ok alternative as Steeve is not only a great companion and/or distraction for enemy bugs; he’s a good indicator that something’s nearby. I would rather recommend one of the other two, though.)
Vampire gives you health for every bug that you kill with your pickaxe. It can save the day if used in pair with Iron Will or will simply just make up for the lower Red Sugar spawns on higher Hazards.
Resupplier is pretty neat if your ammo is low while there are a lot of bugs around. Plus, it makes up for the Red Sugar spawns as well.
Born Ready is a must if you run the Autocannon. The downtime of the weapon is 5s anyway, so why not use this time to kill bugs with your secondary? It’s less useful if you took the Minigun, but still reloads your sidearm and zipline launcher.
Alternatives (for Born Ready with the Minigun):
Unstoppable is most useful in Fungus Bogs or Glacial Strata (and every time a Goo Bomber is around)
Friendly (especially if you run the Lead Storm or Burning Hell OCs or the Cluster Grenade)
(Strong Arm/Sweet Tooth/Veteran Depositer – all are kind of useful, but I think the other ones mentioned are better alternatives.)
Part II.3: Builds
I assume that you own the certain Overclock(s) in this part, even though I know that you most probably won’t have access to all Overclocks mentioned in this list (or any at all). In that case, use the knowledge you learned by reading the above, play around and find what feels best for you and your playstyle. You can’t mess up all that hard, especially if you are playing on Haz3 and below. Maybe you will a develop a different opinion on certain mods and OCs than me, which is absolutely fine!
Ok, now we can finally dive into the builds! All of them are tested on Haz5s and/or EDDs and can be used solo or in a team. Keep in mind, I don’t claim them to be ‘Meta’-builds; those are simply my recommendations for a fun and also efficient time in the depths of Hoxxes IV.
The Thunder Underground
Lead Storm: 32313 Exhaust Vectoring
Bulldog: 13212 Magic Bullets
Grenade: Any (Cluster)
Thunderhead: 33111 Carpet Bomber
BRT: 23231 Composite Casings
Grenade: Any (Cluster)
The sidearms can be exchanged, although I recommend this configuration, as they counter the weaknesses of their corresponding primary. Use the Revolver to clear patches of grunts or to slow down beefy targets and the BRT to kill any HVT on the ceiling (namely acid spitters and menaces).
These two builds are nothing particularly special but get the job done. My go-to choices for EDDs. There are no special mechanics tied to them, just shoot and kill.
The Lightning Strike
Lead Storm: 22333 Lead Storm
BRT: 33121 Electro Minelets
Grenade: Cluster (Although the other two may work as well, the stun is a nice addition.)
A combination I stumbled upon by accident. Use the BRT to slow down incoming swarms and the Minigun to shred the bugs to pieces. Make use of the Blowthrough Rounds on the BRT (you can pin down Praetorians if you do it right) and always bunny-hop while shooting with the Lead Storm. It needs some time to get used to it, but once you did, this build can be extremely powerful in a skilled hand.
Thunderhead: 33111 Big Bertha
Bulldog: 23312 Elephant Rounds
Grenade: Sticky or Cluster (You either want even more single-target damage or a slightly better swarm-clear. I recommend the latter.)
Take this one if you want to go hunting. It kills both Dreadnoughts and Grunts fast and efficiently – and everything in between. Just take care that you don’t get surrounded while your AC needs to reload.
Lead Storm: 22333 Burning Hell
Bulldog: 22311 Volatile Bullets
Not mine, took it from Syncourt and adjusted it to the recent patch.
Probably one of the highest-damage builds in the game. Light everything up with either your Minigun or your throwables and finish big targets with the Revolver. Fire the Lead Storm in short bursts (to get into the red part of the meter fast and to prevent overheating) and use a similar bunny-hopping technique to the Lead Storm Lead Storm. Be aware that you need to be very close to the bugs to ignite them with the Overclock!
The War Criminal
Thunderhead: 32222 Neurotoxin Payload
BRT: 13232 Lead Spray (or 13222 for less damage but more ammo)
Grenade: Sticky (for increased fear) or Cluster (for emergencies)
Extremely ammo-efficient if you use the BRT sparingly. Just shoot everything with the AC until the toxin gets applied and the fear kicks in, then let smaller bugs die on their own or your team take care of the bigger targets. If you really need to get out of a sticky situation, use the BRT point-blank to tear any big bug apart.
I once finished a DD (no speedrun) with this build without a single resupply.
Rock and Stone!
That’s all for now. You can build all these six recommendations within your three slots, so give them a try!
Thank you to everyone who read this far! I hope I could help you getting a deeper look at this wonderful class and hope you learned something new – either if you are a Greenbeard looking for advice or a Greybeard who wants to improve.
Let me know if you disagree with anything I wrote – I’ll gladly take your advice and every constructive feedback and discuss the topic with you.
Rock and Stone!
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