Multiplayer shooters like Call Of Duty and Battlefield have a large number of weapon classes including assault rifles, submachine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns, and even rocket launchers. In-game weapons often channel the spirit of their real-world counterparts, such as SMGs being high rate-of-fire weapons that are great at close range but weak at a distance. One gun in particular has a lot of challenges translating to video games. The light machine gun is a weapon primarily designed to keep opponents’ heads down and instill fear. With the ability to respawn and try again, players in multiplayer shooters are generally not afraid to stick their head out, leading developers to explore creative solutions for what role the LMG should serve.
In this video, we’re going to look at what a light machine gun is, why they often don’t translate to games, types of suppression developers have tried, what happens when LMGs stray into other classes and get nerfed, how they fare in battle royale modes, and some creative implementations of the weapon. We’ll show off some of your favorites such as the M60 from Battlefield Bad Company and the RPD from Modern Warfare 2. We’re also going to explore why Lord Tachanka was the absolute worst character in Rainbow Six Siege until he was reworked recently.
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Who was one of the worst first person shooter characters up until recently when he was fixed by Ubisoft?
No surprise, it's Tachanka and it's because he carries a light machine gun, but for this piece will shorten it and just say LMG. LMG's in multiplayer shooters have a long history of identity crisis from battlefield to Call of Duty to Apex Legends. So let's look at why light machine guns are so hard to get right in shooters. If you're someone who uses LMG's despite their flaws, make sure to hit that like button and consider subscribing to the channel if you're not well, let's dig into that.
Let's get everybody on the same page and start by having an expert tell us what a light machine gun is.
When machine guns were first created there were just machine guns, so automatic weapons that fire for as long as you held down the trigger or the firing button or whatever, or run out of ammunition.
But they began to diversify, as most things do overtime so much smaller, more portable and physically lighter forms of the machine gun, which, if necessary, one guy can operate. And that's probably the best way to think about a light machine gun. It's an automatic weapon, automatic military weapon that one guy or a team of two at most carries with them into battle. Doesn't matter how it's fed, doesn't happen, can be magazine fed belt fed.
It doesn't actually matter what caliber it is. The Villar Perosa what most people think of as a submachine gun was actually used by the Italians as a light machine gun. So like most types of firearms, it's a combination of its role, what it's designed to do, so it's a squad machine, gun support weapon, but not not higher up like a company level gun, like a heavy machine gun. And it's also the technical capabilities of it, so it must have automatic fire, and it nearly always has rifle caliber ammunition as well.
Really, most shooters are using like machine guns no different than the minigun in the original Doom. It's just a very high capacity, relatively high rate of fire, rifle, machine gun, whatever. They all fire bullets. The end of the day.
So if a light machine gun just fires lots of bullets. Why doesn't that translate into multiplayer shooters? LMG's are all about suppressive fire, which is just a fancy way of saying spitting so many bullets downrange that people are too afraid to stick their heads out. That allows your team to move up and take them out, but without the real world risks people aren't afraid to stick their heads up in video games and they shouldn't be most of the time. The goal is to have fun and the worst that's going to happen if you get taken out is maybe your k/d drops. Maybe your pride takes a hit. So how do some games even attempt to simulate? When players can just respawn and try again.
That brings us to suppression and why it's so hard to pull off in video games. Developers behind mil-sim inspired shooters like Battlefield have tried to convey the idea of fear to players for years, but they've never really settled on a good solution that was both effective and still fun. Battlefield 3 in particular launched with pretty heavy suppression mechanics that shook the screen and added a blurry effect. Players hated it and it was toned down or removed from later titles. Games that we love like Insurgency, Sandstorm, and Escape From Tarkov. Also use some pretty unsettling sound design to get players to duck for cover.
It does that a lot of immersion, but in terms of making players afraid to move, it's a bit of a mixed bag. In Insurgencie’s co-op for example, top players still just run through levels, and if you can run through a level with a light machine gun, it's not really serving its purpose of keeping heads down. In fact, it's probably stealing another weapons identity LMG's out of the box, or a sluggish weapon. They weigh a lot. They slow down players, they have slow, aim down sights, time. That means they get beat by other classes in panic situations and hip firing. One is typically about as useful as harsh language.
LMG players generally need you a lot more planning than anyone else, which means picking a lane, mounting a gun and spraying. Mounting has been in battlefield for a long time, but it wasn't part of Call of Duty games until more recently, so a lot of players hate this playstyle, leading developers to push the weapon into other weapon classes, making them faster and more agile, like the infamous Bruen that dominated Warzone Season 2. But at that point he was basically just a fast reacting assault rifle with a regular mag.
Or as Jonathan put it.
The light machine gun is relegated to being a super assault rifle. It's just an assault rifle with more bullets.
You can't really have a super assault rifle in your game or what's the point of the assault rifle category when LMG stray too far into other weapon types, they could become better guns than guns already there for that role. It's usually because of what Jonathan said. They have much higher ammo capacity. That means players can have a cheap advantage in fights by just holding down the trigger and waiting for the enemy to reload.
That leads to nerfs and the cycle starts all over again to figure out where LMG's belong. To tackle this LMG nerfs. In the past, I've included widening bullet spread, adding massive recoil and lowering bullet damage. All of this makes the guns away less user friendly and raises the skill threshold to use one. That higher skill threshold is particularly bad in one of the most popular game modes out there today.
Battle Royale metas are very unforgiving to players who carry light machine guns for a large number of reasons. Usually the person that wins in the final circle has high mobility, a fast fire rate, or someone with massive one shot damage. LMG's are typically behind in all of these categories. In a game like Warzone with Loadout drops, it's even more common that the final circle is filled with Min/Max weapons. Chances are the last time you won a round of war zone it was with an AR or an SMG, not the humble light machine gun.
So if the way that LMG's are supposed to work doesn't really pan out in a battle royale. What happens if you go to a multiplayer shooter and use them as intended? You get sniped. Even using an LMG in its proper style, often has bad results. Virtually 100% of the time, if you post up you're going to get domed by a sniper at the back of the map with a 12X scope. Bad Company 2 is the first game I can personally remember that got it right by armoring stationary machine guns, something other games like Apex have since tried.
Granted, that would make it a medium machine gun instead of a light machine gun, but you get the point without something to stop bullets in front of an LMG player, they won't last long.
At their best, LMGs still need two things to work. The player laying down suppressive fire and a coordinated team to make use of it. You'll rarely get that in the Call of Duty or even Battlefield game. If you can't rely on a coordinated team, and nerfs aren't the best answer, what can you do with a light machine gun to put it in a unique role? Developers have tried a lot of creative approaches to making LMG's a unique class of weapons in their game. For example, playing with bullet penetration to allow them to fire through cover that other weapons can't or just punch big old honking holes in walls on that note. Rainbow 6 Siege could have tried one thing, which was to make Tachanka’s stationary gun. The only weapon in the game that could punch through carried shields.
Some games have gotten more creative outside of just messing with handling like Bad Company 2 that tied LMGs to the medic class in order to offset their more powerful abilities. Having a less friendly gun encouraged medic players to stay behind the frontline and heal or revive their teammates or just help demolish cover. More casual games like Apex tried heavy rounds, fired out of LMgs to slow the movement of enemy players, and even the odds.
Games like Cold War made LMG's really good at destroying vehicles and equipment in order to rack up scorestreaks which didn't necessarily require you to kill players. Despite creativity. Many games struggled to channel the spirit of an LMG, which at its heart requires players to pick a lane and hold it down. That's kind of a ball and chain in a world that favors speed and fast reactions. LMG's might struggle to have an identity in games, but that doesn't mean that you don't have your favourites. Maybe you love the M60 from bad Company 2 or the RPD from Modern Warfare 2. Hell, maybe you’re a Tachanka main.
Tell us about games that we missed that you feel handle LMG's really well while you're at it, head on over to Gamespot's YouTube page and check out a host of firearm reacts videos that cover guns from your favorite games. Alright, thanks for watching.