TTK returns this week – and it covers a fairly meaty topic this time, with 11 minutes on the intricacies of weapon reloading.
Fairly simple for the most part, although the section on Reload Cancelling will be useful for some, I suspect.
Next week (April 15th) will see another episode of Weapons of Modern Warfare – and TTK will return on April 22nd, with an episode on the underslung attachments.
Why underslung attachments? Well, I recently polished off all the underslung attachment challenges in the name of completion – and thought it a shame to waste the highlights.
Hello, this is XboxAhoy – and this is Time To Kill.
No matter how conservative you are on your weapon’s trigger, no matter how large your magazine – sooner or later, you’re gonna run dry.
In this episode, we’re covering reloads.
Reloading is an unfortunate but necessary interruption in your firepower – it’s a nod to realism, where guns don’t have an unending pool of lead to spew – but also to weapon balance, where magazine size and reload time can be a differentiating factor between weapons.
Every gun has slightly different characteristics, but can be broadly categorised into two types : magazine reloads, and per-round ones.
Most weapons fall into the former category, having detachable magazines that are switched out during the reload process.
These weapons replenish their entire supply in one action, so no matter how many rounds you’ve expended, you’ll have a full supply upon reloading, total supply permitting.
Per-round or per-shell reloads work a little differently – these weapons generally have internal magazines that are replenished one round at a time.
These weapons can take considerably longer to reload if you need to fully replenish your supply, but do have the advantage in that they can be ‘topped-up’ at any time, and normally fairly rapidly.
In Modern Warfare 3, only the shotguns have this trait – specifically the KSG-12, SPAS-12, Striker and Model 1887.
In previous games some of the sniper rifles exhibited similar behaviour – notably the M40A3 from COD4.
For the most part, the main distinguising feature of each weapon’s reload is the time it takes – with some weapons reloading in an instant, and others taking a painfully long time.
It’s the USP .45 that takes first place in the reload time stakes – at a sprightly 1.625 seconds.
In fact, most of the secondary handguns and machine pistols are relatively quick to reload, with most semi-auto pistols reloading in under 2 seconds, and the automatic machine pistols within 3.
The revolvers are an exception – the MP412, for instance, takes over 4 seconds to reload.
Next up, it’s the assault rifles that are the nimblest to resupply, with the fastest being the ACR, at 1.9 seconds.
The M16 and M4 are similarly quick, at just a little over 2 seconds – and most rifles fall under the 3 second mark, with the exception of the FAD, which is the slowest in its category – at 3.2 seconds.
Following the assault rifles is the submachine guns – although these weapons generally have larger magazines, replenishing them can take a few seconds.
The quickest in class is the UMP45 – at 2.5 seconds and a reasonably slow rate of fire, its reload characteristics are the most favourable in the SMG class.
The slowest is the PP90M1 – although blessed with a large magazine, it chews through its supply quickly, and takes a little over 3 seconds to reload, which with a short-range weapon could leave you vulnerable.
Sniper rifles and shotguns are in the middle, neither particularly quick to reload – but far from the slowest.
The MSR is the fastest sniper rifle, reloading in just 2.268 seconds – and given that snipers are generally far from the action, such a pause is seldom an inconvenience.
The slowest sniper rifle is the Barrett .50 cal – although this weapon has a very generous magazine, it’ll take nearly a full 4 seconds to refill.
Magazine-fed shotguns tend to be fairly slow to reload, with the AA-12 taking 2.75 seconds – and the USAS-12 slower still at 3.2 seconds.
The others are all reloaded per-shell, with each shot taking about two-thirds of a second to insert – and the process is interruptable – so if kept topped up these weapons will generally pose little problem while reloading.
The LMGs, on the other hand, boast the largest magazine capacity of any weapon class – but suffer from correspondingly slow reload times, by means of balance.
Some are better than others – the LMGs fall into two broad categories: magazine fed, and belt-fed.
The magazine fed weapons – the MG36, and L86 – are slow by most standards, at around 3.75 seconds: but given their massive capacity, reloads can be planned in advance to avoid most trouble.
The belt fed weapons – the PKP Pecheneg, Mk46 and M60E4 – are a little more troublesome – as their reloads are a lengthy process indeed, taking between 8 and 10 seconds to complete.
It’s the M60E4 that takes the dubious accolade of being the slowest weapon in-game to reload – at 9.3 seconds, you’ll need to find a good hiding place in order to perform this lengthy procedure.
For those weapons with a slower reload, there exists a means to remedy it – Sleight of Hand, in your first perk slot.
Sleight of Hand is one of the few perks to make an appearance in every single Call of Duty game since COD4, and its main effect remains the same as in its first introduction.
The perk is straightforward – it will reduce the time it takes to reload to half of what it would be otherwise, resulting in less downtime between magazines – and potentially saving your life in a sticky situation.
In Modern Warfare 3, the pro benefit will also decrease the time it takes to switch to your secondary by half.
It’s the weapon with the slowest reloads that see the greatest benefits from the perk, so the perk is best used to improve reload performance on those that lack it – although the belt-fed LMGs will still take a considerable amount of time with the perk.
If your class loadout is focussed on close quarter combat, sleight of hand can be very useful – as being within a close proximity of your enemy will lead to more situations in which time is a very important factor.
Reloads can also factor into your attachment choice, as there are a couple of options that may affect the number of reloads you have to make.
Extended mags will grant an extra 50% boost to capacity for your weapon – i.e. an extra 15 rounds on a typical 30 round mag, for 45 rounds total.
This attachment can be used to lessen the need for sleight of hand’s assistance for a slower-reloading weapon – although you will need to avoid reloading after every shot to take advantage of this increased capacity.
Rapid fire will also affect the frequency of your reloads, granting a 20% increase to the fire rate of your weapon.
This will speed the depletion of your magazine, and will mean that sleight of hand becomes particularly useful to ensure you’re not caught dry.
You may also consider pairing both Extended Mags and Rapid Fire, to help balance out their effects – with both extra capacity and more lead on target proving a deadly combination.
The mechanics behind reloads do have some quirks – although not important for the most part, it is possible to exploit some aspects to your own benefit.
Each weapon has multiple statistics that govern the length of the reload – known as the add time, reload time, and empty time.
The Add Time is the time it takes from the start of the reload process to the time when the extra rounds are registered in the weapon – this is the point when your HUD will update to reflect the new count.
The Reload Time is the overall length of the reload animation, and defines the period that you will not be able to fire the weapon – this animation is always longer than the add time.
This means that there is a brief moment where the gun has a full magazine at its disposal, but the reload animation has not yet completed – and in certain cases this gap between the add and reload times can be exploited.
The third figure – the Empty Time – applies to reloads when you have completely depleted a magazine. Usually in this case, the weapon is charged or cocked at the end of the animation, to reflect the fact that the chamber was left empty.
In such cases, the add time is left unchanged – and so it is only the length of the animation that alters.
The reload animation can be interrupted by a number of means – and using this technique to your advantage is referred to as ‘reload cancelling’.
Cancelling your reload can be done in one of three ways: using your melee attack; sprinting momentarily; or quickly pressing the weapon switch button twice.
Only one of these techniques is useful, as using your melee attack will incur a large delay before you’re able to fire, negating any benefit.
The double weapon switch technique was a mainstay in earlier Call of Duty games, but since Black Ops the double switch technique has been patched, limiting its effectiveness.
The best way to cancel a reload, then, is to sprint momentarily – this will cancel the reload animation and leave you with a full magazine, assuming the add time has been reached.
Beware: if you sprint too early, you will have to start the entire reload process again.
Each weapon has its own unique add time, so the benefit of reload cancelling varies – but generally speaking, the longer the reload, the greater the potential time-savings.
Most weapons’ Add Time is at about three quarters through the reload animation, but some weapons can attain greater benefit than others.
The FAD is amongst the better weapons for reload cancelling, with a potential 1.7 seconds that can be shaved off the end of the process.
Particularly of note is the Five Seven pistol paired with the akimbo attachment, which has an add time of only 100 milliseconds: this means that the weapon is topped up almost immediately, and after a brief interruption will be ready to fire with a full magazine once more.
Reloading is a necessary evil in Call of Duty – while a pause in shooting can sometime be fatally inconvenient, a limited magazine size at least forces you to be a little more conservative in your shots, and rewards those who can shoot more accurately.
It also provides diversity amongst the weapons at your disposal, and with the right knowledge you can make the best use of your weapon’s traits as far as ammunition is concerned.
Just remember – switching to your pistol is always faster than reloading.
Thanks for watching, this has been XboxAhoy.
Join me next time when I’ll be covering the underslung attachments available in Modern Warfare 3.
Until then, farewell.