Reloading occurs when the player attempts to fire a non-melee weapon with an empty magazine, or if the player presses the manual reload button with less than full ammo left in the clip. While the reloading animation occurs, the player cannot attempt to fire the weapon. The length of time spent on reloading is based on the individual weapon's Reload Speed, which can be altered by mods. Reload time functions as a period of disadvantage for the player, though actions can be taken to compensate for the inability to shoot.
Manual Reload Edit
When firing a weapon until it is empty, the game does not actually immediately initiate a reload. There is a short but very real delay of roughly half a second, which significantly reduces the sustained DPS of a weapon. This delay can be averted by pressing the reload key as soon as the weapon's magazine is about to run out, assuming the firing trigger is being held down or rapidly pressed in the case of semi-auto weapons. All of the following calculations on reload speed's effects on DPS are only accurate assuming that manual reloading is being used; otherwise, your benefit from using these mods will be diminished.
There are several mods that affect reloading. "Reload time" is not reduced with these mods, but rather "reload speed" is increased following this formula:
Reload Time = Weapon Reload Time ÷ (1 + Mod Reload Bonus)
- Weapon Reload Time: This refers to the base amount of time indicated on an unmodified weapon card.
- Mod Reload Bonus: This refers to the speed increase marked as percentage on mod cards, expressed as a decimal to two places.
Note that while you may successfully install both Quickdraw and Stunning Speed onto a single sidearm with no discrepancies, Fast Hands cannot be placed onto a weapon with Primed Fast Hands, and vice-versa. Bows, snipers, and launchers benefit from the Rifle-type reload mods.
In addition, there are some PvP-exclusive mods which affect reload:
Lastly, the mods listed below don't affect reload per se, but makes the weapon gradually reload while it is holstered. These mods can be used in both PvP and PvE:
One-Handed Action Edit
- Main article: One-Handed Action
One-Handed Actions are actions that can be done while reloading or charging. They are called such because the animations to cast these abilities generally use up to one hand each, leaving the other hand free to reload weapons. This does not imply that all ability animations which show only one hand doing things are one-handed abilities; it only refers to the fact that a hand is still able to be reloading a weapon while the ability is being cast. One can take advantage of this mechanic to further increase their efficiency and flow of actions.
Sustained Damage Per Second Edit
Players looking to achieve as high as single-target damage as possible might wish to consider the effects of reload speed modifiers on their weapons. Burst damage considers damage as an instantaneous sample of averages, relying purely on the damage dealt by each attack and how many attacks can be dealt per second. Sustained damage, on the other hand, relates to encounters that last beyond a single clip and therefore must include reload time into its average.
Currently, modding for reload speed is a poor choice on almost every weapon in this regard, due to the opportunity cost of using the same mod slot for elemental damage or the like. There are some conditions where reload speed can be considered valuable, however.
Reload Speed vs Fire RateEdit
Sustained DPS works as a function of total damage dealt over the combined period of firing the weapon and finishing the reload. If the combined period is split into two parts, then an increase in either can be easily compared the other. For example:
- Viper is a pistol that spends its entire clip in 0.97 seconds. It then needs 1.1 seconds to be reloaded.
- For 7 mod capacity, a player can install either a rank 5 Quickdraw or a rank 3 Gunslinger.
- Rank 3 Gunslinger increases the Viper's fire rate from 14.4 to 21.31, reducing time spent firing from 0.97 seconds to .66 seconds. Combined with the reload time, the viper deals 224 damage over 1.76 seconds, assuming no crits or damage modifiers, for a sustained DPS of 127.27.
- Rank 5 Quickdraw decreases the Viper's reload time from 1.1 to 0.74 seconds. Combined with the firing time, the viper deals 224 damage over 1.71 seconds, for a sustained DPS of 131.99.
The Viper is a rare instance of a weapon with nearly-equal firing and reload times. The vast majority of weapons have a greater percentage of time spent firing compared to reloading. Furthermore, as players progress in the game, their limiting factor becomes mod slots, not mod capacity, and so a more apt version of the above comparison would be a rank 5 Gunslinger (at 9 capacity) where its 72% increase in fire rate far outperforms the 48% increase in reload speed. Only weapons where the reload time significantly dominates the firing time (the Tigris, for example, spends 1 second shooting and 1.8 seconds reloading) should one even consider choosing Reload Speed mods in opposition to Fire Rate mods.
Reload Speed vs Magazine CapacityEdit
Magazine capacity increases the amount of ammo in a single clip while keeping fire rate constant. Therefore, if any weapon of any fire rate has its magazine of any capacity increased by 60%, it will take 60% more time to finish off its clip, except for rounding discrepancies. Because sustained DPS considers both the time spent firing and the time spent reloading, magazine size also acts nearly identical to reload speed, by reducing the percentage of total time spent reloading as opposed to firing. For example:
- Grakata spends its entire clip in 3 seconds, and then spends 2.4 seconds reloading. As a percentage, ~55% of sustained Grakata usage is firing time, while ~45% is reloading time.
- Max rank Fast Hands reduces the reload time to ~1.85 seconds, making firing time represent ~61% of sustained Grakata DPS.
- Max rank Magazine Warp increases firing time to 3.9 seconds, making firing time represent ~62% of sustained Grakata DPS.
Without even calculating the resulting DPS, it can be shown that a 30% increase in magazine capacity has almost the same effect as a 30% increase in reload speed. That means that, if ever in the situation to choose between the two effects, consider the other factors.
- For rifles, a maxed Fast Hands drains 2 fewer mod capacity points than a maxed Magazine Warp for the same DPS change.
- For shotguns, the Tactical Pump mod drains the same as Ammo Stock but the latter makes a 60% magazine increase while the former only makes a 30% reload speed increase.
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