The larger cousin of the Plasma Rifle, the Heavy Plasma Gun is a powerful squad support weapon which is nonetheless light enough to be usable by any soldier. It is the most powerful weapon available to X-Com agents short of the Blaster Launcher, plus it has a fast rate of fire and high accuracy.
Pros: Automatic fire. Great accuracy, second only to the Plasma Rifle (in Auto and Snap modes) and the Rocket Launcher (in Aimed mode). Incredible power; only Sectopods can survive a point-blank burst, and it can cut through most terrain including some inner bulkheads of UFOs. Guns and clips can be recovered from missions, and become plentiful from April onward.
Cons: Requires two hands, although its accuracy one-handed is still better than most pistols. Requires ammunition; while it has the largest clip size in the game, this can occasionally become a strategic concern in DOS versions of the game due to clips' tendency to disappear and the prohibitive Elerium cost of manufacturing clips yourself.
(h x w)
|3 x 2|
Heavy Plasma Clip
|Heavy Plasma Clip|
(h x w)
|1 × 1|
|Research||Heavy Plasma Clip|
The Heavy Plasma Gun is essentially the ultimate weapon available. It is the most effective assault weapon in the game, and also the most effective sniper rifle. The main caveats on its use are these: a) its clip size, though large, is not infinite like the Laser Rifle's, and the supply of clips is limited, so while autofire is perfectly feasible and recommended, gratuitous wastes of ammunition such as attempts to literally level maps may strain your supply line; b) its ability to penetrate the front armour of Sectopods is limited, so it is recommended to either flank Sectopods and shoot their weaker back plate, or bring more specialised weapons such as Heavy Lasers, Small Launchers and Blaster Launchers; c) the incredible power of Heavy Plasma fire can be a double-edged sword if you face alien mind control, so it may be worth bringing a less-superlative weapon such as the Laser Rifle if you expect to face psionic aliens and you have not psi-screened your troops.
It is also worth noting that due to the weapon's ubiquitous use after the first few months, X-Com will quickly accumulate large stockpiles of Heavy Plasma Guns. The excess guns (though not their precious clips) can and probably should be sold; this avoids the risk of the item table being clogged during a Base Defence, and also provides a significant cash injection.
The following lists how many times a soldier can fire the gun by shot type continuously in any given round, and the remaining percentage of any left over TUs that cannot be spent as a shot.
- Aimed: 1 Shot, 40% Remaining TUs (enough for 1 Snap shot or 1 Auto burst)
- Snap: 3 Shots, 10% Remaining TUs
- Auto: 2 Bursts (6 Shots), 30% Remaining TUs (enough for 1 Snap shot)
Note: Soldiers with 51, 54, or 57 maximum TU will be able to fire 3 bursts with 0 TU remaining. While these TU values are unlikely among veteran soldiers, rookies will quite frequently achieve this criterion, as the range of TU values among recruits is 50-60 inclusive. While you'll probably be arming your entire squad with Heavy Plasma Guns anyway, it's worth noting that this can make some rookies better at providing fire support than their more experienced brethren.
- Do you desire to wield inhuman power against the invading aliens? This is the weapon for you. It's often able to drop a Muton in a single shot.
- This weapon also comes into its own destroying the internal bulkheads, doors, and floors of UFOs. Want a door somewhere that there isn't one? Bring in a Heavy Plasma and make one.
- Weighs the same as a standard Rifle. Unless you're weighing them down with tons of gear, any soldier should be able to use this effectively.
- Aliens increasingly prefer this weapon as the game goes on; by September, they will issue it to all troops except a small number wielding Small Launchers and Blaster Launchers.
- Sells quite well on the market. You'll literally have PILES of them in storage, just waiting to be sold to the highest bidder.
- Note that the Heavy Plasma Gun does take slightly more time to fire than the Laser Rifle. In particular, the Laser Rifle can potentially fire two Aimed Shots in a single turn, giving a minor advantage when picking off large numbers of weak targets intermingled closely with things you don't want to hit (civilians, your own troops, explosive terrain features). Of course, this is counterbalanced by the even-higher accuracy of Aimed Heavy Plasma fire.
- Bringing reloads to a mission is usually superfluous; 35 shots will see most soldiers through an entire mission, and in the rare event you do run out, you can just loot clips or nearly-full weapons from dead alien fingers. There are better uses of your 80-item limit. In particularly tight cases such as Cydonia, it may even be better to initially arm your troops with Laser Rifles (which don't need clips at all) and pick up Heavy Plasma Guns as you go.
- Don't rely overmuch on tanks to soak up Heavy Plasma fire. Tracked tanks tend to fall in 3 hits or so. Hovertanks will usually survive a bit longer, but still risk being destroyed in a single hit.
- Sniping across long distances is unreliable when using autoshot, partly because more heavily armoured targets may require more than one hit to put down. Either use aimed shot with multiple units, or remain in cover and wait until aliens enter medium range.