Both Left 4 Dead 2 and Payday: The Heist have two ‘tiers’ of non-pistol weaponry. Tier 1 is generally less combat-effective and consists of weaker shotguns and submachine guns, whereas Tier 2 is where the more varied heavy-hitters enter the picture. To me, this makes Tier 1 sound much more interesting from a balance perspective, as the devs had to make sure they were combat capable without feeling like primary weapons. Nowhere is this more clear than with the SMGs.


Both games have two SMGs with pretty predictable roles. There’s the accurate one with low damage per bullet (Uzi in Left 4 Dead 2, MP5 in Payday) and the inaccurate one with a higher damage per bullet (in both games a silenced Mac 10.) What’s cool is that both games use this “lesser tier” differently; in Left 4 Dead 2 these are the guns you find at the beginning of a campaign, before the action really starts heating up. The lessened combat requirements and battlefield roles let the players settle into the gameplay, and the eventual abandonment for a Tier 2 upgrade encourages the scavenging mindset. In contrast, Payday: The Heist has the Tier 1 weapons as their own equippable “secondary” region, meaning you get to wade into battle with one alongside your primary and pistol. Sometimes I think about just how different it’d have been if Left 4 Dead 2 had been designed with a tertiary slot for the four early-game weapons.

Compact-5 Mark 11

Of course, Payday’s players get that extra firepower because they’re going to be dealing with far more varied assaults than the melee-oriented zombies could ever muster. Cops will continually assault the heisters from every range and ammo is far more scarce, and the SMGs fill a critical role as a reliable backup weapon for when your primary is running out of ammo. The silenced SMG in Payday also fills a bonus function considering silencers are mandatory for the stealth elements in a few heists, notably Diamond Heist.

The silencer in L4D2 doesn’t do jack because zombies don’t actually hear gunfire. However the Mac-10 does have the distinction of being the only Tier 1 weapon that can hold its own against the Tier 2s, if you manage to equip it with a laser sight. Its accuracy shoots up to perfect, meaning that it matches or exceeds the damage output of the M16 due to a faster firing speed. This coupled with the insane amount of reserve ammo turns it into a very self-sufficient primary that I’d happily carry until the end of the campaign.

In case you haven’t guessed, I far prefer the silenced SMG in both games. I find an accuracy penalty far easier to compensate for than a damage penalty, especially with firing speeds as nuts as the ones on these guns. But the Uzi/MP5 still have many proponents who favor the more long-range capabilities they unlock, meaning that it really comes down to player preference. If you’re one of the players who choose to forgo both for a pump-action shotgun, stay tuned for tomorrow.

In TF2’s Mann Vs. Machine, I doubt anybody ever has recommended using the SMG, considering you’re giving up the insane versatility of the robot-slowing, extinguishing, mini-crit rewarding Jarate. That goes double for the Cleaner’s Carbine.