Making guardian weapons relevant in normal combat and make them more interesting/unique in AX combat

The biggest problem with the guardian weapons is that outside of the gauss cannon, they are all pretty meh in both normal and AX combat. In AX combat, these weapons really fail to perform because, due to the other weapons' lack of uniqueness and issues with them, the gauss cannon is just plain better as an all round choice. In normal combat, these weapons (that were supposed to be good at normal combat), instead of being interesting alternatives to normal weapons, are utterly inferior to even stock variants.

In AX comabt:-
1. Plasma Charger: Increase effectiveness against hearts by making the weapon do damage even when not hitting the heart in exactly the right spot (small amount of area of effect on the module damage). This would allow the weapon to actually be used as a general purpose weapon, especially since it is much harder to actually hit hearts and modules in general with this weapon (something that is essential for fighting interceptors)
2. Shard Launcher: Increase falloff distance to make the weapon an effective choice against scouts (something that other guardian weapons struggle against due to their high mobility and rapid changes of direction) and capable of more versatile use than just point blank shots. Make the weapon capable of killing swarms to give it it's own unique niche alongside the plasma charger (jack of all trades) and gauss cannon (heart/module killer). Give it negligible to no module damage to compensate.
3. Gauss Cannons: This is honestly the only guardian weapon that really does work well and is balanced in AX combat. Though I would like to suggest making it fire instantly in return for massive heat output, just to set this weapon apart from the standard railguns.

In normal combat:-
The biggest problem here is that instead of being alternatives, guardian weapons are clearly and utterly inferior to even stock versions of their human equivalents.
1. Plasma Charger: Simply increase damage at all levels; base uncharged shot would do quarter to half the damage of a PA (Plasma Accelerator) shot, while full charge would do 1.5x to 2x the damage of a PA shot. The idea is to have an alternative to the standard PA which trades in it's ability to be twitch fired (an extremely valuable thing in the heat of combat) for more control over shot damage, distributor draw and somewhat better heat management. Plasma Chargers would fire less (due to the charge requirement), require more forethought (since they can't be twitch fired) but pay off with much more powerful shots on a full charge.
2. Shard Launcher: This weapon could act as a close range shield killer; taking out a percentage of total shields (such as 10% of total shields per shot) instead of a set value (as normal weapons do). This would be particularly welcome a much needed answer to massively overpowered shield tanks and really punish enemies that attempt to face tank while relying on extremely high shields. The downside would of course be that this weapon would really need to be fired in very close proximity to the enemy to really have maximum effectiveness.
3. Gauss Cannon: A little more module damage would make this an interesting alternative to railguns; trading heat management for increased effectiveness. Using a gauss cannon would mean quickly killing modules, but also quickly overheat the ship, far more so than any railgun ever would. Alternatively, making the weapon not have a charge up time would justify the lower damage due to the twitch firing capability.
 
Giving them separated stats or heavily increasing their effectiveness would not accomplish much. Now that basically everone with an SRV-capable ship who is willing to do 20m of jumping is able to get them, they should not be more effective than engineered weapons. Especially something like insta-fire railguns or percentual shield damage would be completely overpowered. The slight AoE for plasma chargers sounds reasonable though, no way that plasma immediately dissipates after impact.

I say instead of giving them separated stats, make them engineerable with their own array of modifications, e.g. tighter spread cone but reduced fire rate for shardos, something akin to plasma slug maybe. Faster charge rate for plasmas to give some quick ideas. To balance this, make the engineering require thargoid materials, forcing players to actually engage in AX combat and learning to use their stuff.

I generally agree on not separating AX combat too much from normal gameplay, there should be a reward that people can take into the normal game from it apart from creds (which are really low comapred to threat and normal bounty hunting).
 
I have to disagree with your assessment of the shard cannon in AX roles because in the same way you wouldn't use a frag cannon on a SLF, you shouldn't use the shard cannon against scouts.

When you're within range it makes the gauss cannon look like a peashooter with its damage capabilities.

I use it to absolutely shred interceptors, it does massive amounts of hull damage and can easily destroy hearts with only a shot or two.
 
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