A precursor to the Gatling laser, the gun was designed to mimic a famous gun design and invoke in buyers the same rapid delivery of ordnance but instead with lasers. The unique feature of this "laser assault rifle" is the addition of a "drum," which gives this weapon its unique look, high rate of fire, and name.
This drum contains a bank of 6 capacitors in a circle formation, centered around an electron charge pack (ECP). The capacitors in the drum are rotated as they fire in succession, producing a single continuous laser beam. While each capacitor is firing, the ECP is used to recharge the previously discharged capacitors.
This capacitor rotation allows the Laser RCW to operate like a multi-barreled ballistic weapon (for example, the minigun), and avoids the rate-of-fire limitations imposed by a single capacitor design. This high rate of fire restricts the Laser RCW to using only the ECP ammunition type. The single barrel is also a detriment to the long-term use of the weapon, as constant repairs are necessary to maintain the sole barrel used for directing all lasers, a problem sidestepped in more advanced Gatling lasers by having multiple barrels.
With adequate Energy Weapons skill and Strength, this weapon exhibits moderate accuracy due to a high spread for a laser weapon, making it useful for taking down enemies at almost any range. As a directed energy weapon, it has no recoil, allowing for continuous fire without muzzle climb. Using it extensively on full-auto requires large amounts of ammunition. A partial solution to this problem is to apply the laser RCW recycler modification, which recycles every fourth discharge. It also has the second-lowest critical chance of any energy weapon in the entire game.
Using true iron sights can become difficult with this weapon, as the bright pulse emitted when it fires can easily obscure the tiny field of vision that the iron sights allow. This effect is especially pronounced in low light conditions.
The laser RCW can fire a total of about 1995 times using standard packs, the equivalent of 34 reloads, or 25 reloads when modified with the recycler, from full condition before breaking.
|Ammunition type||Unmodified||W/ Recycler|
- Laser RCW recycler - Recycles and replenishes 1 in 4 shots.
|- Weapon name (melee or unarmed)||- Attacks in V.A.T.S.|
|- Weapon name (gun, energy or explosive)||- Action point cost|
|- Damage per attack (damage per projectile)||- Damage per action point|
|- Damage per second||- Weapon spread|
|- Area of effect damage||- Magazine capacity (shots per reload)|
|- Effect damage & duration||- Durability (number of attacks before breaking)|
|- Bonus effects||- Weight|
|- Attacks per second||- Value in caps|
|- Critical chance % multiplier||- Value to weight ratio|
|- Critical damage||- Skill required|
|- Critical effect damage & duration||- Strength required|
|- With all mods attached|
- Silver Rush - One can be bought or stolen from Gloria Van Graff.
- REPCONN headquarters - Can be found on one of the Fiend corpses by the locked door in the lobby.
- Fiends occasionally carry them, more often in and around Vault 3.
- Hidden Valley - The Brotherhood of Steel scribes often carry them, as well as Elder McNamara.
- Novac - May be sold by Cliff Briscoe.
- North Vegas sewers - Sometimes carried by Greasy Johnny.
- Can occasionally be found on Bright Brotherhood members.
- Primm - It is possible to find it inside the locked gun cabinet inside the Bison Steve Hotel.
- Big MT - Sometimes carried by Y-17 trauma override harnesses.
- Ulysses' Temple - Behind a locked door in the Very Easy locked locker.
- The maximum attainable critical hit chance with this weapon (in V.A.T.S.) is 26%.
- The laser RCW is one of few weapons that have their own unique reload animations.
- Just like the .45 Auto submachine gun, when in the third person, the stock of the weapon will not be pressed against the player character's shoulder when firing.
Behind the scenes
- The Laser RCW was known as the Laser PDW (personal defense weapon) and CBW (continuous beam weapon) at early points during development. This is reflected by nearly all assets - textures, models, icons, and some sound files - still bearing the name Laser PDW. The original concept for the PDW would have been to shoot a single continuous beam. Work began on implementing a system for continuous beam weapons early on, but the amount of bugs associated with the system ended with any ideas for such as system being shelved and the Laser RCW being turned into a simple automatic weapon. A single sound file reflects this original design WPNLaserPDWLPM which plays a sustained laser sound effect. The only "weapon" to shoot a continuous beam was the Laser detonator released with the Lonesome Road add-on, however, it is not used for any combat outside of detonating stationary warheads.
- The laser RCW is based on the Thompson submachine gun.
- The original concept for the Laser RCW comes from the Laser array gun from Van Buren, which shot a continuous beam in the Van Buren tech demo.
- A post by Josh Sawyer on the official Bethesda forums
- Who thought up and/or designed the Laser RCW? That was a great way of including the Thompson without having .45 ACP in the game.
Joshua Sawyer: I did. I thought there should be an automatic laser weapon available earlier than the Gatling laser and figured a Thompson-based SMG using ECPs could be cool. I was worried people would be mad about it since they didn't get a "real" Thompson, but it seems most people like it.
It probably helps that it's a pretty good weapon.
Josh Sawyer Formspring answers
- Why do the energy weapons in the Fallout series tend to fire like conventional automatic weapons rather than ever using a continuous beam? I'm thinking specifically of guns like the gatling laser, that fires a series of beams rather than one unbroken one.
Joshua Sawyer: I think continuous beam weapons are cool. We actually tried implementing a continuous beam weapon in F:NV and it was a colossal mess. We put a fair amount of time into it, but it was causing tremendous problems, so we pulled it out.
Josh Sawyer Formspring answers
- In New Vegas, why were laser weapons semi automatic or automatic but never a sustained beam?
Joshua Sawyer: We tried implementing continuous beam weapons and they were catastrophically buggy. There were only two "wacky" things we tried doing for weapons, neither of which seemed like they would be difficult to implement. Continuous beams were cut relatively early. Looping reloads (for weapons like the lever-action guns) turned out to be long-term problem.
Early on, the system just manifested a few edge case bugs, so we kept squashing those bugs... but others would spring up. It was very odd, because it did not initially seem like a system that would be particularly problematic. - Nukapedia News Digest - 5 Jan 2013 by Agent C