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I've earned the grenade launcher in Alien Swarm, but I really can't find a way to use it effectively.

It seems to be very useful for thinning the hoards in Onslaught but there always seem to be some stragglers. Because of this I can't really see it as useful to those on point (nor rearguard) as the autogun (or minigun) have a considerably more thorough covering arc.

Has anyone used this weapon successfully?

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You've already stated when it's useful and when it's not, so I don't understand the purpose of this question –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 20 '10 at 21:10
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The OP is asking when the best instance of using the grenade launcher is, coloring that with his own anecdotal evidence. –  Raven Dreamer Sep 20 '10 at 21:28
    
@BlueRaja: Part of what I'm saying is that thinning a hoard on point isn't very useful, because you still end up dead. If that's the full extent of its use then surely the devs have missed something? –  Stuart Pegg Sep 20 '10 at 21:41
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3 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The grenade launcher is one of my favorite weapons. It's wonderfully effective against most enemies and shoots incredibly quickly and precisely. Note that grenades hit where your targeting reticle is, so you can adjust the distance you shoot that way.

It's particularly useful against:

  • Large groups of drones, parasites, or those harvester spawn things, since it takes out all of them in a single hit.
  • Rangers, because you can easily reach them, even on ledges
  • Harvesters, because spamming grenades will easily kill the spawn it releases on death.
  • Mortarbugs, because the grenade launcher deals massive amounts of damage in a very short time
  • Eggs, because you can quickly saturate a whole room with grenades.
  • Doors, like BlueRaja mentions. The chainsaw is a lot more efficient though.

It does have a few disadvantages, but none crippling:

  • It doesn't hold a lot of ammo. Just take an ammo kit as your secondary, and you'll be fine. Ammo kits replenish a very large amount of grenades.
  • It does a lot of friendly fire damage. Don't fire near teammates. Staying in front helps.
  • It does a lot of self damage if you shoot too close. Run behind your teammates if enemies get too close. Taking a strong melee character like Vegas can help tackle small numbers of drones.

It's an awesome weapon.

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Very comprehensive, thank you. –  Stuart Pegg Sep 26 '10 at 15:59
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My friends and I used grenade launchers together for blowing down doors without having to hack them, along with the flamethrower (which is incredibly overpowered if you burst-fire it) and adrenaline, to get all the speedrun achievements. We used this setup on most, but not all, of the levels.

The chainsaw is also good for this purpose.

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Ah, now door opening in a rush would certainly be handy. And I had no idea about the adrenaline, that's an ace tip. –  Stuart Pegg Sep 21 '10 at 11:11
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It is extremely useful against the bigger aliens. Or when you know clumps of aliens are coming (like in the last mission waiting for the biomass to burn through).

Another useful time is for taking out all off the alien eggs in the last mission....

One of my favourite builds is as follows: Jaeger - Vindicator (for ordinary aliens) Grenade Launcher (for bigger ones or long range groups) Incendiary Mines (useful for rear guard or oncoming swarms)

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+1 for the the recommendations, but BlueRaja's door tip was the most novel I'm afraid. –  Stuart Pegg Sep 24 '10 at 11:31
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