There is an interesting thread going on over at the official forum on the topic of weapon progression. A backer has expressed concerns that the weapon progression might be too linear. 5LS developer Mitch has chimed in with the following comment:
We are trying to avoid the scenario where you stop wanting to use a particular weapon because there’s something which is better in every way. While we do have ballistic, laser and plasma, each has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example (and Chris can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is how it’s going), ballistic weapons are strong against flesh, average on shields, and weak against armour. Laser is strong against shields, average on armour, and weak against flesh. Plasma is strong against armour, average against flesh, and weak against shields.
So, really, the best gun for the job comes down to the enemy you’re fighting. So, one faction might favour armour, and so having a mix of plasma and ballistic weapons would be optimal, while a faction who likes to use shields would be better to take on with lasers, etc.
There will also be further variation on the other aspects you’ve mentioned (damage, fire rate, accuracy, etc) within each category, which you’d vary depending on your personal preference (shotguns and Uzis if you like to get up close and brutal, miniguns and assault rifles for suppression and flanking, sniper rifles for sneaky long-range shots, and so on). It’s going to take a lot of balancing to get right, but we feel this kind of approach helps to avoid feeling like you’ve wasted time acquiring a particular weapon or upgrade.
The approach they are taking reminds me a bit of Starcraft, where there is a variety of units but they are all balanced to have both strong points and weak points, so that there is never one unit that is objectively “the best” and that would be the right choice in every situation. Players in Starcraft usually end up using a mixture of units, depending on the situation at hand. If the weapon situation in Satellite Reign ends up something like that, it would really add a lot of depth to the gameplay. It is perhaps no coincidence that MikeD previously mentioned that he is an avid player of Starcraft II? ;)