Seeing that the closest things we have to Shotguns in this game appears to be the Plasma Rifles, I immediately gravitated to using them as an escort for the Captain. I have been using a pair of Soldiers set up this way, and with the combined firepower from the Captain they are capable of obliterating ANYTHING in their way. Particularly effective so far has been Shredding Fire, allowing them to just dump on any enemy in range, then lock down with OW to ruin some Xeno complexions.
Another great use for them is as an escort for the Engineers. Any sort of escort where the enemy MUST die before they reach the objective/soldier/defensive point.
I'm wondering if anyone else is making good use of the Plasma rifles, and how you are using them in your squad. I am almost to the point where I deploy at least one Plasma Soldier before anything else, just to give the close-range game some much needed boost.
I'm going to use PR, LL and HL for Plasma Rifle, Long Leviathan and Heavy Leviathan.
The PR Soldier is a critical build and provides high-damage, high-penetration, high-special attacks at short range.
The range on a RP is equal to Grenades, which makes the PR a natural grenade thrower. The PR soldier on defense is formidable, but stacks best with a LL, HV or Sentry Pod to provide outer ranger defense.
If you are using PR for defense, they can do very well in -MP Armor -- and old tactic from TA1. Counter-act that with Rally and they can still move very well when needed.
The HL provides a good medium balance between the PR and LL. The HL has your high-damage, high-penetration but lacks the high-special punch, which it makes up for in range and flexibility with OW use. HL can provide medium and short range defense and does well with Grenades and Warpath pattern armor.
The LL is your Sentry Pod's best friend. Together they can hold a line like no ones business. LL also goes very well with the Scout or Captain as fire support because they can compliment the long range of a scout or cover for the short range of a Captain.
I'm absolutely in love with PR soldiers. I've got my current squad, which is just running through Normal to get a feel for the difficulty balance, set up with one PR and one HL soldier. The PR definitely tends to be my defensive dynamo, nothing can get past him if he's properly supported. Usually I'll pair him up with a scout, as the long range debuffs pair particularly well with the short range oomph of the PR.
HL soldier is kitted out to be an offensive force multiplier, he sticks around just behind my melee specced captain and hydra, softening groups of targets with burst fire and then laying down and overwatch to allow any targets that are suicidal enough to close with my captain to be nice and squishy for him.
I've not played around with LL builds too much yet, I'm trying to focus on low level gear and equipment before moving up the ladder too much, but I think they sound like a lot of fun. I can totally see what Cory is saying, LL soldier would be built more around dealing damage and less around overwatch. They would be my "dump every point in burst fire" build.
It's interesting how people play differently. I've gone almost exclusively with LLs and am just building in some PRs now. I've haven't even touched HLs. The way I figure it, the longer range and higher accuracy of the LLs means you're landing a lot more hits which always makes up for lower damage. Layering OW zones with an LL and PR is almost always a sure stop, if you have a lane that is threatening to overwhelm you.
I've also been very happy with what I'm calling my "floater." He's a scout who's invested a lot in Headshot and also has +1 MP gear. In the detonation level, holding that top TP is always a challenge, but my floater can usually support 3 or even 4 other soldiers who are blocking different lanes. With the extra MP and the long range rifle he can almost always get to where he's needed to help deal with the sudden wave, or random skitterer who breaks through. Dropping crippling strikes on a Goliath means he's going to spend a lot of time working through the OW zone. That's somewhat off the topic of Plasma Soldiers, but does relate with how they all work together.