Recently, I got the chance to play PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, the battle royale simulator that took the entire FPS community by storm and beat King of the Kill at its own game. I played on my friend’s account, and earned a single kill in my first (and as of this writing, only) round:
I’m not gonna lie, that’s the reason I’m writing an article about the UMP right now.
The Heckler & Koch Universale Maschinenpistole was made to serve as a lighter and cheaper alternative to the equally-famous MP5 sold by the same company. It’s known for being extremely moddable, and perhaps that’s why it fills a different role in almost every game that includes various SMG options. In my other articles covering specific firearms, there’s something of a trend to how the games portray that gun against its peers, but after analyzing the UMPs in various games, I couldn’t find a theme beyond that it’s never the “all-rounder SMG” in the roster.
In Counter-Strike Global Offensive, the UMP’s main claims to fame are its cheap cost, its availability to both teams, and its stopping power. It fires bullets that deal damage on par with the rifles, though a low firing rate and rapid damage dropoff hurt its ability to compete over time. Despite this, its my personal favorite gun in the game because of my somewhat unusual playstyle. You see, I’m really, really bad at CSGO, but I have friends who want me to play with them in competitive matches, so I always play as the team financier. Whenever somebody wants a gun but they can’t afford it, I buy it for them, and arm myself with a cheap UMP. This lets my teammates compensate for the loss of my personal firepower with their own expensive guns and a consistent team economy.
The UMP 45 in Spec Ops: The Line fills the same role of a cheap, high-damage SMG –though in this case, ‘cheap’ refers to unlock speed, as it’s available from level 1 of multiplayer and is the first SMG encountered in the single-player campaign. But games don’t always treat the UMP as the cheap SMG. In Killing Floor 2 the UMP is the second-most expensive SMG available to the SWAT class, and once again is a high-damage but slow-firing SMG. Added during the 2017 Krampus Christmas event, its direct competition is the bullet-hose P90, or the pricier and heavier Kriss Vector that gets the best of both worlds. All three guns fill their own roles in the meta, personally I can’t stand the UMP in this game because its the one SMG that uses burst fire instead of semi-automatic fire for its alternate firing type. I mostly loathe burst fire in any game, it feels like it just wastes my bullets and takes control away from my mouse clicks.
Payday 2 had an interesting relationship with the UMP, as for years it was the only weapon in the game usable by cops but not players. When we finally got our hands on it courtesy of the John Wick Weapon Pack, the Jackal was a pricey but versatile SMG whose main downsides were its limited ammo reserves and slow reloads. As a career Mastermind who usually aced Aggressive Reload anyway, I’ve always used the Jackal as a secondary weapon for builds with an ammo-positive primary, like the Galant or a Sniper Rifle. But there’s no denying that there are more versatile SMGs available, especially its brother the Compact-5.
Perhaps it wasn’t fair for me to say there was no theme among the UMPs in these various games. Most of them chose to make it something of a rifle/SMG hybrid, a high-damage weapon that blurred the two classifications much like the SCAR bridges the gap between assault rifles and sniper rifles. I think most of this comes from its reputation for having a slower firing speed. After all, when the entire SMG weapon category revolves around blistering rates of fire, the slow-firing UMP is guaranteed to feel like something of an odd duck.
This article is part of my “Guns in Gaming” series, where I examine specific real-world firearms and how they’re represented by the games industry. To read the rest of the series, click here!