Parnell is the best assault. And basically always has been.
This was cemented with the meta shift in stage 2
With the introduction of stage 2 every assault (and hunters as awhile) had a damage quota to meet. The amount of damage you could do during a dome, before the dome would drop.
No matter what assault you had- this quota was the same.
So the difference from a meta perspective comes largely down to how much damage an assault can do POST some. That “extra” free “chip damage”
And no one is better than Parnell for this- and he could reliably do the most post dome damage And everything about his kit benefits this aspect. (Special shout to R-Abe for this. He was particulary strong at this during his launch because of how long his dots lasted posted dome. He was even more reliable than Parnell for this albeit his potential wasn’t AS high. But his reliable range was a bit higher- it’s also important to remember that at the time his dots stopped armor regent and the likes. His was nerfed shortly after however and how post dome suffered hard)
First his kit naturally has high burst damage, between his shotgun and his rocket launcher.
Both of these rely primarily on his ability to aim. You can’t (reliably) use markovs mines for post don’t damage. Hydes nade? The monsters fleeing anyways. Mortars? Even with good aim from a chase perspective they’re easy to avoid. Etc and etc. Parnell? Both of his main weapons are about aim. Other assaults have half of their gear that can rely on area denial which doesn’t work on the chase, or for monsters to make mistakes. Not the case for Parnell.
But the single BIGGEST aspect and enabler of this for Parnell- is his super soldier.
SS ensures Parnell does some major burst damage. His fire rate goes up. His reload rate goes up. And his move speed goes up.
Save jets when you know the dome is about to drop, have SS at the ready- and prepare for the carnage. With full jets AND the move speed bonus- you will ensure you do amazing amounts of “post dome” damage. It’s natural to take some chip damage. Parnell ensures you do about double what any other assault can do- over the few domes of a game this means you’ll be at stage 3 with 3-5+ bars LESS hp for that final engagement.
Now of course there are exceptions. Maybe you land an extra TS with Lennox and get a few extra ful stack lances before AAing the fleeing monster. Maybe the monster paths through a few markov mines. Maybe you get an extra damage boosted mortar with torvald.
But reliably? None of these hold a candle to Parnell.
Now Hyde is AMAZING in the dome. He’s amazingly straight forward and reliable. His Flamethrowers “damage over time” aspect means missing here and there isn’t that big of a deal- it’s not like missing a shot with Parnell where you’re down an entire shot. With Hyde you’re just Diana fraction of a second of his 10+ seconds of damage per magazine. His nade gives RELIABLE aoe area denia and mitigation. Parnell IS the area denial, but only if he can aim.
Reliability is hydes middle name. He was one of my most used assaults- and for good reason.
But don’t be fooled. Parnell is the meta assault- no questions asked. Especially when slotted with sunny and slim (or Cabot or bucket and Lazarus). It was the trapper who had the most options- griff (either of them), crow, or Abe, jack if you knew what monster it was, etc.
This was true at launch during the “hold the dome” meta- where assaults would simply chase the monster, and never shoot it- keeping it out of combat so it’s stamina was always cut in half, where parnells SS would and could be used to reliably keep up until they knew it was evolve ready where it would be saved to be burned to get cocoon damage- there wasn’t a monster alive who didn’t fear roon in particular from NjP on Parnell. Nearly EVERY game in comp would see monsters losing 1/4-1/3 their life to a SSing Parnell getting cocooned headshot damage.
And this was also true for the above reasons just prior to stage 2, but the emphasis wasn’t as heavily there because domes lasted a minute no matter what (excluding trapper downs) Post damage was huge, but reliable damage against fleeing monsters who ran all dome long was also huge. Hyde was great here for his ability to safely nade a cubby hole and force a monster to move.