Cries of “OP” and nerf have rung out since the close quarters patch/DLC in June but the SPAS issue (if it is an issue) go back further than this. In the original release of the game the MCS-870 was quite beastly, however few people used it due to the USAS reigning supreme. Here is a timeline of patch releases and non-semi shotgun usefulness.
Original release : The 870 was decent with buck and flechette ammo but lacking with slugs. However because of the semi auto shotguns, mainly the USAS-12 being portable nucelar launcher (with frag rounds) it rarely got wheeled out. It was good at close-medium range, dropping other players with one buckshot round. The M26 had lower damage than the 870 at this point.
The Suppression Patch : This patch nerfed the USAS, DAO-12 and other semi shotguns, however it also nerfed all weapons when suppressed. Only a small amount of suppression was required to make bullets fire off miles away from where you were aiming. Because of this the 870 was rather useless unless you got the first shot and happened to kill them. This patched buffed the M26 to be on par per shot for the MCS870, however it also introduce the “Dart bug” which gave the M26 bugged damage. Because of this it was not used often and players were quite often kicked when playing with.
Because of suppression the 870 was not overly useful, however it had been slightly buffed in buck form as well as a rather nice slug buff. Namely upper chest now received a 1.5 headshot multiplier so one hit kills were the order of the day. Or rather would have been had you been able to hit anything with it due to suppression.
This is the point where the pump shotguns were majorly buffed. Slugs and upperchest/headshots turned these bad boys into killing machines.
Quite a few months elapsed. Some people used the auto shotguns in this time because of the quicker followup shot if you were suppressed, but most players stuck to the assault rifles.
The CQ Patch : The Close Quarters patch introduced the SPAS-12 and toned suppression (namely spread and recoil) way back. It is still effective but a single bullet will no longer make you completely inaccurate. Enter the pump action shotgun.
The suppression change was a massive buff to both the MCS870 and the new premium weapon, the SPAS. Either of these weapons would have been shouted down for being overpowered, however the SPAS received most of the rage? Why? Because everyone was using their new gun! Also it looks somewhat cooler than the 870.
With suppression toned down the pump shotguns could really shine. Along with the upper chest buff from the previous patch they were now truely in their place. Close combat monsters.
So is the SPAS really overpowerd?
I think this problem is similar to the M16A3 overpoweredness. It is more obvious because many people are using the SPAS. I could run with the 870 and not get raged at, while everyone and their dog would want to ban my sorry ass for using the SPAS*. So no, the SPAS is no more overpowered than the 870 is.
*I don’t use it because I cannot be bothered unlocking stuff for it.
SPAS vs 870
The SPAS and 870 are almost identical. The 870MCS has a slightly slower rate of fire; it has an extra pellet for buck and flechette rounds. This means it has a higher damage if you hit all those rounds at close range. Both the pump shotguns have the same damage for slug ammo. Because the SPAS has a higher rate of fire (we are talking very minimal) it is “better”. Ideally you want to one shot people so the followup shot is not amazingly important.
Few players use slug rounds and so I am going to put it out there right now: the SPAS is not overpowered, in fact most of the players run buck or flechette. Because of this they are actually taking the less than ideal weapon as the 870 has higher damage potential.
So there we have it. Another case of overuse = overpowered. Not.