The role of missiles

General discussion about the game.
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The role of missiles

Postby karadoc » Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:57 pm

I've been thinking about why I almost never use missile weapons. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone on this, so I think it's worth discussing. So to start, here's a brief explanation of what I think the problem is.

It seems clear to me that the original intention for missile weapons was that people would use the missiles to disable the enemy's shields so that their lasers could hit. Sometimes the missiles could be used to knock-out other important enemy systems as well, but the core usage is to get the shields low enough for lasers to get through. A couple of missiles per battle should be enough for this, because once the shields are down, the lasers can keep them down.

However, if the enemy has defence drones, then the missiles probably won't get through. So the player can't rely on the missiles for damaging shields. The player still needs some other more reliable way to defeat enemy's with high shields. The most reliable way is generally to just have more lasers. And once you have enough lasers to get through the shields, then more lasers just means more damage.

Generally the player doesn't want to use missiles as the main such of hull damage, because that ends up costing too many missiles, and so missiles are essentially obsolete. The player needs a reliable way to get through shields, and a reliable way to deal hull damage. Lasers to both of these, and missiles do neither.

Missiles can be very powerful, but the fact that they cannot be relied on to do their job means that the player _needs_ other weapons, and once they have those other weapons then they don't need the missiles.


I think that's the crux of it.

Missiles are too expensive to just spam them, and not reliable enough to avoid needing mass lasers as well. Whereas mass lasers have no drawback.

For the sake missiles, I think it would be better if hacking modules weren't shot down by defence drones. Because then it would be possible to hack the enemy's drone control to disable their defence drone, so that you could use your missiles to disable their shields... and so missiles could again be relied on to do their job. ... That would be cool, but hacking is already powerful enough as it is!

There is a new augment which messes up the enemy's defence drones - and I think that's the kind of thing missile weapons need to be useful. But players can't really plan on getting that augment, because it is too rare.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby 5thHorseman » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:22 am

Missiles have 2 purposes for me:
1) Ammo for whatever missile weapon(s) the game gave me to start.
2) Currency to get scrap or something else when I stumble on a trade, after I've thankfully gotten rid of the missile weapon the game gave me to start.

with a possible #3:
3) Ion Bombs. The Ion Bomb/Ion 2 combo is fantastic.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby OnyxShadow » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:14 am

I was just saying in another thread that I don't think missile weapons using consumables makes sense anymore.

Its really feeling like missile weapons having a consumable requirement is unnecessary at this point. In general, missile weapons aren't any better than other options, and they are hard countered through multiple methods. Really the only missile-using weapon I ever consider is the ion bomb, and that is just because it does more ion damage than it should for one power and has no counter.

Its actually kinda sad. It might be fun to actually have a missile run sometime with 2-3 different launchers. Maybe 4 swarms? 4 fire bombs? 2 Pegasus and a Hull? But you just can't because you'd need like 200 missiles per game. That's not possible from loot and shops...even with the new augment.

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Re: The role of missiles

Postby aaaaaa50 » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:52 am

Bombs do the same job missiles do, but better. They don't do hull damage but in exchange they can't be shot down by drones.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby Levgre » Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:31 am

Yeah missiles are really in a tough spot, design wise. While the player rarely wants them, they are one of the most dangerous things in the hands of the AI. So really they are a weapon of attrition/getting lucky, which is the AI strategy overall, against the player.

So is that the spot they should be? A weapon for the underdog/masses?

I think ideally missiles would be a separate system from other weapons, like drones. It doesn't really make sense that lasers/beams draw from the same energy source as missiles.

And if you upgraded your missile system to near max levels, they couldn't be stopped, or had higher evasion against defense drones.

Within the current system, missiles should be stronger than non missile weapons by a decent margin, cooldown or damage, as they require a consumable, and they have a big weakness (drones). If you balanced them via lower cool down, that would have an offsetting balance, I think a good one, of missiles being spent faster.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby itg » Sat Apr 12, 2014 6:07 am

To be fair, some of the new augments really do give missiles a chance to be viable for the player. I played a Stormwalker run yesterday where I bought an explosives replicator early on, and thanks to the ammo savings, I was able to keep using the starting weapons until quite late in the game. In fact, I took the Artemis into the flagship battle. Defense drones are definitely a problem for missile-based strategies, but there's an augment for that, too, and of course, using a bomb weapon to take out drone control is still an option. Of course, even with that extra help, missile weapons are still extremely situational, but I'm okay with that.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby Ghaleon » Sat Apr 12, 2014 6:50 am

I actually think that this game should let the player have access to all their weapons on their ship, not just 3 or 4, and the rest in their cargo hold unuseable. The reason is because this way the player CAN utilize missles for that shield piercing properties, without "losing" their other traditional weapons for them. Maybe have some kind of cooldown when you change weapons in and out of the cargo bay, I dunno. I think they would be more attractive to actually go out of your way and buy though if they didn't feel like they had to replace something that is less situationally good.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby OnyxShadow » Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:06 am

Levgre brings up an important issue: weapons that are weak for players but strong for enemies.

The reason for this is that although missiles do poor hull damage for their ridiculous cost they have the chance to bypass all of your defenses...even defense drones. This means that even on a well-equipped ship missile weapons from one ship after another tear apart your hull over time with little you can do about it in some of the worst cases. Enemy ships only needs to hurt you enough for one of the next 5-10 ships to finish you off before you find a store.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby Nukeknockout » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:47 pm

Honestly, for disabling systems I find the general line of "bomb" weapons or Ion cannons to be much better options than propelled missiles. The former outright ignore shields, the latter deals double damage against Zoltan shields and is dedicated in its role of taking out shields.

However, there are three good propelled missiles, which are rather beneficial for quick hull destruction (Such as against the Flagship). Also a missile seemingly designed from the ground up to knock out systems.

Hull Missiles reload in 17 seconds, take two power, ignore shields, and inflict two damage(Four if targeted at a systemless room). Six hits will destroy the flagship, without ever needing to take down its shields (Or ever offering it a chance at defense, when combined with a Defense Drone Scrambler and Hacking system).

Breach missiles reload in 22 seconds, take three power, ignore shields, inflict four damage per hit and automatically inflict hull breaches. Six will destroy the flagship.

Pegasus missiles reload in 20 seconds, take three power, ignore shields, and fire two projectiles each inflicting two damage per hit. Six missiles (12 hits) will destroy the flagship.

Swarm missiles take 21 seconds to charge fully, take two power, ignore shields, and fire three projectiles each inflicting one damage per hit. Eight missiles (24 hits) will destroy the flagship.

These missiles are a very good way to quickly deal tons of damage to the Flagship if you find yourself without a lot of laser power. Here's the order I favor them:

Without hacking or a defense drone scrambler:

Swarm > Pegasus > Hull = Breach

With a defense drone scrambler:

Pegasus > Breach > Hull > Swarm

With both hacking and a defense drone scrambler:

Hull > Pegasus > Breach > Swarm

Justification: When aiming just to kill the flagship with a four damage missile weapon, what matters most is your refire rate. Hull missiles fire very quickly with very little power draw for the damage they do, so if you can guarantee they will strike their target you can potentially kill the Flagship in 34 seconds or less (With three missile launchers, assuming unmanned weapons and no auto-reloaders. Fourth launcher offers no time benefit, but distracts defending drones.). Hacking + Defense Drone Scrambler guarantees hits.

Pegasus offers both two chances to hit the enemy and automatically spoofs defense drones, so most of the time it is clearly the best option (Although you can only power a maximum of two at a time). Even if you eliminate the drones and dodging, its relatively fast fire rate offers the potential for a sixty second kill with dual Pegasi.

Swarm missiles fire slowly and don't deal enough damage, but they don't really take power and spoof defense drones the best while maintaining system damage. Four of these fired together would be the second-best combo if we're only looking at hull damage. 12 damage per barrage offers a 42 second kill, but with a high missile usage rate and a penalty to ease of use (Never auto-fire charger weapons).

Breach is the worst option. Three power, one projectile with the longest reload rate and on top of that it's quite a rare weapon. Still, two mounted in tandem offers a 66 second kill if you can guarantee all the projectiles will hit.

Obviously, the Zoltan Shield in stage three will eat some missiles unless you pack an ion weapon to go with your rockets on the final stage.

Point I'm trying to make: Missiles are very strong if you think in terms of what they're good at, that being hull damage without bothering to count enemy shields as part of the equation. Obviously the vagaries of combat will alter the math presented above, but consider the missiles if you've been unlucky in gaining enough lasers to confidently take on the Flagship.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby karadoc » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:32 am

I think Nukeknockout's analysis (above) is fair enough, and I agree that propelled missiles can be quite powerful. But players rarely get to make use of that power.

The thing is, it is infeasible to use those missile weapons routinely throughout the game, because you'll run out of missiles (particularly if you're trying to shoot past a defence drone). So although missiles can be good, other weapons are still needed - so it is generally most effective to sell all the missile weapons to buy non-missile weapons.

The end result is that player only really get to use projectile missile weapons when they haven't been able to find better weapons, or when they have a surplus of resources. (Or have missile-friendly augmentations.)

I reckon the issue would be solved if there was some reliable way of getting past defence drones. The augmentation which disables them is great, but players cannot rely on it being available and thus cannot plan to use missiles until they find it. If there was an anti-defence drone, or if defence drones couldn't defend against missiles fired while in stealth, or something like that, then I reckon missiles would be viable (although still not very powerful).

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