Lets address the elephant in the combat room:
Missiles have always been a hot topic when talking about SC combat in general: PVP players hate them due to a prejudice that they require less skill than dogfighting with guns, and PVE players hate them because of the high alpha damage potential when ships even as small as a light fighter can be outfitted with up to 16 missiles. And more recently, all players have been plagued by the Size 9 torpedoes specifically being used in every theatre and every battle in PU, when they were originally designed as anti-Capital ship torpedoes.
Before we talk about fixing this, we have to all agree on something: that missile combat is and always will be a big part of Star Citizen, since many of the ships are designed around the missile compliment (and Im not just talking about torpedo ships like the Retaliator and the Eclipse: ships like the Constellation and Cutlass rely heavily on missiles).
So if we arent going to change how many missiles ships have (which can be 40+ for a smaller ship), we need to change how they work.
I will be referencing some stats from 3.10.0 LIVE, from erkul.games, a website Im sure any pilot is aware of if you play somewhat regularly. Missiles (Size 1 to 9 currently in game, and planned up to I believe Size 12) have a wide range in stats and capabilities and it is important to understand these differences if we are to properly give feedback on the situation.
COSTMissiles cost way too little, and due to the incomplete insurance system, for some players they dont cost anything at all. Size 1 Spark and Taskforce missile types cost 20 UEC… thats just under 2 bottles of water in value. And size 9 Typhoon class missiles, the most expensive missile in the game, which are designed to destroy Idris’, a ship that has a Max crew compliment of 28 plus pilots plus marines plus passengers, which can all be players, plus vehicles plus cargo, these missiles cost a whopping I dont think it could possibly be overstated that missile prices need to go up, and way up. It is immersion breaking that such power can be so common even in small engagements of 2-8 people. It is nonsense that such destructive power would be so readily available and at such low cost on the civilian market. Launching a anti-capital torpedo should be a huge investment in the war effort monetarily, and even small missiles should be at least slightly annoying to launch and not have connect due to the lost value.We need to start adding cost to missiles not as a primary deterrent (large orgs will never have enough money for as many torpedoes as they want) but as one of many minor inconveniences that can move someone to take a different approach.
I think a starting price of 1000 or so for smaller warheads would be better than 20 bucks, to start. A Cutlass can have 48 size 1 missiles, so to replenish youd be looking at 48000 UEC. This would encourage conservation of missiles in the grind and promote better application of missiles and stop people from tapping Missile Lock 10 times as the first action in any fight.The largest torpedoes should be very costly: I might be biased as a fighter pilot, but they used to be 60000 aUEC on Voyager Direct back in the day (thats 60 REAL DOLLARS by the way) and I think they should cost even more. When a size 9 torpedo is confirmed on a field of war, it should be a huge event. It should be panic worthy. It should not be as it is now: “Oh another guy bought an Eclipse? Welp, guess everyone runs in different directions and the battle is over. Thats the 8th time today.” Its so dull since its so common. There is no gravity to the destructive power, its all wasted on a fighter, at no cost to the user. Size 9 and above torpedoes should take shit talking Idris captains and turn them into babbling babies. They need more weight on the battlefield and should feel like a threat, not a boring, annoying “time out” for combat. Ive had what couldve been great battles in the past few months get derailed because at a certain point, it becomes Torpedo Hide and Seek, where everyone is throwing burritos and 1-shotting each other instead of intricate dogfights and varied combat using ships in many different roles. Please, CIG: as the most minor bandaid, increase their cost drastically, dare I say even recklessly, and stop them from being restocked on claim.
Missiles have lock times from 0.52 seconds (Arrow I) to 12.22 seconds (Argos IX). I personally believe that lock times need to go up, increasing exponentially with size. Locking a small fighter with an anti-capital torpedo should be an amazing feat. If you outfly a dogfighter with an Eclipse for 2 minutes straight? Sure, blow his ass up, and great job to you. Because that is a feat in and of itself. If you do it in a Retaliator, congratulations, your a literal god. But when these things have locking distances of over 20 kilometers, it should take a good amount of time to lock anything, to give time for the victim to be able to do anything about it, whether its run and go stealth, evade, attack, or counter. Locking distance also should vary more drastically, large ships should be much easier to acquire a lock, and small fighters and snubs should be nearly impossible without considerable skill and/or tactics.
Smaller missiles can have shorter lock times, I dont see any issue with the locking times of size 1-4 missiles currently.
However I think it would be great if missiles and torpedoes had an option to be fired unguided. This would be great for anti-fighter and stealth gameplay (which the primary purpose of this post is to nerf these elements severely). If a large bomber could dumbfire its Size 9 ordnance to stealth strike a large ship, or if a Constellation could spray untargetted missiles at a light fighter that is in its face, I think this would add more skill and just be a fun option for missile boat and torpedo pilots who know how to fly their ships and know where their racks and tubes are and how their payloads fly. No one wants to remove missile play, we want to encourage skill and reward for it accordingly.
Large torpedoes are way too maneuverable. They are fast, and I think thats OK. But they shouldnt be turning 180 degrees 5 times chasing light fighters. A torpedo should be locked into its trajectory and barely be able to change its flight path. Capital ships can move quite quickly in a straight line but they certainly cannot change vector and shift direction in 6DOF easily at all: once a torpedo is locked it should be able to adjust to the minor evasive maneuvers a ship of capital size could possibly perform. It should not be tracking small ships in turn-and-burn loopdy-loops several times over. All missile types and sizes need a considerable nerf in their turning capabilities, at least from size 3 or 4 and up.
We need to be able to counter missiles. I actually remember when countermeasures worked reliably. It was upwards of 2 years ago.
Countering small IR missiles with flares is actually really fun and rewarding: you pop a flare, change vector, decouple and boom, your free and ready to engage again. Its something I sorely miss being able to rely on. Its been in the patch notes several time that CM’s were working and yet they still dont seem to do anything in practice, whether it be to desync or bad server performance or whatever. We need basic flare and chaff to work first, obviously, but it needs to be deeper than that as well.
Countering missiles and torpedoes with guns is actually possible in Arena Commander right now. Missiles show on your radar, and if you can click them, you can lock them and you get some UI elements and a gimbal lock. You can even launch missiles back at the missile coming for you! This was a great discovery to me when my friend tested this a few weeks ago. But in PU its not the same. Missiles dont show on radar reliably or at a far enough distance for you to react, Hold F, click it, then turn, shoot and save yourself. We need more obvious UI when missiles are coming our way besides a static marker of “WIFI SYMBOL: 1”. We need better targeting solutions for them as well (add Targeting – Cycle Enemy Missile in keybinds please, or some way to select them other than the freaking radar).
Missiles should have a more prominent and varied IR/EM signature, and be easier to target and counter or be not target-able at all depending on the variant. They should also be more susceptible to EMP, unless specifically designed to be better suited for anti-e-war.
Cross-Section missiles should also have the same deterrents as other missile types but at higher intensity. Longer lock times, shorter distances, etc in order to properly balance the fact that they cannot be countered with traditional deploy-able countermeasures.
Missiles are very powerful, and they should be: being hit with a missile should be a large cause for concern. I dont believe they should be as effective against shielded targets, again helping get away from the “missile spam” culture of locking all missiles at the beginning of a fight. Missiles should be used as killshots against bare hull, or to get at ships too maneuverable for gun targeting, and slowing them down to main gun speeds by them overheating in maneuvers to escape the missiles, or damaging them. Though some balancing needs to happen, I dont believe the damage value itself is a huge factor as to why people feel missile gameplay is so poor both from a fun perspective and a competitive perspective.
It really boils down to the fact that missiles have no value since you get them for free every claim and cost about as much as a hotdog. They dont feel fair since you cannot counter them effectively or evade them properly based on their purpose. They dont feel skillful and rewarding to use and we need fixes soon, for game health.
that’s a good read and we agree with a lot of your points. We didn’t really have time to take a look at missiles during 3.10, but with gunnery and targeting now in a much better state we can turn our focus on vehicle weapon gameplay in the next quarters … and that of course includes missiles (actually, it’s missiles first).
The current priority for us is to fix the inability of missiles to react to certain countermeasures. We already identified the main issues why they so successfully ignore chaff and we hope to get at least that fix done for 3.11. Further steps beyond those basic fixes will be to improve the CM gameplay, adding better and meaningful UI, readding lock limitations, missile operator mode and ofc balancing them out so that we can achieve our intended gameplay. We won’t achieve these goals all in one release but we’re quite hopeful that we can take incremental steps to make the missile gameplay a lot more enjoyable.
I can’t discuss anything further at this point but I just wanted to say that we’re listening and working on improving the experience.