The role of missiles

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The role of missiles

Postby carol1988 » Tue May 29, 2018 2:20 am

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 stylesrj » Tue May 29, 2018 3:10 am

Missile weapons will always work better for the enemy than for the player.
A player has to carefully ration their supply so they don't run out when they need them most. Since lasers only require power to function, it's easier to just take down ships with huge laser barrages or even flak weaponry than consider the use of a missile or bomb, even with the Explosive Replicator.

Enemy ships? They'll keep on firing them until they run out or until you're dead. They don't have to worry about the next encounter or the next so they'll keep on firing with impunity and infuriate the player.

Also, the Defense Scrambler is useful if you are relying on Hacking or Boarding Drones; not just missile weapons.
However, if defense drones are an issue to your Hacking, there is a cheap exploit that modders have found ways to "fix"

You fire the Hacking drone and as soon as the enemy Defense Drone fires, you power down the module. Since the drone is firing on an intercept course and your drone is stopped, the shot misses and you can quickly power it on again before the drone can line up another shot.
Some mods like Arsenal make it so the Hacking Drone cannot be intercepted (Drones have a Dodge Rate which means that a shot fired at them misses, even if it was a laser fired point blank) while sMPK makes Defense Drones instantly hit their target so you have no time to react.

The best option I think is that Hacking Modules should have a higher dodge rate, maybe like 50% so half the time you can shoot one down. But then the RNG will screw you over as it is customary with FTL.

But yeah, missiles are just not worth using, even in mods.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby 5thHorseman » Tue May 29, 2018 3:27 am

The role of missiles in the game is simple: They're for the AI. :D

But yeah, I do agree. I wish there was a reason to ever use them, other than the game not giving you anything better.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby Leylite » Thu May 31, 2018 11:20 am

Missiles can be useful on gun-ships for hitting enemy weapons or engines (not just shields) - weapons to delay their offense just like the enemy does to your weapons, engines to also greatly assist the rest of your shots landing (minus 10 to 15% evasion can result in 2 or more extra projectiles landing, compared to just taking off 1 shield for similar damage). On boarding ships they're even better, nearly (but not quite) as good as a bomb.

Thus, low-power supplements like the Artemis or Swarm missiles are best at this, since they don't take up much of the weapons system in power bars and are thus easy to get online in combination with conventional weapons.

It's true that you essentially need to get a build where you don't need missiles at all, but if you do have them they're a good "transition" weapon to help you gradually upgrade your weapons system and temporarily beat 2-shield or 3-shield threats until you've upgraded your weapons even further.

As such, on ships that start with missiles I usually try to avoid selling them (and thus, plan how much scrap I need to take to a store), unless I absolutely have to or I have 4 weapons that together work better than the missile would. Rock A's Artemis missile and Zoltan A's Leto missile can last nearly the entire game.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby 4n4 » Sat Jun 02, 2018 11:31 pm

There's actually some value in saving a decent missile weapon for the last stand and/or flagship fight. Disabling the missile launcher artillery in particular with a well placed (possibly preignited) breach missile for example.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby thereaverofdarkness » Fri Jun 22, 2018 12:31 pm

I think the biggest problem with missiles is that they're too expensive. They're a very powerful weapon system, but if you actually are relying on them enough to want to buy them from the store, suddenly their cost becomes not really worth it. I noticed that when playing with the Rock Cruiser A (Bulwark), I was constantly buying every missile that was available at the store. Not only was it not enough, but I was spending a fairly substantial fraction of my scrap income on missiles, which was preventing me from getting important upgrades. I have found that a successful run on the Bulwark usually involves quickly finding a laser, flak, or beam weapon to go with your missiles. I think it's great that missiles aren't the most viable thing all by themselves, but if they were cheaper and more abundant at the stores, then the Bulwark runs would be less hit or miss.

I'd also had an idea for a missile augmentation: Energy Missiles. I had this idea before Advanced Edition added the Explosive Replicator. Energy Missiles would cause missile weapons to no longer cost a warhead to be fired, but they would have shield piercing only 2. In the early game this would still penetrate the shields of almost any opponent, but in the late game you would want to fire a small laser volley first and follow with the missile in tow. It would make missile weapons helpful for getting through shields without having a limited firing capability. Having both augmentations available in-game makes the player more likely to stumble upon at least one of them, thus making missiles less of a gamble and more reliable.
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Re: The role of missiles

Postby stylesrj » Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:19 pm

Well sMPK (and the Weapons Roulette) has Energy Missiles. They don't use up a Missile but they take more power to use and they don't have any real benefits over the standard missile. There are other, more powerful missiles of the same class you can get; I think even one does ion damage on the way in.
However, Energy Missiles are then essentially a Piercing Laser that goes through all the shields. Your idea of an Energy Missiel that doesn't use a warhead but only goes through two layers is essentially then a more powerful Piercing Laser.

I wish the Explosive Replicator could be modded to be more/less reliable. It's hardcoded to be at 50%...

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