The way missiles work right now is frustrating, and i’ve becoming more familiar with the exact "why"s so here’s an obnoxiously detailed post about it with some suggested improvements.
Range Multiplies Targets: Mass Missiles
Being a high range weapon is a good role for the missile in a game where there’s high velocities and massive distances. It’s also a very easy, very low skill floor weapon anyone can just lock and fire without effort. In a battle, anyone within 12km of anyone can reach out and lob them, and this is often a large number of players, with every ship type having them. This has become more apparent now that we have large playercounts.
If you are chosen on a battlefield just expect to see massive waves of missiles chasing you around at all times, you will not have time to do anything but dodge, chaff, and hope you have a corvette nearby to resupply that chaff or you are just dead in a bomber, corvette or interceptor. Most of the time this strategy is very effective at volleying all small ship opponents off the field without ever having to get into a gunfight when a team notices they can do this.
Countermeasures countering massed missiles
The solution to this in my mind is making missiles scale worse when spammed en masse against single people. The way chaff works lends itself to resolving this, the idea with chaff is that you can take out many missiles with a single countermeasure if they are volleying you simultaneously, but the issue is ingame the missile spam easily becomes a continuous stream just from 2-3 people focusing on it. The lifetime of chaff is so short that you can’t take down more than one volley from one ship, even a single interceptor can stagger fire the 2 volley missiles just slightly to require each missile take another chaff.
If one chaff stayed effective for a long time with one deployment (if you stay near it), it would help this. Missiles are an easy, long range weapon, at least there should be some required awareness on the people firing them to spread out the volleys across time and other targets if they see their target deploying countermeasures. The effect of this kind of chaff buff would be mostly felt when getting mass spammed and would effect 1v1 less.
Bonus: interceptor actually intercepting Role
As a bonus, It would also give the interceptor an actual viable interception role against torpedoes. Right now if there’s a bomber torpedoing from short to medium range there isn’t time to shoot down the torpedo, at best you can stop a second torpedo from being fired if you’re already perfectly positioned to kill the bomber.
With long lasting chaff, you could see a bomber combing, anticipate a torpedo and setup a chaff screen timed to block torpedos, or even catch one after it was fired more reliably, a chaff might actually last long enough so that a torpedo detonates on the chaff rather than just getting distracted momentarily and then returning to it’s original target. May want to remove chaff from destroyers depending on how strong this gets.
Inconsistent Missile and Chaff Behavior
Right now missiles don’t seem to have a heading, only a velocity. You may think “but thats weird, i’ve seen missiles arcing around to chase targets” which is it appears to me to be that the absolute velocity is used as the heading. This has problems in battlescape in particular. Ever be flying backwards while firing missiles? They will actually arc around to face a different direction before flying in the direction you shot them. If there’s an opponent chasing you the missiles can drop behind them then accelerate right into their tail pipe without having to turn at all. If you do line it up ‘correctly’ with high absolute forward velocity you can nearly instakill people with the missile launch at around 1-2km: there is no time to chaff. it seems like missiles need to “turn” way less to continue their tracking at higher absolute velocities.
Some people have said you just need to boost dodge but the reality is that often people fire missiles under conditions that are just really easy to avoid, with massive relative velocities or incorrect absolute velocities (see paragraph 1 about not having a direction). If you fire them just by matching ‘strafe’ velocity while having a decent closing velocity, the chance someone can dodge them manually is little to none, but i think missiles should always be dodgeable manually as a last resort. In the absolute velocity system it seems hard to accomplish this, though, just reducing tracking would make the missiles way worse than intended in all other situations than the optimal velocity.
Sometimes, missiles will detonate on the player but do no damage at high speeds, as if they detonate one frame behind at the high velocity and their damage falls behind due to the related network concerns.
Chaff is inconsistent when there is time to use it. So what about chaff when it does work? Missiles will move to track chaff if they detect them, and then detonate on the chaff cloud if they actually get near it. But in 90% of cases, if you launch the chaff too early the chaff will expire before the missile has time to track to it, and not detonate, and then just resume tracking. If you chaff later, the chaff will throw off the tracking a bit but almost never detonate on the chaff, maybe miss the player and sometimes come back for a second run. If the missile is launched under certain conditions this “early” vs “late” condition seems to intersect and there isn’t a timing you can launch chaff with that will defeat the missile, at best you confuse it and it expires or comes back for a second run. Sometimes though, the chaff seems to get ignored and it will just hit you anyways, even with a chaff+boost dodge. This seems to happen at high (500-1000+) absolute velocities and it’s inconsistent when it does happen so im not sure why.
Longer chaff times would help open that “early” vs “late” window and probably resolve the inconsistency there. Im not sure what the deal is with missile heading being it’s velocity but it does seem to cause some issues here, it’s probably a lot more work to change than just making chaff lifetimes longer.
TL;DR: make chaff lifetime crazy high. Somehow resolve the missile tracking inconsistencies due to absolute velocities.