Coming in Odyssey: A Fix for Cruise Missiles

The tweaks for large missiles previously hinted at by CCP Rise is here. Correctly identifying the biggest problem with Cruise Missiles as their travel time, CCP Rise increased it significantly and buffed their damage as well. Grid requirements were increased to compensate, and explosion radius was increased slightly as well. Exact changes are as follows:

5% increased rate of fire for all Cruise Missile Launchers
200 added power grid need for all Cruise Missile launchers

4700m/sec base missile velocity for all Cruise Missiles (up from 3750m/sec)
14 second base flight time for all Cruise Missiles (down from 20 seconds)
25% increase in base damage for all Cruise Missiles
10% increase in explosion radius for all Cruise Missiles

Let's elaborate on the current problems.

A Raven with max skills, 3 Ballistic Control System IIs, and faction missiles deals 518 DPS with a theoretical range of 250km. Sounds great on paper; other battleships shooting that far see DPS in the 300-400 range. Unfortunately, a cruise missile traveling 200km also takes nearly 24 seconds to arrive, which is more than enough time to get reps and overheat hardeners to tank the damage, or simply warp out.

On top of that, the meta no longer values super long range engagements, largely thanks to the modern nature of probing. Engaging beyond 150km means you're liable to find your targets at 0km in short order, which is a bad place to be for lightly tanked snipers. As a result, modern fleet action typically occurs at much shorter ranges; often within the range of short range ammo. At those ranges, a Cruise Raven's DPS is lacking - worse off than even the low 540 DPS of a 425mm Railgun fit Rokh, with none of a Rokh's advantages to compensate. Compare that damage to a Maelstrom (600 DPS) or an Abaddon with Scorch (670 DPS), and it's even worse.

These changes do an excellent job of changing that. The Raven used as an example above will deal 682 DPS, with a maximum range of 222km. The alpha damage is now 4496 damage, well short of artillery but higher than pulse lasers or railguns. The downsides are the loss of the last 30km of range, an increase to explosion radius (up to 247.5m at max skills with normal missiles), and an extra 200 grid per launcher. No one's going to miss the last 30km of range, the explosion radius is still low enough for normal missiles to deal full damage to battleships and combat battlecruisers (and is more than compensated for against attack battlecruisers and smaller ships by the damage increase), and no cruise missile armed ship is going to have issues with fitting with or without the increase.

Overall, it's an excellent tradeoff. Cruise missile velocity is now about 10% higher than old Heavy Missile speeds, so longer range (100-150km) engagements are less painful and short range fights feature acceptably low flight times. Far more significant, though, is the damage increase. 680 DPS exceeds any other current fleet battleship aside from an Abaddon with Multifrequency, and even that is beat if the Raven swaps to Fury missiles for a whopping 830 DPS.

The obvious question, then, is "Will we see Raven (or Typhoon) based fleet doctrines post-Odyssey?" And the answer to that is "maybe." Regarding the missiles themselves, the ability to match or exceed other doctrines for DPS (and beat anything but artillery for alpha to boot) is a point in their favor. Whether the ships will be viable is another matter. The Raven has pretty good mobility, can get close to the EHP of a Rokh or Maelstrom with the 7th mid open for utility - or top either of them by using it for tank - and gets the fastest missiles in the game. It ought to be okay.

I'm not so sure about the Typhoon, though. It's being reclassified as an Attack battleship, so it's a lightweight on tanking, coming in at a mere 150k EHP with bonuses. Current armor battleship doctrines all feature closer to 225k EHP. On the other hand, it's fairly mobile for an armor ship, and it's possible that the explosion velocity bonus could be combined with precision missiles to give it a niche role at the very least.

Unfortunately for the rise of missile based doctrines, the "firewall" tactic is still possible. For those unaware, the tactic involves placing a few smartbombing ships at the perimeter of your fleet, positioned between your fleet and your attackers. If the smartbombs are staggered correctly, you get a near-constant field of AOE which, owing to the almost non-existent EHP of missiles (a mere 70 structure), eliminates the majority of incoming fire. Fortunately, that tactic is awfully easy to nerf if CCP decides to do so. Add resists or more hitpoints to missiles until it's more difficult to firewall, or just slap 99.9% resists onto all missiles if the intent is to remove it entirely.

There is no indication that changes to Torpedoes are planned, although that could be a simple matter of "we'll post the thread tomorrow." However, these are not definitive changes. Per CCP Rise, "Following Odyssey, we hope to do more work to improve the missile systems in EVE by potentially adding new modules and/or interactions."

Seven year veteran & economics guru of EVE Online as well as CSM 8 representative. On the side I play PS2, WOT and Hearthstone.