Expansions can be a crazy, crazy thing. Each one brings a new set of mechanic changes, some of which can throw the whole game into a tizzy. There are two posts I’m going to be putting out in response to the lesser-discussed changes to Aegis, this one being the first. And it’s about missiles.
I have a soft spot in my heart for missiles. Good, old, reliable missiles. When you push F1, they hit their target every time at exactly the same rate for the same amount of damage. If it kills a target, it actually triggers a second early so you don’t lose time firing on the next one. You can choose damage types to tailor them to your target. They’re soothing, rhythmic… dependable. They offer absolutely no unpredictability and provide either 100% of damage (if you hit) or 0% damage (if the target is out of range). And you even had options! You have faction missiles to shoot really far. You have T2 missiles to maximize damage. And that’s pretty much all you need. They’re the easy-going weapon system, perfect for relaxing and turning off your brain.
Oh, no, no. I don’t use missiles for PvP. That’s silly, with their delayed damage and long travel times. Of course, I mean I use them for PvE, an activity exquisitely suited to mindless, repetitive activity. My Guristas null Tengu gets 736 kinetic dps with implants, shooting heavy missiles. My nice, reliable Tengu, which used to print isk for me use for PLEX.
So, naturally, I can see the utility in the Aegis changes that grant an extra 5% damage to all heavy missiles. Now, I’ll be shooting 773 dps, and will be able to two-shot battlecruisers with Scourge Furies. I may even be able to kill frigates and destroyers with a single shot of Fury instead of having to swap to Caldari Navy for the better explosion radius. That’ll reduce my clearing time by quite a bit, in fact. Crank those kills out. Gotta complete instrumental tasks faster so you can get to the intrinsically good ones, right?
Okay, now that that’s out of my system, let’s talk missile changes.
A 5% bonus to heavy missile damage is certainly appreciated for small gang warfare, bringing missile damage a little more in line with turrets. Yet, I’m not sure it does enough to really change the meta; missile ships just aren’t as terrible as they used to be. I don’t see small gang changing much because of that boost. The one exception might be certain fits of the Orthrus, which will be able to kill targets even faster while keeping them at bay. Expect the price of Orthrii to increase (if it hasn’t already).
Incidentally, the HML Gila should fare well in light of the drone changes, holding its total dps pretty constant (perhaps a slight dip). In fact, these changes might actually allow the Gila to be more dangerous, since more of its dps isn’t “killable” and doesn’t need to slow-boat to the target.
The inclusion of a range-affecting module for missiles, though, is well overdue. Before today, the only way to expand missile range was to fit rigs, which could affect other specs of your ship and which was particularly difficult for T2 ships to fit on their two-rig layout. But with Aegis, you can fit both low-slot and the stronger mid-slot modules to enhance your range and precision.
In effect, we now have missile tracking enhancers and computers, and about damned time, too. This is a much-needed boost to the variety of missile functionality. And the meta could change as a result.
Why? It will now be possible for heavy missiles to hit frigates for full damage. This could potentially revolutionize the way fleet combat occurs. In the past, frigates like my beloved Dramiel have been able to fly circles around dps ships that lack a web and scram, even missile ships, which can, in theory, apply their damage so long as the target is in range. But now, frigate pilots are going to have to be very careful when engaging an unknown missile ship, for they could be facing a dual MGC-fit monster firing heavies that hit like lights. I predict lots of Youtube videos of solo missile boats clearing whole fleets of frigates. Drake, I’m looking at you.
In large fleet combat, we may see heavy missile launchers used to clear tackle from fleets, making Drake blobs very, very dangerous again. In conjunction with the fleet warp changes, Slippery Pete Tengus may be that much more common, but this time fit with a few MCGs to burn any small ships in the area as well. Missile ships are going to have fitting options now, and pilots fighting them will need to be careful given their flexibility.
Perhaps too much flexibility.
From the moment these missile guidance modules were announced, I was looking for the other half of the equation – the desperately needed missile disruptor that works like a tracking disruptor. When you have fitting options to increase range and damage application (equating to tracking and range for turrets), you also need fitting options to reduce an enemy’s range and damage application. CCP has stated that they’re working on these, but they weren’t ready for Aegis.
I suspect we’ll see a rapid rise in missile-ship variety and functionality followed by a decline when missile disruptors are released. Comparing the two, my guess is that the missile disruptors will have a much larger negative effect on missile damage application than the positive effect missile guidance modules have. And, of course, with missile damage still well below that of turrets, no doubt the community is going to be calling for another buff to missile damage six months from now.
So, as far as the missile changes go, we’re in for a wild ride! If we could short-sell in Eve, I’d be going crazy with it.
In the meantime, I’m buying at least one MCG so my Rapier can further wreck frigates. Make hay while the sun shines!