Regarding perceptions of being overpowered… the situation RE: defense against fighters and missiles is already imbalanced too far to the detriment of the defending ship. We’re trying to brainstorm creative solutions that introduce the least amount of additional imbalance into other areas. If a high-powered solution is needed to repair these two broken aspects of the game, then let’s not hesitate to fix what we’ve long known is inadequate.
I have no problem with a single module that is a dynamic do-all gun that can engage both types of targets and come out on top with a high kill ratio. If all that goodness is present in a single module, it should also cost appropriately for such ability; likewise for the favor of freeing up at least one additional module slot aboard your ship. The decision to use it or stick with existing countermeasures is up to the player; an additional layer of balance, if you will. A bunch of separate single-barrel 57mm machine guns, or a single CIWS with a six-barrel Vulcan autocannon inside? Yes, i would love to have that choice. The cost or the weight or whatever may be prohibitive for me, depending on the situation. But at least give me that choice.
I disagree about it being strong. The frigate-based anti-fighter missile launcher is cursed with an lethargic (1100!) rate of fire, rendering its superb (12.50) tracking mostly useless. Even in concert with frigate tractor beams, it is hardly a cure-all for rampaging enemy fighters. Does that mean it is useless? No. Less than effective? Oh yes. Every time I use it, I am left grinding my teeth in frustration when i see how slowly that launcher coughs out those precious missiles.
The frigate pulse laser and rapid fire laser, despite their descriptions, are also relatively ineffective against fighters owing to their small damage output trumping their fire rates or tracking. Many opposition fighters are unarmored, but even with relatively light durability plus their high speeds that’s a dismayingly effective defense against a frigate energy weapon that does only 10 and 5 damage, respectively. With such guns you’re going to need, on average, 3 to 6 hits to down a typical fighter. Your main hope is that the first few hits might slow it down enough that its reduced engine output lets your crummy tracking lock onto it for the coup de grace. You don’t have the luxury of patting yourself on the back for that sort of performance when the other 15 fighters in the typical enemy squadron are busy doing their damndest to turn your armor into Swiss cheese.
With a slow rate of fire against this particular kind of threat, added to the inadequate damage output, your defending ship is looking at some signifigant hurt. If the ship is a frigate, well, triple the hurt. I’d prefer a better firepower-based solution of dealing with this weakness.
On the contrary. If one doesn’t care about the willing suspension of disbelief, then just create a somewhat effective version of the so-called “combo gun” for cruiser use, while creating a superior frigate only-version. If you hate frigate spam, then don’t do the latter. The frigate spam vs. cruiser spam debate is parallel to this one, but still separate.
I do know that I loathe enemy fighters, and I likewise know that existing anti-fighter solutions (frigate-based or not) need signifigant improvement. Non-guidance scrambler solutions for seeking weapons (Swarm smart bomb excluded) also fall well below the mark. PD guns with fire rates in the 1200-700 time range are laughably useless when up against even a medium-sized enemy fleet. Frankly, that performance is beyond pathetic. As it stands now, existing PD modules are about as useful as putting a miniature golf course into that same module slot. If you can give frigates a specialized combination anti-fighter + anti-missile/torp/rocket gun that can actually do the job, that goes a long way towards making cruiser spam less useful. My gut feeling is that ship spammers are going to hype their preferred hull class no matter what i say here, so I’m not about to throw my entire argument in this thread into the crossfire of that other debate.
In short…there’s got to be a better way of taking down fighters and missiles. That’s why we’re debating this. Feel free to comment further, guys; lurkers, too!