Just a few things I feel should be looked at.
The recent change to allow idle weapons to attack targets that do not have orders (e.g. “attack fighters” deleted) was primarily a good thing. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the last straw for torpedo fighters. This new behavior combined with their long reload time and awkward min/max range circle causes them to dump a significant number of torpedoes at meaningless targets such as fighters and anything else nearby. Megatons suffer from this to some degree as well.
They do too low of a damage over time with such a poor survivability to effectively operate with this level of inconsistency.
Even when up against a single target, they have difficulty with:
Shielded or moving Frigates
Scramblers or other point defense
Pretty much their only reliable purpose was to assassinate the odd isolated 15+ armor frigate that was set up to catch rocket fighters. The price torpedoes pay for the penetration they have is far too great to be worthwhile right now.
Of all things, I think this weapon system needs an overhaul - perhaps torpedoes could serve a different function.
Disruptors do a different type of damage - shield stability. Since there’s currentlly no such thing as a “half disrupted” shield, disruptor bombs are an all-or-nothing affair. They do not assist with or are not assisted by other weaponry, and until they fully bring a shield down, they have no consequence on the deployment whatsoever. This requires a significant minimum investment.
They are also subject to interference from the ubiquitous scrambler, driving the threshold higher.
This binary (and unreliable) nature of this weapon combined with its pricetag makes it a very unattractive alternative to the very versatile ion cannon. This is especially relevant as of late as it seems the new Order race is designed around disruptor use.
There’s something wrong with non-scrambler point defense solutions. They do not fire as consistently or as frequently as the scrambler does (despite the advertised fire rates), and when they do, it’s too often a miss against the weapons players generally employ. They seem to work much better against slow missiles like the megaton, so perhaps they are tracking limited?
This may seem like a non-issue due to the scrambler’s availability as a substitute, but frigates do not have this option, leading to the need to park frigates in dangerous and explodable clusters around a cruiser with no ability to roam with their superior speed.
The fact that many missiles fire in quick volume or with decoys is bad enough - the additional PD misses due to tracking don’t seem fair.
The use of this system is declining. Plasma is theoretically balanced as an “uncounterable” weapon with its low tracking DPS and stringent range requirements. Any closer than the optimal range of 800 and DPS drops further. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this balancing methodology, it just means that this weapon system is not one you want to mount on forward-moving units.
The problem in practice, however, is twofold:
Keeping a unit at the optimal standoff range of 800m stretches the AI to the limit. It can be done to a limited degree with very creative interpretations of the order set, but all it takes is something unexpected, like a target with “cautious” orders, to break this. On the face of things, if a unit is both faster and of significantly longer range than another, it should have a severe tactical advantage until the edge of the map comes into play. If anything needs a ‘minimum range’ order and AI to survive, it’s plasma weaponry.
The low DPS of plasma put it at a disadvantage against significant recharge shielding and repair systems in the past. But, forget about fast cruisers and stacked shields… The advent of the Tribe completely killed the plasma fleet. Those fat green unstoppable zombies eat plasma like it was going out of style.