A variety of issues I feel could be argued about. No mechanic suggestions, just numerical ones about the baseline game - keep it simple.
This sounds a bit negative, but the intent is focused on getting underused classes of weapons feasible.
- Cruiser close range
When it comes to knifefighting (and it usually does…) the cruiser laser reigns supreme. This isn’t a problem in itself, but that weapon is also the highest DPS shieldbreaking weapon in the game. The damage per tradeoff is so high over other weapons in it’s category that you don’t see much variety in this department - only paired tribe howitzers can compete.
Frigate close range seems healthier in terms of variety. The ion is still top dog, but it’s got a rather large deadzone and power requirement. Pulse lasers have limited anti-fighter ability and armor penetration, and Rapid fire lasers aren’t nearly as behind the ion as the quantum blaster is behind the cruiser laser. (the RFL outdamages the QB, hilariously enough)
Ideally, going all cruiser laser should be a sort of overkill. You don’t need 4 to drop a shield, so if you want that many, be prepared to give something up.
Perhaps a simple nerf to the Cruiser laser is in order, but this brings me to…
- The Cruiser Defense Laser (and the tribe autocannon)
This weapon’s draw is it’s excellent tracking, and is listed as an antifighter weapon. The pricing is near a cruiser pulse laser, but the damage/range/penetration understandably falls behind.
Unfortunately, this is not a terribly good antifighter weapon:
a) The tracking is good, but not good enough. Strangely, it is of a high enough tracking to hit any type of fighter that is actually a natural threat to a cruiser, but not enough to hit single-rocket fighters. This throws the driving AI into utter loops when there are large proliferations of rocket fighters on the map, making their presence potentially disastrous. The cruiser wants to fight them, but can’t hit them. Fighter weapon systems (except rocket/painter, which is race specific) suffer from the same problem, so this might be more of an issue with rocket fighters.
b) There seems to be a delay between the time a target flies out of range and the time when a new target is selected. The small range of the CDL and the nature of fighters can mean there are significant percentages of time where the CDL is simply not firing. This may be more of a game engine issue, but it is something to consider. I still don’t think the range should be increased significantly.
c) Price. This thing is really, really expensive for it’s output. If you welded a single laser fighter to the side of the cruiser, not only would it be cheaper, you would have a weapon that actually did more damage, which is a bit of insult to injury.
I propose treating this weapon more like a battery of small weapons than a single gun. For cruisers of this size, it’s not unreasonable to think that there might be dozens (if not magnitudes higher) of local point defense type weapons. Given it’s minimal penetration characteristics and the fact that we’re giving up a cruiser slot, this weapon could probably stand to receive a substantial fire rate increase. Arguably, it could even be made “competitive” (either through price or outright DPS) with other short range weapons like the CL. If you aren’t protected with shields or armor, a short range maneuverable weapon system that can accurately and frequently hit where it hurts should be a significant danger.
- The quantum blaster.
Gah. Unless you are getting buzzed regularly at close range by .6 speed cruisers with high-resist shields, I’m not sure what practical application this weapon has over another besides a CL gap-filler or some kind of hitpoint sink. The howitzer (which has the same or better costs) completely destroys it in damage - with almost double the output. That’s how bad this thing is.
- Heavy Plasma Launcher
This weapon has the same DPS (after damage per reload time has been factored) as the regular cruiser plasma launcher. Unfortunately, it has an abysmal tracking rate and poorer range requirements… there just isn’t any reason to use it. It is inaccurate and penalized more for individual misses than it’s cousin.
I’m a fan of plasma’s tendency to punish criminally slow fleets. Since this weapon system is targeted at the slowest of the slow, this weapon could be an equalizer in fights between nimble fleets and opponents that may have… “forgotten” to install engines. It could use some help in the output department.
- Fighter Torpedoes
These weapons have the worst sustained damage in the game. Their usefulness comes from two factors: favorable penetration statistics and frontloaded damage.
If the initial volley fails to make a significant impact - such as on a cruiser with point defense or multiple shields, or just unlucky misses on a shielded frigate - these fighters usually flounder about afterward until they die. You can brute force through a cruiser or two sometimes, but torpedoes normally can only be counted on for breaking the armor of unshielded AA frigates.
Once armor is gone or not present to begin with, fighter lasers/pulse lasers outperform torpedoes to the extent that they are completely outclassed. The ‘defense turret’ on a fighter often does more than the torpedo does.
I’m not entirely sure what role torpedo fighters are intended to have. There’s a variety of things that could be done with them - anything from dropping torpedoes from inside shields to disruptor/emp combo bombs could help their present standing.
- Targeting modules
A number of posters are reporting that these things not only do not help, but are possibly reducing cruiser accuracy. Has anyone found something conclusive here?