Missiles are self-propelled ammunition launched from missile launchers. Unlike turret weapons, missiles have the ability to track and follow their target. Rather than optimal and falloff range, missile range is determined by velocity and flight time, while missile damage is determined by the velocity and signature radius of the target and the explosion radius, explosion velocity, and damage reduction factor of the missile.
Compared to the turret weapons, missiles have a bit lower rate of fire and higher damage per hit. They also do not care wether the target is close or far away. The primary strength of missiles is that, assuming that the target is within range, a missile will always "hit" its target, but the damage dealt will vary depending on the size and speed of the target. However, missile launchers fire more slowly than turrets of a similar size, and missile damage is delayed due to travel time, rather than being instantaneous.
A missile does not so much hit a ship as explode near it. When a missile crosses the signature radius of its target, it blows up. The speed at which this explosion grows and the maximum size of the explosion determine the amount of damage done to the target. EVE uses a mathematical equation to compute the precise amount of damage that the explosion does to the ship.
Note that launcher ammunition is often called "missiles" regardless of the ammunition's proper name, and thus this term can refer to any of rockets, missiles or torpedoes
Out of T1 ships the Caldari ships are the best known missile users though few Minmatar ships also use missiles. The Armageddon and Arbitrator also use often use missiles even without missile bonuses. Additionally the Khanid Kingdom made T2 Amarr ships, Guristas ships and Mordu's Legion ships use missiles as their weapons.
These skills apply to all missile launchers. They increase firing rate and damage, and they improve the accuracy of missiles against smaller, faster targets.
- Missile Launcher Operation 2% Bonus to missile launcher rate of fire per skill level. This gives a bonus to DPS — and it is a prerequisite for many other missile skills.
- Rapid Launch 3% bonus to missile launcher rate of fire per level. Essentially, a DPS increase.
- Warhead Upgrades 2% bonus to all missile damage per skill level. Another DPS increase, smaller than Rapid Launch, but still worth training.
- Missile Bombardment 10% more flight time for all missiles per level. If you are planning to use a long range or "kiting" strategy, train this higher.
- Missile Projection 10% bonus to all missiles' maximum velocity per level. Another range increase that is especially useful for "kiting".
- Guided Missile Precision 5% decrease per level in factor of signature radius for all missile explosions. Proficiency at this skill increases damage to small targets.
- Target Navigation Prediction 10% decrease per level in factor of target's velocity for all missiles. As with Guided Missile Precision, this makes missiles more effective against faster targets.
In addition to the general missile skills there is a specific primary missile skill for each class of missiles, and each will let you load and fire that one class. In addition, each level of the skill will improve your damage by 5% when using that particular missile class.
- Light Missiles
- Heavy Missiles
- Heavy Assault Missiles
- Cruise Missiles
- XL Cruise Missiles
- XL Torpedoes
- Auto-Targeting Missiles
- Defender Missiles
All the missile types also have a "Specialization" skill. This gives you access to T2 launchers and missiles, and it provides a 2% bonus per level to the rate of fire of modules that require the specialization (mostly the T2 modules). All of these require that you have trained the Primary Skill to Level V, so they are usually pursued after your other training is complete.
- Rocket Specialization
- Light Missile Specialization
- Heavy Missile Specialization
- Heavy Assault Missile Specialization
- Cruise Missile Specialization
- Torpedo Specialization
- XL Cruise Missile Specialization
- XL Torpedo Specialization
There are total of four size classes for missiles, each with a short range and a long range launcher. Addionally small, medium, large and XL launchers have 'rapid' launchers that shoot missile of one size class below norma.
Each launcher class can launch missiles of that class. E.g., Light Missile Launchers launch Light Missiles, as do Rapid Light Missile Launchers. Heavy Assault Missile Launchers launch Heavy Assault Missiles. Torpedo Launchers launch Torpedoes. And so on. Different types of launchers within the class vary the firing rate and other characteristics of the launchers.
Each variety of EVE damage is available for each missile type. Inferno, Mjolnir, Nova and Scourge apply thermal, EM, explosive and kinetic damage, in that order. A given missile will apply only one variety of damage, and each missile category does the same number of hit points of damage.
Missiles can be roughly split into three groups: Short range, long range and rapid.
Short range missile systems
Short range missiles have shorter cycle times, higher dps and better application than the long range missiles.
- Rockets (frigates, destroyers)
- Heavy Assault Missiles (cruisers, battlecruisers)
- Torpedoes (battleships, stealth bombers)
- XL Torpedoes (capitals)
- Javelin - Improved velocity (=better range) but slightly less damage.
- Rage - Increased damage but also greatly reduced application and slightly reduced velocity (=reduced range).
Long range missile systems
Long range missiles have longer cycle times, higher volley damage and worse application than the short range missiles.
- Light Missiles (frigates, destroyers)
- Heavy Missiles (cruisers, battlecruisers)
- Cruise Missiles (battleships)
- XL Cruise Missiles (capitals)
- Precision - Same damage as T1 but with better application.
- Fury - Better damage with reduced application.
Rapid missile systems
Rapid launchers are unique among weapon systems. These missile launchers fire missiles of one size class below of what the ships of this size would normally fire. For example a cruiser (medium) would use rapid light missile launchers to fire light missiles (small). This gives the rapid missile launchers unnaturally good application. The drawback is that they have relatively small clip size and very long reload time, of 35 seconds for rapid heavies and rapid lights, and 40 seconds for rapid torpedoes.
- Rapid Light Missile Launchers (cruisers, battlecruisers)
- Rapid Heavy Missile Launchers (battleships)
- Rapid Torpedo Launcher (capitals)
Other rarely used missile types:
- Defender missiles. When activated, Defender Launchers will scan local space for bombs within range. If a bomb is detected, the launcher will fire one Defender Missile to intercept and destroy it. If no bombs are found, the launcher will still cycle. The Defender Launcher has 120-second reactivation timer.
- When fired, an Auto-Targeting Missile will locate and target the nearest enemy ship or drone which has previously fired on you. Since they cannot be aimed, auto-targeting missiles are usually passed over in favor of regular missiles.
In addition to the actual missile launchers, there exist several modules and items for missile launchers. These will improve the effectiveness of all missile weapons.
|Ballistic Control System are passive low slot modules. They increase missile damage and launcher rate of fire.|
|Missile Guidance Enhancer passive low slot modules. They decrease missile explosion radius, increase missile explosion velocity, missile flight time and flight speed. This makes the missile apply better and further away.|
|Missile Guidance Computer are active mid slot modules. They decrease missile explosion radius, increase missile explosion velocity, missile flight time and flight speed. The module can also be scripted to only improve either application or range.|
|Missile rigs improve one aspect at a time. All the rigs will also increase CPU requirements on missile launchers.
|Crash medical booster reduces missile explosion radius.|
|Implants. Practically every missile stat has an implant that improves that aspect. See the table of hardwiring implants for full list of missile implants.|
Tactics and Strategy
As noted in the article on missile damage:
In general missiles are much simpler weapon system to use than turrets. But while a missile can apply up to 100% of the Base Damage to a ship in some situations, damage is often reduced by two factors:
- If the target ship is moving faster than the explosion velocity of the missile. Think of this as a fast ship being able to somewhat outrun the explosion.
- If the signature radius of the target ship is smaller than explosion radius of the missile. Think of this as a small ship flying through a large explosion and only being hit by a part of it.
In other words, missile weapons are best at doing damage to larger, slower targets at longer range. This is not to say that a pilot cannot kill small, fast targets with the right missiles, or that there are no short range missile boats. Rather, the most common applications of launcher fitted ships tend to be as longer ranged, heavy damage weapons.
In general, the most common ships seen relying on missiles in fleets fill one of two roles. Ships fitted with Rapid Missile Launchers work as anti-support, assigned to picking of smaller enemy ships like frigates and destroyers while the rest of the fleet is otherwise engaged, and whose larger weapons are unable to hit these small targets. Ships fitted with full-size launchers act as mainline damage ships, able to beat through individual damage weaknesses in the enemies' defenses with their sustained, reliable damage. However, because missiles are ineffective at targeting ships below their size, missile ships are generally not very efficient at destroying enemy logistics ships (which generally have naturally small signatures), which can at times hurt their effectiveness.
As a strategy "kiting" is a plan to engage the enemy from a distance, always fleeing just fast enough to stay outside of the enemy's range while remaining inside your own range. Since kiting ships need speed and longer ranged weapons, shield tanked missile boats are good for this approach.
As a tactic, kiting requires a "hit and run" mentality. You want to approach your target until you are close enough to shoot, fire a salvo of missiles, and watch. If the enemy flees, you want to pursue; if the enemy attacks, you want to flee ... at a speed approximately the same or a bit more than the enemy ... firing all the time. Because missiles will chase the target without any further guidance from your ship, you are not restricted to any particular flight path. You simply want to stay within missile range of the target.
PvE enemies tend to be rather fanatical, locking on when they see you and never giving up. This makes kiting a popular strategy when running Missions. It takes longer to kill the NPCs, and the resulting loot can be scattered over a wide area, but your ship will take relatively little damage, and since you are already running, if you decide to break off, it is usually easy to get away.
PvP is much more difficult in this regard. Inexperienced pilots may chase you to their deaths, but experienced pilots will just let you run. PvP kiting is more likely to show up in gangs of fast ships that hit and run from multiple directions at once ... a kind of "wolfpack" attack that leaves their target unable to either run or close on a target.