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 a 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.
Many hostile NPCs also use missiles as secondary weapons, and wield a single slow-firing launcher. These missiles will usually have the same range and damage application attributes of an ordinary missile of that ship's size.
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 normal.
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.
This said though, many Caldari ships (such as the Drake) have bonuses to only a single type of missile damage: Kinetic. These ships are commonly referred to as "Kinetic locked". In general, damage type locked ships like this should usually only ever use missile ammo that match the damage type of their bonus, unless there is a very good reason to use a different type.
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 and higher DPS than long range missiles. Compared to their long range counterparts, Rockets and Heavy Assaults have lower damage but better application, while Torpedoes and XL Torpedoes have higher damage but worse application.
- Rockets (frigates, destroyers)
- Heavy Assault Missiles (a.k.a. HAMs) (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 and lower DPS than the short range missiles. Compared to their short range counterparts, Light and Heavy Missiles have higher damage but worse application, while Cruise and XL Cruise have lower damage but better application.
- Light Missiles (frigates, destroyers)
- Heavy Missiles (cruisers, battlecruisers)
- Cruise Missiles (battleships)
- XL Cruise Missiles (capitals)
- Precision - Same damage as T1 but with better application and greatly reduced flight time (range).
- Fury - Better damage with reduced application and flight time (range).
Rapid missile systems
Rapid launchers are unique among weapon systems. These missile launchers have very high fire rates, but 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 reduces the skill training required to use the weapons (as missile skill requirements are based on ammo type, not launcher size), and also gives ships fitted with rapid launchers unnaturally good damage application. The drawback is that they have relatively small clip sizes (19-30 shots) and very long reload times (35-40 seconds). This makes them very effective at quickly removing smaller enemies, but inefficient in larger fights if the target doesn't die before the reload hits, as between the high fire rate and small clip a rapid launcher can easily spend as much time reloading as it does firing.
The small clip and long reload of rapid launchers makes them very good weapons to Overheat, as they can be overheated for part of their clip for further increased fire rate and DPS, repaired (using Nanite Repair Paste) during their long reload time (during which time their rack heat also dissipates), and then overheated again in the next clip.
As Rapid Light Missile Launchers fire frigate-sized Light Missiles, they are considered 'small weapons' and gain the damage bonus of the Wolf Rayet system effect.
- Rapid Light Missile Launchers (RLML) (cruisers, battlecruisers)
- Rapid Heavy Missile Launchers (RHML) (battleships)
- Rapid Torpedo Launcher (dreadnoughts)
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. Auto-targeting missiles do not require the user be locked on to the targets they engage; however as they cannot be deliberately aimed, deal less damage, and have a hard maximum range beyond which they will not acquire targets, 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.
|There are two medical boosters that will improve missile performance.
|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.
Kiting is a form of of hit-and-run strategy, attacking enemies while staying beyond their effective range, and always having a way out. As kiting ships rely on their speed and range for defenses, many good kiting ships are shield-tanked missile ships. Mordu's Legion ships are particularly good at this combat style.
The primary goal in kiting is to stay alive. This means staying out of their range, either by keeping pace and range while pursuing, orbiting at around 20-30km (within missile and Warp Disruptor range but outside of other modules' range), or by running away from them just slightly faster than they can catch up. Because launching missiles at pursuing targets makes the pursuers get hit sooner, and because missiles will chase and hit their targets without any interaction from the launching ship, missile ships are extremely good at both flying evasively and straight running away. (Unlike turret ships, missile ships are not required to line up good shots with their targets to land hits; missiles merely need to be within range, and beyond that the missile ships can take on any flight path they wish.)
PvE enemies tend to be rather single-minded, locking on when they see you, approaching to orbit, and never giving up. This makes kiting a popular strategy when running Missions. When compared with fighting NPCs head-on, kiting increases the time required to kill targets (as longer-ranged weapons have lower damage), and the resulting loot will be scattered across a large area; however in exchange, your ship will sustain relatively little damage, and as you are already in effect running away it is very easy to warp out and escape the field if necessary.
PvP is much more difficult in this regard. Inexperienced pilots may chase you to their deaths, but experienced pilots will just let you run, knowing that both you and they likely have the choice to escape. The greatest danger in kiting is extremely fast ships such as Interceptors, which can outrun, catch, and tackle most other ships, giving their allies time to close in for the kill. Part of the popularity of cruisers with Rapid Light missiles is that these missiles are extremely effective at destroying interceptors.
The Delayed Damage Problem
One of the issues with missiles compared to turrets is that while turret shots impact and damage their targets in the same moment as they are fired, missiles do not have this luxury. In stead, when a missile is launched, there can be several seconds of delay between the launch and the target being damaged. This has several effects.
- In PvE, it can lead to wasting missiles overkilling targets (where the target dies with another volley of missiles in-flight), and at the same time leave the attacker exposed to enemy fire for longer.
- In PvP, when an enemy is targeted by missiles, they receive the warning about being Red Boxed at the moment the launchers fire, which gives them time to either overheat active hardeners, broadcast for their logistics to repair them, or, at longer ranges, potentially warp out before the missiles land.
- If an enemy ship is flying away from a missile ship, the missiles need to chase after it as it flies away. This means that missiles can have significantly reduced effective range when used on fleeing enemies. (However, in exchange they also gain significantly increased effective range when running away and shooting at a pursuer.) Furthermore, extremely fast ships like Interceptors can actually completely outrun missiles which are in flight, and never be hit at all despite staying within range.
- To prevent the obvious exploit of launching missiles and then warping out before the missiles connect, if a ship enters warp, all of the missiles it has in-flight vanish immediately. This means that, especially at long range, missile ships must stay on grid until all of their fired missiles have landed, to avoid losing damage. This problem is most obvious on Stealth Bombers making torpedo runs on targets.