Torpedoes: Observations and suggestions

After starting a clean slate CMDR to see what progression is like in the era of The Return with a veteran's perspective and experience, I quickly worked my way up to a Viper III for bounty hunting and started experimenting, and I keep coming back to this supreme sense of disappointment I feel with torpedoes. As a quick rundown, here's how they are now:

Damage: 120
Shot speed: 250 m/s
Armor Piercing: 10,000
Ammo: Class 1 launcher -1 shot. Class 2 launcher - 2 shots

Now let's compare and contrast seeker missiles:

Damage: 40
Shot speed: 625 m/s
Armor Piercing: 60
Ammo: Class 1 launcher - 12 shots. Class 2 launcher - 24 shots

So let's cover some things here...

There are only six ships in-game whose armor overmatches the missile's armor piercing rating and reduces their damage.
Three missiles equal the damage of one torpedo.
You can carry a lot more missiles.
Missiles are faster, have a better chance of hitting in a clutch moment due to said speed, and while anti-missile systems are more effective versus them than torpedoes, you don't often find ships bristling with AMS pods.

That's a lot of data, what do I want?

Having watched some other games like Cold Waters, and remembering my history... I want torps to be SCARY. I want to have a moment of cold fear when I hear the computer announce "Torpedo detected". I'd like a torpedo to do more than just knock 50% off the hull of an unshielded, harmless-rated adder. I'd expect that from a missile. A torpedo ought to be able to blow that adder to the moon!

I'd like lightweight and heavyweight torps. Let a class 1 launcher be like those torps the Swordfish carried: Capable of crippling a big ship with one good hit, and in a wing, able to make a Superheavy's skipper break out in a cold sweat. Let the class 2 launchers be something like the US Mk48 heavyweight torpedo, or the Royal Navy's Spearfish. Only one weapon per pylon like their smaller brethren, but something that makes a commander think that the Terminator is stalking them: It can be outrun, briefly, but it's relentless. It doesn't stop. And the moment that thing hits, it /will/ blow them to the moon.

Change the engineering mods to something like Lightweight, High Speed, Improved Warhead, and Sturdy. Keep the special effects as-is. Even mass-lock munitions would be effective if a CMDR sees a torpedo wing incoming, lights his supercruise drive, and then boom... nope.

Countermeasures: Running away really fast.
ECM standing in for the noisemakers used to confuse acoustic torpedoes.
Heat sink launchers to stand in for decoys. I'd suggest that torpedoes home in on the ejected heat sink, until it's cooled down enough that the weapon re-acquires on the initial target, (assuming it's still in sensor range) This would give a multicrew member more of a role as electronics warfare officer. It would take skill to time it right: too soon and the heat sink won't distract the torpedo enough before it cools. Too late and you run the risk of the torp hitting before the sink ejects. It would take timing, sensor reading skills, and in a Vulture or other small multicrew ship might be the difference between feeling like a productive part of a team and being an extra power cell.

In my opinion, the above changes would be incentive for managing thermal emissions more carefully, and possibly introduce more reasons to look into different defensive modules and improved sensors. Both for the firing ship and for the defending ship.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Reasons it's a terrible idea?
 
I want torps to be SCARY. I want to have a moment of cold fear when I hear the computer announce "Torpedo detected".
They are scary. They are a very potent and popular ganking tool in Open. And you can mount them even on a Sidewinder.

You might consider this is also a multiplayer game.
 
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Good idea, but I'm afraid that increasing the damage torpedoes cause would turn them into single-use, insta-kill, fire-and-forget weapons (even more than they currently are). This wouldn't really be fun to use (it would be very unrewarding gameplay) or to have used against you (seriously, good luck, hope you have enough for rebuy).

A few ways this could be avoided:
  1. Expanding on OP's suggestion, turn torpedoes into a semi-autonomous weapon that requires you to maintain lock on your target to help guide the torpedoes. If your target can break the lock, they can escape, as long as the lock is not reacquired. When the torpedo gets close enough, it begins automatic targeting and can be fooled be ECMs, causing it to go into a search pattern after a few seconds. This would promote the use of heat sinks/silent running and ECMs to improve chances of escaping torpedoes, and would give ships that cannot outrun torpedoes a chance to escape.
  2. Keep torpedoes the same as they currently are, give them a small damage increase (if at all), and increase the magazine capacity. Limit each hard point to a single active torpedo at a time.
  3. Give torpedoes a damage increase, but make them easier to destroy with point defences and increase the magazine capacity. Limit each hard point to a single active torpedo at a time.
  4. Some combination of the above, as long as it isn't broken.

I really want torpedoes to be useful for something other than ganking, it would make combat much more interesting. :)
 
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They are scary. They are a very potent and popular ganking tool in Open. And you can mount them even on a Sidewinder.

You might consider this is also a multiplayer game.
The chief problem I have with torpedoes is the guidance - the very definition of a classic torpedo is it is a large, dumbfire aquatic missile. Later advancements allowed basic changes in direction but, technically, they were still dumbfire rather than tracking.

Now this is the future - so tracking makes sense for even a torpedo. But a heavy warhead comes with costs as much as benefits.

1) Reloading, while possible, should be slower. It's a honking big bomb strapped to a rocket - you don't want to be moving that bad boy too fast or you'll be the scrap heap, not your target.

2) Range is always an issue - mass = more fuel = bigger engine (and more speed) or small engine (low speed but longer range with fuel efficiency).

3) They don't turn very well. It's a bomb on a single rocket - not a fighter jet - turning is minimal at best.

4) They're not designed to smoke small targets. They're not designed to smoke anything. They're designed to deal heavy, penetrating damage to opponents that have substantial armor such that Torpedoes aren't so much the quickest way to kill as the obviously most effective to break armor or shields.

5) Going off #4, Torpedoes are usually a special ordinance: they are designed to be high-impact for thick armor or are outfitted with EMP technology to disrupt or outright fry the opponent's electronics...again, they are for heavy targets that require more than firepower to effectively neutralize.


With all that said (and the point about multiplayer being taken into consideration)...

A small ship equipped with Torpedoes is effectively a bomber - which makes it a supporting ship. Bombers (plural) pose a serious threat to heavily armored or complex targets. A bomber (singular) can, but rarely does, pose a threat.

A medium ship equipped with Torpedoes is a destroyer - it's offensively oriented and its tactics are designed to overwhelm targets of any size with sheer firepower and speed, at the expense of survivability or tactically flexible options.

A large ship equipped with Torpedoes is a battleship - it's also offensively oriented but it is tactically more diverse due to the platform affording such options. This flexibility, however, is often 'categorized' against the intended targets. Unlike the first two, which seek out any heavily armored target, battleships are generally designed to lock horns with similar large vessels or are kitted specifically to handle smaller threats. In the case of the latter, torpedoes are a rare choice but are often equipped so that, in the event of an unexpected large target, the battleship has at least supportive capabilities against that target until help arrives.


SO...in Elite Dangerous (which the above descriptions are meant to apply to), torpedoes are more a niche weapon than something you'd use normally. As the multiplayer side of ED grows and becomes more robust, the use of torpedoes will heighten. They are tactically specific weapons - so a solo commander has little reason to use them except in medium or large ships while hunting armored targets.

As for the OP suggestions on changes:

1) Torpedoes could have two variants, like missiles, that trade speed and power for range and accuracy. The former variant is more robust against slower armored targets while the latter would be handy against faster armored targets.

2) Torpedoes need more reloads or at least some ease to synthesize. The tradeoff for additional munitions is the slow reload time. We're talking 30 seconds - a lifetime in battle. They should be weapons you only fire with the utmost precision...or as a last ditch effort.

3) Torpedoes (and missiles) have the opportunity to be robust electronic warfare mediums. Engineering (or additional variants) could be used to create this niche. Th tradeoff for tactical options is, of course, raw damage output.
 
The chief problem I have with torpedoes is the guidance - the very definition of a classic torpedo is it is a large, dumbfire aquatic missile. Later advancements allowed basic changes in direction but, technically, they were still dumbfire rather than tracking.

Now this is the future - so tracking makes sense for even a torpedo. But a heavy warhead comes with costs as much as benefits.

1) Reloading, while possible, should be slower. It's a honking big bomb strapped to a rocket - you don't want to be moving that bad boy too fast or you'll be the scrap heap, not your target.

2) Range is always an issue - mass = more fuel = bigger engine (and more speed) or small engine (low speed but longer range with fuel efficiency).

3) They don't turn very well. It's a bomb on a single rocket - not a fighter jet - turning is minimal at best.

4) They're not designed to smoke small targets. They're not designed to smoke anything. They're designed to deal heavy, penetrating damage to opponents that have substantial armor such that Torpedoes aren't so much the quickest way to kill as the obviously most effective to break armor or shields.

5) Going off #4, Torpedoes are usually a special ordinance: they are designed to be high-impact for thick armor or are outfitted with EMP technology to disrupt or outright fry the opponent's electronics...again, they are for heavy targets that require more than firepower to effectively neutralize.


With all that said (and the point about multiplayer being taken into consideration)...

A small ship equipped with Torpedoes is effectively a bomber - which makes it a supporting ship. Bombers (plural) pose a serious threat to heavily armored or complex targets. A bomber (singular) can, but rarely does, pose a threat.

A medium ship equipped with Torpedoes is a destroyer - it's offensively oriented and its tactics are designed to overwhelm targets of any size with sheer firepower and speed, at the expense of survivability or tactically flexible options.

A large ship equipped with Torpedoes is a battleship - it's also offensively oriented but it is tactically more diverse due to the platform affording such options. This flexibility, however, is often 'categorized' against the intended targets. Unlike the first two, which seek out any heavily armored target, battleships are generally designed to lock horns with similar large vessels or are kitted specifically to handle smaller threats. In the case of the latter, torpedoes are a rare choice but are often equipped so that, in the event of an unexpected large target, the battleship has at least supportive capabilities against that target until help arrives.


SO...in Elite Dangerous (which the above descriptions are meant to apply to), torpedoes are more a niche weapon than something you'd use normally. As the multiplayer side of ED grows and becomes more robust, the use of torpedoes will heighten. They are tactically specific weapons - so a solo commander has little reason to use them except in medium or large ships while hunting armored targets.

As for the OP suggestions on changes:

1) Torpedoes could have two variants, like missiles, that trade speed and power for range and accuracy. The former variant is more robust against slower armored targets while the latter would be handy against faster armored targets.

2) Torpedoes need more reloads or at least some ease to synthesize. The tradeoff for additional munitions is the slow reload time. We're talking 30 seconds - a lifetime in battle. They should be weapons you only fire with the utmost precision...or as a last ditch effort.

3) Torpedoes (and missiles) have the opportunity to be robust electronic warfare mediums. Engineering (or additional variants) could be used to create this niche. Th tradeoff for tactical options is, of course, raw damage output.
A bunch of good points here. I'm not sure how torpedo maneuverability compares to missile maneuverability in-game, but I'm guessing missiles are significantly better at changing direction. I especially like your suggestion for electronic warfare engineer mods as it would add a whole new depth to combat, but it would probably require a good deal of balancing.
 
A bunch of good points here. I'm not sure how torpedo maneuverability compares to missile maneuverability in-game, but I'm guessing missiles are significantly better at changing direction. I especially like your suggestion for electronic warfare engineer mods as it would add a whole new depth to combat, but it would probably require a good deal of balancing.
I've only briefly used them out of curiosity. The lack of reloads quickly dissipated that curiosity.

They do turn slower but I cannot say by how much. Glad you like the points! I would like to see them have more tactical uses - even if they remain primarily squad-oriented weapons. If we could get higher TTKs in the game, they'd have more solo-use.
 
The chief problem I have with torpedoes is the guidance - the very definition of a classic torpedo is it is a large, dumbfire aquatic missile. Later advancements allowed basic changes in direction but, technically, they were still dumbfire rather than tracking.
Modern torps are actually pretty smart. The "classic" definition you mention of a dumb weapon hasn't applied to them since the early-to-mid 1940s, when passive homing capabilities were introduced on a few of the more advanced weapon designs. Most modern torpedoes are wire-guided and can run in active or passive modes. This means you can steer them from the ship, but if you lose the wire, the weapons are entirely capable of going into self-guiding mode. Indeed, with software upgrades they're smart enough to go into something called "countermeasure homing" mode, where they get close enough to a noisemaker, realize it's not the target, and then swing wide and circle back to re-acquire a target.

sandkid said:
Now this is the future - so tracking makes sense for even a torpedo. But a heavy warhead comes with costs as much as benefits.

1) Reloading, while possible, should be slower. It's a honking big bomb strapped to a rocket - you don't want to be moving that bad boy too fast or you'll be the scrap heap, not your target.

2) Range is always an issue - mass = more fuel = bigger engine (and more speed) or small engine (low speed but longer range with fuel efficiency).

3) They don't turn very well. It's a bomb on a single rocket - not a fighter jet - turning is minimal at best.
That's a bit of a misconception. It's a guided weapon with a much higher thrust/weight ratio than a target ship, and should be able to turn tighter than the ship trying to evade it. Especially with thrust-vectoring nozzles.

sandkid said:
4) They're not designed to smoke small targets. They're not designed to smoke anything. They're designed to deal heavy, penetrating damage to opponents that have substantial armor such that Torpedoes aren't so much the quickest way to kill as the obviously most effective to break armor or shields.

5) Going off #4, Torpedoes are usually a special ordinance: they are designed to be high-impact for thick armor or are outfitted with EMP technology to disrupt or outright fry the opponent's electronics...again, they are for heavy targets that require more than firepower to effectively neutralize.


With all that said (and the point about multiplayer being taken into consideration)...

A small ship equipped with Torpedoes is effectively a bomber - which makes it a supporting ship. Bombers (plural) pose a serious threat to heavily armored or complex targets. A bomber (singular) can, but rarely does, pose a threat.

A medium ship equipped with Torpedoes is a destroyer - it's offensively oriented and its tactics are designed to overwhelm targets of any size with sheer firepower and speed, at the expense of survivability or tactically flexible options.

A large ship equipped with Torpedoes is a battleship - it's also offensively oriented but it is tactically more diverse due to the platform affording such options. This flexibility, however, is often 'categorized' against the intended targets. Unlike the first two, which seek out any heavily armored target, battleships are generally designed to lock horns with similar large vessels or are kitted specifically to handle smaller threats. In the case of the latter, torpedoes are a rare choice but are often equipped so that, in the event of an unexpected large target, the battleship has at least supportive capabilities against that target until help arrives.


SO...in Elite Dangerous (which the above descriptions are meant to apply to), torpedoes are more a niche weapon than something you'd use normally. As the multiplayer side of ED grows and becomes more robust, the use of torpedoes will heighten. They are tactically specific weapons - so a solo commander has little reason to use them except in medium or large ships while hunting armored targets.

As for the OP suggestions on changes:

1) Torpedoes could have two variants, like missiles, that trade speed and power for range and accuracy. The former variant is more robust against slower armored targets while the latter would be handy against faster armored targets.

2) Torpedoes need more reloads or at least some ease to synthesize. The tradeoff for additional munitions is the slow reload time. We're talking 30 seconds - a lifetime in battle. They should be weapons you only fire with the utmost precision...or as a last ditch effort.

3) Torpedoes (and missiles) have the opportunity to be robust electronic warfare mediums. Engineering (or additional variants) could be used to create this niche. Th tradeoff for tactical options is, of course, raw damage output.
I like all three of these ideas. Then again, pie in the sky wishes here: I'd like to see #3 expanded even more to be a decoy. A weapon that duplicates your ship's signature. Maybe it won't fool a mk 1 eyeball, but if you could fire one off and confuse some sensors for a few seconds, it might be worth the hardpoint. But that's /way/ beyond what my initial idea was.
 
They are used by wolfpacks that are hunting for big pray in the open or during ambushes at stations. A salvo of 4-5 is most of the time a death sentence because it can take down the shield generator, even on the largest ships with heavy engineered modules. So 2 dirty cheap Eagles are enough to pop the shields of a Federal Corvette or a Cutter. They are as scary as they were in the real world. The only reason why they aren't used in PVE is because there are no powerful and valuable enough single targets that would make it profitable to use them and fit specially for them. But this might change with the coming wing missions.
 
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I love torpedoes. That feeling you get when they (finally) reach their target and go boom is second to none (barring, perhaps, landing a huge PA shot on an eagle, which I've only managed to achieve once). But yeah in PvE, which I do exclusively, they're extremely niche. The high damage but limited ammo really lends itself to assassination missions, but that's about it, and even then the huge chunk of profits they eat up on restock fees is hard to stomach.

I've always envisioned them as being better defensive than offensive weapons. Something you can fire-and-forget while continuing to press the attack but which the opponent forgets at their own peril. Sort of like a form of crowd control in MMORPGs, one that effectively takes an opponent out of the fight for a bit. They can either let them hit and deal with the consequences, disengage for a bit to evade/destroy them, or plan ahead and sacrifice utility slots to deal with.

Thus, I'd keep their damage and speed just as they are now but:

  1. Increase torpedo HP to make point defense less effective against them. You'd have to either keep the torpedo in the PD's firing arc for a sustained period of time (limiting maneuverability) or equip multiple PD's.
  2. Increase torpedo ammo capacity to that of missiles to make them useful in more situations but introduce significant reload times such that you could still only ever expect to launch one salvo per tube per engagement. Maybe 2 salvos for a particularly lengthy fight. Since we can 3D print something as complicated as a fighter in our fighter bays, it should be no trouble explaining away the extra capacity and the reload times as the 3D printing of replacement torpedoes given a fixed quantity of source materials.
  3. Introduce an "arming phase" starting immediately after the torpedo is launched and lasting for no less than 5 seconds during which the torpedo seeks out its target as usual but upon contact does either no damage or a small portion of its damage as kinetic. That way you can't just boost straight at your target and fire at the last second as I've found to be most effective. You have to allow the opponent to respond and to allow the torpedo's negative balancing effect of speed come into play. Besides, watching the thing creep along ever so slowly yet inexorably toward its target is half the fun, and we shouldn't be deprived of it.
 
2) Torpedoes need more reloads or at least some ease to synthesize. The tradeoff for additional munitions is the slow reload time. We're talking 30 seconds - a lifetime in battle. They should be weapons you only fire with the utmost precision...or as a last ditch effort.
I have a quibble for this.. More reloads should not be possible in smaller ships (remember, Torpedo Bombers were usually repurposed fighters and they usually carried no more than 1, sometimes 2) and larger ships would need to access the other suggestion on ordinance stores (and then run into the issues of being explosive if targeted). I will accept the part about synthesis at an increased rate of material supply if only because of the OPs statistics of damage being 3:1. If Missiles weren't nerfed I would also be in for the suggestion of increased synthesis costs as well.

I've yet to figure out how much of the internals for a ship are the modules, core components and the remaining space for synthesis, avionics and required technology for the ship; but based on the current layouts this space is limited and not limitless. So I'll always err on the side of greatly limited.
 
I have a quibble for this.. More reloads should not be possible in smaller ships (remember, Torpedo Bombers were usually repurposed fighters and they usually carried no more than 1, sometimes 2) and larger ships would need to access the other suggestion on ordinance stores (and then run into the issues of being explosive if targeted). I will accept the part about synthesis at an increased rate of material supply if only because of the OPs statistics of damage being 3:1. If Missiles weren't nerfed I would also be in for the suggestion of increased synthesis costs as well.

I've yet to figure out how much of the internals for a ship are the modules, core components and the remaining space for synthesis, avionics and required technology for the ship; but based on the current layouts this space is limited and not limitless. So I'll always err on the side of greatly limited.
Quibble accepted! The problem you perceive is already solved: module size.

Technically, small ships are already limited to 1 or 2 torps per tube. I'm personally ok with a larger cache, but by larger I mean 4 to 6 per tube. Currently, there aren't varying levels of weapon modules (A, B, C...etc) - just how they are targeted. So, assuming that doesn't change down the road:

Class 1: Single Fire Tube, Cache of 2 (including the one chambered)
Class 2: Single Fire Tube, Cache of 4 (including the one chambered)
Class 3: Dual-Fire Tube, Cache of 6 (including the two chambered)
Class 4: Triple-Fire Tube, Cache of 9 (including the three chambered)

The multi-tubes are still single-fire...so you can't fire simultaneously, but you could rapidly fire off a salvo with a few seconds in between each launch. Treat them like a magazine if you will. Your class 4 is a highly limited slot - as with other Class 4's, it's intended to be your wallop stick that you don't necessarily fire non-stop. It's a special slot few ships have to begin with.

A layout like this keeps small ships 'bomber oriented' - you're a single fire with a small cache of reloads (pending you live long enough to reload). As with any other weapon, too, the smaller the class the smaller the payload. So while an Eagle could theoretically mount three of these bad boys, they won't be enough to crack anything but a similar sized target...and one salvo may yet not be enough.

Keep in mind, also, that the easiest way to balance torpedoes could very well be in the fitting costs. If you want to really control how many of these you can fit on small ships (because no ship has less than three hardpoints to begin with), jack up the power cost to where the weapon naturally falls into the realm of niche choice or dedicated builds.
 
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