Faction-specific rocket launchers in PlanetSide 2 were released last Friday. As is often the case, what is complained about most on paper is the opposite of what occurred.
The launchers are the Striker, the Phoenix, and the Lancer. The Striker is sort of like a heat-seeking rocket-launching minigun. Well… sorta. Essentially, you lock onto a ground or air target, and then launch up to your full clip of five heat-seeking rockets. There was already a rocket-launcher that did exactly this minus the five rockets (the Annihilator), but this one does happen to deal more damage overall. The downside, as it is with the Annihilator, is that there is no dumb-fire mode, i.e. you can’t just shoot the rockets without locking on. Technically one flare from a jet or IR smoke from a tank will ruin all 5 of the shots, but considering most (good) pilots wait until they hear the rocket tone before dropping a flare, it might technically save you some ammo if you wait a second before releasing rockets 2-5.
The Phoenix is a camera-guided rocket launcher that was proclaimed the weakest on paper and yet is, unsurprisingly, is the most powerful. While the turning radius on the rocket is not especially good for the first 50m+ (to prevent steering rockets indoors), you can absolutely fire from behind a rock, fly through some trees, and then hit the back of a tank that was itself hiding behind another rock. Or, as this video amply demonstrates, simply steer it into any infantry, killing them instantly. Or fire it just to scout out the terrain. It even technically has a dumb-fire mode insofar as you can just fire it at close-range without needing to lock onto anything, or simply exit the missile “vehicle” and let it sail into a lined-up shot.
The last, most fearsome-on-paper launcher was the Lancer. In essence, the Lancer is a plasma railgun. Line up a target, hold down the fire button until it charges up to three levels, and fire… for slightly less damage than the default rocket launcher. And then leave a very pretty, very obvious 4-second contrail leading exactly to your precise location. The Lancer is so powerful, in fact, that it is… receiving buffs!
On the SOE forums and Reddit, the thought was that a group of 6+ Heavy Assault classes equipped with Lancers would be able to one-shot any vehicle within a 500m range “without warning.” What never really made any sense about this argument was A) how it was unfair to die in a 1v6 scenario, B) how much warning a vehicle driver really has against a salvo of 6 normal rockets, C) how this is any different than 6 Engineers dropping 12 anti-tank mines all over the place, and D) what are the other 5 tanks doing? All of these questions were in addition to awfulness of the Lancer as released. Far from hit-scan accuracy, the Lancer was released with a random cone of fire with three projectiles, with any missing the target resulting in less damage (e.g. it wasn’t a graphical glitch).
It bears mentioning, in passing, that the Lancer does significantly reduced damage to player targets. There is also a dumb-fire mode of sorts, in firing off only a level-1 charge. If fired from the hip, this shot is about as inaccurate as a hip-fired sniper-rifle.
While it will be interesting to see if the Lancer is buffed into usefulness, at the moment (and likely even post-buff) the Lancer is not terribly useful for the solo player. Outside of alpha-strike coordination – something extremely difficult to pull off give that a max-charge shot is fired automatically/cannot be held – the average tank gets an extremely obvious warning in the form of ~20% damage and a convenient highlighted path by which to judge whether a nearby rock would provide sufficient cover. And this is besides the fact that the most common vehicle strategy, behind a rock peekaboo, defeats the “OP” Lancer just as hard (if not harder) than anything else.
Anything other than a camera-directed Phoenix, of course.
Sometimes the grass is actually greener on the other side. But I am far too deep in VS microtransactions to make a switch now. Sigh. The worst MAX, the worst launcher, the worst main tank, and the worst balancing mechanic (sacrificing bullet damage for bullet drop is irrelevant when combat occurs before bullets actually drop). The only actual advantage to VS are the Scythes, which would be a painful loss since NC has the worst possible jet.
I really do despise games with “unique” factions – more often than not, you just get punished for commitment.