Laser Combat Reimagined

From Elite Wiki
Revision as of 03:02, 29 February 2024 by Phkb (talk | contribs) (Updating BB links)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Pulse Laser

There are now SIX categories of player laser.

  • Defence lasers are new: the cheapest laser.
  • Pulse lasers
  • Beam lasers have speed and are good for dogfights.
  • Military lasers are expensive all-rounders which heat up too quickly
  • Mining lasers are slow and powerful
  • Burst lasers are new: a weaker version of the military laser.


Lasers and typical roles (non-exclusive)
Lasers and range
Lasers and power (adjusted for speed)

OXP purpose:

To avoid the extremes of being consistently outgunned at game start and of having minimal challenge once acquiring a military laser.
To break up the Pulse -> Beam -> Military progression with its doubling power progression, thus making each step too large.

OXP method:

Defence Laser, lower power than pulse, granted to non hyperdrive fighters (you no longer start with the worst laser)
Burst Laser, between beam and military (although nearer to former), granted to slow freighters (you can run but they put up a better fight)
Mining Laser updated to be combat practical and slightly superior to pulse


  • New Player progression: Pulse -> Mining -> Beam -> Burst -> Military
  • New Non-player progression: Defence -> Pulse -> Mining -> Beam - > Burst

Player has the same range of progression as before but it's now less extreme (may need to increase pricing progression in future...)

Non-players now have an expanded range with (crucially) options between both pulse to beam and beam to military.

Thargoid laser might seem terrible but it always has facing (a huge advantage), and once it's in trouble it soon has friends too! (I've changed nothing with regards to this weapon)

Range vs Shot Power

  • Inceased range representing increased shot power.
  • Beam and defence are actually the same in this regard but I want to try encouraging the fighters to come in closer.

Military laser is the most powerful but not the most powerful per shot, that award goes to the mining laser albeit with much reduced rate of fire.

So pulse and mining lasers compensate their low damage potential with relatively long range, while the super-fast beam and military lasers don't have the best range but are more formidable.

As explained in the older sumarries: grant short range lasers to the smaller, faster ships and you encourage them to come up close; grant longer range lasers to the slower ships and you inhibit rear laser sniping being used against them.

The burst laser might look to be the best of the bunch but bear in mind that it is closer in damage potential to the beam than the military.

The extent of the scanner is 26.5km if I recall/remember correctly, so there's room for an über version of each laser that extends its reach by another 5km (mining laser at 30 km would only match current default range of military laser).


The Expansions Manager is currently making it impossible for Redspear to upload v.0.6 of this oxp - so until it relents, click here and then place the oxz in the AddOns/ManagedAddOns folder of your choice - see OXP for more details if needed.

Older summaries and analysis


Crude summary:

•A new laser type (burst) between beam and military
•Lasers no longer double in range and or power with each upgrade
•Power varies according to size of laser & therefore ship size

Therefore the doubling problem is removed (extra step over same distance) and NPC ships can exhibit greater weapon variety without necessarily overpowering the beginner or underwhelming the experienced.

As for laser 'mechanics', well the military laser was just an overpowered beam laser but yes, I've tried to include that.

Pulse: red coloured beam, medium fire rate, low power
Mining: blue coloured beam, low fire rate, very high power
Beam: yellow coloured beam, very high fire rate, low power
Burst: cyan coloured beam, very high fire rate, medium power, high heat
Military: magenta coloured beam, high fire rate (half that of beam), high power
Thargoid: green coloured beam, high fire rate, low power, omnidirectional

So the burst laser really does (or at least subject to further testing should) operate in bursts. Meanwhile the military laser, despite being no less dangerous, has an almost imperceptible stutter rather than a continuous beam. In that respect, I think I've actually made them more distinct than before whilst employing all the primary and secondary colours of the additive colour model.

I need to test more (still not at v1.0) but I really think it helps to makes combat more interesting from the start of the game, rather than just something to be always avoided.


Continuing my series of pompously titled oxps, I'm looking at lasers this time and I believe I can make them more fun.

Why Change?

The Beginner's Experience (the pulse laser):

  • A beginner in a Cobra III is likely to face worse ships in greater numbers and some of those are likely to have greater weapons. Although escape is often possible it is a laborious affair with nearly half the scanner being out of anyone's range.
  • The beam laser is far superior to the pulse laser and can make short work of the player early game. Being longer range than the pulse laser a novice pilot is often better not engaging in the first place. Not fun when running at the first flash of yellow.
  • Fast as it is, the Cobra III can't usually escape from Sidewinders or Asps (with the former being a fairly common assailant and a difficult target).

Summary: You need to run a lot which would be fine except that it takes so long to do so.

The Novice's Experience (the beam laser):

  • Once you have the beam laser targets with a pulse laser become much easier opponents. You still can't expect to regularly win combats when outnumbered (which you frequently are). Although you can meet police or a combat in progress, you are not followed by escorts nor do you have pirate accomplices and so the role of 'player' remains one of the most vulnerable
  • Whilst a rear mounted beam laser can be especially potent it's an unfortunate strategy to have to gain kills by running away (both counterintuitive and less exciting)
  • It's an easy weapon to overheat (as it should be given it's other properties) but pirates rarely seem to make this mistake. The player has to learn to make it work (good design) but rarely has safe opportunity to do so (less good)

Summary: You have a much better weapon now but you don't get much chance to exploit it. You still need to run a lot due to the prevalence of pirate packs and likely due also to threat assessment mechanics

The Veteran's Experience (the military laser):

Quoting cim (from an admittedly old post),

The military laser is far too good to give to NPCs, but once the player has even one (on the aft mount, preferably) it becomes virtually impossible to lose most fights regardless of enemy numbers because of its extreme range it's not necessarily particularly fun to fight like that.
  • Sniping is a popular tactic but at double the range of the beam laser it means that you can pick the toughest adversary and remove them from the fight fairly easily (and probably another of their allies) before they can close on you
  • Large packs are required in order to present any kind of a challenge but almost always the player is the only one with a military laser. This both contradicts 'non player centric' design and makes the weapon seem underpriced and too commonly available

Summary: If you're cautious enough then combat becomes much easier. The jump from beam to military is enormous: double range AND double power. Arguably this is exactly the advantage that the player needs most of the time but the range advantage on a rear mounted laser is overpowered. Rear lasers encourage not only sniping but 'shooting gallery' sniping where most targets can't get near you unless you let them.


  • The scanner is very large and determines both mass-lock (and therefore escape) and range, nearly half of it being exclusive to the military laser
  • Pirate packs are near ubiquitous as a solution to every player having some kind of a challenge - but for those without a military laser almost nowhere is safe
  • Rear shooting is a problem in that it rewards caution over skill and with a longer ranged weapon is potentially dull

Suggested Changes

  • That nearly half the scanner is only reachable by the military laser is extreme, especially given the time it can take ships to cross this distance. This 10km domain should not be exclusive IMHO and yet sniping is both popular and for some even fun (more so from the front than the back I would argue).
  • Canonically the military laser is twice the range and power of the beam laser - and it's nice to stick with canon if we can - so why not grant the extra range to the pulse laser?
Ingram Model 1919A4 Pulse Laser is recommended for all positional laser mountings, but is especially effective for rear-shooting.
The Space Traders Flight Training Manual

The problem, as highlighted by another_commander in the rescaling thread, would be that the beginning player would be rewarded for rear mounting a pulse laser and picking off targets all too easily. The solution could be a very simple one: only grant the beam laser to the faster ships. For example:

Laser Combat Reimagined 1.jpg
  • Now pulse lasers are actually quite useful, not overpowered and yet have a role to play in a pirate pack without challenging the superiority of either the military or beam lasers.
  • Note that the threshold value (RSS) of 0.35 exludes anything slower than a Mk III from using a beam laser (by default) and so that range exploit is unlikely. Bump it up to 0.36 and every ship with a beam laser can potentially gain on the starting player.

Remaining Problems

  • There is an issue with regards to auto_weapons (i.e. non-player weapon selection by role) and even to weapon choice amongst slower player vessels but I'll come to that later.
  • Rear sniping with the beam laser is not as attractive an option but this tactic remains exploitative for the military laser.


Laser Combat Reimagined 2.jpg
  • So a rear mounted weapon of any type is useful but not exploitative unless you're flying a faster vessel and they tend to favor the high powered, shorter ranged weapons. True the military laser completely outclasses the beam laser but there's no way under normal circumstances that the player is starting with one (or that the non-player ships generally should be allowed one).
  • The beginning pilot would be more likely to give combat a try (or at least be able to practice shooting) and the military laser could still get some sniping in versus incoming pulse fire (more exciting too). However, there is perhaps too much range advantage for the pulse laser versus the beam.

Is there a way to challenge the military laser's dominance without compounding the problem?

How about this:

Laser Combat Reimagined 3.jpg

We now have six laser colours encompassing all of the primary (red, green, blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta, yellow) colours of the RGB colour model; all distinctive and clear to those without colour blindness.

So much for cosmetics, what do these new heavy pulse lasers add to gameplay? Imagine shots from larger, less mobile vessels, intermittently fired from great distance; trying to dodge incoming fire in the hope of closing in to where you can make your superior rate of fire pay off. Sounds cool but what about exploits, balance and the like?

Just as the range bonus to the pulse laser grants it some kind of a chance versus a beam laser the heavy pulse presents at least a minor challenge to the military laser.

The anaconda and the python are far too slow to mount a beam laser (and military lasers are too dangerous for most non player ships) but shouldn't these mighty vessels have something more powerful than a pulse laser at their disposal? Get their rate of fire right and the sniping player with a military laser now has a reason to head towards the target rather than away from it. Perhaps they should only be available to the largest player ships or imagine them on capital ships... We'd now have room for oxp behemoths to snipe at the player!

The beam laser is really a dogfighting weapon now but it's quite potent at that range and the mining laser is perhaps a passable weapon when pressed into service, as it was intended to be:

Ingram Model 1919A4 Kruger Model ARM64 Sp. Mining laser is highly recommended as both a trade and combat addition.
The Space Traders Flight Training Manual

But what about player progression, upgrading your weapons?

Many ships aren't really suitable for a beam laser anymore and there weren't exactly a glut of weapons to chose from in the core game in the first place. Well, canonically there was more than one kind of pulse laser, so why not something like this?

Laser Combat Reimagined 4.jpg

You now have a reason for ships to favor different weapon types beyond pure economics. There's strategy too: beam laser on the front perhaps but are you sure you don't want a pulse on the rear? Want to upgrade your laser? There are now 3 varieties of each and you're more likely to choose a different type than before.

Note the potential use of an auto_weapons type system as well as simple possibilities around mining.

How would a standard non-player distribution of weapons look?

Perhaps something like this:

Laser Combat Reimagined 5.jpg

Traditionally the beam laser made the pulse laser obsolete and then the military laser did the same to the beam (by an even bigger margin). That suited the original Elite much better than it does Oolite IMHO and I think this might be a way to keep the flavour of the original weapons without some of the inherent problems.

Compatibility with New lasers OXP

Re.: my New lasers, the two oxps currently don't mix very well although I have a plan to address this without requiring significant changes to the UBER new lasers that some people seem to be fond of. Fully compatible? No, at least not in any way that makes much sense. I've only recently removed the exclusive requirement to this oxp in anticipation of updating New lasers.

(New Lasers introduces 3 new categories of laser in addition to the burst laser: bolt, variscan & defence lasers. There are also 3 varieties of each of the 8 laser types. One variety of each is an über-laser, buyable only in one system in the galaxy!).