This Squall... Isn't.
By: George Argyropoulos
When the stats of the Squall Launcher originally came out in the preview server, I will admit, I was intrigued. I love launchers. It looked like a possible niche launcher that could complement a fleet and give me a tiny resistance boost to boot.
Then the stats changed upon hard release, and giving it a mere cursory look, i decided quickly it was nothing special. Since there seems to be an ass-ton of people advocating its use, particularly beyond the Zelos (and as an actual damage dealing weapon) I decided to take a closer look.
Upon further review, at least on paper, I think it's the launcher I readily want to hate. A lot. With a baseball bat.
Let me explain. Let's start by looking at the unwitting parents of this poor bastard...
The Antipode Launcher
This, by far, is THE launcher you want if you are looking for maximum launcher Area Of Affect (AOE) damage, i.e. Shockwaves. BOOM baby. (Edit: I had misread the stacks.
Thanks to Xwolf for catching that! The info has been corrected.)
The shockwave itself takes a mere 60 stacks in order to initiate. This will cause a raw 24,024 damage. It also has a -50% building damage debuff on the flechettes themselves, making it ideal for stacking against buildings because it allows the launcher to stack rather than kill off the building before getting the sweet, sweet BOOM. Since most PvE buildings are clustered, the shockwave allows you to damage or destroy multiple targets in one step.
Also up for consideration is the radioactive debuff that the Antipode inflicts at 30 stacks. This means that, on a hull that you can shockwave on, half their resistances are lost. This was huge back in the day, and can play a significant role now, but is not as overpowering as it once was because of today's damage specific deflection. Of note- this 30 stack debuff also causes a small shockwave, but historically it hasn't been enough to destroy PvE building targets.
Like many weapons, the Antipode has complementary specials that maximize its strengths, or shore up its weaknesses, pairing up exceptionally well with it.
This is easily the launcher to choose (if choosing between launchers) when one is building a fleet to do damage to building targets because of the great AOE damage. It has some additional utility against ships, but not like it used to. This launcher is clearly ideal for AOE building damage.
The Cyclone Launcher
As much as the Antipode Launcher is THE launcher for AOE, the Cyclone Launcher is THE launcher for maximum individual flechette damage against ships.
This weapon has such an anemic shockwave that I never even bother to consider it when contemplating using this launcher. How many stacks does it take to initiate a shockwave? Who really cares.
The Cyclone does 2,700 damage per flechette to ships, however, it does a paltry 270 damage per flechette to buildings. Ideal if you want to prep out a ship or guard, it struggles to even put a dent in a building.
To offset this awesomeness, the accuracy is rather poor. Ok, really poor. This necessitates the use of a special in order to maximize the potential of the weapon. Like the Antipode, there are specials that pair exceptionally well with this launcher.
This launcher is easily the launcher you want to use when you are trying to do radioactive damage against ships. With these damage numbers, and given the copious number of ships released which are 'unreactive', it pushes past the Antipode for this duty.
The Squall Launcher
So... The Squall... You poor bastard. You are THE launcher for... mini-buffs?
You have the same reload as the Cyclone, but are a salvo weapon, instantly putting you at a DPS disadvantage there... if only you had the same damage output. But you don't, do you? You spit out a measly 1,700 damage per flechette. Clearly, this is not a launcher fit to do battle on the high seas against other hulls when compared to the Cyclone.
And that 1,700 damage means that you have a very good chance at killing a building outright, not even being able to get your stack up to the 120 needed to be able to use that second-class 16,000 damage shockwave. I guess you could be ok if someone wants to kill off one thing at a time... but cannons do that better due to their projectile speed. Oops.
And the mini-buffs are cool I guess. Maybe. The D30-R Impact Cannon (one of my personal favorites) really is still king for that as it's weight makes it fantastic as a filler. Get your fat ass on a diet and I might look at you for this. You have two extra stats you say? Is it really worth it to carry that weight around? Is it?
Another aspect of this launcher is the special use. Both the Antipode and Cyclone have their own 'tree' of specials to boost their particular aspect of damage. Trying to use the Squall would necessitate the use of both 'trees' meaning you would be forced to give something up.
To mix specials to buff a myriad of attributes concurrently never ends well. It is why you can't truly successfully build a mixed damage type ship. You want to maximize whatever priority you are trying to achieve. Trying to mix weapon types and their complementary specials just gets you half measures which do nothing exceptionally well except suck.
Now, I will give you guys a hint- there is a place where this weapon will absolutely excel in. It is great for the Zelos. When building a spotter. That needs a resistance boost. Now why does that sound so familiar.... It seems I may have heard that somewhere before... Oh yea!
This is an actual quote, from the actual Forums, from an actual CM Doomrooster, from an actual Raid Briefing: "CM NOTE: The Squall Launcher is designed to be paired with the Zelos as a spotter/resistance boost. It is NOT a weapon for the Cannoneer." He really wasn't lying, trying to mislead or being nefarious in any way with this statement (though you need to fix the ZVen comment DR, it's got a typo.)
You see that 'NOT'. That is a pretty clear hint. With regard to the Squall, it is rather damn obvious- it is exceptionally niche. Designed that way. That is not to say that it may not become something ideal for another use later, I picked it up just for that possibility, but it really is eclipsed by other launchers for every other aspect of launcher use.