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Overview

Rocket launchers are heavy weapons commonly seen in shooters. Designed for attacking armored defenses, they are generally intended for use against heavy artillery such as tanks and helicopters. They are also effective at killing groups of foot soldiers with the splash damage caused by the explosive force of their ammunition. Rocket launchers come in a variety of forms, commonly differentiated by the type of ammunition. In the context of video games, their uses can be further subdivided based on aspects such as whether the player is able to reload the weapons and how many rounds they may contain.

Basic Types of Rocket Launchers

Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG)

Example of an RPG launcher.

Rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs, are a common type of projectile weapon seen in military shooters. To classify RPGs as rockets is a misnomer, as grenades are not rockets by definition; as their name indicates, they are actually grenades propelled toward their intended targets via rocket propulsion.

While powerful, RPGs are not known for accuracy. The greater the distance from the target, the less likely the grenade will strike a direct hit. RPGs also leave noticeable smoke trails that can lead observers to the launcher's position.

Bazooka

Bazookas are a common type of rocket launcher that, unlike an RPG launcher, fires actual rockets. In general, bazooka rockets are more accurate and devastating than an RPG round. However, the bulky size of the bazooka makes it more difficult to transport and more cumbersome to wield.

Common Rocket Launcher Variants in Games

Disposable Rocket Launcher

In striving for realism, some games feature rocket launchers intended for a single use such as the AT4 or M72 LAW. Upon firing the ammunition, the weapon is discarded.

Single Shot reusable launcher

This model is the most found in games today, from bazookas, RPGs and Recoilless Rifles, these launchers needs to be reloaded every-time a rocket is fired, some games with realistic and semi realistic models often have this kind model, but some games features reusable AT4s but the AT4 is a disposable launcher.

Multi-shot Rocket Launchers

Some games feature rocket launchers that can fire multiple rockets before reloading is necessary, they can be single tubes or multi tubes, Rockets can come in drums, clips, or magazines. The M202 Flash and similar models are examples of multi-shot rocket launchers used in games. these weapons are often reusable.

Missile Launchers and Variants

Missile launchers are distinguishable from basic rocket launcher types by the use of guided missiles as ammunition. Once locked on, the missiles are not required to be fired in a straight path in order to strike their intended targets

Special Rocket Launchers

Infinite Rocket Launcher

The Resident Evil series commonly includes bonus weapons that can only be accessed upon beating the games under specific conditions. One such weapon is a rocket launcher with infinite ammunition. The weapon first appeared in the series in the original Resident Evil.

Backblast

In most shooters rocket launchers doesn't have any backblast, and even at best there is but not with full effect (so only a graphical effect but no damage), so in striving for realism some games added this feature to their launchers.

So using rocket launchers in these games requires more precaution than simply not being too close to the rocket's splash damage area.

Ammunition

In games often rocket launchers have explosive warheads, however when games have multiple ammo types or multi functional ammo they can have different payloads and fuse systems, while rocket launcher are often lethal weapons and mostly anti tank weapons, it often happens that the rocket launcher is used against the infantry, some rocket systems are realistic while others are unrealistic and only exists in those wacky games with wacky weapons

Fuse system

  • Impact (the most common fuse)
  • Timed
  • Airburst
  • Pass trough window (mostly used in anti structure rocket launchers
  • Dual fuse mode (very useful against reactive armor)
  • Proximity (this also include those top fired explosives like some ATGMs)
  • Remote controlled

Guidance systems

See missile launcher

Fly path

Most rocket launchers simply fire their rockets straight forward and continues to fly until they hit something or disappear from the map, but there is various kind of flypath listed below

  • Forward unidirectional
  1. Tight group (in case of multiple rockets launched at the same time)
  2. In Spread, launched in squadron formation or in classic spread like shotgun pellets
  • Spiral
  • Drunken (fly in whatsoever direction after launch while it's inaccurate most of the times it can confuse the enemy / other players in MP games)
  • Ricocheting (these rockets can explode multiple times or only when they hit a damageable target)
  • Middle change (a rocket that after a couple of meters releases for example a torpedo)
  • Subterranean (after launch the missile will go underground and raise up to hit its target)
  • indirect (this is only for missiles so once targeted the missile will fly upwards and when it reaches a certain distance it will go down to kill its intended target)

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