UT3 Weapon Rundown: Rocket Launcher

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If there’s any criticism to be made of this weapon, it’s that it’s simply too damn good. I was never a huge fan of the original Rocket Launcher, although the power of loading up to 6 rockets and letting them fly was undeniable. I also thought that UT2004’s Rocket Launcher never lived up to its potential. With UT3 they have finally gotten everything right. The thing has a feature that’s good in almost any scenario, making it a great all-around weapon.


Primary fire shoots out single rockets. The sound and visuals of the rockets are great, and the explosions are satisfying, particularly when there’s someone on the other end being ground into chunks. Each rocket does 100 damage, so that’s easy enough. Splash damage with rockets, as with most weapons, has been reduced a bit, but it’s still good enough to kill with frequently. I’m not certain about it, but the rockets’ speed feels somewhere above the speed of rockets in UT, but below their speed in UT2004. The refire rate is also fairly quick for this sort of weapon.


Secondary fire loads up to three rockets that can be fired simultaneously. There is about a quarter of a second delay when tapping secondary fire, as the Rocket Launcher enters a loading animation, so don’t expect to tap secondary fire and immediately fire off a rocket. The secondary fire is where the real versatility of the weapon comes into play, as it can fire rockets in either a straight, horizontal line, or in a tight spiral configuration, or shoot them out as grenades with timed detonation fuses. Switching between these three “modes” is accomplished by holding down the secondary fire button and tapping the primary fire. One tap will take you to spiral mode, while a second tap will take you to grenade mode. A third tap returns you to the default line fire mode. Release the secondary trigger to unleash the rockets when you’ve selected the firing configuration you want.


The line is best for carpet-bombing an area, while the spiral configuration is best if you know you’ll hit your opponent and are more concerned about dealing lots of damage in one go. Players are highly agile, so against them it is most likely you’ll use the line firing configuration. Even if none of the three rockets scores a direct hit, the splash damage from the nearby rockets is often enough to kill an unarmored opponent. If you are fighting against a big vehicle like the Goliath or a stationary target like a node, spiral configuration will give you a good solid punch with 3 rockets hitting simultaneously, rather than risking that the two side rockets will deviate away from the intended target.


There’s also the return of an old favorite, the grenade mode which launches a live rocket with a timed detonation rather than a warhead. Up to three grenades can be launched, but they’re wildly unpredictable. Their trajectory is quite similar to the Flak Cannon’s secondary fire arc, so it is a bit high, although nowhere near as far. Your best bet when using this fire mode is to use them when an enemy has ducked into a confined space or when you are trying to cut off strategic exits or entrances. For example, the small Bio Rifle room near the Helmet pickup in Heat Ray is great for tossing grenades into, if you happen to have the Rocket Launcher. The large doors on Shangri-La that separate the UDamage plaza from the Stinger also make a great choke point that can be used to funnel unwary opponents into a face ful of grenades.

As if the Rocket Launcher wasn’t good enough, it’s also got a homing feature. It’s had the feature in past Unreal Tournament games, but in Unreal Tournament 3 it’s better than ever. That is to say, it’s actually useful. In past UT games, as soon as you began to load up rockets, you commited yourself to not locking on to an opponent. This means, for example, if you had an enemy tank in your sights and wanted to load up three rockets and fire them at him, the rockets would not home in on the tank. In UT3, though, you can gain a lock while loading rockets. This makes a big difference in vehicular gametypes, because you’ll frequently see a vehicle barreling at you from a distance away, but a single rocket usually won’t connect with a moving vehicle, or if it does, won’t phase it much. This change allows you to load up to three rockets AND lock on to an enemy while doing it. It’s a great trick to use on Scorpions, Hellbenders, and Goliaths. It’s even effective against the Raptor if the pilot is hovering low and remains relatively still for a few seconds. Just beware and realize that vehicles have heavy armor that grants some amount of damage reduction to them, so a salvo of three rockets won’t instantly take out a Scorpion with 300 Health, but they will do severe damage.

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