One of the elements that makes Eve combat heavily skill-based is the angular velocity/tracking system for turret-based weapons. Players who manually pilot to mitigate incoming DPS and maximize outgoing DPS when necessary tend to achieve better results in PvP and PvE.
Missiles, however, use a rather boring and binary system in comparison. Missiles always apply some damage to the target consistently (unless the target can outrun the missile). It is a steady stream of damage that a player has little influence over. A turret pilot may have a bad matchup in terms of sig radius and tracking, but such deficiencies can be overcome through careful movement of the ship relative to your opponent. With missiles, you’re either just overpowered or doomed once the fight starts.
After some thought, I came up with an idea that would allow individual pilot skill in missile combat to shine:
Once upon a time, in the early days of eve, ships could fit multiple microwarpdrives at once. This would allow missile ships (lookup the cavalry raven on youtube) to fly faster than their own missiles. By setting the speed of your ship equal to the speed of your missiles, if you flew straight at your target, you could do a HUMONGOUS alpha strike against slower moving enemies since all missiles would impact the target at once as you drove by.
Nowadays, missiles tend to fly too fast make any use of missile stacking alpha strike tactics. But the mechanic could be brought back in a weaker form. For example, imagine if we had a module or some system that could manually increase or decrease the speed of a missile in exchange for a corresponding decrease or increase in flight time:
A player could then do a “dive bombing” pass straight at their target and try to adjust the speeds of their missiles as the distance changes to create a giant alpha strike: (see image below)
A key difference between this system and the old cavalry ravens in the nano-age is that missile speed is not constant in this proposal. If the target changes their flightpath or speed, the missiles will impact at different times, thus preventing a huge alpha strike. Variable missile speed requires the attacking pilot to predict when and where his opponent will move in order to synchronize damage for the best results. Likewise, the defending pilot can anticipate that an alpha strike is incoming, and maneuver accordingly to de-synchronize the different missile speed volleys and thus spread out damage overtime.
In a close duel between two missile boats, stacking volleys of missiles could allow a pilot to get past the ideal hitpoint regeneration threshold of a passive shield tank, help quickly eliminate a target before logi can react, or deal chip damage to armor/hull beyond the active tank of a ship. It opens up options in pvp with proper counterplay.
As it stands, missiles ought to benefit in some form or another from actively piloting your ship. Missiles are common mission fits, and being able to sync damage volleys against active tank rats might spice up PVE gameplay quite a bit.
(And maybe those 1-2 bonus launchers on some turret fits might finally see some use.)