Rocket Launchers shoot self-propelled grenades across long distances at subsonic speeds. They are characterized by having extremely small internal magazines, high to very high damage ratings at the site of impact, and additional area-of-effect or "splash" damage. There are four major types, although all of them tend to have slow reload speeds ranging from 2 to 3 seconds.
There are highly accurate single-shot rocket launchers that typically carry 1-3 rockets before reload, have an excessively powerful impact damage, and a better than decent splash radius.
Burst-fire rocket launchers let loose 3-5 rockets in a roughly straight line (due to recoil), one after the other in rapid succession, for every pull of the trigger. They typically carry 3-5 rockets; however it should be noted that because such launchers actually fire the number of rockets they carry, they are only truly good for one shot before reloading is necessary.
Spread rocket launchers are like the burst-fire variety in almost every regard, except that they launch their payload in a horizontal line (due to recoil) spreading out from the launcher muzzle.
Helix rocket launchers turn one unit of launcher ammo into several smaller projectiles. With every firing, a single rocket is expended and what is launched is a trio of tightly spiraling mini-rockets that maintain their spiral radius. Because these rockets are smaller, they tend to sport a sharply decreased blast radius.
Single-shot rocket launchers equate to portable mayhem and should be treated as such. They launch a single, slow-moving rocket and care should be taken to avoid being close to the target when it explodes. Trying to hit targets directly is not recommended, because rockets move so slowly that even a Bruiser can be easily missed. It is preferable to lead the target, aiming at the ground where the enemy is most likely to be when the rocket arrives. Firing from a raised position yielding a high angle to the target helps to maximize the chance of getting the blast radius where it's most effective.
Rocket launchers are most useful against clusters of fragile targets, where the blast effect can damage or kill multiple enemies. They are not so effective against Badass enemies due to Badass's inherent fortitude and the lack of any real benefit for the blast area. When using them in a firefight, a good strategy to shoot enemies behind cover is to shoot a wall behind the enemy so that the splash damage hits them.
There are four aspects to consider in finding useful launchers: magazine, firepower, accuracy, and scope. While firepower and accuracy are self-explanatory they are not more important than magazine size. A single-shot rocket launcher that can only hold 1 rocket will be less destructive in a protracted firefight than a rocket launcher of half the damage with a 3-shot magazine. Scopes are useful because they allow for deadly accurate bombardment of static targets like Gatling Turrets.
All elemental rocket launchers will have a x4 multiplier and the elemental effect will always trigger upon impact. Explosive damage is the default effect, so if there is no element listed the rocket launcher will deal explosive damage.
Rocket launchers deal extra damage to vehicles and turrets. Corrosive rocket launchers are particularly well-suited for this purpose since they are effective against armour.
Many of the strategies for single-shot rocket launchers apply to the burst-fire type. Raised positions and letting enemies walk into the explosions still work, however ammo expenditure can be high, and users should be prepared to take immediate cover after firing. This is because burst-fire launchers are essentially capable of only a single, devastating shot before they have to reload. Again, all types of regular enemies should be targeted with the exception of scythid, which are not only resistant to area-of-effect weapons, but also tend to be too fast to get hit with all of the rockets. Spiderants are viable targets, but only the smaller breeds. Bruisers, Badass enemies of every type, and distant targets should be avoided.
Two types of burst-firing rocket launchers are available, these can be determined by their burst fire rating in their item card, three-shot and five-shot. A three-shot rocket launcher will be noted with a burst fire rating of 300%, this weapon simply fires all three rockets in the direction the user is pointing it, with recoil and accuracy in play. A five-shot rocket launcher will be noted with a 500% burst fire rating, and fires in an alternating horizontal spread, starting with the center rocket first, then oscillating between left and right.
Two aspects of burst-fire rocket launchers are important to consider: recoil reduction and firepower. Recoil reduction is essential for a burst launcher because that particular quality will dictate the effective maximum range of the launcher. Firepower is to ensure that the blast is as damaging as possible.
The slow burst fire of such launchers can be interrupted by reloading or using a melee attack. This is useful if a target is weak, or badly injured, and the entire salvo of rockets is therefore superfluous.
Helix rocket launchers consume one unit of launcher ammo which is used to fire a salvo of three spiraling rockets. Orbiting each other in a tight spiral that does not expand, these rockets then create a trio of explosions where they hit, quite often in close proximity to one another.
There is no helix launcher that doesn't have a relatively ample 3-shot magazine, which makes these launchers extremely good to take into bandit camps, where they can wreak mayhem upon tightly clustered firing lines, or Bandit Raiders trying to break from cover. Helix launchers are good against clustered groups of any type of enemy, including scythid which are normally resistant to rocket launcher attacks. Against single targets, however, the effectiveness of a helix rocket launcher is almost entirely dependent upon range and how accurately a player can center the clustered blast. Badass enemies are still best avoided.
Individual helix launcher rockets do not have a very large splash radius, allowing one to use it up close if not personal. However this also means that rockets may spiral past smaller enemies and do relatively little damage. As with normal rocket launchers aiming for surfaces near the target is recommended.
Useful attributes in a helix launcher are firepower, rate of fire, accuracy, and scope. The first three qualities are intuitive, as a player wants to hit hard, cause as much carnage as fast as possible, in a well-placed volley. Scopes with a dot-sight make all that easier, and if one can find a launcher with a good scope but slightly reduced firepower compared to what they already have, they would do well to get the scoped launcher anyway.
Helix launchers are excellent elemental weapons, especially the incendiary variety. Direct hits that cause elemental triggers are more likely with Helix launchers because they will never hit the exact spot a player aims them at, but rather the area immediately around that spot. This means that leading targets and letting them walk into the blast often results in an unintentional direct hit.
Furthermore, even with only average aim, the triple warheads of a helix shot will stack three damage-over-time effects on to the affected target(s) with each shot, totaling up to nine effects stacked per target from an unmodified 3-shot magazine. In combination with their splash damage, when firing at tightly clustered targets, this can quickly add up to produce rapid elemental damage-over-time stacking unattainable with any other weapon type.
Legendary Rocket Launcher strategies
The legendary rocket launchers have unique detonation patterns that require special strategies to use them to their fullest capacity:
- Hyperion Nidhogg: Due to the way Nidhogg rockets work, it is advisable to target enemies at the edge of its range and aim slightly above them. Move toward or away from the target(s) as necessary to achieve the proper firing range. A perfectly placed primary explosion just above the target's head will inflict heavy splash damage, while all the secondary submunitions will also inflict direct hits or splash hits, easily causing four to five (or more) times the Nidhogg's already considerable listed damage; these massive, linear cluster explosions are capable of wiping out even some of the most difficult enemies in a single shot. Alternatively, adjusting the height of the explosion higher will instead cover a larger area, an approach suited for killing groups of multiple weak enemies.
- Maliwan Rhino: Rhino rockets erupt repeatedly while in flight, making them well-suited to eliminating enemies that are lined up. This is particularly useful in narrow corridors. Because the rocket warps forward, firing directly at an enemy will often cause the rocket to damage that enemy and continue forth. Always ensure at least one extra target in line behind the first, preferably more. As with the Nidhogg, finding the correct firing position will maximize the total damage inflicted on groups of multiple foes, totaling up to many times the launcher's item card-listed damage.
- Vladof Mongol: The Mongol's rocket-spray effect makes it particularly well suited for grouped enemies. Firing just above groups should ensure that they receive some of the rocket's devastating blast while allowing that rocket to continue on and wipe out anything behind them. Jumping up and firing the initial shot parallel to the ground will achieve optimal spread coverage in a planar zone just above head level.
- Torgue Redemption: The Redemption has the largest splash radius in the game and should be used to take advantage of that. Compared to the other launchers discussed, using a Redemption is relatively straightforward. Place the shots to include the maximum possible number of targets in the blast zone, centering it on the toughest targets if possible. Firing between groups of enemies will often result in mass deaths. Place your shots carefully, as the low effective rate of fire (frequent reloading) and heavy launcher ammo consumption makes misplaced shots rather costly. Also note that you will need to lead your shots well in advance of moving targets, as these rockets move much slower than normal.
- Torgue Undertaker: The Undertaker's boosted splash radius and damage are not as great as the Redemption, but the large magazine and lower ammo consumption mean an increase in flexibility when targeting both single enemies and groups. Normal rocket velocity also aids the ease of use of this launcher, making it the easily the most straightforward to use. Otherwise, keep in mind the same shot placement factors discussed in the Redemption strategy section.
- Brick is the specialist in explosive weapons and has skills and class mods that increase the magazine size, damage, reload speed, area of effect elemental trigger chance, and provide ammo regeneration for launchers.
- Roland's skills and class mods as a generalist soldier also provide increased magazine size, area of effect elemental trigger chance, and damage increases to Shock effect launchers and ammo regeneration. Roland also has the class mod "Marine"(only available after downloading the General Knoxx DLC) made for rocket launchers. This class mod can increase reload speed, ammo regeneration and fire rate for rocket launchers.
- Being an elemental weapon specialist, Lilith's skills and class mods can provide substantial increases to elemental trigger effect chance and severity, as well as increases to damage with specific or blanket elemental effects. The Siren can also speed up the travel speed for rockets.
- Mordecai's skills and class mods can make good use of single-shot rocket launchers, increasing reload speed, damage, and accuracy. Class mods for the Hunter can also increase the viability of corrosive launchers.
- Rocket Launcher - Balanced.
- Destructor - Increased damage and blast radius.
- Harpoon - Increased accuracy, rocket travel speed, but with a slightly decreased radius.
Unique Drops and Rewards:
- Leviathan "It rises!" - Quest reward from Wanted: Fresh Fish, fires rockets in an arc with increased (1.2) firerate.
- The Roaster "Gonna cook someone today" - Unique weapon used by Taylor Kobb. Very high chance to set targets on fire and increased blast radius.
- Vladof Mongol "Beware the Horde!" - Sends out smaller rockets at various angles as it flies. Uses 3 ammo per shot.
- Hyperion Nidhogg "Death rains from above" - Breaks into smaller downward traveling rockets at a specific distance.
- Maliwan Rhino "The Unstoppable Force" - Explodes repeatedly along its flightpath. Always x4 Incendiary, Corrosive or Shock.
- Torgue Redemption "Monster Kill!" - Very high damage and large blast radius, but slow. Uses 4 ammo per shot.
- Torgue Undertaker "Take 'em UNDER." - Increased magazine capacity, damage, firerate and blast radius.
Parts and naming
- Main article: Rocket Launcher/parts
Rocket launchers return in Borderlands 2 and fill roughly the same role. Their ammunition is scarcer than the other weapon types, and ammo regeneration effects do not regenerate rockets in Borderlands 2. Still, they can be effective area-effect weapons, especially when trying to get a Second Wind. One disadvantage is that most rocket launchers cannot score critical hits, with the sole exception being the 12 Pounder.
|Body Manufacturer||Barrel Manufacturer|
| Heavy (Bandit)|
|Accurate (Maliwan)||Heavier (Torgue)||Rapid-fire (Vladof)||Special (E-tech)|
|Bandit||Launcher||Area efect||Zooka!||Bombabarbardeer||PRAZMA CANON|
- Bandit rocket launchers fire three shots at once at the cost of a single point of ammunition. This can easily result in overall damage rating second only to Torgue launchers. However, an extremely unlucky Vault Hunter could be killed by a rocket hitting the floor at close range.
- Maliwan Rocket Launchers are always elemental. This can make them relatively powerful, but they lack the direct punch of Torgue or Bandit launchers.
- Tediore rocket launchers fly off in an erratic path when reloaded, adding an element of danger to those firing them. They can do significant damage on a direct reload hit, occasionally surpassing Bandit and Torgue launchers
- Torgue rocket launchers prioritize damage above all else. This makes them useful for second winds. They have a poor velocity so at longer ranges one must lead the target, and the Duuurp! launcher fires in an arc as opposed to a line.
- Vladof rocket launchers are rapid-fire and do not consume ammo every third shot (this means that with 30 rockets one can fire roughly 40 missiles). This allows higher damage and more consistent fire. Technically, each rocket consumes two thirds of one rocket per shot.