Be warned that this will be a relatively long and detailed article, looking at weapons and their characteristics, the design philosophy of weapons and considerations of shields, point-defence and a number of other relevant factors.
Let us begin with examining the characteristics of weapons. Weapons in RTS games can quickly be simplified down to three types. These are direct fire – “scan-hit” (lasers and kinetics), ballistic (rockets and artillery) and guided (missiles and torpedoes). In some games, space games, there is also little difference between the first two, but for other games there’s an important difference there. Direct fire weapons can also be either instant-hit (lasers) or merely fast (kinetics), but there is often little difference in practical effect. On the other hand, ballistic and guided weapons may well behave differently, depending on things like point defence systems (discussed later in this article), and considerations such as gravity and wind.