Late last year heavy missiles received a bit of a nerf to bring them more in line with medium turrets. At the time they DID have a distinct advantage over turrets, and the nerf was warranted. Some people will be of the opinion (and I'm one of them) that turrets should simply have been buffed instead, as medium long range weapons have been rather meh for some time now. Power creep was a serious concern at the time, so the nerf went forward. Compared to other medium sized long range weapons, heavy missiles still didn't suck. With the upcoming buffs to medium turrets coming down the pipe now, many people on the Eve-O forums have been requesting CCP take another look at reversing the nerf, or at least buffing heavy missiles.
Before we get into this any further, let's first look at some numbers as to how HMs presently stack up against long range turrets both before and after these turret buffs (New Changes in parentheses, rounded):
250mm Railgun II with Spike:
DPS: 20 (27 after change)
Alpha: 92 (106 after change)
Optimal: 65 km
Falloff: 15 km
Cap/sec: -1.1 (-1.29 after change)
Heavy Beam Laser II with Aurora:
DPS: 21 (26 after change)
Alpha: 91 (114 after change)
Optimal: 54 km
Falloff: 10 km
720mm Artillery II with Tremor:
DPS: 17 (19 after change)
Optimal: 54 km
Falloff: 22 km
Heavy Missile Launcher II with Caldari Navy Scourge:
DPS: 26 (29 pre-nerf)
Alpha: 213 (237 pre-nerf)
Range: 63 km (84 pre-nerf)
Looking at these stats, despite the Eve-O thread's conversation to the contrary, HMs actually match up fairly well against turrets using extreme long range. There are some idiosyncrasies of course. For one, the best long range option for missiles are faction missiles, not a T2 variant, and the shorter range, high precision ammo for missiles actually decreases overall alpha and DPS on missiles while increasing it significantly for turrets... then again, those precision T2 missiles hit just as well at 2km as they do at 30km, so I'm willing to call a fair trade on that one.
That said, there is one area where missiles fall painfully short. Like turrets (optimal and falloff) missiles have 2 stats that affect their range (flight time and speed). Also like turrets (signature resolution for target size, and tracking speed for target transversal velocity) missiles have 2 stats that affect their ability to hit a target effectively (explosion radius for target size, and explosion velocity for target speed). Modules can be used to significantly affect range and tracking for turrets with both medium slot (tracking computers) and low slot (tracking enhancers) options. Missile platforms, like turrets, have rigs available to increase their range and accuracy, but unlike turrets they have no modules to alter these stats.
Diligent pilots will point out that while missiles have no mods to increase range or accuracy, there are also no EWAR mods that will decrease these stats on them either. Tracking disruptors can effectively neuter a turret ship. If missiles were to get some range/accuracy love, there would need to be an appropriate counter. As it turns out, there is a mechanic in place already to counter missiles, it's just that no one uses it because the drawbacks are too great. More on that in a moment though!
While I do not agree that HMLs at this point are in need of a buff themselves, I wholeheartedly agree that some changes to the missile system are warranted at this time. As a realist, I am fairly certain that changes such as I am about to propose (and I'm not the first to suggest things like this) will not make it into this or likely the next release, but with enough community support, it might be possible to push some semblance of change through in the next expansion or two.