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Rocket Launcher.


Who can deny the thrill of explosion? Sudden flash giving way to earth-shaking force: an ignition of primal sense. The gods gave us fire – but blowing stuff
up? That was our idea. The rocket launcher. Ranged explosive device – and archetypal video
game weapon. So, where did the rocket launcher first enter
pop culture? How did they saturate a broad swathe of video
games? And why do some people insist on calling them
bazookas? ‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction’. Newton’s Third Law: and a major limitation
of conventional kinetic weapons – recoil. One way to mitigate recoil is to allow the
propellant to exert a counterforce: instead of absorbing energy into the weapon, venting
propellant gases to the rear of the shooter balances the forward momentum of the projectile. So-called ‘recoilless rifles’ operate on this
principle: open tube weapons that fire large artillery-like shells from the shoulder. Such weapons remain in use today, and while
similar to rocket launchers, they are technically distinct. The difference lies in the propulsion of the
projectile: recoilless rifles impart all their energy at launch, whereas rocket launchers
incorporate the propellant means within the projectile, hence accelerating once fired. In any case, launching is only the means to
an end: that being the delivery of a payload onto a target. When it comes to penetrating armour, relying
on kinetic energy will only get you so far: Explosives deliver far more bang per gram. Even so, an uncontained detonation isn’t particularly
effective – instead of dispersing in all directions, to effectively tackle armour requires focus. One of the ways you can do this is by forming
a concave void in an explosive charge: upon detonation the shockwave converges, concentrating
its force – much like a lens might focus light. A conical hollow proves most effective in
focusing on a single point – even able to punch holes in steel plate – but for maximum
effect, a final element was needed: a conical copper liner in front of the explosive charge. The immense force generated by the concentrated
shockwave forms a copper lance: a jet of molten metal travelling at hypersonic speed, capable
of piercing an alarming thickness of steel. Suddenly, armoured vehicles were no longer
invulnerable. Since World War 2, the rocket launcher has
been an essential tool in warfare – and an instantly recognisable weapon seen in movies,
television and games. However, in the early 1980s this wasn’t the
case – until then the only place you’d see them would be in war films, comics – or in
the hands of toy soldiers. Invariably it was the American M1 ‘Bazooka’
seen in the hands of the heroes: so-named for its resemblance to a tubular musical instrument. The nickname stuck – to to the point that
‘bazooka’ became a catch-all term for any rocket launcher, old or new – a generic term
that still remains in use. And so it was stories of war that first introduced
rocket launchers to popular culture – but as a new era of action films came of age,
their influence would spread. Car chases and shootouts were a staple of
1970s crime films, but as audiences’ appetite for destruction increased, filmmakers looked
for new ways to raise the stakes. Something visually distinctive – and touching
on primal instinct: a new form of explosive justice. One of the key catalysts for this was Rambo:
First Blood – fusing police action with military themes, and fully embracing the potential
of a chaotic hero on a rampage. It resonated with the era – and while it was
no E.T., its success triggered a sequence of explosive hits that would go on to shape
the decade. Films like Terminator; Red Dawn; Commando;
Death Wish III; Rambo II: by the mid-80s, explosions were a currency of cool – and the
best way to deliver them was by bazooka. A flurry of military themed video games followed
cinema’s lead – and about time too, as the shooter genre had long been stuck in stale
imitation of Space Invaders. Capcom’s Commando was the among the first
to ride this trend, followed in short order by Ikari Warriors; Operation Wolf; and Contra. The shoulder-launched weapon was not always
seen in the hands of the player (grenades were another popular explosive choice); but
the second a tube-toting sprite appeared on screen – you knew what the score was. By the end of the decade, rocket launchers
were firmly entrenched as a part of video games – bleeding from military-themed shoot
’em ups and finding a place in newly flourishing genres. The early 90s placed cutesy platformers centre
stage – but earlier arcade action would still prove a major influence on gaming’s future
direction. The first person shooter was emerging: and
Id’s Doom took the lead on what would become an incredibly popular formula. With a diet of action movies and shoot-em-ups,
the rocket launcher’s reappearance should be no real surprise. Its power and ability to reduce enemies to
gibs meant it was always going to be popular – but beyond that, it became a prototype for
future games to follow. Doom clones were judged on their weapon selection
and gore: and with so many wannabe’s vying for Id’s glory; the rocket launcher quickly
became an FPS institution. However – Quake elevated it to an artform. It remained a core weapon – a perfect tool
for fragging, with the potential to kill with a single hit, or injure within its blast radius:
but beyond that, explosives became an important part of mobility. ‘Rocket jumping’ is a largely self-explanatory
term – making use of the repulsive power of rocket or grenade explosions to propel oneself
across huge gaps, or to reach high ledges. Executed well, you can outmanouever an opponent
– or snare a vital power-up. Just one of many facets that made Quake’s
skill ceiling exceptional. These foundations laid for competitive shooters
remain in place – but the fast-paced formula isn’t for everyone: and besides, how do you
improve on perfection? So in order to stay relevant, the FPS genre
had to evolve: and while PC gaming was thriving, the scale of the console market was starting
to outpace it. Like the action films that inspired them,
early FPS games placed their weapons in a hierachy: with the weakest at the bottom,
culminating in power until a climax of wanton destruction. This was a formula that would persist until
Halo trimmed its ready arsenal to a console-centric two slots instead. Of course, the rocket launcher was still there
– it was an essential inclusion: with the SPNKR continuing the lineage started in Marathon. Powerful, naturally – but now the player was
faced with a dilemma: do you pick up the rocket launcher, or take a more versatile weapon
instead? With Halo’s slower pace and simplified twin-stick
controls, the console FPS had finally matured – and while not as fluid as their PC equivalent,
the broader platform would help the genre find mainstream success. Shooters are fantastically action-oriented
– but it’s fair to say that in the mid 90s they were a little lacking in narrative. Some sought to correct this: for instance,
Half-Life was a wonderful marriage of experiential storytelling with the usual dose of shooting
action. However, when it comes to a fusion of stories
with combat, it’s war films that pull it off most convincingly – and, with a little help
from Steven Spielberg, FPS games were taken in a more cinematic direction. The Medal of Honor series led a new obsession
with World War 2, taking the rocket launcher on a trip back to its roots – the Doom clone’s
fictional launchers replaced with the more realistic Bazooka, Panzerfaust and Panzershreck. By the time Call of Duty first emerged, Halo’s
rule of two had become law – so now the most powerful options were only dispensed at the
time of requirement – a panicked rush as a tank emerges to find an explosive resolution. These tank climaxes could be thrilling – but
the scripted moments lacked a certain freedom. In any case, once the world war well ran dry,
games sought another source – with some banking on Vietnam as ‘the next big thing’. Of course it wasn’t – it was Modern Warfare
instead. The contemporary setting brought with it a
host of cool gadgets: both high tech, and high explosive. The RPG-7, shot to prominence in the Rambo
films, was once again relevant – along with later western equivalents such as the AT-4
and SMAW. There’s also the more intelligent munitions
with lock-on capability: guided anti-air options such as the FIM-92 Stinger, and the terrifying
top-attack mode of the Javelin. The only trouble is, the realistic setting
robs most of the fun. Sure, blowing stuff up is cool – but in an
attempt to replicate the cumbersome nature of most launchers, they’re sluggish (painfully
so) – and worst of all, boring! It’s worse in multiplayer, too – where balance
must be preserved at all costs, their explosive damage is reigned in: and you’re lucky if
you get more than one or two shots. Cinematic realism isn’t without its downsides,
then: but while modern military games were consistently topping the charts, not many
games veered into riskier territory. However, times change – and the classic FPS
has had a resurgence of late. A rejection of the baggage tacked on to modern
games in favour of the pure lack of restraint that made original FPS games so much fun. Faster paced, more room to manoeuvre – and
a return to the rapid-firing rocket launcher rampages that first defined the genre. Beyond the superficial improvements to graphics
and sound, there have been lessons learned: modern controls, better pacing and game flow
– amenities which we forgive the classics for, but expect of any modern game. The recent critical success of the rebooted
Wolfenstein and Doom franchises might herald a new direction – one less concerned with
dramatic demonstration and one far more focussed on fun. But no matter where the first-person formula
treads, the rocket launcher always seems to be present. It’s woven into its DNA – from its founding,
throughout its life: The settings might change, the virtual weapon
on-screen might look different – but somehow, it always comes back to explosions. A weapon that truly belongs to video games: Its tubuluar form transcends the status of
any specific launcher. Far removed from its armor-piercing origin
– now a champion of frantic FPS mayhem. The rocket launcher. Classic frag. Ludicrous gibs. Monster kill. Thank you for watching – and until next time,
farewell.

100 thoughts on “Rocket Launcher.

  1. “The Gods gave us fire; but blowing stuff up? That was our idea”

    I only commented this to show the grammatically correct punctuation looks like

  2. was sorta hoping that half of this video wasnt going to be about the history of rocket launchers in every video game theyve ever appeared in. made it seem like rocket launchers havent made any advancements since the 80’s.

  3. WHERE IS WORMS WITH IT CRAZY TRAJECTORY BAZOOKAS? Bazooka(wind sensetivity, controllable launch power, water bouncing), homing missile (launching in straight line with controllable power then homing, underwater shots), sheep launcher, pigeon, they all can generate a crazy gameplay. If you doubt just search worms video montages.

  4. one could argue that Destiny's Rocket launchers are the most powerful RPG launchers shown in here. there quick to find, easy to equip, and effortless supplies of ammo means constant destrution

  5. Or for Arma players… Just an Anti Tank tool with dubious anti infantry capability.
    For players of Jagged Alliance… A quick get out of trouble and problemsolver… And in some cases, a delivery method of an area denial weapon…

  6. If you think rocket launchers are lame and not that exiting, then look at Team Fortress’s 2 Soldier. Its damn fun to rocket jump and shoot people with explosions.

  7. I can’t believe you made a video on rocket launchers in video games AND spent a good amount of time about rocket jumping and didn’t mention how TF2 nearly perfected the idea of rocket jumping. But that’s just one point off a great video. 8/10 overall

  8. i want you to do some voice acting for call of duty, like just the voice over briefing before the mission, or maybe a full on character. you have a great voice for this shit.

  9. there ain't a game that has more rocket launcher than tf2 + it's know for its high value of rocket jumping, there are even maps just for rocket jumping and it ain't even mentioned. what a shame. quake maybe made it but it will never beat tf2 in rocket jumping.

  10. I dislike how this is all majorly focused on videogames. I want the history of the weapon and while relevant to some extent, not it's appearance in videogames. Seems immature.

  11. Video correction: It is a common mistake to state that shaped charge liners become molten. Shaped charge jets are solid state, actually harder than "cold" copper at normal conditions (look at a P-T diagram for copper), they flow plastically and may also behave like a plasma under the intense pressure.

  12. In the USMC I used a smaw rocket launcher to pvp irl. Very satisfying.

    Wish to note, any sort of guided projectile is a missile, while unguided munitions are rockets. So the Javlen, TOW, Milan, half life rl are properly referred to as missile launchers.

  13. This video makes me so happy.

    Finally someone specifically articulating what I have been feeling my whole life about the rocket launcher.

  14. Talks about rocket launchers, but doesnt mention soldier from tf2 who litterally uses the rocket jump as transportation.

    Kinda sad really.

  15. Okay, you talked about rocket launcher and rocket jumping but no Team fortress 2 moment that's disappointing.

  16. The simple rule of handling a RPG:
    NEVER AIM AND SHOOT IT TO A CREEPER OR THE EXPLOSION WILL BE WORST AND FARTHER.

  17. i am thoroughly amazed that you managed to make a video about rocket launchers without TF2. it's like eating hot dogs without mustard: sure you can do that, and it's perfectly okay, but why wouldn't you?

  18. Short version: Rocket launchers fire an accelerating bomb that shoots a very fast armor-piercing bullet on impact.

  19. Rocket launcher…. u mean Rocket Propelled Grenade? How busy in life are u, that u cant spell RPG in its entirety?

  20. Pretty clear whoever was commissioned to do the poster art for Rambo 2 had no idea what an RPG is. Almost positive you don't fire it from the end of an M-60

  21. Yeah, fuck you religion. We also evolved from single-celled organisms that grew over time from millions and millions of year ago, as far back as the Triassic Period.

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