The very fact you point out torpedoes do the same thing but are much more effective only strengthens the argument for some kind of PD missile defence. I get the DW splits missiles & torpedoes but they are exactly the same thing, a slow moving projectile of large mass (when compared to a bullet or beam). In all other 4x games missiles have always been a great long arm tool, but they always have to be used tactically by taking into account just how many will make it through a PD screen. In DW you can forget all that and just slap an engine onto the end of a giant box full of photon tubes to get an instant win.
I don't see how making missiles less effective at what they do is going to strengthen the argument for researching missile tech, as opposed to torp or beam tech. You could nerf torps more than missiles with point defense but then they'd both be clearly inferior to beam weapons. Sure, range is nice but consider armor-penetration. As it is, you already need quite a few hits per armor plate to penetrate with missiles. If half the missiles don't even make it through then that becomes even harder and a repair bot might actually be capable of keeping up the pace. Meanwhile, top tier phasers break a plate per salvo and point blank titan beams aren't significantly slower either.
That aside, you're quite right that the basic premise for missiles and torpedoes is the same. They're both slow, guided weapons that trade DPS for range. That doesn't mean they can't have different key abilities, though. Such as torps being energy blobs that go blammo on impact but lose damage over distance whereas missiles are less hurtful but also more reliable. The main issue I have is simply that they're already underpowered relative to beams and torps.
Edit: And it's easy to say that torps are superior but that's more a function of their flexibility than because they actually outdamage everything. At close range a beam-based ship is going to do more DPS but for the most part this never becomes relevant, because torps will do enough to blow up most of the poorly designed AI ships very quickly and will at the same time work brilliantly for base bombardment. And obviously torps enable the missile kite strategy against any ship that isn't faster, destroying the target while taking zero damage.
< Message edited by Spidey -- 4/6/2015 5:50:05 PM >