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Player-Guided Missile

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Ever watch a Homing Projectile suffer yet another Hero-Tracking Failure and think to yourself, "hell, I could fly a missile better than that"? Now you can!

The Player-Guided Missile is any Video Game projectile attack or weapon which the player can manually steer or guide toward their desired target using their player movement controls. These can be more dangerous than ordinary homing missiles (at least in the hands of a skilled player), although they do mean that while the player is busy piloting the missile, their character is left open and vulnerable to attack.

The projectile can take many forms - an actual homing missile or Precision-Guided Boomerang, for example - and 3D games frequently utilize a Missile Cam so the player can steer the projectile from its own point of view. Which also makes it usable not just for combat, but also for general scouting, recon, and solving various puzzles (typically by activating an otherwise inaccessible switch or control panel).

This is Truth in Television, as manual command to line-of-sight systems to guide rockets or missiles exist. These homing methods rely on the operator to steer the missile's flight path via joystick; the commands from the joystick is relayed to the missile via various methods, most popularly via wire guidance. That being said, they are nowhere near as precisely maneuverable as their Video Game counterparts, mostly because they are extremely fast, and require extensive regular training to operate. For this reason, semi-automatic command to line-of-sight systems are more popular and reliable. The operator firing the missile does not need to actually adjust the missile manually; merely aiming continuously at the target is enough.

Note that an example only counts if the player has more or less direct control of the projectile's flight path — simply "aiming" or "locking on" to a target before firing isn't enough. Also note that these only count when wielded by a live human player, as there's no way to distinguish it from a normal homing missile if it's fired from the hands of an AI-controlled character.


  • Most games in the Ace Combat series since the fifth installment have the Semi-Active Air-to-Air Missile (SAAM) available as a subweapon. It's powerful enough to take down any enemy in one shot, and it has the longest range of any weapon, but the target must be manually kept in the radar lock circle for the entirety of the missile's flight. Contrast with self-guided missiles that work at closer ranges and are fire-and-forget.
  • Aerotech, BattleTech's space combat simulator spinoff, has some types of Capitol Missiles used by Warships function this way, with the player controlling steering and thrust to attempt to hit enemy ships.
  • While it is obviously not a flying "missile", the RC Car in Ape Escape is capable of being used as a weapon - it can stun monkeys for capture. There is no separate camera from the RC car's point of view, but the player can still maneuver themselves while using it (it is operated via the second analog stick).
  • One of the earlier examples comes from Archon II: Adept, in which the ability of Adepts to switch between regular movement and redirecting their powerful magic missiles made them among the strongest pieces in combat (if still generally too valuable to risk). Interestingly, in AI hands the missiles appeared to use creature behavior rather than that of a basic homing projectile; they would often aim to cut off a target's escape points or "juggle" while deciding on an incoming route, and the AI had the same control issues as a human player.
  • One of Batman's upgrades in the Batman: Arkham Series is a remote-controlled Batarang, and it's essential for solving certain puzzles.
  • Battlefield: Nearly all anti-tank missiles in the modern and futuristic-setting gamesnote  can be guided mid-flight based on where the player is pointing his crosshair. A helicopter's gunner can also fire TV-guided missiles capable of out and out Roboteching.
  • BattleTanx has Guided Missiles that put you in a third person view to steer them around the map.
  • The yellow "Psychic Hat" in Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg allows the player to steer the egg after shooting it.
  • The Binding of Isaac has the item Epic Fetus, which replaces the player's attack with guided missiles that target a manually controlled crosshair. Rebirth adds The Ludovico Technique, which replaces the player's ability to shoot with a single, floating tear that can be manually controlled and continuously deals damage to enemies as long as it is in contact with them. The Afterbirth expansion adds the Tractor Beam, which gives the player a beam attached to the character that causes all tears fired to align with it, allowing tears to be redirected mid-flight.
  • Just before Bionic Commando Rearmed 's Final Boss battle, your dying helicopter pilot gives you a remote-control missile upgrade for the Bazooka, which is required to hit the cockpit of the Leader's gunship.
  • Brink!'s Agents of Change DLC allows an operative to deploy a micro UAV that can be manually piloted and detonated in the vicinity of enemies.
  • Deep Rock Galactic's Gunner Class Dwarf has several large caliber weapons as primary options in his arsenal. One of these, the "Hurricane" Guided Rocket System launches rockets that typically aim towards wherever the player's crosshair is currently pointing. The launcher can be modified to alter the guidance behavior however, for example using upgrades that allow the player to manually shut off the guidance mid-flight, or to launch a salvo of unguided rockets instead by "charging" the weapon.
  • The Guided Missile in the Descent series is slightly slower but more powerful than a normal homing missile. The game's options screen allows the player to select whether the its Missile Cam is shown on the main screen or a smaller popup display.
  • The Air Raider class in the Earth Defense Force series can call in cruise missiles or Kill Sat shots with special target designators. The missiles or laser shots will track the designator to some degree, allowing the player to spread a barrage across a horde of enemies or follow a moving target. A generic guidance laser can perform a similar feat with missiles launched by other player classes.
  • The Mosquito in Einhänder changes in the direction the player's ship is going, which makes it Awesome, but Impractical in a side-scrolling Shoot 'Em Up where the player has to dodge enemy attacks all the time. If you back up, the missile turns around and starts flying to the left of the screen while you continue to travel right. A skilled player can hit enemies in hard to reach areas or turn the missile around if you initially miss, but many of the levels have narrow corridors that don't allow much maneuverability.
  • Frobot: The Jive Stalker is a weapon that follows the Wiimote/mouse cursor (depending on which platform you're playing this on) wherever on the screen it goes.
  • From the Depths: The laser guided missiles offer some of the only options for the player to guide the missiles to the targets. The missiles can be set to either go straight for the laser endpoint, or attempt to "ride" the laser to the target.
  • Galaxy on Fire II has the AMR Liberator missile, which cannot be purchased (as it's banned) but can be crafted after you find the blueprint and all the necessary components. Each time you build it, you get 10 of these. They are Awesome, but Impractical, as your ship is not under your control while you do this (you don't have to be standing still, though, as your ship will still continue to move). On the other hand, you can fire them well beyond any ship's firing range (13800 km) and they can cross that distance fairly quickly. This is a nuke-type weapon, so it deals splash damage and is very destructive. It's only real use, however, is against freighters and battle cruisers, as fighters are far too nimble to be hit, unless you happen to have caught them bunched up in a small area. One of the achievements involves destroying 8 asteroids with a single Liberator.
  • Geist: During the boss battle against Big Bag Alexander Volks, Raimi can exit his physical body to possess any missile shot by the villain and control it to redirect it to him. Due to the missile's speed, this is difficult to pull off, but if it lands onto Volks it'll deplete a quarter of his Life Meter.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has an online-only specific. The Kosatka submarine, which is used mainly as the property used to launch the Cayo Perico Heist has an optional ballistic missile station. Upon buying one, either with the sub or installing it later as an add-on, the player has access to two stations where one can launch a ballistic missile. The player controls the missile in a first person perspective and can hit anywhere of their choosing. The missile is also agile enough to run circles around most aircraft and has a large blast radius to catch enemies on the ground. Each missile station has a one minute cooldown and even associates of the player who are in the submarine can launch one if they so desire.
  • Half-Life 2's Rocket Launcher fire rockets that go to whatever spot its laser pointer is aimed at (which can lead to Explosive Stupidity if you accidentally point below your feet). You use it to take down an enemy helicopter boss that has impenetrable defenses from the front, firing the missile off past the boss and then aiming the laser directly at it to steer the missile into its backside.
  • Apollo's Arrows in Immortals Fenyx Rising can be controlled by the player via Arrow Cam to hit distant targets.
  • Kirby:
    • In some games, the trajectory of the thrown Cutter can be steered up or down before going backwards.
    • Kirby & the Amazing Mirror has the Missile ability where Kirby actually turns into one of these.
    • The Flare Beam ability in Kirby's Return to Dream Land is a giant energy orb that can be guided to collide against multiple enemies at once. The ESP ability from Kirby: Planet Robobot is a weaker form of it with extra attacks.
  • Landfall Archives has the titular missile in "Missile Game", which you can control while navigating through a building without crashing.
  • League of Legends has Yuumi, the Magical Cat, who possesses a "Prowling Projectile" that normally just fires straight and deals damage when alone, but when she's attached to an ally the player can control its flight path with their cursor. Why yes, it is a case of a cat chasing a mouse.
  • Elemental spells in Legend of Mana with "Control" type aiming allow the player to guide the spell's area of effect to any location on the battlefield before activating the spell itself.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Although magic boomerangs are a recurring item in the series, only the version in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons can be controlled in mid-air. Boomerangs and Bombchus in Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks are similar in that the player can sketch out a custom flight path with the stylus, though they have no control over them during flight.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker introduces the ability to control seagulls after feeding them a special fruit. They can then be guided to hit switches and collect rupees and other things.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has the Beetle, a mechanical flying insect drone which the player can launch to explore various places, retrieve objects or hit switches, pick up and drop bombs on enemies, or even attack some enemies directly.
  • The Missile in Liero can be steered clockwise and counterclockwise in flight using the right and left arrow keys.
  • Can be built in Loadout with the right combination of gun parts.
  • In MechWarrior Living Legends, most missiles have some form of Missile Lock-On, and some have the addition of player guidance. Streak Short Range Missiles will home in on the crosshair if there is no active lock, and the same applies to the smaller launcher used by Battlearmor. The Target Acquisition Gear laser guidance system, while intended for Target Spotter shenanigans, can be used to turn any missile into player-guided, as all guided missiles fired without a lock will attempt to hit whatever the laser is pointing at. Medium Range Missiles used to have player guidance without lock-ons, though they were later nerfed to pure dumbfire due the monstrous damage their 40+ missile salvos could do when focused (via a target spotter) entirely on one section of an enemy.
  • Various weapons in the Mega Man (Classic) series can be steered mid-flight, usually by steering it up and down only, so that the player can still move Mega Man left or right in the meantime.
    • Mega Man 3's Hard Knuckle (a Rocket Punch weapon) can be steered up or down while in flight, though not as precisely as steerable weapons later in the series.
    • Mega Man 5's Gyro Blade fires horizontally, but the player can make it veer up or down in flight.
    • Mega Man 10's Commando Bomb is similar to the Gyro Blade, but the player can change its direction multiple times in flight, and it produces an explosion on impact.
    • Mega Man & Bass' Remote Mine can be steered up or down while in flight. You can then press the attack button to detonate it in mid-air or let it stick on an enemy first then detonate it.
    • Mega Man X2's Magnet Mine can be steered up or down while in flight. Its charged version is similarly steerable, but travels slower and can penetrate multiple targets.
    • Mega Man X5's F-Laser is fully steerable, at the cost of not being able to move X at all until the missile hits something (or X takes damage). It's needed to access one of the armor parts.
  • The Metal Gear series has a few segments where the player must use a Nikita missile, usually to solve an electrified-floor puzzle. In the 8-bit games, the missiles travelled and steered at right angles. Snake even sports a Nikita Missile launcher in his Super Smash Bros. appearance; the player can control the missile in flight, though it does travel faster in straight lines.
  • Miku Monogatari : Yume to Taisetsu Na Mono : the leek missile subweapon is fully steerable, but the player's character also moves on input, making it risky to use in stages with multiple Bottomless Pits. It doesn't explode and lasts as long as it stay on the screen, though its damage is surprisingly weak.
  • Modern Warfare series lets you control Predator-launched Hellfire missiles as rewards for multiplayer killstreaks. After firing them, you can control where they land approximately.
  • In Overwatch, Junkrat's "RIP-Tire" Ultimate has him bring out an explosive attached to a tire that can be steered towards enemies.
  • The Slayer rocket launcher in Perfect Dark can be manually directed by using the Fly-By-Wire secondary mode, though a player can slow its speed to help whenever they must turn around corners.
  • PlanetSide has player-guided missile as the New Conglomerate's specialty. The Phoenix missile launcher in both games is steered by the mouse through a camera attached to the nose of the rocket; the second game buff ups the damage but slows the rocket and makes it possible to shoot down or at least knock it off-course. The NC MAX Powered Armor can load up with the Raven rocket launchers that spew out slow moving rockets that follow the mouse. All of their rockets are infamous for their obnoxious "tea-kettle" sound. The Nanite Systems' MANA anti-vehicle turret and NS air-to-ground Hornet Missiles are mouse-guided rockets usable by all factions.
  • The Visibomb gun in Ratchet & Clank (2002) and the sequel is steerable, but its Missile Cam loses reception (and gives out) beyond a certain range. Going Commando also adds the Spider Bot, a four-legged robot that you steer remotely before detonating, and the hoverbomb, which can be steered after firing. While the Spider-Bot was useful in a somewhat specialized way, the hoverbomb was such a Painfully Slow Projectile that the only reason a player would choose it was to get it upgraded in order to get the skill point for upgrading all weapons.
  • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc has a temporary can upgrade that can make Rayman shoot a missile and guide it, usually through some mazes in order to unlock a door and to reach enemies Rayman's first projectiles otherwise can't reach.
  • The Buzz Bomb in Robo Rally... although this being Roborally, "controlled" may be too strong a word. At least one player at a convention game has recieved the "Wil E. Coyote award" for blowing himself up with his own buzz bomb.
  • The Licensed Game based on Robots required the player, as Rodney, to control Wonderbot to go to places Rodney can't reach and activate machinery.
  • Although the Homing RPG in Saints Row: The Third is a lock on weapon, the player can in fact control the missile manually simply by aiming down the sight. If the player moves the reticle away to a new object, the missile will suitably change its trajectory, sometimes even doubling back when possible. This allows for some very crafty techniques such as firing the missile past an obstacle and then angling the target down to make it hit the ground, damaging enemies by way of Splash Damage. Other tactics include blind-firing it to the sky and then aiming the intended target, causing the missile to drop steeply from above. This essentially simulates real life top attack modes of modern anti-tank missile launchers.
  • In Shadowrun riggers can control missiles but it's mostly a niche thing as most missiles travel much too fast for such a technology to be of use.
  • Two characters in Skylanders can earn this attack as a purchasable upgrade:
    • Warnado can learn "Guided Twister", which allows the player to steer their tornado attack using their movement controls.
    • The "Series 2" version of Drobot's exclusive "Wow Pow" ability involves combining two of his Bladegears into one large, remote-controlled gear.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom has the Cruise Bubble, a powerful bubble missile that can be steered by the player in an Arrow Cam view. The tradeoff is that Spongebob has to remain still for the duration of the missile's flight.
  • The Missile Launcher in Star Fox: Assault's multiplayer matches provide the player with remote-control missiles, though it has less ammunition capacity than the normal Homing missile launcher.
  • Missiles in Starglider are player guided with a Missile Cam and are the only way to destroy the eponymous Stargliders - lasers are completely ineffective.
  • Star Wars: Battlefront II has remote controlled missiles as weapons mounted on various vehicles and a reward weapon for the heavy weapons class. When fired, you take control of the missile itself to try and guide it into an enemy (at the cost of leaving your actual character completely unattended), and the damage it deals is dependent on the missile's speed on impact, ranging from barely a "poof" to a colossal explosion. Notably, these use the same control scheme as starfighters, meaning that you can make a missile do barrel rolls.
  • Several characters in the Super Smash Bros. series have steerable projectile attacks:
    • Ness and Lucas both have PK Thunder - a bolt of electricity that can be steered in various directions, courtesy of their Psychic Powers. They also sport PK Flash and PK Freeze (respectively) in which they can steer its area of effect left or right before detonating it.
    • Pit's Light Arrows travel very fast, but can be aimed in various directions before use and steered further while in flight.
    • Zelda's spell Din's Fire can be slightly aimed up or down, and you can control how far it travels before it explodes.
    • In Brawl and Ultimate, Solid Snake can fire player-controlled missiles.
  • The Magic Missile and its upgrades in Terraria can be controled by the mouse/right analog stick, and can also be used as a portable light.
  • The Buckler in Tribes: Vengeance is normally worn like a small shield on the user's wrist, but it can be hurled forward to attack enemies. The Buckler will follow the user's crosshair, making it excellent for slicing into the otherwise hard-to-hit and annoying Light Armor users flying around on their Jet Pack.
  • "Nuke Mode" in Twisted Metal has one of the factions attach the opposing faction's leader (if captured) to a remote-guided missile with the intention of destroying the enemy faction's large statue.
    • This was made into Sweet Tooth's Level 2 Super in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, where it's used to blow people up. Besides just steering, the player can turn remotely detonate it before it reaches a target. For an interesting Easter Egg, Tooth is holding a DualShock 3 during the Super, which implies that his movements mirror the player's.
    • The annoying Stalker Missile in Rogue Trip and Pilot Torpedo in Critical Depth by the same publisher. The former has an upgrade that at least gives you a shield while you're flying the missile. The latter is mostly used to cheese certain less mobile bosses from across the level, and using it in regular combat will lead to minor damage to an enemy while your own submarine gets bombed to pieces by all the other enemies.
  • R-Type: the Nanomachine Wave Cannons equipped to the R-9W models can be guided by the player using the right analog stick, rather than simply firing straight ahead. It takes some dexterity and concentration to pull this off while also maneuvering your ship, but if you can manage it, it can be a very effective attack.
  • The "Doomerang" in all three Ty the Tasmanian Tiger games. In the first it is merely an 11th-Hour Superpower used exclusively to defeat the Final Boss, but it shows up as a purchasable (if very expensive) shop item in the sequels.
  • The Redeemer's secondary firing mode in every Unreal Tournament game. While the Redeemer missile can be shot down either way, it's easier to do so when a player is controlling it.
  • War Thunder has one of the earliest real-life examples in the World War II-era German Fritz X manually controlled glide bomb. These types of weapons require setting up dedicated control hotkeys to steer the munition lest the player fly their plane into the target instead. The AA-20 Nord is a manual air-to-air missile, while being much more difficult to control than fire-and-forget infrared missiles, has a more generous explosive radius and a proximity fuse.
  • In the Xbox 360 Kinect game Wreckateer, the Flying Shot can be steered using your arms - raise them up to fly higher, or down to dive. To a lesser extent, the basic shots can be steered by waving your hands over the shot as it is in flight.
  • Super Sheep in Worms can be steered clockwise/counterclockwise while in flight by using the right and left arrow keys.
  • Averted with the Remote-Guided Warhead in the X-Universe series. It was supposed to be one of these, but the devs could never get it working properly so it ended up as a regular guided missile.


Video Example(s):


Noob Tube-o!

Javelin's rocket launcher has two firing modes. A dumb rocket that moves quickly in a straight line, and a smart rocket that moves slower but can be guided by the player.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / PlayerGuidedMissile

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