When the Hydra and Spiral were released, they did not affect the meta of the game, unlike many other weapons or robots. However, they did at least acquire a well-known reputation as extremely annoying weapons that robots were often incapable of dodging. Thus started their notorious reputation for being mid-range 'camper' weapons, most infamous of all the Hydra Fujin. In order to understand these weapons, one must first look at their general information, strengths, weaknesses and tactics used.
The Hydra is a medium weapon, and is essentially a more powerful version of the Spiral. With a capacity for 6 missiles, it does significant damage, over 15,000 at level 12 mk1 and has a range of 600 metres. It is a Homing Missile system, meaning that pilots must lock-on to their target to fire. Both weapons have a reload of 10 seconds. the Hydra costs 5650 Workshop Points, whilst the Spiral costs silver. The most common setups for the Hydra and Spiral are the Hydra/Spiral Griffin and the Hydra Fujin (known as 'Spydra' due to it looking like an insect). The Hydra Fujin in particular is a decent build for the Hydra, due to its good firepower and energy shield, which protects it from most enemy fire.
The Hydra and Spiral's key strength is their 'fire and forget' targeting system (a real life military term). When fired, their missiles independently track their targets, curving over or around obstacles, such as walls, and generally following their targets wherever they go. This means that even jumping robots, such as the Griffin, will still be hit in mid-air by Hydras or Spirals, whereas with Aphids, the missiles will simply hit the ground. The other main strength of these weapons is its indirect fire capability, coupled with its range and damage. Dealing 15,000 damage (level 12 mk1) is a significant amount for mid-range weapons, more than the Trident. Due to its range (600m), pilots can hide behind cover, protected by their more powerful teammates and obstacles, and still provide effective support fire, as the missiles track their targets around obstacles.
However, as with all weapons, the Hydra and Spiral have their weaknesses. The Spiral's almost unique problem, which it shares with the Arbalest, is its low damage, even for a light weapon. This is somewhat compensated for when it is combined with Hydras. Both weapons can sometimes be evaded, by robots with Stealth capabilities and if the obstacle is particularly large: wall hugging. However, large robots such as the Lancelot are more prone to be hit and pilots often angle their aim wide to curve the missiles around walls, buildings or rocks. Secondly, 10 seconds is a substantial reload time, during which the user is vulnerable to enemy fire, especially brawlers capable of breaching their lines of defence. Even if their weapons have finished reloading, mid-rangers are outgunned by brawlers at close range.
Hydra and Spiral users often use different tactics in order to be effective, but these are the main ones:
- Firstly, mid-rangers should stick to cover, such as behind walls and other obstacles. This will allow them to avoid direct enemy fire, such as sniper fire (e.g Trebuchets) as well as other mid-rangers using the Zeus, Dragoon or Trident. However, positioning oneself away from the obstacle's edge is recommended, to avoid splash damage.
- Secondly, Hydra/Spiral users should keep their distance. Being at least 500 metres away from enemy robots is recommended, as the missiles' damage is not affected by distance. Prioritise targets that are within 400m range, as they are a threat to you, especially if they are brawlers, who will always outgun you in a close-range fight.
- Finally, support your teammates. Again, prioritising targets is advised. Finishing off enemies who are on low health hiding behind cover allows your team to focus on targets which are more of a threat. Firing on enemy robots involved in multi-bot brawls with your teammates is also advised, as Hydra/Spiral users can do significant damage and negate cover, giving your team an edge in battle.
Overall, the Hydra is a great mid-range weapon, dealing significant damage whilst having a good range and tracking system that maximises target hits. Using at least 3 is advised for mid-range builds, or 2 when paired with 2 Spirals. As for the Spiral, its low damage is its main flaw. Both weapons have a substantial reload time of 10 seconds, but when used together (usually 2 Hydras and 2 Spirals or 3 Hydras) they do enough damage to be a real mid-range threat on the battlefield, and are often the understated weapons of the battle.