Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My 2015 Balance Wishlist - (Over) Half Way There

At the start of 2015 I wrote about what, in my opinion, are the seven most necessary balance changes needed in EVE. I think the list is missing a few dozen major balance changes that would sigificnatly help the game, and a few relatively new bloggers have highlighted some of these needed changes. Two of these bloggers I highly recommend are Gorski Car (who also and primarily posts at Crossing Zebras) and Suitonia. Gorski Car has offered some of the best analysis available of the current solo and small gang meta, and provided fantastic in-depth guides on recent changes such as the balance pass on prop mods, plates, and shield extenders. Suitonia of course makes some of the best PVP guides on his youtube account eveiseasy, but his new blog has offered some of the best proposals for changing links, assault frigates, and battlecruisers on his blog. I hope the devs are reading these two blogs though Fozzie & co. seem to be increasingly following Gorski Car's proposals for balance changes.

As for my wishlist of changes, though: Six months later and four of the seven changes on my list have been--to some degree--changed by CCP, something I am extremely happy about! So let's go through my wishlist and how CCP have balanced the game in these areas:

1. No security status penalties for combat inside faction war complexes (unchanged)
Unfortunately, CCP has largely moved on from crime watch and low security / faction war balancing, though they have mentioned a need to revisit some aspects of crime watch and players in FW frequently press the need for security loss changes. However, I would actually modify my proposal now, given that CCP has removed skill loss and clone grades. Since getting podded is not as big of a risk as it used to be (since you cannot lose skill points now), CCP should cut back on security status loss from destroying capsules. The massive security loss is a relic of a time when podding someone could potentially cause them to lose skill points, and so no longer has a reason to be such a huge penalty. I would still advocate for the original proposal as well, though, or even removing security status penalties for engaging in LS altogether.

2. Remove fleet warp (changed--mostly)
Well as of the July release of Aegis,  FCs (etc.) will no longer be able to fleet warp to locations that the fleet members could not already warp to--so no fleet warping to bookmarks or probed locations etc. I would still advocate for removing fleet warp entirely, but this is a step in the right direction. CCP's intention here, to quote Fozzie from the June 11 o7 show, is that it “encourages you to fly your own ship more, and rely less on other people flying it for you.” That is basically the exact justification I gave for such changes in my original post: other players should not be able to play the game for you, and forms of passive game play should be re-worked into active game play that requires each player in a fleet to contribute to the goal. As I asked in my original post: 
Fleet commanders cannot align other fleet members, activate their guns or other modules, nor can they (as of January 2015) use multiboxing software to effectively fly more than one ship at a time, so why should FCs be able to warp an entire fleet with a single click? 
This is a huge change in the right direction toward making fleets require more individual player skill and participation, as well as towards boosting the effectiveness of solo and small gang players fighting against larger numbers. If you have ever tried to engage or harass a large fleet solo or small gang, a common experience is that the mobility of the fleet depends primarily on one person--the FC. If the FC wants to scan you down (particularly on-grid), he/she can essentially control X number of ships at the same time to land on top of you. This means that while the mobility of a solo player or small gang depends primarily on the skill of each individual player, the mobility of a large fleet depends primarily on a single player--a pretty inane way PVP in EVE has evolved if you think about it. From my own experience, the ease of fleet warp makes fighting against large fleets highly tedious, and pushes solo/small gang players into narrow metas where they have to fly extremely kity ships that can remove tackle quickly, because a single FC can warp dozens or hundreds of players directly onto your location and, particularly if this is an on-grid warp, you will only have seconds to react to either pull range or warp away. This reasoning all the more supports removing fleet warp entirely, as again it simply does not make sense why another player should be able to control X number of ships piloted by other individuals.

3. Reduce Drone DPS by Around 3-5% Across the Board (changed)
Drone damage did not get reduced across the board, but CCP has nerfed sentry drones as well as some of the more OP drone platforms, primarily the ishtar. Drones as a PVP weapon system are in a better place now than they were six months ago, so I count this as a positive change overall.

UPDATE: However, CCP has also gone a step further in reducing drone damage across the board by reducing the drone damage bonus provided by drone damage amplifiers. The change would mean a 2.5% nerf to drone damage provided by tech II DDAs. This is a fantastic change in my opinion, in that most of the tier 1 or cancer tier ships in game right now are drone based--the Tristan which is king of tech 1 frigates at the moment; the vexor; the ishtar; the dominix; the VNI; the rattlesnake; the worm; the gila--all of these ships are the best or close to the best in their respective class, and are, statistically, much more frequently used than any competing ship in the class. This change is also much smarter than my original proposal, because it will not affect the use of drones on ships that use them as a secondary weapon and hence do not use DDAs. There is a strong correlation between ships that use DDAs (i.e., primarily rely on drones for their damage) and ships that are cancer tier or close and hence used far more frequently than their rivals. Another great change that will serve to make more ships worth flying in the long run.

4. Increase Medium Projectile Rate of Fire by Around 2% (changed--mostly)
CCP did not buff medium projectile DPS, but they did make a number of changes which, in effect, amount to a medium projectile buff, even if they are still not in an ideal place overall. First, CCP buffed the range of medium projectile ammo overall, and then nerfed the DPS on sentry drone platforms and medium rails. This in effect has created a more even playing-field, even if medium projectiles are still underwhelming.

5. Reduce Warfare Link Effectiveness by Around 50% (unchanged)
I would now rate changes (nerfs) to links as the #1 most needed balance in the game, but CCP has yet to figure it into their plans. However, more and more players are calling for a major nerf to links, and some of them (like Suitonia at the blog linked above) are offering fantastic proposals for how to make links a more engaging (less passive) but also less overpowering mechanic in game.

6. Local Chat Delay: Pilots do not appear in local chat upon entering a system until their gate cloak ends. (unchanged)
While this is unchanged, it may be a future game play option with the upcoming structure and sov rebalances. CCP is increasingly allowing players to control how much intel they get, and interfere with how much intel other players get. Delayed local chat is one proposal that may make its way into the future sov rebalance, though I still think delayed local should be the default in every system in game. Intel in general is far too cheap and easy to acquire in EVE.

7. Increase Fleet Warp Speed on Battlecruisers and Battleships to be closer to Cruisers (changed!)
CCP has improved the fleet warp on BCs but they have also made warp speed rigs less costly to fit by changing the reductions away from CPU. CCP Fozzie also hinted that combat battlecruisers (and their navy counterparts) will be seeing an interesting balance pass soon, something I am extremely excited to see!

Overall, 4 of the 7 areas I hoped would see balance passes have been significantly improved, and after only 6 months. I hope in the next 6 months the remaining 3 areas get positive changes, but CCP has already surpassed some of my other hopes as well. Heavy Missiles will be getting a DPS increase in July (as hinted by CCP Fozzie) and they are finally introducing modules that improve the velocity or explosion radius of missiles, something many of us have been waiting for for years now.

I've remarked frequently that the current meta in EVE is pretty terrible for solo PVP, but things look to be improving. A few more changes and balance passes and solo PVP might once again be in a good place.

1 comment:

  1. I dunno my dear... winter is coming and low sec is a wonderland...