Monday, March 18, 2019

Bringing More Balance To EVE This Spring

At first, I saw that CCP published a dev blog on balancing the game and thought, "This doesn't apply to me. I don't fly capitals." But as I continued reading, I began to have some thoughts that might hold a little credibility. First, though, a subject I have no credibility, force auxiliaries.

Capsuleers are supposed to have god-like powers, but apparently whoever created the FAX machine took the lore a little too far. Since the introduction of the logistics capital ship line, players have complained about the raw repair power of force auxiliaries, especially in certain types of wormholes.

Instead of just nerfing the ships directly, CCP chose to change the repair mechanic. The change involves a diminishing returns system more similar to bashing a structure than sticking 4 warp core stabilizers in a ship's low slots. The diminishing returns are based on the total amount of hit points, not the number of repair modules, being applied to a ship. Not only does the change prevent an enemy from neutralizing the repair power of a fleet by applying small remote repairs to a target, but minimizes the effects on cruiser-sized repairs. The dev blog didn't go into the details of the effects on a remote-repair battleship fleet, but with the introduction of the FAX machine, I gather that meta was pretty much shelved.

The one concern I have is the increased amount of calculations bogging down the servers. But the dev blog addressed the point:
"This type of system is something we have wanted for a long time and have investigated more than once in the past. Thanks to big improvements under the hood over the last few years, such as brain in a box, we are now able to pursue such a system without crippling performance costs."
Titans received a nerf to the use of High Angle Weapons. The dev blog stated a desire to make titans less oppressive to sub-cap fleets, and HAW guns, especially when used en masse, are a big problem. The solution was to cut HAW dps by 50%, but to then give the damage back to dreadnaughts when they enter siege mode. Once again, we see CCP opting to balance ships though the modules they use.

We know start entering an area I know a little bit about. Not the use of carriers and supercarriers, but the indirect effects. The first nerf hits fighters, with the explosion radius increasing by 15% and explosion velocity decreasing by 30% for all fighter attacks. The second nerf is to the Networked Sensor Array. The NSA significantly enhances a carrier or supercarrier's scan resolution at the cost of removing the ability to fit any offensive electronic warfare modules. After the update, the NSA will prevent ships from warping until the module is turned off.

I don't know much about combat, but I know enough to know the changes will lead to reduced damage output for carriers and supercarriers while at the same time possibly increasing the vulnerability of the ships. One effect should result in sub-capital gangs having greater success against capital-class ships. But the changes also affect PvE. At the very least, I expect the changes to reduce the ISK faucets caused by carrier and supercarrier ratting.

On the subject of ISK faucets, CCP is lowering the insurance payouts for capital insurance.
"Speaking of added risk, we aren’t happy with how inexpensive insured capitals are to lose. We want large ships losses to mean something and the current affordability of insured FAX and Carriers especially has a lot to with the dissatisfaction of fighting them.

"Change: We have adjusted the insurance contract cost and payout multipliers for many ship classes, with larger T1 ships generally receiving lower multipliers than smaller ships. This change will be most significant on supercarriers and standard capital ships, which will see their insurance contract costs and payouts reduced by approximately 50% and 33% respectively."

On the subject of sub-cap rebalancing, I don't know about the quality of the buffs to the various ships. But two ships known for drones received nerfs. The first was the Vexor Navy Issue, a favorite of low-level botters and AFK warriors throughout null sec. The removal of the drone velocity bonus will at least make the income generation slower. The other, the Gila, was a go-to ship for all occasions, from holiday events to Abyssal space. I don't know how badly cutting drone hit points by 50% will affect the ship.

The final major changes concern the Rorqual. Some might call the changes overdue, but CCP seems to want to turn the capital industrial ship more into the command and support ship it used to be and away from acting like a rock munching monster.

Following the theme of increasing risk, the Rorqual will see nerfs to both its active tank and the PANIC module. The shield booster amount provided by the Industrial Core will see a 50% reduction (from 120% down to 60%) for the T1 variant and a nearly 50% reduction (140% down to 75%) for the T2 version. The PANIC module, which provides complete immunity for Rorquals, will see the base protection time drop from 5 minutes down to 4, a 20% drop in time.

The Rorqual will also see nerfs to both mining yield and safety of its excavator drones. On the mining front, 'Excavator' mining drones will see a base mining yield decrease of 20%, with the ice harvesting versions receiving a 24% increase in the base cycle times. The volume of the drones themselves will increase from 750m3 to 1100m3, with a corresponding 2800m3 expansion of the ship's drone bay. The size expansion is aimed at the practice of Rorqual pilots gathering up their Excavator drones at the first sign of trouble and sticking them into a Wetu mobile depot. With the size change, pilots will only have the ability to save 3 of the 5 drones from destruction in case of an attack.

Finally the capital industrial ship will see a buff to its command boosts. Mining foreman burst strength is increasing 20% for both the T1 & T2 versions of the Industrial Core, to 30% and 36% respectively. I don't know if the increased boosting power will make Hulks rival the mining power of a Rorqual, but perhaps the difference will shrink enough so that exhumers become a more viable option.

I have to admit, I was surprised that CCP announced the changes are coming in the April release. Then I reached the end of the dev blog and saw May is slated to see new content.
"We have a lot more on the way, starting in May. The May release will be focused on new ship and module content, rather than changes to existing balance. You can expect at least one new ship and some other new toys. More details coming on those very soon!"
I keep saying we'll see a proper expansion in May, and the dev blog doesn't make me believe otherwise. But I won't speculate further on the dev blog, as real life delayed this post and Evesterdam is coming up in a few days. I'll have more on EVE's future after watching the streams from Amsterdam this weekend.

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