Truen1ght7:21 PMFirst off, one could argue that the Merlin is just a shield Incursus yet pilots are perfectly happy to choose to fly either one and can see that beyond the similar turret hardpoints and bonus that there is enough variety in the two to make either one a different yet viable choice. Similarly, a Ferox and Brutix with identical turrets and bonus would still have other factors to pull pilots in different directions: drone bay sizes, speed and maneuverability, tanking types and qualities, etc, and that's disregarding the cross training time to fly both (which will be longer once the skill changes come in the summer to make Caldari and Gallente battlecruiser skills).
wouldn't a damage bonus and removal of the optimal range bonus just make a shield brutix in terms of dps? What's the point? If you're trying to make everything the same in the same way, sure, it's valid. But if you want some real options, you can't exactly do that. Just because us PvPers don't normally use rails doesn't mean we should outright say the optimal bonus should be replaced with damage.
Sure, rail ferox not the best PvP wise. Neither is blaster ferox or god forbid HAM-ferox. Realistically the ship is more of a jack-of-all trades ship and not some tank or dps powerhouse. It still performs well despite that.
In other words, I'm OK with both ships having a damage bonus. But that's not what has me agitated.
When CCP was revamping tech 1 frigates, destroyers and cruisers it was so nice to see ships relegated to the dustbin of history to suddenly see new life and change the landscape of combat. And since the ships shifted into more specific roles (e.g. Combat, Attack, Logistic, and EWar frigates and cruisers) it was easy to overlook the fact that the changes represented a narrowing view of what tech 1 ships could be, and what bonuses they could sport.
But now we are moving into larger ships which ironically are harder to differentiate than frigates. This is because a simple change of a 100 meters per second speed or an extra low slot or extra turret has a larger impact on a smaller hull than it does on a ship class with more slots/hardpoints to start with or a smaller band of velocity / agility variance. To make matters worse for the battlecruiser and battleship lines, the current vessels are almost all of the Combat variant with the tier III battlecruisers falling into the Attack class. To summarize: lots of ships and fewer methods to differentiate them.
Instead of thinking outside the box to resolve this conundrum, it seems as if CCP's ship designers have decided to simply take the easiest and most direct path: tank and damage. Thus we end up debating whether or not the Ferox should have an optimal range weapon bonus versus a tracking/damage/rate of fire weapon bonus when I think this would have been the perfect time to explore alternative designs.
For example, instead of a damage bonus, give the Ferox (and one BC from each faction) a 5% bonus to scan probes per level. Did your head just explode? I'm sure CCP Fozzie's did, but stay with me. This bonus with a tanking bonus would create a perfect exploration platform for players, able to scan and fight while having some mid slots for code breakers or analyzers. No, its not perfect but it would be a good stepping stone to hardcore exploration without having to run multiple ships and the pains associated therein.
Another example: Give a bonus to scan resolution so the ship locks faster than typical battlecruisers. Might be good for sniping.
Another example: tractor beam range and speed.
Another: Afterburner speed or MWD sig bloom.
Another: Smart bomb damage and range.
Another: Ewar battlecruisers!
Another: warp speed increase.
Another: Scram range.
And so forth and so on. But it seems CCP's ship balancers are focused tightly on # of slots, hardpoints, and tank and gank bonuses to the detriment of anything else for these larger platforms and it frustrates me. I want more, CCP, and I'm willing to suffer a little to get it.