Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Identity Crisis

We had a few big goals with Recons:

Give Combat Recons something to make them stand out as a unique and interesting set of ships
Close the gap somewhat between Recons and T3 Cruisers, though this will also be a goal during the T3 Cruiser rebalance
Align Recons around ship developer trends established in other classes (Roden Lachesis should not use missiles for example)
Address any other general balance issues or pain points (hello Pilgrim)

Those goals lead us to the following major changes:

Combat Recons will now be permanently undetectable by directional scanners
All eight Recons will have the capacitor cost of warping reduced by roughly half
Where appropriate, bonuses will be adjusted to match ship developer trends
All eight Recons are having their capacitor pool and capacitor regeneration buffed (roughly 20% increase in cap regen)
The average maximum velocity across the class is going up by around 20m/s

We hope in the end we have a more attractive class of ship overall and some exciting new ways to use Combat Recons. That said, there are still some issues we hoped to address before rebalancing this class, such as ECM, which simply weren't happening fast enough. We still feel good about making improvements to this class now and look forward to hearing what you guys have to say about it.
The biggest news was the new functionality of  combat recons being undetectable by directional scanners. High Drag podcast episode 47 had CCP Rise on to talk about the changes and in the preamble to that interview they hit right on the head about the problem balancing these classes of ship: they suffer from an identity crisis.

First off, there are two classes of ship here, the Force Recon which gets the covert ops cloak and the Combat Recon which traditionally has been more combat oriented and thus better offensive and defensive abilities. Both classes got superior electronic warfare capabilities as they represented the pinnacle of their respective faction's technologies in that area.

The Force Recons with their covert ops cloak were originally well suited to the title "recon" as they had the ability to scout out and scan down the enemy fleets and targets. Combat Recons were never very "recon"-like and tended to be used more for the bonused e-war modules. In other words, they represented the Electronic Attack Cruiser role.

Over time, however, other ships were introduced or buffed and started to encroach on both roles for both classes. Tech 3 strategic cruisers with covert ops cloaks and bubble immunity and/or e-war capabilities, interceptors with bubble immunity, stealth bombers getting covert ops cloak (there was a time they did not have it!), boosted tech 1 frigates, Sisters of Eve faction ships with covert ops cloaks, etc all have combined to provide many options for scouting (i.e. recon) that in many cases are easier to train for and cheaper to buy (or in the case of the Tech 3 strat cruisers, have beefier tanks and DPS). For combat recons, the buffed tech 1 disruption cruisers provided almost the same electronics superiority for a fraction of the price while the damage output of the combat recons was easily surpassed by the tech 1 combat cruisers.

So we come to today's discussion and it appears CCP wants to emphasize the recon aspect of the classes, To that end, Force recons are simply being "stat buffed" to make them more attractive vis a vis the other recon options in the game in terms of hit points, speed, and capacitor. Nothing really controversial there.

But the new ability for Combat Recons to get a directional scanner cloak has been very polarizing in the community. Some see it as exciting new gameplay mechanic that will allow Combat Recons to be invigorating sneak attack ships in arenas like wormhole space and low sec, while others see it as game breaking ability that will be exploited in horrible unfair ways. And a lot of opinions between the two.

I'm ambivalent about the changes because it still feels like the classes suffer from the identity crisis that is the DNA of the ships right now. I'd almost prefer the Force Recons lost some of their e-war capabilties for more interesting mechanics to enhance their recon features, while the Combat "Recons" were enhanced to emphasize their e-war capabilities to make them the best options for e-war bar none. Thus neither class would suffer from dual identities.

That being said, I'm not overly opposed to CCP Rise's current proposal as I think the d-scan immunity can offer some interesting gameplay without being breaking.

1 comment:

  1. I'm one of the ones against the d-scan immunity. I just don't see what problem it's supposed to solve. If folks want d-scan immunity, fit a cloak :)

    Other than that, yeah, I agree that CCP seems to have painted themselves into a corner with the Recon class. Maybe they should look at removing them entirely?