Once again I delve into the depth of this awesome dev blog from October last year about the changes coming to capitals in 2016, specifically about carriers and fighters:
Carriers, Super-Carriers & Fighters
We are completely re-imagining fighter game-play.
The carriers of the Citadel Expansion will launch squadrons, made of up to 12 fighters of the same type.
These squadrons act as a singular unit. Carrier pilots give orders to an entire squadron. You lock an entire squadron as one unit, except instead of Shields, Armor and Hull, the number of fighters remaining in that squadron are shown.
Carriers & Super-Carriers will launch up to 5 separate squadrons at a time. We are intending on introducing 3 classes of fighters, these will replace all existing fighters and fighter-bombers.
Light Fighters Optimized for anti-Fighter combat and light damage roles
Support Fighters Optimized for Electronic Warfare tasks including (but not limited to) Stasis Webifiers, Warp Disruptors, Neutralizing, Tracking Disrupting, etc.
Heavy Fighters Optimized for launching waves of bombs or torpedoes, able to do tremendous damage to capitals and structures.
The number and types of squadrons a carrier or super-carrier can launch will be limited.
Management of fighters ready on the launch decks will be an important consideration for carrier pilots. It takes time to swap one squadron of ready fighters out for another, or re-arm your Heavy Fighter Torpedo squadrons.
I've commented before how the new carrier gameplay with the "overhead" tactical camera and controlling squadrons of fighters instead of individual fighters was reminiscent of World of Warships and their carrier gameplay, and I think this is a good direction to go in.
But it does highlight two glaring holes that CCP has not publicly addressed, one I suspect they plan to very soon and one I fear is being ignored.
1) The Drone Control interface is woefully out of date.
The current interface for controlling drones of any ship class, capital or sub-capital, was terrible ten years ago, its completely unacceptable now in 2016. And seeing the plans for the fighter interface begs the question if they plan to port these changes down stream to the smaller ships as well. I should hope so because if its not on the radar for updating soon then I might have to go shoot some monuments.
Can the new fighter controls, where you control a squadron instead of individual drones, work on sub caps? I think it can if you downscale it to controlling the drones separately, the big win is being able to send drones into space and assign them tasks and recall them at will without FUCKING RIGHT CLICKING. Sorry, lost it there for a sec. Teaching my son to play EVE and everything about fighting rats is straight forward until I have to explain how to launch drones and get them to fight. "Right click on the drones in space area... no, the other click... and choose engage target...don't forget to recall your drones!"
CCP, its time.
2) The gap between battleships specializing in drones and full blow capital carriers is too big.
I've argued for this last year in a blog banter. Think about it: you are specializing in drones, working up through Tristan, Algos, Vexor, Myrmidon, Dominix, controlling five big Ogre IIs or 5 Warden IIs in a hull around 200 million all fit, maybe a bit more. And the next step is a hull 5-6 times the cost that can control 10 Fighters (or 15 if you're insane with Drone Control Units) but has all the mobility of a log. And includes new mechanics such as jumping, triage module, ship maintenance hangers, etc, etc.
The jump in price and functionality is too big. Its a barrier to natural progress and prevents fighter gameplay from seeing wider use, creating an environment where a lot of people never (or hardly ever) experience it because its too risky / difficult to learn and a few people master it and use it extensively. This will only be compounded by the new fighter mechanics and interface (which might be mitigated some if drones undergo a similar shift).
So I propose a new capital ship class that I call Assault Carriers similar in size and function to the Orca: hull price point about 500-700 million ISK, can use fighters like carriers (albeit fewer in number), no jump capability, can go into high sec, etc. This would make the jump from drones to fighters less severe, get more people used to the mechanics of fighters (both on controlling and receiving ends).
CCP, its time.