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  • "Tibberclaw" started this thread

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Saturday, December 28th 2013, 9:19pm

Air Combat Balance: A Comprehensive Change List (a.k.a. Wishlist)...

I originally made this post on the BF4 subreddit about a week ago. However, constructive feedback was limited, and I realized this is a thread much better suited for Symthic where people are generally more knowledgeable and insightful.

Here are my thoughts on how air balance can be improved. Some of these ideas I've picked up from other people in discussions on the topic. Please note that I wouldn't necessarily advocate any of these changes be made in isolation. I'm thinking of how things would play out if all (or even most) of these changes were made. That's because I'm thinking many of these changes would serve to counterbalance the effects of another of my changes, etc.

My hope is that this list could be used as a rough draft for DICE's future balancing fixes. It's probably wishful thinking on my part to think that a DICE dev would read this (let alone consider it), but whatever. The game's balance can be frustrating at times and writing this helped me vent a bit. They can take it or leave it, but at least I'm throwing it out there.



Stingers/IGLAs (manpads):

(1). Increase the damage dealt by manpads (e.g. 45% --> 60%)

Comment: This is obviously a serious buff and the most drastic of my proposed changes, but I think it will make more sense in conjunction with my other changes below. Right now, the manpads just aren't very satisfying to use. Their effectiveness essentially depends on the spammability of the weapon. The missiles you fire don't really feel particularly impactful, and I just feel really cheap spamming them over and over at a helicopter (keeping the vehicle in a perpetual stun-lock) until they finally die after the 3rd or 4th missile or crash into the ground due to the new critical hit mechanics (which, IMO, are poorly designed relative to the BF3 disable system, but I digress). In essence, these launchers need to be redesigned for quality over quantity, but more on that later...

(2). Increase the time it takes to acquire a lock (to about 2.5 seconds).

Comment: This serves to partially offset the damage buff. Also, this helps alleviate the current problem where the incoming missile audio warning is delayed to the point where missiles can be coming at you or sometimes even already hit you before any indication of even the initial warning. If missiles take longer to lock-on, then the audio delay issue is much more forgiving and less of a problem. Additionally, this will indirectly buff the Stealth Coating specialization due to the fact that it operates as a multiplier (e.g. 35% of 2.5 seconds is more than 35% of 1.5 seconds). Currently, the lock-on times are so fast, that the additional 35% is almost negligible. And finally, going back to the "quality over quantity" idea; the manpads will be more potent, but the overall volume will be less. Consequently, from a pilot's perspective, the total amount of missile hits will decrease, and therefore you will spend less overall time in the obnoxious 'critical mobility hit' mode.

(3). Reduce the missile acceleration and significantly reduce the Max Turn Angle (it's currently 23x what it was in BF3).

Comment: Missiles travel much faster in BF4 than in BF3. I have no problem with missiles reaching higher top speeds in order for them to be effective against jets, but they are currently way too fast for short to medium range. This change serves to further alleviate the aforementioned issue with the incoming missile audio warning delay. If the missiles take a bit longer to reach the target, then it gives the game more time to alert the pilot that they have a threat to deal with. To be clear, I'm not talking about velocity; I'm talking about the rate at which the velocity increases to reach it's max speed. The end result should be longer travel times for short to medium range, but relatively little overall change in the travel times across longer distances. As for the Max Turn Angle, this issue is primarily responsible for the bizarre behavior the missiles frequently exhibit such as the crazy squiggly motion when approaching an aircraft with ECM in progress. It is also responsible for making it unnecessarily difficult to dodge missiles behind cover.

(4). Increase the visibility of the missile's smoke trail.

Comment: The little white directional indicator is often obscured on the HUD, and given the insane speed of the missiles and delayed warning system, you frequently never get a chance to determine where you were shot from. I actually found it easier to decipher in BF3, and there wasn't any directional indicator in that game. This was because the smoke trail worked better as a substitute indicator even though you only could see it after the missile was fired.

(5). Increase the disparity in lock-on range between Stinger and IGLA (i.e. reduce the range of Stinger and increase the range of IGLA).

Comment: This will more clearly define the roles and tradeoffs between the two launchers. IGLAs will be the preferred jet-killer, and Stingers will be the preferred chopper-killer. IGLAs are less spammable, because as is part of their design, you must maintain the lock and cannot start your reload and reacquire a target before the first missile hits (yes, I know there is currently an exploit that exists--see change #6 below). From a pros and cons perspective, the range difference should properly reflect the tradeoff. Currently, almost everyone uses Stingers over IGLAs...

(6). Fix IGLA exploit; fired missiles should permanently lose tracking ability once you begin to reload.

Comment: I doubt this was intended, and it also allows for some pretty ridiculous double hits. Also, this especially needs to be fixed to make room for the range buff stated above. This exploit should be fixed for all launchers / missile types that use the persistent targeting mechanic (e.g. Passive Radar).


Attack Helicopters (AHs):

(1). Improve the overall maneuverability of the AHs.

Comment: Although I'd really prefer AHs to handle exactly as they did in BF3, I'd be happy if DICE simply found a middle ground between BF3 and BF4 now. The movement is currently so sluggish that I feel like it waters down and lessens the difference between highly skilled pilots and novices. Certain maneuvers just simply aren't possible anymore. If the maneuverability were improved, skilled pilots could effectively swerve in and out of cover more quickly and more often, which is a much needed ability given the drastic increase in the countermeasure cooldowns for BF4.

(2). Add one additional magazine of ammunition for pilot rockets and gunner rounds (and fix reload exploit).

Comment: I realize that DICE added ammunition pools to prevent the endless base-rape scenario or the tactic which essentially involves camping out at long-range and spamming endless volleys at the target area (this was a problem with tanks as well). However, adding one additional magazine isn't going to even come close to leading us back to these old extremes. Again, I think it will produce a happy medium between what we have now and the way it was in BF3.

(3). Fix the responsiveness of countermeasures (actually, this applies to nearly all vehicles).

Comment: Currently, aerial vehicles have an issue where the countermeasures take a second or so before they actually deploy from the time the pilot actually presses the key/button. This is unacceptable, especially since we already have the issue where the audio warning is delayed. Again, this change would do nothing but make the mechanics already within the game more useable and reliable.


Scout Helicopters (SHs):

(1). Remove the emergency repair function, and reduce the engineer tool repair rate (by approx. 20%).

Comment: Quite simply, it's much too fast as it is right now. Currently, having two healbots makes you virtually invincible, which should not be possible. It should take two engineers to be as effective as one engineer is currently. The primary problem is the emergency repair function, which effectively gives you an instant heal (equivalent to the Extinguisher specialization) simply from being repair tool healed while below the threshold of 37%. After this obviously overpowered mechanic is removed, the base repair rate should also be reduced slightly.

(2). Slightly reduce the splash damage on the 25mm cannon.

Comment: They are just too good and too easy to use right now. I occasionally have 50+ kill games with no repair help. When I have repair help, I'm virtually guaranteed a 50+ kill game. You could be very lethal with the miniguns in BF3, but at least there was some serious aiming skill required to utterly dominate with them. The same is not true of the 25mm cannon.

(3). Slightly increase the damage on the miniguns.

Comment: They already do zero damage to heavy armor, so I see no reason why they shouldn't have a little extra potency against infantry and light armor.


Transport Helicopters (THs):

(1). The miniguns should do more damage and have more spread.

Comment: They simply need to be better at killing people, and there needs to be some margin of error given that it's usually not a very stable platform to fire from. On console in particular, the sensitivity seems unusually high by default (given your selected sensitivity). The miniguns are currently a complete pain in the ass to use. I don't really see much risk of transports becoming overpowered as a result of this. They were better in BF3, and they weren't even close to being overpowered in that game...

(2). In addition to IR Flares, pilots should have the option of ECM Jammer and Fire Extinguisher.

Comment: Is this really too much to ask?

(3). Gyro Stabilizer should be equipped by default

Comment: The THs need a stable platform every bit as much as any other air vehicle.


Stealth Jets:

(1). Slightly increase the damage on the 20mm and 25mm cannons. Also, significantly increase the damage of the 30mm cannon.

Comment: This should help bring greater parity between stealth and attack jets. For the stealth jets, the cannons are too weak, and the 30mm cannon in particular just seems useless. The rate of fire is so slow that it really needs a damage increase to make it viable.

(2). Make the US and CN jets on par with the RU's Flanker.

Comment: There should be near-perfect parity between the US, RU and CN factions.

Attack Jets:

(1). Slightly decrease the damage on the 30mm vulcan cannon.

Comment: The damage is overkill right now, especially since rocket pods have a higher damage now relative to BF3. When you use the Rocket Pods in tandem with the main gun, it's possible to 100-0 two tanks within the same strafing run. I realize attack jets are "tank busters" by design, but I think having the ability to 100-0 a tank within a single strafe is more than sufficient; you don't need to kill two.

(2). Slightly reduce the maneuverability (i.e. lower the maximum lateral G's) and create near-perfect parity between factions.

Comment: I like the idea of having both stealth jets and attack jets on the same map. However, like the choppers, attack jets should be somewhat dependent on the stealth jet as their aerial bodyguard. Since the attack jets have a significant advantage in firepower, the stealth jets should still have the clear edge in dogfighting ability by virtue of their maneuverability. Basically, the difference should be more noticeable.


Active Radar missiles:

(1). Significantly reduce the effective range (i.e. beyond a certain range, the missiles should not be able to "find" a target to track).

Comment: This secondary weapon is downright overpowered in so many different ways. Active Radar missiles are impossible to counter; they reload much too fast and are therefore spammable; they give absolutely no warning to the targeted pilot by virtue of the fact that they don't require a lock-on; and they have ridiculous range. Given all of these advantages, I think it's fair to severely cut the effective range down to 250m or 300m. Mechanically, they are simply better than the other lock-on missile alternatives, and rather than compensate by nerfing the damage into oblivion (which won't really stop them from being completely annoying on the receiving end), they should instead be assigned the role of the extremely potent, uncounterable close range alternative. This should apply to all vehicle types that have this option (jets and mobile AA).

(2). Active Radar missiles should never cause Critical Mobility Hits.

Comment: This should mitigate their overall obnoxiousness...


Below Radar:

(1). Bring back a weaker version of 'Below Radar' (i.e. lock-on weaponry takes 50% longer to acquire a lock when the aircraft is below a predetermined elevation threshold of approx. 25 meters).

Comment: I know there are a lot of detractors of the original Below Radar system, which completely blocked any lock-on weaponry from acquiring a lock below 25m. However, I don't think I'm alone in arguing that the concept behind Below Radar is a good one from a gameplay standpoint and really served a purpose in BF3 for establishing a risk-reward dynamic with meaningful tradeoffs. You can fly low and mitigate any lock-on threat (with the exception of laser designations), but you were then much more vulnerable to tank shells, RPGs, and a host of other threats that really only came into play at close range or whenever you were within their field of view. Alternatively, you could fly high and avoid all of the deadly 1HK stuff, but you were then at the mercy of the army of manpads waiting for you. I think this change will increase the depth of the combat. Also, Below Radar should be a universal attribute of all aerial vehicles, not an unlock as it was in BF3.


Critical Mobility Hits:

Comment: This, to me, is one of the most frustrating changes from BF3 to BF4. I found BF3's disable system much more sophisticated and rewarding than this new critical hit system. For one, disables in BF3 were permanent unless you repaired the vehicle above a certain threshold. For example, you would only become disabled once you drop below 35%, but you had to repair the vehicle back up to 100% to get rid of the impaired controls and health drain. Granted, I think the 100% threshold was much too high, and I think it would be reasonable to set the recovery threshold only slightly higher than the actual disable threshold (e.g. disable at 35% and recovery at 50%). Regardless, one consequence of the old BF3 system was that there was an incentive to escape to safety and repair the vehicle. Now it's just a temporary status effect that magically disappears from your vehicle after a short period of time. In addition, and more importantly, the new system basically allows for zero user input to counteract the impaired controls and maneuver your crippled vehicle to safety. In BF3, the controls were noticeably impaired, but you could still guide the vehicle in the direction you wanted and make an attempt at retreating. In BF4, you are simply helpless, and often end up a victim of endless stun-lock chains from Stingers that do very little damage but are effectively one-hit-kills due to the fact that you get hit by a series of missiles before you have the opportunity to fly to safety. Again, the new system renders very little difference in the outcome for a skilled pilot and a novice pilot; your fate is not really in your control.

I think the critical hit system should work more like BF3, except maybe they could keep the difference in how the critical hit is triggered. If you didn't already know, the new system triggers disables based on the total damage and placement of the projectile rather than the damage threshold that was linked to the vehicle's health.

Aircraft HUD:

Comment: The HUD is currently almost completely illegible. There is not enough coloring contrast and the text is too small and blurry. I didn't find BF3's HUD particularly great either, but BF4's is much worse.

-----------------------------------

Let me know what changes you agree with or disagree with. Is there anything else you think should be added to the list?

This post has been edited 27 times, last edit by "Tibberclaw" (Dec 31st 2013, 8:11am)


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Saturday, December 28th 2013, 10:54pm

Scout Helis: Firstly, reducing the repair efficiency by that much is ridiculous, when the actual problem is the emergency repair function. If you don't know about it, it basically repairs your vehicle to 37% if you are disabled after you get past a certain percentage. It's ridiculously OP and stupid. After that is removed, THEN reduce the effectiveness of repairs, but by 20%, not 50%. The 7.62 Minigun should be buffed to 20-30 damage so it does more than the 25mm, which is fine, though it's ability to splash enemies out of the scout cockpit is a bit much. Other than that, the limited bullets already counteract its usefulness.

Disable/Mobility Crit System: Freaking Stupid. Compared to the Bf3 system, this is just terrible. While the whole "Mobility" thing is cool in theory, it kind of destroys helis and makes the gyro stabilizer the only viable upgrade. BACKTOBF3.

I basically agree with everything else you said, good work.
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  • "Tibberclaw" started this thread

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Saturday, December 28th 2013, 11:02pm

Quoted

Scout Helis: Firstly, reducing the repair efficiency by that much is ridiculous, when the actual problem is the emergency repair function. If you don't know about it, it basically repairs your vehicle to 37% if you are disabled after you get past a certain percentage. It's ridiculously OP and stupid. After that is removed, THEN reduce the effectiveness of repairs, but by 20%, not 50%.



Actually, now that you mention it, that makes perfect sense. I can recall times where I felt like the repairs were insanely fast at extremely low health, but I thought I was just seeing things...

You're right, if that were fixed, then the base heal rate shouldn't be nerfed as much. I'll revise that change based on your feedback.

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Saturday, December 28th 2013, 11:57pm

Regarding transport helicopters,

I think it's too late to add in alternative countermeasures/vehicle upgrades because of the way transport vehicles are categorized. I personally would much rather have missile/mobility mechanics tweaked and gunner/passenger FOVs fixed.

Minigun damage against infantry is acceptable at the moment. The reason why it may seem impossible to gun effectively in public servers is often due to the pilot's flying style, not your DPS. A damage multiplier boost against other air vehicles would be greatly appreciated however.

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Sunday, December 29th 2013, 12:14am

Attack Helis need gunner flares back and another mag of ammo. Scout Heli needs it's 7.62 buffed vs infantry and a 4-5x slower repair time. Do note that there are double reps that can stack with mechanic still. Active Radar missle should have a 30% chance of not tracking the target. This was basically how the Sidewinder was in Nam if you ever watched the tv series Dogfights. Nerfing the 350m Stinger range is like nerfing DMR's imo.
Edit: These are alternitive ideas to BF4's current state.

This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "Deicide" (Dec 29th 2013, 12:55am)


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Sunday, December 29th 2013, 12:19am

Nice work with the suggestions. ;)
Also take a look at this thread and the things others and i suggested there.
Conquest balancing (vehicle balancing)/ a discussion thread
As for manpads. They do 45 damage. The critical hit system for air vehicles must be thrown out since a hit will end up making any helo crash immediately if he does not use gyro, and even if so it is extremely frustrating.

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Sunday, December 29th 2013, 12:25am

I think it's too late to add in alternative countermeasures/vehicle upgrades because of the way transport vehicles are categorized.
Yeah, I see what you're saying, but don't they already have a designated category for "Transports" in BF4? You can already customize your camo, why not add additional slots for helicopter countermeasures, etc? If this was BF3, I'd agree with you because there wasn't any customization for transports at all.

Either way, if it turns out adding additional countermeasures is too much work, then it's not a big deal. The TH's offensive usefulness is a more important issue.

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Sunday, December 29th 2013, 12:35am

Attack Helis need gunner flares back and another mag of ammo. Scout Heli needs it's 7.62 buffed vs infantry and a 4-5x slower repair time. Do note that there are double reps that can stack with mechanic still. Active Radar missle should have a 30% chance of not tracking the target. This was basically how the Sidewinder was in Nam if you ever watched the tv series Dogfights. Nerfing the 350m Stinger range is like nerfing DMR's imo.
I don't agree with bringing back gunner flares. Below Radar was a much more interesting perk for helicopters that really impacted gameplay. We don't need both. Adding gunner flares seems redundant. If we need more countermeasures, they should just reduce the cooldown for the pilot.

4x or 5x slower repair time seems extreme IMO. It's too fast now, but it's not even close to being 400% faster than BF3.

Also, having a 30% chance for Active Radar tracking is not a good idea IMO. The last thing we need in the game is more randomness and inconsistency.

As for your comment about nerfing the range of Stingers, you are taking my comment out of context. If Stinger's were doing 2x as much damage (as I suggested above), then it's a poor analogy to compare them to DMRs...

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Sunday, December 29th 2013, 12:35am

There is a category for transports in the vehicle customization menu, but it is shared with all transport vehicles including the AMTRAC. There would have to be some way to reconcile unlocks for both, which is more work than DICE would be willing to do IMO.

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Sunday, December 29th 2013, 12:45am

Attack Helis need gunner flares back and another mag of ammo. Scout Heli needs it's 7.62 buffed vs infantry and a 4-5x slower repair time. Do note that there are double reps that can stack with mechanic still. Active Radar missle should have a 30% chance of not tracking the target. This was basically how the Sidewinder was in Nam if you ever watched the tv series Dogfights. Nerfing the 350m Stinger range is like nerfing DMR's imo.
I don't agree with bringing back gunner flares. Below Radar was a much more interesting perk for helicopters that really impacted gameplay. We don't need both. Adding gunner flares seems redundant. If we need more countermeasures, they should just reduce the cooldown for the pilot.

4x or 5x slower repair time seems extreme IMO. It's too fast now, but it's not even close to being 400% faster than BF3.

Also, having a 30% chance for Active Radar tracking is not a good idea IMO. The last thing we need in the game is more randomness and inconsistency.

As for your comment about nerfing the range of Stingers, you are taking my comment out of context. If Stinger's were doing 2x as much damage (as I suggested above), then it's a poor analogy to compare them to DMRs...

All of those suggestions are without your changes to give some alternitives.
Edit: How the game is current is what I was figuring these ideas from to avoid any further confusion.