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GSF Discussion: Ship Balance

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EricMusco's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 12:34 PM | #1 This is the last staff post in this thread.  
Hey folks,

This week, we are creating three separate forum threads for GSF discussion. You can head to this thread to get links to each of them.

For this thread let's focus on ship balance and how you feel about it. Let us know your thoughts below, here are a few questions to get you started:
  • Are there any ships you feel are over or under powered? Which ship(s) and why?
  • Are there any ship components that you feel are over or under powered? Which components and why?
  • Are there any crew members that you feel are over or under powered? Which crew members and why?

Note that this discussion is not about the addition of new ships, components, or crew members. Just about the balance of existing ones.

Let us know your thoughts!

Eric Musco | Community Manager
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Ravenschild's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 01:53 PM | #2
I absolutely think ship balance needs to be looked at,just as it was when the initial rebalancing happened that added serious cool downs to barrel roll. I can say personally that when the other side starts showing almost nothing but gunships and I am getting TDM after TDM I stop queuing. No ship has the speed or range to close into overlapping fields of fire (which has become a common tactic) and survive in order to take them down. With TDM what happens is you cannot close and if you do not engage you get penalized. If you do engage you need to swap to a gunship so you can damage the opponents and which point it becomes World of Tanks in space and not Star Wars. I personally prefer not to play gunships as they dont feel Star Wars like in any fashion. Until GSF launched there were few if any units that had near capital ships range that were not capital ships in any of the novels and certainly none of the films.
If you get hurt,hurt them back.If you get killed,walk it off
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Verain's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 02:02 PM | #3
This thread will become the largest on the forum!

Are there any ships you feel are over or under powered? Which ship(s) and why?
The strikes range from almost ok to terrible.
The type 2 strike (Quell/Pike) needs to use missiles, which require an incredible amount of player permission on the opponent side to literally do anything at all. The missiles themselves are reasonably poor components, and the ship system is just swapping between them- but the missile differences are probably not worth giving up a system component. With just two odd engine components to work with, neither of which helps you actually land missiles (retros pretty much required) combined with the poor handling and engine capability of strike fighters (as compared to scouts, which have the same job as strikes), it is extremely hard to be useful with this ship in any situation. This is generally the worst ship in the game, and many of its problems are related to it being a strike fighter, above and beyond the non-cluster missiles being so mediocre. The weaknesses of this ship are well documented across the forum: this is just a summary.

The type 1 strike (Starguard/Rycer) can switch between weapons that have terrible synergy, probably on purpose. The ion cannon is interesting, but has serious range issues. The ion cannon being so good at tearing down shields at least gives this ship the ability to have some effect on the scoreboard, unlike the Pike, which exists solely to harass noobs. Rapid fire lasers sucks on all ships, but it extra sucks on the Starguard. For a ship whose special is to switch primary weapons, you would expect access to actually good primary weapons. But the real issue is, it's a dogfighter, but it has a terrible set of baseline stats for dogfighting, just like all strikes. A strike fighter is tanky enough and maneuverable enough that it can survive acceptably if flying defensively, but who can it threaten? For a ship based on lining up shots with primary weapons, it sure doesn't have many tools required to make that happen. A baseline buff to strikes is probably needed here, in addition to the fact that so many of its component choices are simply not that great for any purpose.

The type 3 strike (Clarion/Imperium) is almost good. Any baseline strike buffs would probably make this ship playable in the metagame, at least as a utility ship. The power of repair probes, decent selection of shield components, presence of both armor AND shield secondaries, all add up to a ship that is almost a good utility ship. In a land of bombers, you need to be able to do more things on a node than just circle and wait for friends, however.

The type 3 bomber is an odd mishmash of abilities. He's supposed to be some kinda hybrid, with his access to decent missiles and power dive, and lack of access to the all-important (for bombers) armor component. Like the type 1 strike, he has access to charged plating, which is an absolute trap choice. Without the ability to select the damage reduction armor component, this move is TWENTY-ONE TIMES less useful than it is for other ships on the map using it correctly. This ship's generally good access to components, however, makes me think that in a slightly different meta he would see play. He seems to be weak just because of the types of opponents he faces. If my team is fielding three bombers, I don't want any of them to be him.

The type 3 scout (Spearpoint/Bloodmark) is just too damned odd of a ship. Without access to a secondary weapon capable of firing (you won't hit good opponents hardly ever with EMP, Ion, or Thermite), and without any armor penetration on his main weapon, he has a hard time playing the game at all. If the game had a whole bunch more dogfighting, his role as a command scout might actually come into play some, but as it is, you'd never take him over a type 2 scout.

The type 2 gunship (Comet Breaker / Dustmaker) has an odd set of goofball abilities, and seems to be trying to play a game that doesn't exist. For him to have a good time in life, he would need to have something that gives him a unique edge against the other gunships- at the very least, the type 1 gunship, who shares a great deal more with him than the dogfighty type 3 gunship. The ability to switch to a proton or thermite isn't an advantage, because these missiles cannot help you win games, and they cannot strike good pilots. If these missiles were reasonably choices, then this ship would probably be good for free. His lack of distortion is a pretty big deal, but that could be fine if he actually felt like he was able to hit heavily or dogfight or had any real distinguishing ability versus a type 1 gunship. His issues are probably related to the fact that several components (and all lock-on missiles except clusters) that he has access to need some help.

Overpoweredness is harder to describe. I can say this though:

The type 2 scout (battlescout, Sting/Flashfire) is overpowered by ANY definition. The type 1 gunship (railsniper, Quarrel/Mangler) and type 3 gunship (Condor/Jungoranwhatever) are overpowered by MOST definitions.

The battlescout has all the good components. He has the burst laser cannon from the gunship line. He has the quad laser and cluster missile from the strike line. He has all the standard issue scout mobility. He has an amazing set of scout systems to select from, of which targeting telemetry is reasonably meta defining. He also has the amazing rocket pods. He has the highest dps of any ship, and much of his burst can come from huge crits, which his special can boost. The reason he's unquestionably OP is that there are a huge number of builds for him, all of which are good for something, and many of which are superior versions of builds that the type 1 scout or any strike are trying to do. Lots of gunships that you want to burst fast? Consider quads and pods. Need a dogfighter, also great against gunships? Burst and clusters. Need to pop bombers like they are stupid blimps? Burst and pods ignores all their armor, you can kill one in seconds through their defensives. There's a battlescout build for every dogfighting, mobility, or burst dps job in the game. [b]But you can't just nerf this guy![b] Because....

The two good gunships (type 1 and type 3) define the meta on shipyards TDM. This may be a map issue, but they also define the meta pretty well on Kuat TDM, and are a balanced part of your complete fleet in all other maps. While a scout can lock a gunship down pretty well, and destroy an unguarded one in open space, their range, weaponry, and lack of UI support in identifying them mean that a scout who dives a gunship may have to tank blows from up to SIX other gunships. While this does accomplish the intended goal of making them waste time, energy, and aiming (allowing your presumably four to five allies to close gaps, reposition, or defeat the enemy gunships in some manner), it requires a lot of coordination to get past this sort of thing, and the lead scout is almost a sacrifice. Basically, the way railguns stack is an issue on some maps.

The type 2 scout, and to a lesser degree, the type 1 scout, are able to mount offenses against stacked gunships. If the type 2 scout was recognized as being well above the dogfighting capabilities of the other scouts, along with being good against gunships AND bombers, and as a result nerfed, gunships would become WAY too good. Meanwhile, if you just nerfed the gunships, the battlescout would be too damned good (and possibly also the bombers, who, when stacked, need to be attacked with gunships).

Your entire game balance hinges mostly on the tuning of the type 2 scout, type 1 gunship, type 3 gunship, type 2 bomber, and type 1 bomber, relative to each other. These five ships need to be considered together when making changes to ships or components. The reason we always ask for strike buffs is that strike buffs could change the meta for the better- they don't have a job right now, and they could be given one first, and then other stuff tuned around that.

Are there any ship components that you feel are over or under powered? Which components and why?
Rapid fire lasers. I have complained about this cool but terrible component before. The fast version is, this gun is vastly too weak and has no role. It has the weakest shooting mechanic in the game (rapid fire), and it has no compensatory buffs for this- in fact it has a terrible dps to go along with its huge requirement of holding a cursor on a target, which is the worst mechanic to shoot with. If you, or a dev friend, wants to dismiss this, absolutely do not. Anyone who defends this gun in its current state is totally wrong. Join GSF Discord some night, I will talk anyone's ear off about this, just wind me up. It's not friendly to new players, it isn't the "noob tube" of this game, it teaches players to fly wrong, it has no damned job, and it is a big trick that turns off players by being a default component.

Here's my giant rant about this, it is old but valid:

All lock-on missiles but cluster missile and sorta interdiction missile In general, enemy players have to give you permission to be hit by an EMP missile, concussion missile, or ion missile. They need to be just a torso logged into the game to be hit by proton or thermite. The few ships that can be meaningfully struck by these are bombers flying to nodes, and even they have plenty of workarounds. None of these can strike a scout. Hardly any of them can strike a gunship. They don't even work great against strike fighters. If all five of these missiles were added to EVERY ship in the game tomorrow, almost no one would take them over whatever they have now. That's a sign of a bad component: if you performed that hypothetical with clusters or rocket pods or slug railgun or seismic mine, you can bet some builds would use them.

Plasma Railgun - This railgun kinda needs a better job. Missing the accuracy/tracking thing is a big deal, being able to optionally tank most of the dot on your stronger shield half is interesting but does weaken the gun. In general, two gunships have access to this, and there's almost no reason to take it- the cases where it performs better than slug or ion are far and few between. As a gunship, you want to STRIKE your target (so you want accuracy, range, and a big field of effect), you want to DAMAGE your target (so you want raw damage and armor piercing and aoe). The plasma offers ONE of these, but only kind of- it has a big field of effect. That's pretty much it. Each railgun should be offering you some of this pie, but not the whole thing, and ion and slug are pretty good about that- but plama doesn't offer much compared to the others.

Quad laser, laser canon, light laser canon- These are meant to be the meat and potatoes, but they are in fact used reasonably infrequently. A dev reading this might come to the conclusion that burst laser is OP, but are our time-to-kills really too low? These guns are entirely negated by armor choices, and all seem kind of poor when not lined up directly with a target. I'd argue they are too weak.

Converters - While shield-to-engine is precious and interesting, engine-to-shield is only taken when you basically have no other engine choice, and engine-to-weapon is truly terrible. These could be redesigned entirely, or massively buffed, or something.

Remote Slicing - Needs more range.

Overpowered components is also harder to talk about. Again, these are meta defining. A nerf to them will change the game in unpredictable ways. These guys are things like, charged plating, slug railgun, distortion field, burst laser canon, and cluster missile. If you nerf these components more than just barely, you will get an entirely new game, and it might be terrible, or at least worse. This isn't pve: you don't have to bring the top components down unless you are actually trying to raise time-to-kill or disrupt playstyles. You also run the risk of negating learned and loved flying styles.

As an edit: We have threads on changes to make to distortion and quick charge and such, that are not so much nerfs as a bit of redesign to prevent that component from owning missiles as hard. Basically, leftmost duration talent makes you weaker against missiles than any shield component, and distortion rightmost missile break talent makes you stronger against missiles than any shield component, and that seems like an odd choice: if instead there was a passive benefit versus missiles, such as slighty increased lockon time, maybe the break could be removed.

Are there any crew members that you feel are over or under powered? Which crew members and why?
Yea. Do this:
Add 5% accuracy to all weapons. Remove the 6% accuracy crewman ability, replacing it with any of 5% shield penetration, 3% blaster damage, or 3% range to blasters.

The accuracy passive is absolutely mandatory for proper play. Replace it with something that could be a choice. The 6% accuracy is close to 10% extra damage in game, bake that into the weapons and people can choose more offensive companions again.

Engineering is another case where your "max battery" passives are terrible in almost all cases. But it doesn't matter quite as much. Still, since you asked, here's my suggestions for what the four engineering passives should be:

> Efficient Maneuvers: 13% less engine power consumed
> Efficient Fire: Cost of using blasters is reduced by 15%
> Extra Power: Your blaster and engine pools are increased by 10% each.
> Redundant Systems: Reduce the time you spend snared, with reduced regeneration, or unable to use a component by 20%.

The last one is just some pie-in-the-sky thing. Basically, stack both of the engine and blaster pools, and have something interesting or creative for your fourth slot.

There's no such thing as an overpowered crew member. The ones that are too good haven't broken the meta: they've just become mandatory. The game would be worse with 6% less accuracy across the board, in my opinion. The game would be worse if you took down the efficiency passives to match the "extra juice" passives that no one uses. The game would be worse without wingman. Etc.

Crew actives could use some help- the dot one could be stronger, concentrated fire could last longer, the defensive ones could be made relatively stronger than the offensive ones by percent as they are less likely to effect the game state.

Final thoughts:
I'm very glad you posted this. If you guys are going to make GSF changes, please continue to engage with us. Making small changes to a bunch of components and seeing what the meta looks like is way better than sweeping changes that turn the game into a field of one damned ship type. Please focus on changes that increase build diversity without eliminating the playstyles we know and love. Please don't make changes and then go away again. It's very fortunate that the game is as balanced as it is, given the final state of things.
"The most despicable person on the GSF forum."

DakhathKilrathi's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 02:06 PM | #4
I'll have a long post for this, and will edit it in later on. In the meantime: generally, the game is well balanced outside of strike fighters once you know how the game works. The trouble is seeing how it works.

Will edit this later.

Edit 1: It's going to take me some more time. I want to be sure I get this right!

In general, however, balance is in a good place. Strikes need buffing and some other things need tweaking, and there are some components that are not in any condition usable. But the game as it exists actually does work; everything has a counter which is the best sort of balance we're ever likely to get. I'll add my other thoughts on this today.

bncsmom's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 02:28 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
Hey folks,

This week, we are creating three separate forum threads for GSF discussion. You can head to this thread to get links to each of them.

For this thread let's focus on ship balance and how you feel about it. Let us know your thoughts below, here are a few questions to get you started:
  • Are there any ships you feel are over or under powered? Which ship(s) and why?
  • Are there any ship components that you feel are over or under powered? Which components and why?
  • Are there any crew members that you feel are over or under powered? Which crew members and why?

Note that this discussion is not about the addition of new ships, components, or crew members. Just about the balance of existing ones.

Let us know your thoughts!

I think that the problem with balance isn't a matter of the balance of the components or crews. I think the biggest problem is we have maxed ships (comparable to a level 70 with The Best Gear In The Galaxy) vs lowbie ships (comparable to a level 10 player without any gear). This creates incredible unbalance in the matches.

My friend and I have discussed this issue at length. We believe that there should be a minimum of two brackets for GSF: one for maxed ships and one for not-maxed ships. Anyone can queue for the latter, but if they have a maxed ship, that ship may not be used in that match and for the bracket with maxed ships, only players who have at least one maxed ship may queue for that, but they may only play the ships that are maxed. I kinda think there should perhaps also be a third bracket, for those ships that have not received more than 2 upgrades to their components.

We believe this would help not only with some balance to the matches, but also would help retain new players to GSF. There is such a huge learning curve to GSF that many people who give it a try decide they don't want to do it again because they're so overwhelmed by not only having to learn a whole new system of movement and attack, but also have to go up against people who are running maxed ships and are killing the newbs over and over just because they can.

Sportiva's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 02:35 PM | #6
IMO, the issue of balance only comes into play with Deathmatches. In Domination, all four ship variants have their utility, but Deathmatches Gunship that are protected by bombers. It makes for really boring play.
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Lendul's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 02:55 PM | #7
The gorilla in the room on balance tends to be strike fighters and how to make them strong in their own right while keeping the other ships and their roles distinctive. The other classes have a nice rock, paper, scissors going on, so adding "Spock" can get awkward.

My suggestion would be to make missiles more threatening overall by

A. lowering cooldowns, lowering lock on times, increasing arcs, increasing ranges, increasing speed (these suggestions do not include cluster missiles, they are in a pretty good place)

B. increasing cooldowns of missile breaks, increasing energy costs of missile breaks
1. component revamps I.E. switch the missile break from Distortion Field to Quick Charge Shield
this could make the component an "interesting choice" of Laser evasion or Missile evasion you can have one
but not both.

2. Have missile breaks have a detrimental effect in the manner of the "converters"
Examples: evasion debuff after use, accuracy debuff after use, speed/manuverring debuff after use

C. Both

Pretty much just try to introduce having to make a choice of being good against lasers or missiles but not both.

I am envisioning a medium range area denial/ peel role. With a chance of being a specialist against singular archetypes.

Zennan's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 03:03 PM | #8
1. Over-powered ships: None. Underpowered ships:
  • All strike fighters. They aren't as mobile as scouts and do not fare as well in close-quarter combat against scouts due to their lack of turning speed. Their range is mediocre at best, and gunships are better at long-range snipes. They aren't as tanky as bombers and do not have similar denial-of-area control that bombers have (due to the lack of mines/drones). So basically, they suck at everything that needs to be done -- node control, long-range sniping potential, close-quarter combat. They were designed with as a jack-of-all-trades ship, so being inferior to a certain ship class in all those areas make sense, but they need a buff in some other area, for example damage output or primary/secondary weapon range, to be worth fielding. On top of that, the following are additional areas each of the strike fighter classes are lacking:
    • F-T6 Rycer / FT-8 Star Guard / TZ-24 Gladiator / TZ-24 Enforcer. Their unique weapon is the ion cannon, and its range is too short.
    • F-T2 Quell / FT-6 Pike. With two secondary weapons this ship seems to be designed with that playstyle in mind. Perhaps give them Rocket Pods and buff their secondaries by improving range or reducing lock-on time.
    • FT-3C Imperium / FT-7B Clarion. The lack of the Engine Thrusters component hurts.

2. Over-powered components: In general I think the other components are underpowered. Underpowered components:
  • Quick-charge Shield. In order to avoid damage in GSF, you either need to be tanky or you need to have high evasion to avoid the shot in the first place. This component offers neither. Since this competes for the spot of Distortion Field and Directional Shields, either of that are usually taken for evasion or tankiness respectively.
  • Plasma Railgun. Gunships and Scouts like to stack evasion in the current meta, so the fact that this component does not have an accuracy/tracking upgrade compared to Slug Railgun or Ion Railgun means the probability of landing a shot on an already evasive target is even lower.
  • Rapid-Fire Laser. In order to get the damage potential out of this thing, one would need to apply continuous fire on the target. Practically, that only works for stationary targets. Since this component has such a short range and pilots usually fly around the map, it misses easily. Add to the fact that this is the default component on all ships that have it and you have new pilots scoring 7% for their shooting accuracy (and that's usually good).
  • Secondary lock-on weapons that aren't Cluster Missiles, and maybe Concussion MIssiles. Their lock-on times are usually too long when compared to the impact they have. With Distortion Field and Engine Maneuvers being able to break missile locks and missiles having reload cooldowns, it is very easy for a good pilot to avoid missile contact for the duration their cooldowns are up before finding structures to LOS missile lockers.

Strangiato's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 03:27 PM | #9
Hello all,

Thanks Bioware for asking for and taking feedback. I will say I find the most "overpowered" ship to be the gunships. I personally love my scout, and I have no issues taking on other ship classes, and can even hold my own against more skilled Imperial scout/strike fighter classes. However, I would say 75-80% of my deaths come from gunships, especially in Team Death Matches. In fact, I played a TDM the other day and 6-7 of the players on both sides were flying gunships. It becomes a battle of the "snipers" and the dog fighting aspects of GSF went out the window. I end up sitting in the back in my scout waiting for a straggler or loner gunship that I can engage, and many of the times I'm getting one shot from 20,000 meters out before I can even close the distance, and my scout is pretty fast, and I have evasion perks.

I have seen some players suggest decreasing the range of the gunship, which I think would be great, or perhaps even slightly reducing their damage a bit. It becomes quite obnoxious though when the opposing team has 6 gunships posting up in an open area on the map, and I have to hope my scout can close the distance before I'm utterly annihilated by one of the 6 gunships all targeting me, and most of the time in one shot. I like the idea of a gunship, that fighter that can clear out some mines or defense turrets so the bombers and strike fighters can move in, but their abilities to hit fast moving, small targets easily from any distance, especially when the entire team is rolling gunship and basically having an auto-locking rail gun that one shots almost every one my fighter, takes away from the entire idea of a good ol' dog fight.

**Here is a personal wish of mine, and since it didn't fit in any of the specific threads, I'll throw the suggestion in here. While I love the music this game has, I feel GSF needs some classic Star Wars music playing while in these space battles, like the soundtrack during the first and second Death Star battles or even the Battle of Hoth. It would give GSF a more epic feel.**
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33 <---- Jedi Knight Theme Song

Verain's Avatar

07.06.2017 , 03:29 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by bncsmom View Post
I think that the problem with balance isn't a matter of the balance of the components or crews. I think the biggest problem is we have maxed ships (comparable to a level 70 with The Best Gear In The Galaxy) vs lowbie ships (comparable to a level 10 player without any gear). This creates incredible unbalance in the matches.
Stop wasting time with this crap. You can master a ship in a day now, or meaningfully master all ships in a week or two. The devs give the gear out for free. The player skill discrepancy is a real concern. Your thinking was wrong before they vastly increased the gearing rate and decreased the cost, as proven by good pilots on totally stock ship farming like crazy, many many times. That thinking is laughable now.

My friend and I have discussed this issue at length. We believe that there should be a minimum of two brackets for GSF: one for maxed ships and one for not-maxed ships.
This idea is bad. It discourages players from gearing their ships, and it makes gear a debuff that splits the queue. Please watch videos of stock pilots owning geared noobs. Your friend, you, and your lengthy discussions are all misinformed and wrong.
"The most despicable person on the GSF forum."