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"New" Strike Fighter Balance


voltaicbore's Avatar


voltaicbore
11.04.2019 , 11:54 AM | #1
Disclaimer: I am extremely and unabashedly salty. That doesn't mean I'm necessarily wrong about everything I say, but now that the bias is out there I don't have the burden of attempting to hide it behind the veneer of civility. I also put "new" in quotes for the thread title as I realize most of these changes have been around for a while, but I'm returning from a years-long break and they're still pretty new to me.

To all you strike fighter devotees, who suffered through the long period of strikes being the laughable niche choice you flew just for a challenge: your patience has been rewarded handsomely, and I deeply, deeply resent you for it. With total sincerity, I hope something horrible happens to you IRL to compensate for the strike fighter renaissance you currently enjoy. Although I have no cosmic powers to actually make anything happen to any of you, when the next tragedy befalls you or the ones you love the most, know that I am out there somewhere feeling an inexplicable sense of satisfaction.

Now that I've spewed forth that bit of toxicity, a question for discussion. What do veteran strike pilots think of the current balance between strike fighter killing power, survivability, and disengage ability? Admittedly the last two things I listed are closely related, but "survivability" as used here refers primarily to the simple ability to take some solid hits yet not blow up. I find it hard to criticize any one of those 3 aspects individually, but put together I feel they make strikes nearly impossible to deal with, outside of running equally skilled and equipped strikes against it. It's much the same way that I feel the protorp improvements would make more sense if they didn't take away the disto break. Both at the same time just makes protorp oppressively effective.

Some of you might say "hey, that actually describes balance, and what the workhorse strike fighter role should be." You might even be right! However, I feel like strikes currently enjoy too many advantages for the precious few weaknesses to make up for it. It seems too easy for a competent strike to close gaps on every class of ships (especially slug rail GSes) and just run off if things go south with scout-esque impunity. Sure, the scout might better evade retaliatory shots, but the strike can now just eat a few clean hits and run off to reset the whole affair in short order.
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Verain's Avatar


Verain
11.04.2019 , 01:38 PM | #2
Quote: Originally Posted by voltaicbore View Post
Disclaimer: I am extremely and unabashedly salty. That doesn't mean I'm necessarily wrong about everything I say, but now that the bias is out there I don't have the burden of attempting to hide it behind the veneer of civility. I also put "new" in quotes for the thread title as I realize most of these changes have been around for a while, but I'm returning from a years-long break and they're still pretty new to me.
If the changes are new to you, let me fill you in on the big changes and how those have changed the meta:

1- Protons are threatening.

In the past, it was trivial to avoid proton torpedoes, or really all missiles except for clusters. Simply fly normally, and if you can't shake the extremely lengthy lock-on, go ahead and use a break. Now, they lock too fast for such behavior- the fundamentals have not changed, but what "fly normally" means certainly has. If you are going into an area where there will be more than one guy potentially locking you, you need a plan to get to cover, either with your break or shortly thereafter, or you will eat a proton torpedo.

I'm of the opinion that proton torpedo has been in a mildly overbuffed state since the patch, and I think this is entirely due to the lock on time being just a bit too short.

That being said, protons are entirely avoidable, and make up neither the majority of the hull damage dealt nor the majority of the kills being dealt, for sufficiently skilled pilots flying ships with proton torpedoes. My objection is mostly due to the fact that the defensive play that they encourage seems just a little bit too defensive.

2- Strikes are damaging if allowed to engage at midrange

This has had much better ramifications- if a strike challenges you in open space, you are best off moving past the strike, or potentially even engaging in a brief turn fight (if you are a scout). Previously, the strike doing this was a total waste of time. This makes more places dangerous. Strike offenses are almost entirely negated when near large objects, or when running over long distances.

3- Strikes are tough and capable of tanking multiple serious hits in space

This also has good ramifications, as a strike previously would be rendered helpless with almost no effort by any control at all. Generally, if you see a strike, expect it to take a commitment of time to destroy or control that strike, unlike before, when such a ship mostly represented no meaningful threat.

4- Missiles are not just a dumb joke, because of disto's "new" limitations.

While you can still squeeze in extra railguns and still dance around in a scout, you can no longer force commitment of long lockon + missile cooldown weaponry just by pressing 2. Instead, you want to disable these at close to their last possible moment, and prepare yourself for either line of sight, target elimination, or engine maneuver.

Quote:
To all you strike fighter devotees, who suffered through the long period of strikes being the laughable niche choice you flew just for a challenge: your patience has been rewarded handsomely, and I deeply, deeply resent you for it.
You should not. The meta now includes all ships except the type 2 gunship and the type 3 bomber. Previously the meta was three ships deep- type 1 gunship, type 2 scout, and type 1 bomber. All these ships are still good, of course- just more ships are now too.


Quote:
With total sincerity, I hope something horrible happens to you IRL to compensate for the strike fighter renaissance you currently enjoy. Although I have no cosmic powers to actually make anything happen to any of you, when the next tragedy befalls you or the ones you love the most, know that I am out there somewhere feeling an inexplicable sense of satisfaction.
Maybe you need to inherit my forum sig, this is... uh, this is pretty twisted bro!

Quote:
What do veteran strike pilots think of the current balance between strike fighter killing power, survivability, and disengage ability?
I'm much more a gunship pilot, but I think it's great. Strikes have a job now. You didn't add "control" (probably because that's just one move), but I do think slicing is too strong- I think it takes too much engine instantly. But strike killing power is where it needs to be (and the counter is to remember how generally inflexible everything except lights and rapids are, and that those two are both range limited). Survivability seems about right- I'd argue it's a bit too high versus mines, specifically. Strikes ability to escape is also a huge boon to the game- previously they were left out of breath and worthless after almost anything, now they have a large enough pool (that they have to manage properly- few pilots do) that they can do what needs to be done.

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I feel they make strikes nearly impossible to deal with, outside of running equally skilled and equipped strikes against it.
I feel a pile of strikes is countered by a balanced team. If my team is going against a really solid team, the answer isn't just a bunch of strike fighters.

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It's much the same way that I feel the protorp improvements would make more sense if they didn't take away the disto break. Both at the same time just makes protorp oppressively effective.
The disto change is perfect. Absolutely perfect. The protorp change is a bit much. You know how I know this? Because you aren't complaining about concussion, thermite, cluster, or ion. (you also aren't complaining about EMP, and it's the best missile, but I get it regardless)

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I feel like strikes currently enjoy too many advantages for the precious few weaknesses to make up for it.
Strikes deal damage very slowly on node, requiring a setup and light lasers (at which point they switch to F1 and have pretty great dps). You can avoid being undernose of a strike in most situations. A strike still is punished by ion railgun, and punished very well. Strikes have greater power pools, but those do exhaust, and they require catching their breath to pull off their good moves. Strikes don't require peels like gunships, but they also aren't nearly immune to meaningful pursuit as scouts are.

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It seems too easy for a competent strike to close gaps on every class of ships (especially slug rail GSes)
This is a very good change, though. Strikes are still countered by gunships- they aren't laughed at any more, however. If you slug a strike and he's coming at you, break position- you've been deroosted. Once you are behind a rock, the strike will have to come over to hit you with light lasers. If he's running heavies or quads, you are safe already. If he's running rapids, well, think of them like lights, except worse against you than the lights. Either way, make use of your stop-on-a-dime ability as a gunship- while this is a bad idea versus scouts, it's pretty useful against strikes, who don't do well against opponents who get to ignore the fundamental rules of flight.

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and just run off if things go south with scout-esque impunity
You should have dealt hull damage to him without taking any- meanwhile, he should have deroosted you. That's the tradeoff here. If you are dying, you weren't reacting in time. And honestly, slapping him with an ion or interdiction missile is a solid play here too. The only build without ion railgun or interdiction missile is slug plasma, and if you are running a niche pure-dps build like that, take your lumps and reposition against whatever the heck you are running that build to be effective against.
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ThutmoseV's Avatar


ThutmoseV
11.04.2019 , 02:55 PM | #3
I think the strike fighter buffs have been a good thing, mainly because it helps newer pilots survive a bit longer and do a bit more damage. Pilots always used to complain about being disabled by 1 ion railgun hit. That is no longer true, and if pilots are paying attention, they can learn that getting hit by ion probably means it's time to go on defensive and los or run towards friends. More survivability means less frustration about instant death and more time to learn to fly. The fact that a strike can survive more blaster hits give the newer pilots a chance to get away or at least shoot back. Also the ability to engage at longer range makes it easier for newer pilots to do damage. Finally the buff to hydro spanner makes it much easier to continue to fight if you can survive the initial attack.

People still complain about the learning curve and one sided matches. But I think the biggest problem is most are still solo queueing, and when they get into a match with opponents that include a strong 4 man team they know they have little chance. I do think that there are fewer one sided routs, 50 - 8 or 1000 - 100.
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voltaicbore's Avatar


voltaicbore
11.04.2019 , 04:19 PM | #4
Thanks for the feedback, guys. Verain, good to see you still fly & post.

Protorp was just the first projectile that came to mind when I wanted to fire up some complaints - I personally lean towards EMP and concussions for my own use. It's just that, as you said, protorp really can't be temporarily outrun like we used to, and has that obscene range that good pilots (or bad ones en masse) can use to perform GS-like area denial - just on more mobile and mid-range-deadly platforms. I used the word "oppressive" to indicate that perhaps-too-defensive style mid-range pilots are locked into, not raw damage output.

I did notice that strikes struggle to notch kills quickly on node, perhaps I didn't give that drawback enough credit. My warcarrier does passably well against strikes on point, since I can poop out seekers, circle pursuers strategically around railgun drones, incessantly break lock with bolder satellite-hugging maneuvers, and unload a magazine full of armpen HLC on them if they decide to peel off. I'm the worst T2 scout pilot I know, and on point I feel like BLCs give me a good chance of killing or at least chasing off a strike. I'll have to pay more attention to that the next few domination matches I get into.

I also agree that strikes *should* be as damaging as they are, at the ranges they are. I just don't see them paying high enough a price in terms of risk. The GS vs strike engagement does run, in broad strokes, like you mentioned - I've done hull damage to the strike and have abandoned my perch before taking anymore more than nominal damage myself. However, the hull damage I caused is pretty minimal relative to the hits I put on. I can land two full T5 ion rails on a strike, and watch it saunter away with shields and engine power to spare, apparently.

Again, I'm not saying that it should go back to the days of strikes being suicide runs against a T5 ion + rail combo, but I also don't think it's balanced for a quarrel/mangler to land two fully charged hits on a strike and watch it leisurely peel off with 80% health and some engine boost (and yes, I'm aware that pdive can cost 0 engine power, but I know the pdive movement and what I'm seeing is not that). It's quite possible I'm just shooting into particular builds that are exceptional at dealing with ion rails and other lockdowns, I'll have to pay more attention to which flavor of T3 strike gives me the most trouble.

I guess what it really comes down to is what I perceive as a "reset time" advantage strikes have. I just feel like a strike is much more capable of coming back for another bite a bit too much more quickly than the other classes. I *do* think that strikes should indeed be the best at that particular aspect of combat - a deroosted GS rightly pays a high engine cost for picking an assailable spot, scouts should always be paranoid about losing what little hull they have, and bombers should fear persistent attack swoops from strikes. I'm just not sure that the price other classes have to pay to keep up with the strike is commensurate for how much killing power the strike brings each and every time. Perhaps the hydrospanner buff that Thutmose mentioned is why I'm seeing strikes coming back faster and healthier for round 2.

Maybe I'll feel differently after more matches and more observation, and more tweaks to components/crews/etc. I'm prepared to admit, if I discover it's true, that it was all merely an L2P issue on my part. However, I doubt I'll fully change my position on strikes being overtuned; even on a stock T1 strike, I'm finding that I'm notching more kills and safely resetting more fights. I don't even have a proper escape engine component, just base retro thrusters to help me finish a kill or reposition in a dogfight.

Even if I don't change my mind on strikes, I might be willing to accept it if I feel like more new and unknown pilots can perform acceptably in them. Anecdotally my experience thus far lines up with what Thutmose said about less frequent blowouts, and if strikes have to be this way to contribute to that, I'll grudgingly accept it.
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Drakkolich's Avatar


Drakkolich
11.05.2019 , 02:04 AM | #5
Alright so there's a lot to cover here.

One of the things with this new meta that I hear often is how most of the ships they're seeing are Strikes these days and that must mean they're overtuned. However there's a big mistake people make just looking at the ship class. Strikes right now have a huge amount of viable builds in the meta, they can specialize to do all sorts of different jobs. So even if 3 different people are all playing Strikes they might be doing very different jobs. In the old Meta, we only had 3 ships, and I really mean that, we had 1 Scout build, 1 Gunship build and 1 Bomber build it was very cookie cutter and the Scout and Gunship were so freaking good they did so many different jobs.

Now those two ships were changed and they're much more focused, for example the Sting/Flashfire of old is still a really meta ship, but only when used on nodes in Domination games. You can't use it to go murder Gunships out in the open or kill Bombers before they get to the nodes, because they have a weakness now and it's being out in the open, Scouts need to be near line of sight at almost all times now.

Where as the Gunships used to control all Mid and Long range combat, that's no longer the case, you can't just stay out in the open on a Gunship anymore and just play aggressive all game, you're a support ship, you need peels from teammates to do your damage.

What these changes to these archtypes did was open all sorts of jobs for the Strike fighter to fill, now the best Gunship killer is a Starguard/Rycer Piledriver that does absolutely crazy amounts of dps to anyone not evading immediately. Or for example if you need peels for your Gunships there's no better ship for that then a Remote slicing/ Proton Torpedo Clarion/Imperium. These are jobs that the Sting/Flashfire used to do as the close ranged ridiculously good fighting that it still does.


Now onto just the straight gameplay changes, many returning players struggle to adjust to the changes because of how different the flow of combat is now. While we used to play 90% offence and 10% defence. Now it's more like 50/50 for both, you must spend way more time simply flying defensively now, because you have to actually use positioning to evade enemy attacks and not just cooldowns. You can't simply cycle your cooldowns and be immune to missiles anymore. This means teammates can actually peel for one another better then ever before, so if you're playing a Strike you want to watch for your teams Gunships to go peel for them, because the less time they're flying defensively the better. Same with playing Gunship you need to constantly be aware of somewhere to fly to get a peel from a teammate, you can't just expect to Rambo everyone down anymore.

Learning to use line of sight is super important, it's one of the first things I teach when I get some students in the custom matchs. I start locking missiles on them and get them to evade them by never using a cooldown. What's funny is this lesson is so much easier to teach brand new pilots too, then players from the pre 5.5 era returning to the game.


I hope this helps Voltaic and while some of your posts stuff (Like the salty tone and wanting something horrible to happen to people *** man?) I really didn't like, I do however like the conversation you're trying to start here. Myself personally I don't think Strike fighters are over tuned but I do think a few abilities/weapons might be in the game currently. However this meta is by far the healthiest one we've ever had in GSF, so many ships are viable! I do miss my Bombers though, they really got hit hard when all the EMP weapons got so good.
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voltaicbore's Avatar


voltaicbore
11.06.2019 , 10:25 PM | #6
Thanks for swinging by, Drak. I'd quote your post but we're already getting into walls of text, so I'll mix general and specific remarks.

Most of the meta shifts made themselves obvious within the first 2 matches upon my return, especially your point about shifting from our old "almost always offensive" style to a much better mix of defensive and escape flying. The first ship I master on any character is always a GS, so I already flew with an eye on line of sight, and I definitely see that it's become vastly more important as a dynamic source of missile (and strike fighter blaster) break. I've also begun to notice a wider variety in strike fighter packages being run successfully, which probably reflects the new roles that you mention being opened up for strikes.

But while I agree with your description of the current state of meta shifts in GSF, I'm more interested in knowing specifically what you (and anyone else who has an opinion on it) thinks of the cost/benefit balance of running the various T2 strike builds that make sense. Sure, it's great that strikes are doing well (despite the tone of my initial post I was one of the many pilots yearning for a strike rework back in the day), but is the current mix of killing power and survivability on strikes where you think it should be?

With the passage of just a little time (and several more matches where I flew/flew against strikes of all kinds), my opinion remains that strikes are slightly too forgiving. I'm particularly impressed with the Clarion/Imperium's ability to soak GS hits, survive the barrage, and kill its way back to safety, and I've done the same on Starguard/Rycer setups but with what I feel is a generally slimmer margin of safety. My flight time on the Pike/Quell variants are too low to say much, but suffice it to say that I flew two zero-death deathmatches on my very first two outings on those things.
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Drakkolich's Avatar


Drakkolich
11.07.2019 , 01:23 AM | #7
Well to answer your question, which basically boils down too do I think Strike fighters deal too much damage based on how tanky they've become.

The quick answer is no, I think the amount of killing power they have even with how tanky they've become is what they need to be relevant in the meta. They're still out turned by Scouts, so on a node they need the extra damage to have any kind of chance in close proximity (like on a node). They're still outranged by Gunships, so they need to be tanky enough to close the distance which they finally are. Ion Railgun is still a very powerful tool vs Strike fighters it just doesn't end them immediately anymore, and with the extra second added to it's cooldown the Strike can actually LoS the second one now.

Now I do think certain abilities that the Strikes have are a touch too powerful, case and point Proton torpedo, it could use just a touch longer lock on time. Also I think while remote slicing is really great to have in the game to have an instant control to help peel for teammates, I believe it's instant engine drain is a touch too high.

The Strike frame however needs to be as good as it is, not to mention the fact that the power settings are even more important on the Strikes gives them a really nice skill ceiling as controlling your power settings becomes that much more important.

Now having said that, I really like the way the game plays right now, having so many tools in the game to peel for your teammates is so good for GSF. If for example Proton and Slicing were nerfed way too much, we'd likely lose that feeling of immediate danger when you're out in the open and the game would go right back to 90% offence all the time. So because of that I'm hesitant to make any changes at all, because I'm not sure how good Proton needs to be so we get that danger feeling.


The ship that really got screwed by the Strike buff was Bombers though, the mines and drones just don't deal anywhere near enough damage to scare a Strike fighter. I'd actually like to see something like Mines and Drones start dealing extra damage to them to bring that fear of Bomber stuff back. Even with all the EMP buffs that hurt Bombers, the fact that there's so many more tanks in the skies now means their nests just aren't as powerful as they once were.


But yeah long answer to your question. Basically I think Gunships, Scouts and Strikes are all really well balanced at the moment with Bombers trailing behind. While the Flashfire/Sting isn't particularly good in Team Death Match it's so good in Domination I think that's ok and since the other 2 Scouts are still very useful in Team Death Match I believe Scouts are pretty well represented in the meta. As for Gunships sadly the Cometbreaker/Dustmaker still isn't great, but it's nowhere near as bad as it once was, the extra range on the missiles for the Gunship frame did wonders for that ship in my opinion, but with Distortion field still being by far the best shield in the game, it still not having access too it is keeping it out of the meta.

I hope that answers your question well enough, let me know if I missed something or if you have another.
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Linuxizer
11.09.2019 , 08:18 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Drakkolich View Post

But yeah long answer to your question. Basically I think Gunships, Scouts and Strikes are all really well balanced at the moment with Bombers trailing behind. While the Flashfire/Sting isn't particularly good in Team Death Match it's so good in Domination I think that's ok and since the other 2 Scouts are still very useful in Team Death Match I believe Scouts are pretty well represented in the meta. As for Gunships sadly the Cometbreaker/Dustmaker still isn't great, but it's nowhere near as bad as it once was, the extra range on the missiles for the Gunship frame did wonders for that ship in my opinion, but with Distortion field still being by far the best shield in the game, it still not having access too it is keeping it out of the meta.
The NovaDive / Blackbolt with EMP Field and LLC is pretty useful in Domination. Can you expand on how the Spearpoint / Bloodmark is very useful in deathmatch?

I would say overall the Strikes are the best ships. However, a lot of players like to fly Strikes anyway. Even if there is another patch to rebalance the ships, we will probably still see most players flying Strikes in most matches. I wish more players would fly the other ships because it gets a bit repetitive sometimes fighting an entire team of Strikes.
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Xarko's Avatar


Xarko
11.10.2019 , 03:38 AM | #9
Strike Fighters are ok, the only problems is people exploiting the weapon switch mechanic which unintentionally results in massive damage increase. So don't complain about strike fighters, complain about cheaters. (or lazy devs)

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Erurainon
11.10.2019 , 02:33 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Xarko View Post
Strike Fighters are ok, the only problems is people exploiting the weapon switch mechanic which unintentionally results in massive damage increase. So don't complain about strike fighters, complain about cheaters. (or lazy devs)
It is not an exploit. This mechanic has been in the game since patch 5.5. Which was just over 2 years ago.

Furthermore, we asked Musco to pass on messages to the devs before posting the piledriver build, about 4 months after the patch.

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