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Let's talk about Strike Fighters

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Galactic Starfighter
Let's talk about Strike Fighters
First BioWare Post First BioWare Post

CommanderKiko's Avatar


CommanderKiko
05.28.2015 , 05:27 PM | #21
Quote: Originally Posted by RickDagles View Post
It's a bit unsettling that so many people that don't even play the game are replying to this post.
That is likely going to be a major downside to this thread. However, the next post does bring up a point about scouts using heavy weapons.

Any gun that can 3 hit a bomber (such as BLC) should be considered a heavy weapon, and restricted to heavier ships (IE the bomber and gunship classes) I've spoken with several pilots on this subject and many seem to be in agreement.

An example of why strikers are considered useless:
I was in a match with a lot of decent pilots on our side, and the enemy team was decently outmatched overall. However, one sting using BLC's ended up getting 29 kills with only 3 deaths. This sting killed gunships, bombers, strikers, and other scouts. Melting my bomber in 2-3 hits. Out of his 3 deaths, i had 1 and 1 assist on him.
Edit: The reason for me bringing this up is that no striker could do this, although gunships and bombers could come close to it.

No striker has that kind of firepower or tankyness, so why then does a scout? When a single scouts offensive and defensive capabilities outmatch any strikers in every way, how can anyone be expected to play strikers? And I'm sure I just made more enemies by pointing this out.

Camelpockets's Avatar


Camelpockets
05.28.2015 , 05:27 PM | #22
I'm just going to toss this out there...

What if we add in a new component specced just for strikes:

Engine to Armor Transfer or Shield to Armor Transfer (or both)

This will convert X% of shield/engine power straight to X% increased Damage Reduction for a brief time. But, since every other class has some way to pierce Damage Reduction through Armor, perhaps allow this component to take reduced damage from all armor-piercing weapons as well. So their armor-piercing perks wouldn't work for a time being.

I also think that the choice between the two should be considered because Directional Shields are very good, as well as the ability to barrel roll out of stuff or Retro into a wall. (Classic). This perk should only be given to Strikes, since other classes have utilities only given to their specific classes.
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Ziddal_the_green's Avatar


Ziddal_the_green
05.28.2015 , 05:33 PM | #23
for me more important is to fix the controls of starfighter in general. I was super excited when it was announced and super disappointed with its release. I was expecting a type of control like warthunder, the current controls feel awkward to me...
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Devrius's Avatar


Devrius
05.28.2015 , 05:44 PM | #24
Quote: Originally Posted by Ziddal_the_green View Post
for me more important is to fix the controls of starfighter in general. I was super excited when it was announced and super disappointed with its release. I was expecting a type of control like warthunder, the current controls feel awkward to me...
The controls and interface in GSF need some love (joystick controls anyone?) ,some of the UI issues like: knowing how much health my allies have, being able to find a team mate, knowing when a miss happened because I actually "missed" and not because of dodge and so on...


P.S. Try Star Conflict by the same company as War Thunder, what I like is that the ship class that can snipe is an actual gunship, it's a slow moving/turning capital ship full of guns with heavy shield and a tick hull.

Nemarus's Avatar


Nemarus
05.28.2015 , 05:50 PM | #25
Thank you for posting, Alex! We have been waiting for dev contact for a long, long time. I hope it continues.

UPDATED: After all the discussion here, I'm going to make my final suggestions the following:

1) Make Strike after burner activation/sustain cost equal to Scouts. They will still be slower and less maneuverable than Scouts, but at least they will have similar endurance.

2) Give Strikes a flat damage boost to both primaries and secondaries, to make ignoring a Strike a dangerous proposition, at any range. Strikes need to be able to accomplish SOMETHING under a satellite, so that is why the flat damage boost is still necessary, even in addition to the below suggested Range and Accuracy buffs. The damage boost need not be 100% like Damage Overcharge, but I think it needs to be at least +50% to move the needle on Strike presence and influence in a battle.

3) Give Strikes a significant Range boost to both primary and secondary weapons. Range would help Strikes do more damage (even with melee weapons like Rapids, LLC, and Ions) from mid-range, where they are comfortable. It would also make their missiles easier to lock on with.

4) Give Strikes a significant Accuracy boost to primary and secondary weapons. (Yes I know they currently do not have secondary weapons affected by Accuracy, but one of my other suggestions is to give Pikes Rocket Pods. Accuracy would help them deal better sustained damage against Evasive targets, and would make up for the fact that they don't have many inherent Accuracy buffs on their weapons, nor access to Targeting Telemetry.

None of these changes present any threat to the other three classes of ships, and all of these changes would help new pilots significantly (without them having to do anything specific to take advantage of them).

Now for specific variant/component changes:

5) Remove Charged Plating from the Star Guard and replace it with Feedback Shield. Charged Plating is a trap on a ship that can't stack damage reduction. Feedback Shield is a good, solid shield that would synergize great with Ion Cannons and Cluster Missiles, and give the Star Guard some extra teeth against Scouts.

6) Give the Star Guard Burst Laser Cannons. Not every Strike should have them, but this Strike--the primary weapon specialist--should have them.

7) Give the Pike Retro Thrusters. They synergize extremely well with aquiring missile locks, and they would give the Pike another medium cool down missile break.

8) Give the Pike Interdiction Missile. Currently, a Condor using both Clusters and Interdiction Missile can do quite well, due to both missiles having wide arcs and short lock-on times. You basically spam Clusters to drain lock-breaks, then hit with Interdiction. As the missile specialist, the Pike should have access to this combo. Alternatively (or maybe in addition), you could give Pikes Rocket Pods. Just keep in mind their effectiveness will be limited without Targeting Telemetry.

9) Give the Clarion Concussion Missile. Concussion Missile is not the ace dog fighting super missile it was originally conceived to be. There is no danger giving it to the Clarion, and it would give the ship a bit more offensive capability against all kinds of targets.

10) Give the Clarion Heavy Laser Cannons. HLC's are the quintessential Strike weapon, and every Strike should have them. They would cement the Clarion as a great anti-minelayer ship, as well as giving it more capability to assault satellites that have turrets.

Some may think that #9 and #10 make the Clarion too much of a dogfighter, when it is supposed to be a support ship.

I disagree. The fact that Clarions lack Thrusters will always be a hit against their space superiority credentials--do they really need to be so offensively neutered as well?

Giving them HLC's and Concussion Missiles would open up the kinda of Clarion you could make. You could make an anti-Bomber Clarion, a healing/support Clarion, a jousting specialist, or a mid-range harasser. And on that last option, you could complement the HLC's by taking Combat Command, or you could complement your Concussion Missiles using Remote Slicing, or you could just stick with Repair Probes for extra survivability.

At this point, I think that is about the best set of changes I can recommend.

Consider everything below just context for how the above suggestions were reached.

-----------------------Past updates follow -----------------------

Quote:
EDIT: I'm going to leave my original post in place, since it contains useful information and context, but I actually think there IS a silver bullet, which I present in this quote block:

Quote:
It came from the realization that, in Deathmatch, when I'm flying a Strike and get Damage Overcharge, suddenly the class feels right--especially in terms of Time to Kill.

A DO-Strike's weapons do not instantly kill, but they kill quickly enough that any target needs to get out of the Strike's arc fast or it's going to die. Missiles and torpedoes with Damage Overcharge finally feel worth all the trouble it takes to land them.

In all the replies, there has been a lot of consternation about breaking other classes to try and fix Strikes. I think there's a simple solution that has no chance of that:

Give Strikes perpetual Damage Overcharge.

Before you balk, just think about it a bit.

It makes lore sense. Strikes are meant to be offensive powerhouses.

It gives Strikes a strong, unique identity. If you get in front of one and it gets you centered, you're going to melt.

If, despite your plethora of cover, missile breaks, and lag protection, you let a Strike land a Concussion Missile or Torpedo on you, you're going to get hurt really bad.

If you're guarding a node and see a Strike incoming, your first thought isn't, "Good, our first catch of the day."

Instead, if you're a Scout, your thought is, "I need to use my superior mobility to flank and get behind it."

If you're a Gunship, your thought is, "I need to Ion Railgun this thing before it gets in range."

If you're a Bomber, your thought is "I need support. --> [Ops] Strike approaching C." And this is entirely appropriate, as we've always wanted Strikes to be good counters for Bombers.

And if two Strikes approach your node and you're alone, you're likely going to die (this simply isn't true right now).

In Deathmatch, Strikes become priority targets, just like Gunships. Leave them unharassed and they will chew up your team. Joust them and you will suffer, but flank them as a Scout or outrange them as a Gunship and you'll be fine. But ignore them and you won't be fine.

As a bonus, the starter Star Guard, with Rapids, Heavies, and Concussion Missiles would be a solid, threatening craft with strong distinction from the starter NovaDive.

Best of all, the rest of the classes remain unchanged. A powerful new kid on the block has shown up, but Scouts, Gunships, and Bombers are still all able to perform their current roles.

And it's dead simple to implement ... and dead simple to revert if it turns out broken.

The one open question--can Strikes still get the Damage Overcharge Powerup? Sure. Though it should add another base 100% bonus damage, so that the Strike is doing triple damage. This is how Damage Overcharge was before. It shouldn't double the doubling the Strike would inherently enjoy.
-------------------------------------------------------------

ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS:


Unfortunately, I do not believe there is a single major reason Strike fighters suffer, nor is there a single silver bullet that will fix them. Their inefficacy in the meta is determined just as much by the specialized strengths of the other classes (along with some specific components) as it is determined by the Strike's own chassis and component choices.

I'll try to break it out as best I can. I'll use Republic fighter names for simplicity.

EDIT: My below suggestions should not be taken into account without also reading this reply, which outlines the risks of such solutions well.

Strike Offensive Weaknesses

Offense.1) No surprise burst damage.
Every single Strike weapon involves sustained warning to your target. Whether it's a stream of Rapids, Quads, or Heavies, or the lock-on tone of a missile, your target always has ample time to respond before taking significant damage.

On the other hand, every other class has at least one way to deliver sudden, untelegraphed damage:

NovaDives can combine primary weapons and rocket pods (which, unlike missiles, offer no warning), along with Targeting Telemetry to create not only increased criticals, but criticals that deal increased damage.

Flashfires can do the same with Quads + Pods, or they can just use Burst Laser Cannons (which inherently do surprise burst damage). Again, using Targeting Telemetry or Blaster Overcharge further increases the surprise burst damage.

All Gunships have Slug Railguns, which by their nature deal a sudden burst of shield-piercing, armor-piercing damage, with no warning except a charge-up glow (if you're looking at the Gunship).

Quarrels have Ion Railgun, which deals a sudden burst of high shield-damage (negating the one thing the Strike is "best at") and crippling the target's mobility (which for a Strike is already in trouble). Again, it has no warning except if you happen to be looking toward the charge-up glow.

Warcarriers have their three drones, all of which strike without warning: the railgun drone fires just like a railgun, the Interdiction Drone immediately applies its crippling snare (while doing damage), and the missile drone releases a missile with no warned lock-on time. The only warning happens once the missile is already flight. Seeker Mines are the same--there is only a very narrow window in which the target can react to use its missile-break.

Minelayer mines deal their damage with no time to react. Seismic Mines bypass shields (again negating the Strike's main strength), and Interdiction Mines immediately cripple victim mobility.

All of the above weapons and combinations have the ability to very rapidly kill or cripple a target with little to no warning. Note that none of those combinations involve missiles.

The Strike, on the other hand, has no access to Rocket Pods, Railguns, Drones, nor Mines. The Stirke's secondary weapon offense is limited entirely to missiles, all of which offer significant warning to their target. Tragically, it is even deprived of the one burst damage primary weapon in the game. It has always been a mystery why the Star Guard--as the primary weapon specialist--does not have access to Burst Laser Cannons, while Flashfires, Quarrels, and Condors do.

The only way a Strike can deliver significant, lethal damage before giving a target time to react is on a Star Guard with Ion Cannons and Cluster Missiles. In that case, the Star Guard can strip the shields of a target even while locking on with a Cluster Missile. This is a strong combo, but it is very short range and severely limits the Star Guard's component choices--and it still requires landing a missile. For a class based on versatility, there should be more viable offensive options.

And the Pike and Clarion are simply hopeless when it comes to delivering surprise burst damage, as they cannot even pull off the Ion Cannon/Cluster Missile trick. All of their offensive potential relies on sustained primary weapon fire while attempting to lock on with missiles.

This leads us to the next point:

Offense.2) Missiles are Ineffectual
Missiles require the greatest set up time, are bound by both ammo and cooldown, and offer ample warning to their targets. And yet their damage and secondary effects are largely unimpressive compared to other secondary weapons. Cluster Missiles are the exception--when fully upgraded, they do solid damage, require little lock-on time, have a very short cooldown, and have enough ammo capacity so as not to be very restrictive.

But by far, the biggest reason Cluster Missiles are effective is because they can be spammed. And if you can spam a missile, then you can drain the target of both their engine maneuver missile break and Distortion Field's missile break.

That's the real problem with missiles--there are too few missiles flying around to eat up all of the missile-break's.

One potential solution to this would be to take Distortion Field's missile break away. This would likely go far in balancing the power of Flashfires, but I know there are Quarrel enthusiasts who are concerned such a nerf would hit them too hard (since their only other missile break is the 20-second cooldown Barrel Roll). Personally, I do not share this concern--I fly a Quarrel with Feedback Shield, and missiles are rarely a concern for me.

If decreasing the number of missile breaks isn't palatable, then the other option is to increase the number and rate of missiles being fired. One way is to simply reduce lock-on time. I'd suggest doing this, not for Clusters, but for every other missile. Too often, long missile locks are spoiled by lag, which sours players on them (and GSF in general). Shortening lock times across the board (except for Cluster Missiles) is a safe fix that will be good for GSF as a whole..

Another interesting question is this: should any missiles have cooldowns at all? Or is lock-on time, warning to target, and ammo limits enough of a check to missile power? I tend to think so. A Strike firing Concussion Missiles (or even the derided Ion Missile!) as fast as he can attain locks would be very threatening and a very strong counter to Evasion, which has long dominated defense. This would be my personal suggestion.

This would be a soft nerf to the Pike's very weak advantage to chain fire two missiles consecutively; however, in a world where missiles have no cooldowns, the Pike's ability to spam both long range torpedoes and short-range dogfighting missiles would be make it a force to be reckoned with.

This change would buff Strikes, but it would also buff Sledgehammers, Condors, and the misbegotten Comet-breaker. Note that even with this buff, Star Guards and Pikes would still be largely passed over in favor of Sledgehammers and Condors, because a Mine or Railgun is superior to the ability to switch between multiple lasers or missiles.

So if you decided "no cooldown on missiles" was the one fix you're going to make, then make it inherent and exclusive to the Strike chassis. Then, at least, they would have a unique capability that might let them edge out Sledgehammers and Condors. I would also recommend giving Clusters (for everyone else) a longer cooldown, to prevent Flashfires from spamming them, and to re-emphasize "spammable missiles" as a unique Strike perk.

Offense.3) Switchable weapons (that aren't Railguns) is not a great #1 system ability.
In judging the value of a "switch weapon" ability, you have to consider how it compares with other #1 abilities. In particular, ask yourself, "If I could trade this ability for a mine, drone, Targeting Telemetry, or Blaster Overcharge?" For Star Guards and Pikes, the answer is "Yes, I'd give away weapon switching for one of those system abilities." For the Clarion, it is a tougher call, as Repair Probes is a solid system ability.

There are five ships in the game that can switch between two different weapons with the #1 key:
Star Guard (two different primary weapons)
Pike (two different secondary weapons, all of which are missiles or torpedoes)
Quarrel (two different railguns)
Comet-breaker (two different secondary weapons, all of which are torpedoes or railguns)
Condor (two different secondary weapons, all of which are missiles or railguns)

I think there is general agreement that of the above list, only two are worth a #1 system ability slot:
Quarrel -- but only with Ion Railgun and Slug Railgun, which complement each other so well. Switching between Plasma and Slug is of no value, as those weapons do not synergize.
Condor - since a Slug Railgun is a great, universal long-range weapon, and Cluster Missiles are a solid short-range weapon that combine well with Burst Laser Cannons

The Star Guard's ability to switch between primary weapons would be more valuable if it had a better set of primary weapons to switch between. Heavy Laser Cannons and Quad Cannons are great long-range weapons, but what's missing is a strong short-range weapon--namely Burst Laser Cannons, but even Light Laser Cannons. Unfortunately, Rapid Laser Cannons are just altogether underpowered and nigh-useless.

Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned weakness of missiles, the Pike has even further to go. The first step would be giving it access to the solid Interdiction Missile and Rocket Pods (!!! -- yes, Rocket Pods on a Strike--they would give the Pike stronger jousting skills and tons of flexibility).

As for the Clarion, the one Strike without a "switch weapon" system ability, its utility is solely defined by Repair Probes. Combat Command and Remote Slicing are largely ignored, the former because of its extreme cooldown, and the latter because of its underwhelming effects (and still long cooldown).


Strike Mobility Weaknesses

Mobility.1) Strikes are often out of engine energy.
It costs a Strike just as much engine energy to engage and sustain afterburners as it does a Bomber or Gunship. That's not only silly, but lethal given the Strike's role. Unlike a Bomber or Gunship, which--once in position, can fulfill their roles while relatively stationary--a Strike needs to boost both to get where it's going and subsequently keep boosting while fighting. In particular, it needs to keep intermittently boosting to keep enemies at optimal range (close enough to hit, but far enough to keep centered).

As it stands, Strikes have to spend all of their energy getting where they are going, with nothing left to actually fight and maneuver with.

Strike afterburner activation and sustain cost needs to be higher than Gunships and Bombers for sure--I would even say it should be equal with Scouts--especially considering that Strike base speed will still be lower.

But even this would not solve the problem, since ...

Mobility.2) Ion Railguns are ruinous to Strikes.
Strikes are uniquely disadvantaged by Ion Railgun. Lacking the Evasion afforded Scouts with Distortion Field, Strikes are easy for an Ion Railgun to hit. And when that hit comes, the Strike (which is probably already almost out of energy) is robbed of whatever engine energy it had left. It can't use Barrel Roll. It can't use afterburner. It is literally dead in space, with no chance of getting to cover, let alone presenting a threat to the Gunship which shot it.

Compare this to what happens with an Ion Railgun hitting other ships. When an Ion Railgun hits a Bomber (which is probably sitting on a full tank of gas), the Bomber shrugs and lurches behind nearby cover. When an Ion Railgun hits another Gunship, that Gunship has usually lost its duel, but has enough gas left to seek cover. Plus, it had a fair and even chance to win. When an Ion Railgun hits a Scout without Distortion Field, that Scout is usually either running Shield-to-Engine Converter or Power Dive, either of which can be used to get it to cover.

This is true of any ship with Power Dive, in fact, and so the Clarion is in a much better state against Ion Railguns than its two classic Strike siblings.

I believe the optimal solution here is to alter Ion Railgun, such that its draining effects are reduced depending on the target's available shields on the arc that was struck.

A fully charged Ion railgun does 1850 shield damage. A Strike's base shield is 1800/arc. I'd propose that, an Ion Railgun's energy drain effect should be related to how much damage it did beyond the victim's shields--this would replace its pitiful hull damage. The more damage that was leftover after the shields were brought down, the more energy drain. But if the Ion Railgun doesn't eat through the full arc of shields, then there should be no energy drain at all.

Not only would this offer extra protection to Strikes, which have inherently high shields, but it would buff all the high-capacity shields, and potentially sway the meta away from Distortion Field a smidge.

Mobility.3) Inability to dogfight at short range.
Strikes have stronger turning speed than Gunships and Bombers, but it is still significantly lesser than Scouts. Combined with the lack of Burst Laser Cannons, this dooms the Strike to lose any dogfight against a Scout--or even a Quarrel or Condor with Burst Laser Cannons.

Even a Quarrel, as slow as it turns, can clean up Strikes under a satellite quite easily, using Burst Laser Cannons. The Condor, which can get more turning speed and Cluster Missiles, can do so even better.

Ultimately, a huge problem in the game is that Rapid Laser Cannons and Light Laser Cannons are just woefully ineffective against a target that is moving quickly, or getting frequent breaks of cover--which is pretty much the name of the game under a satellite in Domination. The Strike does not have the tools (namely Burst Laser Cannons) to play that game well.

Giving Strikes Burst Laser Cannons would help here, but they are still going to lose to Scouts, who have superior turning, Evasion, and offensive cooldowns. This means that a Strike has very little chance of ousting a Scout off a node, and no chance of beating a Scout who closes on it, even in open space.

This is perhaps the hardest to solve. I suggest giving the Strike superior turning speed compared to the Scout. From a lore perspective, it makes sense that a space superiority fighter could turn faster than a speedy scouting craft. Plus the Scout would still have the speed and Evasion advantage, as well as its offensive cooldowns. But the Strike could claim definitively that it is the best "dogfighter".

Strike Defensive Weakness

Defense.1) There is but one Defense, and its name is Evasion.
The Strike chassis trades 5% Evasion away to get 5% Damage Reduction in return. It trades away access to Distortion Field to get Charged Plating. These are just simply bad trades, because Damage Reduction is largely useless. Not only does Damage Reduction not reduce damage to your shields, but it also does nothing to reduce the magnitude of harmful effects like snares. Worst of all, there are too many weapons with 100% Armor Piercing, which completely negate your component choice.

And let's not even talk about offering Charged Plating on a starter ship that doesn't have an Armor component to stack with, which is the most horrendous newbie trap in the game.

Evasion, on the other hand, has nothing but upside. It reduces damage taken to both your shields and hull. It saves you entirely from detrimental draining or snaring effects. One might think missiles are supposed to be the anti-Evasion weapon, but Distortion Field is the one shield in the game to offer a missile break. And there is no ubiquitous weapon upgrade that says "Ignores Evasion 100%", as there is with Armor Piercing.

The solution here is not to give Strikes Distortion Field or more Evasion. The solution is to make other choices viable, and to nerf the overall effectiveness of Evasion if necessary. Not only does Evasion create a Scout hegemony, but it needlessly confuses and frustrates new players. They aim at a target, dead center, shoot at it ... and nothing happens. It makes GSF look amateur and laggy and broken.

100% Armor Piercing should be reserved for very special, very hard-to-hit-with components. Personally, I think only Proton Torpedo should have it. Slug Railgun's armor piercing magnitude should be based on the range to target. Shooting at 15km? No armor-piercing. Shooting at 3km? 100%. Shooting at 10km? Maybe 40%.

All other weapons which currently have Armor Piercing of 100% should have it reduced to 20 or 30%, I think. If someone elects to build for Damage Reduction, they need to get something out of it, even against armor-piercing weapons.

This change, however, would necessitate a reduction in Charged Plating's magnitude and/or duration.

Conclusion

By no means am I presenting the above ideas as the only solutions--or frankly as the only problems Strikes have. As I said, it's a complicated, multi-faceted problem. As far as Strikes can be fixed without touching other ships, great. But I do believe that at least some small adjustments will be needed... to Burst Laser Cannons, to Distortion Field, to Slug and Ion Railgun ... in order for Strikes to carve out a lasting place.

Thank you again for finally stopping by, Alex. I hope this can continue to be a 2-way conversation.
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caederon's Avatar


caederon
05.28.2015 , 06:04 PM | #26
There are two main problems with strike fighters as they are now, from a competitive standpoint.

1. Mobility. They lack a reliable means to extract themselves from dangerous situations, and lack a reliable means to quickly get back into the fight after respawning. Nerfing barrel roll many ages ago really hurt strikes far more than anything else. You'd think with those big, powerful engines growing like barnacles off of every wing and fin of the strike models, they'd be able to get around a little better.

2. Missiles are ineffective. Cluster missiles are the only worthwhile missile in the arsenal, with torpedoes and Interdiction missile (which for some unfathomable reason isn't available on the T2 strike) being semi-useful. With the prevalence of multiple-missile-break builds, it takes a large amount of luck to catch a scout between cooldowns (or to lock one in the first place). Even gunships can sport two missile breaks. EMP and Ion missiles are both good in theory and terrible in practice. Give the T2 strike some sort of Super Missile System, fix the terrible and broken missiles, and add Interdiction Missile to its arsenal, and maybe it might merit looking at again as a competitive ship.

There are certainly other issues with strikes, but those are the two I'd focus on fixing.

Despon

BrianDavion's Avatar


BrianDavion
05.28.2015 , 06:05 PM | #27
Quote: Originally Posted by Nemarus View Post
Thank you for posting, Alex! We have been waiting for dev contact for a long, long time. I hope it continues.

Unfortunately, I do not believe there is a single major reason Strike fighters suffer, nor is there a single silver bullet that will fix them. Their inefficacy in the meta is determined just as much by the specialized strengths of the other classes (along with some specific components) as it is determined by the Strike's own chassis and component choices.

I'll try to break it out as best I can. I'll use Republic fighter names for simplicity.

Strike Offensive Weaknesses

Offense.1) No surprise burst damage.
Every single Strike weapon involves sustained warning to your target. Whether it's a stream of Rapids, Quads, or Heavies, or the lock-on tone of a missile, your target always has ample time to respond before taking significant damage.

On the other hand, every other class has at least one way to deliver sudden, untelegraphed damage:

NovaDives can combine primary weapons and rocket pods (which, unlike missiles, offer no warning), along with Targeting Telemetry to create not only increased criticals, but criticals that deal increased damage.

Flashfires can do the same with Quads + Pods, or they can just use Burst Laser Cannons (which inherently do surprise burst damage). Again, using Targeting Telemetry or Blaster Overcharge further increases the surprise burst damage.

All Gunships have Slug Railguns, which by their nature deal a sudden burst of shield-piercing, armor-piercing damage, with no warning except a charge-up glow (if you're looking at the Gunship).

Quarrels have Ion Railgun, which deals a sudden burst of high shield-damage (negating the one thing the Strike is "best at") and crippling the target's mobility (which for a Strike is )already average. Again, it has no warning except if you happen to be looking toward the charge-up glow.

Warcarriers have their three drones, all of which strike without warning: the railgun drone fires just like a railgun, the Interdiction Drone immediately applies its crippling snare (while doing damage), and the missile drone releases a missile with no warned lock-on time. The only warning happens once the missile is already flight. Seeker Mines are the same--there is only a very narrow window in which the target can react to use its missile-break.

Minelayer mines deal their damage with no time to react. Seismic Mines bypass shields (again negating the Strike's main strength), and Interdiction Mines immediately cripple victim mobility.

All of the above weapons and combinations have the ability to very rapidly kill or cripple a target with little to no warning. Note that none of those combinations involve missiles.

The Strike, on the other hand, has no access to Rocket Pods, Railguns, Drones, nor Mines. The Stirke's secondary weapon offense is limited entirely to missiles, all of which offer significant warning to their target. Tragically, it is even deprived of the one burst damage primary weapon in the game. It has always been a mystery why the Star Guard--as the primary weapon specialist--does not have access to Burst Laser Cannons, while Flashfires, Quarrels, and Condors do.

The only way a Strike can deliver significant, lethal damage before giving a target time to react is on a Star Guard with Ion Cannons and Cluster Missiles. In that case, the Star Guard can strip the shields of a target even while locking on with a Cluster Missile. This is a strong combo, but it is very short range and severely limits the Star Guard's component choices--and it still requires landing a missile. For a class based on versatility, there should be more viable offensive options.

And the Pike and Clarion are simply hopeless when it comes to delivering surprise burst damage, as they cannot even pull off the Ion Cannon/Cluster Missile trick. All of their offensive potential relies on sustained primary weapon fire while attempting to lock on with missiles.

This leads us to the next point:

Offense.2) Missiles are Ineffectual
Missiles require the greatest set up time, are bound by both ammo and cooldown, and offer ample warning to their targets. And yet their damage and secondary effects are largely unimpressive compared to other secondary weapons. Cluster Missiles are the exception--when fully upgraded, they do solid damage, require little lock-on time, have a very short cooldown, and have enough ammo capacity so as not to be very restrictive.

But by far, the biggest reason Cluster Missiles are effective is because they can be spammed. And if you can spam a missile, then you can drain the target of both their engine maneuver missile break and Distortion Field's missile break.

That's the real problem with missiles--there are too few missiles flying around to eat up all of the missile-break's.

One potential solution to this would be to take Distortion Field's missile break away. This would likely go far in balancing the power of Flashfires, but I know there are Quarrel enthusiasts who are concerned such a nerf would hit them too hard (since their only other missile break is the 20-second cooldown Barrel Roll).

If decreasing the number of missile breaks isn't palatable, then the other option is to increase the number and rate of missiles being fired. An interesting question is this: should any missiles have cooldowns at all? Or is lock-on time, warning to target, and ammo limits enough of a check to missile power? I tend to think so. A Strike firing Concussion Missiles (or even the derided Ion Missile!) as fast as he can attain locks would be very threatening and a very strong counter to Evasion, which has long dominated defense. This would be my personal suggestion.

This would be a soft nerf to the Pike's very weak advantage to chain fire two missiles consecutively; however, in a world where missiles have no cooldowns, the Pike's ability to spam both long range torpedoes and short-range dogfighting missiles would be make it a force to be reckoned with.

This change would buff Strikes, but it would also buff Sledgehammers, Condors, and the misbegotten Comet-breaker. Note that even with this buff, Star Guards and Pikes would still be largely passed over in favor of Sledgehammers and Condors, because a Mine or Railgun is superior to the ability to switch between multiple lasers or missiles.

So if you decided "no cooldown on missiles" was the one fix you're going to make, then make it inherent and exclusive to the Strike chassis. Then, at least, they would have a unique capability that might let them edge out Sledgehammers and Condors. I would also recommend giving Clusters (for everyone else) a longer cooldown, to prevent Flashfires from spamming them, and to re-emphasize "spammable missiles" as a unique Strike perk.

Offense.3) Switchable weapons (that aren't Railguns) is not a great #1 system ability.
In judging the value of a "switch weapon" ability, you have to consider how it compares with other #1 abilities. In particular, ask yourself, "If I could trade this ability for a mine, drone, Targeting Telemetry, or Blaster Overcharge?" For Star Guards and Pikes, the answer is "Yes, I'd give away weapon switching for one of those system abilities." For the Clarion, it is a tougher call, as Repair Probes is a solid system ability.

There are five ships in the game that can switch between two different weapons with the #1 key:
Star Guard (two different primary weapons)
Pike (two different secondary weapons, all of which are missiles or torpedoes)
Quarrel (two different railguns)
Comet-breaker (two different secondary weapons, all of which are torpedoes or railguns)
Condor (two different secondary weapons, all of which are missiles or railguns)

I think there is general agreement that of the above list, only two are worth a #1 system ability slot:
Quarrel -- but only with Ion Railgun and Slug Railgun, which complement each other so well. Switching between Plasma and Slug is of no value, as those weapons do not synergize.
Condor - since a Slug Railgun is a great, universal long-range weapon, and Cluster Missiles are a solid short-range weapon that combine well with Burst Laser Cannons

The Star Guard's ability to switch between primary weapons would be more valuable if it had a better set of primary weapons to switch between. Heavy Laser Cannons and Quad Cannons are great long-range weapons, but what's missing is a strong short-range weapon--namely Burst Laser Cannons, but even Light Laser Cannons. Unfortunately, Rapid Laser Cannons are just altogether underpowered and nigh-useless.

Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned weakness of missiles, the Pike has even further to go. The first step would be giving it access to the solid Interdiction Missile and Rocket Pods (!!! -- yes, Rocket Pods on a Strike--they would give the Pike stronger jousting skills and tons of flexibility).

As for the Clarion, the one Strike without a "switch weapon" system ability, its utility is solely defined by Repair Probes. Combat Command and Remote Slicing are largely ignored, the former because of its extreme cooldown, and the latter because of its underwhelming effects (and still long cooldown).


Strike Mobility Weaknesses

Mobility.1) Strikes are often out of engine energy.
It costs a Strike just as much engine energy to engage and sustain afterburners as it does a Bomber or Gunship. That's not only silly, but lethal given the Strike's role. Unlike a Bomber or Gunship, which--once in position, can fulfill their roles while relatively stationary--a Strike needs to boost both to get where it's going and subsequently keep boosting while fighting. In particular, it needs to keep intermittently boosting to keep enemies at optimal range (close enough to hit, but far enough to keep centered).

As it stands, Strikes have to spend all of their energy getting where they are going, with nothing left to actually fight and maneuver with.

Strike afterburner activation and sustain cost needs to be higher than Gunships and Bombers for sure--I would even say it should be equal with Scouts--especially considering that Strike base speed will still be lower.

But even this would not solve the problem, since ...

Mobility.2) Ion Railguns are ruinous to Strikes.
Strikes are uniquely disadvantaged by Ion Railgun. Lacking the Evasion afforded Scouts with Distortion Field, Strikes are easy for an Ion Railgun to hit. And when that hit comes, the Strike (which is probably already almost out of energy) is robbed of whatever engine energy it had left. It can't use Barrel Roll. It can't use afterburner. It is literally dead in space, with no chance of getting to cover, let alone presenting a threat to the Gunship which shot it.

Compare this to what happens with an Ion Railgun hitting other ships. When an Ion Railgun hits a Bomber (which is probably sitting on a full tank of gas), the Bomber shrugs and lurches behind nearby cover. When an Ion Railgun hits another Gunship, that Gunship has usually lost its duel, but has enough gas left to seek cover. Plus,but it had a fair and even chance to win. When an Ion Railgun hits a Scout withoseut Distortion Field, that Scout is usually either running Shield-to-Engine Converter or Power Dive, either of which can be used to get it to cover.

This is true of any ship with Power Dive, in fact, and so the Clarion is in a much better state against Ion Railguns than its two classic Strike siblings.

I believe the optimal solution here is to alter Ion Railgun, such that its draining effects are reduced depending on the target's available shields on the arc that was struck.

A fully charged Ion railgun does 1850 shield damage. A Strike's base shield is 1800/arc. I'd propose that, if an Ion Railgun deals more shield damage than the target has shields, then it should do its energy drain (and no hull damage). The more damage that was leftover after the shields were brought down, the more energy drain. If the Ion Railgun doesn't eat through the full arc of shields, then there should be no energy drain.

Not only would this offer extra protection to Strikes, which have inherently high shields, but it would buff all the high-capacity shields, and potentially sway the meta away from Distortion Field a smidge.

Mobility.3) Inability to dogfight at short range.
Strikes have stronger turning speed than Gunships and Bombers, but it is still significantly lesser than Scouts. Combined with the lack of Burst Laser Cannons, this dooms the Strike to lose any dogfight against a Scout--or even a Quarrel or Condor with Burst Laser Cannons.

Even a Quarrel, as slow as it turns, can clean up Strikes under a satellite quite easily, using Burst Laser Cannons. The Condor, which can get more turning speed and Cluster Missiles, can do so even better.

Ultimately, a huge problem in the game is that Rapid Laser Cannons and Light Laser Cannons are just woefully ineffective against a target that is moving quickly, or getting frequent breaks of cover--which is pretty much the name of the game under a satellite in Domination. The Strike does not have the tools (namely Burst Laser Cannons) to play that game well.

Giving Strikes Burst Laser Cannons would help here, but they are still going to lose to Scouts, who have superior turning, Evasion, and offensive cooldowns. This means that a Strike has very little chance of ousting a Scout off a node, and no chance of beating a Scout who closes on it, even in open space.

This is perhaps the hardest to solve. I suggest giving the Strike superior turning speed compared to the Scout. From a lore perspective, it makes sense that a space superiority fighter would turn faster than a speedy scouting craft. Plus the Scout would still have the speed and Evasion advantage, as well as its offensive cooldowns. But the Strike could claim definitively that it is the best "dogfighter".

Strike Defensive Weakness

Defense.1) There is but one Defense, and its name is Evasion.
The Strike chassis trades 5% Evasion away to get 5% Damage Reduction in return. It trades away access to Distortion Field to get Charged Plating. These are just simply bad trades, because Damage Reduction is largely useless. Not only does Damage Reduction not reduce damage to your shields, but it also does nothing to reduce the magnitude of harmful effects like snares. Worst of all, there are too many weapons with 100% Armor Piercing, which completely negate your component choice.

And let's not even talk about offering Charged Plating on a starter ship that doesn't have an Armor component to stack with, which is the most horrendous newbie trap in the game.

Evasion, on the other hand, has nothing but upside. It reduces damage taken to both your shields and hull. It saves you entirely from detrimental draining or snaring effects. One might think missiles are supposed to be the anti-Evasion weapon, but Distortion Field is the one shield in the game to offer a missile break. And there is no ubiquitous weapon upgrade that says "Ignores Evasion 100%", as there is with Armor Piercing.

The solution here is not to give Strikes Distortion Field or more Evasion. The solution is to make other choices viable, and to nerf the overall effectiveness of Evasion if necessary. Not only does Evasion create a Scout hegemony, but it needlessly confuses and frustrates new players. They aim at a target, dead center, shoot at it ... and nothing happens. It makes GSF look amateur and laggy and broken.

100% Armor Piercing should be reserved for very special, very hard-to-hit-with components. Personally, I think only Proton Torpedo should have it. Slug Railgun's armor piercing magnitude should be based on the range to target. Shooting at 15km? No armor-piercing. Shooting at 3km? 100%. Shooting at 10km? Maybe 40%.

All other weapons which currently have Armor Piercing of 100% should have it reduced to 20 or 30%, I think. If someone elects to build for Damage Reduction, they need to get something out of it, even against armor-piercing weapons.

This change, however, would necessitate a reduction in Charged Plating's magnitude and/or duration.

Conclusion

By no means am I presenting the above ideas as the only solutions--or frankly as the only problems Strikes have. As I said, it's a complicated, multi-faceted problem. As far as Strikes can be fixed without touching other ships, great. But I do believe that at least some small adjustments will be needed... to Burst Laser Cannons, to Distortion Field, to Slug and Ion Railgun ... in order for Strikes to carve out a lasting place.

Thank you again for finally stopping by, Alex. I hope this can continue to be a 2-way conversation.

this, soooo this

Loc_n_lol's Avatar


Loc_n_lol
05.28.2015 , 06:08 PM | #28
I feel the Strike fighter chassis has good stats (pretty much too good, actually), so I wouldn't touch any of that.

Non-cluster missiles overall could use some buffs... there's no real reason to take them on any class that has alternatives available. Something that makes them easier to land on experienced players (shorter locks, shorter cooldowns, faster travel, no lock warning until fired). They can already be quite devastating on new players.
Also, finite ammo is a pretty poor idea overall (what's the point ? penalizing players for surviving too long ? Why only on missiles ?), I'd remove it and replace anything that modifies ammo capacity with cooldown modifiers instead.

Lasers tend to have relatively low dps and are practically unusable by newer players. BLCs work stupidly well because they have burst (as one would expect...), really good upgrades, and the low rate of fire makes them easier to aim, but strikes don't get that. Heavies are made somewhat easy to aim by their longer range but the dps is crap. Quads fall into a good middle-ground of fairly high dps and long range, so they're ok. But everything else is just a pain to aim at short range. The aiming reticle is just too small with the requirement of constant tracking. Scoreboards show abysmally low accuracy values for any average-or-below player using a strike fighter or scout, that should tell you something, I think. Ironically, railguns are far easier to aim by unskilled players and do good damage too on top of being safer to use.

Strikes don't get any offensive cooldowns to their lasers (except battle command, but that doesnt really work well in pugs, there's never enough allies in range to justify using it), so between lackluster lasers and lackluster missiles the offensive package of strike fighters suffers a bit.

For the SF1:
-ion cannons are lackluster, could use more range and better utility (baseline snare/drain ? brief engine/systems silence at top-tier ?)
-Having 2 primaries doesn't offer much. Versatility, yes, but that's a pretty bad trade-off compared to some of the systems available. Having 2 secondaries at least means you can use 1 when the other is on cooldown. Besides, all laser cannons are short-to-mid range direct-damage weapons that have 0 utility, except ion cannons (which are bad), so it doesn't give you that much versatility in the first place. Suggestion : 3rd toggle mode that fires both primaries at the same time at a slight damage penalty ?

CommanderKiko's Avatar


CommanderKiko
05.28.2015 , 06:10 PM | #29
I can't argue with the rainbow of pretty colors in the post above me (edit: on page 3) in any way shape or form. It is logical and points out every problem with strikers that I could think of off the top of my head - and more.

JediBoadicea's Avatar


JediBoadicea
05.28.2015 , 06:16 PM | #30
First of all, thank you so much to the devs for this sign of renewed attention on GSF! At the Anaheim tour I was pleased to be able to thank one of the senior designers for GSF; I fear that often the designers don't get to hear as much gratitude as they deserve. I hope that the inevitable negative comments some griefers might choose to post here do not dissuade the devs from giving GSF some attention and love. GSF has a dedicated community, and further, it's also one of the aspects of SWTOR that is unique among MMOs; all MMOs have ground PVP and PVE, and players who fiend for those aspects are going to have many games to choose from and are likely to be MMO wanderers, moving regularly between games; but GSF is unique to SWTOR and players who love it have more reason to remain faithful to the game that gives it to them.

Personally, I do not feel as strongly as many players do that Strike Fighters are so grotesquely uncompetitive in the meta. Yes, they are a jack-of-all-trades ship, and by default that means they will not be as powerful in a specialized role. And while I do agree that they are rarely the go-to ship choice for tough matches or specific objectives, I don't agree that they are useless. A competent, veteran pilot in a Strike Fighter can still be deadly, and often also has the advantage of being underestimated by dismissive pilots. ;-) That being said, some changes or improvements to the Strike Fighter would not be unwelcome, if only to make them a bit more specialized and give them a unique role of their own.

1.Secondary Weapons.This would probably be my first choice for a buff. Maneuverability is (arguably) the scout's chief trait, defensibility is the bomber's, and offensive power is the gunship's -- in turn, a unique weapon ability might be a fun choice for the Strike. I would suggest that missile lock-on times for Strike Fighters could be lowered, either across the board on all missile types or particularly on the longer lock-on and more powerful missiles like Protons and Thermites. Hand-in-hand with that, perhaps also (or alternatively) lower cool-down times on missile reloads. This would make Strikes more threatening to scouts with a double missile break (giving them a chance to still get a lock in the window between those breaks), and give them a better chance to take out a bomber before they can be intercepted by other defenders. Missile buffs like this might increase the attractiveness of Strikes in general but particularly the T2 Striker with its unique dual-missile load out.

2. Defensibility. As my second choice for attention, I would suggest defensibility -- in particular something that might defend against armor-piercing weapons. Armor vs. armor-piercing is, I think, a well balanced battle when it comes to bombers vs. scouts/gunships given all the variables involved in those face-offs (range, minefields, LOS, etc). But less balanced is armor-piercing versus Strikes, who are slower than the scouts trying to get within range, and often not maneuverable enough to avoid gunships. Perhaps an inherent resistance against armor-piercing weapons for all Strikes, or a new component that would grant something similar? It's almost never a shield piercing weapon that ends up melting a Strike, but rather an armor-piercing one. If a burst scout or gunship can't be guaranteed to one or two shot a Strike, it might give the Strike pilot a better chance to retaliate (particularly if it also had swifter lock-on missiles to hit that gunship within 10k ).

Whatever changes are made to Strikes, I would suggest that you be sure they are applicable to the Star Guard / Rycer so that new pilots feel the benefits right away with their stock ship choices. As we all know, the learning curve on GSF is very steep and often discourages new pilots, who will frequently be starting with the T1 Strike without the experience to recognize that they are "disadvantaged" when pitted against ships more specialized. Something like shorter missile lock-on times might also allow a newer pilot to learn to use missiles period; I remember very clearly back in the days of early access, ignorant and wet around the ears, wondering why missiles "didn't work," often not even getting to the point of hearing the successful lock-on tone that would allow me to better learn the weapon or feel at all encouraged.