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Proton torpedo balancing

Ramalina's Avatar

10.16.2021 , 03:47 PM | #11
Quote: Originally Posted by theknightof View Post
my protons lock in 2.2 which makes them easy to use.
Ease of use depends a lot on how good the target is at defending against missiles.

This forum skews heavily toward high skill players, and in that population, getting hit by Proton Torps isn't really a significant concern. "Are you worried about getting killed by torpedoes?" Generally the answer is, "No, they're easy to defend against." They fall well behind Railguns, HLCs, and BLCs on the list of things to worry about, and depending on the game mode or even the amount of teamwork can come out behind utility choices like EMP missile.

More of a nuisance than an extreme threat. The nuisance being that you have to be more aware and stick reasonably close to cover if there are multiple Proton launchers after you, which gets upgraded to a really severe nuisance/moderate threat if someone is helping out with EMPs.

So in a balance conversation, here at least, you'll get the view of high skill vs. high skill play. In that situation, Protons are decent, but Concussion, EMP, are competitive with it, and Cluster is situationally competitive with it. The lock is slow enough, and the arc small enough that the other missiles hit at a sufficiently higher rate to keep up with Protons.

In a random match on a live server, where you're lucky to get 4 high skill players between two teams in a 12 v 12 match, that changes a bit. For a high skill player, it's still not that much of a difference. Blowing up people that don't know how to defend is quick no matter what missile you use. For moderate or low skill players, there's a significant difference. For them the high chance of a Proton hit landing a kill is immensely useful, because they have a much harder time landing follow up hits, whatever the weapons available on their ship. It becomes a significantly superior choice for them in that situation, because the mechanics of Proton usually don't require that follow-up, especially in a piercing heavy Meta where there are a lot of ships flying around with full shields and moderate hull damage.

Protons have a set of tradeoffs in their design:
Pros: Range, Shield piercing, Armor piercing
Cons: Firing arc, Lock time, Ammo capacity, Reload time, Lack of utility effects.

These pros and cons relate to their role. Proton Torps are a bomber killing tool (distinct from bomber neutralizing tools like EMP), that are also moderately good at pressuring gunships, and adequate but slightly sub-par at generalized ship killing provided the target makes moderate to large defensive mistakes.

It's actually the second best torpedo for the job, as if you really really care about killing bombers fast you're better off with Thermite torps. The problem with them is mostly, "They stole my kill," syndrome. With regards to game state, an assist that causes the bomber to die sooner is objectively better than a slower solo kill via Proton, but people get possessive over kills that they haven't actually killed yet, and as a result tend to dislike Thermite even in cases where it's clearly the superior choice.

Proton is good at what it does, but it does not come remotely close to doing everything, and there are enough non-proton ideal situations in any match so that there are a bunch of other missile choices that are equivalent or better, if you know how to wring the maximum use out of them. The only ship that I typically build Protons into a "standard" build for is the T2F, and even there it's not mandatory. There's a decent argument that a Concussion + EMP build is as good or better than any Proton + combo.

In terms of missile balance issues to be redressed: Ion missiles need help (lots of help), Sabo probe probably needs help but no one wants to fly in a world where Sabo probe works really well so it's probably ok to be slightly broken, Thermite Torps are actually fine but armor is so nerfed right now, and skilled team play so rare, that there's not really a reason to take them aside from lulz as you watch people desperately try to somehow out-fly the D.O.T.

For what it's worth, when I equip Thermite on a Clarion for silliness with D.O.T.s it doesn't seem to make the ship any less deadly than it is with Protons it just tends to shift a few digits from the kill column to the assist column, and if I want to be maximally effective for the team, I ditch both torps for EMP.

What you're talking about, a play advantage so significant that it almost compels Proton use, does not appear to exist in high level play. Turn that around and ask, "What's the best missile if a new player wants a chance of getting a kill instead of an assist on a more skilled player," and then Proton torpedo has a commanding lead over just about every component other than Slug Railgun. That's not really balance per se, though, that's more a new player experience issue.

Should there be a missile that's that much easier for new players to use effectively compared to the other missiles? Probably, yes. New players need some sort of rewarding experience, and blowing up other new players in a giant blue ball of doom is fairly rewarding in GSF. As long as a lot of skilled players are inclined to say, "Eh, whatever, take Proton if you like, it's not bad, but I'm taking Concussion or EMP," then the balance is probably still o.k. All of the missiles that work are situational in regards to working. Protons just have the lowest skill barrier to taking advantage of the respective missile use situations.
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Enticy's Avatar

10.16.2021 , 08:22 PM | #12
Quote: Originally Posted by theknightof View Post
so which missiles do you choose for a tmd ship? you sound like you don't use protons, or just talking rubbish...
and as you said "If you have full health and shields, they won’t one shot you". under these conditions other missiles won't even concern you.
there is no need to give us a lecture on how to avoid a missile -- you can do the same against other missiles but they won't kill you even if you failed to....
and i'm speaking balance of components here, not of ships.
Quote: Originally Posted by Ramalina View Post
I literally could not have come up with a better response than what Ramalina put so eloquently. I wasn’t trying to “lecture” anyone. I was pointing out that protorps don’t need a nerf in the name of balance, not talking rubish. Yes, I absolutely use protorps in TDM because they’re effective. But they aren’t the end-all beat-all of secondary weapons. Effective =\= broken. And for your information, I’ve been killed by plenty of protorps and they do concern me. That’s why I got good at avoiding them.

theknightof's Avatar

10.17.2021 , 02:57 AM | #13
i believe, Ramalina, you indirectly agreed that there is unbalance in missile components -- even if not strictly speaking of Protons. (...i won't even start on the imbalance of blasters)
just for everyone's info, i am an experienced player with somewhere between 2-3k matches among various characters, 100% gsf achievements, and always flying solo.
and a reminder: gsf has only one queue mode, there is no ranked/unranked, no team/solo, so the topic of components' imbalance is not only high-skilled pilots' concern.
Enticy, as i mentioned, there is the option of boosting some other missiles. You are right "Effective =\= broken" but effectiveness of some vs. low effectiveness of other = broken. Hence, You are using protons, I am using protons, and I bet the % of players choosing anything over protons is unproportional to the number of choices we are given.

theknightof's Avatar

10.17.2021 , 03:08 AM | #14
Quote: Originally Posted by Ramalina View Post
Protons have a set of tradeoffs in their design:
Pros: Range, Shield piercing, Armor piercing
Cons: Firing arc, Lock time, Ammo capacity, Reload time, Lack of utility effects.
by the way, it's not exactly true that reload time is a con of Protons -- it equals that of Thermite and Ion; it's lower than EMP; and only beaten by Cuncussion and Cluster.
Ammo capacity is rarely a factor if we add to the equation refill options, and most players don't go through a competitive battle without dying every now and then (though it's personally something i take under consideration because in tdm i'm way below 1 death per match).
I'm leaving Sabotage out of the discussion, it's kind of a topic of its own...

DakhathKilrathi's Avatar

10.17.2021 , 09:38 AM | #15
I think protorps are, generally speaking, pretty well balanced, for all the reasons that others have outlined in this thread.

However, I wouldn't mind seeing a very minor nerf to them if only because it would teach people to actually bother learning to aim.


people can learn to aim right

years of experience tells me they still won't but let me pretend okay

Nonsense aside, yeah. Protorps disincentivize learning to aim primaries. I would like for people to have a reason to learn to aim, so maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing.

I don't even use them regularly on anything except my T2F though so what do I know? For my play style at least, concussion missiles are way better on the T1F, but that's largely because I only use it for the debuff; I get my kills in that ship with the primaries.

Drakkolich's Avatar

10.17.2021 , 11:50 AM | #16
So while I don't think Proton is hugely imbalanced like some do, I do think it's a little bit stronger then some other missiles. In my opinion EMP missile is still the best missile in the game, but I'm not sure we want that one to go down in power since it keeps crazy Bomber nests in check, and that's been very healthy for the game so far.

I'm not huge on discussing how to balance things, but my idea is a simple one that I think could also bring some other components back into the game making the meta even bigger.

Remove Armor Ignore on Proton Torpedo.
Now you'd have a missile that specializes in sniping kills but also has a component hard counter in Damage Reduction builds. Which would give Thermite a new role as the anti armor Torpedo of choice.

Having Protons be scary has been very good for the game, since now you can peel for teammates, threatening a Proton on an enemy targeting your teammate needs to convey that level of threat so people have to dissengage, so we get the back and forth we currently have in GSF. Pre 5.5, everyone just played offensively 90% of the time and just ignored what everyone else was doing and hoped their evasion would save them, which it often did.

Anyways that's just my thoughts on the matter, I'd much rather them keep Proton as it is then gut it and lose that threat of a scary missile hitting someone. However I do think dropping it's Armor Ignore could open up some interesting possiblities.
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Urthal's Avatar

11.02.2021 , 11:29 PM | #17
Quote: Originally Posted by Ramalina View Post
Ease of use depends a lot on how good the target is at defending against missiles.
Superb answer, Ramalina.

I often run protons on my T1F but I rarely expect them to do much. They are easy to avoid, unless you launch one at someone you just saw use their engine break. Otherwise, I'm actually surprised when they actually land. I don't carry them for the damage, I carry them for the threat of the damage. As Drakolich mentioned, the consequences of being hit by a proton torpedo have to be large for the threat to be relevant. I could carry concussion missiles and get higher DPS out of my missiles, but I like being able to threaten people at 11.5km when needed and some people actually keep track of what you use, thus losing the threatening part of them. Most importantly, living across the globe also means actually getting a missile lock isn't as simple, the system seems to suffer greatly from above average latencies so I don't use missiles much.

Similarly, I rarely get hit by protons, unless there's several people locking missiles at me at the same time and I misjudge the threat, or I use my engine ability in the open and someone takes advantage of the opportunity. They do force me to fly defensively, so they have an effect.. they just rarely deal actual damage.

Strathkin's Avatar

12.06.2021 , 12:08 AM | #18
Quote: Originally Posted by Enticy View Post
Two things. One, limiting the range of protons isn’t going to do much, as most ace pilots operate well within 10,000m. In fact, if you main a T3 Strike, you’re looking at an operational range of <4,000m. Two, while protorps are powerful, they aren’t unbeatable or broken. If you have full health and shields, they won’t one shot you. Hydro Spanner counters the DOT enough to let you survive, and the lock-on time is enough to allow a good pilot to los or engine break when the missile is fired. Multiple protorps can be a problem, but so can multiple railguns or multiple battle Scouts.

Nothing needs to be nerfed. Instead, players need to learn to play around these things and beat them. If BW nerfed everything that players said needed to be nerfed, we might as well be playing a My Little Pony sim for all the damage people would do in this game.
Well I'm always confused, because despite their 10,000m range. Often I never start to get a LOCK-ON until I'm within 5,000 or even < that for range. That's in my FT-8 Star Guard, so I'm confused what I'm doing wrong, despite my ships mostly has Proton Torp's fully upgraded. I also have Efficient Targeting FULLY UPGRADED! Along with many other aspects of the Ship.

Often I can find similar issues with Thermite, in other Ships that makes them only slightly better. I never have a problem with Concussion Missiles, so I mostly stick with those! It's always very disappointing!

I mean it's not like they are evading the LOCK, it doesn't even start LOCK-On till I get <50% of the maximum Range. So I'd love to know what I'm doing wrong? So ANY help would be greatly appreciated!
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ThutmoseV's Avatar

12.06.2021 , 12:44 AM | #19
I think proton torpedoes should stay the same. The thing about proton torpedoes is that it makes it a bit easier for the average player to get a kill. The top players are good at using all their weapons and get higher burst damage. They get more kills because they do more damage before their target can evade or escape. The lower skill players do less damage with their blasters and are not as good at following up to finish the target. But GSF is a multiplayer game where many ships might be in a confused melee. There is always a chance that you lock your missile on an opponent who is low on energy, been hit by something like EMP missile or remote slicing, or has just used their missile break. So you have a chance to get a kill. I think in a game where all skill and experience levels are mixed together in the same match, giving less experienced players a better chance to get some positive reinforcement might help them stay in GSF long enough to improve and enjoy it more, which would help the whole game.
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Strathkin's Avatar

12.06.2021 , 12:58 AM | #20
Quote: Originally Posted by ThutmoseV View Post
I think proton torpedoes should stay the same. The thing about proton torpedoes is that it makes it a bit easier for the average player to get a kill.


There is always a chance that you lock your missile on an opponent who is low on energy, been hit by something like EMP missile or remote slicing, or has just used their missile break. So you have a chance to get a kill.
Well I can't even FIRE Proton Torps / Thermite Torp (95%) of the time, let alone even engage a LOCK-ON! Often I have to be within < 4,000m of the Target, despite the claim Proton or Thermite Torps 10,000m - 12,000m range! The guy I quoted above said, "In fact, if you main a T3 Strike, you’re looking at an operational range of <4,000m." so hence the reason I quoted him. I'm often flying my FT-8 Strike Fighter though with Proton, yet rarely ever get LOCK-ON with the Torps!

So I'm trying to figure out what I don't understand about either of them! Only my Concussion Missiles seem to lock-on regularly, and will then also Fire when I release and within Range!

I've spend several months playing, and starting to want to GIVE-UP on GSF for that reason alone.
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