The much longed for follow-up.
Link to document or read here:
Better Air Vehicle Gameplay (Based on Bf4)
For reference, see Bf4 Vehicle Info.
1. New Infantry Anti-Air Launchers
At a high level of play, the infantry anti air gameplay stagnates a bit. The final counter is heatseekers, and vs good players it only works as area denial. Imagine if the Javelin was the only AT launcher. Additional AA launcher types would spice up the air vehicle gameplay.
Create launchers that damage the aircraft, not just denying it influence. New roles would be variations on the non-lockon role. I.e. less damage and mobility hits, but easier to hit. Naturally, they would need some help to be able to hit aircraft, e.g. proximity airburst, tracking, SACLOS.
Missile hits should be significant, but counterable, rather than weak and easy to inflict. This creates more interesting gameplay, that lets pilots take larger risks, and launchers that feel good and actually deter aircraft. Powerful AA missiles that don’t require a lock to fire must generate a warning in the aircraft when it is close, to enable counterplay and clarity instead of a brutal hit out of nowhere. Loose concepts:
Proximity Airburst (close-medium range, low damage)
Starts a bit slow, but accelerates to a high velocity (so it isn’t super easy to hit helis, but possible to hit jets) fairly easy to use, large radius, explodes at closest approach.
27% max damage (no mobility hit) vs AH/SH.
Generates a warning upon proximity, so while you can’t CM it, you can plan ahead or dodge.
Balances out neatly, AH has more range, SH better movement, TH more health for surviving them. This would make for a bit more satisfying AA counterplay, where you get to damage the aircraft. Would be cool to detonate the airburst for anti infantry usage.
Passive radar (long range, medium damage)
With prefire ability. 39 max damage (light mobility hit).
SACLOS (long range, high damage)
This could be the longest range, highest damage launcher, reminiscent of the pre nerf SRAW, but with less damage and a warning upon proximity. Has been discussed before.
Requires maintained LoS - a big risk and loss of damage output.
You trade ease of use for hit probability (less warning compared to IGLA) and some bonus damage: 80 dmg.
Shouldn’t be so maneuverable that skilled players can hit very evasively moving targets.
Could be laser designation compatible.
IRL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starstreak (would be cool if the splitting into three warheads was controllable, with a tradeoff in dmg for chances to hit).
Currently, selecting a CM in air vehicles is mostly preference. Adding more launchers would makes this more like selecting a CM in ground vehicles: more dependent on your opposition; more interesting. This would go well with the vehicle respeccing ability.
2. “Chaff” Countermeasure
New CM idea: Chaff. Two uses, very short protection duration that also hides you from Air Radar, long cooldown. Effectively gives you riskier flares, but two of them(!), in addition to the opportunity of using an ECM equivalent with way worse uptime. Compare it:
|ECM||7s||1||20s||Unspottable and hidden from Radar. Smoke.|
|Chaff||2,5s (x2)||2||30s||Unspots, hides from Radar.|
Chaff would make for a CM that is hard to use effectively (can be re-locked right away), but powerful when used correctly (double usage, can defeat two missiles, versatility), and punishing if used incorrectly (long reload). A bad player using Chaff might as well use Flares or ECM. Someone using cover well will be able to use Chaff like flares, but with the added benefit of double usage and unspotting. I think the hypothetical stats (reload should be at least 30s) make for an interesting choice which depends on map and opposition.
3. More abilities
The CM selection could be simplified a bit and redistributed to create more depth.
Consider having this loadout:
- Flares, FE or Chaff (as described earlier)
- ECM (Does not break or prevent locks. Unspots heli, creates smoke. 30s cooldown, 5s duration.)
- Reworked Gyro Stabilizer
ECM as a standard ability would make for some interesting options for the pilot, you can combine countermeasures with smoke and unspotting, and also use it in dogfights or when flanking. Perhaps the ECM could increase lockon time by 15-20% to work as a sort of soft CM, providing interesting synergy with Flares/Chaff. Perhaps increase the protection duration of flares slightly now that ECM alternative is gone.
Gyro could be turned into an active ability, that reduces the duration of mobillity hits from 5s to 3s. This would give some more counterplay to mobility hit inducing weapons, such as the new ones mentioned earlier and MANPADS. Perhaps to take effect it needs to be activated before a hit, requiring some foresight to use well. It should have a long cooldown, and short-ish duration.
All these abilities would overlap in areas of usage, providing lots of player choice.
Most can be applied to jets too.
Remove jet Proximity Scan. Jets move to quickly for the 50m radius to be useful. The upgrade is also lacking in counterplay. Infantry have no way of knowing whether they risk being detected or not.
Give jets a standard spotting ability, such as a scan on cooldown that spots (and notifies) moving enemies in a 60m radius below the jet.
4. Scout Heli weaponry
Replacing the 25mm
The 25mm is well tuned, but its role is problematic. It’s fun in its ease to use vs infantry, but not that effective, and it doesn’t create interesting gameplay. With an large, weak blast radius (0,75 inner, 3m outer) infantry in the helis sight is doomed to a slow explosive death. Meanwhile, the accuracy based miniguns come with counterplay in the form of cover and movement. It has poor AT potential, drawn out over several long strafes, considering you give up the AA power of the miniguns. I.e. 25mm is low risk-low reward, with dubious advantages.
Replace the 25mm with more interesting weapons.
A weapon with splash damage enables a different playstyle, and is more accessible than the miniguns. Splash damage requires less steadying the heli to aim, allowing acrobatic movement while shooting.
A new primary could take the form of the GAU-19 with .50 HEAPI explosive rounds. At 1000RPM and double damage versus everything it has identical DPS to the M134 7.62, except against infantry where it would damage through blast damage alone or primarily. It could trade burst length and maybe velocity for splash damage (maybe 0.99m inner, 1m outer). The blast radius should be tiny, to still enable counterplay in form of cover and movement, and firing rockets at the heli when it aims.
The differences in velocity and burst length shouldn’t be too large, or you end up with a similar situation to the 25mm/minigun choice.
The scout helis role and strength is primarily anti infantry. An option for AT support, which is both more viable and better for gameplay, would be hydra rockets or similar as a secondary:
Potential new secondary weapons
Hydra Rockets - adding one pod (half of the AHs, meaning it has 7/7 ammo ready) as a secondary option would be authentic, balanced, and fun. It comes with more versatility than the LGM, but has slightly lower damage potential per reload (26,6 vs 30 vs tanks), can’t mobility hit and isn’t laser designation compatible. Everybody wants this
HJ-8 - A chinese AT TOW missile carried by the Z11W Scout Heli in real life, it is lighter than the secondary TOW missile in game. It’s niche could be a weaker (20-22,5 dmg v tanks), but more maneuverable TOW missile, giving it a role as a “skill based” (high risk-high reward) Anti Air weapon like the SACLOS launcher discussed earlier.
40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher - Carried by the Z11W Scout Heli in real life, this could be tuned to be a higher risk-higher reward mostly AT option compared to the Hydras (shorter range, dealing impact damage (inheriting that interesting aspect of the 25mm) so e.g. good rear hits will increase damage dealt)). It can have less ammo (like 12) and more damage per shot to avoid the problems of the 25mm.
GAU 19 or M134, paired with LGM, Heatseekers, or Hydra Rockets as a secondary would create many interesting loadouts, all viable. The HJ-8 and 40mm AGL would add even more variation.
5. The Attack Jet needs regen to limit damage output
Most attack vehicles were given ammo replenish moving from Bf3 to Bf4 to regulate their maximum damage output. Why not jets? They need it.
The AJ effectively has a 100 round magazine capable of killing any vehicle (3s burst length, 2000RPM) with 1.2s reload and infinite ammo. Pausing during a burst extends “the magazine” further.
Countering a strafe using CMs, cover and/or angles should have an effect on the enemy’s resources. An AJ should not be able to try again and again without penalty to damage output, like the rest of the vehicles.
The AJ can to a very large degree control its engagements, it has the capability to play around increased scarcity. Ammo of 250/50, 2s reload, 40s replenish as a rough example would be neat. Keeps heat as main damage regulator, and there is enough ammo to chain together kills, but it is no longer a bottomless supply given frequent engagements.
In addition to improving the counterplay experience, this would also require the pilot to be more selective with targets to make an impact on the game, and makes it a harder decision to shoot.
6. Transport Heli can be expanded on
The transport heli is only a few tweaks away from being a lot more interesting and rewarding. Currently, it is often wasted as a taxi, while it actually is a really impactful vehicle.
The design idea here is to keep with, but expand on the theme and role of the vehicle. It’s not an attack vehicle, but the pilot could use some active abilities. The TH makes it impact mostly through being at the right place at the right time. E.g. a good pilot will spawn teammates at the right objective. Expanding on this, the heli should have at least two different passive abilities (one in addition to the team spawn), so the pilot has to constantly assess where the heli has the most impact.
Suggested loadout options
- Smoke Hydra Rockets - 7/7 ammo, 7s reload, 30s regen. Very versatile for changing geometry of fights to help team. Would be a really fun “weapon”!
- Supply Crate - 1/0 ammo, 60s regen. A crate that heals and supplies teammates, and also acts as a motion sensor. Can be used more creatively with the motion sensor.
- Air Radar, Belt Feeder (affects passenger miniguns and ordnance), Stealth
- Team spawn point
Specialization (possibly pick two?)
- Airborne Engineering - repairs nearby vehicles.
- Radar Jammer - hides spotted teammates from the map of enemies in radius (50m).
- Proximity Scan - fits well in this slot.
- Supplies - Heals and resupplies in a radius around the heli.
- Spawn Jamming - prevents enemies from spawning on squadmates in radius (30m?). Could perhaps be really impactful in a more competitive setting. It might be a bit annoying, so maybe it’s not a good idea.
7. Seat switching
Seat switching to change loadouts on the fly is partly problematic. If a new person enters a vehicle and has a different CM equipped, it can be activated right away, “skipping” the vulnerability period of the previous CM. In the Attack Heli it’s typically used to recover from a disable using the Fire Extinguisher. The tactic of switching places to use a different CM (or loadout in general) is interesting, but switching to bypass the cooldown of the CM slot is unbalanced, as weapon uptimes and CM downtimes are balanced in relation to each other with just one usage in mind.
The used CM should delay the usage of any new CM for its cooldown period. Seatswitching should enable the choice between two CMs, not enable having two.
So you can use e.g. FE 15s after deploying flares, but not before. Seat Switching tactics would then take more planning to pull of.
8. Disable PLD usage from the seats where smart missiles are disabled
A PLD in an aircraft carrying compatible missiles gives it massive firepower without enabling any more counterplay. The added interaction of designation is negated by the gadget being heliborne. It isn’t very interesting to execute either, one player just looks at what the pilot aims at, unlike ground based laser guidance which have more factors (counter either the designator or the missile launcher). It plays mostly like having an overpowered heatseeker or LGM.
If changed, using a heli on conjunction with a recon would become more about providing transport to good positions, and it open up more counterplay options.
Additionally, a fantastic feature from BfH: A red lock-on indicator for laser designators is needed for clarity and counterplay.
9. Various minor
This was a fantastic addition to Bf1 and V! Zoom is a nice quality of life feature, equalizing worse graphics and poorer eyesights.
On some maps, (e.g. Siege of Shanghai) aircraft can wait right outside the spawn and damage enemy assets right as they spawn. If its purpose is to be an automated defense, it’s useless in scenarios described above because you have to spot the enemy first. The damage is already done by the time the AA starts deterring.
No heli has bombs, perhaps that’d be fun. Would be very high risk. Perhaps 35% dmg apice, 1/1 ammo with a quick reload as a secondary for the AH.
Thanks for reading!