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Balance 2.0 - Issues and Solutions

Commanders!

With Update 0.19 released a month ago and Update 0.20 coming soon, we’d like to talk about Balance 2.0 and the plans we have for it, including the corrections we intend to make.

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First of all, a very common reaction to Update 0.19 on the forums is that the purpose of Balance 2.0 was to dumb down gameplay. That was never the intention of Balance 2.0. In fact, it's the other way around – Update 0.19 brought a number of additional mechanisms to the game, such as additional HEAT interaction rules, damage bonuses related to armor thickness, HESH and PISH shells that ignore armor sloping, the impact of bushes on gameplay increased etc.

Another comment we see is that abilities to fire on the move were reduced compared to 0.18 – that's also not true. If anything, the MBT and LT ability to fire on the move increased thanks to their reduced accuracy loss while moving.

Balance 2.0 – Current State

The actual goals of Balance 2.0 were to:

  • Make the game more comfortable to play and more tactical. By tactical, rather than slowing down the game, we mean increasing the role of the choices players make, such as choosing the right ammunition for the job, positioning your vehicle to maximize its combat capabilities and using its characteristics to maximize performance – for example, in some situations it's far more effective to flank the enemy rather than try to hit a pixel-sized weakspot
  • Make gameplay more "realistic" (to a certain degree) by removing or changing mechanisms that have nothing to do with the reality of modern warfare and sometimes go against common sense (such as the "silencer" Tank Destroyer ability)
  • Update vehicle progression so that the rebalanced characteristics don't feel completely random and to make each vehicle as unique as possible, which includes bringing characteristics to their real-life values wherever we can

Many of the changes are not easily quantifiable (such as the gameplay feel), but there are some that can be disclosed in numbers.

For one, the number of penetrations increased significantly on high Tiers. For example, in Update 0.18, 28% to 35% of all hits on Tier 10 ended in penetration. In Update 0.19, it's 36% to 47%. In other words, it's now easier to penetrate the most protected MBT than it was the least protected MBT in Update 0.18 thanks to the changes in armor and shell mechanics. On the other hand, we increased the influence of armor angling on protection compared to Update 0.18, where some 1000mm RHAe thick armor was practically impenetrable by kinetic rounds save for a few small zones like the lower front armor plate or driver's hatches that any vehicles could penetrate – in effect, this "binary" Update 0.18 armor mode was much more primitive than we had liked.

We could continue with the list of positive changes but to be fair we also have to admit the negative changes and issues that appeared with Update 0.19.

Update 0.18, for all its flaws, was stable. There were times where a Wiesel could bounce enemy shells due to its incorrect armor model, where small parts of it were effectively 800mm thick, but these bugs were more or less dealt with during the long months that Update 0.18 was live. Many vehicles and the entire set of classes were quite diverse gameplay-wise thanks to a large number of tweaks and fixes that were introduced to the game – an example would be the "silencer" Tank Destroyer active ability (until its fix, the TD ability was only dealing more damage when the aim reticle was smallest, which didn't really influence gameplay in the slightest). Other examples include the ATGM ability to fire on the move, fixes to wheeled vehicle movement model, small vehicle characteristic tweaks and more.

Balance 2.0 changed all this – armor, movement, class abilities and many other systems were rebuilt practically from scratch. Additionally, these mechanisms underwent a turbulent development phase – there were several concept changes throughout the development of Update 0.19 that left them in a very poor shape, which we have only fixed to a stable state in the last two months (compared to the year and a half it took to reach a stable state in Update 0.18).

And that is our primary task for now – technical stabilization of the game by fixing a number of critical technical issues (the reload bug, the sometimes broken tank characteristics etc.) and fixing the sometimes obvious gameplay issues – for example, Tank Destroyers suck in 0.19 and we know it. After that, we are planning to:

  • Focus on improving the game's content
  • Focus on improving and adding to Balance 2.0 mechanisms
  • Add new vehicles and gameplay features

All this will happen in parallel so new content can be introduced.

Reactions to Player Feedback

We'd like to address some of the most common feedback on Update 0.19 and Balance 2.0.

Game Economy

First and foremost, we have no intention of significantly increasing the grind or making players lose Credits by playing. Our aim is only to rebalance the economy to boost the impact player skill has on rewards. High Tier shell prices will also be rebalanced compared to the early 0.20 state to make them cheaper.

Spotting System

It's worth noting that the Balance 2.0 camouflage mechanism is not very different from the pre-0.19 one. There were two significant changes:

  • Bush importance increased (30% maximum bonus to camouflage from 0.18 was changed to 60% early on and then back to 45% for the reasons described below)
  • AFV imbalanced spotting (based on the statistics, AFVs influenced match outcome much more than any other class, making AFV players the deciding factor in battles, often to the point where even very good performance from other class players was negated by a bad AFV player and vice versa)

A little bit about the bushes by the way. In Update 0.18, bushes weren't objectively very useful and the internal vehicle camouflage factor was far more important than the vehicle's location (whether it was behind cover or not). In Update 0.19, the bush camouflage bonus was increased but, as it turned out, the maps were not ready for such a step. The bushes work correctly when spread out and planted on important strategic locations where they can serve a purpose. The rebalanced bushes didn't work properly on maps built for 0.18 camouflage values, partially causing issues such as the "magical" disappearance of vehicles, which is why we tuned the bonus from 60% to 45%. This is mostly just a hotfix. We are planning to completely overhaul the system – we won't further increase the maximum camouflage factor bonus, but we will overhaul the maps for the new system and tweak individual cover values to work better so interesting cover gameplay can be introduced to the game.

As for the vehicles and their spotting mechanisms, we continue to work on that, especially the TD and LT classes. We do not want to bring back situations where MBTs were "blind" and AFVs were "all-seeing" and "invisible" at the same time. The current state is more akin to the opposite extreme, which is why we will continue to rebalance vehicle spotting.

Accuracy

The Update 0.18 accuracy model was problematic. For one, the accuracy values we had were excessive (making pixel hunting a requirement for armor to even play a role). Secondly, accuracy varied very little on high Tiers. And last but not least, there was excessive accuracy stacking – practically any vehicle could be turned into a 0.04 – 0.06 accuracy sniper with a combination of retrofits and commander skills.

The current overall accuracy feels insufficient, but we have a plan to fix that – it will increase (either by a basic value buff or by improving various bonuses to it), but in a varied manner. Some vehicles will be able to obtain, say, 0.03 accuracy, while others won't (but will have other advantages). We want to allow players to choose between sniper vehicles and other tanks that will have bigger guns, more armor or other bonuses. This will make gameplay more varied and interesting.

We are generally planning to increase accuracy across the board by 10-15% percent with the accuracy of individual vehicles increasing even more – Tank Destroyers, for example, will be very accurate, the accuracy of the Stryker will increase from 0.06 to 0.03.

Armor Layout

Armor layout is another important part of overall gameplay. As we stated above, the armor model of all vehicles was made from scratch, which is why a number of vehicles had one or more issues with armor values (some we already fixed in the Update 0.19 fixes or in Update 0.20). The issues include or included:

  • Magical BMP-3M Dragun armor, able to bounce all kinetic shells with 85% probability
  • M8 Thunderbolt II side armor that was 400mm thick in the game
  • Impenetrable M1A1 armor (after a fix, the amount of hits resulting in penetration increased from 33% to 47%)
  • Broken T-90 and T-90A turrets without any armor

We will continue to work on this task and we will get it all fixed.

Simplified Commanders, Crews and Retrofits

These systems are not final – they are basically placeholders, scheduled for an overhaul. The current state is a "zero state" (lowest possible) and we'll only add to them.

Conclusion

We'd like to once again emphasize that our goal is not to simplify gameplay or make progression slower. What we want is interesting tactical gameplay with diverse vehicles, clearly defined class roles and easy-to-understand mechanics – this is the goal we are moving towards and we will continue to do so. We would like to thank you for your feedback and for your patience.

With kind regards,
The Developer Team

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