We tell you in a nutshell what’s new, and what’s yay or nay including the much improved Fire Suppression perk.
Game Update 13 brought a bunch of ESF-relevant changes besides the much needed overhaul of now lattice-enabled Esamir.
Let’s go over each of the only four important changes worth mentioning one by one and draw a conclusion at the end.
Bailing Is Fixed
This should correct some of the more ridiculous K/D ratios of our usual bailing suspects and provide a more pleasing flying experience overall. I’ll leave you to the official patch notes on this one:
“When an enemy soldier dies from a suicide or logs out, the last player to damage the player (within 10 seconds) will be awarded the kill. This also applies to characters inside of vehicles.”
This fix doesn’t prevent pilots to go Light Assault, though, to cushion their fall once they’ve bailed out of their burning aircraft. But, then, why would it…
This was not documented in the official patch notes. Overall, we fear, the new altimeter is a change for the worse.
The altimeter now displays the height above ground level (AGL) instead of, before, above mean sea level (AMSL). In other words, a line is drawn straight down from the aircraft and zeroes at the first thing it touches, be it the terrain itself or the top of any structures sitting on it, like so:
With the ground level as reference altitude, it’s impossible to tell what height the sky ceiling is generally at (formerly 1000m).
The only good we could see come out of this are, one, that you’re now the wiser when it comes to staying out of range of anti-air perimeters on the ground (lock-ons, flak, MAXes and the like); and, two, that determining an optimal scouting altitude is possible now for all continents across the board. A scouting altitude of 600 m leaves you just within render distance of any ground units and should provide you, excepting the south of Indar, with enough buffer space to comfortably reverse-thrust without bumping into the invisible sky ceiling above.
Rebalanced Nose Guns
All the nose gun cannons, be it stock or the rotaries, have been retuned and are less effective now overall and at range.
What this means for your personal TTK (time to kill) you can gather from the many dynamic spreadsheets floating around the net, like these:
- RedDominion’s ESF Rotary Damage Analyzer
- Pokieboy’s Firing Cycle and TTK Spreadsheet (Excel file for offline use)
In a nutshell, while retaining their empire-specific characteristics (the Vortek kills fastest, the M18 fires fastest, and the Hailstorm reloads quickest and has the highest projectile speed), the rotaries have altogether lost a huge amount of their ranged damage potential with the introduction of damage fall-off. The farther away your target the less damage your rotary cannon will inflict on it.
The stock nose guns on the other hand received not only a balance overhaul normalizing their effectiveness between the different empires but also an overall buff making them an actual valid choice now for multipurpose and air-to-ground roles.
In the weeks to come we imagine new loadout configurations to crop up and with the new limited effective range of the rotaries the much dreaded air-to-air missiles (aka lockrocks) might make a big comeback. With a maximum lock-on range of 400 m (450 m with Lock-on Range cert), they are, after all, the most effective ranged anti-air weapon now — not close.
On that note, if air-to-air missiles become the ranged weapon of choice, an increase in lock-ons (apart from the Striker) should be a given too so that running Fire Suppression over Decoy Flares might a bit precarious even for the Mosquito pilots among us.
As examples, here are a few notable ESF loadouts that could see a rise in popularity:
|Rotary, Tomcat A2AM Pods, Decoy Flares, Nanite Auto Repair||Stock nose gun, External Afterburner Fuel Tanks, Decoy Flares, Nanite Auto Repair||Stock nose gun, Rocketpods, Decoy Flares, Nanite Auto Repair|
As you can see, there’s not much variety here. Nanite Auto Repair and Decoy Flares are pretty much the go-to standard in terms of certifications. If buggy Vehicle Stealth doesn’t get fixed and receives a massive skill upgrade, we don’t see it trump its versatile Nanite brother anytime soon.
Improved Fire Suppression
Also unmentioned in the official patch notes (!) are the major improvements found in the Fire Suppression certification line, making this perk highly interesting again for Galaxy and Liberator pilots to fall back on.
The skill had shone before in certain dogfighting loadouts for the ESFs.
At maximum level the skill description now reads as following: “Activate to repair 12% of the vehicles [sic] damage over 5 seconds. If the vehicle is on fire when activated, it will also immediately extinguish the fire. Can be activated once every 45 seconds.”
You should note that, unlike the Restoration Kits for infantry, taking damage while recovering health will halt the healing process of the new Fire Suppression system.
But, as you can imagine, this skill works supremely well in conjunction with Nanite Auto-Repair especially if the latter is maxed out. Once Fire Suppression has been activated, Auto-Repair finishes the remaining repair job almost immediately with only small delay.
Overall this revision is a pure value upgrade over the old Fire Suppression version which would only put you out of the red into the green zone if you were on fire — and that not always reliably. That you can only use the new Fire Suppression once every 45 seconds at maximum level is kind of a letdown though (formerly every 25 seconds).
It’s a shame that this improved version of Fire Suppression won’t see much use over Decoy Flares for most ESFs (mainly Reavers and Scythes) until the lock-on misery is remedied somehow which begs the question why this improvement made it into the game update in the first place — but more on that in the conclusion.
Splitting the ESF update over multiple different game updates does, for now, still the hunger of some of us pilots starving for new content but comes with its own blatant shortcomings as well.
And it’s not like we haven’t experienced a similar story analogous to this before when, for instance, the capture timers and influence removal had been implemented before the lattice system was introduced, demoting ghost caps to the difficulty level of a walk in the park until the lattice finally came. We can still see the aftermath of this with lattice-disabled Amerish.
Lock-ons are not fun! Repeat after me, SOE, “lock-ons are not fun.” Making them the most effective ranged weapon before fixing their issues and adding alternatives are the downfall of this game update.
Taking some of the planned changes into account as well (e.g. the stealth certification line), we can’t help but think that SOE has no deeper understanding of their own ESF air game. For instance, what use is an improved Fire Suppression system if Decoy Flares are (and, for the most part, have always been) a must-equip for the ESFs?
The nose gun balance pass would make perfect sense if we had the new certification line of the afterburners in place for added evasion or new alternatives for the secondary weapon slot, if the issues with lock-on missiles or Vehicle Stealth were fixed or if the difficulty in maintaining a lock-on increased — but none of that made it into the update at hand.
Under the bottom line, Game Update 13 is unsurprisingly just a meager slice of the bigger ESF update to come and leaves much to be desired.
- GU13 Patch Notes (by Luperza)