Two months ago I wrote a guide for the combat wraith flash (part 1 and part 2). At the time, it was pretty much the most fun you could have on 4 wheels in planetside. Find a big fight, cloak up, flank the enemy, decloak and watch the certs pour in. At the same time, you were hoping and praying no one turned around to shoot at you, since the flash is both a death machine and a death trap. For every good killing run, I would get one-shotted by tanks, rockets, mines… or hit a pebble and flip over and explode. I didn’t care, at 25 resources and a death, it was worth it. Whenever sniping got boring, or server lag would make cloaking and precision combat impossible, I would hop on the wraith and have fun.
So much has changed since then… the wraith flash has gone from being a useful vehicle for the infiltrator to once again being a hunk of metal collecting dust and wasting certs in my hangar. How has this happened? What specifically did SOE do? I will outline the prime causes for the death of the wraith flash, and how I think it can be made viable again – in a balanced and non-game breaking way.
1) The Harasser:
I wanted to start with the least obvious but most harmful cause for the death of the flash. We all know about the nerfs to the fury which I will talk about later… but what many people fail to notice or realize is the impact that the harasser has had on the flash. We hear all about how OP it is vs infantry on the forums, and I genuinely feel bad for lightning drivers who cannot kill a harasser with three direct AP round hits. But with the rise of the harasser, there is simply no room for the flash on the battlefield. I’ll lay it out in a few simple points.
– Mobility: The harasser is just as mobile as the flash, if not more so. Combined with turbo, it can navigate irregular surfaces, and survive flipping upside down better than the flash. It is just as fast, if not faster. The one advantage the flash had over other vehicles pre-harasser is that it was mobile. It allowed you to flank enemies and escape hostile armor through good driving, terrain use and speed. With harassers on the field, you are now the second-most mobile vehicle on the field. Combined with my next point, the flash is hopelessly outclassed.
– Firepower: It’s not just the AV weapons on the harasser that will squash a flash (halbred, Vulcan, sauron, enforcer). The fury, marauderer and PPA will also rip through flashes without breaking a sweat. And by rip through them, I mean that you would probably survive longer by wearing flak armor and simply bailing from the vehicle. It’s absurd, and guarentees that within firing range of a harasser, you are pretty much insta-dead unless the gunner is distracted, has bad aim, or decides to ignore you (or you get lucky and cloak up and they lose you).
– Survivability: People complain a lot about how durable the harasser is. I’m not here to complain about it. But when you stack a flash up against a harasser, it is a ridiculous comparison. The weapons on the flash cannot do more than laugh at a harasser, before you get instagibbed. When harassers were first released, I hadn’t done much research on them. I assumed a three man buggy would roughly have 2-3 times the survivability of a flash, so I figured if I got a good flank on them I could kill one with a handful of direct hits from my pre-nerf fury. That foolish idea was quickly rebutted as I realized that this vehicle is well above my weight class.
Combining these attributes – the harasser became the ultimate death of the flash. Against it, you cannot escape it, you cannot survive it, and you cannot kill it. No matter how good of a flash driver you are, and how sneaky your flank is, 8/10 times, you will be in sight of a harasser team, who can quickly close in and finish you off. Please do not interpret this as a cry to nerf harassers – because that is not what I am trying to do. That would be very selfish and narrow minded to want a nerf to harassers just so I can use my flash again. But there is no denying that the one advantage a flash held on the battlefield – maneuverability – was completely negated with this vehicle, and now we have literally no niche or role to fill. There is nothing we can do on the battlefield that can’t be done better by another vehicle… our only option with the flash is to now cloak up, move to another base, ditch the vehicle and snipe or hack something. It’s a glorified death trap transport vehicle.
2) Vehicle resource changes:
I wrote about this before so I’ll be brief. GU11 increased flash costs to 100, from 25. This was probably due to some users like myself who were getting pretty good stats from the flash. The harasser alone cancels out the need to make this vehicle cost 100 resources. What this cost really does is prohibit players from experimenting or from being willing to waste their resources on such a fragile and impotent vehicle. I never thought the wraith flash was truly OP because it had a counter – anything explosive! It was a OHK from all the tanks, and even infantry had quite a few ways to respond. Sure, I was farming away in May and June, but it wasn’t because I was SO GOOD. It was because no one paid me any attention. And when they did, all it took was one smart sniper, or one tanker with half a brain and I was done. 100 resources? I’ll just get in a harasser, thank you.
3) The Fury nerf:
I get it. The fury was ripping infantry apart. People didn’t like getting blapped instantly by a grenade launcher with no recoil and a max of 9 round magazines. This change alone, would have been fine. The fury can still kill infantry OK post-nerf. But what really ruined it for me is the extreme nerf to ammo capacity. I went from 120 rounds in reserve to a paltry 50. And that is with some nice upgrades. After these nerfs, not only does it take more to kill targets, but you have less ammo to do so with. It’s hard to explain how bad this nerf was and the only reason more people weren’t mad about it, is that SOE only did it to the flash. If this change had been pushed to all the other fury platforms, you would have had a proper village riot on your hands, as 50-70 rounds just isn’t enough to get anything done! And it is a cert tree that only gives you 5 rounds per upgrade and still costs up to 1000 certs for the final 5 rounds. It’s insulting, and I couldn’t be more frustrated when I do pull the flash out and find it’s longevity is further limited by the need to drive back across the battle lines, into hell, just to get more ammo.
The other weapon platforms on the flash I have tried, including the shotgun. They just don’t cut it. I’ve tried to make the kobalt work, but in order to accurately pick off infantry, you need to sit still – which is a death sentence for the flash user in the day and age of harassers, plus all the other instant ways you can become burning wreckage.
I’ve always hated what scout flashes did to my gameplay and quite frankly, I’m glad to see them go. A more elegant solution would have been to give infiltrators a suit slot to stay off the radar, similar to the proposed sensor shield implant. But ultimately I found the 25 (or even 100) resource 100m perma-wallhack to be really cheap. That being said, this nerf pretty much took the only other popular use for the flash away. Like it or not, the vehicle became that much more worthless with GU13.
The flash is in a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE place right now. It’s the bottom of the barrel. After GU05, the rumble seat and wraith cloak gave this platform life. People were having fun with it. A very very small population of us dumped thousands of certs into it and turned it into a farming platform of cloaky wraith doom and destruction. While I openly admitted that it needed to be balanced a bit, several direct and indirect changes to the game have completely obliterated the utility of the entire vehicle class. There is not a single function it performs that is unique, superior or valuable. I do not like it for transport, as physics/handling and harassers make even that a feat of luck to survive to the next lattice link. We are completely countered and out-classed by the harasser. Our survivability is dismal. Our battlefield damage is laughable. In short, the flash as we knew it is extinct. People still pull it from time to time, but they quickly are punished.
If nothing is done, I would seriously consider removing the flash from the game entirely, and just deleting the assets from the client. Massive cert refund and SC refund. Without changes, there is simply no room on Auraxis for the death trap ATV.
It makes me sad to see the fun, wild-card vehicle turned into what it is now. That old exhilaration I had with the flash is what I now get while gunning a Harasser with the mauraderer. The skills of perfecting the arc with the fury even translate over well, I’m one of the better gunners in my outfit. My favorite part of the wraith was that I was still an infiltrator, and I got to show off the versatility of the class in it. I don’t entirely blame SOE for this circumstance, as the current state of the flash is a combination of planned nerfs and poor foresight into the impact that harassers would have on the game. I doubt that in their design sessions, they had a developer stand up and say “But wait! What impact will the new vehicle have on my wraith flash?!???” They probably tried to balance it around the MBT’s and lightnings, as well as infantry (the success of which has been wildly debated on the forums).
What would a gloomy blog post be if I didn’t at least try to offer some suggestions to improve the problem? I’ve used a lot of words to discuss the problems of the flash in detail, so I’m just going to list my suggestions that would make the flash viable, while not overpowered.
-Overhaul the handling and physics. No more flipping over bumps, slipping on level ground and failing to climb the equivalent of elevation that is in my backyard. I don’t care about realism, I just want to drive this thing without losing it 50% of the time before I reach a destination
-Double the health or double the inherent armor of the flash. Straight up double it. Trust me, we still won’t be OP. Hell, you could triple it and probably be ok.
-Give me the ammo back on my fury. The damage nerf is fine. I want my ammo back!!!!
-Increase the gun turn radius. I would like a 120-150 degree arc for the guns. Again, there is no way in hell this can be OP. But it would make a lot of us happier.
-Back to 25 resources. That’s my starting offer, and through the process of negotiation, I would settle for ending up at 50. But no higher, that’s my final offer!
I want to love my wraith again. SOE, please help me love it again. Those 8k certs I invested in it were WORTH IT, but now… they just mock me. I don’t really “need” the certs, so I’m not going to demand a refund or anything like that. I want you to give the flash value again. I think the suggestions I made go a long way towards reaching that goal.
I hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to comment and discuss with me on the blog or forums.