Taking a break

No, this isn’t one of those “I’m so mad errmagaahd!” posts.

 

As of Friday I am a proud new father of a healthy baby boy.  As such, I’ll be taking a little break from PS2 and blogging, while I get everyone settled at home.  You can expect me to resume content in a few weeks, but I may have some more videos coming out in the future.

 

Short post, just wanted to let you all know why things will be slowing down for a bit.  I need to teach this new guy how to cloak up and adjust for bullet drop.

Stay Frosty,

 

Mustarde

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Blog Update

Sorry for the low frequency of posting – I have been busy both in and out of game lately. Here’s a little roundup of things going on for me –

Auraxium medals: Part of my OCD requires me to get the auraxium for every weapon I use as an infiltrator. This includes primary, secondary and utility items. One obvious weapon on my list that I had put off for a long time was the Hailstorm SMG. I wrote a review of SMG’s a few months ago in which I came out in favor of the Armistice. That opinion remains unchanged, as I find the higher DPS to be more valuable to me than extra rounds in the magazine. I hated using the hailstorm and today I grinded out the last few hundred kills needed to cross it off the list, forever.

I had gotten the NS-7 PDW not too long ago and also did not find that the range made the decreased damage worthwhile. Even with good aim, you just lose too many 1v1’s as an infiltrator with the lower damage SMG’s.

I suspect that is also because I run with ASC and need the high damage to win 1v1’s. Perhaps using nanoweave would allow me to enjoy these other SMG’s and not lose as many fights. I’m still loving the NAC + ASC combo, it has been a lot of fun since they were buffed.

I’m still working on the inquisitor auraxium. It’s not a terrible pistol but I’d still rather have higher damage and lower ROF such as the Emperor.

BWC is active as ever – Reaper has added a few members in the last few weeks and our training and weekly ops are pretty steady. Nothing is quite as relaxing as coming home from work, logging in and joining a squad of pure infiltrators to go rain bullets on bad guys. The guys in the outfit love having our squad active and we generate more hate tells than any other Task Force in BWC.

A lot of talk has been generated over the forums regarding nanoweave armor. I continue to have strong feelings about the negative effects of NW on snipers in particular. A lot of players hate snipers and don’t care about what NW does to BASR’s, but I continue to believe that we are a valuable and interesting class to have in the game. I still hope that SOE will make some adjustments to rebalance our sniper rifles to stay competitive in the game.

SOE announced that they were going to focus on optimization of the game before adding new content. While I am happy with this decision, I was disappointed as I think about what this will do to the infiltrator update. I will remain patient, as the class is not nearly as broken as it was upon release, and I want SOE to keep making the game better.

BWC has been participating in scrims vs. other outfits lately – the very public match vs. DasAnFall [DA] in the ReachCast Community Clash, and this past Saturday vs. NoNonsenseGamers [NNG]. We lost to DA, and narrowly won to NNG. It’s a completely different game in these small scenarios, and I’m still learning the best way to use infiltrator when you are not in the live server environment. One essential function we provide is recon darts, and my teammates are constantly in need of darts before breaching or holding off an attack. Some maps have no use for sniping, others are great for it. As we get ready for competitive play, I’m finding that a whole new way of thinking about Planetside and the Infiltrator is opening itself up to me.

Well that’s all for now, sorry I don’t have anything more than a ramble, but I will try to get some solid writing done later this week.

Till then, stay Frosty

Mustarde

ASC + NAC: Keeping Infiltrator fresh

There have been two big changes over the last month that I have been quietly testing with my CQC build.  I held off on writing about them until the changes hit live and I had time to decide if these were viable builds.  After going back and forth between suits and cloaks, I am comfortable saying that my preferred build for CQC infiltrator is currently the advance shield capacitor suit, coupled with nano-armor cloak.  Let’s break both of them down, compare to other options out there, and discuss what needs to be done to utilize both of these options fully.
Advance Shield Capacitor
In GU13, this was buffed significantly to the following values:
Advanced Shield Capacitor’s delay reduction improved to -4.0 seconds at max rank.

  • Rank 1: Recharge delay reduction increased from .5 to .8 seconds
  • Rank 2: Recharge delay reduction increased from 1 to 1.6 seconds
  • Rank 3: Recharge delay reduction increased from 1.5 to 2.4 seconds
  • Rank 4: Recharge delay reduction increased from 2 to 3.2 seconds
  • Rank 5: Recharge delay reduction increased from 2.5 to 4 seconds

 

 

Default recharge is 10 seconds, and with max rank, you now had 6 seconds of downtime before shields would go back up. Great!  So why chose this over nanoweave or flak?  Without getting too off topic on the finer points of playing a CQC infiltrator, the essence of being successful in this role is by quickly eliminating targets who are not fully expecting you, or are not prepared to kill you first.  In the middle of a fight you can run in, find vulnerable targets via recon darts and quickly dispatch them with an ASR or SMG.  Inevitably however, you will take damage in the middle of combat while killing the target.  This is where the ASC comes in – instead of standing in a corner for 10 seconds, burning valuable cloak to stay hidden until you think the 10 seconds are up, you are only down for 6.  This lets you play a much more aggressive hit&run style of infiltrator, taking small amounts of damage, and being back up and in the fight at full strength in nearly half the normal time.

ASC is well complemented by medkits, as you can take rather significant damage and within 6 seconds, be back at full health and flanking the next enemy.  I REALLY enjoyed that fact, and found myself very happy to have that shorter recharge.
Here is the main point that sold me on ASC.  If you are playing an SMG/ASR infiltrator, mobility is the key to survival.  You are constantly flinging recon darts, moving from cover to cover, flanking and ambushing small groups of enemies.  Even in crowded fights, you are trying to create situations where it becomes a “small fight” that you can win using surprise and high DPS from an SMG.  The ASC lets you remain highly mobile, drastically reducing the time you spend in a weakened state.  The dirty truth of CQC infil is that you often take some sort of damage – this isn’t a clean headshot on a target at 150m.  You are sneaking up and spraying bullets at players with SMG’s, shotguns, LMG’s and other toys, on their turf, at their optimal range.  Even if you play your hand perfectly, you will usually walk away wounded.  Being able to recharge quickly lets you stay on the run, and stay one step ahead.
Nano-Armor Cloak
This one hit live just this week.  I was really excited to see the changes posted as I have always felt that NAC had potential but was far too limiting compared to hunter cloak.  I told people that no matter what you were doing, the only real choice to use was hunter cloak.  Well, here’s the new stats, and with it, a new reason to try this cloak.
Nano Armor Cloak
  • Rank 1
    • Max cloak time increased from 3 seconds to 6 seconds
    • Charge time from depleted to full decreased from 24 seconds to 15 seconds.
  • Rank 2
    • Max cloak time increased from 4 seconds to 6.5 seconds
    • Charge time from depleted to full decreased from 24 seconds to 14 seconds.
  • Rank 3
    • Max cloak time increased from 5 seconds to 7 seconds
    • Charge time from depleted to full decreased from 24 seconds to 13 seconds.
  • Rank 4
    • Max cloak time increased from 6 seconds to 7.5 seconds
    • Charge time from depleted to full decreased from 24 seconds to 12 seconds.
  • Rank 5
    • Max cloak time increased from 6 seconds to 8.5 seconds
    • Charge time from depleted to full decreased from 24 seconds to 11 seconds.

As you can see, at rank 5, your cloak lasts 8.5 seconds, and recharges in 11s.  You have a 35% resistance to incoming fire (which is unchanged from the original cloak stats).  At lower ranks, you only get a 25% resistance by the way.  Compare to hunter cloak, which lasts 12s and recharges over 6s (max rank).  They may look closer number-wise, but trust me, those seconds matter, and the difference is easy to see.

So, what do I think about NAC?  Well, clearly the benefits only kick in if you are taking fire.  For obvious reasons, this does not make it a very useful option for the long range sniper.  Afterall, I’m constantly staying cloaked until I have a good shot, and I’m very fond of burning out my cloak while sniping at mid range.  But consider the close range sniper, or SMG/ASR infiltrator.  What happens when you start taking serious fire?  You cloak up and try to run your ass to cover!  I know I do.  While I don’t really want to get into the detailed analysis of how many more bullets you can survive at various ranges, what I will say is that 35% resistance to damage (applied to shields and health) make you a lot less squishy.  I found that very often, I was able to survive and get to cover, often with most of my health still intact.  Now, add in the ASC and you are back at it in 6s with full health!
Another way that I used NAC was by running INTO the enemy, through fire, to reach a favorable flanking position. This is something I never did before, as running headlong towards bullets is generally a no-no for any soldier, much less an infiltrator.  However, with NAC, I tried several agressive pushes towards the enemy and was very pleased with the minimal damage I had taken by the time I was decloaking and unloading onto piles of targets.  The buff to up-time and recharge gives you the ability to use the cloak for a while, and have a decent bit recharged by the time you are done firing your weapon and need to cloak up again.
I did have to make a few other changes to my style of play for NAC.  One, is that I spent a lot more time not cloaking.  NAC is there to survive the get-away, or let you push through nasty areas with barely a scratch.  Hunter cloak let you move from cover to cover, flank enemies and decloak just in time to spray someone down, before cloaking back up to run away.  You have to change the habits developed with hunter cloak in order to use NAC.  I relied more on my terrain and darts to stay hidden, only occasionally cloaking to move in on a target.  It generally didn’t hurt my performance and in fact, showed me how unnecessary spamming the cloak sometimes is.
I can’t begin to relay to you all how powerful the combination of these two fits are for a CQC build.  It greatly increases the ability to play aggressively, since you are able to shorten vulnerable downtimes, and minimize incoming damage while you reach cover.  I prefer using the Armistice for CQC and really enjoy taking less damage while cloaked, during reloads.  I am either spitting bullets of death or near-invisible, and 35% resistant to incoming fire while I reload to spit more bullets.  It’s a really beautiful thing, and I think I will be playing a lot more SMG infil now.
It goes without saying, but both of these options shine with max rank cert investment.  I wouldn’t bother with either unless you have them maxed, personally.
I still use Hunter Cloak for sniping, or for SMG/ASR combat with lots of open terrain.  I also only use ASC for SMG combat, and stick to nanoweave or ammo belt or all other situations.  I do get burned by proxy mines but I like the ASC too much for now to ditch it for flak.
I hope you guys enjoy this post and consider adding some new flavor to your old infil builds!  My hat off to SOE for tweaking the suits and cloaks so they are viable and we aren’t shoehorned into a single build.

The state of the Flash

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.

Other thoughts:
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.

Summary:

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).

Suggestions:

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.

Stay Frosty,

Mustarde