Vehicle Thermals Need to Go

I usually keep my opinions limited to infiltrator-related gameplay and balance, however this is a subject that has been bugging me for a while.  It came to a head for me as I went on a 70 kill-streak with a viper lightning overlooking xenotech labs yesterday.  While the viper itself is on the nerf list, I couldn’t help but thinking to myself just how crucial thermals were – I saw every single soldier trying to run around that base, and picked many of them off, from LA’s in the trees to HA’s and medics trying to rush the point.  Even infiltrators off to the side who would decloak to fire quickly became spammed with 6 rounds of hot death in their general direction.  The TL:DR is that vehicle thermal optics greatly enhance the infantry farming that vehicles can do, and their removal would be a way to improve the infantry-vehicle balance without actually nerfing the weapons or platforms themselves.

 

Rarely, does the use of Thermal optics help a vehicle gunner to spot other vehicles.  The reason is pretty obvious – vehicles are not difficult to see, and rarely require more than looking in the general direction to identify and acquire for targeting.  Infantry, however, can sometimes be more difficult to see.  They are smaller, and can blend in with the terrain, especially when your vehicle is at greater range such as a liberator or a tank shelling a base.  Thermal optics do very little to help you kill other vehicles, but they become incredibly useful when engaging infantry.  While the range is limited (with the idea that it draws you closer to allow infantry rockets and AV to hit you), thermals allow infantry to pop out on your screen.

 

If you’ve ever done some decent infantry farming in a vehicle, you know how powerful thermal optics are, and how much they help you to quickly acquire and kill targets.  Whether its a viper lightning, a locked down HE/Heat prowler, or a shredder liberator, once you get into a good position, everything you see on the screen dies.  And if you happen to be camping the spawn, you are now representing the heart of what many people feel is wrong with the game.  We are marketed big battles, but so many of them quickly devolve into pointing your turret at a spawn room, turning on thermals and killing the inexperienced players who are sad enough o think they can make a difference by leaving safety and trying to flip the objective back.

 

As an infiltrator, there’s one other aspect of thermals that bothers me.  I use lots of little tricks to get into neat hiding places.  Trees, nooks in buildings, anywhere that lets me have an advantage over the enemy.  Most of the time, it’s not infantry that ruin these locations, but a vehicle user that takes one look through a thermal scope and knows instantly where I am, despite my camo, my lack of noise, and my best attempts to blend with the environment.

 

By removing thermal scopes, what would happen?  Well, lets talk about what wouldn’t happen first.  Spawn camping would NOT go away.  I won’t pretend this would solve that issue.  But it would make it easier for players to sneak out and have a chance at fighting their way to the objective.  It would not stop vehicles from killing infantry.  Simply put, certain vehicle platforms excel at killing infantry and taking away their thermals will not stop that.

 

So what would happen?  For starters, I think it would make ESF’s and liberators have a much more difficult time swooping in and farming ground targets.  They would need to take a slower approach and perhaps even depend on eyes on the ground to know exactly where to shoot by the time they are in range.  And to me, that is a good thing.  Vehicles that are spamming a tower or suppressing some spawn location will still kill targets in predictable locations, but they will not so easily pick out infantry that are not in their zone of focus.  It will allow for players to out-smart vehicles, and have a chance at a good battle.  It will enhance the importance of flash suppressors, as vehicle users will depend on more visual ques to identify targets.  Vehicles will have more incentive to equip radar to assist with finding targets.  Lastly it will give infantry an advantage at night, enhancing their ability to avoid detection.  Nightvision, in its current state, is exactly how these types of optics should work.

 

Why this solution?  I think it is a way to shift the infantry vs. vehicle balance in a better direction without nerfing vehicle weapons, changing their performance vs other vehicles, or buffing things like lockons or AV mana turrets.  It will not make the vehicle users experience more frustrating, but it will force them to work harder to identify and kill infantry.  Which is only fair, considering using a vehicle puts one at a significant advantage over an  infantry player.  It may even reduce some of the frustration experienced by infantry who die to that HE lightning parked on a hill overlooking the base who fired at you half a second after you moved through a doorway and into that unprotected lane that you have to move through to reach the objective.  Now, you might have 1 or 2 seconds before the HE lightning starts shooting.

 

I’d love to hear other players thoughts and ideas on the subject.  And i’ll post some screenshots to illustrate my point later on, once I log into game.

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I’m trying streaming again!

So I tried streaming almost a year ago… and had lots of performance issues.  Instead of putting in a lot of effort, I kind of just said, “meh” and stuck to making youtube videos.

 

I thought I’d give things another go, now that OMFG has hit.  And so far, I’ve had a decent streaming experience.  No, you will not see a webcam, or very fancy addons.  You will also probably only get moderate quality video, but from what I’ve been told, it’s good enough to be viewable and enjoyable.

 

I do have the recursion overlay going, which is pretty cool.  And if I have a lot of fun streaming, you can expect me to do it more often.  I usually am doing a mix of solo, squad and platoon gameplay, and I visit lots of different Mattherson outfits to play with them.  Still mostly TR but you’ll see some NNG VS action as well.  I love to talk about my gameplay decisions, performance (good and bad) and weapons.  I have the chat open on a second monitor so it’s easy to interact with viewers.  I have a minimal delay so what you are seeing is basically realtime.

 

Check it out at http://www.twitch.tv/mustarde and see what you think!

Back to basics

I’ve been super busy in-game lately – as you can imagine, the infiltrator update had me playing around with new styles, new loadouts and the new abilities quite a bit.  I made a video about the TRAP-M1 and the NS-30 Vandal, and of course, finished the auraxium medals for them (as well as the Blackheart crossbow, including video).  But despite all these distractions, I am and always will be, a sniper at heart.  And to be honest, sniping is the one thing I do in Planetside that I consider to be exceptional at.  My stats with other weapons are above average, but do not put me into what I consider a top tier.  However, when it comes to sniping, that is one area where only a handful of players I consider to be my equal.

 

So after spending most of February and March playing with crossbows, scout rifles and various pistols, I finally got back to sniping.  And oh man has it been good.  Here’s a taste of a session from earlier today –

 

My next video will be a return to the essence of Mustarde: lots and lots of headshots!  I hope you guys are having fun exploring things that are new in Planetside, as well as returning to the tried and true that you fell in love with in the first place.

 

 

Stay Frosty,

 

Mustarde

ITS A TRAP!!!

 

New video featuring the TR’s TRAP-M1 burst rifle.  I had a lot of fun collecting the footage for this video, and even more fun editing it down to a montage.  It’s definitely not my go-to weapon for mid-range combat, but I enjoyed the bursting of headshots and the extra firepower for aggressive gameplay.  It mixed things up for me, which is all you can ask for in a new weapon.  Next up will be the NS-30 Vandal, which I already have most of the footage for… just need to begin editing and picking music.

 

This week NNG will be going up against TRG in our first round of Community Clash.  I am very excited and also nervous!  Cheer us on and be sure to tune in, Wednesday on twitch.tv/planetside!  Not sure of the exact time.

 

Lots of fun in Planetside, sorry I haven’t been blogging that hard lately.  Too busy shooting people!!!

The State of the Infiltrator

I posted this on the infiltrator boards earlier in the week and forgot to cross-post to my own blog!  Oops.  I think it’s important to summarize the development cycle for our game, and particularly our class as it undergoes many changes.  It can be easy to forget where we have been, and take in the big picture.  Also, while it is hard, we must remember that infiltrators are only 1 of 6 infantry classes and we cannot hog all the attention from our developers!  Well, here’s my state of the class, where it has been, and where it needs to go from here.  Enjoy 🙂

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I’ve noticed a bit of a dip in the infiltrator subforum’s activity. Which I thought was odd in the face of a recent update, and some new weapons coming our way soon. But then I thought about it for a while. Many of the issues that absolutely plagued the class have been addressed since launch. Some still remain (maddeningly) yet are not game breaking. So I thought I’d quickly summarize what I find to be the state of the infiltrator. The TL:DR version is that we are very good at killing, decent at infiltrating, need a few bugs addressed, and could use some more stealth options/counterplay. The overall state is good.

Lets start with the positives. But first, we have to look at where the infiltrator was upon release. If you weren’t around then, some of this will not make sense, but I don’t want to take the time to explain every little item. We can elaborate in the responses to this post. Flinch. Scout rifles before they were buffed 3 separate times. No SMG’s. Low settings cloak visibility. Scout flashes without people in them. HE spam. Thermals able to see cloaked infils + liberators. We gained 1 second on breath holding (from 3 to 4). Scope sway on everything except scout rifles. There’s probably more I’m forgetting. Wow, we were so unfinished when this game came out.

Then, the game evolved some. A lot of the things I listed above were dealt with (low settings cloak visibility has made 2 or 3 changes, currently settling on almost invisible for low settings people now). But nanoweave became a big issue. I think ever since PU02 and the nanoweave nerf, I have slowly been able to appreciate just how big of an impact it had on not just sniper rifles but all of our weapons. Scout rifles have become so much more deadly for example. And it finally feels good to snipe again. We also picked up wraith cloak, buffs to nano-armor cloak. Some other bad things have crept in however, including recon darts making a ping on minimap, IFF glow (I still hate that), visibility on minimap to radar even while cloaked (although SOE has been playing with that lately).

The infil update has added some nice abilities, stalker cloak being the most notable. I do feel there were missed opportunities, including the lazy addition of adrenaline pump to our suit slots (a copy paste from the LA cert line) instead of a stealth suit or something more interesting (mechanics SOE looks to be holding onto for implants). Crossbow, MKV, and some coming weapons will keep our arsenal fresh and interesting. I’m glad the drone got shelved. Overall I’m pretty happy with the update.

Moving on to bugs – always in a state of flux, but I still die while hacking turrets to invisible people who pop out and can shoot me before they render. It certainly has to do with server load, blah blah blah, I just hate not knowing when it will happen. I still decloak while reloading quite often. Pretty sure that has to do with server load issues as well. I can’t cloak while a medic’s aura is impacting me, and I often will partially cloak everything but my gun and head if I try to do it soon after leaving a spawn tube or receive a heal. The IFF glow doesn’t always work on friendlies. I still have the occasional dud recon dart, as well as a dud motion sensor. Most of these are annoying at best, cost me a few deaths, but don’t ruin the game for me. It wasn’t nearly as riot-inducing as some of our earlier gripes.

Things currently lacking? I keep coming back to stealth play, and the need for counterplay. I actually really like that darklight flashlights were added, because otherwise stalker cloak has the potential to be impossible to deal with. I also really like that they promoted and reinforced the deep cloak level, making it easier to activate and more useful for us. I want ways to stay off of enemy radar, preferably with a suit slot. Something that makes my decloaking noise quiet, my feet softer, and my voice callouts silent. I’d give up ammo belt, 50% flak resistance or a faster shield regen for that (at least sometimes). We still need more to do in bases. I’m glad the devs are going to put infantry terminals back in bases, but that should have never been taken away in the first place. More things to hack, and more ways to affect the flow of battle without killing directly. Lastly, the crossbow explosive bolts were nerfed too hard to give us a meaningful way to interact with vehicles. Perhaps an antivehicle EMP grenade? Vehicle hacking? A recon dart that sticks to vehicles and permanently spots it so you can tag for friendly air to strike? We need more in this area too.

Overall, the class is now very good at killing, both at long range and short. I actually think this makes infiltrator the most versatile class in the game, able to snipe from the hills or hit the front line with an SMG. There is not a single fight you can’t grab a decent loadout for. We do not need any more improvements to killing potential imo. We now have some neat tools to add variety to gameplay… namely the stalker cloak, which completely changes how you approach the battlefield. Again, a wonderful mechanic. Our bugs are annoyances, and I do hope they get resolved, but it doesn’t ruin the game for me. We have a few areas that are lacking, namely stealth play and vehicle/base interaction. I fear it will be a long time before we see this touched as the devs have moved on to other classes (rightfully so). I hope we can get their attention at a later time for a little more love.

It is for all of these reasons that I think the infiltrator is the best class in the game (not imbalanced, just best). I don’t need to play other classes, and I think there are others who can agree. It is a ton of fun, and SOE has overall done a pretty good job getting us here, compared to the terrible state we were in upon release. I no longer feel like the rare infiltrator playing against countless lib teams, tank zergs and HA/medic balls (these things still exist, but I see plenty of infies around too). I think the lack of things to complain about has also made this board pretty tame and quiet too.

Thanks for reading.

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