I was hoping to write a review on something else completely this week, but with the work in progress preview for the new CV rework, this definitely claimed my attention. To start though, like most opinion pieces, there will be supporters and detractors. I welcome both, however, if you decide to comment, just be civil.
Within the CV rework video they demonstrated the change in aircraft control. This will no longer be the top-down, RTS (Real Time Strategy) that the class currently revolves around. Each squadron instead, must be controlled individually by the player. For some, this will be welcomed – others not. To understand why this is both good and bad we also need to understand a bit of the AA rework first (sorry for the squirrel moment). With the CV rework had to come a AA rework. From my understanding, players will get to focus AA on either the port or starboard side of the ship – this is a bit more realistic compared to the all or none model that seems to exist now. Second, the AA is broken in to two groups, Long/mid range or large caliber AA and short range, small caliber AA. The long and mid range guns can fire bursting flak rounds, much like the real guns could. These create black clouds of shrapnel (flak) that would pepper aircraft dealing tons of damage. You fly your squadron into these, you will suffer. The short range guns would be equivalent to your .50cal/12.7mm up to 20mm guns. These do damage upon contact and within the game do damage per sec to aircraft within their range. With all that out of the way, back to squadron control.
Now that you have direct and individual control of a squadron, you can maneuver and evade flak clouds and have a bit more ease on which angle or side to attack a ship from. This new control scheme adds a new level of skill requirement to CV captains that did not exist to quite the level it’s proposed. The downside to the control of a single squadron is you can no longer cross-drop small and maneuverable ships like destroyers which was often the most effective way to destroy them. Destroyer captains rejoice! Just not too much.
Another big change that they have made is with the drops from all the squadron types (now 3, but I’ll cover that in a bit). It is no longer an all or none drop with a focus on alpha damage, but rather in partial squadron groups with seemingly a greater focus on damage over time. Within the video clips they provided, the Midway was the CV that was highlighted with squadrons of 12. For torpedo and dive bombers, drops were in groups of 3, thus a max of 4 drops per squadron if all were kept alive. This has massive damage stacking potential, allowing you to set multiple fires and floods to multiple ships, forcing damage control and rinse and repeat. Thankfully, this means that a high tier BB, as an example, can’t be outright deleted in the first minutes of the battle by a single carrier. However, the inexperienced captains who force damacon too early may certainly suffer that fate due to multiple and simultaneous floods and fires. Further, the manual control of the squadron groups allows the player to target specific areas of a ship with their dive bombers, increasing their chances of starting up to the maximum of 4 fires on a ship. Finally, they ‘replaced’ the fighter squadrons with rocket fighters. Like the other two squadron types, the come in squadrons of 12 on this Midway, however, instead of attacking in groups of 3, they attack in groups of 6. They do not appear to do lots of alpha damage but they seem to have a very high fire chance – more DoTs.
This damage over time focus will certainly frustrate the current group of experienced CV captains while allowing the rest of us, who know when to use damage control, to breath a little easier when we see a top tier CV in the game. Another change that they have made, which I am most certainly not a fan of, is infinite planes. Theoretically, this wouldn’t be so bad if AA was balanced in the same way (your AA mounts could not get knocked out), but this is not the case. One of the things that makes a good CV captain GREAT in the current system is knowing what ships to strike when. Ignoring AA focused ships until HE spam has reduced their AA over the course of the battle was crucial to aircraft survival. This of course made the best CV captains increasingly more powerful over the course of a battle. With the infinite aircraft but finite AA and heals, a good CV captain will no be just increasingly more powerful but exponentially more powerful. There will no longer be any risk vs. reward to attacking one ship over another. This I find to be a huge flaw.
Another potential change that was discussed was the return of multiple CVs per team at higher tiers and CV divisions across all tiers. Again, I think this is a bad idea. Though I am aware that carriers were a huge factor in WWII naval warfare, and multiple carrier groups were common, having that much DoT power would be brutal. So what is the long and short of the pros and cons?
From what I see, the new aircraft control will be nice for some players and frustrating to others. This is a given. The AA rework will certainly balance the new control scheme a bit better and require a bit more skill when piloting the squadrons, much like the aces of old. The two things that I dislike the most are the possibility of the return of CV divs and multiple CV’s at high tier and the infinite aircraft. Even though there will be a reload cooldown, this system will be no different than the artillery issue in World of Tanks where they could devastate players at no danger to themselves. Carriers will hide behind islands or in the far corner of the map, like they now, but instead will not have to worry about what ships they should or shouldn’t strike due to AA. This is a problem – a big problem. Just removing this facet alone, brings more skill and planning back into the CV picture, in short, strategy. It’s what make this game fun in my opinion; the use of calculated risk and reward to obtain objectives, due damage and sink the enemy. If one class of ship, and likely still the most powerful, doesn’t have to weigh risk vs reward, the game is lost.