Welcome to Dev Brief #107!
This week we’re talking about the meta! Specifically what we feel is working, what we think isn’t and what we’re doing to change it.
We were originally planning to talk about this over the last few weeks, but due to Update 8 and Patch shenanigans we had to push this topic back slightly… But now the time has come!
Project Lead Max has put together the team’s thoughts on what we’re seeing and what we’ve learned from all of your feedback on how the meta plays and feels at the moment.
Now, lets get stuck in shall we!
A Message From Max – The Metagame!
Now that the dust has settled on both Update 8 and Patch 14, we thought we’d take the chance to address several large metagame issues that we’ll be looking to solve in the near future. In order to best address them, we’re keen to not only discuss them here, but use this dev brief as a jumping off point for wider community discussion.
1. Red Zone Garrisons
Previously, defensive players would often be incredibly overwhelmed and hamstrung by attacking players who would sneak into the strongpoint (or just behind it) and drop down a Garrison (referred to as a “ninja garrison”). This would then negate all measures the defenders had in place, by enabling the attacking team to dump their entire force onto the point extremely quickly.
The key issues here were that this completely dissolved the “frontline” aspect of the game and enabled near instantaneous leverage of entire teams into action behind or on top of the enemy line. In effect – 1 (and at most – 2) players could leverage the entire attacking team into a single location, with the defending team unable to parry this attack by virtue of it being so easy to initiate.
In order to preserve the sense of a front line, and better telegraph the loss of ground and enemy thrusts, the ability to place Garrisons in “red zones” was removed. This was largely to see if teams could successfully leverage an assault with 3-4 Officers using OPs in the red zone instead of the single Garrison.
The positive result has been in far more stable front line combat. The movement back and forth of teams directly correlates to their positioning, and attacks can be telegraphed and thwarted by defenders.
The downside has been the often-stagnation of teams into pure attack or defense – largely due to the asymmetry of leveraging assaults. Instead of being able to move 4-5 Officers into an attacking position using a Garrison, multiple individual Officers must now attack together in order to present a significant enough front to successfully push a defended strong point.
For example, in the following image we can see more than 6 individual Officers have manoeuvred to the same location in order to place down OPs. While this is encouraging to see, the inability to quickly deploy attacking Officers (and therefore OPs and units) into flanking or attacking positions (that have won ground against the defenders).
Thinking Around a Fix
Ultimately, we do not want to return to the days of ninja garrisons that enabled one or two players to leverage the entire attacking team into the point in the blink of an eye. At the same time, we want to enable attacking teams to be able to properly establish an assault with a Garrison from an offset or close location in territory that has already been cleared and won by them (instead of only ever being able to move individual OPs forward).
The intended design for Garrisons is such that a team can place one in order to support an attack or defence – but that they are not the key instrument in the attack. We have designed the shorter spawn times on the OPs, as well as the less restrictive placement rules to facilitate OPs as a way of moving your individual unit forward from the Garrison up to the point (or, sustaining your unit on a defensive point while the Garrison is designed to sustain the individual units from a lower risk position).
With this in mind, the best outcome we feel would be to enable the placement of a Garrison in the first row of red zone (critically – not deep behind enemy lines) in order to enable a forward assault starting point, but ideally not within 250m of the strongpoint itself (therefore preserving the ability for the defenders to engage in meaningful combat without immediately being overrun).
How to achieve this:
We feel that there are several options here, each with different levels of work attached.
- Change the rules to exclude enemy garrisons from 250m of the defenders strong point. We feel that this would solve the issues experienced by defenders, but also enable attackers to open up flanking fronts to assault the strongpoint (critically, enabling a spawn location for Officers to begin their assaults using OPs). While this idea would most likely solve the issues, we feel that stopping players from building near the very place they want to attack will feel unintuitive and too gamey.
- Alter the fragility of Garrisons in red zones. This could be done by making them inactive with a larger enemy radius (ie. if an enemy is within 100m of the Garrison, it becomes locked), able to be destroyed by large proximity (ie. removed if an enemy is within 100m) etc. This would encourage players to place attacking Garrisons in safer locations that promoted more telegraphed attacks.
- Enable players to build Garrisons in adjacent sectors in the row, but not in the active sector (similar to Offensive mode). The key issue we see here is that central sectors will always struggle more as they will need to fight a two front war – although this is something that will always be present within the game to a degree.
A Side Note
Typically with Hell Let Loose, we like to try and make sure most game problems are solvable by the Commander, the Infantry or the Armor. This issue when it comes to the Commander leans heavily on the use of the Airhead.
In playing consistently with this feature, we feel it’s wise to greatly increase the time the Airhead is active from one minute to five. Design around the airhead is to create a fragile but potent spawn location that can be used by attackers to begin an assault from within the redzone. While this is working – the short duration it’s active means that the opportunity is often missed. To counter this, we will be extending the duration, while also messaging to the team that an Airhead is active.
We’re yet to add halftracks, but our design for them positions them very much as a mobile garrison that is able to be used within the red zone. While “one man with a box” is extremely difficult to counter by defenders, we feel that a large and fragile vehicle represents an acceptable visual and sound signature to enable Garrison functionality within the defenders territory.
Our feeling here is that the halftrack – used cautiously – could work as either a fallback spawn point for defenders, a wide flank launch point for attackers – or a creeping garrison pushing directly towards the strongpoint.
We want to preserve the frontline push and pull of the teams, but better enable attackers to “solidify” their gains into enemy territory by being able to place a Garrison, instead of being arbitrarily locked to sector edge garrisons.
2. Win and Loss Scoring
Something that can be seen both in the competitive scene as well as the public scene is that the nature of scoring wins and losses in Warfare mode promotes stagnant “hold the middle” gameplay. Teams will often push to the center, take the neutral sector and then hold the point for the duration of the game. This leads to boring gameplay – including forced total time limit game – and overly simplistic victory conditions.
Instead of awarding victory based on whoever has the most territory at the end of the game, we will change the sector reward value to represent a score. Capturing the third sector will still award victory, but the scoring will be cumulative instead of fixed.
- For capturing the middle territory, your team will be rewarded with 1 point.
- For capturing the first enemy row, your team will be rewarded with 2 points.
- For capturing the second enemy row, your team will be rewarded with 3 points and Victory.
- For retaking your own previously captured rows, you will only be rewarded with 1 point for each row retaken.
- Team 1 takes the neutral territory and is rewarded with 1 point.
- Team 2 attacks and takes the neutral territory off them. Both teams are 1-1.
- Team 2 attacks and takes the first row of Team 1. Team 2 is rewarded 2 points and now has a total of 3 points. 3-1
- Team 1 attacks and retakes their first row. 3-2
- Team 1 attacks and takes the center row. 3-3
- Team 1 attacks and takes the first row of Team 2. 3-5
- Team 1 attacks and takes the second row of Team 2, winning the game: 3-8.
In this way, we feel that public games will become far more dynamic, and that aggressive teams will be rewarded for successfully pushing forward. In order to encourage this, we may look at rewarding greater total victory experience to teams that capture row 3, as opposed to trigger a score victory.
In terms of the competitive scene, we feel that this is a great way of scoring games across a season – encouraging each team to try to win the highest number of points within a game to enable them to compete on a broader scale.
Instead of a binary “win/loss”, this would represent a much deeper idea of how the game progressed, as well as create greater competition as each team is trying to earn as many potential points as possible to keep them in best standing for a season.
- Team 1 wins 9-4 in game 1 against Team 2.
- Team 3 wins 5-3 in game 2 against Team 4.
The result would be:
- Team 1
- Team 3
- Team 2
- Team 4
As opposed to the current system in which Team 1 and Team 3 are considered equal – despite Team 1 playing a better game.
To Wrap Up
Our ongoing commitment to you – our community – is to attempt to find the best solutions for each issue that arises over the course of development – from TTK issues to fences to armour hitboxes to metagame. While we often don’t get things right the first time, we are committed to continuing to find the best possible fixes and solutions that capture the spirit of the game, while also dealing with endemic issues.
Next week the team will continue talking through through the meta issues, as we’re aware that there are quite a few. Increasingly in development we’ll start to use dev briefings as a platform by which we can share our thinking about key issues. Obviously, we’re also aware that with a community this size – answers are very rarely monolithically correct, and that many people may love an idea or feature, while others may despise it. As developers, this is a very difficult line to tread, but we’re keen to keep as much transparency as possible during our update cycles.
In any case, we’re very excited to work with you to improve Hell Let Loose as much as we can. We’re already hard at work on continued polish, optimisation, future content and solutions to the issues discussed above. We’re particularly excited to follow the conversations around this dev brief and will be keen to see the conversation evolve.
We’ll see you on the frontline!
Original Source: https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/686810/view/5314775621676249027