A Step in the Right Direction
by: George Argyropoulos
This week brought us the ever-dreaded after-raid update. I say that purely based on the ever-expected complaints that invariably arise from the community when they see new items added to the FM which many say are there to 'block' tokens. I'm going to touch on that for a moment before we delve into some of what we saw.
The argument that tokens are 'blocked' every time after a raid is flawed, at best. The reason why is that this is the typical modus operandi, and has been for some time. Calling for a change to this methodology is equivalent to calling for tokens to be re-worked. If they were to listen to this complaint and act on it by reducing the amount of tech released in the FM, we would invariably lose tokens because they would have to adjust our aggregate earnings to maintain whatever balance they have calculated for those tokens per monthly cycle. When folks want to bring forth an issue, they have to also understand the repercussions of what they ask, and I think in this instance, people aren't thinking that far ahead.
That said, I do think there is an issue... with the earning tree in particular, when they release items that have an impact on the current raid set. In those instances, I really would love to see the items that are relevant to the current raid cycle to be placed at the top of the tree rather than the bottom of it. Particularly for items that are meant for the 'second' tier option in that raid set.
Prize Pool Reductions:
HUZZAH!!! Yes, I have been pushing for this (in part) for months. The underlying issue with a huge prize pool in tiers 4 and 5 is that the availability of tokens is a complete game-changer for players. I can not stress enough how much those tokens change your game. Build times are not scaled to base level or tech-depth so anyone that is 'caught up' has a distinct advantage over other players, and as such, the gap between these players' potential ability is widened even further. This is a very, very good step in the right direction.
Personally, I have heartily advocated for a huge reduction in both tiers, even more so than what we have seen, but I wanted the tech to drop down levels. As we have seen time and again, tech-depth allows for far better adaptability in the game. I absolutely would not be opposed to seeing tech drop down each month when the new tech is introduced. This would allow lower level players access to the tech a little later than those 'caught up' (giving the latter a month advantage), would keep the upper levels a little clearer, and honestly, if you want to motivate players to reach for tier 5, I would think a short list in that tier with a longer one in tier 4 would be better motivation. Given the (purposeful) re-balance of the 88 in the FM, Kixeye has given every player the option and ability to grind to Tier 5 if they are willing to put in the time, AND if they concentrate on their priorities, the FM would get easier and easier each week and less and less of a grind.
For reference, this is how easy doing the 'new' 88's are and this, while old, is still a pretty fair article on what priorities in the game should be.
Yes, we all flipped our collective shits about VXP day last month. We got our VXP Day-and-a-half back. They do, in fact, pay attention. Just please, articulate your concerns instead of just flipping out. No one, including Kixeye, is going to sincerely listen to a complaint or criticism that does not keep the option for discussion open in some way.
Keep an eye out for tips and tricks on the various pages for maximizing your VXP in each target. I do want to stress a very important point however... If you are going to coin (particularly for a raid fleet) or put in a lot of seat-time, VXP Weekend is when you want to do it. Fully ranking a fleet absolutely transforms the fleet. Despite what the blurb states, at skull rank, your reload is not increased by a mere 75%, it is actually increased by 400%. Do NOT discount rank. In this raid set, a full Phoenix fleet performs very differently from half-rank to full-rank. Take full advantage of this opportunity!
Retrofit Lab Additions:
This was a very nice surprise. In fact, it was completely unexpected. When the newer tech came out this year, Kixeye stated that the tech was not going into the Retro lab immediately because they had already designed it to the 'R-15' level. What I think we are seeing here is the actual proper use of the Retro Lab as it was intended - as tech gets a little older and power-creep progresses in the game, useful tech is put into the Retro Lab in order to keep some of the tech relevant. Given the amount of research time inherent in the Retro Lab, I think it is pretty clear that this was done on anticipation to the release later this year of OP 10. There are some very useful additions in the list and given the current flavor of PvP there may be a few gems in the list. Here is the full list:
The only irk I have in all of that is things like Alloy Armor CoM, after retrofitting it, only the Penetrative resistance is increased. There are many prints like this that need a little updating to take into consideration the newer damage types etc.
New FM Prizes:
Ok, I have heard from enough of you to know that I am not the only one that is not particularly happy with the 'escalation' weapons. That said, what I do like is that these are not exactly game-changers for your Raid fleet. As I said before, I wish they were placed atop the list rather than at the end, but honestly, I would like the whole idea of escalation releases to go away. If they are going to continue to do this, I would really like to see the escalation items to be of minimal importance in the game (i.e. no re-balancing the targets for these weapons, but if someone does spend the time for the minimal gains, they would enjoy a slight easing of damage/time/etc. during the next raid).
I miss PvP, but given the importance of PvE in this game, anytime something like this happens, players will want to refit to the 'best' build. This takes away time from the PvP aspect of the game, which is a little confusing to me since there is a push to try and encourage more PvP in the game, from the token system for many PvP hulls to the upcoming Bounty event. It seems that we are getting mixed signals here.
So, a nice and simple overview for my 'return'. Hopefully real life settles enough so I can get back into a pleasant even keel and get some writing in for you guys. Thanks for reading!