First Impressions : A peek behind the scenes...
By: George Argyropoulos
As many have noted after the BP Crib show, there was a closed test server for the Fangtooth. I want to make this absolutely clear: THE TARGET WAS A PRELIMINARY TARGET!!!! We were there to test the Fangtooth, NOT the target. We are not sure what the final target will be, nor what changes or adjustments will be made to it before the next raid set. Hell, we don't even know if it will even be a similarly based target yet, so this discussion is purely speculative at this point.
What we can say and presume is that Kixeye is good with regard to these early previews in not changing the basic idea, so we do have at least a basis for discussion. I don't want to really dwell on the target other than to say that the Mad Genius designer, Robot, is the brain behind it which likely means that the target will be puzzle-ish for us to figure out, but it also means that there are solutions to be had.
There are a lot of builds floating around for the Fangtooth (Ren has a good video right here that you can watch/listen to), and since we do not have anything solid as yet to base final builds on, those builds vary widely. I will preface by saying this; In the test server, there were (that I know of anyway) 2 players that got their damage down to bare minimums (instant repair in-the-base runs). Both of their builds are very similar in design, but, keep in mind that both of these players can drive subs pretty well. Yes, I was one of them. The other was The-Pain-Train (yes, THAT Pain-Train). I will include both builds and discuss why I think they worked in the target we tested the Fangtooth in.
The Fangtooth has some interesting abilities but is also a little tricky in its use if you aren't careful (hence the 'skill' hull). One aspect that has been getting a lot of chatter is the Dread Aura. The additional torpedo range of the sub makes me place the Dread aura as a secondary usage mechanic in my mind. It is akin to the Phoenix's Point Defense System in that I did not want to rely on it at all and wanted to maximize the usage of the spectacular range ability of the sub to mitigate any opportunity of the enemy to damage me.
The unreactive stat of the hull is interesting. We have found out that the Fangtooth is fully unreactive, which may give us a clue about what we may see in the targets or Raid Set upcoming. This may be a concern for players that have secondary or tertiary tech such as the Generalist line or the Hellwraith and/or Tideseeker.
A nice addition to the hull, and one that made it much more fun to drive, was the little perk of staying submerged unless forced to surface. I can't tell you how much difference it made in making the driving less annoying.
One trend that seems to be continuing is the repair times for individual hulls. I think this plays a part in how we perceive the event targets as punitive in nature. If the individual repair times were halved, but base minimum damage were increased (or some variation/adjustment) perhaps this perception would change. Currently when a player messes up, or lags, or mouse clicks don't register, or a dead turret fires, or whatever... players are looking at 75%-100% damage of a fleet. This fosters great resentment, particularly after CS treats you like you just stole their morning paper... but I digress...
Let's look at the builds, yea? These have both been adjusted from what we had run to add the charged armor. (Build links are at the bottom of the article.)
Clearly, the new torpedo is heavily used. It is accuracy based and does a lot of damage. I like it... until I see the 'escalation weapon... which I don't want to see.
Charged armors. Le sigh... Yes, the build uses it. Hopefully the targets are tuned such that these become 'luxury' items again. For now, I assume that they will be as required as they were in this past raid set. If you do not have a full complement you are going to have to give up DPS in order to fit conventional armor on.
For the specials, I'm taking Kixeye at its word that Torpedo Tubes is the better performer and equipping those.
The current favorite armor special is Ablative Panels III. Unless we see something else worthwhile released, I don't see this changing. We don't have any concussive resistance armor special available to us as yet, which leaves us to manipulate that resistance in other ways.
I used Sonic Targeting III so that I could see my enemy as soon as possible. This seemed to help a lot and I think it also helped mitigate the use of Hydraulic Resistors instead of Mag Drive II by possibly allowing me to react quicker. Further testing is required. Hopefully we get a better special for this soon or this special ends up in the Retro Lab. Why isn't this in the Retro Lab with a Scourge Sub target upcoming?
I picked Hydraulic Resistors mainly for the additional Concussive resistance that it gives to help raise that number up a bit. The depth of the dual nature of the damage in the last raid illustrated to me that even though we presume a dominant damage type, the secondary one can have a significant impact on your fleet. In my build I used a V torpedo to bump the speed up a tad. After we see the targets, I may use a speed upgrade on 3 of the hulls and match the 4th by manipulating the weapons payload. I also will be testing the need of a full complement of charged armor. Perhaps with OP10 we will see enough wiggle room to possibly use a scourge speed armor in one slot.
Sealed Fire Charge makes a reappearance in this build. While the added projectile speed is a very nice buff, the critical hit and damage this special affords to torpedoes can not be overlooked.
That leaves the last special, the 'odd' one. I'm not sure how many people used it, but I found it very interesting that The-Pain-Train also used it in his successful build as well. Coincidence? We won't know until we see the actual raid targets, but for now, this is where I am heavily leaning.
To compare the two, this is The-Pain-Train's build. As you can see they are quite similar. I'm not sure our success was tied more to the build or more to the driving, however, there were some vary capable players in this testing so I am prone to believe it was a combination of the two factors.
Some points he mentioned and that we discussed, while based on the target we had seen, likely will carry over into the final target. Much like some of the past targets we have seen, you likely will want to target and activate small groups of enemies at a time so that you are not overwhelmed and to allow your weapons to kill off your enemies without becoming overburdened. Also of note, players should remember that there is Thermal AND Sonar in the game. Too often something that simple is overlooked rather than taken advantage of. Given the history of Sonar and Raid targets, the choice of Cat III seemed obvious to me at the time. Speed seemed to be a rather heavy factor in the targets. Again, after we see the final target we can determine just how much speed we will need. We can also determine if we can adjust enough through the use of crews in order to compensate a compromise build.
That's the quick and dirty of what has been deduced from the preliminary information that we have. I'm sure the targets will change (since Robot likes to torture my old ass) and we may have to adjust these builds accordingly. Hopefully we will see another Test Server that Kixeye allows us to share info from, or, perhaps we will see an open Test Server when the targets are closer to completion.