Fifty-Nine Down - Ship balancing for Retribution
Hello gentleplayers. CCP Fozzie here with a new Dev Blog for your personal enjoyment.
We’re getting close to the December 4th release of Retribution, our 18th free expansion to EVE Online. Retribution includes big changes to our Bounty Hunting system, Crimewatch, Factional Warfare and much more, but the area I’m most excited about is the massive collection of balance changes we’re preparing for you all.
This expansion is where you’re seeing the balance team here at CCP really hitting our stride, and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past couple months. We’re releasing 40 new or rebalanced ships in Retribution as well as bringing adjustments to many modules including missile launchers, electronic warfare, and the infamous ancillary shield boosters. Every time EVE’s balance changes it creates new opportunities for clever players to demonstrate their creativity and separate themselves from the pack. We know that our customers are amazingly creative with ship fittings and tactics and that if we give them a new set of tools they’ll do things better than we could have imagined with them.
Our plan for the Tiericide Initiative has always been to remove the old tiers systems that enforced inferiority for a huge portion of the ships in EVE, and replace it with a series of ship lines that stretch through multiple hull sizes. These lines are intended to just be a guideline for pilots so they can get a basic idea of what to expect from each ship as they advance and so that they can identify other ships to try once they have identified an aspect of the game they enjoy. The beauty of EVE is that once players get their hands on a ship they can use the infinite combinations of modules and tactics to stake out their own individual playstyle. CCP Ytterbium has covered the idea behind Tiericide in some of his previous blogs, and I’ll borrow this (now finally complete) image from him showing how the lines interact with the ships that will be rebalanced by Retribution:
Click to enlarge
We have also received many questions about whether this or that ship will get rebalanced. I can promise you that Retribution is only the beginning of our balancing work and you can expect more and more changes as we go forward. CCP Ytterbium recently posted a blog providing a taste of what we’re working on directly after Retribution, and for anyone wondering if we’re going to fix your favorite ship I have produced a simple flow chart that covers the issue comprehensively:
This dev blog is going to summarize the changes we have ready for Retribution in one place, so if you’ve been keeping up with each and every sticky in the Features and Ideas forum there won’t be much here to surprise you. For those people who have been journeying with us every step of the way so far I want to say thank you for your dedication and for all the great feedback you’ve given us. For everyone who hasn’t been watching dev posts every day, this blog will serve as your one stop shop for every major ship and module balance change in Retribution. Each section includes a link to the forum threads going over the changes in more detail.
We started the Frigate rebalancing back in Inferno with some of the Combat Frigates, and continued the work in Inferno 1.2 with the Attack Frigates and Rookie Frigates. These changes have been very well received and are providing affordable and fun tools for both new and old players. In Retribution we are completing the Tiericide of the Frigate class, rebalancing the remaining 15 frigates and adding one new ship in the ‘Venture’ Mining Frigate.
The Combat Frigates are the frontline brawlers of the frigate world. Capable of both taking and dishing out beatings, they are versatile and powerful in the hands of a skilled pilot. Combat Frigates are some of the most cost-effective solo PVP ships in the game, and are especially well suited to take advantage of the frigate-only complexes in Factional Warfare contested space.
The Kestrel will continue to be the premiere missile platform at the T1 Frigate level. With the old kinetic damage bonus replaced by a bonus to missile damage of all four types, and a missile velocity bonus added as well, the Kestrel will be capable of surprising its enemies with rapid long range missile fire. Tactically minded pilots can pick the correct damage type to exploit their target’s weaknesses.
The Tristan is receiving a new role as a dedicated frigate level drone boat. The first ever T1 frigate to be able to field a full flight of 5 light drones, and enjoying bonuses to Tracking Speed of both drones and Hybrid Turrets, the Tristan should be perfect for both new pilots interested in starting to use drones as well as older pilots looking for an alternative to the Ishkur.
- The Breacher will be taking the Minmatar shield boost bonus that has been so popular on the Cyclone and Maelstrom and fitting it onto a small and mobile package. Combining a missile damage bonus with a respectable dronebay for offense and taking advantage of the strong active shield tanking bonus for defense, the Breacher should be a very exciting ship to fly.
The Disruption Frigates are built to support their allies and weaken their enemies through electronic warfare. These ships are most ideally suited to group play and offer an excellent way for new players to contribute to their corporation in PVP.
The Crucifier is the entry level Tracking Disruption ship, designed to reduce the effectiveness of enemy turret weapons in order to protect itself and its allies. It is getting an upgrade to its Tracking Disruptor bonuses in Retribution, receiving a larger effectiveness boost and a big range boost in order to enable disrupting from extreme distances. It is also getting an extra midslot and a significantly larger dronebay so that it can deal its share of damage as well.
The Griffin is the classic affordable electronic warfare ship, capable of breaking the target locks of enemy ships through bonused ECM. Since it is working so well already we are not changing the bonuses of this ship in Retribution, although it is getting an upgrade in the form of a much stronger slot layout.
The Maulus is being tweaked to better take advantage of Remote Sensor Dampeners through a better slot layout, big upgrades to speed and agility and a bonus to RSD cap use for longer fights. It also benefits from the general buffs that the Damp modules are receiving in Retribution as well as a conversion from Hybrid to Drone damage dealing.
- The Vigil is being refocused on its core role of Target Painting (TP) support by building the old speed bonus into the hull and giving it a bonus to TP optimal range, making it the longest range Target Painting platform in the game, and a key part of large fleets that need help tracking their targets.
The Support Frigate class is all-new in Retribution. Remote repairing is a huge part of EVE’s fleet combat, but until now there has not been an effective repping ship that was cheaper or easier to skill into than the extremely powerful Logistics Ships. To help with this problem we are introducing a new line of Support ships at the T1 frigate and T1 cruiser levels to provide new options for people wanting to keep their allies alive. The Support Frigates are easy to train for and agile enough to keep up with a frigate roam. They can also enter even the smallest Factional Warfare complexes. To work alongside the ship hulls we have also rebalanced the fitting requirements of the small remote armor and shield repairer modules. We’re very excited to see how all of you take advantage of these new roles.
The Inquisitor and Navitas are armor repairing Support Frigates. The Inquisitor is a little more durable while the Navitas is a little faster, but both make excellent additions to any armor tanking frigate fleet.
- The Bantam and Burst are the shield tanking equivalents, gaining bonuses to range and cap use of Shield Transporters. Like their larger racial counterparts, the Bantam is slower and tougher while the Burst is ideal for tasks where speed and agility are key.
The Exploration Frigates are getting an expansion of their role beyond their aptitude for scan probing. They are still the ideal ship for the budding prober with improved bonuses to scan probe strength, but now they also have bonuses to the core mini-professions of Hacking, Archeology and Salvaging as well as boasting stronger combat ability through ample dronebays.
- The Magnate, Heron, Imicus and Probe are all excellent exploration ships taking advantage of their probe strength and mini-profession bonuses. They are built to be able to embark on long expeditions of discovery using large cargo holds and ammoless drones to reduce the need for resupply. All four ships have similar bonuses, allowing each explorer to choose the ships based on their unique slot layouts or nationalistic preferences instead of being forced to pigeonhole themselves into a different ship for each task.
With the conversion of the old mining frigates into Support Frigates there was an opening for a completely new Mining Frigate from the ORE corporation, to provide both an effective ninja-mining platform and a stepping stone into ORE’s selection of Mining Barges (rebalanced in Inferno 1.2).
- The Venture is the first dedicated Mining Frigate released by the ORE corporation. It boasts strong capabilities for mining both asteroids and stellar gas clouds, and can enter and leave hostile territory effectively thanks to exceptional agility and a class leading +2 warp core strength bonus that allows it to escape some forms of tackle.
Our current crop of Destroyers were in a fairly good place after their last rebalance in the Crucible expansion, so we gave them a less invasive set of tweaks than most other classes. Fitting within the Attack role, Destroyers are intended to be deadly hunters of Frigates that hit harder than their opponents would expect, and the changes made to these ships reflect the desire to make them all useful for that purpose.
The Coercer is a supremely effective laser platform with both tracking and optimal range bonuses, but it was afflicted with only one mid. We’re moving a low to a mid, so you can choose to fit a point or keep the dedicated DPS role by fitting a tracking computer. The Coercer also benefits significantly from a reduction in small laser fitting requirements.
The Cormorant is another destroyer limited by slot layouts, in this case a single low. So we’ve moved a mid to a low in order to give more damage options, while giving Caldari another 4 midslot destroyer for all those people who loved the specialized options 4 mids provided.
The Catalyst has extreme DPS but had trouble applying that damage. We’ve helped it along by significantly reducing mass for close range blaster fits and trading the one drone for extra powergrid that can be used for a more effective railgun option.
- The Thrasher has been the gold standard for Destroyers and was fitting its role very well, so we left it largely untouched.
In Retribution we saw an opportunity to release some new ships into the previously very small Destroyer class. Destroyers are extremely popular ships that players of many stripes have been enjoying but with only one Destroyer per race the options were very limited. Retribution brings four completely new Destroyers that use the other main weapon system for each race.
The Dragoon is a drone-based Destroyer for the Amarr empire. Splitting bonuses between drones and a range bonus to energy vampires and neutralizers makes the Dragoon an exceptionally deadly opponent to frigates that stray within 12km.
The Corax is the long-awaited Caldari missile Destroyer. With bonuses to kinetic missile damage and missile explosion velocity plus a role bonus to missile velocity the Corax can hit at long range while also fielding a stronger tank than most Destroyers.
The Algos is the new drone Destroyer for the Gallente. Combining a class-leading 35mbit of drone bandwidth with bonuses to drone damage/hitpoints and drone speed makes the Algos deadly at flexible ranges. A hybrid weapon tracking bonus fits perfectly with small railguns to add extra ranged damage to the Algos’ column.
- The Talwar is a high speed missile Destroyer for the Minmatar Republic. It combines a missile explosive damage bonus, missile velocity role bonus, and a MWD signature radius bonus to create a ship that is relatively survivable while zipping around the battlefield.
Like their frigate counterparts, the Combat Cruisers have a solid balance of offense and defense. They are slower and heavier than the Attack Cruisers but are able to field a much stronger tank at respectable speeds.
The Maller is being redeemed from its previous life as a bait ship. Swapping its old Laser cap use bonus for a Laser damage bonus and keeping the iconic armor resistance bonus means that it fills the role of a smaller Abaddon. With increased fittings and the reduction in medium energy weapon powergrid use, the Maller can now fit a solid tank alongside powerful lasers for a ship that especially excels in group warfare.
The Moa has never really worked as a sniping ship so it is getting the same treatment we gave the Merlin in its much celebrated Inferno revamp. We are replacing the hybrid weapon optimal range bonus with a hybrid weapon damage bonus, which combined with the existing shield resistance bonus and the movement of a highslot to a midslot will make for a powerful brawler.
The Vexor is being updated to better take advantage of its existing bonuses to hybrid weapon damage and drone damage/hitpoints via an extra midslot and improved speed. Combined with the relatively low mass of the Vexor hull this makes a ship that can deal incredible damage very effectively.
- The Rupture has been on top of the cruiser heap for quite some time, and is receiving milder changes than most others. Moving a highslot to a mid provides more opportunity for either shield tanking or extra electronic warfare, and the reduction in artillery powergrid requirements should allow more long range options
The Attack Cruisers are the fastest and most aggressive of the fighting cruisers. They are all built to take advantage of their speed, either by keeping range from their opponent and peppering it with long range damage or by charging into battle to deal excellent damage at close range.
The Omen has been a poster child for bad Cruisers until Retribution. It’s being rebuilt as an effective fast attack ship with the speed and fittings to take advantage of its laser bonuses and a significantly increased drone bay for added damage. The Omen also benefits greatly from the fitting reductions to medium lasers.
The Caracal also suffered from weak fittings and low speed, and has been given the speed needed to take advantage of the missile velocity bonus that gives it such excellent range. Switching the damage bonus from Kinetic-only to a damage type independent rate of fire bonus also gives Caracal pilots more options when choosing how to exploit the weaknesses of their enemies.
The Thorax is the classic blasterboat, built for ultra-closerange brawling with ample drone support. It is being improved with a sizable speed increase, an extra midslot and the addition of a hybrid weapon tracking bonus. The Thorax can close range faster than ever before and once it gets within its optimal few comparable ships can stand against it.
- The Stabber is the quintessential Attack Cruiser with a huge speed advantage over other Cruisers. We are keeping its speed intact and adding a projectile weapon falloff bonus to extend its skirmish range.
The Disruption Cruisers are built for electronic warfare support and are split roughly into two categories, the hybrid disruption/combat Arbitrator and Bellicose, and the range-bonused fleet ewar ships in the Blackbird and Celestis.
The Arbitrator already had an effective role as a hybrid of a Tracking Disruptor bonused electronic warfare cruiser and drone combat cruiser. We improved it via an extra low slot, stronger TD bonus and the ability to choose between turrets or launchers for added damage.
The Blackbird was already extremely effective in its force multiplier role so we left it mostly intact an extra lowslot adds flexibility and an increased ECM range bonus helps counteract the ECM range nerf also released in Retribution.
The Celestis suffered from both a lack of focus and the weakness of Sensor Dampeners. We’ve replaced the former hybrid damage bonus with Damp range bonus and extra drone damage and the Celestis also benefits greatly from the Damp buff in Retribution.
- The Bellicose is getting the most significant changes of the Disruption Cruisers. It will receive a new bonus to missile rate of fire which combined with the significant dronebay and increased target painting bonus make the Bellicose an excellent ship for any roaming gang.
Another very exciting set of Retribution changes can be found in the Support Cruisers. These ships are currently attempting to straddle the roles of mining cruiser and support ship and generally failing at both. We’re refocusing these ships as pure support vessels that can work alongside their more expensive Logistics Ship brothers. A guiding principle in the design of the Support Cruisers is that they should be able to fit into a fleet that has a mix of T1 and T2 support vessels. When a newer player shows up to a fleet in one of these ships we expect that the FC will welcome their help rather than scorning their youth. All of these ships also benefit from the reductions in fitting requirements for medium remote reps.
The Augoror and Osprey mirror the Guardian and Basilisk in splitting their bonuses between remote repair and energy transfers so that they can set up stable cap chains amongst themselves.
- The Exequror and Scythe mirror the Oneiros and Scimitar as pure repping platforms that combine excellent mobility with decent dronebays.
There are a number of changes to turret weapon fittings we are making in Retribution to go alongside the ship changes.
- Alongside the change to Artillery Cannons we are removing 225 PWG from the Hurricane Battlecruiser
Missiles are getting sizable rebalance in Retribution, bringing Heavy Missiles in line with other weapons through reductions to their range and damage, while also removing the ship penalties from all T2 missile ammo, buffing Torpedoes, Heavy Assault Missiles, Rockets and Light Missiles, and increasing Heavy Missile velocity so that more of your missiles hit.
- All missile skills, rigs and implants will now affect all subcapital missiles across the board.
- Along with the changes to the Ewar-wielding Disruption Frigates and Cruisers we have also made changes to the overall electronic warfare landscape in Retribution. We have added a set of new skills that increase sensor strength, allowing players to choose whether they want to prioritize defense against ECM in their skill plans. We have also reduced the range of ECM and increased the range of Sensor Dampeners. Tracking Disruptors are receiving a slight reduction in effectiveness while most dedicated Ewar ships are getting upgrades to their respective bonuses. I apologize for missing adding this section to the original publishing of the blog, it got overlooked in the mass of changes planned for Retribution. Although I will admit that screwing with Quackbot is a lot of fun.
- In conjunction with the newly created Support Frigate and Support Cruiser roles, we are reducing the fitting requirements on all small and medium remote reps, as well as speeding up the cycle time of small remote reps so that Support Frigates can apply their reps more quickly in the fast paced world of frigate combat.
CCP Soniclover and Team Superfriends are doing another balance pass on the special modules they introduced in Inferno, as well as adding a new module and new drone: the Micro Jump Drive and Salvage Drone!
The Salvage Drone is a 5m3 small drone that can be set to automatically salvage legal wrecks in the vicinity so you can go about your business undisturbed. The classy drone for the distinguished mission runner.
The Micro Jump Drive is a new propulsion module that allows a ship to teleport forward 100km. This module can be used in bubbles or while disrupted but not while warp scrambled, basically following the same rules as the existing Microwarpdrive. The MJD also has a spool up time and cooldown that must be waited between uses.
The powerful Ancillary Shield Booster revolutionized small gang combat when it was released with Inferno, and dominated the 10th Alliance Tournament. It is receiving a slight reduction on effectiveness with Retribution, consisting of a smaller capacity to hold fewer cap boosters, increased cap need when running without boosters, and an increase in duration for the X-large variant.
The Reactive Armor Hardener will now react twice as quickly to incoming damage as well as costing less cap to activate as the Armor Resistance Phasing skill is trained higher.
- Finally the Target Spectrum Breaker is receiving an overhaul with reduced duration and a less severe scan resolution penalty.
The Drone Damage Amplifier that was released in Inferno is being improved to give a larger bonus to drone damage and to use less CPU for the T2 version.
- Team Five-0 is also introducing a new series of officer drone modules that can be stolen from elusive Rogue Drone Officer Units.
Thanks for sticking with us through this giant list of balance changes for the Retribution expansion. I’m very excited to see how these newly balanced ships and modules get used by all of you.
If you want to try out all these changes right now, they are live on our Buckingham public test server for your enjoyment. To help get you in the mood for new awesome Cruisers we will also be holding a special Devs vs Players brawl on Buckingham this Thursday the 15th of November (my birthday!) starting at 16:00 EVE time. Our last Devs vs. Players event focused on frigates and was a smashing success and we expect this will be no different.
Thanks again and look for the biggest ever set of EVE balance changes coming to your computers on December 4th with the free Retribution expansion!