Monday, September 9, 2013

GDS: Rome II MP Balance Proposals

Fix the game man.

Aside from the SP glitches, crashes, progression blockers, and optimization issues, Rome II has some MP issues as well.  I'm talking specifically about the gameplay and how some things are just.. off.  Having played MP since day 1, I'm still sitting comfortably in the Top100 but the game is getting a little stale.  Needless to say, there are some problems.

Pikes are just too good.  They pretty much kill everything in the front and units don't even have a chance to get close.  The major ones that really stand out are Foot Companions and Hellenic Royal Guard.  As if Elite infantry don't already dominate the game, elite pikes simply rule it.

My suggestions, can be a mix, one, or just some.  These are all viable fixes while keeping their intended functionality intact.  The main goal here is to keep pikes the way they are, but make them more vulnerable to flanking and good micro.  Things are a little tricky here because if you press a button, or make an action, the player expects to see movement from his troops.  If the animation and art is already there, the fix post-production has to be smart enough to get the job done with the least amount of time/resources.

My suggested fix will be in green, if I had to choose one.
  • Reduce their turn rate in Phalanx formation.
  • Reduce their overall speed and acceleration.
  • Increase the time it takes them to setup in Phalanx formation.

Being able to take an unlimited amount of "elite" infantry is just strange.  I'm not quite sure what the design decision is about this, but I find it odd that you can take an entire army of Praetorian Guard.  Considering how these units were essentially the Emperor's Bodyguard that stood outside his tent all day, taking an entire army of these guys is just wrong.  Not to mention all Elite Infantry are just insanely good, and make their standard counterparts look like dead weight.

I'm not a personal fan of unit caps because I believe that's a lazy solution to address a generic army building issue.  If some guy wants his army to be super elite, he should have the right do so.  Likewise, if said guy wants his army to be made of nothing but Hoplites, he should.  Player options mean everything in a game where you're told to design your army, and I intend to keep it that way.  The fix here would be something more subtle, with hard caps being the last resort to a tricky fix.  It is indeed the safest way to limit a unit's presence on the battlefield while preserving its function and power.  Increasing the price of said units would be a good soft cap instead of hard cap.

Some ideas would be:
  • Increasing Elite Infantry's price by 100.  They're currently in the ~900 range, putting them in the 1000s would be a greater deterrent.  This would act as a soft cap instead of a hard cap.
  • Reducing their squad size from 160 to 120.  This would make them more elite in only marginally more effective than their line-infantry counterparts.  Due to this nerf in fighting/staying power, their price would go down to the 800s range.
  • Hard cap their availability to 6.  While this certainly makes certain factions weaker, it makes other factions borderline unplayable.  Some factions such as the Averni function entirely off of their elite infantry.  This is a general faction design issue that needs to be corrected if this fix is to take place.

Archer and Skirmisher units are ineffectual.
Either their damage is too low, their armor pen is too low, or their range is terrible, Archer-type units serve virtually no purpose vs. the high-armor elite infantry metagame.  Even vs. regular troops, unless you take a overwhelming amount of ranged firepower, there's virtually no damage being dealt to the rapidly-advancing enemy.  I say rapidly advancing because this game moves a ton quicker than previous titles from what I've noticed.

Regardless, something needs to be done here:
  • Increase missile units damage armor penetration.
  • Increase missile range.

Now onto some messed up cavalry mechanics.  For one, all the cavalry move at the same speed practically.  Aside from the skirmisher-type cavalry, everyone else chugs along at the same speed.  This largely a design mistake I think and needs to be fixed immediately.

The fix is simple:
  • There's 90 armor, 60 armor and less than 60 armor cavalry.  Very Heavy cavalry should run the slowest and fatigue the quickest.  Medium cavalry (most if not all Shock "Lancer" cav) should run faster and fatigue in the middle.  Light cav should obviously move the quickest and fatigue the least.

Lastly, some units are just broken from a technical standpoint.
  • Not sure what's wrong with the Chariots or Elephants, but they don't see to be doing what they need to do ingame at all.  Pretty sure their functionality tech or unit AI is just broke.  Fix it.

Remember, I'm not saying implement all of these changes, especially if they double-nerf a unit or invariably nerf a unit.  For example, the worst balance changes happen whenever someone balances a game with a hammer rather than a scalpel.  You gotta test the waters before you make the plunge.

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