The January Patch
Posted by Pepin the Short - 19th January 2014
DICE has rolled out its latest patch, and the thing to be aware of is that this is chiefly a bugfixing patch. Balance issues have only been addressed where they are particularly egregious, and where they can be fixed without significant unintended consequences.
The majority of the bugs that were fixed are minor or not immediately apparent, focusing mostly on game stability and crashes. A complete list of the bugs that have been fixed can be found here, though there are a few balance changes to take away.
First and foremost is the 'normalization' of repair rates across all vehicles. This means that a repair rate modifier has been added to the data files of all vehicles in accordance with their health. Now, all vehicles take the same time to repair. That is, the repair tool now effectively restores vehicle health by a percentage value per second, rather than a certain amount of health per second.
Though tanks, IFVs, and attack boats are unaffected by this, all vehicles with less than 1000 health will now take longer to repair. The hardest hit are those vehicles that have only 500 health, such as the helicopters (excluding the Transport Helicopter, which has 750) and jets. These vehicles now repair at only half the speed, which anyone who has flown Scout Helicopters since the patch's release will surely have noticed.
Though it is impossible to speculate on the motives of game balance changes instituted by the developers, it must be said that this has the most significant effect on how scout helicopters are used. With the prevalence and power of lock-on weaponry, coupled with the incredibly long countermeasure reload time, the most popular way to keep a Scout Helicopter in the air was to have Engineers on both sides, equipped with launchers and repair tools, firing missiles at all enemy air targets and repairing away all damage. This allowed the Scout Helicopter to power its way through all incoming enemy fire and achieve dominance of the sky.
Another significant change affects jet balance. The maneuverability of all the stealth jets has been made equal, giving all a turn radius slightly better than that of the pre-patch J-20, and the maneuverability of the attack jets has been similarly equalized and reduced across the board. Additionally, the damage of the 20mm cannon on the stealth jet has been increased by 25%.
The combined effect of these changes to jets results in the stealth jet being the uncontested air superiority vehicle. Attack jets are now largely relegated to attacks against ground vehicles and helicopters, and are more dependent on the protection of the stealth jet and MAA to stay in the air.
Additionally, if you happened to be reading this post, and wondered what 'emergency repair' is, you may find this post useful. The summary of it is that, on helicopters and jets, should the health drop below 10% (the disable threshold), using the repair tool to bring it back to 10% will cause it to jump immediately to 37%.
There is no cooldown for emergency repairs, and this function was not changed with the latest patch. The repair tool nerf, however, helps to keep Scout Helicopters, which benefit the most from emergency repairs, from being indestructible damage sponges.
Pepin the Short