We have addressed one of the biggest barriers to entry and frustration for modders. The internal reference names of many units, buildings, weapons, modules and other listings have been updated to display their current names. Previously many things were listed as old, outdated names that were incredibly confusing to navigate. For example, the Brute was listed internally as "PHC_T1_Skirmish" and the Radioactives Extractor was "PHC_DataCenter", but now their names are accurate such as "PHC_1_Brute." This affected not only modding, but also creating scenarios and spawning units in the unit spawner modding tool.
It's common for games to have outdated internal reference names such as these, as things get embedded within code and become time consuming to fix, but we didn't want to turn off potential first time modders because of little frustrations like these. We also tidied up some of our internal files by deleting unused items that didn't have any unique art assets, this will make it a bit easier for modders to find what they want.
Sight Range & Radar Rework
Units and buildings in Ashes had very short sight range relative to their attack range and size, especially when compared to other RTS games. This created a number of problems:
As a result, we are making some changes to sight range and radar. Most units have their sight range doubled, some units increased more than others in order to adhere to a new standardized template:
Since radar would be less important with more sight range, we are making every weapon capable of targeting radar contacts. Previously, only select weapons could, which was inconsistent and felt arbitrary.
These are some pretty huge changes that will have many consequences, but we want to make the game more interactive and responsive between players and this is a crucial step in achieving that. One predictable result, is that air units will have an easier time looking for harassment opportunities such as undefended Engineers or buildings. As a result, we are making several changes to make air harassment weaker. We will be monitoring how the sight changes perform and making adjustments if necessary.
Engineer and Constructor
Engineers were very expensive at 300 Metal. This created a number of problems:
To address this, we are lowering the Metal cost of Engineers and Constructors. This extra Metal at the players disposal will create more room in the early game for a diversity of openers. We are aware this makes the Call Engineer & Avatar Orbitals less valuable, we are looking into ways of reworking these abilities.
Extractors were too fragile at only 350 health. This allowed air units to snipe Extractors even when defended by anti-air, making air control too important. We Extractors to be easier to protect and to encourage players to also look for harassment opportunities on different types of infrastructure such as tech buildings, Quantum Relays and production structures.
The Hermes lacked a purpose given the Pan scout plane was available from the Nexus. Given the sight changes which would make the Hermes even less useful relative to other units, we are adjusting the Hermes to fill another role to fill. It's getting a damage output increase and slight attack range bonus in exchange for a health reduction to be useful for scouting out the enemies positions and attacking undefeated assets. It was also odd that it almost had the same amount of health as the tough Brute.
Substrate have the fast Martyr for harassment, so it was unfair that PHC had no equivalent. However, the Hermes will still be weak in an upfront fight due to little health and lower DPS than combat units; the Hermes should use its fast mobility and sight range to avoid encounters.
The PHC frigates were much slower than the Substrate counter part and almost the same speed as the cruisers. We want to further solidify frigates as a class of units faster than cruisers, to allow for outmanoeuvring the tougher cruiser armies and harassing weakly defended areas. We want to give more flexibility for players to field different types of unit compositions that enable different strategies and play styles.Substrate frigates still retain a slight speed advantage, apart from the Hermes, to compensate for being slightly weaker in a direct fight.
The slow projectile speed of the Archer often results in overkill when using them in large numbers. We are increasing the projectile speed to reduce overkill and to better convey the Archer's high damage output.
The anti-building and anti-unit attacks previously had different ranges, this meant the rockets were often not firing when the Artemis was positioned at its preferred attack range.
Despite the changes in 2.4, Substrate still have an edge over PHC in the early game map control and capping due to the effectiveness and speed of the Martyr, shields, and the ability to invest in multiple Assemblies for frigate armies but then still be able to easily transition into Cruiser. Due to the Constructor cost decrease, Substrate can now afford to pay more for the Assembly, putting its Metal cost in line with the Armory. Increasing the cost of the Assembly now gives PHC the option to invest in more Factories without falling behind when transitioning to cruisers.
Sensor Tower & Listening Post
Since radar is going to be less useful with the sight range increases, we are increasing the radar range provided by the Sensor Tower & Listening Post.
The Sky Cleanser was too slow for a frigate, especially when compared to the Drone Hive which also provides a mobile AA role for Substrate. Increasing its mobility will give it an easier time chasing down air units.
Falcon & Starburst
In order to make air control less important, we are improving the health of some of the air defense. Previously multiple gunships were able to overwhelm the Falcon and Starburst a little too easily.
The Air Eliminator unintentionally had less health than the Sky Ender. We want to make it more durable so it is more resilient to heavy air units. Removing its Weapons Lab requirements makes it more accessible to field against air harassment.
Base Defense Build Time Increase
Previously it was too easy to rush an Engineer out to build early defenses on a critical cutoff through the map before players would have the opportunity to scout and prevent it, slowing down and staging the game. Especially now as Engineers cost less, we want to make it more difficult to aggressively rush defenses out on chokepoints, as opposed to using them to secure territory and infrastructure.
The Smarty was under performing against frigates because its slow projectile speed would often result in firing a second volley at a target before the first one had connected, resulting in huge overkill from every second volley being wasted. For comparison, the Substrate Annihilator has instant projectile speed, making it far more efficient against frigates, especially in groups. We are increasing the projectile speed of the Smarty and the Barrager to prevent overkill, also because the faster projectile speed looks cooler.
The Barrager is getting more projectile speed than the Smarty to convey it is more powerful and because the attack range is longer so the projectile has to travel further.
The Rampager was over performing for harassment.
Strategic Bomber & Air Harbinger
The heavy air units are getting a cost increase to compensate for the extra strength they will have with the extended sight range.
Juggernauts Logistics Costs
The Juggernauts are incredibly logistics efficient compared to dreadnoughts. This was deliberate, as they also cost lots of Quanta, but being so logistics efficient felt weird. We are increasing logistics cost of juggernauts, though they will still be very logistics cheap due to their Quanta cost.
The massive 60,000 health pool on the Leonidas meant restoring a damaged Leonidas took an incredibly long time, having to build Medics, get them in position and then slowly heal. The Leonidas, Agamemnon and Eye Of Darkness will all receive regenerating health. The rate of regeneration will be much slower than the shield regeneration on the SS Juggernauts, especially the Queen which has the Shield Regenerator and Repair Drones. The Leonidas will also be more useful since it is a counter to both the Queen and Eye of Darkness, where as the Queen is now countered by both PHC Juggs. As a result, the Leonidas is receiving a small cost increase.
Previously the PHC Charon was allowing units to be reinforced when orbital jamming was present, but not Substrate's Nano-Transport. This was often mistaken for a bug.
The "Nuke" abilities were in a weird place; they were undodgeable making them incredibly powerful against armies without orbital jamming, yet they ramped up in price so quickly that only a small number of casts were used before the price was too high and no longer viable to use in favor of Quantum Upgrades or other orbitals. Antimatter Detonation suffered from the anti-climatic dissonance of the gorgeous effect and animation which then only did 2500 damage, to compensate for its near instant cast time.
To make these abilities have a more consistent performance, we are reducing the rate of which they ramp up in cost in exchange for a delay increase. The additional delay grants opponents more time to escape from the blast radius, which then creates the need for more consideration with the placement of the ability. 15 seconds may sound like a lot, but the in-game timer is faster and it's generally only enough time for frigates to escape unless units are near the edges of the blast radius.
Detonation is receiving 1000 more damage over Orbital Strike to compensate for its smaller AOE.