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Phase 2: Comprehensive Changes to Artillery

Current SPG mechanics disrupt gaming experience. Occasional one-shots and poor accuracy make them little fun for both camps: those driving them and those fighting them. As part of the 2nd testing phase, we’ll limit the number of SPGs in a battle to the maximum of 3 per team and introduce a series of tweaks to artillery, all aimed at making them more team-oriented and less devastating for others.

This isn’t our first attempt to fix arty. Most of the changes on the list were first tested in last year’s Sandbox. What you’re getting now is a new iteration built on the lessons learnt, stats, and feedback that we gathered. Also, this time it’ll be a more focused test: arty is the only item on the 2nd phase’s agenda. So, there won’t be any other changes that could dilute the experience.

We hope that this time we get it right. But no matter how many internal tests we hold, they won’t tell if the overhauled arty settings add fun and diversity to gameplay. Do they take the overall experience up a notch? Which changes are fine as they are and which require some more fine-tuning? We have our opinion, and are now inviting you to test them and tell us yours.

Stun

In Sandbox, tanks in the arty splash radius have their Crew stunned and characteristics temporarily weakened, giving the other team a few precious seconds to break the defense lines and catch the enemy by surprise. Arty shells receive an all-new parameter: maximum stun time. All vehicles in the splash radius are stunned 30% of this time, plus a certain amount of the remaining 70%, depending on the damage they receive. The stun duration also depends on the area within the splash radius.

Unlike the current mechanic where arty rids you of HP for good and might kick you out from the game in a single shot, the stun duration passes, and you can fight on. At the same time, with the increased splash radius, SPGs can help their team turn the tide of the battle. Of course, it’ll take patience, practice, and good knowledge of the “hot zones” on maps.

To stress arty’s role as long-range support fire, we decreased their dispersion on the move and reload time, while also improving aiming time and accuracy. Now they can efficiently redirect fire and come to rescue team mates on several flanks quickly.

Multi-use Consumables

Now there are a number of ways in which the stun effect can be reduced. Along with a vehicle’s armor that helps partially absorb it, the negative impact of arty can be minimized further with Spall Liners: Heavy Spall Liner reduce its effect by 10%, Superheavy—by 30%. So, the heavier and better armored the vehicle is, the less it suffers from being stunned. Finally, First Aid Kits reduce the stun effect by 20% (by default) and lift it completely after you use them, even if your Crew weren’t hurt.

Those who joined us in the 1st Sandbox iteration know how getting stunned a few times per battle could kill the fun completely. We heard you, and fixed this issue with multi-use consumables: Repair and First Aid Kits, Fire Extinguishers. Consumables of the same type recharge independently, so you can use a small First Aid Kit one, while the large is recharging, or vice versa. Regular consumables take 90 s to recharge, Premium—60 s.

Ammo Load

Large-caliber guns coupled with high penetration values of AP and HEAT shells allow SPGs to pierce thick armor, usually dealing fatal damage. If this happens to you, it makes you question the point of all the effort you put into playing. No one wants to play a game where they don’t actually get to play. So, regardless of how well-armored a player is, many choose to sit in an arty safe spot and never move, forcing draws and base camping.

We eliminated AP and HEAT shells for arty, as well as reduced penetration values and alpha damage of HE shells, which should lower the chances of being severely crippled, if not outright destroyed, by them.

Blast Damage Falloff

Playing artillery effectively requires skill. You need good aim to follow a moving target, anticipate where it’s going to be and how much time it will take for a shell to reach its destination. To reward skill and compensate for the reduction of alpha damage and penetration values, we revised shell fragment dispersion within the splash radius.

On live servers, arty deal no damage on the perimeter of their splash radius. In Sandbox, the damage value falloff from the center to the perimeter will be less abrupt: HE shells deal 30% of their maximum damage there. This way, they deal less damage, but to a larger area, even without direct hits.

With a smaller gap between a direct hit and a near miss (in terms of damage dealt), shooting at multiple targets becomes more efficient than picking just one. This change, together with the introduction of the stun mechanic, should force SPGs to change their play style and aim at hitting multiple targets, letting their teammates finish the job.

Situational Awareness

Stun Indicators. To help both camps better assess the stun effect and adjust their battle plan accordingly, we also added several new battle indicators. Arty can see the damage their teammates deal to stunned vehicles (also included in their after-battle stats as damage dealt with their assistance), while all players see the countdown of the remaining stun time right above the vehicle affected by it. Finally, if you get stunned, along with the stun time, you get a lowdown on HP lost and how your combat parameters decreased, in the lower left of the HUD (similar to when your vehicle drowns or catches fire).

Target area marking for friendly vehicles. As long-range support vehicles, it’s critical that SPGs coordinate their actions with fellow players. They should be able to alert the team to where they will shoot, so that teammates can ready themselves for an attack.

To achieve this, we improved the target area marking (first tested in last year’s Sandbox). Now you will be able to mark not only an enemy vehicle, but also the area you are targeting (press the Requesting fire/Attacking button (“T” by default) to display the special marker; its radius will be the same as the shell splash radius). You can see them highlighted in yellow on the widget below.

It’s totally up to you whether you show it to the team or not. Besides, if you are really tired of “arty’s sleeping” messages, you can end them by simply showing people where you are aiming.

Alternative Aim. Inspired by the fan-favorite Battle Assistant, it changes the aiming display for SPGs and gives a clear flight path of the projectile and a good overview of the terrain, allowing you to aim better. Unlike the third-party mod, it works well around large obstacles. Also, the aim reticle doesn’t jump when switching between regular and alternative aim. We believe that it should make arty gameplay more engaging and help realize its full potential in combat. Try it for yourselves and let us know your thoughts.

The widget below will put everything you just read into greater context:

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The damage received from the T92 HMC: live servers vs. the Sandbox

Currently (to the right), the T92 HMC causes massive alpha damage with a splash radius of 8.13 m. You can see the shell fragments’ distribution marked in red: there’s a vast damage falloff from the center to the perimeter.

In the Sandbox (to the left) the T92 HMC deals a lot less damage, but its shell fragments cover a larger area (the splash radius here is 15 m). The damage falloff is gradual, not abrupt. The tank loses less HP. Instead, it gets stunned for 23s.