The DTA team are here with an early present this year! A long-requested feature has finally been made possible with the recent release of the RA1 source code, as well as Rampastring's talents and dedication: Naval transports!
We have been teasing them for a good while, and we are finally ready to release them. But that's not all! We thought this was a good opportunity to take a look at naval balance in general.
Our core philosophy this time around was that we wanted to play things a little safer and balance navies according to a more consistent system, since naval balance has been an issue basically since its introduction. While faction asymmetry is a big part of keeping things interesting, navies really had no "baseline" system the same way as lands units. With so few units in the roster of each faction to begin with, we concluded that our previous approach to navies was too chaotic at its core to ever become balanced.
As such, tier 1 ships are now fast scouts and dedicated anti-air, and tier 2 are main battleships. The repair ships have become more general support vessels and can deploy into sensor arrays. Tier 3 are still long-range bombardment, but with much shorter ranges and generally more damage to other ships, making them more of naval artillery and less emphasized on taking out enemy bases on their own. Naval dominance will now pave the way for amphibious landings, keeping naval relevant without losing the water meaning you automatically lose the game.
We have also lowered the pace of naval combat a bit in general, as it generally seemed too frantic, to the point unit micro was almost inconsequential. Big fleets of warships destroying each other in the blink of an eye also just felt wrong.
Furthermore, we have brought aircraft more into the mix to give players more options to tackle and enemys naval dominance. This should also help keep the tier 1 ships relevant throughout the game, as sufficient anti-air to stop groups of aircraft will now be a bigger and more important investment.
Here's a bit of a closer look at what this means for each faction, as well as how we designed our transports:
These will largely be the same as in the original TD and RA. However we chose to make them a little bigger as we thought that 5 vehicles leaving such a small thing looked a bit odd, even with C&C's imperfect scales.
Another notable difference is that, due to some remaining engine limitations, DTA's hovercraft can move on land, but at a *much* slower speed than on the water. This is to prevent unintended cheese tactics from especially some of the slower factions like the Soviets, and to ensure that things such as APCs and Chinooks retain a place in the game.
Nod perhaps got the biggest overhaul with the new design direction, as the old approach caused Nod to be way too dominant.
Firstly, the Scarab has had its model changed entirely so that we could give it a fully rotating turret and with it the ability to move and fire at the same time (Q-move). This was to give more value to its signature speed, since bike-like hit'n'run has turned out to have little value on the waters.
Since tier 2 ships are now the default main battleships, the Laser Corvette is finally free of its awkward in-between state of a role, and we have balanced it to have the necessary baseline power instead of it being so heavily reliant on its deployed state. The deploy function remains, but for the sake of both balance and logic, it now needs to divert power to its cloaking system, cutting down on the range of its laser. This makes the deployed state more of an ambush mode than a main battle stance.
The Sea Shadow has simply been brought more in line with other tier 3 ships and should no longer be overpowered. We have also made changes to its projectile, so it will no longer bombard itself and its allies when its target dies.
To better fit with its new role, the Allied Corvette now has a flak cannon for its turret, and higher speed. The Frigate's visuals remain the same but it no longer targets air. The Cruiser does a lot more damage to other ships, but still needs to deploy to engage all of its cannons.
In line with the new balance system, the Gunboat is now slightly faster and less powerful. The Missile Cruiser is still unique among the main battleships in that it has more emphasis on area damage. As such, while they excel in big battles, GDI players should make sure to always mix in some Gunboats, as faster enemies can dodge the Cruiser's aft missiles.
The Aircraft Carrier deals decent damage to other ships now, and its deployed state should be a bit more useful with aircraft being a counter to ships.
The Soviets will remain a slight exception to the new tier system, as we can't fully fit their navy to it and still have their submarines still feel unique. We have however tried to address the sheer insane pace at which fights with the Soviets often took place, so while their subs still stand out, they are not quite the same glass-cannons as before.
The basic Submarine remains the Soviet main fighter, however their short range and relatively low damage to buildings keeps them easy to to repel from your coastline in case of losing control of the water.
Missile Subs now have a deployed mode that helps them auto-target enemies, which should make intercepting enemy aircraft more realistic without jedi reflexes. However they deal less damage to other ships now, resulting in Soviets having an inverted tier 1-2.
As a unique deviation from our general approach this patch, the Ekranoplan has become more hybrid in function due to the Soviets unique roster. They now fall somewhere between a tier 2 and tier 3 ship in terms of combat stats, while retaining their potentially high speed but long acceleration time. The P941 epic submarine still provides the Soviets with a powerful long-range bombardment option.
All in all, naval combat should now be a more consistent and balanced affair, while the transports allow for new tactical options previously unseen on the Tiberian Sun engine.
We hope you will join us for some watery fun on CnCNet. If you don't have Dawn of the Tiberium Age installed already you can get it from the download page now! If you already have it installed, just run the client and let the auto-updater do its thing.
If you're as excited as we are that naval transports are here and also enjoyed the rest of our patches this year, including DTA 1.19, oil derricks and easter bunnies, consider giving us a vote for MOTY.