I wrote a short novel here about this topic.
In May 2020 the full roll-out of maps with respawning bases altered the game play and the purpose of bombing completely. If you read the changelog of the Starfighter update - and the comments - you see that nobody realized how much these effect will alter the game play.
Basically gaijin gave up their attempts trying to find the right balance between tnt drop capability and base & airfield health. Some props like 4 B-29s or 4 Me 264s (BR 3.7 those days) could also end games very quickly - not only the F-4 E.
As a consequence bomber game play in props became borderline useless as without killing the airfield they lost their win condition. And the insane bomb load of multi-role jets combined with a much better chance to get a base or two made basebombing even more attractive with them - the respawning bases made base bombing even more attractive.
Don’t get me wrong, but bombing on maps with non respawning bases was always a thing of high risk vs high reward - killing a base was never a challenge, killing an airfield outside matches with planes with incredible bombloads was difficult in case you needed 2 - 4 runs as your chances to get killed increased with every run.
So as using jets with high bombloads solely for base bombing require objectively seen way less skill than using them vs enemy fighters - they are therefore just offering a solution to participate in Air RB without contributing to the numbers game or able to decide matches due to the lost win condition.
In other words Air RB was degraded to a grinding tool - with all consequences regarding player skill, used planes, goal of players within the match, outcome of the match, etc.
If you try to reassess Air RB prior to May 2020 - there was always a mix of passionate pilots looking for PvP action and tankers focusing on grinding with PvE actions. But there was also a kind of “natural” balance within matches as there was a common understanding that the number of more or less free SL/RP with base bombing was limited - just based on 3 non-respawning bases.
And it was obvious that sacrificing speed, positioning and flight performance with strapping on max bomb load made you an easy target, so players were forced to improve tactics and overall air combat skills in order to avoid getting shot down and leaving the match with the loser score of 135 points.
Seeing your screenshots of lobbies full of jets optimized for PvE is the same as entering a prop lobby with 9-10 Wyverns and 4 heavy bombers in your team - it puts an insane amount of pressure on the guys looking for PvE as they are all going for the same targets. And the guys looking for PvP can either slaughter whole lobbies or are totally outnumbered as their team consists of 10-15 PvE players.
And on top of that - most of the PvE players coming from Ground RB are used to die as this is part of their mode - as long as they kill a base or two they make a profit and getting killed doesn’t matter, they simply jump to the next game. So in most BRs the match result is determined how many PvE players are in your team.
If you follow the forum for years - or just look at recent threads (like F-111) - you might acknowledge that the majority of threads simply discuss ways to improve PvE game play in Air RB by increasing the number of bases or ground targets - and not to play the mode as intended; so being part of a team with different plane classes which could all contribute by fulfilling win conditions (TDM, ticket win, airfield kill).
Without adding realistic win conditions for PvE players in Air RB by reinstalling “killable” airfields there is no real purpose in bombing bases. And actually also no reason to use planes like a Tornado IDS designed to kill high priority and well defended ground targets like airfields far behind enemy lines.
Don’t get me wrong, but seeing so many PvE players in a mode like Air RB designed for pilots (with mixed goals PvP and PvE) is simply sad.
Just ask the experienced tank player in Ground RB how he would feel if full dedicated pilots would spam their matches. The skill floor for getting a few SP to spawn in a pure fighter is rather low - but by flying CAP and killing enemy CAS those pilots are able to alter the outcome without being good at tank game play and even without killing an enemy tank just by killing enemy planes.
There are just 3 things that prevent that:
- Lousy economy in Ground RB compared to Air RB
- Lousy winrates on average (50-60%)compared to Air RB
- Lack of Air markers like in Air RB
So as a summary:
This mess in Air RB is fully intended by gaijin. Killing win conditions like Airfield kills changed the game play and the introduction of respawning bases made it easier for less experienced pilots to participate. From a holistic pov PvE players are basically just easy kills for PvP players and matches are mostly decided by the number of non PvE players in your team, so by the MM.
Complaining about base respawn timers, number and location of bases or ground targets and enforced competition within teams are comprehensible, but just a symptom of the severe illness of Air RB. Fighting symptoms won’t heal Air RB.