Flotilla/Fleet System for Naval Battles

Would you like to see the Flotilla/Fleet system in-game?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

How big of an issue do you think Downside #1 is? (see below)
  • Big Problem that could prevent the idea from being implemented altogether
  • Decent Problem that would present some issues in game, but can be countered/fixed before the mechanic is added in-game
  • Manageable problem that only requires slight tweaking or only presents a minor inconvenience in-game
  • Not a Problem

0 voters

How big of an issue do you think Downside #2 is? (see below)
  • Big Problem
  • Decent
  • Manageable
  • Not a Problem

0 voters

How big of an issue do you think Downside #3 is? (see below)
  • Big Problem
  • Decent Problem
  • Manageable
  • Not a Problem

0 voters

Sorry if you find this whole post too wordy. I have too much experience writing out long essays and reports.

Introduction

One of the primary issues plaguing Naval Battles in War Thunder is the balance between ships and ship classes. Due to the gamemodes and general playstyle of Ground Battles being directly ported to Naval Battles, the gameplay loop ends up being incredibly frustrating for the way ships are designed in War Thunder.

In War Thunder’s case, the ship has semi-realistic ships and mechanics (like damage models, aiming, shell types, etc), but combines them with an arcade-style setting (moving towards arbitrary capture zones on a small map). This presents an issue because ships that generally adhere to their realistic counterparts are not put into realistic scenarios they would have found themselves in real life, which leads to some ships being incredibly underpowered in certain situations. The competitor naval warfare game deals with this issue by making the game mechanics arcade as well, allowing them to make arbitrary mechanics (like detection, hit points, accuracy) to make gameplay more enjoyable.

Since realism is a core part of War Thunder, the realistic game mechanics are set in stone. Therefore, I have been thinking of ways to change the fundamental settings of Naval Battles in order to create a more proper experience.

The Problem

The setup of War Thunder Naval Battles makes it so that the victor of an engagement is whoever has the strongest ship. Whoever has the better armor and stronger firepower will straight up win most of the time. While power differences between vehicles is nothing new to War Thunder, this manifests itself much more in Naval Battles. Ships are much slower and difficult to hide. There is no way to really “outplay” a stronger opponent. An aircraft may use a brief mistake of their enemy to get a shot in, a light tank can disable and flank around a heavy tank, etc. The same cannot be done as easily in Naval. Destroyers do not have many options to deal with a Battleship; they will not last long enough to get into a favorable torpedo range and even then, torpedoes are slow and unreliable weapons.

Therefore, anyone stuck playing with a lower weight ship will be at a serious disadvantage and of limited influence throughout the entire battle, and compared to other modes this cannot be as easily compensated by player skill. The heavily compressed battle ratings of Naval also make these scenarios very common. No one wants to be the “grunts” of a battle, everyone would want to have fair and equal influence so that their skill determines their performance.

This issue also leads to a lack of diversity in the gamemode. In Ground Battles, teams are consisted of multiple types of tanks like light/medium/heavies, SPGs, SPAA, etc. In Naval Battles, however, teams are primarily consisted of just the heaviest ships available in the matchmaking spread and not much else. Battles end up being a slugfest of only battleships and heavy Cruisers, rarely anything lighter being thrown into the mix.

In this post, I would like to present one of the ideas I thought of to improve Naval Battles. This is not the only idea I have and it may be more compatible alongside many other fundamental changes, but nevertheless I believe this idea could be experimented early on, especially in Naval Enduring Confrontation (which is a big improvement from regular Naval Battles in terms of setting).

Proposal: The Flotilla/Fleet System

The basic summary of the mechanic I propose is to allow players to control a group of small ships whenever larger ships are present in the match (determined by the BR spread of the match).

For example, if a match contains larger ships like battleships, a player may either spawn in a group of 3-4 destroyers all under their command, or even combine multiple types of small ships from their lineup and spawn them all at once.

In Enduring Confrontation mode, the first spawns in the match may be singular ships, but as the match progresses and players begin spawning more powerful ships, any subsequent spawns with lighter ships will be multiplied to allow players to keep up.

One ship at a time may be directly controlled by a player, just as players regularly control ships now. The rest of the ships are controlled by AI. The player may switch between any of the ships in the fleet to assume direct control.

AI ships will attempt stay in a formation set by the player, the speed of the fleet being dictated by the slowest member. For example, a player may arrange their ships in a diamond formation, or in a single file line. AI ships can be set to fire at will, hold fire, or fire at targets selected by the player.

More advanced controls could be dictating a type of shell for each ship to use, when and where to launch a torpedo spread, repair priorities, etc. To prevent this from overwhelming a new player, there could be a default setting and the aforementioned commands are only available via toggling.

The justification for this idea is that historically, the primary advantage of lighter ships is that they are available in much greater numbers than capital ships. For example, despite lacking any capital ships, the American Fleet at the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was able to inflict heavy damage on the Japanese fleet that included two battleships by using a mix of multiple destroyers and cruisers.

Adding a system to allow this parity to be achieved in War Thunder could improve one’s personal influence and gives an actual reason to use small ships in Naval Battles. For example, a destroyer fleet, capable of launching significantly more torpedoes in the water at once or combining the anti-air power of multiple ships, is closer to matching a singular battleship in influence. It will also further diversify Naval Battles and allow players to fight multiple types of ships instead of a homogenous mixture of heavy ships.

This idea draws influence from similar game mechanics already in-game, and from another game called Battlestations: Pacific. The examples are below.


The two above images show a squad system already existing in War Thunder, found in Aircraft Single Missions. One torpedo bomber is directly controlled by the player, and the other three are marked with a green squad triangle. They follow the player-controlled bomber and attack the same targets. The second image shows the list of aircraft in the squadron. The player can switch between any of bombers in the squad by clicking on the different names. The proposed idea for Naval could borrow the mechanics of this already-existing system to make it easier.

The image above is the formation screen from the game Battlestations: Pacific, and is what I believe War Thunder can borrow some ideas from. The screen is centered on the flagship, and the other ships in the fleet are shown in their current position relative to the flagship. One ship is commanded to move ahead, their ordered position being colored yellow. The ship, being connected with an orange arrow, is currently heading to the new ordered formation.

Potential Downsides
This section will consider some potential downsides of the proposal, and how it may be rectified/adjusted.

1. AI farming/botting
Especially after most of the Naval bots have been banned, it seems questionable to add a system where a player could be doing nothing but still gaining RP and SL through the actions of AI systems under their control. The rebuttals and solutions I have considered are:

  • War Thunder Naval already officially does this to some extent with secondary and AA gunners being controlled by the AI. The AA in particular already scores some easy kills, and some ships with strong secondaries (like late American cruisers) can deal solid damage on their own without player input.
  • In the scenarios that this system finds itself in, leaving the work entirely to the AI may not be effective. This system is proposed to only take place if much more powerful ships are present, and not if the player is downtiered. Therefore, an uncoordinated destroyer fleet without any player input would not be a big threat to the larger ships, they would need control and thinking in order to do so.
  • The fleet system could potentially use a mechanic where the player from the flagship would need to provide accurate ranging data and commands to the rest of their ships manually, which would improve the accuracy of the AI’s fire. This would help encourage human involvement, while the lower end of the AI accuracy spectrum without any coordination would be poor enough to deter letting the AI do all the work. Some of the mechanics I listed before (like letting ships automatically fire at will) could also be removed to force players to take direct command of their fleet.

2. Free Kills
A group of small ships may artificially increase the rewards of the enemy as one player is now presenting more targets to shoot at and kill.

  • My idea for a solution is pretty simple: adjust the rewards of killing ships so that one must destroy the entire fleet of small ships to equal the reward of killing a singular capital ship. Sinking only a single destroyer out of many would only yield a partial reward, therefore if the rest of the ships manage to escape and survive, the full reward is not given out. It may be a bit wonky, but perhaps partial rewards could also be introduced for stat recording (for example, the amount of small ships that must be sunk to count as a kill in post-match records would have to match the amount of ships in a fleet in the match you are playing).

3. Torpedo Soup
Some ships, like the Shimakaze, may be excessively powerful if spawned in a fleet. A group of 4-5 of these could saturate an entire area of torpedoes and score multiple kills easily.

  • Adjust the amount of ships available to use in a fleet based on certain statistics, like amount of torpedoes. For example, there is a limit of 30 torpedoes per fleet in a match. This limit may be met by either spawning two Shimakazes, or three Sumners, ensuring that the amount of torpedo soup dished out by a single player is capped at a reasonable amount.
  • Optimizing Naval Battles to make torpedo spam harder to pull off. Maps should include some sort of cover at spawns so one cannot just dump torpedoes into the general direction of a spawn point to get easy kills. Size of maps could be extended (or be as is in Naval EC) to force destroyers to close the range before firing a coordinated spread.
  • Torpedo soups may actually be a good thing overall. Torpedoes are the only weapon that destroyers can use against large ships (especially Japanese destroyers whose guns are bad for dealing with any bluewater ship). Therefore, they need to be able to launch large spread of torpedoes to have the same influence as a battleship. Torpedoes themselves are also unreliable weapons, being fairly slow in RB and compared to the competitor warship game, and are only of limited stock on warships meaning you won’t be able to fire off multiple walls of torpedoes in one game. Therefore, it will take skill on the player’s end to calculate when and where to launch the torpedoes for maximum efficiency. At the same time, it could also discourage camping (especially in regular Naval Battles, where battleships just camp at spawn and shoot everything at long range).
2 Likes

An interesting idea, although I’m not particularly sold on it at the moment. While I’m all for having teammates for aircraft, applying that to ships seems like a bit of a clutter, especially given how small the maps tend to be (which we already have problems trying to get out of the spawn zone without being T-boned).
Fundamentally, this is a solution to the survivability of the destroyer when you face heavier weight classes, a solution that realistically shouldn’t be a problem outside the transitional BRs of around 4.7 where you begin to face off against cruisers. You shouldn’t be finding battleships as destroyers unless you choose to add a destroyer to your lineup for some reason as you advance onward.
Yes, heavy hitters slugging it out with each other can get stale since you don’t have the class flexibility and gameplay variations of Ground Battles, but that’s just how the game mode currently is structured. Yes, having AI teammate for lower classes in high BR matches should allow for this flexibility in the gameplay to what is currently a death wish, but I think overall the problem can just be avoided by not bringing destroyers to a battleship match.

Overall, it’s a bit gimmicky and cluttering but I could grow to like it if implemented well.

2 Likes

Its a neat idea, similar to the squad system already implemented in enlisted. You could avoid the overkill issue by counting the kill only after all the players ships have been sunk. Torpedo soup could be an issue, but seems a noob move to dump all your torps at once. Not really sure about the bot issue, that one’s above my paygrade.

1 Like

The idea is not bad but it does not convince me completely, as someone said before finding a battleship in a regular battle going with a destroyer is because you wanted it that way but when it comes to long-lasting confrontations it is an idea that has a little more color

1 Like

I agree with you that this idea could be messy with the current setup of Naval battles. This idea does kind of rely heavily on any potential future reworks to Naval that overall expands the size of the map to prevent the claustrophobic spawns and to bring a slightly more realistic naval encounter in the gamemodes. As you said a good portion of the points I made may not fit Naval as it is now, but we can hope that Naval gets a more extensive rework later on to hopefully make it more enjoyable (if one finds the current setup not-so-enjoyable) which could give room to an idea like this.

You are correct that destroyers shouldn’t be fighting battleships, at least in the current setup of Naval for now. As you said the mechanic could be used for the really compressed BRs where classes are only separated by 0.3 or 0.7 br apart.

Naval EC though is one situation where both of the above can apply. EC maps are a lot larger and if the spwans were made wider (or map size adjusted if they still aren’t enough), fleets of ships could work with enough space to maneuver. The whole idea of destroyers fighting battleships may become relevant if you are low on SP or newly joined into the match, but the enemy team has already spawned in battleships, or whenever you need a little more mobility overall.

@raditztoriyama
You can refer to this post too to have an idea. A short edit I’ve thought about a bit after, is that the fleet mechanic could also help to make Naval more of a “thinking” gamemode than it currently is right now.

From my experience with Naval battles, the general strategy is to just get the biggest ship you have, put a rock between you and the most dangerous enemy, and shoot anything in sight. There are some times where you have to push for the capture zones, but other than that the gameplay can be argued to be quite stale.

The comparison to be made would be with Ground battles, where you can opt to take a heavy tank and perform the same strategy I said above but with a tank, or you can choose to take a fast light tank to act as some sort of flanker/assassin. These two playstyles are perfectly viable in Ground battles and can encourage thinking/creativity in your tactics and how you play.

You can attempt to do this to some extent in Naval, but right now it really isn’t set up well to do so. Assuming an ideal battle where everyone is doing their job, a light tank can have the same battle influence as a heavy tank, but the same cannot be said for a destroyer vs a cruiser or a cruiser vs a battleship. Therefore it forces everyone to play the heavier ships and to shoot anything in front of you. It works with how Naval is right now and is the ideal way to play generally, but it is arguably not very fun or exciting and may be one of the general reasons why Naval is seen as boring. The fleet mechanic hopes to make up some of the difference in power to allow people to try new strategies in different ships, those with faster speeds and reliance on torpedo armament rather than straight up heavy guns and armor.

Air battles admittedly doesn’t have the same level of diversity as Ground battles, but at least there are some niche playstyles/roles that can be viable. Long-range BVR missile busses, high-altitude BNZers, quick turnfighters/dogfighters, ground attackers to drain points, etc, all of which can work in a regular battle with enough finesse. Again this doesn’t really apply to Naval, its just whoever has the biggest guns and armor. You could take a singular PT boat or destroyer to capture zones and launch sneak attacks but this is comparatively much less viable than the other niche options discussed in Air and Ground.

2 Likes

The effectiveness of torpedo spamming could vary, for example if you are able to spawn at a reasonable distance to the enemy, unloading all your torpedoes into an enemy spawn point can be disproportionately effective for the effort involved, especially if you use 15-20km Long Lances. I was able to verify this directly when I racked up a bunch of kills in naval AB EC once by slinging torpedoes into the enemy spawn.

This immediately presents problems in regular naval because the spwans offer little to no cover, but perhaps reworked maps could alleviate that. We could also think of some arbitrary mechanics I guess, such as limited amount of torpedoes to use in an entire game instead of just a spawn, or have torpedoes be automatically deleted once they enter a protected spawn area.

For larger battles like EC, perhaps spawns can be spread further out and the game could force players to think more strategically to conserve their torpedoes instead of dumping them out all at once, although you can also argue that WT isn’t really an RTS game.

I don’t think this would help. Sure it would add a fun factor with more targets but if you played coastal at late hours you will know how that works out.

I think naval battles simply need a different game mode with no capture points. And I can’t put my finger on it but something with the damage just doesn’t feel right. I don’t know if it’s the ammo types or how losing crew works, but something is just off for me. Maybe I’m still just too bad at it but I just don’t feel completely in control while playing bluewater naval.

I agree with you, gaijin needs to completely redesign the naval battles, it has to be a unique game mode different from land and air, as I said before, it is not that the fleet mechanics do not convince me, it is that it does not do so with the current state of naval battles. (sorry for my potato English)

1 Like