I’ve only just started grinding helis, and a lot about how they are integrated into the game is just bad.
Helicopters need a lot more choices about where to spawn. Heli #1 is too far away to be useful, and Heli #2 is insanely easy to spawn camp (It’s marked on the map for enemy air to camp, and the AAA does more to show where it is than to chase away enemies).
Solution: Give helicopters a choice of 3 air spawns a similar distance from the battle area. Make the air spawn areas fairly large and randomize where exactly the helicopter spawns within the zone.
Solution: Base #2 should be moved back to a similar distance as Base #1, and FARPs (Forward Arming and Refueling Point) should be added. FARPs would have no AAA (because it’s either too powerful or too weak and just shows where the base is) and no fixed pads, just an AI vehicle or two. FARPs would not appear on the enemy’s map, and would have markers visible only to allies.
Too much difference between Helicopters with ATGMs and those without
It can be a lot of fun zooming down main street in a Cobra and firing rockets at everything, but it’s really random whether you’re going to hit anything or not (with dumb rockets and no CCIR), and you will die; hovering over a hill and firing ATGMs is a whole different thing. But your spawn cost and repair cost are going to be close either way. Not that the dumb rockets are useless, but they are almost never better than ATGMs, and you get punished just as much for dying (which you can’t avoid since you will be in coax range of half the enemy team).
Solution: There should be a dramatic difference in spawn cost and repair cost between helicopters with ATGMs and those without. It’s so much riskier to fly without ATGMs that there should be some benefit for using the less effective load.
Helicopters IRL are observers first
RL militaries have long flown observer helis, but even beasts like the Apache are used for recon, and recon is generally their most important mission… They can and do call for artillery, and pilots would generally rather opt for the radio and indirect fire over exposing their aircraft to enemy fire. The lack of observer capabilities in compound the difference between those helis with ATGMs and those without, because there isn’t anything else for non-ATGM helis to do when they aren’t closing into machinegun range.
Solution: Give helicopters the spotting ability. (I’d argue that everything rank 5 and above should have it, but that’s another discussion.) It’s simple, and it helps teammates on the ground. It might also be good to let helis call for artillery (possibly just those which don’t have ATGMs equipped, as a balancing mechanic).
Just some little things that have been bugging me. I think Helicopters are generally better balanced than fixed-wing CAS, since they are easy for any tank or jet to shoot down, and generally are a lot more like ground vehicles in how they influence the battle. A Heli can fire an ATGM from more places but with less stealth, and you generally defend against them like any other ATGM carrier (or any other lunatic rushig at you with rockets, if that’s what they are doing). It’s would generally be healthier for the game if more players spent their spawn points on them over jet CAS.