Hot take: player count and map size isn't what causes Air RB's staleness

Disclaimer: I am NOT saying air RB is not fun AT ALL, I am saying that War Thunder has potential to be so much more than a tech demo for War Thunder. It’s vehicles are well simulated, weapons and mechanic work great, and the interactions between all that in a multiplayer environment makes for exciting air battles.

Today’s top tier air RB matches are an absolute mess that usually snowball in 5-7 minutes and result in one team curb stomping the other with little to no individual skill involved and a repetitive furball meta which makes either grinding or right out trying to have fun quite boring.

So how did we get here?

When longer range radar missiles came out, I thought maps were way too small and players would kill each on takeoff. Gaijin added large maps to the pool and now instead of being in combat minutes after takeoff you have just a bit more time to climb for the same result.

When match timers were cut down from 50 to 25 minutes, those exciting end-game [2-4]v[2-4] moments were dulled down to chasing AI before the game ends on its own.

When Gaijin somehow made the random decision of upping player count to 16 per match, the only result was making the furball bigger and increase missile mayhem.

But no matter these what these 2 parameters are, the largest amount of players will always bunch up together, fly left for 2-5 minutes, and eventually furball in the middle.

So after multiple years of more advanced airframes and weapons, why did things get so bad? The constant is a completly outdated gamemode.

The reason why everyone furballs in the middle is a combination of 2 things:

  1. Players want to win the game and sticking together usually prevents you from being singled out and giving your team a better chance of steamrolling opponents. Appart from base bombers which have absolutely ZERO impact on the team, if you want to win, you stick together.
  2. The only thing to do is the kill each other. These is nothing else out there than the enemy players. What are the incentives for splitting up, tactics, and team play other than flying bunched up? Objectives are worth nothing for either grinding or winning the game so the only way to accomplish anything a is 25 minute capped furball deathmatch.

My conclusion for the current state of air RB: I am not saying air RB cannot be fun the way it currently is. I am saying that the replayability and chance for actual interesting engagements to happen is critically low. Match variety is low, barely any tactics involved, team synergy is absent, rare dogfights often end up being 3rd partied, and missile kills are usually scored on unsuspecting enemies that are too busy keeping track of 5 of your teammates. Skill expression is at all time low.

So how do we make the air battles better? Less players? Even bigger maps? Because of the 2 behaviors described before, less players still means a mid map all player engagement, and bigger maps just means more flying to that same middle because there’s nothing else to do.

My opinion on this matter? I have 2 answers.

  1. The obvious one is reworked EC for air RB. The current system in SIM is great for multiple reasons: multiple airfields, spread out objectives, and respawns (unfortunately based on a SL system which sucks due to nerfed rewards). My dream for air RB EC is an engaging PvPvE gamemode with better and more varied objectives where both an air superiority fighter and your heavy ground attacker can find meaningful ways to impact the game.
  2. Maps that actually offer terrain variety. Right now most maps can be broken down into, 2 airfields (with sub unprotected airfields), one epicenter where all the action happens, and barely any terrain to play around or reason to explore side areas. Plains, desert, or flat sea suck absolute ass, make multipathing as easy as flying straight, and offer very little room to play around hills, stay hidden, or perform pop-up attacks. We do get some terrain gems from time to time where this is possible and I love it.

What are your thoughts on the current state of air RB, the solutions that have and haven’t been talked about, and wether aiming for big game mode changes is realistic or not?

Thank you for reading.

17 Likes

Players want to end matches as fast as possible, so they will.

That’s why things are this way.
And there’s nothing Gaijin can really do to change that player behavior.

Also the best method of earning SL and RP is and always has been bases and ground targets.

2 Likes

I would love to have an EC mode that was actually designed with some thought. Having deep gameplay that isnt just mindless tiktok matches purely for grinding.

At least give us it as an alternative to regular death matches and let’s see what people will prefer.

Even if only 30% prefer the EC mode i would still play it because then i’d know the people in those matches would want to play more seriously like myself.

9 Likes

Air RB cannot be fun the way it currently is tho

2 Likes

To vast majority it is.

not a excuse

1 Like

To cut a long story short:

An assist gives 1/5 ish the reward of an kill.
A kill gives 1/3 ish the reward of a destroyed base.
5 pillboxes/mid tanks give the same mission points as a kill.

As long as this reward system exists, nothing will change.

1 Like

What? That doesn’t prove this problem.

Of course it would!

If you change the reward system the way the most effect to win a battle gives the most reward, and a win multiple the reward all grinding dudes are forced to change their behavior or they suffer.

At the time a fighter player has to kill 3-4 enemy players to get the reward a player get bombing a base and destroy some ground targets.

No. If the reward system rewarded player kills more than matches would go by faster.

However, the reward system clearly rewards PVE more, which slows down matches.
Matches only go by fast because people frag other players.

It seems to me you play a different game…:-)

Watch prop battles:
The longest matches are those both sides climb and get postion.
As soon as tickets bleed or one side has a bunch of ground pounders the match speeds up.

The reason why this isn’t so obvious in toptier is there are very rare battles like this and most of the planes can do both. AND there are so many players with side entry by buying prem jets.

2 Likes

Yes, like partial city partial country maps, similar to Southeastern city. Really just wish things wouldn’t be as annoying, I get that it’s not historical if something has a IR track and launch warning, but it’s gets annoying just mid-dogfight, and an anyone can just ruin it.

I enjoy Air RB as a mode and wouldn’t want to see it radically changed, but I definitely agree on maps; we absolutely need maps with meaningful terrain which actually affects gameplay, like AB has.

2 Likes

Sure they can, put all bases to the right and see the direction change. ^^

1 Like

ARB is stale because its the same thing over and over since the game was released.

They have done nothing new.

5 Likes

To me,

One very good thing that they could EASILY implement is rewards based on your type of aircraft !
Attackers, bombers, fighters,… each class got its role, but for now, an air kill in any of these rewards the same !

Give Su-25’s an incentive to go for ground targets rather than hunting flareless jets
Give Tornado GR some incentives to bomb bases (they already do)
Give Interceptors incentives to go for high flying AI bombers (or a bonus for a killed bomber)
Give fighters incentives to go for interceptors and fighters

At least, something in this vein…

Some kind of “rock paper scissor” way of spreading objectives between each type of aircrafts

And finally, spread ground objectives on the map rather than focusing everything in the center ! This would give some room for attackers and would force fighters/interceptors to actively hunt for them on the whole map rather than looking down the same place and diving for easy kills.

Make each class worth and varied to be played !

1 Like

AI targets give more rewards than players already.
I mentioned it prior, but the reason matches are fast is because players intentionally choose to have quicker matches than go for highest rewards.