It's time to talk about multipath and this patch in general, with the introduction of FOX3

I’ve just played the test server, expecting things to get better than last test, granted a lot of things did, missiles behave more realistically, and map changes was marginal but in a really great direction, and to be honest I’m just generally impressed by how much contents you guys were able to bring in this short period of time.
However, that’s pretty much all of the good words, I’m going to be talking about something I think that is really important, those on the topic and more.

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(You could skip this part if you wanna go directly to my opionion)

To start with, I joined WT in 2014 but honestly did not seriously played the game until way later, about the time when we had some of the more modern vehicle. I do however, play a lot of sims that I’m not going to mention the name here, those are majorly coldwar-modern vehicle so I was not interested in WT air battle for a long period of time until just a couple of updates before. I’m generally really impressed about the implementation of mechanisms that WT was able to made over the years, first it was radar, then the flare/counterflare, and then TWS, ARH, and plenty more. That plus the already impressive rate of update that I knew from the ground battle, made it really promising and made me wanna try the top tier air.

So I did, and I kept playing since then, it was beyond impressive, essentially really not that different from the sim that I used to play, except it cost less hardware, it’s less of a hassle, and you get to play with more people and friends, amazing, right?

Well of course, I would not be posting anything here if there weren’t a problem. I came to realized that although most of my knowledges still applies, there are plenty of situations in War Thunder, that is unrealistic, unfun, or even irritating, you will see it down below, but before that, I really need to state a couple of important factors:

  • I do realize WT is not entirely about realism, it’s a balance between it and the gameplay

  • I do realize that the game should be forgiving rather than punishing, I strongly sympathize players that are still learning the game, I respect people with skill issue

  • I do realize I am biased of the fact sometimes, this is inevitable because I don’t own everything in WT, I’ll try to be objective, but please point me out if I’m making one of that mistake

  • And last but not least, I respect Gaijin and the fact that this is a game of large investment, probably one of the largest in the world, I know you need to make money. I am in fact participating in game industry part time as well, I understand your situation, and I do respect the choice.

That said, I do think there’s plenty to make out of this game on its current stage, without hugely impacting the player base in a negative way and your profit, so let’s talk about those ideas.

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Multipath problem

Multipath
Let’s dive in directly, if you clicked in you most likely know what multipathing is, it’s basically the effect that your radar is “dragged” down to the ground when the target itself is close to it, this is due to the ground can also reflect you target with identical radar signature, except from a different path. Imagine if the ground is like a mirror, you would see the reflection of your taget, thus the name “multipath”. When your radar receive such a combination of signal, it will calculate your target to be at the middle of these 2 image, thus your missile will miss the actual target.
Of course the actual theory involves phase shift of waves what not, but hey we don’t need to know that, and I’m not going to talk about it here.

Missile with multipath countering ability
We all agree that multipathing is actually one of the greatest reason why you SARH missile will miss your target, it will not be surprising if I tell you people started to look for a counter long ago. There are a plenty of missiles with this capability as early as R40 series, which is carried by the Mig-25, currently not in War Thunder.
Of course I’m not here reporting an issue (loads of other ppl been doing that on the report platform) so I’m just going to give you figures that I remembered from materials I’ve seen, take if with a grain of salt, some of it might be wrong, but this is just to give you a general picture, it’s not the point.
The following missile can reliably operate without significantly affect by multipathing:

  • AIM-7M: above 20m [in game]
  • AIM-7MH: above 6m [carrier in game]
  • AIM-7P: above 6m
  • R40: YES
  • R27s, R27Es: YES [in game]
  • Maybe R530D?
  • All ARH we are introducing right now

Just to name a few. So you see we are way over the stage where missiles should be severely affected by multipathing or even missing the target on top tier.

Why should/shouldn’t we add counter to multipathing
Now a bit off topic but this is really important, one of my buddy really made me understand this. He is an exceptional player, ace of the ace in the air, 8000hrs in WT and although never trying hard, he could beat those ppl in a duel with 5 or 10 kd if he really wants to. He was that good, yet the thing he love to do the most is to bomb bases and tanks in air RB, well, just happen to get 2 or 3 kills if anyone would stand in his way.
In his theory, there are two things in WT air RB that should never be changed: Bases that are easy to bomb, and trucks that can be taken out with guns. Reason is simple, these are the very things that support players with the least amount of experiences and knowledges that just hopped into the game and just wanna try WT, a way to actually get something accomplished.
Now don’t you lie to me, we all had time where we struggled, I had time where I would lose every single dogfight in WT, yet here I am, because I like fighters and BVR stuff, I enjoy the “Roleplay” if you will, the fact that you could play you favorite vehicle in a relatively realistic setting. This is however, impossible, if the game is unsupportive and give me exactly the reward based on my skill, that would be a pathetic amount and I am certainly not going to keep playing this game in that situation.
(I honestly still don’t like dogfight but I learnt it anyway lol. You’ll need it.)
Now implementing counters to multipathing is exactly going to be very unfriendly for players in the same spot with lesser experience, they relies heavily on the ground clutter to get them through a trouble and to earn some reward, perhaps even catch some opportunity for an AA kill which they deserve, upon bringing counters to multipathing, their chance is going to be greatly reduced, they would be less likely to make it to a base, they would be more likely to get taken out by the first batch of Aim54 from the sky, they would lose every single fight before the WVR dogfight even begin, they would just die from nowhere as a SARH fall from the sky.
The important fact is, BVR is unlike dogfight, you don’t get to learn it by playing more and just have that feeling, BVR skill is heavily upon knowledges regarding radar, missile, energy etc. These can’t be learned if you don’t dedicate to it, and frankly that’s 90% of the player. Yes they would know how to use a radar, but they would still lose to a Mirage 2000C with an F15A on 30000ft above the ground, 30km apart from each other.
Giving them a simple solution to stick to the ground is essentially becoming the answer in this situation, they don’t need to learn anything, they just have to know when the missile is upon me, I’m going to fly really really low to the ground.
This is of course problematic for players like me, the things I’ve learnt the most playing WT is how to counter a person that exploit the multipath effect, which tbh I really should not be learning, because essentially it’s pass the stage where missile would be affected by such thing. Aside from not getting a ton of kills that I am suppose to get, it’s even more frustrating where people would exploit such effect and actually take your advantage. One example being Mig23 in particular, which has R24 that accelerate so incredibly fast that they would actually win over me by staying low then just pull up on the very last second to shoot me with it, which sounds legitimate if it is not that I know my missile should’ve hit him long before this. Another example could be the map Kamchatka, there’s more than one occasion where I got shot down by a player flying up a volcano guiding their missile and I could do nothing despite every advantage and right decision I made in the game, simply because he is staying so low to the side of the volcano.
In short, this created some really unfair exploit , beyond the purpose of protecting newbies.
But you know, I understood there’s a fine balance, WT has to be at some point in the middle of realism and gameplay so newbies can be taken care of, that’s why I never complained too much about it (Cuz as I said, it’s reasonable and I understood it), if anything you guys should make the model more precise so things like the su27 would stop guidance of R27ER 5 seconds after got shot by my missile, that annoys me more, well, until FOX 3 is introduced.

How the introduction of ARH affect multipathing
Well, missiles are WAY better now. So to put it straight, here’s a couple of key differences that we are considering:

  • Of course, being ARH, you would not need to guide your missile all the way.
  • Seekers on these missiles are generally better, harder to chaff and harder to beam. (Chaff is actually useful against PD missile, if someone asked I’ll explain down below)
  • These missiles accelerate fast, that’s a common design language of missile in this gen, 2 to 4 sec of the first stage propulsion, then a couple more seconds of sustainer, all delta-V used, nothing after that, no slow-a*s AIM7M anymore.
  • With the improvement of tech, also no longer need to intercept big bomber after the cold war, generally these missiles carries less explosive and lighter electronics, giving them a smaller profile, allowing more to be carried.
  • Also for such reason ,they get a way higher effective range, or to be technical, way higher delta-V. In comparison, the d-V of Aim9M is 850-ish, for Aim7M it’s 920, and for MICA, it is 1150-ish. This is not the sole factor determining the range, but you get the point.

How does these factors impact multipathing then?
Given that the flight performance of aircrafts on top tier are largely the same after this patch except for the F15C being better than current version:
First and foremost, anytime that an aircraft low on the ground decided to attack you, they are more likely to succeed to begin with, simply because the missile is faster, it’s better at countering beaming, it goes further, which even if you would stay as high as 40000ft (12000m), it still would hit you with no problem, because of the increased DV. To put it into perspective, these missiles has the same DV of an AIM54, the only reason they don’t go as far is because they deplete the burn time in under 10sec and they pull more vigorously.
Secondly, it cost them less. Most of the jets can simply carries more ARH than SARH missile, so it cost less, and more importantly, they no longer need to stay on track of the missile, they can just fire and forget, like how it’s suppose to be. This would prevent them for going straight forcefully to guide the missile, or even have to pitch the nose up and run the risk of getting destroyed by someone else.
Thirdly, and perhaps bother me the most, is that getting lower actually give you advantage even in a duel where you both know the position of each other. This is because the fact that the person flying low no longer needs to guide the missile, so they could just get back to the ground ASAP after firing, and the missile coming down is simply gonna miss 100% of the time. No more energy talked about, the fact that missile coming down should reach the target first does not apply here, when one of the missile is gonna miss one hundred percently. If you guys knows BVR, you know the farther you fire the missile the more advantage you are going to get, until a point where your missile would not have the energy to catch up with the maneuver of your enemy, it immediately become useless. The multipath however, is just gonna render the missile from high air useless, despite any situation, despite any advantage that you tried so hard to acquire prior to the engagement. With SARH player will still required to have their head raised at least when attacking, so there’s a chance to fight back if you have advantages, with ARH? No chance. You have to beam it and lose your advantage or you’ll gonna die.

Why should we add counter to multipathing
As I said above, war thunder is about a fine grain of balance on the edge, between realism and gameplay, and it’s delicate. When I talk about I could accept multipathing as an existance for the good of those less experienced player and the entire WT community, I really meant it, yeah there will be exploit, by it’s largely - although painfully - tolerable. This is unfortunately not the case now, multipathing with the introduction of FOX3 is going to fundimentally change the game; Altitude and energy, for the first time in the history of WT, will be irrelevant, and an one-move META is on the horizon, if I dare predict.
I fully realize the fact that WT is absorbing a ton of new players right now, unlike before, but I would say people came here seeking for the same, they want realism, they want roleplay, they want their favorite vehicle to shine and to perform, and maybe, they too want to be good at the game and learn military knowledges, adoring these majestic beasts (or cuties in the case of weasel or Italian launchbox). In turns, War Thunder should offer experiences that they were looking for, that you advertised, and that they deserved. It’s been decent enough over the years, and decent enough to be the reason that I switched from another tank game with indescribable name. So I would very much like to see such trend keep going, and I’d like to tell you that if you would just release the game like this into the live server, it would break the game, most likely from what I see.
This will not just impact the top tier, the fact that you decided to cap everything at 13.0 (a separate topic that deserve its own discussion) it’s also detrimental for vehicles that’s down below. Essentially everything above 12.0 included itself is just not going to be played the same way before, no longer will you have the vibrant choice of going high and get to mach 1.5, flanking over the mountain and eradicate enemy from the back, or engaging in vigorous dogfighting a few meters from the ground. What you will get is one way of playing, and that’s it, the high air will turn into a no flight zone, and flanking will be irrelevant.
If anything, those vibrant playstyles are at the core of the game, and this is the time when it matters, it absolutely does, top tiers has been broken before and you guys fixed it eventually, but this is gonna be broken unlike anything before, and because of the compression, it’s gonna affect a way larger bracket that what it use to do.

That’s for the multipathing,
I really hope you, Gaijin, or whoever that sees this that could make a decision, do the right thing for the game, do what you think is the right thing for the game.

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I was going to talke about BR compression, logic of balancing, air RB game layout and a bit more, but I decided those are really less important than this, in air RB.
Perhaps the BR compression does, Gaijin you should’ve have a better idea of how much difference FOX3 makes… Essentially a free 10km distance at your disposal. It will be a slaughter against FOX1.
Also, in my humble opionion, F4 ICE and J8F should swap BR. Same goes for Tornado with FOX3. Top tier should be at least 13.3, but 13.7 is for the best. But again, that’s just my personal opinion, I understand why you are reluctant to decompress Br, just like why you are reluctant to bring counter to the multipathing, and I do respect it. Yet it works in a same way that you could only compress it so much before the game is unplayable.

I wrote all these much, if not intellectual enough at least I need you to know that this bothers me A WHOLE LOT, or lese I would not be doing this here. I love this game, I love how you are improving it, and I found forum is one of these place where you actually listen, so please, do it again.

Other pieces of things:

  • A big thanks for separating BR and moving attackers up, this has been the lingering dark cloud above the sky of this game
  • It’s really nice to see the seperated deployment of chaff and flare, but may I ask you to research for the realistic loadout on this? Flare is realistically a lot bigger than chaff, and places like the pylon of Aim9M for grippen or harrier historically could only carry chaff. It bothers me when an enemy is not an attacker but can lauch 400 flares and render themselves invincible.
  • Br compression, mentioned.
  • We need that same improved damage model for air. I don’t like to lose a duel because my enemy got lucky and can still finish guiding their missile after they got shot by 10kg TNT in my missile. This is not only frustrating but largely unrealistic as well.
  • We could get some more big map for both air and ground. I know this involves technical difficulties and cost, but you know this is where WT is eventually gonna go and it’s already overdue. Again your old competitor was unwilling and they weren’t doing so great, so don’t fall in that trap.
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They should test it for an update and see how atrocious it is for win rates.

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Top tier right now is mixed anyway

Something that I was possibly thinking of (Bear in mind that I am completely unknowledgeable on the subject), may actually be a separation between current and fox-3. It would allow what we have right now to still exist relatively untouched, and lets Fox-3s have their playground beyond 12.7.

The point is FOX3 itself is currently not very playable, so separating or not, FOX3 will be kinda rough to play with anyway. It’s just a waste of effort since I believe gaijin had put a huge amount of work on this.
For that subject, you’ve ever noticed your missile heading to the ground when your enemy is close to the ground as well? That’s multipathing effect, as most of the top tier SARH missile, and all of the current ARH missile except AIM54, can actually prevent that, just that Gaijin did not implemented such thing yet.

To throw in my thoughts, I think that multipathing should be less of an issue after the switch between the aim7f to m and r24 to 27.(as in the 7m and r27 should hit grass cutters)

BR decompression would help a ton as it would allow possibly a full br bracket to train people not to be glued to the ground and/or actually develop some sort of strategy. (something around 16.0 so lower bracket’s also get some breathing room.)

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I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve read this entire thing yet, I will come back and do so later, but my initial thoughts upon seeing the title is simple.

If gaijin changes multipathing without making the game 8v8 or less at that BR (11.0+), you will not see a playable experience.

You will, which could be very different than what you would think.
Here’s the theory I’ve learned: in a BVR when you have multiple jets, the least ideal position is to stick them all together, they will be threatened by one missile and they will be really suspectable of attack from more than one direction. BVR naturally encourage dispersion of player, no matter if it’s laterally, horizontally or vertically, differences of angle will limit the maneuver of your enemy, and will grant you a higher chance of hitting you enemy.
In other word, unlike dogfight, in a BVR situation people will tends to disperse, going close with your teammates only make you more suspectable.
That is, of course, only if you would hit you enemy even if they are staying low.

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