There is a general pattern behind many of War Thunder’s issues: the game has grown so fast and so much, that it has outstripped its original structure. You see this in maps not fit for top tier, the power creep of multiple BRs… and you also see it here.
Nation-based tech trees are no longer fit for purpose. They should go.
What this example shows, above all, is that there are just too many trees.
We, the players, look at the squadron T-90 example and ask ourselves, how could we have an alternative situation where something that looks so out of place doesn’t happen? But that’s putting the cart before the horse, Gaijin approaches this from the opposite end. “We need to give the British tech tree a top tier squadron MBT” and the real world options for that are quite limited.
This would not be an issue if we had fewer tech trees, with the number of vehicles staying the same. With more vehicles per tree, everyone would have a bit of everything, and balancing would become a lot easier. No light vehicle gap at X BR, or lack of a good top tier MBT, or lack of an IFV, or… you get my point.
You are correct, and in fact there’s even more elements that make this very challenging. Player progression being very long is extremely important to a game like this.
Either you pay up to speed up progression, or if you pay for free, at least you’re guaranteeing Gaijin that you’ll be queueing up for matches for a really long time (which keeps queue times short, and the MMO in question in a good state of health).
And then there’s the marketing side of it. Being able to say “we have your country in WT too!” is a major USP.
Plus, like IlSolitairell says,
That convinces me, even more, that condensing trees is the right option. It addresses the worst of the issues, without rocking the boat in terms of commercial priorities and player progression.
The number of vehicles remains unchanged, so progression times are not really affected. And you get to keep the national flags etc that allow Gaijin to market the game to people that care about national identities.
To give a very basic example of how this would work, imagine that the American, British, and Israeli trees were placed under a “folder” together. Call the folder whatever you want, let’s go with “Anglo” for the purpose of this example. Inside this folder you’d have the American line, British line, and Israeli line, each marked with its own little flag.
If you want to specialise in one only, you as the player have that option. Research would remain nation-specific, so you would not invalidate the purpose of premium vehicles.
However, you have the option of constructing a lineup with vehicles from all trees within the same folder (in this case, USA, UK, Israel). This means that there is no need to give you ridiculous copypastes to flesh out a tree, the gaps fill themselves by virtue of many vehicles being available.
This also allows you to put in a near-infinite number of sub trees and minor nations if you so wish, because they don’t need to have complete lines. Stick the South African flag together with the other three in this Anglo folder, then repeat the process for Canada, NZ, Australia… even if they have trees with very few vehicles, it doesn’t matter. You’re not trying to build a lineup out of them alone.
Another advantage of this, is that it allows you to resolve a number of awkward oddities (cough cough Chinese and Taiwanese vehicles in the same tree???). You could have different political identities belong in different folders. For example, Axis-era Kingdom Of Hungary could be in one folder with the relevant countries, whereas communist Hungary could be in the Warsaw Pact folder. Same thing for Germany, DDR vehicles would get their DDR tab in the Warsaw Pact folder.
There are additional benefits to this system.
You make the matchmaker’s job much easier. Rather than try and assemble games from every possible combination of ten different factions, you’re now assembling matches from four factions, a very limited number of combinations to accommodate.
This means queue times drop like a stone and stay low even if you introduce massive decompression (which now you could better sustain, since you’d have a much more granular selection of vehicles to give the player).
Teams would be more even, because every faction would have all sorts of vehicles, rather than (for example) one team with all the good guns and gun depression having an automatic advantage on say, Mozdok.
Ground RB would look less like Arcade Mixed Battles (T-34s, Shermans, Panzer IVs, ZSU-57s are basically becoming universal at this point…). With this system, it would have a distinct identity from AB, but also a distinct one from SB, where people would go to “roleplay”.