This post is strictly about ground RB. I have many, many battles in ground RB, but on the other hand, I have practically zero in ground AB, thus I have no idea what goes on in there.
This post is only about respawn mechanics, and thus air battles are not talked about here.
The post will start with observations, an analysis of these observations and finally suggestions to help alleviate the problem.
The discussion will mostly be around the Domination game mode, the Conquest and Battle game modes are in my opinion mechanically flawed on the majority of maps and “fixing” those is not the subject of this post.
This post will also not talk about CAS. CAS is its own problem and one that Gaijin has been very adamant about not changing.
I have no illusions of the devs reading this post, but it is healthy to vent.
Spawn killing has been a recurring thing for pretty much as long as I remember in this game. Gaijin has taken different approaches towards it over the years, once upon a time, the enemy team’s spawn was a Killzone, now it is only a detection zone and a marker appears over those who shoot at players still under spawn invincibility.
Needless to say, spawn killing is more prevalent than ever and is a hotbed for frustration, I’ve only taken a brief look at the forums before making this post and noticed three different posts complaining about some form of it already.
Before diving into behaviour observations, there’s a difference to be made, what I will be talking about here is “premature spawn killing”. The spawn killing that happens when the opposing team has been mostly wiped out and the battle is basically over is not a problem. I don’t think it feels very good but it is mechanically too deep-rooted to be fixed, and ultimately the battle is over at that point so whatever.
What we will be talking about here is the spawn killing that happens early or midway into the game, when it often makes no strategic sense, and when the battle is still very much ongoing.
In almost any given battle, there are almost always 1 to 5 players in each team that will have taken positions overlooking the enemy spawn at an early point in the game. The frequency and severity of those occurrences increase drastically the higher BR you go (for reasons that will be detailed further below).
This often leads to absurd situations where one team controls all the points but is being spawn-killed nonetheless, or, even absurder, situations where both teams are spawn-killing each other.
Similarly, the higher BR you go, the more objectives are ignored in favor of spawn killing. It’s not uncommon to have battles where none of the points get captured for the first 5 minutes.
The results of these situations vary, sometimes a team loses because it was too focused on spawn killing instead of the objectives, some other times a team is so effective at early spawn killing that it manages to end the game early. In either case, the gameplay loop is broken and the battle doesn’t feel very satisfying.
War Thunder is far from being the only game where some sort of spawn killing happens. If you’ve played Battlefield or virtually any FPS, chances are you’ve died right after spawning many times. So how is it a problem for War Thunder but not for these other games?
The answer is quite obvious, but I believe it needs to be said anyway. War Thunder is simply uniquely punishing. While death in a FPS simply means that the enemy gets +1 score, death in War Thunder means that:
- Your team loses 100 tickets
- You have to pay repair costs
- Your ability to respawn is tied to your performance, so if you die in spawn chances are your battle will instantly be over
- Unless you have a backup, you’ve lost the ability to play this vehicle for this battle
Your first spawn didn’t go so well, you went to capture a point, so did the enemy, and you lost the firefight. Oh well, that kind of thing happens. But you’re not done yet, you’re only 2 minutes into the battle and you still have 3 perfectly capable vehicles in your line-up.
So you respawn, determined to take back the point that was rightfully yours but has been illegally stolen by truants, you press forward in the general direction of the point, 3 seconds pass and suddenly your tank blows up.
“Damnation! These Rolls-Royce engines again!” you think to yourself, until the killcam tells you that what killed you was not in fact these blasted British engines, but a Type 16 (FPS) sitting on a rock at the border of the other side of the map, a spot which happens to have visual on your spawn.
Some variation of the above example happens pretty much every battle, and a desk is harmed every occurrence of it.
The causes for these behaviors are numerous, a lack of incentive to not do so, inadequate map design (Carpathians being a prime example of genuinely terrible map design), a lack of pushback and the way spawns work.
A lot of the maps have been reworked recently, which surprised me, I really thought Gaijin would never bother actually trying to change the maps besides band-aid fixes such as removing traction to make OP spots inaccessible or putting a rock here and there.
I’m sorry to say however that this effort to redesign the maps, while welcome, has been wholly insufficient so far. The main reason why spawn killing drastically increases at top tier is that most of the maps completely break down at top tier.
Most of the maps were introduced back when top tier was not currently in service vehicles, and the technologies these vehicles possess allow them to reshape how maps are played.
Top tier vehicles have
- Speeds that range from “fast” to “very fast”, allowing them to go from their own spawn to the enemy spawn in a matter of a minute on smaller maps.
- Crystal-clear thermal vision coupled with very good scope magnification, allowing them to make out enemies at very long range
- Incredibly fast APFSDS shell, giving them the ability to take shot opportunities with short time windows that would be otherwise impossible
The spots used for spawn killing at top tier are generally unusable at lower BRs, the capabilities of modern vehicles make them able to turn normally impractical spots into META spots…
You’ve captured A. You notice that your team has also managed to capture B but the enemy team took C. You have two options, either you:
- Redeploy to C, C is far away from A and this will take you between 1 to 5 minutes depending on the map, and during that time your side armor will be exposed to enemy TDs.
- Push on towards the enemy spawn since you want score and score isn’t going to earn itself
Most players will choose the second option, and it’s only natural, it’s the one that is the most likely to earn you score. This example is pretty generous, but even if the capture point is the one next to yours and not the other one on the other side of the map, players will tend to ignore it regardless and go for the spawn.
The mini-map shows you precisely where the enemy spawns are. You can thus pick any spot that has visual on one of the enemy spawns, scope in, and have the entire enemy spawn within your scope.
But what about the one spawning? They can choose between 2 spawns, or on the worst maps (Carpathians for instance), only 1.
So they spawn.
They know there’s spawn killers somewhere. Earlier, they saw a teammate die in the spawn on the minimap. They make use of the temporary invincibility to scout with their binoculars. They don’t have time to check behind them, so they only look to the sides and in front of them.
Ah! There! Bearing 215, behind a rock, antennas, and the top of a turret.
Hard to identify the tank so they don’t want to risk a shot. They have a stabilizer, so they decide to act oblivious and start driving expecting that the spawn killer will expose himself.
And the spawn killer does. It turns out to be a TAM 2IP, an excellent gun and high mobility, but a turret armor that leaves a lot to be desired. Still driving, they take the shot.
Cannon breech. Could be better, but at least now they can leave the spawn safely.
Or so they think, until they blow up a second later, shot by a second TAM 2IP, bearing 305.
The spawn was already under a crossfire and their fate was sealed the moment they chose to spawn.
The enemy could be anywhere, but you can only spawn here or there. It is no surprise many don’t even bother to spawn on the ground after their first spawn and only spawn in the air instead.
2 suggestions will follow. The first one is practical and something the CDK is already capable of doing, it only requires making sure the maps are adapted to make it viable.
The second suggestion is very theoretical, the CDK has some partial support for it, but most likely a good amount of engineering would be required to make it work still. The impact on the gameplay loop would also be vastly bigger.
Neither of these suggestions is “the ultimate answer to spawn killing”, be it individually or combined, they only aim to reduce the problem and revitalize the gameplay.
(obviously this is a quick photoshop, Gaijin knows how to do UI and would make this look cleaner)
The general idea is to let players spawn pretty much anywhere in their inner lines. The enemy spawns are no longer shown on the map, only a reddened-out area in which enemies could spawn anywhere.
Spawn killing becomes harder as you can no longer fit the enemy spawn in your scope, it is now much easier for opponents to spawn in your blindspots, making spawn killing more dangerous and giving them more options to turn the battle around.
This requires reworking some of the maps to make the most of a team’s inner line be a viable spawn but is otherwise a relatively simple change that does not have deep repercussions over the gameplay loop.
Earlier, I wrote that one of the reasons spawn killing is so prevalent is because there’s essentially nothing else to do. You’ve captured the point you were going for and killed most of the enemies that went there, going to the other points is often impractical so advancing to the enemy spawn is only natural.
But what if we suddenly there were enemies in their way again?
I will take the Advance to the Rhine map as an example here.
Advance to the Rhine is a tiny, tiny map. Perhaps the tiniest in the game.
Spawn killing inevitably happens there, as the spawns are so close to each other and the objectives.
Paradoxically, I’ve had some of my most intense and satisfying battles on this map. The fight over A notably is regularly hectic. The reason for this is because there’s a constant back-and-forth. The map is so tiny that both spawns can get to any of the strategic points in little time, and thus it’s easy to reinforce your team fighting for the point after you’ve died.
You can win the first firefight of the battle over A, and by the time you repair the damage you may have taken, pushing to their spawn is already out of the cards as the enemies you and your teammates killed are already back to A.
Obviously, making every map like Advance to the Rhine would be a terrible idea and many people would be displeased. So how to implement a similar back-and-forth on larger maps where the distance from spawns to strategic points is sometimes over a kilometer?
Some FPS have a feature that lets you respawn on squadmates, the idea would be to have a similar feature in War Thunder. Spawning on a squadmate would work differently, it would require no enemies in the immediate vicinity of the squadmate, and there would be no spawn invincibility.
The goal is to give players the ability to reinforce the team more immediately, in places much closer to the battlefield than a faraway spawn, and thus prevent the enemy team from advancing to the spawn.
I imagine some people would dislike that idea, as the impact would be significant, make close-range engagements more common than long-range ones and possibly create a rather twisted loop of revenge-killing.
However, do note that I specifically said squadmate, not teammate. Squads can be a maximum of 4 players in War Thunder, and automatic squads as far as I know are only ever 2 players, so the impact shouldn’t be so drastic.
Nonetheless, this would be a big change and one that requires a fairly significant amount of engineering, so I’m only throwing the idea out there for Gaijin to consider something along those lines in some form or another.
There could very well be unintended consequences and complications with these suggestions, so I am by no means suggesting that these should be applied to every map right away.
I’m suggesting reworking a singular map (or doing it on one of the occasional new maps) with either or both ideas in mind and making the map have (slightly) increased appearance rate for a time to test the waters.
There wouldn’t even be a need for written feedback, I believe simply looking at the stats regarding banned, disliked and liked maps would be enough to get a good picture of whether players overall like the change. See how many ban the map outright, how many spend a dislike on it and compare with the average for any given map (I’m not sure the “like” option would be a good indicator, I think that one is far less used than the ban and dislike options).
This forum revamp is a bit wack, the forum seems more geared towards shorter posts now so I’m sorry for dropping an essay, but hey if you read it all, then that means you are not scared of words, and you should be proud!