Air RB has been neglected for many years in a mechanical sense. New planes have been added with interesting capabilities, but the maps and objectives have been largely unchanged for eons.
There are two main “camps” in the Air RB playerbase: fighter mains and objective-oriented folk. Neither of these camps is bad, though both can and do harbor some awfully selfish people, as all games do.
For many years, whenever attackers and bombers were somewhat useful, the way the objectives were set up meant it came at the expense of the fighters’ ability to have their fun. In response to (somewhat justified) complaining, nonfighter capability to decide games was reduced. But in usual snail fashion they balanced with a sledgehammer instead of a chisel, resulting in most attackers and bombers being near-worthless in Air RB today unless the fighters are careless enough to let them be effective.
It does not need to be this way. Helping one side does not need to mean harming the others.
What I have seen for a long time as the root of the problem, even more basal than things like maps, ground unit locations, airfield locations, midmap/airbase/minibase AAA, airspawn locations, airspawn heights, and match timers is the objective setup itself.
The fighters finishing their job triggers “no active players left on enemy team” which bleeds all tickets to zero and auto-ends the round. It will do so regardless of attacker and bomber contributions to the round, effectively rendering them “deadweight clogging up fighter slots on the team” unless they happened to kill particularly careless enemy fighter pilots in headons or with gunners.
Likewise, when all ground units are destroyed, the match ends since the ticket value of all ground units is the entire team’s ticket bar, depriving fighters of some utility.
And finally, on the few maps where this option is still even available anymore, “airbase destroyed” also bleeds all tickets to zero regardless of the ground or air situations, making fighters and CAS irrelevant that round.
I firmly believe the real problem is the ability of each objective to end rounds all by itself. Any attempts to make nonfighters useful invariably take from the fighters, leading to the two camps snarling at each other and little real progress getting done.
So, why not start with upending that, so that now there is room to improve bomber, attacker, and multirole fighter quality of life in the game’s oldest mode without being forced to stomp on fighter mains’ toes? Here’s a loose idea how I’d go about it:
- Turn off all autowin bleeds.
- Double the ticket count so that killing all ground units bleeds at most 50% of the bar.
- Turn off bomb point respawning, add more simultaneous active bases, and have their total ticket value be 50% of the bar.
- Have the total value of all player and AI attacker aircraft be worth 50% of the ticket bar.
Now, this will create occasional situations where a team has been wiped out but still wins the day because they created an irrecoverable ticket advantage before dying. And some fighter mains will have a problem with that - calling it “skill-less” and “autowin AI” and “how dare some bot farmer or spacebar warrior matters more to match outcome than muh PvP and skill!”
The only response I can say to such people: “It’s not all about you, buddy.”
Bombers and attackers are the missing flavor the mode has seen be slowly bled away for years now. Altering the ticket structure will NOT be a cure-all, but rather an enabler for real change. Now that CAS matters to every game outcome without making bombers and fighters worthless, it would become worth the devs’ time to add more interesting objectives for CAS to perform on Air maps, such as blowing up radar stations for example.
I am a player who enjoys all kinds of planes, tanks, and ships. I want to see as many of them be useful and practical as possible. Reforming Air RB will take some of the pressure off of Combined Ground, Combined Naval, and Simulator EC, by helping stem the flood of displaced CAS to the first two and displaced bombers to the latter.