So 1.4 is finally here and now that the bugs are slowly being cleared away, we can start to see the intended direction CCP want the game to move in. While 1.3 fixed the flaylock pistol, the meta simply shifted to the 3 weapons that shared it's biggest strengths: mass drivers, forge guns and locus grenades. Shortly before 1.4 hit, it seemed like mass drivers were falling in usage in PC matches due to the strength of grenades and forge guns. This patch seems more likely to really shake things a bit, so here's some of my initial impressions.
This is the probably the biggest change Dust will ever see and it's amazing how many people didn't realize how big a deal this would be. In an ideal world, this should have been in the game from open beta or even before then. For too long were new players getting completely wrecked by squads of proto bears in public matches. I can still remember what the #Dust514 feed was like on twitter during the months of seeing What The French drop 2-4 tanks in every ambush match and just rolling over the new players.
After the rough first day, matchmaking is now grouping players together by some unknown algorithm. This seems to be working as intended so far from what I can tell, with matches being far more even than before. I have no idea what this experience is like on the new player's end of the spectrum, but for a veteran it's exactly what I wanted. I have no desire for some hollow victory over those who can barely fight back, so even the losses I'm getting feel good.
The best part about this change is the complete role reversal for the older proto bears. Seeing those who used gear as a crutch come up against players around their own level and get crushed because they have no idea how to fight competent at the game is hilarious. I'm seeing people put this solely on the new auto aim system, when in reality it's mostly just because the playing field is actually level now. With improvements to hit detection and armour, the game plays very differently.
Going to be upfront here, I barely use the pad to play. So when speaking about the new auto aim, I can only do so from the perspective of someone who plays against it. From what I've seen so far, it's barely been noticeable. I'm constantly fighting against people who I'd consider my betters, so I don't mind having to sharpen up if I want to win. The best player I squad with uses a DS3 (without aim assist) and you can see for yourself how well he does.
What I do want to mention is the issues with mouse controls. For some reason the turning rate when moving normally and when aiming is the opposite of what it should be. I'm currently restricted to hip firing most of the time and turrets turn crazy fast for me. Hopefully they can switch them around because aiming is pretty much broken until they do.
Outside that, I still have my polling rate set at 125hz as maxed settings on 1khz still doesn't reach the turn speed I currently have.
4 maps were added to the pool with the 1.4 patch. Overall I like them over the previous maps, but they have their issues. In general the maps seem huge and feel as though they were designed for 24v24 or 32v32 sized teams. Border Gulch is a great example of this, as the bridge alone makes for an amazing 16v16 experience. I've heard rumblings about the Research Facility having problems in PC, but need more time to play on them myself.
Based purely on their layout, they clearly want people to start using more vehicles in matches for Skirmish on these. Having an LAV running around to help initiate assaults on points will be key on maps such as Border Gulch and Fracture Road.
What these maps do make me truly excited for is the possibility of new game modes. Fracture Road looks like a perfect map for Skirmish 1.0 and the bridge section on Border Gulch would be great for 6v6 domination.
Only thing left to say is it's frustrating to play on the old maps now. Ambush on Border Gulch is just so much more fun than any other map with the same game type.
New Meta and Other Changes
The changes to scanning have had a good impact on the way equipment slots are used. It's worth using up to 2 equipment slots in a squad to bring those scanners instead of more uplinks. The squad view changes combined with this now give those who used speed and shields to tank, an alternative in the form of profile signature reduction to sneak around.
The armour changes seem like they could make plates and repair tools dominate the meta. Armour tanks are now incredibly beefy and are doing well despite the increased accuracy that auto aim brought in. They're still vulnerable to things like grenades and direct mass driver hits, but they benefit from high damage output and third party repairs.
Speaking of repair tools, armour also has the advantage of generating more war points than shields due to gains from triage and guardian. This means another equipment slot is being taken away from uplinks in favour of more varied equipment. The final benefit to all this is armoured vehicles are more survivable in combat. Repair tools are pretty good when used on vehicles (especially the flux), so those armour tankers will need to work more with their logistics.
Mass drivers don't seem quite as good as before as they didn't receive a damage buff, weren't missing many shots before and are now hitting people who have more health. Forge guns have a slower projectile from what I've been told (and the new PC map has more cover against the high ground sniping spots). HMGs and scrambler rifles are much improved over their previous iterations.
I guess that just leaves grenades to be nerfed.