There hasn’t been a whole lot of heat in the warzone as of late. This was to be expected—there is usually hype following an expansion, tapering down until things become ‘old hat.’ Also, the wars going on in nullsec have many peoples’ focus elsewhere –either on their mains, or on nullsec alts.
I have often thought of taking a break from FW myself. But alas, the prospect of lag and mind numbing quantities of structure bashing keeps me comfortably stationed at my usual post.
I find the situation to actually be somewhat relaxing. While targets could definitely be more plentiful, it has given me ample opportunity to flex my solo pvp wings, and work on some side projects.
But, now that the dust has settled, I have a few things I really wish they’d take a second (or third, or fourth..) glance at. Not overhauls mind you. Just a bone or two CCP could throw the pvpers—the ones who are in FW for the long haul and not just mesmerized by something shiny and new.
First, I would do a hard rollback of the timer in the event a player leaves the plex. This would also happen if the plex changes hands.
I have always disliked the strategy of ‘rolling the timer down to 30 seconds so the other side has to run it for an eon to take the plex.’ This is what I would categorize as an ‘avoidance’ strategy, which is ultimately a strategy of defending, or taking a system through means that avoid pvp. In the act of making the plex undesirable, we're hoping the hostiles never bother with it.
In making the timer roll back to ‘0’ if the plex is abandoned or lost to the opposing side, losing the field now has consequences. This will impact stabbed farmers, who run away at the first sign of a threat and wait for it to pass before continuing their merry-go-round-the-button, and it also gives meaning, in war-terms, to holding or taking the field in a plex engagement.
It also means that technically, neutrals could impact the war, which I think could be an interesting facet to Faction War.
Secondly, I would significantly change the size scaling and spawning of plexes. Right now, there are three main plexes that spawn on a regular basis –novice, small, medium. Large unrestricted spawn more randomly and are much more rare.
This means that in general, most plex fighting is restricted to cruisers and down.
I have always been annoyed by the plex restrictions, finding them kind of anti-sandbox. Shouldn’t Faction War players be able to defend, and attack systems in any ship they want? On the flip side, I do understand the argument regarding wanting to have smaller ship battles, solo frigate fights, etc. So as much as I’d prefer to just get rid of the plex gates altogether, I’d compromise on a less drastic approach.
I would change the primary ‘three’ plexes that spawn regularly to small, medium, and unrestricted. The novice plex would spawn randomly.
It wouldn’t be significantly different, but we would now have regularly spawning unrestricted plexes with ample opportunities for battlecruiser, and battleship fights if we so desire. We can buy them in our LP store, they might as well be good for something.
Thirdly, I would tweak the plex payout system, to pay a ‘per person’ amount instead of a ‘per plex’ amount. The formula would be such that up to a certain number of people, everyone gets paid equally, and over that number, it tapers off somewhat. (I think incursions do something similar?)
This would encourage small gangs of players to plex together, and would also significantly change the profitability for solo farmers.
Fourthly, I would make timers something you could see from outside the plex, similar to a POCO reinforcement timer.
2. Warzone Control
In the event that CCP wants to spend even more time on FW, beyond tweaking plexes, I have a few ideas for warzone control that could be interesting.
Warzone Control should be about much more than just making ISK. It should impact….well….the control a militia has of the warzone. (lol)
First, what about tying station lockout with warzone control? Perhaps, by degrees instead of an on/off switch. For example, at Warzone Control 4 & 5, it would be the same as now –hostiles would be completely locked out. At Warzone Control 3, hostiles could dock, and perhaps use fitting services, but not much more. At WC 2, hostiles could also use medical and repair services. At WC 1, hostiles would have unrestricted access.
In other words, there would be a strategic benefit to gaining higher warzone control levels beyond making more LP.
Secondly, and this is a little ‘out there’, but what if faction ships (ones available in the LP store) had some sort of non static bonuses based on how well the faction was doing in the war? It would be similar to basing bonuses off skill levels, except instead it would be based off warzone control levels 1-5.
Warzone control would impact the ‘quality’ of the ship, and you would have the popularity of some ships fluctuating based on who is doing well in Faction War, instead of what static change CCP made. It would give a whole new aspect to the sandbox, with something else entirely that the actions of players could affect.
In conclusion, I think there are a couple ‘problem areas’ in Faction War, that even a few small changes could significantly impact. While Faction War will never have heated action 24/7, I think that putting a little more power in the hands of pvpers, and taking away some of the advantages of passive farming would definitely encourage conflict. Also, opening the sandbox up a little more, and allowing FW pilots more options, more tools, and more ways to affect their landscape would improve not just this mechanic, but the game as a whole.