A constant source of frustration for me on Star Conflict are the debuffs. I was going to go through them one by one but I can never remember their names, so instead I’m going to go over key point as to what makes a debuff annoying, and what makes them fine in my eyes.
First and foremost, a debuff should never unplug my keyboard. If I can’t do anything to counter the debuff, it should not be in the game. No ability should have zero counters.
Biggest offender here, bar none, is the ECM. Being knocked out of action for a second because of their field ability is frustrating, but having all my weapons and modules shut down for ten seconds is unforgivable.
The White Noise Generator is a close second in this field; disabling the aiming system is something I don’t have a problem with because there are counters to that. You can still use lasers, or any other gun if your aim is good enough, and most abilities that prevent lock-on stop the user from firing. White Noise does not. It not only knocks out targeting, but it also means you cannot use missiles or any module that requires a lock-on. In short, you’re under attack from an enemy who has all but stopped you from fighting back.
That is not the point of a debuff. Not by a long shot. If you want to stop someone fighting back then you should either kill them, or beat them so hard they run for their lives. Having the ability to say “you’re not allowed to play any more” with the touch of a button is wrong.
Debuffs, perhaps more than any other aspect of play, need to provide good and satisfying counter-play. The tackler’s debuffs, both their speed reduction and resistance reduction, offer counter-play options because their activation range is only medium and they require line of sight. There are ways to beat that - you can run, hide or simply kill the Tackler.
ECMs in particular give you no options. You can’t fight back because they’ve deactivated your weapons. You can’t counter them with modules because they’ve deactivated your modules. You can’t use your Special because, surprise surprise, that’s deactivated too. Your option left is to run, and Interceptors are the fastest ships in the game so you can never outrun them.
This is terrible game design. Flat out, unforgivably short-sighted, terrible game design.
Debuffs need counters, and the counter needs to be something more meaningful than “lol just nuke them before they get in range!”
- Debuffs that alter stats (ie: reduced resistance) do not need to change for the most part.
- No debuff should prevent a player from shooting. Ever.
- No debuff should prevent a player from moving. Ever. Slowing them down is fine, but immobilising them is not.
- White Noise should not prevent the player from locking on - it should simply remove the aim assist reticule and prevent homing missiles from locking on. This leaves sufficient counter-play options open to the victim - they can fire blind, use dumbfire ordnance or activate a module.
- Debuffs that deactivate modules need to be applied with far greater care. A lot of ships lose all of their functionality and/or become stupidly vulnerable when their active slots are denied to them. As a test, I would suggest that the ECM’s Ion Emitter have its duration removed - it simply turns off every active module on the target ship. Since most active modules take a few seconds to reactivate, this is still a potentially useful debuff.