Currently, there’s very little reason to ever choose a Long Range Frigate. They’ve been broken to the point of being laughable for months now and none of the patches have improved them in the slightest.
Typically, when creating a class, you have to balance three fundamental attributes: durability, speed and damage. Usually, a class will have a bit of two but be weak in the third, or be very capable in one and mostly weak in the others. A scout will have a lot of speed but little durability or damage. A tanky defense class will have tons of durability but little damage and very poor speed. An offensive class will have a lot of damage and speed but poor durability, or a lot of damage and durability but be very slow, or TONS of damage but very little durability and speed; the prototypical “glass cannon”. The Long Range Frigate, however, seems to be poor in all three. It’s all glass and no cannon.
It’s largely the slowest frigate class in the game, typically being slower even than the Guard frigates. It has the lowest amount of hull and shields of any of the frigate classes by far, barely more than a fighter. And it’s damage - the one thing that it’s supposed to excel in - is outshined by an Engineer!
For example, my T2 Hydra with Mk III blue Beam Cannons and a Mk III Xenon Lamp deals 1885 dmg/s with it’s main weapons. With the same weapon and munitions equipped, my T2 Hydra 2 (Engineer) deals 1257 dmg/s. “But 1885 dmg/s is more than 1257 dmg/s,” you say! But when you factor in the extra damage from the Engineer’s Combat Drones (537x2 dmg/s), my Hydra 2 is actually dealing 2331 dmg/s…446 dmg/s more than the offense-oriented Long Range Frigate, and in addition it gets nearly 15000 additional survivability, better speed and support abilities that are massively beneficial to the entire team. “But what about the Long Range Frigate’s special ability,” you say. “Surely that dishes out damage like no other!” That same Hydra’s Disintegrator shot augmented with a Mk III blue main weapon deals 5839 damage every 3 seconds. An impressive amount of damage for a single shot, but it translates into only 1946 dmg/s, barely more than if it were simply using it’s main weapon normally and still 385 dmg/s less than the Engineer while providing no additional benefit whatsoever to your team. And in case anyone was wondering, the Jericho LRFs are in even worse shape with a special ability that deals a pathetic 615 dmg/s albeit with a bit more utility and the ability to hit multiple targets.
The one seeming saving grace granted to Long Range Frigates with the latest patch is that they and they alone are capable of deploying minefields. However, they’re pretty much the least capable of deploying them effectively as the very role of a Long Range Frigate necessitates being away from the action (and away from the all-important beacons that could most benefit from their mines) and mines themselves were nerfed such that they now disappear after 45 seconds whether they are triggered or not…with a 3 minute cooldown between reapplications.
The solution, of course, can’t be to simply increase the damage of their special abilities. Before you know it, LRFs would be one-shotting everything smaller than a frigate. Rather, I would like to see the Long Range Frigate retooled entirely into something more appealing to fly and more beneficial to your team’s goals. Something suited to supporting the frontline, with speed and durability comparable to an Engineer. So below are a couple of my ideas.
Option #1: Fix it.
Keep the Long Range Frigate as it currently is, but increase it’s speed to the level of an Engineer and give it comparable survivability. Take the Engineer’s Warp Gate module (Engineers have the excellent new Static Barrier to replace it anyway) and give it to the Long Range Frigate, allowing it to actually reach good vantage points in time to support beacon captures and benefit the team instead of just spawn camping while everyone shouts obscenities at them for not helping.
Option #2: Replace it.
Here’s where it gets a little more fun. I have an idea for what I think would be an interesting replacement for the Long Range Frigate, but feel free to add your own ideas. With that, I present…
Special Ability: Phoenix Barrage
When triggered, launches 5 barrages of swarming Phoenix missiles at all enemy ships in a 1750m radius, dealing 5383 thermal damage (assuming Mk III weapon) over 3sec. Damage scales with the main weapon’s level. (Essentially like an Octopus missile combined with a Pulsar module.)
Energy Consumption: 128en.
When activated, launches a barrage of guided Phoenix missiles, dealing 8327 thermal damage (assuming Mk III weapon) to all enemy ships painted by the player within 4000m. Damage scales with main weapon’s level. (A special HUD would be activated and painting targets would be achieved by moving your targeting reticle over them briefly. You would have a period of 5sec to paint as many targets as possible before the weapon automatically fires, making it a primarily forward-firing weapon.)
Energy Consumption: 128en.
(Give Minelayer to Guard)
CLASS MODULES (assuming Mk III)
Guidance Control Suite: Increases all allied ship’s missile maneuvering speed in a 3400m radius, as well as your own by 50%.
Energy consumption per second: 18en/s.
Accelerated Auto-Loader: Reduces cartridge reloading speed on missile munitions by 90sec.
Energy Consumption: 90en.
Keep IR Pulsar and EM Scattering Field as is.