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Update 0.10.9, submarines, next steps

Details on further steps of submarine testing! 

 

Submarines have come a long way: from the first announcement in the summer of 2019, three tests, a temporary "Submarine Battles" Battle type on the live server, and again a test on a separate server in October 2020. During this time, we collected a lot of feedback and statistics, based on which improvements were made to practically all mechanics:

  • Oxygen was replaced with battery charge and later with Dive Capacity.
  • We updated Sonar and Hydrophone.
  • We added ASW aircraft for cruisers and battleships.
  • Submersion mechanics were revamped.
  • Commander skills for playing and countering submarines were added.
  • Most maps received a detailed underwater world.

Submarines have now been participating in Ranked and Cooperative battles for almost 2 months. We are grateful to you for the battles played and for providing the feedback that helped shape the next steps in the development of submarines.

Changes to submarine gameplay

Based on your feedback and collected statistics from the current submarine test phase, we have planned a number of changes and improvements to the gameplay.

In Update 0.10.9, we will add ASW to most Battleships and Cruisers From Tier V to X. Exceptions will be Dutch Cruisers and Hybrid Ships. This change, in addition to allowing all classes to counter Submarines while underwater, also removes some of the counter-Submarine burdens from Destroyers, a class that is already in the line of fire and often focused on capturing points. With the help of Anti-Submarine Aircraft, it will be easier to deal with Submarines, enabling you to strike at them from a distance and choosing the affected area without forcing a Destroyer to change course and head towards the Submarine to drop its depth charges.

Other changes:

  • Torpedoes will now be launched one by one: The gameplay will become more dynamic and this change will give you more control over the torpedoes fired.
  • Changes to Torpedo Characteristics:
    • German submarines were worse at dealing damage to enemies. To balance submarines in this regard we've improved the Maximum Damage and Chance to Cause Flooding of German submarine torpedoes.
    • Torpedo tubes on German Submarines are primarily located in the bow of the submarine, which helps when attacking targets at long range. To shift gameplay on German submarines more towards long-range engagements - we've also improved their Torpedo range.
    • On the other hand, American submarines can be quite effective at medium and short distances since they have Torpedo Tubes located in the bow and in the stern. Therefore, to encourage American submarines towards this style of engagement, the range of their torpedoes has been reduced.
  • The increase in the depletion of Dive Capacity in Update 0.10.8 had too much effect on the comfort of the game and the effectiveness of submarines, and the addition of ASW for a large number of ships will further increase their effectiveness against submarines. Therefore, to make the Detection of submarines a little less impactful on their gameplay, we have reduced the consumption of Dive Capacity for detected submarines.

Details of the upcoming changes can be found in the Development Blog.

We also changed the settings for submarine-bots in Co-op and Training Battles based on your feedback. Now AI-controlled Submarines will take a more active part in combat. This will help avoid situations where a battle was unnecessarily prolonged due to having to hunt down a surviving submarine.

We will continue to monitor the combat effectiveness of both the submarines themselves, as well as the ships opposing them. If necessary we will continue to make changes to their gameplay and characteristics.

Feedback

Before getting into the details of the upcoming update, we would like to discuss your feedback regarding submarines.

One of the most addressed points in your feedback was homing torpedoes. We understand that for some of you this may seem like an unusual mechanic, but with the changes that we made and the peculiarities of the submarine weapons, this mechanic can become a full-fledged and interesting part of the game. We created it taking into account how submarines acted in reality: tracking a target and determining its course to the point of impact. Of course, we had to adapt these things to our game conventions, in order to give the opportunity to inflict significant damage, taking into account the small number of torpedoes in each salvo. With this, we tried to convey the atmosphere of naval operations on submarines as close to reality as possible - within the framework of the game. We hope that in combination with the updated underwater world, you will be able to immerse yourself in that submarine feeling.

Additionally, ships opposing a submarine have several ways to effectively counter this mechanic:

  • The location of a ping hit is displayed on your ship, which allows you to determine from which side the submarine is attacking and to try to minimize potential damage;
  • Torpedoes stop homing at a particular distance from the target, and at the same time the point of their homing is counted considering the lead. Therefore, if you are headed towards torpedoes with your bow, the distance at which torpedoes stop homing increases, and the chances to evade increase as well. 

  • From update 0.10.10, almost all ships will have anti-submarine weapons, so there will be no need to fear that if a submarine makes a mistake, it will be able to submerge without consequences.

Another frequently cited point is the use of the Damage Control Party consumable to reset torpedo homing. We understand that for some of you this may seem counter-intuitive, but so far we do not see the need for changes in this area. We see it as an opportunity for you to work with the damage control - in this case you choose, depending on the situation, what is better to do: extinguish a fire, stop flooding, or get rid of torpedo homing. Moreover, the ping itself does not create an additional "load" on the Damage Control Party but only redistributes it. After all, if another ship were in place of the submarine, it could set you on fire with HE shells. This is another layer of the game that needs to be taken into account in battle, which is easy to understand, but quite difficult to master perfectly. You need to choose the right moment to use the right consumable! For now, we want to continue testing the mechanics in their current form, to look more closely at how this will interact with the other changes. At the same time, we remain open to your feedback, and if the current implementation does not work well enough, we will think about how to improve or change it.

Often, there are proposals to change the format of battles from 12x12 and increase this number due to addition of submarines. At the moment we are not considering this possibility for various reasons. One of them, and the most important, is an increase in the number of elements that you need to monitor, and the other is an increase in the load on both the server and your computers. Furthermore, a 12x12 Battle already creates many events that have to be kept in mind if you want to have a successful match and lead your team to victory. An increase in the number of players, taking into account the specifics of our game: open water and often the ability to shoot from one part of the map to the opposite, will significantly complicate this task. At the moment we would not want to resort to this solution and believe that it will worsen the overall gameplay. There would also be more contacts and interactions in-game that have to be tracked if there were more players in battle.  And lastly, increasing the number of total players would impact the influence you as an individual have on the battle result. In conclusion, we believe that this is not something the game needs right now.

Some of you also mentioned that the introduction of submarines into the current format, will reduce the number of gunfights between ships. This is true, but our game is developing and new types of interactions between ships will appear. While there may be fewer targets to be fired at, at long and medium distances, this will add new interactions and a new layer of gameplay. For example, judging by the test results, you enjoyed dropping depth charges. We believe that this will add another variable to battles that will make each game you play even more unique and provide new experiences that you will enjoy.

Rented Submarines in Random Battles 0.10.9

Submarine testing in Ranked Battles will continue in the 0.10.9 update. Currently, they prove themselves worthy in this type of battle. The upcoming changes will further improve their gameplay along with making it more comfortable to play against them.

Submarines have taken a long time throughout numerous testing stages: from their both closed and public tests in closed servers to taking part in ranked and coop battles.

We analyze thoroughly not just data obtained but also feedback from you, trying to answer it in detail as well. There are plenty of changes made throughout all test iterations, basing on that exactly: the visual changes, mechanics reworking & improving, and balance adjustments. The last and certainly one of the most impactful changes we made based on your feedback, was adding Anti Submarine Weapons to nearly all surface ships. 

Now we come to a new and very important stage of testing: Submarines participating in Random Battles in update 0.10.9.

We would also like to share why we want to have such a test. We know that being transparent about our plans and reasons for changes is a critical part of your overall feedback and we want to make sure that we can continue to build a long and close relationship with you.

The first reason is that Random Battles is the most popular battle type in the game. By adding Submarines there, we will be able to assess their condition and to receive feedback from the largest number of players to decide what the next steps should be.

The next point is the 12 vs 12 battle format. We have already tested Submarines in Ranked & Co-op battles, but the 12 vs 12 battle format changes the battle pace and its intensity significantly. Ultimately, while testing Submarines, battles will unfold completely differently, bringing new tactics, maneuvers, and many other changes.

Of course, it is important to limit the number of submarines in battle: there will be no more than 2 per team for the initial four minutes of waiting for the first player in the queue, and no more than 4 submarines per team when waiting more than 4 minutes. We made this limit rather as a precaution, to reduce the waiting time for players in the first days of the test and do not expect such battles to occur frequently after the first few days of the test. The number of submarines will be mirrored for both teams.

Introducing rental Submarines to Random Battles will allow more players to try them, get used to playing them, and of course, also develop tactics to counter submarines.

A crucial consideration is that submarines are a very unusual class, and we do not expect their popularity will be high. Roughly speaking, we're aiming at a 4-8% popularity at Tier X. We will be watching this metric very carefully and take action to keep popularity in that range.

The distribution method for testing is also very important; rental Submarines of Tiers VI, VIII, and X will be available from random bundles from the Armory, just as for ranked battles.

This random distribution will allow us to carefully control the number of ships of this new class, avoiding frustratingly long queue times. We will also take into account your feedback about having commander slots taken up by commanders left over after rental submarines disappear, submarines will now be rented out without a commander.

We completely understand the importance and seriousness of taking this step. We will analyze the presence of Submarines in Random Battles, and we will act promptly if needed.

We will do our best to keep you updated on the overall status and share any changes and tweaks that we will be making throughout the testing period.

We ask that you keep providing us with your excellent feedback and help us make submarines a fully integrated part of World of Warships that we can all enjoy together!