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Submarines: your questions answered

Our game has taken an important step — submarines have appeared in Early Access. Since the beginning of their development, we have made significant progress and done a lot of work to bring the new class to its current state. We understand that it is impossible to make submarine gameplay suit everyone, but we strived to create a comfortable and understandable gameplay loop that will provide many players with a new and interesting experience. Of course, after the release of submarines, we will continue to work on this new class. However, as we have already stated, for the next few updates after 0.11.9, we are not planning any significant changes. This way, players can get used to the new class, submarines can find their place in the meta, and we can gather the most relevant and accurate statistics possible.

With the release of submarines in Early Access, we also want to give answers to the most popular questions regarding the new ship type in our game. 

 

Why are you adding submarines to the game?

The main purpose of adding submarines to the game is to diversify the game experience. 

Adding a new ship type is a very big step for the development of our game. To keep players happy and engaged for many years to come, our game has to constantly evolve and change. A continuous and regular flow of new content, new mechanics, and new gameplay introduces a wider variety of experiences and interactions between players — both of which are extremely important in a game like World of Warships.

The subs have come a long way in testing — almost three years since the concept was created. Finally, only about a year ago, subs were added to Random Battles, where we, based on your battles, brought them up to release-ready status. That's a long way to go for developing one ship type, and we needed to move on. Thus the next step is getting the submarines into early access. 

Of course, all this time we've been watching the perception of the new class as well, evaluating many parameters and metrics to make sure we're moving in the right direction. Players' perceptions of submarines varied, but different attitudes towards change are normal. Separately, we should note that the perception of submarines appeared to be significantly influenced by the fact of playing on them. Those who played at least a few battles on submarines better understood their gameplay, strengths, weaknesses, and overall effectiveness.

The chart below shows how the number of players who were against adding subs to the game permanently varied based on the number of battles played on the subs. 

The data is taken from Update 0.11.8 survey. In previous Updates, the values and their dynamics are on the same level:

  • First bar: 0 battles played
  • Second bar: 1-5 battles played
  • Third bar: 6-25 battles played. 

Why don't you add submarines only to a separate battle type?

Creating a ship type that is limited to only one battle type does not fulfill its main purpose — increasing the diversity of gameplay.

We want all ship types to be present in all battle types, including the main one for our game — Random battles. One of our key principles is that if a player has researched or purchased a ship, they should be able to play it in the types of battles they want to, with the exception of some temporary events and activities. That's why we tweaked subs for balance in our main battle type, rather than limiting them to any separate type. If a ship type is limited by only one battle type, it becomes not only less interesting, but also does not fulfill its main goal — increasing gameplay diversity. And this diversity, as mentioned, is a key factor for such live-service games as World of Warships. 

Shotgunning

At this point, shotgunning is not widespread. The individual player's experience plays a large role in the outcome of using this tactic, as well as their ability to anticipate the steps of the enemy and change their tactics in time. 

Certainly, we have seen various videos of experienced players using shotgunning effectively. However, such players have a significant impact on battles using other ship types as well, and can effectively implement various risky tactics. On average, there will be many factors in battle that prevent most players from effectively shotgunning enemy ships. In addition, over time, players will gain experience and better understand how to counter submarines, which will also make it more difficult to use this tactic. Therefore, we believe that in real battle shotgunning, although applicable, will rarely happen

As we mentioned before, we are not planning any significant changes to submarine gameplay, their settings, or their interaction with other ship types for several updates after 0.11.9. If, however, after these updates are over, we see that shotgunning has become a widespread problem, we will address it as part of future changes to the new ship type.

ASW on Dutch cruisers, Leone, and Okhotnik 

Currently, we do not plan to add ASW on Leone and Okhotnik. Dutch cruisers, however, will receive depth charges.

As we once mentioned in the DevBlog, when creating models of premium ships, we use the following approach: If a ship was historically built to completion, we make her in-game model correspond to the real ship according to its status on a specific date to the best of our ability. In reality, Leone was not equipped with depth charge launchers or any other means of dropping depth charges. As for Okhotnik, we designed the ship as of 1917 according to the project, without any significant changes. And according to the project, the ship was not supposed to have ASW. That's why these ships have no depth charges in the game, and we have no plans to add them at the moment.

As for researchable Dutch cruisers — we plan to add depth charges on them. This will take some time since we need to update the models of these ships. Therefore, we are not ready to share the exact time when it will happen, but we'll surely inform you once we are ready.

How do you fight a submarine if you cannot deal damage to it?

Damage is just one of the ways to interact with the enemy. At the same time, ships are not always able to interact in this way with every possible target.

There are several options for interacting with a submarine. The first is inflicting damage. The vast majority of ships are equipped with depth charges or Depth Charge Airstrike. Submarines on the surface and at periscope depth can be damaged by shells, ship and aircraft torpedoes, bombs, and rockets. But if there is no direct way to do damage, it is worth relying on allied support and using other countermeasures. Many ships are equipped with Hydroacoustic Search which can detect a submarine at any depth. Subs can also be detected by Surveillance Radar, but only if they are surfaced. Via the signs of the submarine's presence — fuel spills and ping launch effects — you can determine the sub's approximate location, change position, and avoid its attack. After all, a submarine's dive capacity is limited, and sooner or later it will be forced to surface, becoming vulnerable. 

Why did you decide to keep nullification of sonar ping sectors via the use Damage Control Party? This consumable is already used for many tasks

When nullifying sonar pings, Damage Control Party is serving the same purpose as it does when fighting fires and floodings: by using it at the right time, you can avoid or mitigate damage. Therefore, we consider Damage Control Party to be an appropriate countermeasure. 

Instead of a submarine that pings the target, it could be, for example, a light cruiser that sets multiple fires on the target actively firing HE shells. This would "overload" the Damage Control Party to a similar extent. Yes, a submarine hits the target with a ping more often than a cruiser sets fires. However, there is no need to nullify the sector after each ping hits. You only need to do it when torpedoes are at a relatively close distance, so that you can evade them after nullifying the sector and avoid receiving damage.

ASW for Hybrids

As we already announced in the DevBlog, we plan to test Depth Charge Airstrike on the new US Hybrids branch.

We will closely monitor the progress of testing, and if the concept appears to not be excessively strong, we will consider adding Depth Charge Airstrike to hybrids already present in the game. 

At what distances do acoustic torpedoes stop homing? And are there any plans to change them? It's noticeably harder for destroyers to evade them.

The distance at which torpedoes stop homing depends on the type of the target ship, the Tier of the sub, and the number of sonar ping hits on the homing sector. On average, it ranges from a few hundred meters when homing at destroyers and submarines to 1.5-2 km when homing at battleships.

We have no plans to change these distances at this time. Even with the fact that homing cut-off distance for destroyers is short, their fast reloading of the Damage Control Party and their high maneuverability allow them to evade acoustic torpedoes.  

Why was the guaranteed acquisition for subs removed?

An accidental encounter with an enemy submarine at such close range prevented the submarine from performing its main gameplay feature — attacking from unusual positions.

Interaction at such a short distance was quite inconvenient for both submarines. It was impossible to destroy the enemy quickly at this distance because of the torpedo arming range. It was also impossible to quickly get out of the fight due to the limited maneuverability of submarines. As a result, two options were left: either ram the enemy submarine or wait for help from allies. So it was decided to disable the guaranteed detection.

At the moment, we are satisfied with the way submarines interact with each other. The only problem left to be solved is the "blind" collision of submarines underwater. We are working to find a solution, but for now we do not plan to bring back guaranteed acquisition for submarines. 

Why does it take so many depth charges to destroy submarines?

Depth charges do not always inflict the same damage to a submarine.

It is worth remembering that sometimes depth charges can just cover a submarine with light splash damage. In that case, more hits will be needed to destroy the submarine. In Update 0.11.9, we have added special ribbons to show how many depth charges caused full damage and how many caused partial damage, so that you can better evaluate the effectiveness of an attack.

In addition, as with other armament types, with depth charges there is an option to avoid some of the damage for the target, so as to not go to Port after two successful hits with depth charges. To do this, the submarine can execute a maneuver, submerge deeper, or, conversely, surface so that the depth charge only hits with the splash radius and does partial damage. 

Nevertheless, within the changes made not so long ago, Depth Charge Airstrike had the number of depth charges per payload reduced, but their individual damage increased. We will evaluate the possibility of reducing the number and increasing the effectiveness of the ship-mounted depth charges, just like we did with Depth Charge Airstrike.

How does damage from ship-dropped depth charges and ASW Airstrikes change with distance? At what depth do depth charges explode?

The farther the distance from the depth charge detonation point, the less damage the sub receives. 

The splash zone for depth charges is a sphere with a certain radius. Both types of depth charges have a splash zone that covers the entire traversable depth of the sea, but the ship-mounted depth charges have a radius twice as big, which makes the splash zone wider.

The damage inflicted on a submarine depends on the distance to the center of that sphere — the point at which the depth charge explodes — as well as the type of depth charge. If it explodes near a submarine, it does full damage. If the charge explodes farther away, the submarine receives incomplete damage. For ship-mounted depth charges, it is always 33%. In the case of Airstrike charges, it can be 50% or 0% (if the submarine is at the very edge of the splash area) In this case, the submarine will only receive the flooding status, and with a certain probability — critical module damage. 

The depth at which charges explode, the speed at which they "sink", and the time before they explode differ between ship-mounted and Airstrike depth charges. Depth Charge Airstrike charges are slower to submerge and faster to explode. Ship-mounted depth charges submerge faster and explode after a longer time has passed.

Do you plan to increase the efficiency of destroyers against submarines? Could they have a choice between Depth Charge Airstrike and ship-mounted depth charges?

There are no such plans at this time.

The relative damage score (the fraction of the enemy ship's maximum HP that you inflicted on the enemy) to subs is about the same for destroyers, cruisers, and battleships.

Changing the type of ASW armament on destroyers is also not planned. Yes, Depth Charge Airstrike is indeed easier to use, as it can be launched from a distance, and with a stable frequency over the course of the battle. To effectively hit a submarine with ship-mounted depth charges, you need to get as close as possible to the target, which makes this type of armament more situational. However, ship-mounted depth charges make up for this with higher "accuracy", power, and the ability to do a higher amount of damage in a single drop. And if you look at the data for the entire battle, both of these types of ASW weapons are close in effectiveness. In addition, the presence of depth charges on destroyers is due to the balance and gameplay needs, and, additionally, the image of a destroyer dropping depth charges on subs is exactly what submarine hunting is associated with in reality.

How do you plan to solve the skill gap problem of different submarine players? 

Currently, the difference in skill among submarine players is on par with the rest of the ship types.

Skill differences between players become an issue when there is a significant gap between the battle efficiency metrics of different player cohorts. In the case of submarines, the difference in skill across player cohorts is on par with the rest of the ship types. As an example, let's compare the difference in winrate between different player cohorts on submarines and destroyers, the closest ship type to submarines in terms of gameplay.

The graphs show the increase in winrate difference for different cohorts of players compared to players with an account winrate lower than 47%: 

  • Blank (0%) - players with an account winrate lower than 47%
  • Orange - players with an account winrate of 47-51%
  • Green - players with an account winrate of 52-56%
  • Purple - players with an account winrate above 57%. 

So, if there is a value of 10% for Green bar, it means that players with an account winrate of 52-56% have winrate 10% higher in this particular ship than players with an account winrate lower than 47%.

As an example let's compare Tier VIII and X submarines with three most popular destroyers at these tiers.

Tier VIII - Destroyers

Tier VIII - Submarines

Tier X - Destroyers

Tier X - submarines

Why don't homing torpedoes have dispersion?

In fact, acoustic torpedoes do have dispersion. It may seem to be absent, but this is because submarine torpedoes are launched one at a time, like on British ships. Also, these torpedoes cluster because they home in towards a certain small part of the ship, marked by a sector, rather than at the whole ship.

If we are talking about all acoustic torpedoes being too compact, and if all or most of the torpedoes hit the target on a successful launch, this is indeed true. However, this "density" of torpedoes has a downside. In the case of an inaccurate launch, a timely nulification of the homing sector, or just a simple maneuver, there is a high probability of avoiding all the torpedoes at once. Besides, each ship part has its own HP pool. If it runs out, that ship part takes less damage. Accordingly, even if the torpedoes hit the target, subsequent hits to that part of the ship will cause less damage if the HP of that part is depleted.

Are there plans to reduce the speed of subs?

There are no plans for this. At the moment, we are happy with their speed.

The submarines' lower speed combined with their not-so-high weapons range would make the gameplay of the new class boring and reduce their effectiveness. Much of the time in combat, a submarine would not engage the enemy and would have fewer opportunities to retreat or change the direction of attack.

Are there plans to make balance changes to ships based on the strength of ASW armament?

Yes. ASW, as well as AA, main battery reload time, etc. are some of the parameters by which ships can be balanced. Recently, we unified Depth Charge Airstrike for all cruisers and battleships equipped with this armament. Not only will this make it easier for us to adjust Depth Charge Airstrike in the future, but it will also make it easier to balance ships by this parameter.

Why do surfaced subs take damage from depth charges while the rest of the ships do not?

This is a gameplay assumption.

At one stage of testing, ASW was used by surface ships against each other to do damage. However, we wanted the ASW weapons to only be used against submarines. That's why we disabled that option. However, this does not mean that we have completely abandoned it and will probably return to it in the future, but with several tweaks. 

Why don't you add AA to submarines?

At the moment, submarines, don't have the need for AA armament. 

Submarines could have very limited AA armament mounted, which would be ineffective. In addition, it is important for a submarine to remain undetected in order to play effectively. And to shoot down planes, the sub would have to surface, becoming detected and therefore vulnerable

The detectability range of subs by air is small, averaging 2 km, so the submarine can easily avoid interacting with aircraft. If detected, submarines' primary defense is to submerge, as aircraft cannot detect submarines at maximum depth. 

Because of these factors, submarines don't need to rely on AA to defend themselves from aircraft. Nevertheless, if the need for AA armament on submarines should arise, we will return to this case.