There have been several threads recently that suggested or discussed AA reworks. This one is mine, I guess.
Skill based AA is probably not the answer to the CV "problem." It certainly has the potential to improve interactions between players who would be skilled at the system and carriers, but for those who are bad at it, AA would most likely be weaker than the current iterations. That would lead to further complaints that "CV's are OP."
But let's start with a simpler option–the removal of RNG from the equation. If all AA damage is shifted to continuous damage and flak bursts become simply visual effects, plane losses between good and bad CV's will likely equalize. Unicum players will likely still lose fewer planes by avoiding AA blobs.
The unintended consequence would be that the good CV player doesn't have to worry about dodging RNG flak bursts and can focus on making the perfect drop. Bad CV players can do the same, but it's pretty hard to say what sort of improvement they might have because we can't really know if they are bad because they lose planes, because they just can't aim their strikes, or both.
A suggestion I saw this morning was to allow players to select different flak patterns. I honestly think this has some potential, but mostly as a replacement for the current sector system. Otherwise, just as with skills, certain flak patterns would likely be must takes, like concealment expert is for most builds and IFHE is for light cruisers. If players could actually switch between patterns and they made flak more effective and difficult to dodge, it could give surface ship players the impression that their skill is having an effect, even if they aren't manually controlling the guns.
Finally, let's consider manually controlled AA guns. This would likely be limited to flak bursts. The first step would likely be to lock on to the planes to limit dispersion of the shells, just as I believe that locking on to a ship sets limits for vertical dispersion. Players would then have to lead the target.
It would make sense for the individual AA guns to fire based on line of sight and arc of fire. This might mean that the ship needs to maneuver to maintain effective fire. That could of course lead to tunnel vision on killing planes and thus turning broadside to a battleship or grounding on an island, which would be affected by the overall skill and map awareness of the player rather than their skill with the AA system.
The bigger problem with manually controlled AA is how effective it should be, and what sort of automated backup system should be in place for people who don't want to use it–because they don't care, because their ship's AA is ineffective anyway, or because they are really in the thick of it and can't take their focus off of the surface action to shoot at planes. Is the appropriate level of effectiveness such that a Worcester or Minotaur can still be struck with heavy losses? Or should they be effectively a no fly zone that shoots down planes that linger for more than a short time in their AA range when under manual control? Should a well played Zao have better AA than a poorly played Des Moines?
And what about when under AI control? What level of effectiveness is necessary to keep things balanced so that a carrier can't just slaughter ships that are heavily engaged in surface combat? 80% of manual control? 66%? Values which roughly equal AA sectoring (current "manual" control) with and without the manual AA skill vs not AA sectoring at all (current "automatic" control). At that point, the biggest change would be in player perceptions, not actual effectiveness.
Personally, I would favor varying flak patterns as a replacement for the current sectoring system. It's honestly the solution that WG would probably be most open to testing, since they have said repeatedly that they won't institute full manual control. But that's just my opinion, what does Reddit think?
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