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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node Timofee's Avatar
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    Snipers and Spys (and their equivalents) ruin multiplayer games. Discuss

    My friend feels very strongly about this. I'm less vehement but certainly agree that many games are immeasurably improved for their absence.

    I was interested to hear others thoughts. I guess I should add that this is specifically about their impact on others rather than their experience to play.

    Some examples

    TF2: The Sniper and Spy are broadly lone wolf classes (or at least that's how they're commonly played) in a game which ostensibly encourages teamplay. Dying to them often feels like you were cheated (particularly spy) as kills by them are often abrupt and you will feel there was little you could do differently to avoid death.

    The counter to this is that they're obviously very situational, so if you hadn't popped out from behind that corner you wouldn't have gotten shot. Likewise if you'd had a pyro constantly spy-checking then the spy stands no chance. However is this actually part of the problem? Their presence forces others to act considerably differently thereby constraining their gaming experience and thus limiting their enjoyment (e.g. having to cower behind the corner or perhaps switch class).

    A counter argument says you may as well moan about "oh well its BS I couldn't walk over that Demoman's mines or waltz past that Engineer's sentry", and its a valid point but for some reason they feel different in a way I can't quite define. I think it comes back to the abrupt finality of Snipers and Spys. When killed by them at the end of a nice streak rarely do I feel "nice one, good shot...you bastard" while I might if killed by a Soldier. My deaths to them aren't learning experiences but rather annoyances along the lines of "Oh wow, you totally know how to click a mouse button....thanks". There feels little skill involved in sniping someone, which is a little harsh I know, but that's the way it feels.

    I think part of the problem is perhaps the lack of consequences. While all classes throw their lives away to some extent (especially pyros) I take great annoyance from a Spy who's willing to sneak behind our lines and then stab me in the back in full sight of my team knowing full well he'll not get 2 yards before being gunned down.


    WoW: I could cite a whole other bunch of FPSs but instead I'll give a bit of a contrast with WoW and the Rogue. Firstly though I should preface this by saying I've not played WoW since before Cataclysm so can't comment on their current state. I should also add that I think the 'issue' is considerably less in the like of WoW vs TF2 but its certainly still present.

    I can remember battlegrounds where you'd be pottering along only to suddenly get stunlocked by an invisible enemy who proceeded to insta-kill you. Now obviously you had things like a trinket you could use to get out of the stun lock but if that was on cooldown you were stuffed.

    Again I think it comes back to the issue of not really learning a great deal other than oh, so I guess I should never let my trinket be on cooldown...



    Anyway...thoughts?

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Snipers and spies are still an integral part of TF2, and the game would be a mishmash without them. The issue is when there's too many of them, but that issue solves itself because the team that stacks snipers and spies tends to lose.

    In WoW, we had rogues and anti-rogues, ie: hunters. Both eminently soloable as classes, but they keep others on their toes. And you need them on their toes.
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  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I think its harder to be a spy and a sniper then people realize trying to be both on TF2 and other games, a spy you have to be a really good player a lot of times being a spy people knew who i was and i died many times on;y really stabbing maybe a few players. Also Snipers you have to have the accuracy and in TF2 especially when your in the sniper scope you can only see a little bit its very easy to be snuck upon to be honest. Though the thing is I agree with you on the whole learning thing, it does feel a little cheap being killed by both of them.

  4. #4
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    It boils down to what people consider to be unfair. People typically consider being one-shotted unfair in a game where that isn't the norm (ie. in a realistic FPS being one-shotted is the norm, surviving being shot is the rarity), regardless of how hard it is to get that one shot.

    It's an issue raised frequently in World of Tanks; artillery is a team's primary firepower (as explicitly stated by the devs) and it is capable of doing enough damage to one shot someone from across the map without them being able to retaliate. Never mind that artillery will hit directly at best 40% of the time, can only cover certain angles, has a fairly absurd reload time and is very unlikely to do full damage in the event of that direct hit. People only fixate on the rare occasions it actually does one shot them, citing that as proof of an overpowered class, always ignoring any capability they had to avoid that scenario in the first place.

    This holds true for the sniper and spy in TF2, you know perfectly well where the enemy snipers will be camping and information on the enemy's class distribution is freely available. You know how the spy's mechanics work too. Adapt; a game is all about adapting to the rules and conditions imposed on you by a particular game environment. You complain about a team having to behave differently according to the presence of spies/snipers, but is this not the case for any class? If the enemy team is full of heavies, do you not switch to a counter class? If the enemy team is turtling in with loads of sentries, do you not change tactics to compensate?

    These complaints typically boil down to "I don't want to change my playstyle to adapt to class/mechanic X".

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Timofee View Post
    Dying to them often feels like you were cheated (particularly spy) as kills by them are often abrupt and you will feel there was little you could do differently to avoid death.
    For me, this is a key aspect. I don't enjoy playing games where I have no control over a situation or no ability to change the outcome. If I am killed because my skills/knowledge/dexterity were inadequate, not a problem because I can learn from my mistake and perhaps be able to change the outcome next time. If I die because someone else (human or computer controlled) has an instant win button, that is frustrating and rarely fun.

    I have never played TF2 so I can't comment on that, but I did a little casual WoW PvP (like you, pre-Cataclysm) and I didn't often find it frustrating (at least not in this sense, the endless waves of morons, maybe) as I always felt that there were ways of avoiding or breaking chain CC and that is was often based in skill not chance.

    And as DarkFenix said, confirmation bias plays a part in it as well.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amusingthebrood View Post
    For me, this is a key aspect. I don't enjoy playing games where I have no control over a situation or no ability to change the outcome. If I am killed because my skills/knowledge/dexterity were inadequate, not a problem because I can learn from my mistake and perhaps be able to change the outcome next time. If I die because someone else (human or computer controlled) has an instant win button, that is frustrating and rarely fun.
    But you do have the ability. Don't go the routes the sniper has covered. He has a very narrow window of view. Remember to spy-check your mates. It's not rocket science!
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  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    My issues with these classes:
    - spies are bottom feeders. They are highly situational and contribute very, very little against a competent team. In particular they're notorious for not being played at all in clan matches. They're the clown class, really. You might get a lot of kills but they will be kills on the worst players. This leaves a false impression that you're doing something. I hear it's the same in Tribes: Ascend.
    - snipers are often only reliably killed by other snipers
    - snipers love to play in a way that maximizes their safety, they couldn't give a damn about objective if the game has one. It doesn't matter if a hill already has 3 snipers, it there's room for one more !

    There is a reason cheats in FPS games are most popular for sniper weapons. Because playing sniper is in many ways the simplest. Point and click. If you have great accuracy and half a brain, you can be an effective sniper. No other weapon type can dominate so much with cheats.
    Last edited by b0rsuk; 15-07-2012 at 05:20 PM.
    pass

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    My issues with these classes:
    - spies are bottom feeders. They are highly situational and contribute very, very little against a competent team. In particular they're notorious for not being played at all in clan matches. They're the clown class, really. You might get a lot of kills but they will be kills on the worst players. This leaves a false impression that you're doing something. I hear it's the same in Tribes: Ascend.
    - snipers are often only reliably killed by other snipers
    - snipers love to play in a way that maximizes their safety, they couldn't give a damn about objective if the game has one. It doesn't matter if a hill already has 3 snipers, it there's room for one more !

    There is a reason cheats in FPS games are most popular for sniper weapons. Because playing sniper is in many ways the simplest. Point and click. If you have great accuracy and half a brain, you can be an effective sniper. No other weapon type can dominate so much with cheats.
    You've never seen a competent chopper duo.

    And I'm perfectly happy for a game that isn't balanced around clan matches but instead is good at the PuG level.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    My issues with these classes:
    - spies are bottom feeders. They are highly situational and contribute very, very little against a competent team. In particular they're notorious for not being played at all in clan matches. They're the clown class, really. You might get a lot of kills but they will be kills on the worst players. This leaves a false impression that you're doing something. I hear it's the same in Tribes: Ascend.
    - snipers are often only reliably killed by other snipers
    - snipers love to play in a way that maximizes their safety, they couldn't give a damn about objective if the game has one. It doesn't matter if a hill already has 3 snipers, it there's room for one more !

    There is a reason cheats in FPS games are most popular for sniper weapons. Because playing sniper is in many ways the simplest. Point and click. If you have great accuracy and half a brain, you can be an effective sniper. No other weapon type can dominate so much with cheats.
    I play tribes ascend in clan games quite a bit, and infiltrator is actually used there. It's rare to have a player full time infiltrator in 7v7 (Can't really spare the manpower), but they are very useful for getting the flag back in standoffs where both teams have the enemy flag. When they do get played for a full match, it's usually to harass a particularly good sniper.

    Competition sniping is pretty different to public game sniping, however - I spend most of the time acting as a spotter for the defence and rarely shoot at anyone other than flag cappers.

  10. #10
    Lesser Hivemind Node Scumbag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    I hear it's the same in Tribes: Ascend.
    Not quite. The Inf in Tribes has an overpowered weapon, but his ability to stealth does not change things in this regard. Infs (spies) and Sents (Snipers) are not auto win classes in Tribes, much to the disappointment of the lowbies who play them.

  11. #11
    Lesser Hivemind Node Leopig's Avatar
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    So, what weapons DO you like to be killed with then?

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus DaftPunk's Avatar
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    Are you serious,try playing as spy and then come back here,they deserve every kill they get because spy its hardest class in whole game. Sniper is not easy as well.

  13. #13
    Moderator Anthile's Avatar
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    Noobs are instinctively drawn towards sniper and ninja classes, and they often just screw around with them. Usually it's the only classes that can instantly kill other classes but make up for it with poor durability and a lack of weapon flexibility.
    In TF2, heavies paired with medics dominate the open field, and spies and snipers are the only classes that can really counter that combination.
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  14. #14
    Lesser Hivemind Node airtekh's Avatar
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    Disagree.

    I have huge respect for anyone who kills me as either sniper or spy in TF2, because both classes require skill to use effectively.

    Sometimes it's unavoidable, but deaths from both these classes can be prevented a lot of the time. (i.e don't walk into a known sniper's line of sight/look behind you from time to time to avoid getting stabbed).

    Also, this is where the 'Team' bit of Team Fortress 2 is very relevant. Hotshot sniper on the other team? Get yourself a counter-sniper or a friendly spy to take him out. Enemy spy is a ninja? Get a pyro to escort your medic or other important team members.

  15. #15
    Lesser Hivemind Node fiddlesticks's Avatar
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    I wouldn't say the concept of Spies goes necessarily against TF2's focus on teamplay, certainly not any more than a Scout or a Pyro does. As a lone Spy you can't accomplish much if the enemy team consists of decent players because even if you do get one stab, you're usually dead right afterwards. To be efficient you either need to go against key targets (Medics with Übercharge, Engineers behind Sentries) or wait for the enemy to be distracted by other players. Either way your actions directly benefit your own team, by reducing enemy numbers or by keeping them occupied and thus preventing them from shooting you.

    I also don't have a problem with being instantly killed by a backstab, due to the effort it requires. The Spy is the ultimate high-risk/high-reward class. He can kill any player in the game in one hit, but to do so he has to get in close. There's always a chance you'll be spotted before doing any harm and there's an even greater chance you'll be killed before managing to flee. Plus, good Spied are exceedingly rare, so most of the time people playing the class are free points rather than genuine threats.

    I have a harder time justifying the existence of Snipers. They have the same high-reward as the Spy, but without the associated risk. They are usually far behind their own lines, meaning they can easily shoot the enemy while being safe from any retribution. For them, missing a shot isn't a big problem as you immediately get another chance. The problem is further amplified because most classes have no effective way of fighting at long range. It's one of the great ironies of the game that the best counter to an enemy Sniper is having a Sniper of your own.

    The only reason why I still feel the Sniper has some validation is because he's the most effective counter to the powerful Heavy-Medic combo. Apart from that, I don't think you'd lose anything by taking him out of the game. To be fair though, the problem lies not just in the class itself, but also in the map design. Snipers aren't too bad on maps such as Badlands or Gravel Pit, because you have multiple ways to avoid or ambush them. They are a huge nuisance on Dustbowl or Goldrush, but who in their right mind would ever play those.
    Last edited by fiddlesticks; 15-07-2012 at 05:58 PM.

  16. #16
    Lesser Hivemind Node Timofee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Snipers and spies are still an integral part of TF2, and the game would be a mishmash without them. The issue is when there's too many of them, but that issue solves itself because the team that stacks snipers and spies tends to lose.
    Agree on the too many aspect, but I think this touches on my key complaint: what about that period of time where you're on that team and getting destroyed because too many of your fellow team members are out for themselves? Would the game not be better for their absence?

    You say it'd be a mishmash but I can't think of anything they counter that couldn't be done through other means.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkFenix View Post
    This holds true for the sniper and spy in TF2, you know perfectly well where the enemy snipers will be camping and information on the enemy's class distribution is freely available. You know how the spy's mechanics work too. Adapt; a game is all about adapting to the rules and conditions imposed on you by a particular game environment. You complain about a team having to behave differently according to the presence of spies/snipers, but is this not the case for any class? If the enemy team is full of heavies, do you not switch to a counter class? If the enemy team is turtling in with loads of sentries, do you not change tactics to compensate?

    These complaints typically boil down to "I don't want to change my playstyle to adapt to class/mechanic X".
    I absolutely agree on adapting, I think what I'm getting at is their presence encourages 'negative adaptation' i.e. for a sniper its: "don't go that way" and given map designs in almost every multiplayer fps focus on choke points (and for good reason) its often forcing you to sit back thus reducing your enjoyment of the game because you're not involved.

    Similarly with the Spy, yes you can spy check and look in every corner but is that exciting? Is that what I want to be doing with my free time?

    Fundamentally, wouldn't a game without them be more enjoyable?

    Quote Originally Posted by DaftPunk View Post
    Are you serious,try playing as spy and then come back here,they deserve every kill they get because spy its hardest class in whole game. Sniper is not easy as well.
    No class is hard to play, nor am I saying there aren't thoroughly exceptional players out there. My point is really that regardless of your ability (unless you are completely incompetent) its still possible to get these instant kills through nothing more than patience thus negatively impacting others gameplay experience.

    For example the common criticism leveled at inexperienced pyro players is W+M1, but these guys are easily avoided/killed etc without negatively impacting your own experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthile View Post
    Noobs are instinctively drawn towards sniper and ninja classes, and they often just screw around with them. Usually it's the only classes that can instantly kill other classes but make up for it with poor durability and a lack of weapon flexibility.
    This is an interesting point and will probably betray a prejudice of mine, specifically if you were asked to quote what percentage of tossers played each class, I know I would say many more play Sniper/Spy than other classes. For clarity I mean in terms of my general perception of how they act in chat etc rather than any negative connotations I have of the class in isolation.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timofee View Post
    Agree on the too many aspect, but I think this touches on my key complaint: what about that period of time where you're on that team and getting destroyed because too many of your fellow team members are out for themselves? Would the game not be better for their absence?
    So if noobs gravitate to heavies, should we eliminate heavies?

    I mean, isn't the problem you're highlighting here the noobs?
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  18. #18
    Lesser Hivemind Node Timofee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    a competent chopper duo.
    Wassat then?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    And I'm perfectly happy for a game that isn't balanced around clan matches but instead is good at the PuG level.
    Quote Originally Posted by airtekh View Post
    Also, this is where the 'Team' bit of Team Fortress 2 is very relevant. Hotshot sniper on the other team? Get yourself a counter-sniper or a friendly spy to take him out. Enemy spy is a ninja? Get a pyro to escort your medic or other important team members.
    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlesticks View Post
    I wouldn't say the concept of Spies goes necessarily against TF2's focus on teamplay, certainly not any more than a Scout or a Pyro does. As a lone Spy you can't accomplish much if the enemy team consists of decent players because even if you do get one stab, you're usually dead right afterwards. To be efficient you either need to go against key targets (Medics with Übercharge, Engineers behind Sentries) or wait for the enemy to be distracted by other players. Either way your actions directly benefit your own team, by reducing enemy numbers or by keeping them occupied and thus preventing them from shooting you.

    I also don't have a problem with being instantly killed by a backstab, due to the effort it requires. The Spy is the ultimate high-risk/high-reward class. He can kill any player in the game in one hit, but to do so he has to get in close. There's always a chance you'll be spotted before doing any harm and there's an even greater chance you'll be killed before managing to flee. Plus, good Spied are exceedingly rare, so most of the time people playing the class are free points rather than genuine threats.

    I have a harder time justifying the existence of Snipers. They have the same high-reward as the Spy, but without the associated risk. They are usually far behind their own lines, meaning they can easily shoot the enemy while being safe from any retribution. For them, missing a shot isn't a big problem as you immediately get another chance. The problem is further amplified because most classes have no effective way of fighting at long range. It's one of the great ironies of the game that the best counter to an enemy Sniper is having a Sniper of your own.

    The only reason why I still feel the Sniper has some validation is because he's the most effective counter to the powerful Heavy-Medic combo. Apart from that, I don't think you'd lose anything by taking him out of the game. To be fair though, the problem lies not just in the class itself, but also in the map design. Snipers aren't too bad on maps such as Badlands or Gravel Pit, because you have multiple ways to avoid or ambush them. They are a huge nuisance on Dustbowl or Goldrush, but who in their right mind would ever play those.
    Here you've all hit on the game design aspect, which is perhaps the most interesting area. Keeping TF2 as our example I think we can all appreciate the theory behind Snipers and Spys but to recap:

    Snipers should actively support the team by removing significant enemy threats before they reach the rest of the team while Spys should go behind enemy lines to disrupt buildings and neutralize key players. Sounds great. That's precisely what you'd want to do in a war.

    So what's the problem? This isn't a war, it's a game.

    Thinking about this from a gaming perspective my class design should keep in mind the following 3 criteria
    1) the impact on/experience of the player
    2) the impact on/experience of the player's teammates
    3) the impact on/experience of the opposition

    Again I think that in theory there are compelling arguments for Snipers and Spys ticking all 3 boxes...in theory. I shalln't go over them as they're pretty obvious and mostly already been covered.

    What I will argue is that this is based on the happy premise that we're playing a team game and thus want our team to win and have a good time doing it. What I'd then question is whether this is the motivation for 100% of the player base.

    The reality is that the majority of players are principally concerned with themselves (and understandably so). This thereby encourages certain negative behaviours that diminish the experience of other players e.g. snipers not supporting the push on the objective but rather hanging back and getting 'easy' kills because they don't want to die.

    Is it not then the responsibility of the game designer to make calls that force players to work together and for the team? This is assuming of course that that is the point of the game, which for something with Team in the title is a little hard to dispute.

    The thought process for me is that by removing Sniper/Spy the possible counters to Medic/* combos and to enemy sentries become further Medic/* combos which is surely a stronger push to teamplay? And that's just within the existing confines of the game, surely there is more opportunity to further encourage teamplay.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timofee View Post
    Wassat then?
    A competent duo in an attack helicopter in Battlefield 3 is pretty much invulnerable to an equivalent number of players on the ground. Likewise, any pro fighter jet pilot, or tanker. But it's part of the game.

    As for teamplay, Hyper is right: You can't fix stupid. Get rid of snipers in BF3, and you'll still have mortar noobs, shotgun noobs (with explosive shells!), M203 noobs, C4 noobs, suicide jet noobs, jihad jeep noobs, trolls, asshats, and just plain vanilla noobs.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    A competent duo in an attack helicopter in Battlefield 3 is pretty much invulnerable to an equivalent number of players on the ground. Likewise, any pro fighter jet pilot, or tanker. But it's part of the game.

    As for teamplay, Hyper is right: You can't fix stupid. Get rid of snipers in BF3, and you'll still have mortar noobs, shotgun noobs (with explosive shells!), M203 noobs, C4 noobs, suicide jet noobs, jihad jeep noobs, trolls, asshats, and just plain vanilla noobs.
    A large part of the seeming invulnerability of the choppers these days is the complete ineffectiveness of infantry AA and the easy spamability of countermeasures rather than the skill of the pilot. There's a very limited area where the infantry AA can actually pose a threat now thanks to DICE destroying the range of the Stinger/IGLA and having the ceiling for Below Radar be close to half of the weapon's locking range. I've been standing almost directly under a chopper that was hovering just above the construction sites on Gulf of Oman(point D) and not been able to lock them, despite staring at them for more than 30 seconds as they just hovered in place with the gunner raining hell down on the point. As soon as they lifted up to an altitude where I could lock them they were able to drop flares as fast as I could fire my Stinger(flares block locks for something like 5 seconds, recharge in 11 seconds, it takes about 4 seconds to lock on again, and then add in the seemingly minimum 4-second flight time). Add in that both the pilot and the gunner can have flares active at the same time and you've got an infinitely unlockable chopper. That's not skill keeping choppers in the air anymore, that's broken game mechanics.

    In all technicality the Below Radar perk shouldn't work on any of the AA weapons in the game, as they're all either IR(heat seeking) or laser-designated. IR-locking wouldn't be affected by the ECM Jammer perk either, as that's also another radar-blocking technique(it's dropping chaff, which is just a cloud of thousands of small strips of material). I'll give a pass on the ECM Jammer breaking SOFLAM locks and preventing javelins from performing perfectly, as they need a counter and really shouldn't be hitting air assets to begin with, but it should not work at all on the Stinger/IGLA. If they renamed the air-to-air missiles for aircraft from "heat seakers" to just generic "air-to-air" or something, then I'd give it a pass on that as well, but even then it should only be one countermeasure or the other working against each AA weapon. Flares and ECM Jammer should not both work on all AA weapons, which is how it currently works out. There should be some trade-off between what you're using and what you can defend against, which is how it was when the game first came out.

    I'm not saying that good chopper teams don't exist, because they do and they're a bitch to deal with no matter what the current AA situation is like. What I am saying is that the current situation in BF3 allows for even mediocre pilots like myself to come off as unkillable except by other air assets or the dedicated AA vehicle's guns. Missiles are just completely worthless against air targets right now, no matter where they're coming from or who's shooting them.

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