Some Thoughts on Destroyable HABs and Will Squad Receive Long Term Oversight and Support for Competitive Play?

With 9.6 here we see many changes, some expected and some unexpected. One of the biggest changes, was the destruction of deployable objects or as JohnnyOmaha hilariously coined it, ‘Destroyaployables!’

 

The above is great news for competitive Squad. It was tedious having to shovel sandbags out of the way under a barrage of grenades when an RPG should be much more apt at doing the trick. What is quite mixed news for the competitive scene is the destruction of FOBs and HABs. For the uninitiated in 9.6 a FOB can now be destroyed by about 15 mortars and a HAB can be taken half down at 20-22 mortars. In previous Alpha v9 versions, FOBs were being placed in large open areas that made it difficult to dig up due to lack of cover and concealment for opponents. Dubbed ‘Trap FOBs’ the community largely agreed that it was problematic, but often the best way to place them given the ruleset that existed at that time. HABs were much less of a pain point to the community, since in reality a HESCO barrier standing up to explosives and small arms is exactly what they were designed to do. 

 

In addition to mortars, any AT weapon (RKG-3 needs to be confirmed still) can also kill a FOB and a single IED strike can take a HAB half down. While mortars can continually be fired from range, IEDs generally require a bold attack or stealth to successfully hit a HAB. It is a high risk, high reward activity, which requires coordination of follow-on actions at the HAB, with other forces or an immediate push onto a nearby point to benefit (unlike mortar spam at range). Often you will sacrifice a vehicle and a person’s life to score destruction with an IED. Of course, unlike mortars, IEDs can only be used by INS and MIL which are the two factions most in need of a little bit of help at the moment.

 

Some have suggested the counter-play to mortars outside of the enemy main is simple, send a small force to go kill them. This is definitely not wrong and I totally agree, in most circumstances that is the best course of action. What seems absurd though is that to counter one very uninteresting meta in public or competitive play, mortar spam, you have another uninteresting game-play choice, camp enemy main. On the bright side, we’ve seen it before where OWI makes a change that has little logical value to the broader community but is actually quite reasonable overall given the long term plan which we aren’t always privy to.  A good example of this is the initial v6 release when fortifications could not be stacked anymore and the build points accrued much more slowly, even though logistics trucks weren’t in game. For a period of time the game was literally just run and shoot because it took too long for points to accrue to build proper defenses and you couldn’t stack those defenses anyways. Eventually the regen point change was reverted until vehicles were implemented and it’s return made the most sense.

 

On the topic of competitive support, last season of ISKT, OWI came out and officially supported the tournament on social media and provided prizes. Tournament mode has been implemented for a long period of time now and allows a server to force settings on connecting players to create a more level playing field. SgtRoss also took the time to co-cast the ISKT Season 1 Grand Finals between FFO and Fortis. These facts show forethought and consideration for the tournament scene by the devs.  So what is the concern? It was mentioned by Z-Trooper (OWI Designer/Artist) that Squad is designed to be an experience, not a competitive shooter and if you want to play a competitive shooter, Squad is the wrong tool for the job.  

 

Picture left is the exchange between General_Tosspot and Z-Trooper on Running_Duck’s Twitch stream during the Army of Nine vs Mumblerines match yesterday. 

 

This seems to come from left field honestly and I think maybe the actual comment was meant to be more along the lines of ‘Squad isn’t a competitive shooter first and foremost,’ which is a pretty reasonable position. It is the last comment in that picture which seems odd since no one has expectations in the first place that Squad is going after the CS:GO crowd or game-play style.  Right now we can all agree that OWI has been fostering a competitive scene extremely early in the games development.  As we see the game mature and move through the upcoming content sprint sometime this fall/winter surely more and more controversial mechanics will be introduced. Let’s ensure we as a competitive community provide appropriate, respectful, and constructive feedback through the right channels. We must take the initiative to be our own advocates.

Happy hunting and good luck on the battlefield ladies and gentlemen.

8 comments

  1. I like your thoughts, although I read Z-Trooper’s comments as tongue and cheek more then anything. The pure fact that they’ve tried to achieve balance between the factions tells a different story.

  2. CaTFisH I think at this point competitive Squad is generating enough publicity that OWI wouldn’t ignore us. The relationship at this point should be mutually beneficial. I certainly could have written an article stating the sky is falling from those comments and taken them literally to make my point but fact of the matter is that doesn’t necessarily measure up to reality. Personally I wouldn’t call the comments tongue in cheek, but I doubt they were meant literally as well. I expect we will have many good years of international face smashing and soul scathing banter ahead of us!

  3. Instead of people assuming my intent, it was easier to reply to clear it up.

    My comment was a direct reply to a guy assuming what our intend was with the game.

    Our goal is not to make a competitively balanced game, it just isn’t. But, do we facilitate people that want to play it like that anyway? – Absolutely! And we have been ever since the very beginning with Squad League, waaaaaay before it was even a good idea to do. We implemented tournament mode, we advertise all the competitive aspects of our game on our social platforms, we provide prizes. We are absolutely supporting the competitive scene.

    Is the game designed to be a competitive and balanced environment (I say this as one of the game designers of Squad)? Is that our goal and our mission statement? No, it is not. The key thing we took away from PR was the larger than life experiences that you get to have, the experiences that feel significant and was only accomplished because you worked together with someone else.

    To facilitate the above, we sometimes need to leave gentle loopholes in the game mechanics (especially in the alpha stage of the game development). These game mechanics will undoubtedly be exploited in a competitive environment. Until mod support is in where you guys can create your own competitive tweaks, who wins when we make changes to the game? The competitive scene or following our mission statement and the intended user?

    Before I undoubtedly get a bunch of constructive feedback on this post, please re-read the above, and also understand that a twitch comment reply does not mean that we all of a sudden decided to pull support for the competitive scene. We will continue to support it as best we can with the resources we have, while not compromising development of the main product.

  4. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to reply Z-Trooper.

    Twitch chat is definitely not the place to have an in-depth conversation about the nuances of Squad which is why I wrote in your article we probably shouldn’t take your comment literally and ensured that I prefaced OWI’s track record of supporting and fostering the competitive environment before mentioning the potentially negative information (which I felt was a fair way to OWI for me to approach the subject).

    I did choose to include that as one of the two topics in the article because some number of us competitive, bridge blocking, main mining degenerates were genuinely confused by the comments after discussing them in Discord and I was hoping that it would generate a response which clarifies what was meant. When I tried to deconstruct what you meant by the Twitch comment the experience part kept leading me to think milsim which has also been clearly stated as a direction the unmodded game is not intended to take . Thanks again for taking the time to clarify the comments and I am glad to have reaffirmation of the direction of the project before we head into what I personally expect will be a very content rich and crazy time for not only the development team but the competitive community as we try to break everything you implement in any way possible to get a leg up on the opposition

    -Rooster

  5. Just to hammer home the fact that competitive is important to not only OWI, but also myself personally (despite what the comments can appear to be) – I was the only main contributor and liaison to Squad League when it started. I provided servers for them taught them and gave them admin cam access, facilitated and lobbied their inclusion in our companys social awareness, helped them establish the “fight both sides subtract tickets = winner” mentality to compensate for faction balance.

    Just know that we care, but it isn’t our bread and butter.

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