Throughout our previous articles on Balance 2.0, we’ve delved into the depths of the changes made to key Armored Warfare gameplay mechanics. For this final article, however, we’ll be looking at how vehicle lines and tiering within each dealer tree have been adjusted to better fit our vision of vehicle progression in a post-Balance 2.0 setting.
Because Balance 2.0 introduces not only changes to existing core game mechanics, but also specific rebalances of every vehicle in the game, we have decided not to publish numerical details on how each vehicle’s specific performance characteristics have been adjusted when compared to their pre-Balance 2.0 forms. There will still be in-depth patch notes on fundamental gameplay system changes, but it is our belief that providing specific vehicle stats would cause players to form skewed opinions about their favorite vehicles before they had even tried the changes in a live environment. By omitting this information, we feel this is the best way for players to experience those changes with an open mind.
That being said, going into Update 0.19 we would like to ask you, the players, to treat Balance 2.0 as a ‘fresh start’ with entirely new gameplay and balance expectations across all classes.
In addition to the abovementioned rebalance, a number of new vehicles are also being added to the existing Dealer pools. These serve primarily two purposes:
To fill the existing Tier gaps
To fill the various branches with vehicles that offer similar styles of gameplay
The vehicles introduced in Update 0.19 are mostly based on variants of those previously introduced - more unique vehicles and vehicle lines will be introduced in the near future.
Early on in our evaluation of Artillery for Balance 2.0 we made the hard decision to remove the class in its current form. The ability to deal indirect damage to an opponent who can neither see or retaliate was a mechanic that just didn’t work well with the rest of Armored Warfare. Even with our successful efforts to reduce the impact Artillery had on the battlefield, it never completely took away the frustration players had with it. Not only was it difficult to balance around, but it had real impacts on our ability to create maps as well. Each map we made, whether in PvP or PvE, had to take into account Arty firing lines. We couldn’t have complex cover or tall mountains and buildings because Artillery wasn’t able to shoot over them. With only a very small percentage of our active playerbase playing Artillery, this made it even harder to justify keeping the class.
Because of these factors, we had a choice; remove Artillery altogether, restrict the class to just PvE or offer the vehicles in a reimagined class form. We decided to go with the third option and have condensed both artillery lines into a single Self Propelled Gun line which offers high damage at the cost of longer aim times and slightly higher reloads. SPG vehicles now have drastically increased mobility to match their real-world capabilities and their Artillery-view has been replaced with a standard zoom reticle. They do retain access to smoke shells, but the illumination support shells have been removed for now. Because of how different the class now plays, we aren’t committing 100% to it sticking around, but we’d like to get player opinions on the changes during the Update 0.19 PTS cycle before deciding whether to keep it or remove the class with the official release of Balance 2.0.
Marat’s lines are receiving a major overhaul in Update 0.19. The first change the players will notice is the removal of this dealer’s Tier 1 PT-76 Light Tank. While it is an interesting vehicle, the PT-76 wasn’t the best introduction to the game and didn’t fit the reimagined branch type. As a result, it will be removed from the standard progression line in Update 0.19, but will return as a rebalanced legacy vehicle for those who owned it before Balance 2.0.
In its place, the initial dealer vehicle responsibility will pass on to the overhauled T-54, leading to the following changes in the Eastern Battle Tank Branch:
Tier 1: T-54 - the older 1947 model turret was replaced with the newer, iconic, round one
Tier 2: T-55 - an improved version of the T-54, the T-55 now occupies Tier 2
Tier 3: T-62 - no significant changes
Tier 4: T-72 - the basic Ural was moved from Tier 5
Tier 5: T-72A - this improved T-72 was moved from Tier 6
Tier 6: T-64BV - currently serving as a semi-placeholder, the Tier 6 spot will be shared with the T-72B Obr.1985 in the future
Tier 7: T-90 - the T-90 is getting split into the earlier T-90 variant and the later T-90A variant
Tier 8: T-90A - an advanced version of the T-90
Tier 9: T-90MS
Tier 10: T-14 Armata
At tier 4, the Soviet/Russian MBT branch will have an alternative progression line:
Tier 4: T-64A
Tier 5: T-80 - a basic 1976 Object 219SP2 variant with no ERA
Tier 6: T-80B - an improved T-80 variant from 1978 with Kontakt-1 ERA
Tier 7: T-80U from 1985 with newer Kontakt-5 ERA and other improvements
This way, all the major T-series will be sufficiently represented. The T-series variants represent massive jumps in performance - the T-72B for example has several times higher combat value in real life than the original Ural, an experience confirmed in recent military conflicts. Additionally, the T-80 came about under a completely separate branch of development and was not the direct successor to the T-72. In this sense, the performance jumps between different variants of the same vehicle are much higher than they used to be in - for example - the Second World War, warranting the introduction of multiple variants over several Tiers and two lines.
The Western Main Battle Tank branch will receive a similar update:
Tier 4: Chieftain Mk.2 - an early model without Stillbrew armor
Tier 5: Chieftain Mk.5
Tier 6: Chieftain 800/900 - an experimental Chieftain with Chobham armor and a powerful engine
Tiers 7 to Tier 10 of this branch (Challenger 1, Ariete, Challenger 2 and ATDU) will remain unchanged composition-wise, although in the future, we’d like to move the Ariete to a more appropriate location and replace it with the Vickers Mk.7.
The Light Tank branches on the other hand, will undergo serious changes. For one, the Tier 2 M41 Light Tank will be moved to Sophie Wölfli’s pool of vehicles. Its spot will be taken by the FV107 Scimitar, a 30mm variant of the FV101 Scorpion, which will remain on Tier 3. The branch will therefore appear as follows:
Tier 2: FV107 Scimitar
Tier 3: FV101 Scorpion
Tier 4: Scorpion 90 - a 90mm variant of the Scorpion
Tier 5: M551 Sheridan - moved to Tier 5 as a part of its balance overhaul
The Begleitpanzer 57 will remain at Tier 5 as an alternative to the Sheridan. Tiers 6 to 10 will remain the same, although the Tier 8 XM8 will be renamed to M8 Buford to reflect the fact that the XM8 is not in fact a direct prototype of the M8 Thunderbolt, something the XM8 designation suggests.
Turning towards the AFV branch, the Tier 3 AFV, AMX-10P, will be removed from the game pending a complete overhaul due to the fact that there is no suitable variant available with guided missiles. Its spot will be taken by the down-tiered BMD-1, which will receive a Malyutka ATGM launcher. Tier 4 will then be taken by the BMD-1P, an improved BMD-1 variant with the Kornet launcher. With these changes and others, the line will look as follows:
Tier 3: BMD-1 - down from Tier 4
Tier 4: BMD-1P - a new variant with Kornet launcher
Tier 5: BMD-2
Tier 6: BMD-4 - moved down a Tier from Tier 7
Tier 7: BMD-2M - while technically a BMD-2 variant, the increase in combat value, firepower and the age of the vehicle warrant its introduction a tier above the BMD-4
Tier 8: Ramka-99
Tier 9: BMPT-72
Tier 10: T-15
You might have noticed that two vehicles are missing from the AFV list - the Warrior and the Bradley. Both vehicles are being moved to Sophie Wölfli’s Western AFV branch and upgraded - Warrior to Warrior MILAN with MILAN ATGMs and the Bradley to the M3A3 variant.
Much like Marat Shishkin, Sophie Wölfli’s vehicle pool is undergoing a significant overhaul, including a Tier 1 switch. Similar to the PT-76, we didn’t feel the M113 in its current form represented the best introduction to the game and didn’t fit the reimagined branch type. That being said, the M113 model will remain in the game in the form of the Tier 4 M113 ACAV, armed with a 106mm Recoilless Rifle, but this change should not be considered a move from Tier 1 to Tier 4, the removal of the M113 and the addition of the ACAV are two independent events.
The Tier 1 slot, just like in Shishkin’s case, will be taken by a Main Battle Tank class vehicle, in this case the M48 Patton, which is going down a Tier from Tier 2. Tier 2 will be occupied by another Patton variant, the M48A3. The M41 Walker Bulldog will be the alternative Tier 2 choice after its move from Shishkin to Wölfli’s pool. The Main Battle Tank branch therefore takes on the following look:
Tier 1: M48 Patton - down from Tier 2
Tier 2: M48A3 or M41 - two alternatives
Tier 3: M60 - little changes on the M60
Tier 4: M60A1 - a better protected M60 with an improved turret
Tier 5: M60A3 or M60A2 - two alternatives
As you can see, the M60A2 was moved up a Tier to reflect its new role in Balance 2.0 - with quasi-historical penetration and armor values it would be excessively powerful at Tier 4. Historically, this can easily be justifiable as a choice between two vehicle variants: what the upgrade to the M60 series was originally supposed to look like according to the U.S. military (the M60A2) and what they ended up settling on (the M60A3).
The Abrams series will undergo a number of changes as well. For one, the majority of the Abrams tanks will change tiers:
Tier 6: M1 Abrams - down from Tier 7
Tier 7: M1A1 Abrams - down from Tier 8
Tier 8: M1A2 Abrams - down from Tier 9
Tier 9: M1A2 SEP v3 Abrams - new vehicle with cutting edge existing technology
Tier 10: XM1A3
The XM1 Abrams prototype will be removed from the game as a progression vehicle. It might return as a reward or Premium vehicle in the future since its experimental nature fits that role better.
The reason for the addition of a new Abrams model is the same as in the case of Shishkin’s Russian MBT - major jumps in combat value of each tank - in the case of the M1A2 and M1A2 SEP v3, the jump is practically a decade (SEP v2 was built on 2005 technology). As for the XM1A3, we do have tentative plans to replace it with a different vehicle in the future, but this switch will not happen in Update 0.19.
The Leopard Main Battle Tank line will not undergo any significant changes in Update 0.19, save for a new Leopard 1 model. Leopard 2 will be renamed to Leopard 2A4 to better reflect its appropriate classification. An alternative Tier 8 Leopard 2 will also be introduced - the Leopard 2A4 “Evolution”, consisting of a Leopard 2A4 chassis with armor upgrades by Rheinmetall.
Wölfli’s Armored Fighting Vehicles will also undergo major changes. For starters, the LAV-150 wheeled AFV will be removed from the game pending a complete overhaul, much like the AMX-10P.
The BMP-1 line setup will remain for the most part unchanged from Tier 3 BMP-1 (note that similar levels of technology are now on similar Tier levels - BMP-1 and BMD-1 for example). The Tier 3 BMP-1 will also receive the same guided missiles as the BMD-1 - the Malyutka launcher system. At higher tiers though, there will be two major changes:
Tier 7 BMP-3M will receive an ERA kit
Tier 8 will see the introduction of the BMP-3M Dragun
The remaining three lines will be heavily overhauled. With the removal of the M113 and the LAV-150, the AFV lines now start at Tier 3 with the Dragoon 90 for wheeled vehicles and XM800T for tracked. While the Dragoon 90 doesn’t need any major firepower upgrades due to the presence of a big gun, the XM800T will receive a LAW unguided rocket launcher to help it deal with more heavily armored opponents.
The four-wheeled scout AFV line will see the following changes:
Tier 3: Dragoon 90
Tier 4: LAV-300
Tier 5: VBL TOW - a new variant of the VBL with a TOW missile launcher, a Tier lower
Tier 6: FV721 Fox - up from Tier 5
Tier 7: VBL INGWE - the “original” VBL, moved a Tier higher
Tier 8: VBR ATGM - VBR variant with emphasis on ATGMs
Tier 9: CRAB
Tier 10: SPHINX
As a tracked vehicle, the Wiesel did not fit very well to a four-wheeled branch and was moved to the new tracked-based AFV branch under Sophie, which looks like this:
Tier 3: XM800T - now with unguided missile launchers
Tier 4: M113 ACAV - Vietnam War variant with 106mm Recoilless Gun
Tier 5: Wiesel TOW - the “original” Wiesel with a TOW launcher, down from Tier 7
Tier 6: FV438 Swingfire - up from Tier 4, the FV438 now packs quite a punch in Update 0.19
Tier 7: Warrior Milan - the Warrior has been upgraded with a new ATGM launcher and was moved from Shishkin’s to Wölfli’s pool
Tier 8: M3A2 Bradley - an upgraded variant of the tier 6 Bradley Fighting Vehicle
At Tier 7, players will also be given the opportunity to unlock a Wiesel variant with two HOT missile launchers, called the Wiesel HOT.
Finally, the gun wheeled Tank Destroyer line will be adjusted to the following setup:
Tier 3: Dragoon 90
Tier 4: LAV-300
Tier 5: ERC 90 F4
Tier 6: LAV-600 - down from Tier 7
Tier 7: Centauro 105 - up from Tier 6
Tier 8: M1128 MGS
Tier 9: Centauro 120 - up from Tier 8, Tier 9 shared with DRACO
While the DRACO was the original Tier 9 TD, the Centauro 120 is a better representation of modern Fire Support TDs. With the introduction of Balance 2.0, players will now have the opportunity to obtain the DRACO as a side-grade once they’ve unlocked the Centauro 120.
Due to the limited size of Zhang Feng’s vehicle pool - a single Chinese Main Battle Tank branch – the list of changes for Zhang aren’t as extensive, but the line still undergoes several key changes.
The entire line will be moved one Tier lower and will temporarily end on Tier 7 with Type 98. The previously Tier 3 Type 59 will be moved to Tier 1 to better reflect its original nature as a T-54/55 clone, but its upgraded version - Type 69 - will appear on Tier 2. The current Type 69 will be renamed to Type 79 to better reflect its nature. The setup will therefore be:
Tier 1: Type 59
Tier 2: Type 69
Tier 3: Type 79
Tier 4: Type 80-II
Tier 5: Type 80-IIM
Tier 6: Type 90-II
Tier 7: Type 98
Brand new Tier 8, Tier 9 and Tier 10 vehicles will be added in the near future, likely in one or two content patches after the release of 0.19, along with a full new line of Armored Fighting Vehicles and Tank Destroyers.
COMPENSATIONS, PREMIUM AND REWARD VEHICLES
We have prepared a comprehensive plan of compensations for you. It - along with the changes to Premium vehicles - will be revealed as a separate Developer Diary. Rest assured that none of these changes will damage you as players - in fact, we are quite sure that you will like many of them.