PATCH ANALYSIS – DAMAGE CONTROLS

2016-03-08

The Damage Control Unit (DCU) module has come a long way since its days as the always fit and “don’t forget to hit” baseline of ship defenses, as it dramatically boosted damage resistance. For a long time, the gameplay around the module sat between active and passive. It had to be activated, but the capacitor cost was so minimal that it might as well have been passive. Most capsuleers begin life with the suitcase-looking DCU on just about every loadout, but as pilots advance and ship theory becomes very specialized, resistance plates start to displace the use of the DCU in both PVE and PVP.

Gallente ships favored the DCU as it boosted the hull resistance considerably. Long ago, each race was supposed to have a different style tank: Caldari were the shield ships, Amarr were the armor, Minmatar were the speed, and Galente were the hull. Remnants of that game design can be seen, especially in the size of Gallente ships, which usually have more hull hit points than other ships in their class.

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The DCU was made to patch the missing hull resistances (note, no ships have native hull resistance), thus DCU’s boosted hull resistance 500% of what it did for armor and shield, to get it to parity. This meant that Gallente hull HP, with a 50-60% boost, made for a very tanky ship.

After the patch, damage control will be a passive module, and will add less hull resistance than before, about one-third less. There will also be new officer variants.

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As part of this DCU change, all ships will be getting their long-lost hull resistances. Every ship in the game will go from 0 to 33% across all damage types. No DCU is required; it is a native buff, even for ships that could not use the DCU before, like freighters and jump freighters. This has caused controversy among those that like to shoot said ships.

Freighter Ganker Debate

The massive EHP of freighters mostly comes from the hull, so a new 33% damage resistance helps where freighters are strongest. Additionally, freighters can use reinforced bulkhead modules, which again stack where freighters are strongest, pushing hulls HP up by 25% (27% with faction).

High-sec ganking advocates, who normally target freighters in the shipping lanes, complain that this puts their damage dealing burden too high. They have pointed to the Gallente jump freighter, the Anshar, as having nearly one million EHP (with maxed skills and billions in implants). It is worth noting that jump freighters have much higher resistances than normal freighters, but carry less.

Freighters have been the clay pigeons that gankers shotgun blast Catalysts through them one after another. They are free to reload in high-sec stations, which makes no sense. Freighters can do nothing. Recently, CSM candidate RF Gnaeus Crassus (Red Frog) suggested Freighter be giving some way to return fire so that pilots who are at the keys could influence their own fate. Instead, CCP has looked at balancing the gank with the price associated with it, measured in how many Catalysts it will take to bring down a ship. It’s not an issue of money as much as manpower (or multiboxing).

CCP Fozzie mentioned that they are always looking at ganking and making balance passes, such as the recent pro-ganker increases to the EHP of destroyed hulls.  This buff allowed more looting time for gankers.

Conclusion

Besides the free buff to freighters, the Damage Control Unit changes have been well-received with little controversy. Some say it is one less button to push, meaning one less pilot decision, but the gamplay for DCUs has always been negligent; “Oops I forgot to press it” doesn’t have much piloting skill value.

Faction reinforced bulkheads, Slave implants, as well as a host of armor implants have already risen in the marketplace as freighter pilots prepare to capitalise on their newfound survivability. Individual pilots will rejoice, but regional hub sellers might see profits fall slightly due to more secure supply lines to Jita. Every change has layers of consequences.

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