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Ahoy H.R. Matey

When will something be done about ridiculous NPC buffs?

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Dear Developers,

Please do something about the NPCs. I know that with the port bonus rush nobody on PvP server gives half a rat's arse about them right now, and that's where the action is, but on PvE side of things, NPCs are the only thing we've got.

Making their sailing more realistic was a good first step (it's nice to be fighting sailboats instead of motorboats). But, NPCs have way too many HPs, way too much pen and way too much DPS. I've specifically done some test runs where I went broadside-to-broadside to observe. I've seen my Bellona do less damage with two consecutive broadsides to an USS United States, than it did to me with a single broadside. This isn't right. Especially since my ship is fairly optimized (Teak/White Oak and thickness upgrade) and the NPC ship is as always fir or oak with crew space. I'm not saying NPCs are unbeatable - but you have to resort to long-range artillery duels (not exactly a thing in the Age of Sail), and if you are fighting the same ship as what you are sailing, you are almost guaranteed to need to break off and repair.

"NPCs have more HP because they can't repair" is not a valid reason anymore because of how many more HP NPCs have. Also, when I repair, I have to run (or the NPC will just destroy whatever I repaired) and at the very least I suffer a reduction in efficiency because of crew reallocation.

NPC overbuffs become more pronounced at higher rates and lead to three glaringly obvious issues:

1. It is not historically accurate. As it stands, in 4th rates and up, smaller NPC ships can comfortably stand broadside-to-broadside with larger player ships and if the player doesn't repair, they have a good chance of sinking the player.

2. It is frustrating. A battle against the same ship in the hands of NPC turns into a knife's edge contest. For one, I am not playing NA for a "Dark Souls" experience where one mistake can send you to the bottom. Higher-rate ship battles, ironically, are now more stressful than lower-rate ship battles, because margins of error are razor-thin, and you are risking losing an expensive ship with expensive upgrades. High risk you say? High risk should result in high reward. But there are no high rewards. You can't capture an awesome ship after a difficult battle, because NPC ships are bad. You don't get awesome loot unless RNJesus smiles at you, which doesn't happen very often. You take on high risk for inadequate rewards, so the optimal way is to go seal-club lower rate ships.

3. It invalidates players' optimized builds. In terms of speed, player ships can come out ahead. In terms of turn rate, after the nerf the NPCs are either "just as good" or better than an optimized player ship. In terms of tankiness, thickness and HP barely matter anymore, because NPCs chainsaw through LO/WO just as well as they do through regular oak (the differences are there, but they are very marginal). In terms of firepower, we cannot hope to match NPCs, because they have medium cannons that have range and pen like long cannons and reload and damage like carronades. Even with poods and gunnery upgrades, we come up short. Finally, NPCs still have their humongous fire arcs as if every cannon is mounted on a swivel.

Of course this does not apply when 4th rates and higher fight frigates. But at similar rates, it very much applies.

Now you would be tempted to say "ha ha, Ahoy got his ass kicked by NPCs and went crying to the forums, git gud scrub." Which is not the case; I have not lost a ship recently and I'm doing quite all right, but I am playing it VERY SAFE. It works, but it's getting tiresome. If you want more proof, watch the streams of your biggest advocate, Captain Reverse. He could not even pass the final exam because he got pounded into scraps. And there was a stream a little while ago of him and a few more PvP players taking a fleet of Bellonas against an NPC fleet. They lost at least one (possibly more); these are guys with THOUSANDS of hours that breathe, eat and drink NA combat. Also look at how closely the PvP battles are fought; people are within very short distances of each other and they don't immediately get perforated unless it's a much larger ship vs. much smaller ship. If you try fighing equal NPCs at realistic "Age of Sail distances", you will get ventilated in short order.

And of course we have no port bonuses on PvE. If you nerf books and upgrades to compensate for port bonuses, we are screwed. 

Please do something about the NPCs.

Edited by Ahoy H.R. Matey
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I'd like to see NPCs battle more normally - repair, charge, retreat, don't let themselves be kited, don't beach themselves, traders should be agressive and cycle chaining shots, etc

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7 hours ago, Barbancourt said:

I'd like to see NPCs battle more normally - repair, charge, retreat,

If you are looking for human behavior or logic, fight against humans, do not look for it in NPC's.

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Just adapt, and you will be fine.

 

just be smarter than a NPC :))

 

Edited by Thonys

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1 hour ago, Thonys said:

Just adapt, and you will be fine.

 

just be smarter than a NPC :))

 

The problem is we have to go in LO/WO ships to fight against AI which should be balanced vs Oak/Oak ships not the strongest ships.  I had a legency LO/WO with floating battery and maxed out reload getting out DPS by an AI I'm broad side to broad side with.  It seems lack of crew, sinking or other factors don't effect there reload and they reload double ball just as fast and can do so unnumber amount of time.

Again AI should be balanced against the middle not the best ships.

I actually found it was faster to just go in and rage board the SOL's with an equal ship and be done with it instead of going broad side to broad side.  Not to mention the rewards are so bad half your reals are gone for repairs, but Admin did state they plan to boost these up next patch.

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There is an ongoing problem in this game and it is that Devs design it around the wishes of the best players.  This manifests itself here in an NPC problem, because exceptional players find low skilled NPCs to be boring.  Now I did read somewhere that there is a plan to vary the NPC's skills, so there is hope that this problem will go away and become an interesting aspect of the game.  Imagine going into battle against a bot and not knowing it's relative skill....

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2 hours ago, Sento de Benimaclet said:

If you are looking for human behavior or logic, fight against humans, do not look for it in NPC's.

He is not looking for human behavior, read again.

1 hour ago, Thonys said:

Just adapt, and you will be fine.

just be smarter than a NPC :))

Just this, just that. Did you read his post at all? He said that he's doing fine and has not lost a single ship. And he also said that it can get tiresome. I completely feel the same. Haven't lost a ship in a while, yet I'd rather play another game at the moment because I have no pleasure playing against roid rage AIs, it just feels, well, unfair...

And this is valid only for the more persevering players, because the other ones left. I managed to get 4 friends back in the game and they all left within what, two months? Specifically because of the reasons mentioned here AND the lack of communication on the matter.

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3 hours ago, Thonys said:

Just adapt, and you will be fine.

 

just be smarter than a NPC :))

 

Thats not a way to solve problems. Fighting cheating AI is not fun, in any game

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The NPC combat feedback thread is still open for feedback, so definitely highlight the issues you describe on there.

Also have a ponder about possible solutions.

I'd like to see variance in the ability of npcs. Ideally a range from recruit to elite.

The npc ability rating should remain as a hidden stat to avoid abuse.

We'd then have elite npcs that are v accurate, will shoot your sails , rep when needed and display excellent sailing skills . You'd also see recruit npcs that shoot poorly and hang in the wind and everything in between.

Npc's should not be artificially buffed (as per your HP increase mention)

Npc's should not shoot at non realistic angles

There must be a valid reason why they've been buffed artificially. Anyone know root cause?

 

 

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1 hour ago, o7Captain said:

Thats not a way to solve problems. Fighting cheating AI is not fun, in any game

E105AD481D22D2EA75C789EC58D0A29247B0ADAE

i think it is fun...

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2 minutes ago, Angus MacDuff said:

What did you get for all of that?

37589 reaals

and 3690 xp

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Just now, Thonys said:

37589 reaals

and 3690 xp

LOL.  Admin needs to get on with paying us more for kills.  Did it at least open up a slot on your Christian?

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1 minute ago, Angus MacDuff said:

LOL.  Admin needs to get on with paying us more for kills.  Did it at least open up a slot on your Christian?

yes the payment is not very good 

and it did not open a slot :(

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1 minute ago, Thonys said:

yes the payment is not very good 

and it did not open a slot :(

Your example illustrates what can be done by an experienced Captain in a 2nd rate.  I think the OP is more about a 1 v 1 and less experienced players.  I know if you sail alongside an equal strength enemy AI and trade broadsides (very bad tactics!) you will suffer bad damage and could lose.  The AI also have many advantages.  There is a solution in the pipeline but, as always, we have to wait patiently for it to occur.

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Best way to bring up bigger ships,  I opened the last few slots of Christian,  3rd rate and new connie doing the same.  Angling and repairs. 

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1 hour ago, Angus MacDuff said:

Your example illustrates what can be done by an experienced Captain in a 2nd rate.  I think the OP is more about a 1 v 1 and less experienced players.  I know if you sail alongside an equal strength enemy AI and trade broadsides (very bad tactics!) you will suffer bad damage and could lose.  The AI also have many advantages.  There is a solution in the pipeline but, as always, we have to wait patiently for it to occur.

I was doing missions killing 3rd rates with a Christian (T/WO) and tried one just sailing broadside to broadside and came away with considerable damage (1/3 structure left). That's with 3 slots with reload bonuses poods and double shot. In theory a Christian should out DPS a 3rd rate without mods. The last one I did I noted the AI was an Admiral so maybe that effected the battle. They still seems to shoot at extreme angles as well. 

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I completely agree with the OP. I was very happy back when they improved the sailing/tactical skills of NPC ships, as it added a challenge that was both fun and useful for training purposes, but I never understood the point of the hugely buffed/unbalanced hitpoints, pen/damage, and firing angles/range --not even as a compensation for NPC repair handicaps. If super-elite players want a bigger challenge to feel a sense of achievement, they can either fight other elite players or fight larger or specifically-elite-designated NPC fleets and missions.

At least on the PvP server, the function of most NPC battles should be relatively low-stress training/practice and grinding. There is no good reason for a fight with a run-of-the-mill NPC of equal or lesser class to be exceedingly difficult, tedious, or resource-taxing, especially for an experienced/skilled captain. Not that it should be easy, of course - that would be just as bad - but if it must be difficult, it should at the very least be difficult in a way that jives with the damage model/expectations in PvP. That is, giving/recieving a full broadside from a certain distance and angle against an NPC ship should inform, rather than provide unrealistic expectations about, what to expect from the same situation in a PvP fight. The only real difference between NPC fights and PvP should be tactics and creativity (e.g. dismasting, repairing, etc). I can only imagine how many new players have quit or avoided getting into PvP because they had their confidence unnecessarily destroyed by unrealistic/unbalanced NPC battles.

IMHO the most fun and useful standard for a 'balanced' NPC on the PvP server should be that an experienced/good captain would (or at least could) win a narrow victory over a same-class ship WITHOUT having to repair.

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5 minutes ago, Unfathomable said:

I can only imagine how many new players have quit or avoided getting into PvP because they had their confidence unnecessarily destroyed by unrealistic/unbalanced NPC battles

This is actually a really good point.  No matter how tough the Devs make NPC combat, it will never prepare a newer player for PVP battle.  Personally, if I am doing a NPC battle, its to get some sort of quick reward (Ship XP/loot) and I don't want to expend a lot of effort doing it.  I'm annoyed if I have to use reps.

Edited by Angus MacDuff
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"Seal-clubbing fifth rates with a second rate is not a good example and I specifically mentioned it in the OP. "" 

     well, actually it is .....

 

the problem is : you can be destroyed.

you have to figure out what you can take: >>  what you can handle to survive,>>  and what not.

remember every battle is not a battle to the death (there is no circle remember)

sometimes you need to escape on the right moment.

use your head>>  adjust >>> and be smart.>>  get the hell out of there if it is going out of control, the first rule is to save your crew and ship.(you need it for the next battle :)) )

 

 

 

Edited by Thonys

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1 minute ago, Thonys said:

the problem is : you can be destroyed.

you have to figure out what you can take: >>  what you can handle to survive,>>  and what not.

remember every battle is not a battle to the death (there is no circle remember)

sometimes you need to escape on the right moment.

use your head>>  adjust >>> and be smart.>>  get the hell out of there if it is going out of control, the first rule is to save your crew and ship.(you need it for the next battle :)) )

 

 

 

Advice from someone who posts a screenshot of having sunk a bunch of fifth rates in a Christian as if it is some kind of accomplishment is very hard to take seriously. Just saying. This kind of match-up is my standard battle in an old blue teak/wo Bellona, and without poods.

Start fighting same rates and then we can talk.

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