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Construction in 2023

Hey there, folks. In this letter we'll be sharing our intentions for the first major update of 2023, a Construction System overhaul.

One of our goals for this year is to be more transparent with content we're excited about, which includes letting you know our plans further in advance, showing off more work-in-progress material, encouraging more feature testing on the Public Test Server, and engaging in more discussion with you all when possible.

To kick things off, below you'll find an overview of our goals and planned design for a revamped construction system. This should be viewed as somewhat of a conversation starter, and you can find a discussion thread to post feedback in here.


Construction – What it does well, and what needs work.

Since its introduction in 2016, the Construction System has been leveraged as a way to fill the "in-between spaces" of a continent by providing a low-intensity form of gameplay that can be done off of the front lines. By giving players a variety of pieces and control over a base's layout, each Construction fight will be a little bit different. This increases the diversity of play, adds intrinsic progression for builders in the form of acquired map knowledge and the perfecting of base layouts, and has loads of potential for teamplay due to the nature of the system.

That said...

Construction is difficult to get into, can be borderline tedious to participate in as a defender, frustrating to fight against as an attacker, infrequently creates well-developed back and forth fights, and only recently (with the increase in open-field capture points and a map to support it) was even made capable of adding value to the most common form of map-based play, being capturing and defending bases.

So how do we tap the potential good of this almost-seven-year-old system?



For this overhaul, we're focused on two main objectives:

  • Allow builders to develop bases that non-builders enjoy fighting at.
  • Reduce barrier to entry for players looking to engage with the system.

If we nail the first one – everything else kind of falls into place. So here are the focus areas we're planning to address.


Lattice-based Construction Outposts

One of the more game-changing features we'd like to deliver is the conversion of vehicle capture points found at lattice-based construction outposts into slowly, but infinitely refilling, faction-controlled Cortium Silos. These special silos will double as the capture point of a base, and the heart of one. No longer will you arrive at an open-field capture point with nothing to do. By adding a Silo right to the capture point, there should almost always be a base to fight against, and the ability to construct one, without all the initial friction of cortium runs and setup. When the base is captured by an opposing faction, all of the resources in range of the Silo will flip to the capturer's faction, meaning that it may sometimes be better to leave structures standing, instead of knocking them over.


Combat In and Around a Base

In general we'd like more construction objects with interiors that can be used as combat spaces (community member Lorrmaster made some great mockups to this effect.) It's a tricky balance to strike, because of how difficult placement can be when the bases of an object get too large, but the goal would be to have interior spaces at especially powerful construction objects. For example: The Elysium Spawn Tube might be converted into a Rebirth Center, and the Orbital Strike Uplink might be incorporated into a larger structure. New structures would be added that serve other niches as well – for example, a Command Center might have a spawn room, vehicle bay, and equipment terminal incorporated within it, but also require a larger, flatter area to place.

Going the other direction, we'd also like to add more small-scale construction objects that provide cover while traversing a base. Objects like tunnels, awnings, or tree-stand-like platforms for infantry. More pieces overall.


Modules Reworked

Cortium no longer passively drains based on the modules you have scattered around a base, instead, we're revamping modules to move toward an active form of base upkeep. In this updated version, modules are pulled from a Silo (or another dispenser,) and placed into the socket of a structure. The module then provides a benefit to the structure depending on the type of module slotted in, and it will stay powered until the module runs dry. After that, a new module will need to be inserted.

For example: A Bunker might have 2 module sockets, and be able to accept Repair Modules, Durability Modules, and Heavy Repair Modules. A Repair Module might increase the maximum health of a structure, and passively heal it over time, while lasting for 20 minutes, a Durability module may just increase the maximum health by a greater amount, and last for the same length of time. A Heavy Repair Module may last for a much shorter duration, but have a greater impact. We refer to these modules as "High-Pressure" and they're meant to be inserted when combat heats up and the base needs additional support.

Between these changes, players will be given an active role in maintaining the health of a base (by slotting in new modules when needed,) newly formed bases won't be so difficult to get going, on account of the removal of cortium drain, and the "drain" on cortium will only need to take place when a base is in a combat area – so you won't need to keep doing cortium runs just to maintain bases that aren't yet under attack.

On the flip side of this, attacking individual structures can now also be done with the help of modules. If an enemy breaches the interior of a structure, they can destroy any socketed modules within the object, and replace them with a Cortium Bomb. The revamped Cortium Bomb will no longer be able to be able to be placed out in the open, and will instead act like a module that attackers have access to. Still held in the Tactical Slot, a Cortium Bomb must be defended until it explodes, dealing heavy damage to the structure it's housed within.


Finding the Fun in Attacking Construction

The flow of a construction base is a bit different than a designer-built one because of the design intent. A defender attempts to build the most impenetrable base they can, either to protect a capture point or to create an impassable object. The goal of the attacker is to stop the enemy from spawning there, or to get through the obstacle. This methodology is more similar to a Rush game mode, than a Control one. Control is a tug of war, whereas Rush is a one-and-done, attrition-based objective. Construction operates similarly – once the heart of the base is destroyed (the Silo or spawns) the rest of the base is just debris.

For this reason, the fun of a construction base fight needs to be in the approach, and overcoming obstacles as you work toward a heavily guarded center. Unfortunately, some "un-fun" mechanics make it difficult to really enjoy the core of the combat experience, which is vehicle and infantry play. With the update, the intention would be to convert non-Skywall shields to two-way shields (and revamp which structures have access to them and how they use them,) remove the Pain Spire, remove (or revamp) Automated Turrets, remove the EMP effect from Skywalls, as well as increase the overall resilience of larger bases by increasing defensability when modules are placed within them.


Barrier to Entry

There are very few moments that Construction is introduced to a player, and almost all of them happen randomly. Adding a Construction-based training mission, and construction dailies will help introduce players to the system. We've also tossed around the idea of leveraging the campaign system to create a series of missions players can use to get acclimated to a certain concept of the game, Construction included. Aside from that, reducing the overall unlock cost of construction schematics, and expanding the base kit of items available to new players would be on the docket as well.


Harvesting and the ANT

We'll be taking a pass on the amount of Cortium nodes on each map to ensure that there's enough of it to go around at prime time, as well as integrate the ANT's max-rank mineral radar and cortium capacities by default. Cortium nodes themselves are also going to change. To make the experience less left-click-and-wait, and add a bit more interactivity, we'd like to convert harvesting tools like the Mandibles into a more traditional (albeit short range) weapon that can chip pieces of Cortium nodes away. These pieces would then be driven over to collect. The intention would be to make these nodes change shape as they fall apart, too, allowing you to clearly see how much cortium is available from a distance. Mandibles would deal heavy damage to Cortium, deal reasonable damage as anti-construction vehicles, and light damage to everything else.

Additionally, the Orbital Mining Drill is planned to make a comeback as a War Asset that Outfits can summon to the battlefield. The drill would churn up Cortium that can then be collected to help supplement a base.


Quality of Life

There's a lot of quality of life improvements that we've identified to improve already. Things like... slowing down the default rotation rate on construction objects; turning the colored building socket spheres into upward and downward arrows; showing the placement controls on-screen while holding a construction object; making it easier to read the ANT's mining HUD, and surfacing cortium capacity in third person; having an easier place to see and unlock construction objects; making it easier to unlock construction objects in general; showing the nearest friendly Silo on your HUD while you're in an ANT; showing allied Silos on the map in general; showing which terminal types a construction base has access to on the redeploy screen; expanding buildable areas where possible; aaaaaaand the list goes on.


Odds and Ends

More in the realm of cleanup and balance, Orbital Strikes won't be able to two-click a base away any more, as damage will be reduced against construction objects. Targeting devices for the Flail, Glaive, and Orbital Strikes would also all be converted to a "laze" system that requires the user to remain exposed with eyes on target for a time before the strike is confirmed – this offers more counterplay than the fire-and-forget targeting dart was capable of.

We've also discussed the ability to generate points toward Empire Strength through construction objects. If anyone remembers HIVEs and the old Victory Point system in 2016, you'll probably also remember how abruptly and out-of-nowhere a continent would capture because of backline HIVEs generating Victory Points. If that system worked more similar to Empire Strength now a days, where points lead toward an Alert firing, instead of a map's closure, it may be a different situation. This is something I consider the weakest portion of the current proposed design though, as the rate of Alerts firing on continents at the moment is pretty high, and includes population-triggered alerts. Whether or not we have too many or too few alerts seems to be an opinion that's oscillated back and forth over the years, and I'd be interested in your feedback about this portion of the game as well.


There's Plenty More

While I'm describing a large, multi-month initiative above, you'll still see plenty of bug cleanup, quality of life improvements, balance iteration, as well as monthly Prime Gaming content and seasonal events in between major releases.


Let me know what you think. Thanks folks.

-Wrel, Lead Designer