Hey there, I'm a player from 2016. Started playing after the Garman Update (when HnG officially launched). The contents of this post will compare back to that period in time. Also note that I'm primarily an infantry player that plays for the gunplay. I also do some tanking. (So you won't see me commenting on aircraft since I don't have the experience).
Back then, gameplay was much simpler, and it was hard to balance many aspects of the game because the simplicity led to things being either too weak or too strong. And revisiting the game in 2020, I can say that there have been many improvements.
This will be a positive post to remind people that in the long-term, gameplay and balance can improve.
1. Remember Squad 2.0?
Back when you needed to use auxiliary seats to switch classes? How about if your squad leader was inexperienced and didn't have them, or if they were experienced and just had the wrong ones? Well too bad, if you were an infantryman who needed to be a pilot to take out enemy pilots, or if you were a non-infantry who needed to infantry up to save a line? Too bad. You're out of luck. Now? you can switch to whatever class you need to win the battle.
2. How about infantry snipers?
I was an infantry sniper main for my first 3 years, but for the good of the game, higher-zoom infantry scopes are gone, and it changes the gameplay dynamic for the better. Aggressive and objective play is more viable since you aren't so easily picked-off, and recons have their proper place in the game again (and of course, the sweet reward of getting one of their scoped rifles).
3. And bipods?
I was originally against them. Who in their right mind would choose to use an inaccurate (conefire) MG if you were just going to get picked off by an infantry sniper? With the previous issue resolved, and the reduction in sway and recoil from mounting a bipod, as well as Reto's very quick and smooth implementation of mounting, I have found myself and many other players mounting up their MGs for increased stability. People have been asking for bipods for years, we got them, and for all intents and purposes, they got everything done right. I praise Reto for this amazing implementation.
4. What about those one-man-army AT rambos?
They still exist, as in one player can solo-kill a tank, but unlike the previous hitpoint-only tank health system, you can't kill any tank with only 2 equipment points any more (2x H3 mines). A greater investment in eq points/badges/panzerfaust crates are needed to take down a tank, so the previous status quo of every infantryman being able to easily take out a tank with 2 eq points is gone. Despite this, tankers are vulnerable to mobility kills (which quickly lead to outright kills), so tanks don't have invincibility auras either. This leads to a great balance where the frequency of AT rambos is decreased, reducing the annoyance of tanking, whereas tankers are still punished for playing aggressively without infantry support, just like how it was intended to be (real life and ingame). Tanks are not as vulnerable, they can advance with inf support, or they can solo-dominate in long range and area denial. Bravo, bravo.
This is simple. Before medkits, you were practically required to assault a point with a medbox-equipped car since trying to go into repeat-gunfights with a redlined health bar generally didn't go that well. By having more medboxes around the map and the personal medkits, the AT and ammo boxes are a lot more viable to use on cars.
6. Small Arms Updates (1.18 and 1.20)
Kar98K, G43, etc. iron sights were small, so boosting their size greatly increased usability. Making more predictable recoil and reducing RNGesus's effect via conefire: I'm all for it. Tightens up the gunplay and makes it more skillful. 1.20 was such a treat, for new players and old alike. Default SA rifles were 3-shot kill guns, and subguns were outclassed in CQB. By reducing the differential between stock and modded guns, stock guns were made more useful while modded guns weren't nerfed. I like that. Many, many more guns were made viable in this patch, suitable for trying out again.
There's Still Room for Growth
This is mostly a positive post, but I'm going to leave some analytical ideas for you all to munch on. I'll try to avoid too much of the toxic nerf-this buff-that stuff.
For the first 3 years of the game, I was a rifle main. Here's the proof: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyZGnJvz-lc&t=1s
If you asked why I was an infantry sniper (G43/K98K/ironsight M1G), the answer is not just because I liked picking off newbs at range. It's because other guns could not even hit at range. Against a stationary target, the BA and SA rifles were the only guns that were even capable of picking people off at 100-200+ meters. I was constantly frustrated by using assault rifles on semi-auto and going for that opportunistic headshot and missing due to conefire. To this day, this still applies to everything non-SA/BA and contributes to spray n' pray meta. Sure, give other guns less velocity (harder to lead targets) and less damage (need more shots), but at least let me be able to hit them. Side note: the adjustable sights/accuracy barrels have never made a meaningful increase in accuracy for this purpose. Rifles didn't need them, and other guns didn't benefit enough to meaningfully extend the range.
Sometime in 2017? There was a hidden sway nerf for crouching. Previously, crouching would get you to near-prone levels of sway, but afterward, it would barely help at all for non-BA guns. Giving a crouch benefit would help make midrange more sophisticated since the only low-sway guns in the game are the SA rifles (no stance change needed). Alternately, you could introduce mounting for all firearms just like bipods since the mounting system is such a good one.
Headshots are another contributor for spray 'n pray meta. One lucky shot and they're dead, so might as well leadwall them. If Reto want's to keep the 4x "headshot = deadshot" mentality, then ignore the rest of this point, but I think that a 4x multiplier for guns on semi auto and 2x for full auto would be more appropriate. This rewards the precisely aimed semi-automatic shot and also retains the reward for full auto headshot (2x multiplier ensures needing 1 less shot to kill) while reducing spray 'n pray meta. It also gives a good reason for select-fire guns to swap to semi auto for longer ranges (there is currently no ingame mechanical benefit for doing so).
Patch 1.20 put their close-range performance on par with AR/LMG, but past that? meh. I didn't think that their range needed any reduction at all, but if we want them to be purely CQB specialist guns, I think an equipment point reduction to 4 (with no pouch) compared to the current 5 would give a reason to run them over AR/LMG. And you could finally run a tanker with wrench and additional ammo.
I will say though, if the regeneration thresholds (1/3 and 2/3 health) were removed and regeneration kept slow, it would reduce the necessity of having medkits on nearly every infantry class. It would be a helpful option for aggressive players to quickly heal without being a necessity for you to enter fights at full health. Interesting to ponder.
Given the recent 1.20 changes to weapon modding, mods are less beneficial, but they can still be expensive. With the infantry scope magnification decrease, do they really need to be that expensive? Especially since it's measured on a per-shot basis that is constant between guns, thereby making them prohibitively expensive on STG/M2/AVS? Do subguns really need to be that expensive compared to cheap LMGs that outperform them? I understand that Reto wants to incentivize players to spend money, but some guns (scoped M2) can easily make you go credit negative in a match.
The point here is not that I'm asking for freebies or more credits, it's that repair costs have largely been unchanged since 2016 while the meta has changed greatly. As such, repair costs do not accurately reflect what it "should" (insert whatever you want there) cost to run a weapon. Keep the Anti-Personnel mine cost high though, because fk those things.
Haha, you thought I would talk about heavyset. Not today.
From what I gather, Reto is using heavyset as a way to balance out damage levels across guns. While I understand this, I don't necessarily agree or think this will change, even with the upcoming badge rebalance. So no, I will not be lighting this dumpster fire. Feel free to create your own thread about heavyset, because I don't want it in this one.
Wow, what a long post. To summarize in a TL;DR, we have made great advances in the last 4 years, and I'm proud of what Reto has done. I have provided some of my own thought-provoking ideas from the perspective of the much-reviled infantry marksman. I want to know your thoughts, although I do expect you to write more than a sentence and to explain your position, since I want to learn outside of my own perspective as well.
And Reto, if you're reading this, Here's a needle of positivity in a haystack of negativity (we know that game forums can be that way; I know it was that way in 2017 when we were complaining about AT rambos, no bipods, and infantry snipers).