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Developer Briefing #135 – Armour Overhaul

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Jul
09

Hey everyone,

Welcome to Dev Brief #135!

This week we’re got a big one for you as we delve into and detail the armour overhaul coming in Update 10 on July 27th.

From the changes themselves to new additions and our reasoning behind them, today we’re pleased to be in a position to sit down and go through everything with you.

A lot of these changes have been inspired, guided and provoked from community feedback, so thank you to everyone who took the time to share their thoughts with us on armour throughout Early Access.

Right, let’s rev the engines and get stuck in…

A Message From Max – The Armour Overhaul: Changes, Details & Reasoning

Hi everyone,

We’ve been working very hard on our continued armour rework – the majority of which will be landing with Update 10. We’ve incorporated feedback from across the entire community and it’s meant reworking many areas of our code and logic – including both projectiles, armour, the way armour functions on the vehicles, and the componentry of each piece. Alongside this, it’s also meant reworking the complex driving models for every vehicle in the game in order to get the best possible outcome – that balances expectation with reality.

It has also touched the base roster, ammo quantities, vehicle costs, sound effects, visual effects and many more aspects (such as no longer allowing AT to reload a launcher/AT rifle while sprinting!), as we rebalance the entire armour spectrum in line with adjusted line-ups and the coming new medium tank offerings for both the US and German forces (Sherman for the US and Panzer IV for the Germans).

In Hell Let Loose, armour is designed to function largely as it did in real life – with tense duels, surprise attacks from superior positioning and requiring the support of the surrounding team (when it comes to protecting the flanks from infantry attack).

Armour Hit Boxes

The largest rework by far has to manually build and apply accurate armour hitboxes to all vehicles in the game. One of the large issues previously was projectiles would strike small pieces of geometry on the exterior of a vehicle (like a hook or spade or edge) and it would lead to random outcomes (be in a bounce, non-penetrating explosion or penetration).

This led to very unsatisfying gameplay, where some vehicles could be destroyed in a single shot, or some other totally random outcome. In reworking all of these hitboxes, we’ve now assured a very binary outcome that can both be learned and relied upon. We have found that this now produces better armoured encounters in which crews are able to clearly understand the combat taking place.

Hit Statuses

In line with our efforts towards eliminating the randomness of armoured combat, we’ve reworked both the sound and look of penetrating shots, non-penetrating shots (ones that explode on the side of the vehicle) and ricocheting shots. They are now far more distinct and should help crews keep much better track of how the action is progressing. In addition, the tank shell flyby sounds have been greatly improved, leading to a more dramatic soundscape on the battlefield.

Ricocheting

Non-Penetrating

Penetrating

Resource Costs

In reworking the way Resource Nodes function and accumulate resources, we’ve rebalanced costs of vehicles to match. Our ultimate desire has always been to create relative scarcity of Fuel, that would then force a Commander to make greater strategic decisions with their armour crews to decide which vehicle would be best to bring in to supplement the base roster of vehicles. Something we were missing from our “Company of Heroes” comparisons was a distinct battle order by which a Commander would bring in specific vehicles. We are keen that every decision the Commander makes is driven by necessity and not by endless surplus.

Scarcity of Heavy Tanks

As we begin to introduce more medium tanks to the game, we’re keen to rebalance the base roster (the default line-up each team receives in order to make sure they’re viable from a vehicle perspective). As such, we’ve removed Heavy Tanks from the default line-up to make them rarer and more intentional in their use. We want their presence on the battlefield to reflect a concerted choice and strategy, rather than business-as-usual. In doing so, one of our aims is to shift the standard vehicle effectiveness down – towards medium tanks, light tanks and eventually assault guns. Until this time, Heavy Tanks have often seemed like the majority of the vehicles on the battlefield – which does not reflect the historical weighting and lead to problems elsewhere – such as needing standard anti-tank players to field equally powerful weapons to destroy them.

Ultimately, the sight of a Tiger 1, Jumbo and IS-1 (and eventually the Tiger II, IS-2 and Pershing) should be rare, exciting and terrifying to the enemy, and indicate specific intentions of the Commander.

Engine Component

In line with rebalancing armour and the introduction of anti-tank rifles, we’ve added the engine components to vehicles in order to allow different, less-potent forms of anti-tank weaponry to effectively hinder and nullify armour in ways that aren’t a simple critical-kill.

It is now possible to knock out a vehicle’s engine by penetrating the engine bay – resulting in its total immobilisation.

Manoeuvrability and Gears

We’ve worked hard on the manoeuvrability and gear ratios in this rework. We’ve attempted to emulate the real principles of driving in greater manoeuvrability at low gears, while straight line speeds are higher but less manoeuvrable. However, this is still a work-in-progress as we figure out the best mixture of handling.

Physics

We’ve made several improvements to our physics handling and the interrelationships between different vehicles, as well as to the way in which we handle collisions. This has resulted in:

  • Reduced the likelihood of getting stuck between objects
  • Reduced the likelihood of vehicles bouncing off objects at speed
  • Reduced the ability for lighter vehicles to knock around heavier vehicles
  • Reduced the jittery behaviour of vehicles while stationary or between objects
  • Fixed visual stepping on tank barrels as they move
  • Improved the ability for trucks to climb steep angles

 

Sound Effects

Alongside every other improvement, we’ve worked on the following sound effects:

  • Added SFX when colliding with objects
  • Added SFX for entering and exiting vehicles
  • Added SFX for switching seat in vehicles
  • Updated Tank Engine and Tracks SFX
  • Updated Turret traverse SFX

 

Continued Improvements

As always with Hell Let Loose, we’ll continue to improve this gameplay as we introduce a variety of new vehicles into the game. We can already see the need for a potential armour degradation mechanic in the near future to emulate the failure of a particular surface.

Armour rework Summary

The below changelist is subject to change based ongoing balancing and community feedback after the U10 update.

Added Engine Compartment

 

  • Shuts off the Engine and prevents an Engine start
  • Disables at 0% HP
  • Enables at 100% HP

 

Adjusted vehicle health and damage

 

  • Mirror matchups will result in ~2 shots to kill
  • Shooting a higher classed Tank requires 2-3 shots to kill
  • Shooting a lower classed Tank requires 1-2 shots to kill
  • Reduced Handheld-AT damage to require an additional rocket to destroy Heavy Tanks Increased AT-
  • Gun HP to compensate for the PTRS damage and require 2 handheld shots

 

Adjusted Tank Armor Ratings

 

  • Increased frontal armour for most Tanks requiring precise shots or flanked angles
  • Increased side Hull armour on some Tanks requiring handheld AT to shoot the rear
  • Increased Turret Cupola armour so it’s no longer a go-to easy weak spot

 

Adjusted Behaviour of certain areas of Armor

 

  • Tank barrels can now ricochet
  • Turret cupolas can now ricochet
  • Turret cupolas now only transfer damage to the Turret and not the Hull
  • Tracks can now be damaged by HE shells
  • Tracks can no longer be exploited to bypass the Hull armour
  • Tracks will not ricochet shells
  • Miscellaneous items attached to vehicles no longer deal damage to the Hull when shot

 

Other improvements

 

  • Removed exploitable locations on Tanks that tricked the system into thinking the shell was impacting
  • the rear/side of the Tank
  • Disabled the ability to reload the Bazooka and Panzerschreck while sprinting
  • Improved reliability of the correct impact/ricochet FX being played
  • Increased the repair speed of Blow Torches and Repair Stations
  • Increased Satchel damage to instantly destroy any vehicle
  • Removed collision from Tank barrels to eliminate jittery movement
  • Allowed Satchels to be placed on the Tracks of Tanks
  • Slightly reduced muzzle smoke produced from Tank barrels when firing
  • Added new FX for shells that hit but do not penetrate
  • Adjusted the FX for ricocheting shells to be more distinguishable
  • Updated vehicle seating UI
  • Updated vehicle component icons
  • Adjusted gear speeds to be more uniform
  • Allowed MGs to deal damage to Trucks
  • Removed Heavy Tanks from automatic HQ spawns and added a Transport Truck to each HQ
  • Removed resource cost from HQ spawns
  • Added SFX when colliding with objects
  • Added SFX for entering and exiting vehicles
  • Added SFX for switching seat in vehicles
  • Updated Tank Engine and Tracks SFX
  • Updated Turret traverse SFX
  • Increased duration for entering and exiting Tanks
  • Increased duration for switching seat in Tanks
  • Refactored vehicle weapons to support Ballistics
  • Introduced Smart Materials to the interior and exterior of new and some existing vehicles
  • Shells no longer travel at a weird offset when firing on uneven terrain

 

IS-1

The IS-1 was an early variant of the Soviet Stalin heavy tank, developed from the battle-proven KV type. The KV was one of the most well-armoured heavy tanks at its point of introduction, but by 1942 was vulnerable to experienced anti-tank teams and heavier German armour. In addition, it was slower, more expensive, and no more heavily armed than the now large numbers of T-34 tanks rolling off the production lines.

The decision was made to improve the armour and armament of the KV, which would enable it to retain its battlefield niche. The resulting redesign would be named IS-1, after Joseph Stalin. The chassis, iterated on the KV, deleted the hull gunner position and instead had the driver seated in a centrally located compartment. Its weight was used more efficiently with critical components being better armoured while actually being lighter than the KV. The turret retained the three-man configuration of the KV, but was fully cast and fit the powerful 85 millimetre D-5T gun.

The IS-1 performed well, but the T-34 would eventually be up-gunned with the same 85 millimetre gun. Thus, experiments to put increasingly larger guns in the IS hull would continue and the definitive production variant would be the massive 122 millimetre gun armed IS-2.

BA-10

The BA-10 was a Soviet armoured car from the Second World War. A pre-war design placing an armoured hull over a Ford AA-derived chassis, the BA-10 had a somewhat ungainly appearance and a high centre of gravity. It was armed with a 45 millimetre gun, giving it excellent firepower for its weight.

The BA-10 found itself somewhat poorly suited to the rigors of Eastern front combat. Its thin armor and high profile made it vulnerable to fire, and tracked vehicles proved to be better at traversing the poor roads that stretched across the Soviet Union. Where available, it would use its speed to serve as a reconnaissance vehicle instead.

Onwards to the weekend!

That wraps up this week’s Dev Brief!

We hope you enjoyed our deep dive into the armour overhaul. It’d be great to hear what you think, so share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

July 27th is rapidly approaching, so you won’t have long to wait until you can get stuck into these sweeping improvements.

Have a great weekend everyone!

We’ll see you on the frontline.

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