This weekend, Kixeye ran a preview server that open to all for a couple hours, as well as a VXP preview.
On the Preview server, we could try out the new hull and weapon prizes planned for the next raid against the new mine targets. We also have been able to hit those targets in the "real" game for a 24 hour period and earn VXP instead of the "base parts" planned for the rewards from those targets.
I'll start with a look at the new prizes:
Sorry I didn't grab the whole thing - the friendly field of effect reduces splash damage by 20% and will stack multiplicatively. +20% splash resistance is a good way to think of it... this means that 5 Centurions supporting each other would have a 67.2% splash resistance (not 100%).
This new hull is a ballistic hull with Siege Deflection, but it isn't the "best thing ever" offensively.
It has the 40% Ballistic Range bonus that is a must-have these days, but its reload and damage bonuses leave it starting with inferior damage output when compared to a Punisher, Crusader, or likely even a SCX R10.
This hull is clearly purpose-designed to engage the new mine targets we saw this weekend. Those targets deal ballistic & radioactive damage - the only damage types this hull has built-in resistances against. It does have higher speed and more armor slots than the Punisher, but it lacks any Assault Deflection. Overall, players that used this hull against the mine targets liked it, but without Penetrative Defense, Explosive Defense, or Assault Deflection, and aura suppression by Coldsnap/Frostbite turrets, I would not want to take a fleet of these into any decent player base.
I could see this hull making a nice support ship - one of these could run behind some ships that have better offensive output and help cut splash damage.
Particle Accelerator Cannon
This new weapon has good range, reload, and building damage output, but relatively low ship damage. It can deal out a particle blast that pretty much seemed to level anything in its radius.
Again, the Particle Accelerator seems purpose-designed for the new siege targets, but the Earthshaker Cannon is the real standout here. The Particle Blast will level a large area, so it makes the weapon more effective against grouped buildings than these single-target DPS numbers imply. But you do need to keep in mind that this is NOT an effective anti-ship weapon. Even the blast does much less damage against non-building targets.
On Earthshakers... those Reaver Siege Cannons used to take a real long time to build, but with the weapons rebalance, they now are pretty quick builds... and a great choice.
New Mine Targets
The new Mine targets are, as promised, land-based targets only. They combine long-range ballistic and radioactive weaponry with extremely effective countermeasures.
The picture above show a Level 80 platform, but they were all fundamentally the same - groups of turrets arranged around a long, curved, single platform. Inside the platform are torpedo towers.
I'll describe each of the platforms in order of what I think are the most dangerous:
The Wendigo / Glacial Launcher fires cryo shells that leave a in ice patch that slows you down by a lot. The ice patch also does significant damage, including damage to underwater targets.
This long range railgun does ballistic damage but also does some splash.
The Cryo Launchers didn't seem too deadly, but if you ignored them for too long, they would build a shockwave.
These howitzer-type weapons weren't too deadly either - they often missed.
The torpedo towers don't do very much damage with their torpedos, but their primary purpose seemed to be to spot subs (with extremely long-range thermal) and allow the launchers to target them.
This "Iron Curtain" Flak gun pretty much shot down everything but ballistics. Missiles, UAVs, Mortars, and Rockets were all mostly useless against anything protected by this turret. I even saw Launcher shots being shot down by this gun (edit - this may happen when combined with other projectiles they can hit, like missiles), and heard that it was defending against Scatterguns as well.... not sure if that was hyperbole or not.
With the Iron Curtain on defense, a ballistic fleet was pretty much a must against these platforms. We will see if the Iron Curtain gets toned down at all for the actual release... defending against Launchers seems a bit extreme.
Since I am in the process of building a ballistic fleet to beat Draconian Uranium Bases, I used that fleet against these targets, and ended up putting on quite a show. Although that fleet is definitely tailored against the DUB with its emphasis on Ballistic and Explosive resistance, and no Evade special, it still did well against these radioactive/ballistic aimed turrets. Oh... and I was only using three Punishers (and no Omega) so far.
With a (retrofitted) Combat Speed of just under 45, these ships close on their targets quickly, and the Earthshakers + Autoloader result in a huge amount of damage output. I chose some light, quick-building armor so end up with builds in the 11 day range, but if you want to take the time to put D5 armor on there.. it wouldn't be a bad idea either.
If building specifically for these mine-type targets, I might try to work in some more evade and radioactive resistance, but it is tough to argue with success.
I wanted to publish a few other builds suggested for lower end players, but the best strategy will be to wait and see what happens with build times in next week's raid. The hull build time on the Centurion is very low, but may change before release. I would expect that Kixeye does a review on ballistic hulls & specials similar to what was done on the mortar hulls last month, so starting a lower end ballistic hull this week might not be such a good idea because it may be cheaper next week, and we may have specific hulls for focus on. But if you have the Earthshaker, refits for those might be a good idea right now.