The jump to 2.6.1 has brought some interesting changes to the new content introduced in 2.6. Star Marine, in particular seems to have gotten some tweaks that should have some notable effects on how we play.
One of the few not in the patch notes is the apparent change to Time to Kill. TTK is one of those things where even a subtle change can have significant effects on the game as a whole. It doesn’t seem too wildly different here, but with buffs to the shotgun and the laser rifle, combat at all ranges is much more fast paced. Now, headshots can be especially brutal and make short work of you or your targets, so aiming is more important than ever. Personally, I wonder if the lowered TTK will have an effect on things in the PU – where death means a lot more than a timer. I suppose we can’t truly have a good measure of things until heavy and ultimately Titan armor are in the game to give us the full gamut of protection.
Another well-crafted addition to Star Marine is the ability to switch loadouts while dead. Even with the still limited selection, the ability to swap in different weapons like the shotgun and sniper rifle along with light or medium armor means that you can adjust your tactics to better counter the other team. That is something that should play out well with organized teams in tournaments like the one taking place not long after 2.6’s release.
One thing that you’ll have to see first hand is the various changes that have been done to the two maps. Station Demien has opened up a bit more and now has more routes leading to the capture points, meaning fewer long coverless hallways and choke point doorways that are often filled with grenade spam. Grenades are probably the item that have been affected by the most changes. The most obvious being that once they are armed, there’s an icon that appears for friend and foe. This is a positive thing if you were tired of walking into a room with a grenade that just happened to have been thrown before you ever could have seen it, but not so great if you were a fan of lobbing ninja grenades indoors and around corners for those easy kills. Also, you have to be more stingy with those tiny bundles of bomb, because once you’re out, you’re not getting anymore until you respawn – ammo crates don’t replenish them anymore. Yet grenade fans shouldn’t be too unhappy, because the animation and throwing action for grenades has improved. Now it’s possible to throw more accurately and bounce off of fewer pieces of architecture that don’t seem to be in the way. Giving you even more reason to cook them off and have them explode the moment they reach their target.
The best change for a lot of players is the addition of both new servers in locations like Australia and Europe along with improvements to netcode that have resulted in much smoother gameplay overall. Sure the handful of us that were close to the Virginia servers enjoyed having significantly better ping than the rest, but now the playing field is much more even and the competition more fair than ever before. If future upgrades to the netcode continue the trend we’ve seen in this patch, Star Citizen as a whole will start feeling more like a real game and less like a work in progress.
Other small changes related to Star Marine include: new dialog from the marine and pirate leaders at the start (and now during) the match), a hemorrhage bonus if you start your target bleeding (in addition to the 75 points for a bleed out kill), rebalance for some weapons (apparently buffs for the shotgun and laser rifle), and, without me even initially noticing, various explosive containers around each map. There are other small changes I’m sure I’ve forgotten or glossed over, but most seem to be thorough improvements.
The changes in 2.6.1 are definitely what Star Marine, and the rest of the available game, needed. Everything is much more smooth and cohesive experience. Netcode improvements and Megamap give me confidence that things are moving in a great direction. It all makes me much more excited to see what 3.0 has in store with it’s first full implementation of netcode and sea of new features.