Hi everyone! This week we’re going to chat through the introduction of a public test environment, as well as the way we’re approaching the competitive side of Hell Let Loose. What is a PTE? A Public Test Environment is a version of the game available for download that lets you play unreleased, beta-phase content. It’s a way we can get your help in testing new content at a much larger scale than our internal QA. We’ll be testing new features, vehicles, maps, customization, weapons and looking for bugs and server and client crashes. It’s also important to note that the content may have significant issues, bugs and incomplete features.
Why haven’t you done this earlier? Until now we’ve held off on running a PTE as it has a significant effect on the impact of a release from a marketing perspective. The core player base - who follow the game closely - become hugely familiar with the content that is going to be released and this can then lead to lack of excitement around the release itself. Another issue is that an open PTE can cause large amounts of confusion as to what content is currently available in game, and tandem conversations begin to happen within the community - where some players may like or dislike the unreleased content, while some players may not have realized it was playable in the PTE. For example, releasing bullet penetration on the PTE will lead to conversations about that feature, but then cause players in the Release branch of the game to think that penetration is buggy or not working due to its absence from their game. For both of these reasons, we’ve been keen to put the key gameplay pillars in place and finalize large systems overhauls before putting a PTE in place.
Why are you doing it now? Whereas before our goals were to achieve quality systems that needed huge overhauls, we’re now changing pace slightly to focus on the finer tuning of the game, as well as catching large scale crashes and other endemic issues before public release. Can I share content from it? In order to create a focused feedback environment, we’ll be asking all those who join the PTE to submit their feedback in a designated channel so as not to mix feedback with the Release version of the game. We will also be placing the contents of the PTE under NDA, in order for us to keep some of the excitement around the coming content fresh. Please note that the features that you will be testing will also be incomplete, with ugly bugs occurring. When will the PTE happen? We’re keen to create focused testing at high capacity so that we can catch the worst high-population issues, as well as see how a particular feature is working when a server is at full capacity. We’ll be advertising specific test days in the near future. How can I be part of it? We’re currently setting the environment up and completing some testing to make sure it’s smooth to join. We’ll then release information shortly. Competitive Hell Let Loose We’ve been thrilled and surprised to watch the competitive scene in Hell Let Loose consistently establish itself over the course of our Early Access period. As developers of an unfinished game, we’ve always been very keen to support the competitive side, but we’ve also been aware of how many huge aspects of the game will shift as new planned features come online. Due to fundamental systems being absent our priority has very much been on filling out the game content as fast as possible while trying not to rock the boat too much (something that we hope to get better at as development continues). A competitive scene is something that we hoped may emerge, but not something that we planned on this early in the life cycle of Hell Let Loose (especially while in Early Access). We consider our Early Access period a time in which we can flesh out the core Western Front content and the key systems and pillars that support the game. That said, we want you as a community to know that we follow the competitive side and will be playing a much larger role in the discussion (and playing in matches) as time goes on and the meta starts to settle after the addition of some large features left to come in Early Access. Asymmetrical Balance In looking at the conversation around balance, we know that there are significant issues we can work on that will vastly improve the competitive experience while also having net positive effects on the public games. We’re aware of the advantages the US forces currently have - whether in terms of armor cost and balance, or overwhelming unit-level firepower. Over the course of our continued development, we’ll be making moves to adjust the potency of each faction in order to bring them into competitive balance. Our goal here is to reflect the historical asymmetry of the forces, but to achieve parity with regard to win/loss ratio. We’ll be working closely with the community in order to be very specific about our changes - as we don’t want to superficially nerf or buff something in a way that achieves balance by creating a worse experience for a particular player (especially something that contradicts the historical account). Metagame Separate from balance is the metagame. Our changes in U7 focused on creating a much more significant frontline experience. As a result, this has led to more static games that revolve around the center capture point. Fortunately, there are multiple tools in our toolbox to address these issues. Dialing values (total number of Garrisons, distance of Garrisons and many more) is incredibly easy for us to do in seconds, and we’ll be working with the competitive community to achieve better results here. The second aspect is that we still have significant feature additions to come that will radically shift the metagame - especially around more ways to deploy friendly troops in enemy-owned sectors now that Garrisons can no longer be established in red zones. Halftracks, transport trucks, more Commander abilities and additions to role loadouts (gadgets and weapons) as well as many more features will give teams greater ability to orchestrate flanking attacks and other strategic maneuvers that were always carried out previously by dropping a Garrison. Finally, we’re very aware of the issues around Offensive mode. The time it takes, the unsatisfying nature of it and the inherent issues within the game mode. We’ll be addressing these issues as a focused effort during our Early Access period - with initial changes coming in Update 8. Our Commitment Moving Forward Lastly, we want to thank the community for playing such close attention to the game and the way it develops. We also want to assure you that we are hard at work finalizing key aspects of the title and will be continually working on game balance and the satisfaction found in the metagame. As we’ve stated, we have a very long plan for the development of Hell Let Loose and we look forward to continuing to work on it alongside the community in order to achieve the best gameplay outcome possible. And that wraps it for this weeks DB, and again we really appreciate all the continual support & feedback. We hear you! See you on the frontline