The Mid-point rush problem of Frontlines

76 81

Might be kicking open doors but whatever.

5cp Frontlines maps all have a problem. The huge majority of the matches in these maps can be summed up in one sentence : the team that gets the middle point first wins.

Many wants to see a "comeback mechanic" in the game, but it's more fair to speak about comeback-designed maps instead. No need to add new gameplay mechanics, just design.

The Problems

  • Ticket advantage when holding mid.

That the team with less control points lose tickets over time is a fair mechanic to prevent matches from lasting forever in a stalemate. But it's doing its job a bit too well, even more due to the other mid-related problems. In a match with 2 well balanced team, the one holding mid will generally win with 400-500 tickets to spare. This means the losing team will lose nearly half of their tickets due to not holding mid. If Taiga's first rebalance after release shown something, it is how having mid guarantees the victory (and also how Red's side is badly designed too but that's for an other thread).

Considering the time it takes to take mid (see next point), a proper comeback is nearly impossible when your team have less than 200 tickets left, unless you manage to rush the objectives.

But that brings an other problem : there is no reason for the team holding mid to actually go on the offensive. Lucky for us, teams holding their ground is never seen because it's much more fun to run forward sword first in the melee, but generally only a single player is needed to prevent any potable assault :

  • Mid points are really easy to defend

Opposed to most second points, their middle brothers are generally designed to be really easy to defend, thanks to either map geometry or map Barricades. The sole player needed to make a point into a fortress is one with a repair weapon and a toolbox.

Grad when controlled by Blue is certainly the biggest offender. The sole barricade blocks entirely the main pushing path. The house next to it forces to either push to an equally well-defended position or to around it, losing time and certainly push force as Reds split up. The actual stable also force fights in closed space, which is easy to defend. Add an Engineer to that, who will either plug the holes next to the barricade or turn the house into a fortress (or both) and Red have no chance moving forward.
Reds don't have the same luck, as their barricade isn't as efficient, the house which is a major structure for Blue isn't one for them, and it's easy to both get flanked from the sawmill and where Blue's barricade is. However, Blue's second objective is so easy to do (seriously, keep the spike walls objective in Invasion if you want, they have their spot here, but not in Frontlines) and the Smithy have holes everywhere, making it easy for Red to rush and Blue is generally forced on the defensive.

Camp at least have some consistency. And by that I mean the point can be turned into a bunker for both sides. Once Blue gets the closest tower down and the two barricades up, there's no hope for Red to go through the front. There is a wall covering the entire Red side of the map. It's flank or nothing, even more since the other two towers Blue have to take down are on that flank.
Red can do the same thing with the 3 (!) barricades, and the holes between them can be filled by a single Engineer, who most of the time built the barricades too. The moment an Engineer is set up here, the whole mid point start seeing flames, and it's generally not enough.

Taiga is a bit different as it's more due to the camp itself. Big walls all around with tight openings, a spawn really close and the only alternative routes are ladders or parkour. Blue wins most of the time because they get the point first. In the cases Red gets mid and hold it for a few minutes, it's the same thing without the stomp to the final point (hint hint easy objective and close corridors fights with final objective behind the spawn). Barricades do have a minor play in here, being generally better for Blue due to how it holds the main entrance for Red (opposed to Red's barricade).

  • The rush to the mid-point is stopped by the second point

Players noticed how important getting mid is, or simply wants to fight as early as possible, so they tend to ignore the second points and rush to mid. However, some players still goes to the second point because, well, you need to cap it before capping mid, and because you get free points. But, the more players are on the second point, the less are at mid.

Taiga, again, is the big offender here for Red. Players have that sense of "checkpoint" : because the second point is on the way, they feel like they MUST cap it before moving forward. Meanwhile, all but a couple of Blues go to mid and are all ready to get the point to themselves, since the second point is not on the way to mid.

This is certainly the reason why it feels like Camp and Grad feels more balanced, and the winning team tends to vary : because both sides are consistent. Camp's second points aren't in the way on both sides, and Grad's are on the way to mid. It's either both are split, or both a slowed.

Possible solutions

  • Reduce the ticket-loss rate when only mid is held
    This is a must-have if you want a comeback "mechanic" : the less tickets lost by not having mid the losing team has, the more time they have to push the point and, well, make a comeback. Having the losing team lose tickets for having less control points is a necessity to encourage them to push, and right now the winning one have more than enough reasons to push for more points themselves (increase ticket loss, prevent comebacks, fun...). If Crossroad's remake shown something, is that teams are overall balanced (most matches for me ended with less than 150 tickets left for the winner) and that stalemates situations are still fun.
    Question i ask by pure curiosity : is the rate of ticket lost per control point controlled hard-coded in the game or is it programmed in the map's entity work ?
  • Add restrictions to map's Barricades
    Either move them, remove some, or prevent them from being rebuilt for some time after being destroyed (my favorite idea, as it rewards the attackers for destroying it and prevents defenders from simply rebuild the barricade over and over again). They are the strongest tools of defense of any mid point. Seeing the efforts it takes to destroy those get negated in seconds is frustrating and demotivating for attackers.

  • Have the second points start capped.
    Not only it would prevent leeches from getting points for doing next to nothing (I am one of those leeches. Points you get from capping are a fair reward excepted in this case.), it would solve the "charge or cap" dilemma players have at the start of the map, which is sadly their most important decision of the whole match. It also doesn't make sense that you have to capture something you technically already own. As to have players able to spawn on the second point from the start or only after mid is captured is up to debate and balance.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Sellsword 694 2187
  • 3 Sep

The problem is that both teams lose tickets regardless if a point is captured or not.

As soon as the match starts, tickets start draining for both teams which in my opinion is ridiculous.

It makes sense that a death costs a ticket, and it makes sense that having more objectives causes a ticket bleed for the enemy team.

However for maps like crossroads where there is an even amount of objectives, if both teams are tied on objectives ticket bleed should only apply to kills/deaths.

This overall would add more intensity to frontline, make matches longer in some cases(which can be good or bad), and make wins feel more hard fought.

76 81

Didn't know that tickets are lost over time. Wonder how much longer matches would be without that. True that it would allow more time to come back, but it doesn't really solve the other problems