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Large feedback on 1.13 mod[message #364708] Mon, 20 June 2022 02:32 Go to previous message
tim1654 is currently offline tim1654
Registered:June 2022
Hi everyone,

after a long while I wanted to revisit JA2, because I remembered it as one of the most tactical games I have ever played. So I found out about 1.13 and gave it a try.
Before becoming more critical, I want to praise the developers for all the hard work they have put into this mod. It really shines in complexity, and plays overall better than vanilla imho. But there are also some downsides.
I will divide this feedback into technical and gameplay.

I played 1.13, latest build (available May 2022),experienced game mode, realistic, more weapons, all else set to default settings. Also no changes to the ini-file. I needed ~ 43 days to finish with all towns and quests completed (except terrorists). I didn't use an IMP merc, because in my opinion that is against the idea of hiring mercenaries only to complete a job. And if you commanded the operation by doing that, you would probably not fight by yourself. So I went the more "realistic" route.

Let's keep this short. I was using Windows, and Steam, to install the game. It was horrible. The whole process took me about 3h. After searching for a long time on the net how to fix the install, I found out I had to copy and replace files manually. And even after I did, and the game eventually ran, it still had some issues. Sometimes I had errors like a certain file cannot be found. Luckily, it was not detrimental to the gameplay. But the install did not feel in line with Steam. If the game is to be played by a larger audience, however, it has to run smoothly on Win 10/11 and future versions...this should be given the largest priority imho. If possible, without extra programs and manually replacing files etc. The install just should work.
Related to this, I was never able to minimize (ALT TAB) the game up to this day. I could run it in Window-mode by changing the ini-file settings, but overall it did not work like a real window-mode game. That is, sometimes you had to click several times to get out of the game, or get back into it. In the end what I wanted to accomplish was "fullscreen-window mode", but I never did; so I went with fullscreen instead (and never minimized while playing). This also means I could not look up issues as much as I would have liked to (sadge)

Now the more interesting part, the gameplay. I will divide my feedback into bullet points:

- A large variety of weapons was added. This is overall great, however, I feel that many weapons are only marginally different from each other. This can be confusing for newer players, as they don't know what to use. There should be some difference pop up menu, which will explain the difference in range/dmg/AP of a new weapon to an older one
- Weapons add-ons like laser pointers, scopes etc. are overall to rare. I finished the game, and I found overall only 3 laser pointers. I bought 2 more in bobby rays. The effect seems also too weak. In vanilla, I remember, once you got a laser pointer and the most basic scope, your merc basically could not miss anymore. With the new aiming system in 1.13 (NCTH), this is completely different. From distance, and sometimes even from close, you never hit the head. But on the other hand, you always hit the torso, no matter how far you are away. Even if the enemy is out of sight - once you have a spotter, like Ira who you meet at the beginning of the game, you will hit enemies far away. But never in the head. It seems kind of weird to me, that for balance reasons laser pointers and scopes have been nerfed a bit, but having a spotter trivializes everything even more.
- Some weapon add-ons only work with certain weapons. This is definitely different from Vanilla, and was super confusing to me. I found a sniper scope (10 x), and could not use it with some sniper rifles. After a long while I realized that the Russian type of weapons have different scopes. But it is really just trial & error, which makes it confusing to find out what fits together. There should be some kind of marking or alignment. It could also be fixed via a global search (more on that below). If you search for "sniper scope Famas", a sector where you have found it could be highlighted, for example.
- Some items like tripwire made no sense to me. There has to be a clear explanation how to use it properly. Some kind of manual which describes all of them clearly
- Overall game balance seems a bit off. At the beginning you need to do a lot of night missions to be successful, but later on, it is kind of the opposite. Have your spotter and long range rifles is the way to go. You cannot go fully stealth later on, because the AI tends to flank you from whereever you are not looking. And if you fight against > 20 enemies, good luck with your stealth mission. But honestly, if you want the game to be finished at some point, there will always be ways to accomplish that (overpowered strategies). Vanilla was all about only one laser pointer and one scope required, whereas 1.13 seems to be about one spotter (Ira, lol). I know you can accomplish a lot with night ops during much of the earlier game as well. But I think it would be nice if anything was viable, and the game dictated less what you would have to do to be successful
- Suppresssion fire: I am sorry, but this mechanic was terrible to deal with. In the second half of the game when you have multiple mercs, it does not matter at all, but man, when I was in Drassen on the roof, I had to wait 10 turns until the enemies wasted all of their ammo (and did not hit even once), while all my AP was basically almost negative every turn. I realize this mechanic was added to make the game more realistic, but I think it should work in a way that it maybe reduces AP only once (the time you are first in a certain area and shot at), and then not anymore. This is also more realistic - someone who is shot at in the heat of a battle will usually try to get away, even if there is little chance to survive. Or take any other action to survive, but not do nothing because some guys shoot at you from 1000 meters distance with no chance to hit
- Ammo types: this needs a complete rework. You never get the ammo you need. When you start, you soon want that 5.56 ammo type, but you only find AK-ammo. Once you can buy 5.56 ammo from Bobby rays, you want to have the next better ammo (for example nato ammo for Famas rifle). The only time I had enough nato ammo for all my mercs was basically at the very end of the game, when I was at Meduna. But even then I also found some strong sniper rifles, for which I literally never found any ammo through the whole game. They had like 5 shots left, and that's it. I am not sure if Bobby rays had any ammo of that type, but man... I remember vanialla was better in this regard. 5.56 was rare for a while, but soon you had enough, and it carried you through the whole game. In 1.13, you need to use all tools you can get to survive, but then they also have to be available. Otherwise there is no reason to include them
- Selling stuff is cumbersome. Each time I have to travel across half the map with an ice cream truck, just to sell stuff at Tony.... Please add more merchants. At least one arms dealer in every town
- There is way too many different backpacks. I mean the average player just wants the backpack with the largest space available, but going through all the stuff in Bobby rays and comparing backpacks, it's just not fun
- Related to the previous point, there should be a general search bar included into the game. To search for items in the map, for example, which does highlighting for you. Also in Bobby Rays, if you need to search something (for instance, ammo), it should directly show that item. It's terrible currently, as you have to browse through items for such a long time, when there are so many different types of each
- Bobby rays...I swear this shit shop is bugged. Several of my orders got lost without notification that anything is missing. At some point I was hitting the sneaky guy at the airport every single time, just to make sure he had not stolen anything. Because I think if he has stolen your previous order, and you dont notice, but make a new order, then it does not go through. A search on Google also revealed that other people had the same problem. I really think that the priority setting here should be that orders get NEVER lost. Difficulty should not be based on randomness and unreliability of Bobby rays. It wasn't as important in vanilla, because vanilla is just so much easier to play
- There should be more airports or at least airplane drop off sectors, so you cannot get the stuff from Bobby rays only at Drassen. I mean it's easy with Skyrider, but such a pain after a while to travel just to gather items
- I am not sure about this feature that mercenaries are not avilable sometimes for such a long time. I realize you want the player to be flexible, and usually there is a replacement. But man, I wanted to play with Magic. He is just the coolest guy. But he wasn't available for a long time when I finally had the cash
- Increase helicopter/hummer/ice cream truck capactiy each to 8. It's not much fun to split your squads and reunite them every single time only because of capacity
- Prevent mercs from blocking/hindering other mercs. For example, make them technically transparent, so one can walk past the other, or set up a mortar without the menu that says "there is no space to shoot". This becomes most problematic when you have 3 squads (lets say in Meduna). I think the original game was not designed to have that many merc, but 1.13 certainly is
- Some early fights need a rework. For me, by far, the hardest fight in the game was Grumm mine. I had to fight against ~ 15 elites and 20 regular soldiers. Needed to retreat and re-attack to finish that. It's weird that this mine was more heavily defended than any Meduna sector. I heard similar things about Drassen fights, but the counter-attack was not active in my game
- Deidranna was really weird. When I found her in the bunker, she was just mumbling something like I was not expected here and should get away...lol. I mean she did not even initiate a fight. So you can imagine how that ended up when Raven stood next to her (Bummer!)
- More generally: on youtube I saw a playthrough by someone who played with all weapon drops from defeated enemies. That of course makes the game 10 x easier, because not only your mercenaries become stronger, but also you get ~ 15,000$ day just by selling stuff at Tony early on, so you can afford the best mecenaries. I am not sure if 1.13 was designed with that choice in mind, but I think that some options (like insane difficulty) are not even possible without other options, like all weapons drop. So by leaving the player so many 1.13 options, that can be changed during the game, I think you risk that some of them are just incompatible with each other. The game becomes way too hard, or way too easy. It would be nice if the default game setting is balanced to a high degree, and only marginal changes can be done during the game. But currently, most people who play this game change the ini file beforehand (at least I got that impression from reading several how to install-threads), which somewhat indicates that the default setting is not very good in terms of balance
- The latter point is also important for speedrunning - the game has to be balanced well in its default setting, then possibly more speedrunners would be interested to try it out
- Technical issue: infinite loop (turn does not end, cursor is in waiting mode). I don't know why, but this happens every now and then. Sometimes when enemy interrupts, or sometimes when it's your normal turn and you do a certain action. In some cases it resolves itself if you are diligent, but usually not. Reloading sometimes helps; but usually you need to restart the game

That being said, the experience was great, so thanks for all the work you put into this. I gave that feedback, because I think JA2 is far from dead. There will be JA3, and maybe at some point a graphical remake of JA2. It is by far the best tactical simulation I have ever seen. "So long, snapper head!". Until next time I guess (might update this thead if more comes to my mind in the following days). Cheers happy

[Updated on: Tue, 21 June 2022 14:18]

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