As I stated earlier, that I couldn't comment on the state of ECM in the game until I had 2 additional counter measures implemented into the game. This was to avoid frustration in the community without having all features in place before I discussed the situation.
What is the official stance on the Guardian ECM?
Guardian ECM, like all features in the game, is very close to where we want it to be.
ECM brought a whole new level of strategy and skill to the battlefield and is something that we've been striving to achieve instead of flat plane, long range combat. It brought the need to be aware of your surroundings and assist team mates in a way that previous MechWarrior titles didn't have. Teams will now have to work together to counter the effects of ECM and as of February 15th, the new counters allow for multiple attack vectors against the system.
With the increase of projectile speeds and reduction in hit-detection issues, you will notice that a lot more ballistic/laser shots are on target. There are even more and bigger improvments coming down the pipe very soon in terms of hit-detection. These aspects combined with the actual ECM counters (PPC/Advanced Sensor Range) implemented put ECM VERY close to where we want it to be; a very frightful piece of equipment that is powerful and versitle while at the same time has its weaknesses (3 health and soon to be hardpoint limited, see below).
Why was it implemented without the current counter measures?
The Guardian ECM was released at the same time as the Raven Light Mech. The Raven 3L required the ECM/BAP systems as they were the main functionality of the variant. As mentioned above, the ECM really only affects 2 weapon systems. We measured the gameplay consequences against the gameplay benefits and it became clear to us that the benefits that it brought to the table would help stagger the ranges in which combat takes place. It was at this time that we decided to go ahead with the Raven/ECM launch. During this time through Beta, we knew that this would become a hot topic, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure players got used to and adapted to ECM being used in the game.
Are there any plans in the near future to nerf ECM?
Before I go into any planned changes, I’d like to state two things:
First, hit detection on all Mechs was off quite a bit. This was exasperated by high speed Mechs with ping related issues causing the visual targeting and hit results to be highly inconsistent. This has been reduced significantly and with an upcoming patch, you will notice an even more drastic fix to the problem (state rewinding as addressed by Bryan and Matt C. in another Command Chair post). What does this have to do with ECM? With state rewind going into the game, it is VERY possible to take down any high-speed Mech as long as you have the aim because where you aim is going to be where you hit. ECM or not, high-speed Mechs are in for a world of hurt that they are currently not used to.
Second, ECM counters were needed to bring it in line with where we wanted it to be. It took us some time to get these systems online because 1) We had some higher priority pressure items to deal with first and 2) we needed to make sure that all counters (especially modules) work correctly across the network. Now that they are in, you will notice that ECM is not as big of an issue as it was before. Putting a PPC shot on an ECM equipped Mech makes them very vulnerable for 4 seconds... but not only that, you have also put a lot of damage into that Mech. The “Advanced Sensor Range” module allows you to get a lock on an ECM Mech at a longer distance and S-SRMs/LRMs can be fired in a larger window than before.
That said, there are two things suggested by the community that struck a chord and we will be looking into implementing soon:
- ECM should have a dedicated hardpoint (tonnage/space does not change). That way ECM will always be in a known location on a Mech and can be directly targeted by attackers.
- ECM should not cut out friendly signatures on the battlefield. Friendly Mechs should always be identifiable and not obscure team play.