Since the introduction of the Shocktrain in the middle of 2017, the entire War Robots community has been at a loss.
Many opinions have been stated about the Shocktrain, yet many those outside the War Robots community are at loss how come one weapon was able to change the way the game was played…in a very polarizing way.
What in the world is a Shocktrain?
A Shocktrain is a component-based plasma weapon that has a range of 500 units and has a cooldown of 10 seconds, with its damage immediately registering upon its beam hitting the enemy hitbox.
This alone already makes it strong in its weight bracket as it has faster response than a Zeus and quicker chances to deal damage.
In addition, it bounces until it runs out of targets – and this is where the actual shitstorm starts, as there is relatively negligible damage reduction.
For the average player, it is quite expensive and back-breaking to collect the necessary equipment for one Shocktrain, let alone a set of two or four of them.
What’s with the Shocktrain?
The number one problem with the Shocktrain is that it is extremely cost-effective in its current state. Anyone who has experienced facing them in the battlefield should know that it simply becomes a point-and-click adventure for the energy weapon user, especially on maps such as Shenzhen, Dead City and Canyon.
If we think that each robot represents one card in a five-card deck and that the expected average damage trade ration is 1:1 or 3:2 (for the better players out there), then anyone can see why Shocktrain is way too overpowered for its class as it offers a ton of utility for the time that it stays in the battlefield.
The fact that it is extremely disruptive to teams trying to move in formation, as well as efficient crowd control adds more to the value of the Shocktrain. This, in turn, gives it an unnecessary edge over other new weapons out there and a seemingly unassailable advantage over the older robots that were prevalent in previous metagames.
The best analogy for this would be Valve’s screwed-up introduction of the R8 Revolver back in 2015. At $850 (which costs pennies as far as Counter-Strike standards are concerned), it could one-shot any part of the body, has extremely strong penetration that you can potentially kill 4 to 5 players with a single bullet and is notoriously accurate, as well as having no damage drops despite an increase in range.
Needless to say, Valve fixed the entire thing within two days of its release, but not before a lot of damage has already been done.
If you are a fan of Dota 2, imagine a high-damage ability with large area-of-effect radius and strong utility that forces players to play around it instead of playing around the heroes themselves (possible examples include Ravage, Echo Slam, etc.) that has almost zero mana cost, almost zero cooldown and no way to punish extremely aggressive plays using those skills.
Isn’t it the definition of overpowered in the first place?
Wait, isn’t the Shocktrain supposed to have counters?
Physical shields are supposed to be a hard counter, as the Shocktrain is an energy weapon…however, they only work for the first target – and subsequent targets still get hit in the face if you are within the bounce area-of-effect of the Shocktrain beam.
The only straight-up weapons-based counterplay for the Shocktrain is to spend bots killing it or killing it with a Zeus Fury or Butch Trebuchet; Shocktrain users have made a soft counter to this “counter” by using Bulgasaris instead of Haechis in their lineup.
Other than that, treating it like one would deal with a Lancelot has been proven to be the only way so far to deal with these monsters.
Anyone who plays a game should know that overpowered (or preferred tools) should only have a tradable value of 2:1 at most…and Shocktrain way passes that mark, to the point that its users survive on only one robot throughout the entirety of the match and garnering seven-digit damage values.
UPDATE: It seems that the classic hide-and-seek techniques used through the Hydra full MK1/MK2 setups have proven to be attractive at destroying bots armed with the Shocktrain. It seems that there is a sort of reliable counter to this thing after all.
What makes the past better? I thought it was stale?
While it was true that eight to ten robots (plus their respective top builds) dominated the upper echelons of War Robots play, anyone with the proper amount of skill and the right robots could beat them quite handily.
In addition, the game was more cerebral and tactical back then, when people actually needed to think about ranges, engagement tactics and the like.
However, with the introduction of the Shocktrain, many clans have adopted a system where they would run full squads of Haechis or Bulgasaris with fully-loaded MK2 Shocktrains, slaughtering the unwary opponent within a space of two to four minutes with instinctual coordination and well-timed attacks.
How did it change the metagame?
As mentioned above, it spawned an arms race in which firepower was valued over skill and teamwork.
Due to the changes, a good number of players have lowered their activity in-game, stating that “there is no point to be a part of this point-and-click adventure.”
It also forced players to go for damage-based lineups instead of tactical-based lineups; after all, the mantra right now is “either I kill you or I get killed.”
What is the solution for this?
Handing nerfs or allowing users to develop a way to increase the counterplay options for that robot seems to be the best compromise in order to keep the Shocktain competitive, while at the same time, manageable for all players.
These changes will also allow the game to be more diverse again, especially at the highest levels of play, thus ensuring a healthier metagame and more “creative” and “conducive” game environment for the users.
The Shocktrain is a weapon that is extremely cost-effective and fills multiple roles for the price that it entails. As a result, it should be nerfed in order to keep the game more interactive.
Counterplays are one of the key hallmarks of a game like War Robots.
Without counterplay, matches become straight brawls where brawns, not brains, turn out to be the winner. Wasn’t War Robots supposed to be a combination of skill, strategy, tactics, teamwork, determination (and luck)?
If we are to go back to the previous quality of matches as well as the high levels of play that we’ve experienced in the past, we should start encouraging good balance in terms of weaponry.
And there’s no other way to start than by putting the Shocktrain into its proper place.