PvP CQC Proposal for Expanding CQC, and bringing PvP'ers back to the game

I think CQC still has great potential to bring more players (especially streamers) to Elite due to it's pick-up and play design and zero-risk-to progress format. But sadly it has been a feature that was implemented many years ago in 2015 and then essentially left to rot with hardly any improvements since, possibly just to get Elite's foot in the door for the console market. This continues to be a huge missed opportunity for FDEV in my opinion especially since game live-streaming has massively taken off since CQC was released.

I'll break down the current CQC flaws and potential enhancements:

Shortcomings of the current CQC platform

1. It detracts from in-game progress

Because of the huge grind walls in Elite, many players feel as though if they are not working towards their goals, they are wasting time. If they were to spend time playing CQC instead of say, unlocking that Imperial Cutter, gathering materials so they can engineer their FDL or earning credits for that next purchase - they probably would feel like they have missed an opportunity to progress.

2. You cannot use the ships you have spent so much time working on

If you have spent countless hours engineering that perfect FAS, you're probably not going to want to log into CQC and fly a generic fighter about, as fun as they are to fly. A PvP orientated player will want to be using his/her engineered ship - for practice as well as the fun of it. You don't learn about mods & loadouts flying in CQC where the weapons, balance and rules are different to the main game.

3. The community perception of a dead mode - leads to slow matchmaking

Talk about CQC on the forum, Reddit or Discord and most players will tell you that it is dead. A few enthusiasts will tell you about the amazing game they had the other night, but generally most players will complain of not being able to match-make with any other players after waiting for ages in the lobby.

4. No spectator mode

CQC is supposed to be the Elite universes e-sport right? You'd expect there to be an ability to watch other matches. Expanding the camera-suite to allow viewers would be a really useful upgrade and encourage streamers to use it (especially in conjunction with other improvements suggested on this post)

5. No league tables or custom tournaments

Arena modes should always have league table(s) of some kind to show how you compare to other players. Due to the nature of Elite: Dangerous, player notoriety has always been a key part of the community - not having league tables is another missed opportunity. Tournaments would also bring excitement and community buzz to the platform, so not giving player communities the ability to create custom tournaments via some kind of interface is disappointing.

6. Lack of practice bots

Adding some practice bots with scalable AI options would be great for players who just want to develop their skills before fighting players. Should be available for fighter matches but especially for the proposed main-ship dueling.

7. Team fighter colours only means no showing off cosmetics

Players have spent small fortunes on their paint jobs, ship kits and decals. CQC would be a great platform for players showcasing their main ship cosmetics to other players (and potentially via streaming) without risking loss (from main game deaths at the hands of PvP attacks)

8. Fighter deathmatches are not as interesting (to PvP groups and stream viewers) as main ship duels and wing-fights

This is a fairly subjective point, but main game PvP has long attracted players because it has a fairly deep and rich form of gameplay when players take it upon themselves to learn all the finer facets and techniques of PvP in Elite. Fighter deathmatches are different, they fly different, they are less intense, deaths are quick and repetitive - overall it doesn't blend itself too well with a very reputation-focused PvP community that generally enjoys playing out individual and tribal rivalries via dueling.
With main ship PvP, you can have two top-level players or PvP groups that duel to discover who the better PvPer/group is - this attracts quite a lot of talk and hype on discord, YouTube, Twitch etc... you don't get this with fighter deathmatches in CQC, because relatively few players really care enough.

9. CQC should be a quick, easy and risk-free way for players to get into PvP - but it's too different from the main game

To get into PvP within the main game, a player needs to spend countless hours grinding to make their ship viable - otherwise they just get slaughtered by players who have already completed the grind and its very difficult to learn when you cannot survive more than a few seconds in a fight. CQC has the opportunity to let players skip all the grind and get straight to the action, however the fighters in CQC handle very different to even fighters in the main game - they are slow, less agile and have different weapon characteristics. But most importantly they have extremely weak power distributors meaning that the muscle memory you build up PvP'ing in the main game is totally wrong for CQC. In short, becoming good at CQC is for the most part different from becoming a good PvPer in the main game. IMO the CQC platform should be useful for developing skill in both fighters and main ships - this would lower the entry bar for PvP in the game as a whole and bring more players to the game.

Potential Improvements

The creation of the PvP hub and annual PvP League tournaments has shown us that there is a real demand for an organised dueling system within the game. CQC could be a great way to enhance this side of the game, if the following improvements were implemented:

1. CQC duel challenge option

When in the game, a player could send a duel request to any player they encounter or ones that are on their friends list. It would work like a multicrew request, with both players being taken to the CQC duel lobby on acceptance. The same request could also be issued to other wings (wing vs wing duel).

2. Duelers could use their own in-game or preconfigured CQC main ships

Instead of using throwaway fighters, players would use CQC specifically configured ships or their actual in-game ships to duel with. This means all mods, special effects etc (exactly how they are in the main game). The only difference would be that FSD drives would be disabled for obvious reasons (meaning all duels would be to the death!). Rebuys would not apply to a death so it would be an excellent way for players to compare builds, mods, skill and practice without credit loss.

This would be very useful because it would make building PvP ships specifically for competitive fights very quick and easy and not impact main game activities (modules, costs, travel time etc).

3. PvP league tables (player & squadron)

There could be player and squadron league tables based upon wins/losses that is specific only to duels (not including standard CQC fighter matches). This could possibly be the best index of PvP skill the game. I believe there already is a CQC league table for squadrons for the fighter matches, but this sits outside of the CQC platform.

4. Squadron CQC matches & tournaments

Squadrons could be connected to CQC duels with squadron matches (ranked and unranked), league tables and custom tournaments. Squadrons could challenge other groups for the PvP bragging rights or enter tournaments. The league table would show who the best PvP squadrons are week to week.

5. Squadron Team Paint Jobs (New Revenue Stream for FDEV)

There could also be squadron paint job options where instead of displaying the CQC team red or blue colours, a custom paint job would be displayed for all team members instead. This would be quite nice for squadrons to feel more like an e-sports team and also good for viewers and streamers to see who is who on the camera suite. Just for the sake of FDEV seeing the benefit of this idea, a team paint job could possibly be a store item with a slightly higher price than a standard individual paint job (not too much more though FDEV!).

6. Disable CQC specific features for main ship fights

Features unique to CQC would not be used for main ship dueling, such as: Power-ups, line-of-sight sensors, reduced gimball arcs, respawns & time-limits. This would be to make the format as close to the main game as possible.

7. Individual Player Duel Rewards

Winning ranked duels could provide players with random high-grade (grades 4 and 5) materials and a variable amount of credits (depending on league rank of your beaten opponents).

Every kill you get would also provide you with an 'Ace' pin which varies in design/status depending on the combat/CQC rank of the opponent killed. Ace pins would be viewable in the main game on the ship scan screen. Losing ranked matches would reduce your CQC league table position (there has to be a negative side to counter potential friend-kill material farming). Also to offset potential farming exploit risks, fighting the same people over and over would not generate rewards beyond the first match.

8. Spectator mode

Other players would be able to spectate matches using a viewable match list and the camera suite + a spectator overlay that shows the status of all players in the fight. Viewers would be able to cycle through each participant using the camera suite with the various camera options for each player.
Caveat being that when a player goes cool or silent, their overlay would say 'tracking lost' and camera tracking would stop working until they are warm enough again. This would be to stop spectators helping competitors too much via out of game comms.

8. CQC 1v1/ wing fight options

There could be the following new game options for CQC fights:
  • CQC ship outfitting with full engineering (eliminate grind-wall barrier for PvP) & tech broker options available to all (or import ship config from main game owned ships)
  • Player or squadron ranked & unranked fights (for league table rank/rewards or not..)
  • 1v1s, or wing/team/squadron fights up to 12 v 12
  • Battle Royale mode (new fighter mode?)
  • Custom tournament creation (knock out, mini-league or combination)
  • Specific ship type(s) only matches
  • Spectated or non-spectated
  • Choosing specific CQC maps (may need to be optimized for larger ships)
  • Ship engineering enabled/disabled/or limited to certain levels
  • Synthesis enabled/disabled/unlimited ammo
  • Weapons damage set to basic, standard or premium (no variable synthing options in fight to avoid premium ammo cheating)
  • Custom team colours/paint jobs or if 1v1 any paint job owned by player
  • Adjustable match start count-down (larger organised wing fights usually have a longer count down so everyone is ready)

Advantages & Benefits to these proposals

  • The huge grind-wall that gates main-ship PvP off from most players would be removed and subsequently might lose some of its negative stigma in Elite
  • Players would have a way of main ship PvP'ing (competing, practicing or theory crafting) without risking their credits, ships, engineered modules, unfinished missions or time
  • Competitive PvP'ers would no longer have to waste their time sitting around at hotspots (like Deciat) waiting for opponents (or victims) and may be more tempted to go to CQC, as it would now offer more immediate PvP options on top of existing fighter deathmatches.
  • CQC (and Elite in general) would become much more e-sports and streamer friendly, encouraging the game to trend more on platforms like YouTube & Twitch and potentially bring in new players.
  • Organising PvP events would be much easier and eliminate the following problems:
    • Instancing & network issues (because the environment would be dedicated to the participants)
    • NPC disruption (random bounty hunters/cops/pirates dropping in and ruining the fight)
    • Unwanted player gate-crashers (yes sometimes this happens with organised PvP events)
    • Ship & Module Travel time - organising logistics and ship builds for a PvP event within the main game is usually very time consuming and expensive
    • Time consuming rule checks associated with premium ammo (premium ammo would either be active for all or not at all)
    • Tournament & league structuring and lack of visibility to the rest of the community (PvP events would be less hidden away and results could be shared in GalNet articles)
  • Frontier could easily run official tournaments using the new integrated CQC features should they feel like it
  • People who wish to watch matches via spectator mode would have better options for doing so which would also cascade down to streamers who may just be a viewer themselves (good for commentary etc)
  • Players can't wake out before they die - more satisfying for winners
  • Combat logging could be more punitive - players with frequent disconnections during fights could have their ranking penalised or flagged
  • Team/Squadron paint jobs could be another revenue stream for FDEV with a slightly higher price point than individual paint jobs (perhaps squadrons could have an ARX balance for this that members could donate to)
  • CQC rank would suddenly have more relevance again


I hope this has made a good case to FDEV for why expanding CQC beyond its current limited scope could be very successful (and financially lucrative). I know FDEV have a kind of 'if they don't use it we won't work on it' kind of philosophy, but so many PvP'ers have given up on this game and left because of lack of supporting features - improvements like this would bring lots of them back IMO.

It may also serve to reduce the gank-culture within the main game (to a degree, there will always be some of that in the game of course) as PvP'ers would have a more immediate option available to them to scratch their PvP itch in a way fighter deathmatches fail to do.

I'll add points in if I think about anything else.

One of the things I love about odyssey conflict zones is that you get the quick respawn and low death-consequences of CQC but you also get to bring the exact same gear/loadout that you use in regular missions. Being able to bring your own stuff to CQC (maybe with rules in matchmaking? Like engineering is restricted to blueprints that all players in the match have available and may be downgraded if you're matched with someone who doesn't have G5 stuff) would be amazing.
Fighting around an installation with my main-game ships would be pretty cool. Right now, we're pretty much limited to planetary rings and open space.

I dig organic PvP, and even CQC from time to time.

But being able to cut down on the time spent jackin' around, getting everyone in a functional instance for tournaments? That would certainly be a draw if they ever did something like that. Anything to aid in the herding of cats.
One of the things I love about odyssey conflict zones is that you get the quick respawn and low death-consequences of CQC but you also get to bring the exact same gear/loadout that you use in regular missions.
That's certainly true - but on the other hand, an Odyssey CZ even with maxed-out gear you'll still die in a few seconds if you get focused by a few people with similarly maxed gear and can't get away. So quick respawn, low consequences, back in the fight - great, go get revenge!

If you're fighting with super-engineered ships that take a few minutes to kill, then CQC-style "yay, you got it, here have another one to fight" really isn't going to work. A defensively-oriented Cutter could probably survive the entire 7.30 of a CQC free-for-all match whatever happened.

The weak ships, poor distributors, and high lethality of a CQC match I think is key to making it work.

Given that they'd have to almost totally rewrite CQC to implement the OP's suggestions anyway, I don't see the point in having it be a rewrite of CQC as opposed to a totally new mode. And to be clear, I've no problem with a "simulated battle" mode for using main game ships being created - all the arguments for having one are solid - but CQC is a separate thing and should stay that way.
That's certainly true - but on the other hand, an Odyssey CZ even with maxed-out gear you'll still die in a few seconds if you get focused by a few people with similarly maxed gear and can't get away. So quick respawn, low consequences, back in the fight - great, go get revenge!

If you're fighting with super-engineered ships that take a few minutes to kill, then CQC-style "yay, you got it, here have another one to fight" really isn't going to work. A defensively-oriented Cutter could probably survive the entire 7.30 of a CQC free-for-all match whatever happened.
On that note, it would be great if you could deploy to "special" CZs where it's all small/low-tier ships, and like Odyssey CZs, you deploy in a fighter rather than one of your main game ships.

Heck, you could rework the way SLFs work, and instead of buying uncustomisable "ships" which go into the bay in a certain quantity, you buy a fighter much like you buy a suit in Odyssey, and can fit it out/engineer it and deploy that in the battle.

I mean, if you think hard about Odyssey, how does the Frontline Solutions have an exact copy of your gear to rollout with? Truth be told, I don't care, because the CZs are fun, and I'd equally not really care about fighters deploying from a carrier.
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