From the 6/2 Dev Blog:
What is the plan for PvP combat and balancing? Is there a philosophy that dictates what gets buffed, nerfed or removed?
We feel that PVP conflict should consist of interesting challenges and opportunities for both sea and land combat. We want to drive the focus first towards fleet battles and provide ways to effectively defend your holdings with the ships you customize and build. The ships you build will be able to blockade your island, with your opponents first having to deal with those defenses before they can safely make landfall. Your fleet will also be your main weapon of attack – both to defeat your enemies blockade and to soften their land defenses.
That's not how land-based PvP happens. Ever. Island attacks rarely if ever involve actual ship vs.ship battles. The standard procedure is to land as many players and tames as possible, build a FoB and kill/blow up everything. Typically, the landing ships retreat afterwards if there's any real chance of a naval counter-attack. Any organized attack will make landfall LONG before there can be any meaningful naval response. In fact, quickly destroying ships at anchor with tames is a favorite tactic. Add to that the fact the gold cost of ships, and no smart defender will ever un-anchor a green-anchored ship in an armored shipyard during an attack unless the defending side is guaranteed to win. The stated vision of PvP in this blog is pure fantasy.
In general our PVP philosophy focus is on counterplay – to provide options that are deadly and effective but can be countered with the proper tactic. We want to see powerful options that players can use to attack their enemies, and equally powerful options the defender can access to counter them and fight back. Ideally this allows for and encourages players to have different tactics available to them instead of always relying on one mainstay ability that works best in every situation.
Attackers will always have the initial advantage in any island attack for no other reason than because they're prepared and have a plan, while the defenders have to scramble. And I'm curious, what "powerful defenses" are available for defenders when tame-towed guns will always out-range NPC defenses? ...Or manned defenses for that matter, since a tame-mounted cannon can be angled on a rock or hill to fire higher and further than a mortar placed at the same level? Bottom line: the only advantage possible for a defender is to 'be-more' or 'be-better'.
What more are we going to see in the upcoming patches? Are we done with map/macro enhancements in favor of micro adjustments and additions? Is there new content that we can look forward to?
Updates are on the horizon for the game map, such as separating the map into regions with different geographical theming. Piracy happens all over the world in Atlas, and players will be able to experience this more when they travel from an area of arid desert isles to a region of the world with tropical islands and crystal blue waters. There is a system in design to allow for the capture and control of strategic resource points placed in the world. These will unlock many capabilities for the companies who control them, such as structures which provide server-wide buffs you can share with all of your allies. Some of these structures will require monumental levels of materials and time. This all leads towards a long term goal of having large projects with huge collaborative efforts that companies compete over.
In the upcoming patches there will also be many new ship options. Players will be able to customize more of their ship, starting with the midship portion of their modular ships – adding options such as gun ports, rowing banks, armor and more to the broadside sections of your vessel. In future updates there will be more options for other components of the ship, such as new sail types and front and rear castle varieties. There will be additional pre-built ships coming to the game, as well as a larger modular hull class that players can build. Players will have the ability to craft fleets that consist of vessels with different roles in combat and utility. When two enemy fleets clash there should be a variety of ships and tactics at play, each one effective unless properly countered.
In the next major update we will see two new ship types – the Mortar Ship and the Turtle Ship. The Mortar Ship will add a long range artillery option to ship combat, while the Turtle Ship is armored up to break through blockades. You will be able to construct and customize these new classes of modular ships as well as the existing types in the shipyard. New BPs will drop in the world to allow the crafting of the railings, midship tiles, and ship types being added. We want Atlas to become known for large, collaborative fleet battles that require the coordination of multiple players and companies.
Mortar Ships. I'm not even sure how to respond to that. I think that we can safely assume they'll out-range NPC-manned harbor towers, so yeah. Honestly, it's not any one "vision" for the game; it's a cumulative thing, ever-repeating evidence that Grapeshot fundamentally doesn't understand its own game.