I'm a pilot. I'm a good pilot, I'm by no means one of the best, but I fly whenever there is a plane to be flown. I've got nearly 100 hours in planes alone, I've upgraded almost every plane fully.
And this update scares me.
I started out BFV, like manyfolks, in the Beta. What I saw there were some REALLY fun planes that felt FAST, felt more smooth, more responsive and felt a little bit less like they were being propelled by fairy dust rather than the laws of physics. There was an obvious mis-match between the two fighters, but this was fixed by the time the full game launched
When the full game came out, I loved it even more. The Bombers of course were overpowered (namely the bleedingly fast JU-88), but the Blenheims for the most part felt fun and balanced, and provided really good pilots a chance to experiment in both Air-to-Ground and Air-to-Air disciplines. The fighters especially felt like a very fun and customizable tool, with the ability to be loaded out for either total Air-to-Air combat or a combination of that and Attack plane. I think any good pilot will agree that the ability to teamwipe at the beginning of a round was ridiculous (except for "pilots" who only took up flying for a chance to teamwipe with a bomber and do nothing else, claiming themselves "amazing" pilots for their efforts). I myself only flew the Junkers enough to upgrade it fully...which took ONE round. This is the level of ridiculous that the Junkers was. I shot down a dozen enemy fighters with my forward guns, I could often outmaneuver fighters with Nitrous. It, was, stupid. Conversely I enjoyed using the Blenheim 1 to do light carpet bombs, strafe the enemy and paradrop friendly troops behind enemy lines with the Paradrop specialization. It felt HELPFUL in a unique way, and it didn't feel overpowered. As a note, this was not something exclusive to the Junkers, or even to bombers. I recalled one instance wherein I was flying a Explosive 20mm and Rocket equipped BF-109 and on a beginning of round sweep on Arras I garnered an 11 player kill in a single pass. This should NOT be possible.
The Junkers needed to be nerfed, the Stuka needed to be buffed, and to a lesser degree the "Ripsaw" 8 LMG Spitfire and "Hellfire" Explosive 20mm/Rocket combo 109 needed to be toned down.
Instead what has occurred has been a complete and total breakdown of flying in BFV. Bombers must loiter pointlessly over the battlefield waiting for the use of their namesake, only build with multiple bomb loads are viable now, any faster but lesser armed bomber is now pointless. A bomber can easily make it from one resupply point to the other before they are able to use their bombs, it's ridiculous. I was on board with a timer for heavy weapon rearms, as we have with quick-repair, something in that same area of time, but the amount of time ANY plane (not just bombers) must wait to use their Air-to-Ground weapons right now is ludicrous, to the point of completely breaking most types of planes/playstyles.
The Specialization tree for most planes has been unceremoniously severed in places, with no perceivable rhyme or reason. There is no "Air focused" or "Ground focused" split, it simply appears as a change for the sake of change. It did not touch any complained about weapons either, mostly fairly balanced or non-used combos like the Blenheim 1's Paradrop route (what I lovingly referred to as the Commando Blenheim) now lacking a nose blister (which I might point out was standard in nearly all Blenheims). Instead of 2 or more unique paths per aircraft, many of which had no "best" loadout but came down entirely to personal preference, we have one almost completely locked tree, and one almost customizable tree. This is NOT progress.
The change I personally take the most issue with is the Machinegun Ammo nerf. Planes now in most (if not all) cases have LESS ammo in the game than their famously limited reserves in-real-life. A fighter must now rearm after engaging a single target if they hope to survive a second one in many cases, and that's with GOOD aim, newer pilots who are still learning will have little to no room for error when it comes to taking out a target with a single load. A good pilot who could win a 2v1 dogfight BEFORE the update now has absolutely no chance or doing so without being near a resupply point. This has the effect of making dogfights in BFV increasingly a game of chance, wherein it matters so much more if your opponent has just shot down a bomber or been nailed by flak than it does their skill or tactics. It's less and less a matter of if you can fly well, rather than if you spawn at the right time.
AA-Tanks, while already potent to all Aircraft and unkillable to nearly all Fighter-Bomber loadouts are now even more fortified in their positions outside of the playable area. A pilot cannot call upon his squadmates or teammates to run an special and exciting mission to take out an enemy target when it is outside of the zone they can go to/see. With most Flak Tanks also deciding to camp out at resupply zones for planes, this is even more unfair to the now-constantly returning for ammo fighters. Far too often a player who loses one too many dogfights to a better pilot will simply hop in an AA tank, wait outside the zone at a resupply zone, and be invincible to their enemy. This is the Aerial equivalent of an angry tanker commanding a heavy artillery piece from outside the map and targeting tanks resupply at supply depots. It does not make sense.
It should be noted that almost all the nerfs made to planes affect not only their class but the entire ranges of planes in BFV. Bombers too have pitiful amounts of forward facing gun ammo (and the Blenheims are glitched so that they CANNOT resupply this small amount of ammo). Conversely, fighters with small bombs or rockets must now also wait the insane amount of time to use their already rather limited air-to-ground arsenal. Some will make the argument that the 2.5x zoom makes up for this in some way, but many (if not most) pilots did strafing runs in third-person already.
I was immensely excited for this update, but it has fallen completely flat. The Practice range is a joke, the planes have been almost entirely ruined, and there are many MANY bugs. I'm not mad about bugs, those happen, but the decisions made in regards to the planes by the team at DICE feel rushed and clumsy. It is, to quote our British announcer on Devastation "A craven betrayal of trust" for our flyers, in what to me at least felt like one of the best Battlefields ever for a pilot.
My ideal outcome would be an immediate reversal of the Machinegun nerf, and a different system to make Bombers rearm over-time. I would suggest instead of a timer for rearming, a system in which a bomber with many or heavy bombs must pass through the resupply zone multiple times in-order to rearm. This gives them the option to go into a bombing run with a lessened load, or spend some time in a vulnerable position over the supply zone to fully rearm. As it stands all a bomber must do is make one pass and then hide until they are cleared for bomb dropping.
Please DICE, please don't let THIS be the direction planes are taking. My friends whom never had any interest in flying in Battlefield are finally getting into it here, and this update has ruined it for them, and for me. This is, to pilots at least, a really pressing issue that NEEDS to be fixed quickly, not in the next major update.
A plea, from a pilot.