Rome II’s multiplayer is not broken. It’s enjoyable and fast paced fun; but it is deeply flawed, enjoyable and fast paced fun. The main problem, as I can see it, is the prevalence of elite units and the difficulty, almost uselessness, of cavalry tactics. Here’s a List of changes that I believe will go a long way to fixing multiplayer battles:
1) Limit elite units.
The ideal way if doing this, in my opinion, is creating a manpower system. There adequate tiers of manpower: high skill, medium skill, and low skill. High skill man power is 3 or four, while low skill is 12 or 13. Each unit is designated as high, low, or medium skill. For Macedon, for example, foot companions, the two companion cav units, and royal peltasts would be high skill units, while slingers and basic spears would be low skill units. This is ideal, but it would take a while to implement. A much simpler and less interesting idea would be simple caps. Cap elites to four and be done with it. Alternatively, we can raise the price and cap at the same time.
Whichever is chosen (or another idea all together!), this will be the primary way of diversifying multiplayer. CA worked hard to create a diverse and interesting array of units for each faction, but it’s a shame that, due to the effectiveness and limitlessness of elites, the vast majority of the units are completely unused, and worse, completely useless.
2) Increase shock cavalry effectiveness.
Shock cavalry is woefully underpowered. We all know this. CA took an important step in increasing the “violence” of the charge in patch 2. What this basically means is that, by increasing their speed and charge speed, the initial crash is better at wrecking formations. Still, this does little for the two major problems of shock cavalry: cycle charging and high melee defense/armor negating charge damage.
For the first, there needs to be some way to facilitate cycle charging. Hell, there’s even a tip on a loading screen mentioning that the most effective way of using shock cavalry is cycle charging, but cycle charging is all but impossible because of the disengaging mechanics. In a previous post, I mentioned that defense dropping to zero should be eliminated while moving, and that it should be attack that is dropped to zero instead. Also, the high defense/armor of some units (like Oathsworn and foot companions) basically negates even a hammer/anvil strike. This would be perfectly fine if elites were capped at 3-4 units each, basically meaning that only some, and not all, of the enemy would be difficult to charge into.
3) Avatar System
I absolutely loved the avatar system. It was broken, sure, but it was fun. There has to be a middle ground between eliminating it completely and leaving it as is. Perhaps, instead of an avatar conquest that focuses on generals, we could make a clan war system focused on legions. Thus, each legion can be customized with minor tweaks, coloring, naming, etc. Perhaps we can have four veteran slots per faction. Whatever it is, the avatar system definitely needs to make a comeback in a much more limited, balanced fashion.
With these changes implemented, I’m sure Rome II will facilitate the same level of competitive and engrossing multiplayer that Shogun II did, if not better.