A beginners thought - Way too difficult

As an experienced fan of the xcom series - played them for so many hours/days/years that I have lost count, I really looked forward to Phoenix Point. And I love the game idea and a lot of the new mechanics.
But honestly… Who decided on the game difficulty? I really appreciate when games have an extremely challenging top range of difficulty levels - that prolongs the life of the game. However… making a game where the rookie starting entry is almost unplayable for more then 10 battles unless you master the game do not seem like a recipe for attracting players.
For many players it is not fun to get there team wiped out all the time, and I hate to have to start all over again because my tech level is way lower than those of the aliens. And I have no clue where I went wrong.
For really good players this may seem obvious, but at rookie level is supposed to be the entry where you learn the game… not where you get beaten over and over again until you do not bother with the game anymore. I know I am not highly skilled at this game… That’s why I chose Rookie level…
I am pretty sure my enthusiasm wont make it for any DLC buying.

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I think this problem is known by the devs and they will do more steps to resolve it.
Meanwhile you can comment and upvote this topic in player response tool: https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/rework-difficulty

In current game version difficulty levels derail, pretty sure Easy difficulty along a campaign wasn’t intended. The worse is Legend isn’t much harder.

If you want play anyway the game and dodge the problem, you’ll need practice a bit of manipulation of auto scaling along first month or first two month.

I don’t know the updated tricks, but from old quotes I did:

  • Skip any scavenging.
  • Minimize special missions (with the negative side effect to delay factions relationships).
  • Use training centers in a base to have a second team leveling up along first month and more.
  • Build two planes to prepare missions with 8 soldiers, or even I advise 5 soldiers and a vehicle for many missions types.
  • Focus on explore and defense missions.

Once you have two teams level 6 to 7, you can start play more normally, the insane difficulty spikes will be behind.

The other probable tools to manipulate the auto scaling risk make you feel you are cheating, it’s to ensure finish some missions with a lot of damages not healed, and even worse sacrifice sometimes some soldiers.

I haven’t seen the spike yet. But if losing soldiers or sustaining many injuries has the effect to make the Pandorans go easier on you - isn’t the problem rather the misguided expectation of many players that they should never lose any soldiers? I think it’s common among many XCOM players to never accept a loss and reload every time you lose a soldier, or even reload every time a turn works out less than perfect.

This right here is the nail on the head…
The mentality of never losing a super soldier is a FiraXicom one tbh, and of course Phoenix point marketed this game towards such audience. But at the exact same time they’ve promised to incorporate a lot of mechanics from Julian Gollops UFO:EU… stating that it’s gonna be the best of both worlds. Now in ogXcom losing soldiers was just apart of the game, and you just accepted it when it happened. But in FiraXicom, losing soldiers except for tge very early game is campaign ending… so you’ve got Phoenix point trying to meld 2 opposing mentality’s together, and honestly… I’ve got to say… it just doesn’t work.

If it was a weird intent of the auto scaling design, even this is a fail. In current play I don’t scamload but replayed a mission very often to avoid more death past one at very beginning, Legend play. No real spikes. The best guess is I still struggle somehow and sometimes, often enough, finish a combat at the limits with many soldiers heavily inured, this disabling seriously huge spike. For the difficulty, it’s more late mid game, and tough irregularly but nothing special.

For me there’s no point to punish players explicitly for reloading or for not having much soldiers death. You think your way to play such game is the most fun and the only one valid, but you are totally wrong, it can be a lot of fun without any ironman.

Why do you talk about punishment? If you do not lose any soldiers, clearly the game is too easy for you, so the auto-scaling tries to give you a proper challenge. That’s not punishment, that is adaptive difficulty. Whether it actually works or not, or whether that’s even the intention, I cannot say yet, but the basic idea would be totally sound.

That said, auto-scaling is very difficult to get right. If not done right, it leads to the feeling that it doesn’t really matter how well or poorly you play because the game will simply adjust to however good or bad you are. I’d say good auto-scaling gives the player a chance to bounce back from failures, but only within a certain range. Fail too often, and you should go down for good.

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Lol not at all, same for XCOM1&2, preserve soldiers means do it no matter the mission, and for some mission it will generate the hardest combats of a campaign.

But once it is in back, not have lost your soldiers make it easier overall.

The auto scaling as pure auto scaling to players result looks like a good player option for players that want it, and Im’ fine with it but still find current implementation absurd when comparing Easy and Legend. But it destroys a lot of arguing, you played Legend, nope you had so many death and injuries that it was easier than any Easy campaign.

Perhaps it’s dev goal, but it is nowhere here. Such approach for sure would at least allow manage less weirdly the different difficulty levels.

For those who did play Xcom 2 in ironman mode, can you remember the fun of that until you peaked with the difficult? All of a sudden the game got too easy and then the last third of the game became almost boring. Auto scaling is the evolved solution. Apparently it still needs some small tweak…? But this is also not a Firaxis game. Julian Gollop (and brother) always did produce a highbrow game and concept relative to what is currently else on the games market. Firaxis has a vast amount more of staff and resources. I’m sure snapshot would love to match sales. Firaxis deliberately targeted the console market (yes I realise snapshot is too), but this game is more highbrow again. Not everything is obvious or spelt out for you. Thinking and learning is fun right, or am I too old fashioned and actually people want pleasure without effort? For me hard is good!

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I love XCOM2, especially with WotC. I actually have all 88 achievements for the game. It’s the only game ever where I did 100% achievements, because unlike most developers, they created rather few but really cool and meaningful achievements instead of 500 where most of it is just grinding.

Imho with the WotC expansion they achieved very good difficulty, they made the beginning a bit easier so there wasn’t this huge spike at the start and then just easy mode for the rest of the game. But still, after a certain point it did become too easy. The reason for that is that the top-tier XCOM soldiers are just vastly superior to the top-tier aliens. Once you reach Colonels with top gear, you’re invincible.

Personally I had the most fun when I played a full campaign on Commander difficulty limited to just four soldiers per mission to get the achievement for completing the campaign without buying a Squad Size upgrade. That way I could enjoy the godlike end-game soldiers but it was still somewhat challenging because I only had four guys.

Btw I played and won one Legend Ironman campaign but that wasn’t fun, Legend is just too unfair. I did it just to have done it but I wouldn’t do it again.

Anyway PP so far is very different. Firaxis has always been one of the worst studios in the world in terms of AI, their games basically don’t have AI. In Civ as well as XCOM, their AI is absolutely awful. For XCOM2 they made it work because they created a game where a good player is expected to kill every enemy before they have a chance to even do anything. So it doesn’t matter that they’re dumb as bricks. PP on the other hand has actual firefights where enemies often live for several turns, and your soldiers take damage but don’t get killed in one single crit shot as often happens in XCOM2. Both approaches work, but I much prefer that of PP.

I think that a solution to the problem is to allow the player to turn the dynamic difficulty off. This is to say, that if the player is save scums to save their troops, then they should have a way to do that. Currently those that do encounter a difficulty spike and end up saying it’s way too hard. That said they certainly should say that this is not how PP is meant to be played, but it would allow those players to get into the game easier.