A different way to do difficulty modes


I’ve been active on this forum for over a year now, and in that time I have been struck by how many completely different types of gamer are attracted to this game. Seems to me that the devs have an impossible job, because this game has to cater to players who want dozens of diametrically opposed things out of it. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but in general terms, they seem to break down into 5 generic types:

THE STORY PLAYER wants to enjoy the story above everything else. (S)he gets frustrated by difficult missions that make it impossible to get to the end of the story and find out what’s going on. So (s)he wants an easy game which feels challenging without actually getting in the way of the story’s progression.

THE CHARACTER JUNKIE loves creating characters and seeing them progress through the game. (S)he hates seeing characters die, to the extent that (s)he would rather Restart a mission and play it over again until (s)he gets a perfect result than suffer the loss of a favourite character. For them, the game needs to be easy enough to survive, whilst giving their characters legendary moments that they can savour.

THE OPTIMISER likes finding the exploits in the system. (S)he’s the one who figures out that a handful of farms and a base turned into a dedicated Training Centre will exploit the Haven market so that (s)he can hire new recruits and turn them into Lvl 7 supermen without ever having to fight. (S)he’s usually a bit of a perfectionist, so a mission doesn’t end well unless it produces an optimal score in whatever metric (XP/Resources/Squad survival) (s)he deems to be important.

THE SUPERMAN is a different kind of optimiser who loves stacking skill combos and exploiting the system to create super-squaddies who can ace a mission in 1 turn without breaking a sweat. For them, every skill nerf is a slap in the face, as it stops them from having fun chain-offing Pandas.

THE TACTICIAN is the opposite of the Superman. Like me, (s)he deliberately limits Squad Skills to 1 use per turn, because (s)he doesn’t want to ‘cheat’ through a mission (as (s)he sees it). (S)he wants a game where (s)he has to make best use of positioning and cover and overwatch screens to engage in a challenging tactical battle against impossible odds. For the Tactician, this is a game of attrition, where (s)he takes losses when they come and likes to figure out how to deal with the giant mutant crab-spider or the nightmare trap-maze of a Lair without resorting to a Rage Bursting Sniper killing it in 1 turn from the other side of the map or an infinitely Jump/Dashing Heavy/Assault doped up on Rally & Rapid Fire ignoring the tactical challenges of the terrain to hop to the Maguffin and kill it.

Quite frankly, while there is some overlap, it’s seemingly impossible to create a game like this that caters to all those mutually opposing styles of play. But I think there is a way.

Why don’t you rename the Difficulty Settings and adjust them to cater to the type of game that a player really wants?

STORY MODE would disable the DDA and limit the number of Big Nasties based on the type of mission (so Lairs get more Sirens than Scavenging missions, for instance). It would create a game that feels like it’s getting more difficult as it goes along, but is never truly impossible.

CHARACTER MODE would buff the stats & armour of the Squaddies. Squaddies would be harder to kill and the DDA would take Restarts into account, so that a player isn’t ‘punished’ for Restarting and getting a perfect score.

SUPER-SOLDIER MODE would have no limits on Squad Skills. You can create whatever exotic combos you like. The DDA would ramp up as it does now, but it doesn’t matter, 'cos you’re the Avengers and if you can’t ace the Mission in one, you ain’t doin’ it right :slight_smile:

TACTICIAN MODE would put a strict 1-use-per-turn limit on ALL skills (including passive skill buffs received from other Squaddies, like Rally). The DDA would do its thing, and you would revel in the pain of defeating this damn game with your hands tied behind your back :wink:

CUSTOM MODE would institute Sheepy’s ‘New Campaign Settings’ idea, which I really like but think would be a tad daunting to a brand new player who doesn’t know how the different parameters can interact. This would allow you to set the basic parameters to fit your own personal preferences, if the modes above don’t do it for you.

In this way, you the player get the game experience you want, without hamstringing the devs as they work to shape a beautifully complex fractal diagram of a game in the face of the mutually conflicting desires of multiple players.


If limit to one use any skill is more tactical then limit them to zero use is even more tactical.

There’s something wrong in that arguing.

I was about to suggest something like this, but I was thinking about it in terms of the learning curve. What generally happens is that a player first tries to play PP like xcom and it doesn’t work, then they learn to use the skills, then they learn the OP combinations, and then they (at least some of them) want to learn how to do without them. I have just realized that little by little I now have 80+ hours, which is a lot for me for a game nowadays, especially in such a short period of time and every time I want more and more limitations on the skills. Perhaps yet not one per turn, but two.

A very good example of this kind of system are the Trese Brothers games, btw.

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And answer to that.

:slight_smile: I really admire your ways of thinking. They are undiscovered for me. :slight_smile: Having no skills is more tactical than having skills… Hmmm :thinking:. No.

No it isn’t! Skills are useful and interesting - and finding clever ways of combining them is one of the many joys of this game. But being able to combine them so that you can simply ace a Mission in 1 or 2 turns is, quite frankly, broken game design - and ultimately boring as F!c£!

You (or someone else) is going to come back with the utterly spurious argument that if I don’t like the buffs I don’t have to use them, which is simply excusing bad game design. If a skill or exploit is in the game, I usually assume that the designer has put it there for a reason and expects us to have to exploit it at some point (that’s how I design my games). As this game currently stands, I don’t assume that - instead I assume that they haven’t envisaged how it could be exploited and balanced it yet because they ran out of time before they had to launch - which is why I spend so much of my time constructively pointing out to the devs where I personally think the design is currently not working properly.

No-one wants their carefully constructed Citadel Mission to be over in 1 turn, just because some player has figured out how to get 2 Snipers to pump 10 shots into the Maguffin from a mile away without even breaking a sweat. But that’s how it is at the moment.

So if that’s the game you want to play, choose SUPER-SOLDIER MODE and knock your Scylla out. I promise you, it’s gonna get old real soon. What won’t grow old is figuring out how to lure that Scylla into range of your utterly inaccurate Gatling Cannon, without getting your Heavy Mind Controlled by its Siren guardians or fragged by its Crabbie soldiers - and it’s challenges like that which will ultimately elevate this game into the cult classic that it so nearly is and could be, if only they balanced it right.

So yea, right now, I AM exercising enormous self-restraint, and limiting myself to 1 TC per Base (except in my dedicated Training Facility), not letting myself use any individual Squaddie’s Skill more than once per turn, and refusing to use Sniper RB or 100% Infiltrators. But I shouldn’t have to to turn this into a game that will stand the test of time.

However, as you should understand if you’ve read my opening post, I fully appreciate that there are whole categories of players who won’t agree with me, and I don’t want to deny them whatever pleasure they get from this game just because I think it’s a broken design. Hence my proposal: alter the Difficulty Modes so that different types of player can choose whatever kind of experience they want to have - then everybody’s happy.


I think your idea is theoretically pretty clever and basically could briefly define the philosophy of different mods (to be tested/balanced ofc).
As for devs interest in this kind of multiple gameplay system, mmhhh, I’m pretty skeptical though.
Devs are always in a rush trying to find a balance between their emotional and business choices, not an easy life, I would say.

The point remain that limit skill uses to one use is not meaning more tactical, pure absurd logic.

Which tbh is why I’ve come up with this suggestion. As things stand, PP is an uncomfortable mix of what I call the ‘open skills sandbox’ style of play and a tactical sim game, in which combining skills is clearly intended to be part of the challenge.

But the sandbox is so open at the moment that it’s broken the game (in my opinion). That means that ultimately, many of the more tactically-minded gamers like myself are ultimately going to get bored of this and move on to something more satisfying. Alternatively, if the OP combos get ‘fixed’, Fortnite players are going to get turned off and move on to something easier.

Under my proposal, the devs can design the game how they want it to be and present that as the default option. But if as well as that default, they give players the option to turn off the open skills sandbox, or the DDA, or whatever aspect(s) of the game currently puts them off - or conversely turn on those aspects of the game they really like - they don’t lose any players and everyone gets what they want.

TBH, it’s not that much different to the huge list of options you are presented with at the start of LW2, allowing you to tailor the game to your own preferred style of play.

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You really don’t get it do you?

Let’s agree to disagree.

Look, the matter isn’t to limit skills or to make them more OP.

The matter is to design possible alternative gameplay systems (100% thanks to snapshot who did this awesome game - both as it is now and as potentially could be) like MichaelIgnotus briefly and cleverly proposed, and THEN decide what to limit or make OP or just leave as it is/slightly change it.

No the topic is to categorize players so they choose a type of game, but tactician category is absurd with this skills limit thing, seriously, one shot limit, one quick aim limit, so absurd.

Otherwise, it won’t work, at reverse stay neutral as much than possible with players, give neutral difficulty names, even easy is borderline, and with difficulty options if possible, that’s it.

And choose your game genre stick to it and that’s it, for a story a player won’t play PP, for character building player will play RPG, and so on. If you try to please to all you’ll end do crap, nothing else.

Man, you’re like inquisition during middle-ages… :kissing:

Personally, I read the OP as a theoretical post and in fact every description starts with a “would” which basically introduces an hypotesys, not a reality.

MichaelIgnotus is talking about “what if…” and not reporting that he did a mod, he called it TACTICAL and reduced that skill… Try to apply a wider POV and you’ll see that categories like yours “absurd” adjectives have not much sense regarding what MichaelIgnotus is trying to say…

This doesn’t mean that you may actually be correct when you say that limiting THAT particular skill use would be “absurd”.
Or you may consider that this skill limitation could be just one ingredient for a TACTICAL gameplay style which probably would be balanced with something else…

Nice OP - I think I’d preference having an open option system whereby each player can choose exactly the factors that they prefer, but I do like how you’ve categorised the difficulty into different player types. :slight_smile:


I think actually it’s a very sound business model. Again, I will refer to the Trese Brothers games, specifically Templar Battleforce and Star Traders Frontiers. The custom difficulty in their games is so flexible that casual players can play them without even being aware of many mechanics, while the harder modes are very challenging.

There are skill like Quick Aim, whose whole point really is allowing 2 shots in a turn. Limiting that skill to once per turn makes WAY less useful, especially now that the aim bonus is removed.

Dash is similar in that the use was often Dash in, get the kill, Dash back to safety. It’s the combination of 2 skill from separate classes that becomes OP.

An esaier solution might be to check a box in the game options menu, DDA on/off.

Though if it’s off the devs need to balance the game in an arbitrary way of progressive difficulty as the game goes on.

You know what Zzzz, sometimes I can’t tell whether you are being deliberately obtuse or whether you actually believe the nonsense you sometimes spout :wink:
But let me explain my POV one last time, and then I’m just going to stop engaging with you, because it’s clearly not worth my time.

Picture this: you’re on a Mission facing 2 Crabbies with Shields & MGs, when a Siren pops round the corner, 3 APs away from your nearest squaddie - let’s call her Cute Bulgarian Girl (BG for short), and she’s an Assault with a Shotgun. You’ve also got a soldier with Rally in the background, we’ll call him Keanu. What you need to do is shoot the Siren in the head, but she’s too far away to do it in 1 turn and you can only be sure you’ll shoot her head off if BG fires her shotgun at point blank range:

If you had NO SKILLS at all, you’d have no option but to fall back or accept that BG’s gonna get MC’d. Not very interesting but you have no real tactical options available to you.

If you play TACTICIAN, you can use each skill once, you have the tactical option of Dashing for 1 AP, moving in the Blue Zone for 2 APs, then using Keanu to Rally so that BG can shoot the bitch in the face. BG’s gonna be exposed to the Crabbies, but that may be a better tactical option for you than letting the Siren get close enough to Mind Control. It’s a choice you have to make - an interesting choice - and it’s one that’s been made available to you because you have a limited number of skills to use and you need to figure out how to use them in the most efficient manner possible.

Now let’s say you’re playing SUPER-SOLDIER: now it’s a no-brainer. BG simply opts to Dash to the nearest Crabbie, switch on Rapid Fire and blow it away, then use the extra AP’s that gives her to Dash to the next Crabbie, switch on Rapid Fire and blow it away, then use the extra APs that gives her to Dash to the Siren, shove her shotgun against its head and… And if she runs low on APs at any point, Keanu simply buffs her back up again with Rally. If you’re really playing Super-Soldier properly, you’ve cloned Keanu 7 times, so that BG can then carry on Dashing across the map to her heart’s content, inflicting mass-sushi on every Crabbie she can find.

Now I don’t find Option A or Option C very interesting, so I’ll select Option B. You think that having a 1-skill-per-turn limit is absurd? That’s fine, I’m not stopping you from choosing Option C as your preffered play style - or hell choose FULL CUSTOM and go through a list of every skill in the game setting it’s Uses-per-turn at whatever level you like. Makes no odds to me. I’ve already chosen the way I like to play - feel free to play this game in whatever way you like.

That’s all I’m suggesting - a way for the devs to design the game they want (hell, for all I know they don’t think Infinite Dash is a bad thing) - but then to enable players to pick the kind of game that suits their personal preferences. As Volund put it, seems like a sound business model to me - because if they only end up catering for my style or yours, one of us is ultimately going to abandon the game and find something we find more satisfying instead, and then they’ve lost our revenue for all that juicy DLC they have in the pipeline.


That’s what the CUSTOM MODE is for. The others are more to guide noobs towards the settings which are most likely to suit their preferred type of game.

I think there should also be a GOLLOP MODE, which has the settings how the designer originally envisaged them. I’d be interested to see how open the skills sandbox would be in that one :thinking:


Sorry, my poor reading.

The problem here is that they would need to balance 5 or 6 “different games” which only share assets. :smiley: