A proposal to Bring back that sense of Menace

I’m going to propose this on the Feedback Forum and will link to it here: https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/a-proposal-to-bring-back-that-sense-of-menace

Basically, I was doing a Story Mission in a set of spooky ruins… which weren’t at all spooky because I could see everything everywhere, and I realised that the simple thing lacking in this game which kills its atmosphere dead is the fact that I can see all the way across the map.

Obvious, I know, but…

Surely the simple solution is to link the amount of the map that is revealed to the Squad’s Perception.
I don’t know the numbers off the top of my head, but as an example, a Squaddie with Perception 20 can see 20 tiles ahead of him/her - halved to 10 at night - and the rest of the map is black.

I remember creeping through the dark forests of Enemy Within with my heart in my throat because I couldn’t see far enough ahead not to trigger the next pod if & when I blundered into it - and it was a truly, brilliantly tense experience! How difficult is it to do something as simple as that in PP?

Of course the devs would have to figure out how to ‘reveal’ a Chiron once it started firing - or cue the cries of outrage from players who don’t like being shelled by indirect artillery fire (a fact of life of all modern wars, guys). But anything that actually makes these missions feel spooky and threatening is surely worth a try…


Its not only the fog of war or darkkess. You also need larger maps or a decreased moving rate. Otherwise your creepiness is over After one or two rounds as you have explored everything… the older xcoms and the creepiness you are missing came as you explored the map and you hear Sounds like Shots and screams from the dark side of the map. But when you got there you only saw the dead civilian Body but no enemies. You further Enter the dark and out of nowhere a green shot hit your troop.

To get that to PP you need dark maps. Lower perception and much larger maps. The fights will become longer (i would prefer that many others not as far as i know). In the QA Session there was said that much larger maps are nearly impossible due to technical restrictians. So i dont Think we will get this kind of game…

I Think xenonuats 2 will more go in this direction


You may well be right on all counts, but at least it would be a step in the right direction.


Yes, I know the one you are talking about. They should have definitely gone with the same technique there as with nests and lairs - makes sense too because the jungle canopy should hide the ground from above.

However, I’m against doing this for all mission types. Should be used on many of the “story missions” though.

Whether it’s lighting or dust or mist/fog or bodies or something else completely there’s just something missing that leaves the encounters feeling “sterile”. Just too “clean”. Does anyone playing really feel like this is a world on its last legs, devastated by WW3 and then slowly overrun and mutated by a virus?

I have my hopes that this’ll slowly change with the coming expansions but I don’t know.

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Totally agree with you. I’ve upvoted.

Between this and 360 degree vision this is a very ‘unmenacing’ horror experience.

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Most disconcerting is that Snapshot has never commented on why this was left out/taken out of the game or whether they will ever attempt to add it back in.

There was some mention early on in the release that Fog of War wasn’t working for some reason, and was in the pipeline for a later patch, but I haven’t heard anything about it since.

I believe that what he said was that there were some technical limitations on the size, but they were not afraid to experiment with larger maps. Didn’t seem to me like they were ruling them out (actually, there are already some fairly large maps in the game, like lairs).

As one of the people who would rather not have larger maps as a rule, I think it’s mostly about gameplay.

I also have very fond memories of Gollop’s XCom and TFTD, but when I try to play them, or Xenonauts, for that matter, I also become aware of another thing: completing the missions soon turns into a tedious routine, as you slowly maneuver your troops in the same patterns. And the larger the maps, the worse it is. In XCom Apocalypse the first thing I always did was to scroll around to see how large the map was and how many levels it had, and very often just ragequit from imaging the ordeal of looking for aliens there. “That whole bloody hovercar factory?! You can have it!”

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any large maps, just that I’m fine with large maps being the exception rather than the rule.

Having said that, some of the story missions definetly call for much larger maps (particularly that ruins map MichaelIgnotus was referring to).

Agree, the maps could certainly do with some props in that department.

Xenonauts had map completion objectives that prevented you from having to look for the last alien hiding in a broom closey, like occupying the bridge of the crashed UFO uncontested for 3 turns. That was really nice.

Yeah, but you still had to get to the UFO and clear it inside. And leaving aliens out in the open meant that they while you were gathering at the (unbreakable) door to make entry they could shoot you from the flanks.

To be clear, it does solve the “looking for the last sectoid” problem (at least on the UFO maps), but IMO there is only one way to play Xenonauts: carefully, slowly, meticulously following the same pattern. Whether it’s “tactical” or "tedious* depends to how many times you do it and your tolerance for repetition.

That’s a fair point but, as it stands, PP’s “spam lvl.7 kills and dash around the map like a madman” is just as tedious and repetitive. The very nature of these games will make them repetitive after a while, and the only “solution” to this is to have variety in skills, equipment and opposition.

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Oh yes, absolutely.

I have to say though that restraining oneself to using each skill only once per each soldier per turn (and skills with squad effects to once per turn) mostly takes care of that, which leads me to conclude that achieving the right balance is possible.

I’d never been against larger maps in X-Coms even if it means slower pace or some routine in moving soldiers. It’s tactical turn based game, it should be slower paced after all! If I want quick dynamic fights I’m choosing FPS…
Larger maps/slower pace could be tedious to someone, that’s true. But don’t forget it actually played a major role in building so much tension! Missions were more scary and uncertain and you never actually knew when enemies emerge. That was a very important part of great experience!
If it’s true that all the maps can’t be bigger and fog of war implemented because of some engine limitations, then it’s very unfortunate in game like PP: unfortunate for creators (they wouldn’t change anything on that matter), for us (we couldn’t experience it again), for modders (they couldn’t implement that) and for game itself (it never change its status of mediocre game)…

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Mostly agree. Except for skills. The were good in FiraxCom but are literally killing PP. I’m fine with good equipment and enemies variety, though.
PS. Good (equipment-based!) skills could be fine, too. But they should never dominate battlefield as it is right now.

Can’t argue with that, as it’s a matter of personal taste/preference. Incidentaly, 10+ years ago that was also my preference.

Not necessarily, and also IMO this is not about being “slow paced”. It’s about whether decisions by the player are meaningful or not. To move each of your soldiers reserving enough for OW, one after another, does not involve any meaningful choice. This is something Firaxis hit upon when doing their XCom - they reduced the player’s agency to decisions that actually matter. The two actions turn, which has revived the TBS genre.

And this is really the problem: how to avoid turns in larger maps where there is only one right way for the player to act.

It’s definitely not technical, as lairs, for example, are pretty large. And the way all turns in lairs are made to matter is through infinite spawning, because then as a player you have a meaningful choice as to whether you want to strike fast before you are swamped, or whether you want to maneuver around, or to slowly but surely plow your way through.

Incidentaly, the excessive mobility in PP is definitely the result of attempting to avoid “meaningless” OW turns (the Snapshot dev said as much at the Q&A), and I agree that it needs some curbing.

For me pace should be about variety; ebbs and flows. With regards to maps, my preference would be to experience different shapes and sizes.

IMHO Firaxis Xcom is only an improvement to the genre in the sense that it made TBS games more accessible to casual players. For me, it’s achieved that via dumbed down mechanics and fancy graphics. I don’t consider the actual game play itself to be anything special, it just cut a different niche into the genre. If previous TBS games were akin to sim racers, then Firaxis Xcom is an arcade racer, it can be fun to play, but it’s far from being the deepest strategy experience out there.

Simply in terms of realism, as the subject is raised here from time to time, fog of war makes little sense given that you begin with aerial reconnaissance…

Beyond that, given the number of encounters in the game, anything that slows the game down runs the risk of producing an uphill slog… ie fog of war, larger maps… as to the latter, on select story encounters this has promise, but as a standard feature it would be a nightmare…

A far better means of producing tension, or menace, as you put it, is to create more innovative and imaginative enemies… also a feature in the original game despite the limitations of processing back then… with perhaps a return to the original evolving threat model… These are mutant aliens after all … the sky is the limit so far as what they may be capable of…

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In short, fog of war is required.

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