AJS Review of the Game

To sum it up, the game is brilliant in the beginning but beyond 15 hours it is ridiculously hard to the point of save scuming being a requirement, and that the game is way too buggy presently. Goes on to say that the game is in DIRE need of some balancing to drastically lower the difficulty.

Scores the game 7/10 in it’s current state.

Have to say that I 100% agree.


I saw that video yesterday. I would mostly agree. I had a horrible time my first go around and had to restart. After watching some video’s and finding out how classes work and some ridiculous synergies, I started over. The Heavy/Sniper hybrid is almost a must to complete the game’s difficultly curve. I’m having a much easier time this go, but it’s unfortunate that it’s almost mandatory to have certain builds to make the game even tolerable to try and complete.

Very nice and honest review.
I usually stay away from those and form my own opinion, but the guy is right on spot:

  • Good game, great potential.
  • Awesome new mechanics. Cool visuals. Boring music. Faction voiceovers are nice, but soldier voice actors feel like they had their emotions removed surgically.
  • Terrible balancing to the point of nonexisting as you progress
  • I am ok to get smashed by aliens when it’s my fault and my stupid tactical decisions. I am NOT OK to get deleted by random 100->0 bullshit which has never been playtested properly
  • Tone down Mind Control, seriously
  • You are pretty much required to cheese and savescum the hell out of the game, using broken mechanics and OP multiclasses if you hope to progress on Hard/Legendary
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Absolutely. 110% agree with all of the above.

The comparison I would make is to every single other XCOM-like game. So all of the Microprose original XCOM’s, Firaxis’s 2 XCOM games and Xenonauts.

All went by the model of easy-ish starting game, then gradual raising of the difficulty up to a manageable level. And if some squad guys died it was because you mucked up via either not equipping your troops sufficiently for that point in the game, or you made a stupid decision (eg leaving a squad guy out in the open).

Even Terror from the Deep (XCOM 2 of the original XCOM’s), starts off quite hard, but it never gets to a ridiculous level on standard difficulty. Even late game.

Julian needs to take a look back at his past work, and use that as a basis for some massive balance improvements to make the game more fair. In all the other XCOM-like games, you’d get to a stage where your squads would start kicking ass and taking names, due to good equipment, good stats and good strategies. That just isn’t the case with Phoenix Point. You NEVER have to save scum to win in the other games. Only when you want to have all your troops make it out in one piece. That’s what I want to see.

And it’s only the Pandoran’s that are INSANELY overpowered. Every single last mission against human opponents, I have never had to save scum, and completely slaughtered everyone.

The Lairs need a MASSIVE nerf as well. They are just stupid hard. At least disable infinite spawning. That would make things manageable.

This for me is the essential part, and the reason why I’m still sticking with PP.

The Backer Builds had awesome music, what happened to be erased from base game? And yeah, those soldier barks need some love and attention.

It’s funny, but the game would actually ease up on you if you didn’t save scum.

There’s a dynamic difficulty system, so if you artificially inflate your successes the game is just going to throw more and more enemies at you until you break. (I know this from decompiling the code)

For the game to not get ridiculous, you need to take hits and losses, because it’s actively trying to tune itself so you do.


Many players are reporting serious game breaking bugs with the new patch, but I’ve yet to encounter any of them. Could it be related to save scumming? I’m playing Ironman style, only saving when I have to quit and taking every loss as part of the game

(I have no knowledge of coding, of course)

That is why you create mods. :slightly_smiling_face: Great work btw. So you know exact mechanics standing behind all attacks and damage types?

The bread and butter of turn based tactics game lies within the tactics. It should be beatable with any arrangement of classes, even all non-dual class ones. Good tactical decisions SHOULD be rewarded. As it stands, taking high ground is essentially pointless. Taking cover on multiple flanks against an enemy in the open in likely to wind you up with a still-standing enemy and 1-3 of you own soldiers dead or seriously injured due to return fire. Offscreen enemies that you haven’t seen can cripple half your squad in one turn. 2-3 mind control enemies can take down 8 soldiers with a bit of luck. Some of the most effective strategies involve charging right out into the open and unloading. The way this is set up, only game logic wins through. Actual tactical decisions get you murdered. Tbt games should not really allow for the amount of cheesing that is possible or even required here.

The game has great bones, but needs some serious fine tuning and variety.


This should be a sticky

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That’s an interesting find. Sadly there is no differentiation between save scumming cause you didn’t like that some guy got shot or game just obliterated your squad on first enemy turn, which many feel as unfair. The other issue is that you could handle a loss of one or two soldiers but loosing whole squad of 6 might send you into a downwards spiral.
Does it look at just binary mission win/loss or takes into account injuries/casualties? I mean, you might loose your whole squad except one guy who finishes mission and game is like “Damn, he finished it too, let’s ramp up the difficulty more” :smiley:
Imho this is very meta mechanics which probably can be abused. Like ones in a while you could send some rookie to a kamikaze mission and “reset” your win counter.

It figures out a predicted score based on the difficulty, enemy deployment and your deployment.
Then it uses the difference between that score and your actual score (based on damage dealt, damage received, healing, deaths and the percentage of possible XP gained) to modify the enemy deployment budgets on every threat level.

It does smooth the modification somewhat by using the average of your last few battles.

Also you should take threat levels seriously. Unmodified Low threat caps out at a budget of 1000, but extreme caps out at 3000. Those caps are then modified by the difficulty:
Rookie: 1.0 x
Veteran: 1.15 x
Heroic: 1.3x
Legendary: 1.5x

All the deployment budgets start out much smaller, but they’ll trend towards max as you exceed expectations or trends towards min as you under-perform.
This is why you get swarmed if you save scum, because you are performing far better than you should be and the game is ramping up numbers to try and challenge what it perceives to be a god tier player.


Don’t inform more. :smiley: Now people will try to save scum with particular outcome of battle. :wink:

Will you be trying to make some balance mods too? I am kinda wondering if I should buy the game, but when I am looking at forums, I am worried that current status is not that good.

I don’t expect any balance changes from Snapshot any time soon also, which is a shame cause I will have some free time during Christmas break…

I also like to play on highest difficulty, but seeing that heavy/sniper is an only way to go, seems unbalanced and boring.

Will this be like with The Elder Scrolls Oblivion, where people put out mods to remove the level scaling?

I think I’m done with the game for now.
I’ve done my best to address the bugs and QOL issues that I was facing myself, but there just isn’t enough depth to the game. I like a lot of what’s here, but it could have done with another six months of development and some of the DLC content included in the release product.

I’ll probably drop back in when blood and titanium drops, but I have no plans to release any further mods until then.

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Ok, thanks for info.

No this is good information, it’s a risked design, and a very complex problem in a tactical game context.

It’s already very difficult to tune fairly well multiple difficulty levels, but tune multiple adaptive difficulty levels, that looks like impossible. In my opinion with such system the difficulty level of the game will always feel approximate and not well tuned.

That doesn’t look too bad, to be honest. Sounds like a good system assuming that individual deployment scores are well weighted. Thank you for sharing this, it explains a lot.

Thanks for the info and the work to get it, after some thought about it, the core design error of this system isn’t to be too ambitious but to believe all players of the game are in same category:

  • Permadeath, this is certainly partially expected for games with large infinite rosters, but still hardly true for all players.
  • Ironman, which is totally wrong, many players would not have bought it without saves feature.

But fix the problem seems impossible without to let the player abuse the system in some ways.

In my opinion the game should be a Roguelike with only Ironman mode, or have an option to disable this scaling.