Something that naffs me off in a number of a games is linear way in which the effectiveness of weaponry progresses throughout the game.
As an example, I’ve just finished Xenonauts (finally) and the tiers of weaponry available to your team are:
I Ballistics > II Laser > III Plasma > IV Mag
In each case, the latest tier of weaponry is straight away more effective than the weaponry available at previous tiers. I think this is done to give the player a sense of progression and to allow them to keep up with the, also linear advancement, of the Xenonaut forces.
This is all well and good, but what actually happens in practice is that the player, knowing that progression is linear, starves themselves of weapon advancement for the majority of the game. They know that tiers II and III will eventually become redundant and so they limit their use of these tiers of weaponry and try to progress to tier IV as quickly as possible. A second downside of this is that there’s no thought required on the player’s part beyond equipping the latest tier of weaponry available to them.
It’d be really nice in Phoenix Point to see some alternative approaches to weaponry progression which keep things interesting and engaging for the player. Some ideas towards this:
Make weaponry situational. For example; it stands to reason that there will be some types of armour that are more effective against ballistic projectiles versus lasers, but the opposite could also said to be true, sometimes a ballistic projectile could penetrate where a laser couldn’t. If the enemy are given varying resistances and vulnerabilities then all weapon types remain viable, and a good squad loadout as a whole would be one where your team are equipped with a variety or weapon types.
Give Pheonix Point soldiers perks which relate to specific projectile types. So Private Stone gains a bonus to balistic use, whereas Private Anderson prefers lasers.
Give Pheonix Point soldiers perks which relate to how long they have been using a particular weapon. So Private Harris has been using the same sniper rifle for a dozen missions and feels like it’s part of him, he’s therefore receiving a hefty accuracy bonus, and will lose that bonus if he switches to a new gun.
Give new tiers of weaponry varied, though not necessarily improved stats. So laser weaponry does more damage than it’s ballistic counter parts, but it’s also less accurate, or heavier, or has less ammo capacity, or it overheats.
Allow weaponry to be modded. So rather than upgrading that ballistic rifle to a laser rifle, you could instead choose to develop a night scope, a higher capacity mag, a bayonet, or a silencer for it.
Place some unique one off weapons into the game world. Rather than have weaponry advancements be a result of R&D they would be acquired in mission from lockers/bodies of the fallen, and then within that pool of weaponry place a few one offs - A Fostech Origin 12 shotgun, a Cornershot, a KRISS Vector. a Biomass Blister Blaster (ok, I made that last one up).