Backer alpha: thoughts

Played through the main skirmish as well as a random map. Overall, the game looks and feels very good, I had fun playing both scenarios. Here are my thought and suggestion so far:

I like the LoS firing simulation but the manual aiming mechanics seems a bit wonky. Firstly, as we are selecting an actual angle of aim as opposed to picking a body part, enemy moving around during aiming is a big no-no. A couple of times I accidentally picked a different body part shoot at because enemy suddenly moved it’s arm or shifted right before I clicked to confirm the attack. As action is supposed to be “on pause” during the aiming, enemies should be “frozen in place” while manually aiming aim, similar to the way new fallout games treat aimed shots.

Another thought here is that while manual aiming is quite useful it hurts the pace of the game a bit and often provides inconsistent chance to hit compared to autoshot. For instance, quite often when autoshot gives you roughly a rather low chance to hit prediction while the enemy is behind a cover a deployed a shield, entering the manual aiming mode gives you a clear view of it’s arm, leg or even head with aim circles being small enough to consistently hit it. In my opinion, manual aim should provide a way to pick one of the options which might be tactically more viable(i.e target a leg or arm to cripple) rather than increase the to-hit chances by cheesing the shooting mechanics. Or, more to the point, “autoaim” should do a better job of recognizing where to shoot so that players will not be forced to always double-check the aim manually to get the best possible to-hit chance. This might be hard to implement of course but I think this is what the game should aim for.

Willpower: not sure how I feel about this one. Limiting the use of some powerful skills makes sense but willpower “energy” as a universal resource seems kinda artificial and doesn’t even make much sense in some situations. Additionally, merging “energy” and “morale” resources together creates a rather unpleasant situation where using skills extensively will leave your soldiers prone to panic which feels rather game-y and artificial. Not sure how to tackle this but in my opinion, this whole concept does not fee right and should be brainstormed.

Speaking of skills, I think more inspiration should be taken from JA2 and similar games rather that Firaxis XCom. The latter always felt way too game-y to me with sills being more akin to MOBA-like abilities which acted almost like magic spells(especially so with mana-like willpower) and were arbitrarily locked to particular classes.

Another thing I noticed, there seems to be an overabundance of “action shot” camera. Switching to a close-up view of your soldier shooting and the enemy taking hits is nice every now and then but it seems to be happening way too often. This should be reserved for a particularly spectacular moments in my opinion, maybe with an option to switch that off entirely.

Armour. While it was an important concept in the original XComs as well as Firaxis XComs, the latter ones took it a bit further than they should be in my opinion with tanking hits with armour and shredding armour to be able to deal damage at became a core of the combat mechanics during mid- and end-game battles. So far it seems PP aims to mimic the FXCom’s armour gameplay mechanics to a great extend which, I think, is rather unfortunate. Extending time-to-kill should come more from actions(actively shifting firing position, disengaging and leaving LoS, when threatened, using suppression fire) rather than from sheer amount of HP and extreme armour values. In that sense, shredding armour is the most harmful mechanic which was picked by PP from FXCom as it promotes insane armour values for enemies and friendlies alike, all well knowing that the first phase of any encounter will be stripping armour as overwise most weapons will not even be able to deal damage at all. Such combat mechanics lead to certain weapon classes being mandatory(namely miniguns and explosives), limiting player’s choice in both squad loadout and composition as well as engagement tactics. Not to mention that the whole armour shredding mechanic

Which brings me to my final point: avoid locking weapon categories into specific pre-defined roles. Now there’s nothing wrong with certain weapon type being good at something(i.e sniper rifles being very precise and powerful, SMGs being less cumbersome and easier to use in QCQ etc) but when weapon class becomes a one and only hard counter for some kind of defense tactic or equipment, combat becomes much more of a rock-paper-scissors kinda thing rather than an open situation where tactics is more important that picking or not picking a particular weapon type. Continuing the example above, miniguns seem to be taking the “armour shredder” role. So in a fight with the queen, if your squad is lacking the minigun for some reason and the queen is out of grenade range, only sniper rifle is capable of dealing any damage to it at all. And if your grenades failed to shred enough armour, all the riflemen are completely out of luck as there is absolutely nothing they can do with their weapons. I would very much preferred to have different ammo types(Armour Piercing, Hollow Point, Incendiary etc) which will provide the necessary utility flexibility rather than forcing a particular weapon type to be the only(or one of the few) weapon types which can perform a particular task for, rather game-y class specialization reasons.

Other misc thoughts:

~ there needs to be a way to specify a direction/zone for overwatch(i.e. 180 deg forward, 70 deg left etc) as well as chance to hit(or at least a distance, be it actual distance or just “long/med/point blank”) at which to engage the enemy during overwatch. Otherwise a lot of shots(and thus ammo) is wasted on shooting enemies at extremely long distance, which is especially upsetting if said enemy will proceed to move into a very close range afterwards, providing a perfect opportunity to shoot it if not for the already wasted overwatch reaction shot.

~ return fire should be toggleable. Sometimes you would like to stay in cover or just save the ammo.

~ more ways to attack: snap shot / aimed shot options for firing; single shot / auto shot toggle for weapons where applicable

~ info popups on mouseover for all command buttons, maybe other UI elements as well

~ toggleable option to stop mid-movement(where applicable) if an enemy or an object of interest is discovered. Maybe tie this into a skill(i.e. “quick reflexes” or something)

~ icon markers on the map for the last location an enemy was seen after getting out of team sight

~ minimap and/or a separate screen with a top-down view of the map, better zoom out factor and a tactical overlay(icon markers for friendlies, enemies, items, interactive objects etc)

~ free map rotation by default, hold shift for snap rotation(i.e as it is now)

~ a way to zoom in and out more. MMB as “quick zoom out” feature is nice but there is no reason for the inability to simply zoom out to the same level.

~ toggleable soldier’s first person view to look around without selecting attack

~ having a glance at the soldier’s own inventory should not be using action points. Only inventory manipulation(picking up items, rearranging items, giving items to another soldier) should cost APs.


I’m sure that free aim, among the other things, will be refined and improved. Slowing pace by this is the main gripe of many ppl, but I don’t see it. Personally I’m not using free aim when my target has skull over his icon, especially when it is somewhere near my active soldier. Skull icon usually means death so there is no need to free-aiming.

I like overall idea of willpower as finite resource, it makes all the actions more significant. It always makes you considering if overwatch is worth to use this turn, unlike in nuXcom where this was pretty obvious move at the end of each turn. I understand your bias toward its universality, though: in PP even using medkit is connected with willpower. It surely needs further refining and clearer explanation what kind of actions are willpower based.

As for skills, it already was explained that most of them will be weapon/equipment based rather than class based. I’m glad, since too many skills in nuXcom made game too puzzly - and that was the main factor of slow pace of the game.

I agree with armor thing. The problem with armor in nuXcom was similar to the problem with weapon: it was always +1,+2,+3,… to the health and +1,+2,+3,… to the damage, respectively. To shred the armor specific weapon or equipment was needed, which limited player’s choices and made gameplay set all around the armor thing. I’m not sure how it could be resolved in PP but devs shouldn’t mimic this. (As for weapons, I’d like to see more universal ones with various stats so even in mid or late game using your first weapons wouldn’t be something unusual).

As for the other points I agree as well: LOS, return fire, shot types, etc. There were many similar posts with same things ppl would like to see changed or added. Some of them I’m sure be fixed as this is just the first pre-alpha.
You have some good ideas, especially with first person and minimap. Free map rotation always is desired, but lack of it won’t make me sad as long as other things are improved :slight_smile:
PS. Looking at soldier’s inventory doesn’t cost any APs, and soldiers already stop when new enemy is discovered.


I’m also in favor of VATS style aiming part selection in a turn based game it’s justified.

But you couldn’t aim at the obstacles then, only body parts, or am I wrong?

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it might be a mixed mode, where the system would assist the player if he’s scrolling through a target’s parts and would allow free aim elsewhere.

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As far as I understand the current system, you aim freely to select a spot on the enemy body parts to shoot at but once locked, your soldier will track the aim point and shoot at that particular point. So if you aimed at the enemy arm right above the elbow, that particular location will be targeted, not arm in general.

So currently, if while you were clicking on an arm the enemy moved a bit, making you click on the enemy torso instead, your soldier will shoot at that location, not the one you wanted him to shoot. My proposal is to “pause the time” while you are picking the target in the free aim mode, stopping the enemy idle animation entirely, to allow player to pick the exact location he wants the soldier to aim. Free selection of the aim point will still be there, it will simply be easier to pick the place you want without having to deal with idle animation shenanigans.


a great summary, hope some of your ideas will make it.

Armor centrism is visible from current Queen killing that mostly revolves around using rockets and granades as well as sniper (as ignore armour weapon) early and after armor head or limb killings with minigun and almost anything.

I would prefer a balance of heavily armoured enemies with low health and vice versa. Except from something like Muton, but not that overpresented.

Reminding about HE, AP and other clips and rockets from original Xcom/TFD may be the best solution.
Same goes for Auto fire and Aiming - there should be faster-less acurrate fire and higher cost-precision for everyone.

Additional info on mouse over is implemented enough in BB2.

Icon markers and minimaps would be most useful. If impossible, then large map like in old Laser Squad.
I agree overwatch should be directed more then by soldiers position, as well as return fire ON/OFF.

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