[Backer Build 1] Overwatch Inflexibility

After playing a couple of times with the backer build, I think that overwatch could be improved. The issue is that it is inflexible - the unit simply attacks the first enemy which moves. In some cases, this clearly makes no sense - for instance, when a gunner activates overwatch against a fully armoured alien queen, with 0 chance of damaging it. I think this was less of an issue in the Firaxis XCOMs because armour was much less relevant in them.

I think it would be great to be able to set up some conditions for overwatch - e.g., activate overwatch only if the chance of hitting is 50%, or only if an enemy is within 1 tile of an allied unit. Still, I do not know if this would be practical to implement. At least, however, I think that overwatch should not be activated if there is no chance of damaging the target.



Completely agree; you should be able to set the minimum threshold for Overwatch fire in terms of both likely/possible damage, and hit chance.

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That sounds like a really complicated way to solve the problem. Probably a better way would just be letting the player have an option to exclude enemies from their overwatch somehow. On an individual basis would probably be better, since you would want your anti armor to shoot the big stuff probably. Maybe have it the other way around, where you set the units overwatch can trigger against, if you only want to shoot one.

TBH, I don’t think it would be too onerous/complex to have a hit chance field and a damage field for OW criterion, not to mention that setting that stuff is optional.

Not adverse to having designated OW targets either.

In general though, there needs to be an OW management capability.

Not saying it would be too hard to include, but just in terms of player usability it feels very unnatural to me. Especially in terms of hit chance, with those numbers now generally being hidden from the player, it would feel disconnected from normal shooting.

If not keying it to perfect information is desired, you could simply specify ranges like certain to hit (100%), likely to hit 75%+, may hit 50%+ unlikely to hit 25%+, take any possible shot 1+%.

Personally I prefer more granularity/control.

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My main issue with this solution is that overwatch can be triggered against enemies which appear during the alien turn, and that, therefore, cannot be tagged/excluded during the player turn. For example, I had my two gunners activate overwatch against the alien queen the turn she appeared.

I did not think about this, it is a good point. However, based on the current system of “likely” and “possible” damage, you could at least give three options:

  1. Activate overwatch always;

  2. Activate overwatch only if there is at least 1 point of “possible” damage; and

  3. Activate overwatch only if there is at least 1 point of “likely” damage.

Such a mechanic would fit with the current shooting system, and would at least give some tactical flexibility.

Still, as @Surrealistik, I would also like some more refined tactical choices. Another reason why I think more control on overwatch is needed compared to the Firaxis Xcoms is that, as of now, the LOS in Phoenix Point is much greater. In the current build, overwatch is sometimes activated against moving gunners on the other side of the map, leaving melee crabmen free to attack unimpeded.

I think the alpha gives the best opportunity to try out new features, and to see if they work or are too “fiddly”. I admit I have no idea if this would be easy or practical to implement, though.

Or the game could give to the player the choice to take the shot or not by giving us the hand each time a soldier has the opportunity to fire on an ennemy who has triggered the overwatch…
So you choose to fire or not end hence you’re sure your soldier will fire on the right ennemy or with an high chance to hit but on the downside it slows down the pace of the game.

To avoid the situation when overwatch triggers on first enemy that has been sighted far away without chance to hit, indeed there could be some options how to react.
However having in mind the balance of “playability vs micromanagement” I would prefer selecting it on the pre-mission briefing if there is squad leader present - and set it for current mission, not “every time for every soldier and every turn”:

  • shoot the first enemy sighted (default),
  • protect the squad - shoot first enemy that is closer than eg. 10 tiles from any squad member,
  • cone of fire - select the area that will be overwatched.
    The options other than default could be unlocked after proper soldier training, equipping some aim assist goggles, promoting squad leaders/officers etc. It would give the player choice depending on the mission type - offensive, escort/stealth, defensive.
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But it would be little complicated. Because different soldiers will have different accuracy based on their skills and weapons. I understand your frustration with actual system, but I think that there are better solutions. There is also this proposition:

But as author suggested it would slow down the game too much with more than 4 soldiers. I like this idea:

I though the same but with small difference. I want to exclude enemies from overwatch fire, and simple way to do that is to assign mechanic to enemy icons over your skills bar. Single “right click” of mouse button will exclude enemy for currently selected unit. Second click will exclude for all your units. Third click will unexclude so that enemy will be on bounty list for every overwatching soldier. And I would not limit enemies by other factors - like this one enemy has too much armour then all my soldiers with too weak weapons won’t shoot that enemy - algorithm would need to calculate if there are some parts of enemy not protected, if they are in line of sight in each tile that enemy is moving, then probably calculate percentage of hit chance… Too much of it. And about that:

Setting predefined option before mission would be too much limiting your options during it. But I like the idea that soldier would need to have some training to be able to exclude enemies like I and Neoviper have proposed. And as @JulianG mentioned there will be cones of fire set for overwatch and reaction fire where you will set angle and max range. So it will eliminate too far enemies (along with spotting range) or enemies closer to other overwatching soldiers. And with my option you will also eliminate less important enemies. :slight_smile:

This would be mostly solved by mentioned cone of fire. And that would be ok if you couldn’t tag new enemies. Because when you don’t know what will appear running from around the corner, then you can’t prepare yourself for that. :wink: But when you already knew what was behind that corner then you can rstrain from shooting at this particular enemy. :wink:

What do you think about that?

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I like that ! A combination of both ideas would offer the most satisfactory solution and thus avoid a lot of frustation.

It would be nice to see such ancient feature improved

Cone of Fire is my favorite suggestion, and maybe just limit the range of that overwatch.

It may be a good idea to make improved overwatch as additional skill. Regular overwatch can be accessible to everyone but improved could have some forms:

  • for a marked unit, for snipers
  • for a marker cone/zone, for heavy

Keep in mind that some of the skills in XCOM UE and XCOM 2 are, in fact, modified versions of Overwatch, such as Killzone (spacial limitation) or Suppression (single enemy).

Another way of implementing this would be to assign each enemy a threat score. Each attribute gets a number score, and the enemy proximity gives a multiplier, so a slow, powerful melee unit across the map might get a combined threat score of a 5, while the fast, agile melee gets a 7, and a unit that can attack at range gets a 9 threat score. Then the soldier engages the known enemy with the highest threat score first. admittedly this isn’t going to immediately deal with the problem of engaging the queen first, but it will keep from engaging crabmen across the map when there is a brain sucker 2 squares away, just because the crabman moved first.

But what if the enemy with lower score moves first and enemy with higher stay behind cover? Your overwatch won’t trigger.

The threat score would be computed for each soldier at the beginning of the enemy’s turn and then it would update to reflect the new tactical situation after every enemy’s move and the greatest enemy threat would be fired on when it is that soldier’s turn to overwatch fire. I’m not imagining a static number, but one that updates with each enemy’s movement. That would mean that sometimes the soldier might fire on an enemy that would have a lesser threat index at the end of the enemy’s turn, but this would hopefully keep the PP soldiers from firing at the lesser threat in favor of the greater threat most of the time.

Either I don’t get it what you try to tell me or I see some big problem here. You end turn and you have left one soldier at overwatch. Games computes rating as you say for 3 enemies (A, B and C). A gets 7, B gets 5, C gets 3. So your soldier prioritize enemy A, but AI decide to move enemy B first. Your soldier don’t shoot him because he is waiting for enemy A to move. Then AI decides that enemy A won’t move. So your soldier did nothing instead of shooting enemy B. Don’t you think this is an issue which would frustrate players?

War is a democracy. The enemy gets a vote too. I’m not a software engineer but I do have a functional understanding combat and sometimes the enemy does things that disrupts your best laid plan. Your point is valid, but if we really want realism, then creating a scenario where the soldier doesn’t take a shot because he’s waiting for a better shot that never actually materializes is just a part of war.