[BackerBuild1] Cover system needs improvement

One of the main things I felt playing the demo was that cover didn’t work properly. Ballistics are great, but standard XCOM cover animations don’t work well with them. In most cases I find that high cover is almost useless and it should be the most effective. To improve the cover system cover animations have to be improved so units snap closer their cover, hugging it, to make more effective use of it. The only problem with this would be with multi-directional cover (like having two covers in the same tile, one on the front and one behind), and I believe it could be easily fix if the player when moving to that tile had highlighted the directions in which he can take cover and just had to pick which direction he wants.

As a bonus point, I also believe return fire should take action after the unit returned to cover and not when he is completely exposed because of step-out. I like return fire. I think it is a good incentive for taking shots from good positions (like good cover), but in it’s current state it just punishes the player for taking shots.


it has already been reported.

You mean that is already a confirmed bug? or was it already mentioned in another thread?

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Absolutely agree!

The ballistics and real environmental cover are great! But the new XCom “cover system” is not working properly with PPs combat “simulation” approach.

BTW: What is the point of a great cover for a sniper, if he jumps out of it to shoot?

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Return fire is not a bug.
Return fire happens as a response to your shot on the enemy (Your action end the enemy’s return action) in the same time. You shoot with an attack 6 bullets and with a Return fire you shot only 3 bullets (you have less time to answer).

How are you going to shoot from the shelter if you do not look out?
The game is not in real time but turn base, go play X-Com: Apocalypse in real time and you’ll see it is working (I played it in real time, but it’s more pressing the pause button and playing at a very slow speed. Otherwise you don’t have a overview on 10 or 15 your people, and you have twice as many enemies as they attack you from 2 or 3 parts of the map).

As you suggest that a return fire will be triggered after you return to the cover. What is then the point of Return fire?
Then you too could not hit any enemy when they shoot on you, because you will only shoot back when the enemy ist back in cover.

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@Sodin I never said reurn fire was a bug. I know perfectly fine how it works. I said that return fire shouldn’t activate when the soldier is in step out position since it trivializes cover. It should activate when the soldier is back in cover position.

What would be the point of return fire then? Please tell what’s the point now. The point of taking return fire if it worked as I said would be about taking shots from good positions. Not running infront of an enemy, taking a shot completely exposed and then running to cover.

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To add to the bad nature of the nuXCOM cover system and animations in PP, someone forgot that soldiers rarely if ever step out of cover to fire. Please, explain to me why do I need to stand up, move to the side and then aim and fire, when I could just pop-up my head and part of my upper torso, rest my rifle on the crate I am taking cover behind, and then fire at the enemy while not exposing my entire body like a dolt. if I’m standing behind a building corner, I won’t step out into the open to fire, I’ll at most lean out of cover with as little of my body as possible.

The XCOM animations are built for a video-game. PP features ballistic simulation. It has 2 choices: it either drops the simulations and retains the cover system, OR it implements simulation grade animations for soldiers acting from behind cover. CoH, DoW 1 and 2 (NOT 3!), Men of War, the upcoming Iron Harvest, THOSE games have simulation like cover animations to some extent. Or for a look into pseudo-xcom style of games, I refer to the UFO franchise (ok UFO aftermath did it best because it had realistic graphics, the others are iffy), where cover was organically dependent on where your soldier was and what his position was (standing, prone or kneeling), and soldiers exposed themselves as little as possible when firing.

EDIT: basically the game now has a major identity issue with it’s animations. It has the animations of a video-game adaptation of a TT, but the ballistic simulations of a simulator. Those clash horribly in return fire, with the soldier due to the animations abandoning his cover to fire at the enemy, which ANY sort of simulation game should not permit as it makes cover irrelevant. The game needs better more organic animations inspired by real-life soldiers and how they utilize cover to fire at their enemy while exposing as little of them as possible. Return fire then becomes a chance to punish that exposure in a simulation like manner, while still retaining and rewarding the importance of cover, and severely punishing those who do not use it.


Perhaps a fast and easy lean function might address all of this? Another thing about the animation leaning out all of the way is that maybe the interval of the animation in which the return fire occurs could be randomized?

say, if 2 crab gunners are out their, one might shoot at the beginning of the animation, while the other fires off towards the end of the whole animation (when the soldier ducks back into cover) Instead of %'s the risk could be abstracted as a risk level (Safe, Dangerous, Suicidal) So it wouldn’t be down to the %'s but something more intuitive like the firing cone in aim mode or the flashy bars and skull in non aim firing.

Maybe hotkeys for full lean or slight lean out of cover could mitigate this with the risk of missing out on shot opportunities?

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Spot-on! An it’s not even limited to animations either, Btween simulated ballistics, simplified cover system with per-determined cover directions and and high-low-no cover flavours, complex per-body part health and armour yet arcade-y armour stripping, current state of the game design seems to be all over the place. Yes, I understand it is alpha and early prototype feedback is exactly what PP team was looking for but my concern is not with execution but with the game design seemingly being torn apart between a more hardcore classic and more streamlined and aracade-y modern XCom incarnations.

Let me tell you this, guys. I would very much prefer the classic approach with intricate game mechanics and a steep learning curve. I’m a big boy, I can handle that. But I don’t hate FXcom and the like. I would enjoy PP to a lesser extent if it will sway in that direction but I would prefer that over an inconsistent state of mixing different levels of simulation vs “TT-ness” clashing in all possible ways.

I don’t want to sound like I don’t trust devs and their vision, simply take this as a word of caution. Initial inconsistencies are unavoidable when new ambitious features are introduced but I hope devs will have the wisdom to have a good look and rethink the results. And if a new idea will end up not working for the game, enough courage to rethink it from the ground up.

So far, I love the idea of simulated ballistics and free aim. But it seems it entails a lot of consequences in term of rather unexpected interactions with other, more TT-like game mechanics. I hope it will all be sorted out and new, less artificial elements will be introduced into the game instead of ruleset-based ones(cover, return fire etc). But if it will end up something the dev team will not be able to realistically tackle in a reasonable timeframe, I would prefer a solid RNG-based shooting which works well with the rest of the game as opposed to something complex and interesting which feels tacked-on. After all, near misses and friendly fire can be simulated via RNG, if necessary…


Point of return fire ist in fact: “COVER ME!”.
Someone is protecting you if someone tries to attack you in order to make it easier or harder to progress through the map.

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There is nothing wrong with the return fire mechanism in the game. The only issue I have with the cover is soldiers getting stuck when cover is blown out from under them. I like the fact you can’t stay in cover and trade shots. Cover should be destroyed when hit by projectiles. If you notice some of the full cover in the game can’t be destroyed. You just have to pay attention and LEARN… I don’t want them to make the game xcom 2.0 on easy mode. I want it to challenge me and make me think about my tactics instead of giving me God mode ala colonels in xcom 2.

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Hm… Your UFO: Aftermath did not prove to be good for critics.

UFO: Aftermath received middling reviews.

  • GameSpot gave it 6.4 out of 10 for some simplified and missing features, previously seen in X-COM, that would have allowed for more in-depth gameplay.
  • IGN gave it 7.5 (Good), criticizing simplicity and lack of some features from the X-COM series.
  • GameSpy noted “Cons: Bad AI and pathfinding; repetitive missions; shallow strategic gameplay; persistent inventory bugs,” but praised some parts of the game.

I looked at a couple of videos on youtube from UFO: Aftermath to UFO: Aftershock. You do not use cower anywhere. You stand there and wait for the enemy to comes for you (one by one).
This is not the purpose of the PP game.

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First off, I could not give less of a crap what critics think, this is the same bunch of chunderheads that give boring banal crap like battlefield and call of duty 10/10 scores. Their opinions are immaterial.

Second: congratulations, you looked at the same boring play through everyone is doing and where they fail to exploit the game to it’s fullest because the UFO series never in it’s history had a comprehensive tutorial. There is a cover system in the UFO games, it’s just far less … actually, it’s not introduced to the player at all, and at no point does the game teach you, unless you teach yourself, that terrain and exposure of your silhouette in various different soldier stances lowers or increases the “to hit” score of aliens, thus simulating a cover system. The system was not exploited or expanded due to lack of funds and time, something common to the series, and it was mostly abandoned from later iterations, but those critic opinions just prove those morons did not play past the first 5 minutes, because the game’s complexity is hidden behind the apparent simplistic nature of things and a complete lack of tutorial. Well that and limited unrealized scope due to funding.

Soldiers in UFO can be told to stand up, go prone, or kneel, and the terrain on a lot of maps features organic cover placement, not the boring video-game logic of nuXCOM where chest high walls are strewn across the terrain and boxes are left all over the place because nobody cleaned up. That means you won’t always have it, but on maps where it’s present, standing behind a tree makes you harder to hit, kneeling behind a car or a pallet of boxes does the same thing. Cover exists in the game. The abundance of melee focused enemies and unbalanced nature of the power creep, as well as lack of teaching players this is even an option (no kidding, the tutorial teaches you that you CAN sprint, and then says “there’s also more advanced things like crouching or going prone, but you can read more about those later on your own, let’s move along now”), coupled with a map design that wanted to create realistic locations, not chest high wall shooting arenas, means the cover system is hidden in plain sight of players, and most people won’t ever see the animation work that went into leaning posses and resting guns on boxes to fire (bearing in mind the limitations of the time). Even in latter games, soldiers were physical entities in the world, and 2 soldiers standing in a line with an alien meant the one in the back can’t shoot the alien unless his friend in front went prone. Which lead to an interesting way of creating on the fly cover, via bringing drones that can serve as mobile cover, or just using one tough lad in power armor crouching to cover 50% or more of the waifish lightly armored sniper behind him. and eating shots that should have hit his friend behind.

TL;DR: play the damn game and learn it’s intricacies. It’s a crying shame how under-rated that series it, though in fairness they did it to themselves quite a bit with the obtuse lack of tutorial.

On a more personal note: is your purpose here to crusade for not changing anything and shooting down all suggestions made? Seriously, every thread where you pop-up, you can be summarized as “game is fine, game is perfect, don’t change anything”. You do realize that is the exact opposite of what the devs want right now?


I know exactly what Julian Gollop wants from Phoenix Point. But it looks like you do not know this.
He has already mentioned in many comments that this game will be similar to X-COM: Apocalypse or the upgrade of this game, because he could not enter everything he wanted end here’s ist a video of his ambitions for the game.

Video from 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipH85jOw82Y
Video from 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYI6vZ_wjGc

For my terms, it is on a very good way end you will hear from me when something disturbs me.

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that just … you know what, if you can’t see what’s wrong with that sentence, or even get the purpose behind my original question I have no more words to add. Furthermore, thanks mate, I’ve heard what Julian wants, I’ve watched those videos, I played all the xcom games and a lot of derivatives. they don’t change anything about you worshiping everything in the game as is as perfect, while other people provide criticism and alternatives to systems that they may find simply do not interact well to create a cohesive experience. Author intent and result are two vastly different things, and the mark of a great creator, which I happen to think Julian is, is being able to refine your vision based on feedback. And with that I will now excuse myself from this non-conversation as it’s clear there is no common ground or understanding possible between our two perspectives.


You have problems with yourself. :slight_smile: I know you’re crazy about the UFO franchise, because you talk about it about how good and how much depth it has.
This depth, and more is already had X-COM: Apocalypse, though it was released in 1997 and if you play it, you would have seen how much ahead of its time she was.
I did not play X-COM: UFO Defense and X-COM: Terror from the Deep.
I played X-COM: Apocalypse, Firaxis XCOM and XCOM 2.

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Then you missed quite a bit of experience. I’Il agree that Xcom Apocalypse was the most ambitious project and definitely the natural evolution of ideas from first two games, but EU and TFTD had appeal Apocalypse didn’t have. Apocalypse, even though greatly expanded, never got me this feeling of complete experience. And wasn’t as scary as Enemy Unknown.

I believe in Phoenix Project and what Julian says about the game. I don’t have high hopes for playing final game in 2018 but if it makes game better, I’m ok with that.


@Sodin If return fire was cover fire shouldn’t it then activate before the unit takes the shot and not after similarly to how it worked in XCOM:EU? :wink:

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I never said COVER FIRE, I said COVER ME. The difference between these terms is in the subject.

COVER FIRE: You are shooting at the specific enemy or group in order to protect me when I’m progressing and the enemy is under dilemma or to leave the cover and attack me or to stay in cover. If he attack me, it’s a great chance that you will hit him. Same as SUPPRESSING FIRE in XCOM and XCOM 2.

COVER ME: I’m progressing and none of enemies attack me. Once I get to the position, one or more enemies decide to attack me. When you see that the enemy is shooting at my position, you shoot at him. Because you do not know where and when he will attack me.

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I know I missed a lot, but I was not at the time for such kind of games. I’ve played more Wolfenstein 3D and some arcade games. :slight_smile:
I think it would pee in my pants because I was still young. :smiley: