BB3 - General Feedback

I just got the current Backer Build and played roughly 3 hours. Here is some general feedback so far (sorry for not making one thread for each, as suggested, but this is more of a “the game feels like…” thing, not a list of actual issues / problems).

As a note, I love and played XCOM 1&2 a lot.

I think PP needs some kind of tutorial or an easier start. Initially, I was confused by the different soldier classes. I only saw the class icon which in some cases is more evocative (like the technician) than in others. Also, cold starting with 4 or 5 different classes, not knowing their abilities, etc, found me just shooting at aliens with no plan. Probably the info I’m looking for is available somewhere, but it would be a lot better if it were presented in the game itself with 1 or 2 intro missions explaining the basics.

I found myself looking at the world map not knowing what to do. After investigating all the reachable places and finishing the available scavenging mission, I just clicked on “play” and waited. After a while, a haven was attacked and there I had my next mission - that’s all fine and XCOM-like, but initially I just didn’t know it was meant to work this way.

As unlike XCOM you actually need to take ammo with you, I often found myself forgetting about it and running out of bullets early in the mission. A warning or an automatic inventory replenishment feature would be nice. Also, sometimes it’s not very obvious which type of ammo you need (I guessed the technician’s P1 would require pistol ammo, which didn’t work).

I find the “return fire” feature rather frustrating. You fire once, but then there are multiple aliens firing back at you, not once, but every time. So it’s better not to attack? Also I found rifles / bullets very ineffective, especially due to the return fire thing and rather erratic hit/miss ratio. The only effective way to win a mission so far has been using lots of explosives. I had the impression that aim decreases with distance and improves with higher ground. However, I didn’t see any indication of this in the UI so it’s really just a guess.

When firing at a target, I sometimes get a “0 Equipment damaged” message. The 0 makes it confusing (is there any damage at all?).

There will be a tutorial in the finished game. Please remember that Phoenix Point is currently pre-alpha, which means it isn’t feature complete. Elements of gameplay and mechanics are still missing, including the tutorial. Other elements are likely to change. The current build also has only very limited AI and no difficulty balancing. The finished game will also have selectable difficulty.

The Backer Build does come with a PDF Game Guide accessible from the main menu, which is designed to give you some quickstart information in lieu of a tutorial at the moment.

Actually… in the original X-Com games, you did need to take ammo with you. This was removed in the Firaxis remakes. Ammo management was an important part of the original games. The current inventory system isn’t fully implemented yet and is still basic in this build.

There will be more ways to deal with return fire in the finished game, but a change in your tactics may be required. Often, the order in which you engage enemies is very important, as is breaking line of sight. In Backer Build 3, there is still no perception system, so units essentially have unlimited vision range right now.

Aim doesn’t improve with height (as it wouldn’t in reality - being higher up doesn’t make you a better shot), but because of the way that cover works, being higher up makes it easier to shoot down over cover. Accuracy does decrease with range. You can see this in the free aiming mode. The cone of accuracy is represented by the outer circle around the crosshair. If you’re close to a target, that target will occupy most (possibly even all) of that circle. As all rounds land within that circle, they are more likely to hit.

A target which is further away will fill less of that circle, so there is more chance of shots going wide of the target.

This indicates that there was a hit, but armour reduced the damage to 0. The UI is still also a work in progress.


Thanks for the quick reply. I’m aware the game is in an early stage and that more will be added, but being a software developer myself I know it’s often useful to get feedback and new ideas as early on as possible.

Here are 2 more small things:

  • Entering overwatch by clicking the UI button or by pressing Y behaves differently (one of those methods needs an additional “button click” to enter overwatch, the other one enters it directly). I like the additional click better, as it is more consistent with the rest.
  • Would be nice if soldiers auto-finished their round when all action points have been spent.

All in all, this is already nice to play and I’m very much looking forward to the final game and the next backer builds.

…and another one: A friendly fire indication would be nice. I once used the “rage burst at target” of the heavy (?) class and killed one my own soldiers. There seemed to be no indication that - unlike regular rifle attacks - this ability will hurt my own soldiers as well (or maybe I missed it?).

All attacks can damage your soldiers. PP system isn’t roll based, like in Firaxis XCOM, but is simulated: a character shoots out a set amount of bullets which spread you can see when using manual aim (I don’t believe the two “aiming” systems to be a great idea but didn’t play the alpha myself and we will see how it will develop). Whatever the bullets will hit that character/object will get damaged. Shooting your buddy in the back if very much a possibility if he/she stands in the line of fire. The same way cover can be used without actually standing behind it, as long as it is blocking the bullets from reaching you.

That said, yes UI will hopefully get some love while the game is in the oven.

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This was how it was in FiraXCOM as well. I could either click the OW button and then OK or I could simply press Y (or Y+Tab to quickly cycle through the whole team).

There are no action points, that’s a FiraXCOM thing. This game uses Time Units (TUs for short), though they are displayed similarly to the Firaxis AP in regards to the blue/yellow movement lines.

Also note that some soldiers can still take actions via Willpower even when out of TUs, or you might want to check just what enemies they can see in order to plan other people’s actions. So I’m completely fine with tab selecting these units, though I’m not opposed to a “Do Not Select” feature that excludes them from tab select for the rest of the turn (the OGs effectively had this option as well).

Note that what you call X1 and X2 is actually a modernized but also simplified remake of the original XCOM games. PP is being created by the creator of the OG XCOM games (specifically UD and Apocalypse) and is effectively the successor to them in terms of mechanics. They’re some great games that I would highly recommend as it sounds like you’ve never played them, but note that their graphics and UI are rather dated (and were created in the days of actual manuals as opposed to in-game tutorials so the initial start/UI use could require a bit of research or user error).

I think this is a matter of perception/interpretation. I’ll pitch in my view on the rage burst/friendly fire effect.
Through trial and error on multiple occasions i found out that there is no such thing as ‘friendly fire’ in this game.
In my opinion this is as it should be. To adept a quote by one of my favourite youtubers, Jingles, on this subject… once the ordenance is onroute it’s nobody’s friend. A bullet out of the barrel will hit anything in it’s path, same with rockets, grenades etc.

Agreed there are games out there that have mechanics helping the player to understand this through a notification. But in this case it’s not a steep learning curve and adds some ‘one CAN make regrettable decisions’ in the heat of battle.
It could cost you a soldier or even a full mission (punched go on a grenade in the wrong place…ie middle of own squad for example). But you bet, i’ll think again next time i hit that launch button.

ps. I even like it that the grenade/rocket damage indicator cone doesn’t give the exact splash damage indication.
Don’t know if it’s meant to work this way, but targets (friend or foe) too close to the damage dome can still get hit. There is some guesstimation needed.
This also comes with ingametime/ experience. First time your own soldier gets hit while you aimed a damage cone just clear of her feet will ofcourse produce a grumble or @$@%. This is nicely balanced out by the fact that an enemy can still get some schrapnel even while standing just outside the damage indicator.
Maybe weird, but i like it that way. Maybe because in reality throwing a grenade/explosive of sorts isn’t an exact science either on where the damage stops.
Gauging the effect of a weapon like that also comes by experience and training.

It is UI or mechanics bug with Grenade Launcher. Missiles and regular grenades show exact damage range. :wink:

Switching between those and Phoenix Point can be sometimes difficult.

I strongly disagree. Turn for soldier should end after pressing some separate button or using skill like Overwatch.

You’re right - by X1 and X2 I meant the Firaxis games, not the originals which I never played and probably won’t, not only because the graphics are dated, but because I keep reading that they are considerably more complex than the Firaxis ones. And yes, I do like it simple :wink:

However, as far as PP goes I do find it a lot of fun (once you get used to the mechanics) though still a bit confusing that the UI shows different things when in free aim and “normal” aim. Eg the free aim actually does show a warning when you aim at a friendly and you can see if there’s something in the way, whereas the “normal” aim doesn’t indicate that and then I’m just thinking “Ok, I can target this enemy so I guess it will be fine”.

I wouldn’t consider it that much more complex than FiraXCOM, though it is a lot more of a sandbox world where you’re left open to make more choices (both good and bad). Firaxis put the story itself more on rails, removed anything it considered to be a “false choice,” and then simplified the combat (but also made it more complex with abilities, pods, and LoS rules). Really you just need to understand funding which is basically the same as FiraXCOM but isn’t as easily seen.

If you do ever decide to give it a go make sure to look into Open XCOM. It’s a complete rewrite of the base code which makes the game run better on modern PCs, fixes a bunch of bugs, allows for mods, and other things. It still relies on the game’s textures so you would still need to buy a copy of the game but it really helps improve the game in the modern age.

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OpenXCOM is amazing. I found original XCOM fairly accessible to new players. I showed it to couple friends after Firaxis’ first remake, and they all got hooked on it. I would say the biggest challange of XCOM: UFO Defence is the strategic layer - in FIraxis’ games it acts as little else then downtime between missions, while in original there are decisions to make and those can really screw over the game if one plays badly. And some annoying pitfalls like not taking flares for night missions or forgetting to resupply the ammo, though it happens less in OpenXCOM.

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Yeah. I mean 11 year old me was able to figure out UD and eventually beat the game back in the day so it’s completely possible for people to figure it out. That said some people don’t want to figure things out at which point they’re likely going to have a rough time since there’s nothing to explain the UI to them (and such people aren’t likely to go online to look for a user manual).

hah, maybe i will return to it… If I well remember I didn’t finished it even once. There was some bug that frustrated me and I was giving up in some moment. But God! How I loved all that micromanagement in bases, planning sales, doing research, managing bases staff, airplanes and equipment.

I had to restart my TFTD game because of the game breaking research bug that stopped you from being able to progress. Found a mod/patch that fixed it but not for those who had already advanced to that part of the game. Which also led to me finding probably the original UD mod that fixed all sorts of bugs and added some new things like basically needing to capture aliens alive to make progress on researching alien artifacts. It also let you put soldiers in Interceptors and a weapon on the Skyranger (GL chasing anything down with said Skyranger though).

I think a lot of damage is done just by the old UIs. I mean, some people avoid complex games, but the combo of a complex game and clunky ui can really screw things up. Can you imagine playing elite: dangerous with an atari joystick? Or any modern console shooter with a Nintendo controller?

Sadly, never did get around to messing with open xcom, maybe they’ve alleviated some of that stuff?

I think the worst incident for me was trying to go back and play the original Syndicate (God, that deserves a proper modern revival).

What were you hoping they alleviated? I play OXC so I can offer some feedback on what’s changed.

Updating the way the UI handles to more modern standards.

Let’s see what are some of the QoL changes they’ve made. What in particular are you looking for? Otherwise I’m going to ramble a bit.

There are options to color-coordinate your movements to show how far you can travel before losing the ability to use the various shots until finally you can’t use any.

At the end of every mission, there is a tab detailing which stat on which solider upgraded.

Items now stack in your armory/aircraft armory, so you no longer have a giant clutter a la BB3’s method–although surely this will change.

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What do you mean by clunky UI? I don’t find the UI to be clunky, just a rather dated and it lacking shortcut keys (like tab for next soldier, which I feel like OXM added but it’s been ages since I played). The issue for me with the UI is that there’s nothing to explain it short of going online and trying to find a manual. But even then the tactical UI is fairly self explanatory thanks to the pictures on the buttons.

Now the graphs, what those mean are next level play. But again, what exactly do you consider to be clunky about it?

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Try Satellite Reign. Not perfect but will scratch the itch.

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