[COMBAT FEEDBACK] from Ignotus


So, I’ve finally hit the much heralded ‘Difficulty Spike’ and had my butt comprehensively handed to me for the first time this iteration. TBH, it was my own stupid fault – I sent my Lvl 3/4 B Team into a Lair to do the 5/7 A Team’s job and overextended them. Lost my Infiltrator 'cos I don’t really get how Stealth works (more about that later) and blundered into a Siren when ‘Beany’, my Pointman, was trying to outflank the Chiron. Fell back & regrouped to deal with the Siren (at the cost of Beany) but decided to bug out when my third Squaddie went down.

I can see why people who aren’t used to the way the game works struggle with this. It is incredibly unforgiving and will punish any mistake you make brutally. But I personally wouldn’t have it any other way – on Heroic that is – on Easy/Standard, it should be significantly toned down as I’ve argued before.

I would say that I can also see how multiple Sirens &/or an Explosive Mortar Chiron could be devastating in a Lair, where there are dark corners to hide behind and very little cover, to the extent that I strongly recommend limiting their numbers in Lairs to max. 1 Siren v a Squad of average Lvl 4 or under and 2 v Lvl 5+. Explosive Mortar Chirons simply shouldn’t be found in Lairs unless you’re playing on Legendary. Let’s face it, Sirens are basically XCOM Elders and Chirons are Sectopods on steroids – and you rarely see more than one of either in any but the most difficult XCOM missions.

On the whole, I LOVE this combat system. Action Points provide much-needed flexibility, and the trade-off between WP and Abilities is a really interesting one – do you blow all your Will on an OP power move, or do you keep it stashed until that pesky Siren turns up? Some ability combos are clearly broken, as is well documented elsewhere on these forums – Rage Burst should be limited to HMGs for instance, and there should be a limit on the amount of times you can regain APs through Rally/Rapid Fire – but I hope that they’ll be fixed as the monster mix gets more balanced out.

And note: I said you need to fix the monster balance before you nerf the Squaddies. In my General Feedback, I suggested setting a cap on the number of Sirens/Chirons in a mission based on the Difficulty Setting, and I stand by that. I strongly resist all calls to nerf them – they can be dealt with if you play well – but even a top-level squad will get swamped by 5 Sirens on a mission backed up by 2 Chirons, as someone once reported on this forum. C’mon JG, give us a break! :wink:

In the AJS Review Thread, @cfehunter provides a really interesting analysis of the way the game rebalances itself according to player performance after missions. The simple message here, People, is avoid Save Scumming as much as possible, and I think I can attest to that. I’m almost 40 hours in, on 14% ODI and I’ve only twice Restarted a mission – I run what I call ‘Honest Man’, where I simply accept the result and keep on going unless I feel that I’ve been cheated or lost because of some misunderstood game mechanic. In all that time, I’ve only encountered 2 Sirens on a mission once – so either I’m incredibly lucky or the game is adjusting to my level of play and because I’m not Scumming it doesn’t think I’m a gaming god who needs taking down a peg or two.

However, the one thing I am disappointed by is the way the Crabbies evolve (or at least I think they do). It seems like their only solution to anything is: “We need a bigger Machine-Gun.” This gets very old very quickly. It would be much more interesting if the Pandas evolved defensively in tune with your tendencies as a player, so that:

  • If you use a lot of Snipers (I use 3 in a 5-man Squad), the Crabbies evolve larger Shields that cover more of their body area and the Sirens evolve a Shield Arm which they can scrunch their head behind when they go foetal in response to being shot.
  • If you use a lot of explosives, the Crabbies evolve heavier armour, or Blast Shields which are immune to explosive damage from a particular direction
  • If you use a lot of Heavies, the Crabbies evolve AP MGs & GLs.
  • If you use the Dash+Shotgun combo, the Crabbies start spamming Overwatch and deploying goo grenades in front of themselves.
  • If you overuse Stealth, Crabbies increase their Perception.
  • If you employ Sniper Rage Burst, all Pandas evolve massive Tower Shields that they erect in front of themselves at the end of every move.
  • Etc…

There should probably be some sort of trade-off to these improvements – maybe everything is expressed in an Armour Budget, where standard Crabbie kit costs 0 Armour, but the more specialised they become, the weaker their armour becomes (and heavily armoured Crabbies have to make do with Pincers and Spitting Heads). I just think it would be a lot more interesting if instead of OP’ing their firepower, the Pandas evolved defensive ways to counter, say, Rage Burst with a Sniper. Then, instead of having our OP combos nerfed, we players would find ourselves having to change our tactics in a constant evolutionary arms race to maintain the upper hand (though Rage Burst should still be limited to HMGs imho – being able to auto-fire a one-shot Sniper Rifle is utterly ridiculous).

Some people will argue: “But the Sniper/Heavy RB is the only way you can survive against Chirons & Sirens,” to which I say: “Rubbish!” This forum is full of threads with people showing off the latest ‘broken’ combo they’ve discovered: 100% Stealth Infiltrators; Sniper/Techs; Heavies with 100% Perception etc. There’s even an entire thread dedicated to anti-Siren tactics that can work with a Lvl 3/4 Squad. Personally, I think some of the squaddie combo skills should be nerfed, in the same way that Dash & Quick Fire were rebalanced after BB5 (thanks for doing that JG/devs) – and I totally agree that being swarmed by 3 or more Siren/Chirons on a mission is completely OTT, which is why I reiterate that getting the monster balance right should be a higher priority to the devs than nerfing innovative player solutions. So far, I’ve deliberately avoided using what I consider to be the broken Squaddie Skill combos, and I’m finding things hard but manageable. I may change my tune now that I’m fully into the ‘Difficulty Spike’, but my argument remains: ‘Tone down the numbers of mega-Pandas in each mission, then nerf the broken Squad skill combos and this game will be really tough, but fun.’

Some people have complained vociferously against this. As the one who argued strongly for it in BB5, I would say think about it for a minute: you have just invaded a Nest – a HIVE swarming with Crabbies who are all riled up 'cos you’re trying to kill their Breeders. The map simply represents a tiny corner of that massive hive, so it stands to reason that Crabbies will come swarming in from all sides to protect the eggs. In game terms, it also prevents the ridiculous situation you got in BB5, where you’d simply hunker down behind an Overwatch screen, wait until you’d wiped out all the defenders who came charging at you, then take a leisurely stroll through the empty nest to take out the Spawning Sentinels. You’ve invaded a hive full of angry bugs – it SHOULD be a race against time to get to the Breeder before they overwhelm you.

This really is NOT intuitive. I have no idea what keeps me Stealthed and what breaks the cover. I’m assuming that keeping behind cover is essential, and that the Perception of the Pandas has something to do with it, but it’s frankly a random toss of the coin as to whether I stay hidden or not. XCOM did this much better by highlighting the tiles you could enter to stay hidden, and I think you need something like that in this game. I’ve twice lost an Infiltrator now by thinking that he was hidden when he wasn’t.

Now, I have absolutely no objection to new Recruits on Heroic/Legendary turning up with no weapons/armour, in fact I really like it – that’s exactly how it should be. BUT I do think it’s ridiculous that you can recruit a highly trained (and extremely expensive) specialist, like a Priest or an infiltrator, only to discover that he is completely incapable of holding a basic weapon the right way round. Either ALL Squaddies should come with Proficiency in basic weaponry like Pistols & Auto-Rifles, or the specialist classes should be given Proficiency in basic weapons. If you want to make it hard for us, make their first Personal Skill default to Pistol or Auto-Rifle Proficiency, and force us to give them a bit of training, but it is utterly ludicrous that a highly trained Special Forces Operative doesn’t know how to use a gun until you either miraculously come up with the magic weapon he needs or he reaches Lvl 4, gets halfway through his career, and suddenly morphs into something else.

I’d just like to say ‘thank you’ for keeping the cute Polish Girl’s voice from the BBs as Voice 1. I have since learned that she’s actually Bulgarian, so my apologies to her as she will be forever immortalised in my games as ‘Polish Girl’, and is the third character I build, after Sophie ‘Shotgun’ Robinson and ‘Moby’ Wong, my 2 favourite characters from XCOM. ‘What’z the plan?’ never fails to make me smile.

Ok, that’s it for the moment. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but this is long enough.


I agree with the majority of the points,
There are a fair number of insane combinations available to the player, so far the most notable ones are the ones revolving around the use of rage burst or 100% stealth+ sneak attack. these options need to be toned down. I’m on the fence with regards to rapid clearance+ adrenaline rush with a third track heavy weapon prof allowing the unit to fire a HMG at +20-30% damage for 1AP and getting twice the amount of AP refunded on kill
also I don’t know how stealth works exactly either…but I do know that if the number hits 100, you can effectively remain invisible while performing shotgun brain surgery on them. and I know that infiltrators have a unique layout to show that they are undetected, while stealth is also a factor used on other troops (I assume its a inverse factor on the enemy perception, aka perception*(1-stealth factor)) they don’t get that indicator, making it a guessing game if your troops are going to get shot at.

-pandorans don’t really evolve, they just spawn more with more HP more armor and get bigger damage numbers. the crab you fight at the beginning= crab at the end just with 4 times the health, armor and slightly less dramatically improved damage output. as such I’d really like to see your suggestion implemented.

pandoran balance is also all over the board, crabmen and tritons are actually okay fighters… the majority of dead soldiers have been caused by crabmen…be it machineguns, poison or grenades. at a certain point though the sheer number of them fielded starts becoming a problem…doing a resource run only to see 19 of these…with more in the fog of war… crab-hopping their way in your direction…while insta machinegunning every crate on the way makes for a tough battle…and monotonous as its always just 1 crab variant.
sirens can be hilarious, if they can’t mindcontrol…they are essentially below the level of pincer crabs. if they can and pop up out of nowhere, they can cut your combat force in half by taking control of multiple troops at once. if you pop their head you can just start killing anything else…as any kill will just panic them…so you can save them for last, capture them and turn them into mutagen mush.
chirons…well the goo chiron has tactical use as it combines well with other units, worm chirons tax the action economy…aka…you better have pistols, PDW’s or anything that can clear small stuff fast. as the worms can deal good damage. overall these variants arn’t bad and should stay as is in my opinion, however the worms from the worm chiron could be…fixed in a away that they don’t end up stuck in terrain elements. mortar chirons are over the top, despite being the most fragile of the group…1-shot-kills across the map with no real ability to counteract it…that unit needs a nerfbat tap.
scylla’s the big battleship of the game…has a support element AI…it will constantly shoot mist, spawn fraggers and run around destroying walls. if it has a screaming head it will spam that…but unless it doesn’t have the option to use any of its support moves it won’t use its smashers. its big…its scary…but if it has any support move, its level of threat is surprisingly low. not that many players know this as most people just rage burst kill the scylla on sight.

vehicles, woefully underdeveloped… they are have a way too high opportunity cost to use. and they need a buff to become a somewhat competitive option. I prefer if this buff wouldn’t focus on raw damage output though…as they do have the potential to bring new options to the game and mechanical units do come with a fair amount of immunities.

I used to think that vehicles weren’t worth the cost. Then I saw in a video post about Rage Burst that they effectively shield your Squaddies from Mind Control while you are inside them.
Suddenly they’re useful. Pop a Shotgun Squaddie into a Scarab, run them up to the Siren, hop out and one-shot it in the head. Bob is the relative of your choice.

Just had a Lair Mission with 4 Sirens hang on me just as I was about to take the last one down. Bloody annoying.

I would say that you are right, but I think that I would:

  • tone down a Siren Mind Control a little bit (lower its maximum Willpower to 20, so she could not control too many units at once - but also lower soldiers maximum Willpower level to something like 10 or 12), and let at least 3 or 4 of them roam on single mission on High threat level. On Medium let it be 1 or 2.
  • provide limit of 1 Chiron of each type to single mission. So you can have 3 Chirons on a single mission, but each of them must be of the other type: goo / worm / mortar. Of course there could be more Chirons in the reinforcements, but don’t allow more of them exist on the map simultaneously.

My biggest concern here is that after a month of in-game time they are almost fully developed from mission to mission. And i still have most of the weapons in my arsenal those basic from Phoenix Project.

I think that during the day it is as mentioned:

I’m still not sure how night or mist influence this. But basically each % of your stealth reduces perception range of enemy by the same factor. And I think that firing from most weapons also reduces stealth for some amount.

Cover doesn’t do anything here unless it is wholly blocking line of sight to any part of your infiltrator.

I’m not sure about this. Maybe for the Pistols. But decrease in accuracy is not preventing from firing even when soldiers are not proficient. So they can use those weapons anyway. :slight_smile:

Except they can’t. If you’re not proficient in a weapon, you have a chance of Fumbling, which like the nuclear industry (where they have a saying that million to one chances come up 9 times out of every 10) is ALWAYS at the fatal moment.

Imho, it’s as bad as FiraxCom’s 95% point blank miss. You spend all that time sneaking your Infiltrator behind the blasted Siren, press the shotgun up against her head - and then discover that you haven’t taken the safety off! WTF!!!

I thought that they had removed fumbling for all but melee weapons.
I have a priest using a sniper rifle and he never fumbled.

Maybe they have and I never noticed. I play so slowly, it’s hard to keep track.

November development update: The fumble mechanic has been limited to melee weapons

1 Like

Aha! Brilliant!

Because you get a big ‘WARNING: this Squaddie is not Proficient in this weapon’ sign on the Personnel Menu, I thought fumbling was still a thing.

I hereby take back my complaint about unarmed Recruits - and I’m about to issue machine guns to all of my medics ;0)

Is this true? So grenade launchers or furys for everyone?

Seemed to me. Never had a fumble. And I do have the warnings all the time.
I don’t know for jump jet though.

At least for weapons that would be nice. Could add some more variables how to gear up. But lets see how future patches will handle this.

Crabbies should only be allowed one grenade launch per turn. Less of the frigging grenade launcher spamming.

There’s a logic error here, if the game adapt to a player with reload (not save scuming do succeed a shot or pick the right recruit) this player plays better, then the game adapt, the player won’t be different and will continue reload, and will still be better.

Reload changes nothing to it except if the game is testing reloads and punish players to do it.

That’s ridiculous it’s not 10 soldiers death in first month that will make the game easier. If the auto scaling lost the player it’s just because it scales up too much, not because the player reloaded, sigh.

thing is the game do not adapt. it just advance in next tier stages, no matter what you behave play or act.

Jump jet still fumbles if you’re not proficient.

Just finished my first ‘Difficulty Spike’ Lair - man that was brutal!

I gotta say, even I think that’s too hard, and I like it tough. Restarted once to avoid a TPW. Second time round had to fight my way through 3 Sirens, with another 2 chasing me up to the Spawnery. Only lost 1 man - my Lvl4 Tecchie - but all my Lvl 5/7s staggered out with what feels like a week’s R&R in injuries. That’s doable every once in a while, but it’s not sustainable in the long term.

Too many Sirens. They’re handlable, but to do so slows you down so much that the Crabbies & Trites get to regroup.

It was fun, in a masochistic kinda way, but it felt like an endgame Boss fight rather than a mission you have to repeat every other day (and I have another one to deal with on the other side of the Med once my guys have healed up).

I take your point on Restarts. The good thing about the procedural generation is that it’ never exactly the same, so you can’t just walk the mission like it was Edge of Tomorrow. Even so, you get a feel for the optimal tactics on the map with each successive playthrough, so you will generally trend towards ‘Better than Good’.

Of course, if people are truly save scumming as you describe in parentheses, the computer will think you are a genius and react accordingly.

All I’m saying is that myself and Pr8Dator have both stated that we usually play ‘HonestMan’ (though I did Restart my last Lair Assault - see above) and we don’t seem to be experiencing the same level of swarming that others have complained of.

UV, it would be really good if someone from PP could chip in here and let people know whether constant scumsaves and restarts does adversely tip the game scales.

It could scale, it’s still too much scaling up. I’ll explain it in another way:

  • Player 1 doesn’t hesitate to reload, I’ll skip pure scamloading. Those reload raise his efficiency at level 10.
  • Player 2 is a better player and plays ironman. His efficiency is at level 10.

For both the game consider it’s too efficient, and apply the same scaling up, one reload the other doesn’t. i don’t see much reason why player 1 would feel harder the scale up.

The point in the scale up is how much it penalize, eventually it could be manipulated by forcing more inuries, but if it’s get more death, I have doubts it worth it.

At end the point is it’s not linked to reload or play ironman.

EDIT: I’ll say it in another way, is the game easier for weaker players? No, so lower your own level won’t help.

I have no idea if this performance scaling even exists, the game might scale the enemies based on research progression or total earned resources for all I know. and “buy” units in a map based on point costs (with crabs just having low point value…meaning that if no biggies are on the map you get a insane amount of them in the late game, when your “piont count” is very high because of total resource/EXP gained)

even if it scales based on combat performance, it might scale in different ways then just succes = scale up.
-it might keep the speed of the clear in mind, if you did it without injuries or deaths but you took 15+ turns, the game might decide that the mission was hard for you.
-it might take injuries into account, both normal and ironman/honestman players get nicked soldiers every now and again.