Corrupted Horizons feedback

This DLC is sole reason why I created account on this forum :slight_smile:
I do know that some love this DLC and I personally did 2 whole campaigns with it, one being legendary and this DLC can provide “some” fun, especially for a price, but after finishing campaign I am turning it off and never, ever turning it back on again. In this feedback I will try to provide my reasoning why is that and focus purely from game design perspective and what went wrong. I do hope that you will consider my points for future DLC-s and maybe avoid “mixed reviews” on Steam, as gameplay is good, but you missed the mark on basic human psychology while making DLC :slight_smile:

  • There is new threat, corruption, which for some reason doesn’t start before you do mission, but we will ignore that bug for now. Corruption is basically way to penalise players if the do not play as intended, ie. take new unit into corrupted area, which is conveniently all red mist area. This is very bad start, the reasoning should always be the other way around. When player goes in combat, reasoning is for example “if i bring heavy I get benefit of heavy heavy weapons, war cry and tank” and not “if I bring heavy, I lose my spot for assault”. In this DLC reasoning is “if I don’t bring mutoid, game screws my other characters.” DLC discourages you to play it your way, it should instead encurage you to play the new way. Here is example of fix, mutoid is much faster, more stealthy and has resistance to everything in mist pandora controlled area. So sure, players can bring normal troops as they always did, but why not bring one or two supetroops instead. Especially when in mist area which harder missions and why not have increased chances of Acheron, which would incentivize players to plan around new unit and new enemy. You usually want to close in gap with Acheron and kill it asap, even ignoring some enemies. Having unit that can do it instead you heavy with jetpack lets you chose between two options.
  • Mutoids suffer from same issue as corruption track. You have to use Mutoid to not get penal for using troops. Why not give us reason to use Mutoids? By adding 5 levels, “easy” to level up skill points and pandora abilities, you might thing that Mutoids are way to go, which is big no-no… They are really low budget soliders and you can use them to not get punished by corruption track, which. Here is a question, would you pay 25 mutagens for 5SP? YES! Every god damn day! So why not send soldiers in and take that corruption, remove it afterwards, why take inferior version? One lore issue, isn’t Mutoid a super soldier? Then why not make them super soldiers? Make cost of one fully grown mutoid 1000 mutagens (no skills included) + gear, give him all solider levels, pandora abilities and multiclass option, make him 3k mutagen investment that has buff in pandora mist areas. Players would build 2-3 in course of the game, have 1 of those in every team and felt happy about it. If someone wants to build alfa team of mutoid and spend 100h grinding in campaign for their own pleasure, why not? There is now again decisions to be made, should you upgrade your solider torso or level up on skill on mutiod, and both are viable options. And to everyone yelling that “Mutoids are not supposed to replace soldiers!” which is usually argument for vehicles, then why build any? :slight_smile: If your answer is, because soliders need levels, so do mutoids. But they need less to skillup and are more viable faster! Great, 200 mutages and have my regeneration torso, works great on low level troops to survive initial fights, but human troop will outperform mutoid eventually and with less resource investment.
  • New enemy Acheron :slight_smile: Ohhh boy, how I love and hate this one. How to make players use more versatile weapons, make unit immune to damage type as it takes it. But then you do not include that laser is heat and gauss rifle is sp projectile? :slight_smile: Poison is still useless, you could give us plasma grenades to go with new enemy? :smiley: Enemy itself is ok, new variant in battlefield, but it is also something like a mid boss, that can appear in numbers on any mission. It also has no synergy with other parts of DLC but to punish you some more with corruption for not taking mutoid? How about make him mini boss that almost always will appear in pandora controlled areas and wont show in human controlled areas? Also make mutoids as mentioned above and suddenly there is whole new dynamic here. Mutoid can dish out different damages trough pandora skills, which can bring him down easily. Heavy with rage burst can too, but you might not wana risk him being stuck behind enemy lines? Do I make this mission now, or bring in my other team with mutoid? Do I bring in my 8 man alpha team and use mutoid elsewhere? Now there are decisions to be made in team you are sending in, not just choosing between bad and less bad options, which are, should I make mutoid team or pay 25 mutagens for 5SP, which always, on legend at least, should be: “Pay 25…”
  • Corruption… This is just one big wtf. I can see what aim was, but it missed the mark, probably because it is already in game. Corruption is basically pandora mist, it corrupts the world and you have to contain it. That is the bad thing you are fighting and it penalizes you, but that is the way the game wins. That is the main reason why players will accept pandoran mist advances and not corruption. Game doesn’t win by corruption it just adds extra clicking on solider screen to heal them. If game won somehow by corruption, that would be some kind of DLC for “Super legendary” difficulty. In the end, corruption is just useless and I would play corrupted horizon with it off if I could. How to fix corruption? Remove it and make new units/enemies in the way that player wants to use them and wants to use them as part of his strategy. If you wanted something added that stack with idea of this DLC, it could be new pandora attack mode “Siege”. Lead by new enemy, it just sits there, corrupts area and starves the population, if population dies by siege it is immediately corrupted to nest/lair/citadel, and guess what, siges are always led by high level Acheron. It would be slow process of wining the city, which would give player a lot of time to bring his well earned alpha team with Mutoid in battle and kill that mf and get pleasure he wants for it. Now you have your “Corruption” in your “Corrupted horizons” but in a good way.
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Corrupted Horizons is landmine DLC. It will ruin your campaign if you step on it too early and can be easily defused if you delay its start.

In my last legendary campaign, I got around to starting it while Synedrion was doing its final mission research to reveal the location of the Pandroran palace and put the game’s final mission on the geoscape. In my opinion, that is the best time to get into this DLC, and I was able to complete all the missions and research projects associated with it just before the game’s last mission.

But by delaying the start of this DLC, mutoids became completely obsolete and pointless.

Starting this DLC too early, however, can completely ruin a campaign for two reasons.

First, the player has to pay a mutagen cover charge in order to have the privilege of doing a mission in a corrupted zone. Having to click on cure corruption and fork over 25 mutagens per soldier per mission is a mere annoyance and slight hassle if the player has a huge stockpile of mutagens from raiding loot crates while taking out a dozen or so lairs and citadels. But if players don’t have that stockpile, suddenly they are forced into a mutagen faming pandora capture strategy in order to save their campaign and prevent their rookie squads from being overwhelmed by a corruption mechanic death spiral.

Second, the corruption mechanic hurts soldier willpower. A “temporary” reduction in a soldier’s willpower stat will have a disproportionate impact on a players combat power if the soldiers are newer recruits or early game soldiers with, say, only willpower 8 and will have a minimal impact on late-game troops with 18 to 20 willpower–because the corruption mechanic drops willpower by a point or two. Soldier with a willpower 16 stat will not face much of a negative impact from the corruption mechanic, whereas early game soldiers reduced to 6 willpower will be weakened significantly by only being able to Dash twice or take two Quick Aim shots, are easy to mind control (with one or two Sirens able to capture an entire squad in a couple turns) and would be instantly mission-killed by one bullet from a Redeemer rifle as a Triton Ghoul covers them in panic juice and takes one of the players soldiers out of action for two or more consecutive turns.

This corruption mechanic and its impact on soldier willpower just doesn’t mesh well with the way the game’s difficulty scales. Soldiers earn 10 Skill Points per mission on veteran and only 5 SP per mission on Legend. So the impact of stepping on this DLC landmine on veteran difficulty is going to be a radically different experience than activating this DLC in the early game on legend, which would be an almost instantly-campaign ending move on the game’s highest difficulty setting.

The main problem with the DLC is its lack of structure. And the absence of structure and balance in the overall game is also a huge issue too–one that this Corrupted Horizons DLC exacerbates.

The Acheron enemy type is clearly a late-game enemy, so having it appear in the DLC’s openning mission is a huge problem. Or to be more accurate, having the current opening mission triggered the instant that the player completes the Pandora’s Colony research is the problem. Now, I understand that you want to let players know that they have new DLC content activated early in their campaign, but that opening mission–the one to respond to an emergency at a secret lab shouldn’t be the first mission in this DLC.

Instead, there needs to be a quest chain and a deeper dive into the story behind this mysterious group of researchers. Perhaps the first mission should be against a bunch of rampaging mutoid soldiers. Or a rescue mission where the player gets to rescue a scientists and some mutoid soldiers. That mission should be followed by a second mission where the player has to make a choice about how to deal with this mysterious organization–with each of the the three main faction suggesting a different approach. for example, one faction may want you to raid their lab and steal their super-mutation, mutoid research and share it with them. Another faction may want you to attack and destroy their lab because their work is just too dangerous. And a third faction may want you to escort one of their VIPs to a rendezvous point. so they can discuss their research and then have a debate about what to do about it. A fourth option may be to partner with this research group and do a mission to capture or recover some pandora samples for them–and get a huge research boost in the process. That second mission should then lead to a third mission, which would essentially be the “opening” mission we now have.

What restructuring this DLC would do–from a gameplay perspective–would be to delay the onset of the corruption mechanic and, later, the moment the acheron enemy type appears, ensuring that these new enemies and mechanics appears in the game at a point when the player will probably have the necessary tactical tools, soldier skills and soldier stats to deal with the new challenges.