I know: hot take!
I have really come to love how cover works in PP. Yes, there are things about sidestepping and corners that are kind of messed up (it’s PP after all), but combined with the ballistic modeling, you really do get cover that acts like actual, physical cover. Then there’s all the stuff that provides concealment in a real, physical way, separately from cover. It’s really unlike any game I’ve played before in this respect. It’s incredibly granular and varied.
Using cover in PP is all about good scouting and learning to position stuff between yourself and the enemy intelligently. For example, big trees are awesome, but not if you use them like trees in X-COM. Now, I’ll just position a trooper so that the tree blocks LOS effectively, which might be two or three tiles back and at an angle. I’ll often combine multiple pieces of adjacent, free-standing cover by angling myself behind them so that they block a wide cone, but I can move just a little and get great sightlines. It’s very satisfying.
In this recent mission, I did something new: I spent time analyzing things in free aim mode before I started moving, and boy does it make a big difference. Those big, alien structures in infested havens have very irregular shapes that can only be understood in free aim mode, and it really helped me see where there were possible sightlines through it (and where to lob grenades through).
I’ve realized that I’m still unlearning habits from other turn-based tactical games that just do not work properly in this more lifelike environment. Getting my a$$ handed to me today in the Synedrion Infested Haven really clued me in to some things that I was still doing wrong. For example, I finally figured out that covering the inside of the building from the wide doorway corners was getting me killed because then I lost the protection of the closed doorway for everyone else (there’s really not a lot of places to hide on that map). Standing back from the door a bit so that it stayed closed, and then covering the building corners let me move into a better position without taking too much damage, and forced the pandas to come to me. It was still tough, but manageable.
I know we all like to complain about PP a lot, but there really is some revolutionary stuff in this game that I predict will be widely copied (and improved upon).