So as I understand it, JG and the Devs are sitting down early this week to figure out where to go from here, so I thought I’d give them something else to think about. This post summarises some of my thoughts spread all over these forums and also makes one BIG suggestion which I don’t really expect them to address immediately – if they decide to address it at all.
While we may not know exactly how it works, I think the consensus among players is that the Dynamic Difficulty Algorithm (the DDA) isn’t working well at the moment. From what I can tell, it’s severely punishing perfectionist play, to the extent that it ultimately renders the game almost unplayable. I haven’t experienced this yet, but then I’m hardly a perfectionist where games like this are concerned – I expect to take losses and I don’t think the game is difficult enough unless I do. I don’t want to cruise through this like a superhero, I want to earn my victories and feel a sense of both relief and achievement when I do.
However, there are several things about the so-called ‘Difficulty Spike’ that I think could be managed better:
- Easy should be easy. If that means completely disabling the DDA, then so be it. Not sure how doable that is in the current build, but you do need to address the fact that the Rookie level shouldn’t punish you for doing well as you’re learning how the game works.
- The number of Sirens per mission should be capped and linked to Difficulty Settings. I’d advocate 1 for Easy, 2 for Veteran, 3 for Heroic and Infinite for Legendary. They should also be introduced before Chirons, rather than alongside them, which would ease the spike a great deal.
- Ditto for Chirons, at 1/1/2/3. And the damage dealt by Explosive Chirons probably needs nerfing, though I’ve not found them a problem so far.
- Lairs & Citadels are the wrong way round (see Lairs vs Citadels for more details).
- Crabbie HP & Damage should be nerfed, or imho done away with completely!
Which brings me to the main thrust of this thread…
As I’ve said before, I love this game, but the one thing that severely disappoints me is the fact that we didn’t get what was advertised where Evolution is concerned. The sales pitch says: “The Pandorans will evolve in response to your tactics.” Wow! That sounds amazing! So if I fall into my usual pattern of Snipers backing up a fast-moving Alpha-strike team, the Crabbies will adapt to neutralise that and force me out of my comfort zone….? Now THAT’s a game worth backing
Unfortunately not. I’m sorry, but “We need a bigger gun” is not ‘evolving in response to my tactics’. Frankly, XCOM did it better – at least there, you got different and more interesting enemies every time your Research unlocked a new weapon type, which you had to adapt your tactics to deal with. Here, the Crabbies just get tougher until all you can do is rely on Snipers and Magic Superhero Alpha-Strikes, which is what you were already doing anyway!
So – and I’m aware that this is neither a short-term nor easy fix – I’d advocate retooling the DDA so that instead of merely adding HP and Damage to ever-increasing numbers of Nasties in response to how well we’re doing, the DDA looks at the types of Squaddies we’re using and adjusts the Panda loadout accordingly. So when the DDA kicks in, it checks the number of each class of the highest Lvl Squaddies in your roster, as these are the best indicator of the type of tactics you are using:
• Ignore Assaults, as everyone multi-classes into them by default unless they’ve hit on a better combo – though I think there should be a check that says if 50% of your Squaddies have Dash, Nasties automatically default to Overwatch at the end of a move and Crabbies evolve a Goo Spitter, which they squirt in front of them before going into OW.
• If we have more Snipers than any other class, the Crabbies evolve Tower Shields that hide all their extremities and all other Pandas evolve shield technology (so Sirens start protecting their heads, and Scyllas turn their Smashers into giant shields that cover all but legs and abdomen – more on that later).
• If we favour mainly Heavies, the Nasties evolve Ablative Armour which is immune to Shred, and their bullets become Armour Piercing.
• If we have more Interceptors, their Perception doubles.
• More Priests, Will increases.
• More Berserkers, Armour goes down, HP go up.
• And so on… I expect you know better than I the strengths and weaknesses of the classes.
The Nasties should probably have some kind of Evo Budget, which means that a buff in one direction is paid for in another. So, as a completely arbitrary example, say the Crabbies had an Evo Budget of 1000, which gave a standard Crabbie 6x100 HP on its locations, a 150HP MG, a Shield costing 100, and the rest spread around Will, Perception etc: if it evolved a Tower Shield that completely blocked it from Sniper fire, that would cost it an extra 120, which would have to be stripped from its HP – something like that.
I’d also link it to Difficulty: so on Easy & Veteran the Nasties just react to the single highest Class on your roster (or both if you have equal #s of classes); Heroic reacts to the top 2 Classes; and Legendary reacts to every Class which is at your highest Lvl.
Now I know that this is complicated, and I know it can’t be implemented overnight, but I do think it will be much more interesting and more in line with what was advertised than the current system, which tbh isn’t working very well.
It would also intuitively start responding to the OP combos that players are coming up with: ‘So you’re using Sniper/Heavies are you? Get RB through this impenetrable Shield Wall, you suckers!’ (yea, I know you can outflank them, but it would force you to do so, rather than taking pot-shots from your baseline as you can at the moment). ‘100% Infiltrators? Not any more, they’re not!’ ‘Try doing a Dash Alpha-Strike through this goo-infested Killzone, you Turkeys. ’ Much better than: “Ooh look, a bigger gun.”
A POTENTIAL LIMITER ON SNIPER RB
If you don’t want to limit Squaddie Combos, and given the Skills Sandbox vibe I can understand if you don’t, one way of making Sniper RB less powerful is to limit the amount of overall HP that can be inflicted through any individual location: say 2x the current Maximum listed on the location. So eg. an Abdomen listed at -200HP would have an overall max of -400 (or -300 if that works better). It means you can still empty your rifle at a Nasty to your heart’s content, but taking out the bit of leg or abdomen sticking over the rocks won’t auto-kill it. It would also make RB with an HMG preferable, as that naturally spreads the pain around.
That’s it. Hope it makes sense - and good luck with the patches, I’m looking forward to them