Enemy HP visibility tied to tech

To make it easier on research, perhaps the more kills you get, the more “field research” you are contributing to your scientists’ notes… Ie. say, every kill of a specific type knocks an hour or two off needed research time.
Also, you could also say research will give automatic HUD info, but killing/breaking enough body parts will give the HUD knowledge too, but without giving any other knowledge research would have given you.

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A compromise may well be better, make things like techs, equipment and experience make the HUD info more precise. That a soldier has the ability to roughly gauge how much damage somethings taken is not terribly implausible, nor really is that they might be able to guess ballpark how much health it may have.

Second Wave style options could be make the info “perfect” from the start, normal (so known but inaccurate) or hidden, combined with another option to have the base health of each determined by a RNG to help keep a smidge of mystery on repeat plays.

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I love the idea, but as we can see on the last demo, the chances to hit are given by the number of pips of health the ennemy has. If the player doesn’t know the HP of an ennemy, do you have a solution to display the chances to hit ?

Free-aim-cones gives a relative accurate sign of expected “chance to hit”.

If you want to give “expected damage”, that’s kind of the same problem, from where do you know how much Armor certain bodyparts/enemies have?

If we can see information about damage per bullet, and bullets fired per action, then it should be enough, armor as an information is important too, giving it away “for free” due to showing “expected damage” is kind of counterproductive with hiding HP.

I agree, if you don’t know how much HP the target has, you don’t know how much armor neither. And you don’t even know if your weapon is effective against that target which is really scary and stick to the Lovecraft’s atmosphere.

The problem with free-aim’s mechanic is that some people could find that it slows the game (i saw this as a comment on a video, can’t remember if it was on Marbozir, ChristopherOdd or UnstableVoltage’s…)

Edit: correction of the name of ChristopherOdd

I think there are already visual hints about enemy body part situation (visual bleeding), and the idea of research needed to be able to see “numeric” HP is quite great!
Not being able to know how much HP does an enemy have after being shot by a soldier an not knowing how much bleeding damage are they going to get would increase the inmersion and dificulty of the game.
players would need to use up will points overwatching “just in case” more often at the start, as the soldiers (and the player as their tactical commander) are not familiar with the enemies they encounter, so they do have a reason to start panicking.
Also, the posibility of enemies “playing dead”… thats genius! The start will be scary as F… because of sudden ambushes from enemies you know nothing of. And combined with the enemy adapting their strategies to the player style, then maybe they should stop playing dead shortly after they realize that their enemies somehow are not failing anymore from that trick, and maybe develop other stealth methods

Or the scarier (to me) version: mutate an “inner armor”, which doesn’t show, enemy HP’s is not updated to the higher version (why should the soldiers know about that), so when you KNOW that the enemy is dead after 5 damage… well, you were wrong, there goes some of your soldiers to ANOTHER fake corpse :wink:

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Or extra organs! (system redundancies)

I think there are already visual hints about enemy body part situation (visual bleeding), and the idea of research needed to be able to see “numeric” HP is quite great!
Not being able to know how much HP does an enemy have after being shot by a soldier an not knowing how much bleeding damage are they going to get would increase the inmersion and dificulty of the game.

I like the idea of no HP bars. I actually made my very first XCOM 2 playthrough without them as I figured if I was doing it, it had to be on a first playthrough. I remember fighting my first berzerker, having no idea how many hp it had, and shooting it over and over “why won’t this thing die” style.

That said, if the core game was built around this, we’d need much better visual cues to differentiate hits and armor bounces, and the general health of an enemy. Have them stagger on low hp to show they’re almost dead, that kind of thing …

It would also pair well with “red fog” (soldiers and aliens decreased performance when wounded)

As for aliens play dead, I don’t know if I should venerate or despise whoever suggested such a thing …

I like the idea of not knowing a certain creature type’s HP on first encounter. Once a creature type is killed or captured, it has to be researched so the scientists can learn about it’s HP, armor type, and weak points. And this can be an accrued knowledge…
1st Kill and Autopsy - Learn HP
2nd Kill and Autopsy - Learn Armor type
3rd Kill and Autopsy - Learn weakpoints
I don’t like the “play dead” option, but I do like a “death surprise” option.
Dead crabbies - Corpse explodes with 3 or 4 mini crabs when a soldier gets close
Dead squids - Corpse leaks a gooey sticky substance that traps any nearby soldier (2-3 tiles) for a turn
Dead merman - Corpse excudes a toxic gas for 3-4 turns over 2-3 tiles

Absolutley agree! The “fear of the unknown” was even part of the initial PP pitch. At the moment the enemy creatures are not horrifying at all. The character models may look creepy, yes, but if you can see every single detail about the creatures (health points, armor points, bleeding etc.) they are not scary at all. The original X-Com and TFTD did it right. The fights were extremely tense and atmospheric.

One particularly great thing was the sound design. A scream meant that the soldier/alien was killed. If it just got unconscious there was no scream. Nowadays hand-holding seems to be the doctrine of game design. There is a big red scull flashing above an enemy if it will likely get killed; additionally all its health points are flashing… it`s just dull…

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The character models already show if body parts are disabled (deep red) and bleeding is also visible on the models.

In the original X-Com and TFTD aliens could get unconscious temporarily. If an alien fell to the ground after being hit without a death scream it was unconscious. You could even go to a lying alien and check if it was dead or unconscious (in the inventory). If it was unconscious, you could target the tile it was lying on, to finally kill it (or you could pick it up and carry it away). The same was possible with unconscious soldiers; for example carrying them out of danger and to a medic).

That was the great thing about the old X-Coms: They were simulations with a lot of emergent gameplay. I backed PP because I hope they make a real simulation again. The new XComs were such a letdown…

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I have to say that I totally dislike the idea of implementing this on PP. Realistically, I’d expect a scream only if a soldier/enemy was hit by a stealth shot or by an explosion, but not necesarilly everytime one dies; a deep grunt maybe, but that too would be expected from being shot and not dying.
Personally, I’d opt for enemies going from little to no grunts when first shot (but with a surprise exclamation if ambushed) and then doing progressively deeper and more guttural grunts as HP goes lower, and then quick grunt followed by a slow silent exhalation when killed, if it was killed by a relatively weak shot (low damage compared to max hp) or a death scream if hit/killed by an explosion or heavy fire (nuked).

There’s a difference between unconscious aliens waking up, which became quite rare with stun bombs, and aliens purposefully playing dead.

I loved every single game in the series, despite the crippling bugs of OGXCOM, the “look-in-every-cupboard-to- find-the-last-alien” in TFTD, the entropy gun in Apocalypse, the fact that the bureau and interceptor are unremarkable games and the fact that … nope, can’t find anything good to say about enforcer, that one was an unmitigated disaster. While I have fond memories of it, rose tinted glasses can’t make me forget playing tactical hot potato with a primed grenade, and other gamey inventory management shenanigans.

The newer versions of XCOM brought their share of good and bad and, while I still resent pod mechanics, I like that the games came with increased pace. I’m currently hoping that PP will provide a middle ground between the old generation and FiraXcom, keeping the best of both worlds. So far it’s looking good.

Great ideas!

It would be so much better (and more immersive) to communicate damage, low health, death etc. with sounds (and graphics) instead of displaying numerous text boxes and UI symbols…

Some things are already implemented:

  • Graphics for bleeding. Blood drops out of the wounded body parts. Stronger bleeding could even be displayed with an increased blood drop frequency.
  • Disabled body parts get a “blood” texture (human soldiers and aliens)
  • Disabled guns, shields, grenade launchers etc. drop to the ground. In the most recent build they even stay in the “game-world” and lie on the ground.

It is much more immersive to spot those things for yourself, instead of reading big text messages. If the developers still go for displaying text messages for every single occurrence (“Bleeding +2”, “Willpower -1”, “HP -4”, “Gun arm disabled” etc.), then my biggest wish is to be able to turn those messages off in the options menu!

An example of TFTD vs PP:

TFTDs “lobster man takedowns” were so tense, because you had no idea how much HP, armor or stamina the lobster man had left. Your soldiers just kept shooting and shooting desperately as it moved closer.

In PP on the other hand players of the demo build regularly decide: Ok, the “crab queen” is now bleeding -4 HP per turn and has just 3 HP left. I don’t need to shoot it anymore, because it will die anyway. This way even the biggest enemy creature looses it`s terrifying effects…

I like this but don’t forget that there’s also a generation of gamers who want full disclosure on every single stat. I actually don’t mind this on complex games because min-maxing and theorycrafting can be fun. I would advocate for health bars/numerical values to be a toggle option.


Yes. The more toggle options PP develops, the more players will be able to tweak the game to be the most enjoyable for them.


Absolutely agree! Toggle options (and hotkeys) are always the best way to go.

I hope they add a lot of camera and UI options. Like disable/enable “sight lines”, “enemy HP”, “objective highlights”, “additional body part info”, etc.

F1 - F12 would be great for UI options; like a customisable tactical overlay for various situations…

Not a fan. Like already mentioned this is only relevant in the first playthrough.

But more important for me: This is still a strategy game, and a strategy game needs to convey enough information to enable informed choices. If not, then it becomes a guessing game, and I do not enjoy those too much.

I think the mutation system (if done correctly) has enough potential to surprise the player and keep us on our toes. And I think that this kind of uncertainty is much more entertaining than “Does this guy have 3 or 4 hp left???”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."
Fear of the unknown is a primordial part of this game. And in war you don’t always know your enemy, so you must plan an strategy around that ignorance and make some choices without every kind of information you would want. So yeah, if you see it that way, strategy itself is partially a guessing game IRL.