In UFO Defence, when an alien hit you with a plasma bolt… it was scary bad. Every time they shot one it made you tense, watching it soar across the map, out of the darkness. Because if it hit your guy, he could be killed, he could be grievously injured and bleeding out, or he could panic if he was a Rookie. Even if it landed near them, it would reduce morale, causing troops to panic from too many.
And as scary and those aliens were, they were mortal. Damage was fairly random in UFOD, but three or four bullets was reliable to take down the standard mobs. Getting close enough to hit them was the tricky part.
Now, let’s compare that to Phoenix Point: “MEAT HEAD SMASH ALIEN! Smash for 200 points of damage to the left eyeball and into the brain!”
“The alien loses 1/3 of its health. Its armour reduced the damage by 20 points”
“…the Alien’s EYEBALLS get 20 points of armour?”
“Everything gets 20 points of armour!”
On a good day, you take six shots to the head, and your head is disabled… and you recover from your wound in about 5 hours. That is, if you don’t use a medkit at the time, which basically makes you all better. UFOD, it could take weeks for a soldier to be usable in combat, forcing you to change up your team.
Advantages of Lethality
Imagine ten big, strong guys decided to attack you, right now. What are your chances of taking them all out with your bare hands, the way Bruce Lee does in films? Pretty low, right? Even your chance of taking out just one of them will be low, if they attack you as a group, right?
Now, imagine that same scenario… but you are all given machine guns. Now, you have a pretty good chance of taking out one of them, don’t you, if your tactics are good? There’s even a slim chance of taking out all of them, isn’t there? People have won tougher gun fights in history.
That’s the basis of lethality, and how it makes things more tactical. One man can beat ten, if he is truly skilled, and may come out unscathed. It makes things tense and thrilling, as you know at any time you could be gravely wounded. It also makes fights more tense and cautious at the start, and more violently rapid once the forces clash. This makes for more intense flow in the game, and it forces the use of clever tactics.
Limbs, Headshots and Accuracy
I keep blowing off enemy’s heads with sniper rifles, and they keep not caring. It is very weird. Enemies only seem to bleed after you blow their limbs off.
I say you greatly reduce accuracy, as described in this thread:
Then, head shots and hitting other such things will be rarer. You can then make them more dramatic and lethal, so that a tough enemy with 300 HP can be killed by 100 damage to their head, or such. Helmets tend to be pretty thick IRL, because the head is vulnerable, so you can counterbalance this lethality by increasing head armour for humans.
Though lethality will increase in general, you can make the pandorans pretty tough, so that you need to think more about hitting their weak-spots or disabling their limbs.
Part of lethality is how scary it is to those who suffer it. I go into detail about how you can handle that in this thread:
Death and Incapacitation
Despite my mentions of lethality… there’s actually too much in one sense. When someone hits 0 HP, they just die. That’s not immersive or realistic, as people rarely die immediately. It’s also poor gameplay, as it would be more interesting if your characters could survive, and need you to protect them or evac them or heal them, as they lay on the ground bleeding out.
UFO Defence had this, too.
Bad Things Happen to all who are Shot
I would recommend having some negative effects to being shot. Something like a % chance of causing Bleed when you are damaged, temporary stunning, and temporary reduced accuracy. The Morale thread offers some of those possibilities, via suppression: Suggestion: Make Willpower = Morale
It’s annoying when you blast enemies with overwatch, but they continue to run unimpeded to shoot at your guys.
I know this is a scifi setting… but wasn’t taking healing potions from DnD a bit much? If you take a load of medikits with you, your guys can get shot up like eight times, and be fine and dandy.
Make medikits a genuine specialist tool, with ammo, instead of a throw away healing buff. Then, you can decide who in your group act as medics. Have the number of AP it takes to patch someone up depend on the extent of their injuries, as in Xenonauts, Silent Storm, and other games.
If bullets can cause bleeding, you will sometimes want to seek medical aid to avoid draining some HP.
The balance with recruitment is super weird, and bad. But so weird I’m not sure what direction you’re even trying for. Do you intend very few of our soldiers to die? The difficulty, without cheese builds, doesn’t imply that. But it takes a lot of effort and resources to recruit new guys, sometimes there are none available for long periods.
A more lethal game often means a higher turnover rate of troops, which is a staple of the genre, that’s true. Yet, as mentioned with the ten attacking you while you’re unarmed, versus while you all have machine guns, I think my suggestions might REDUCE player deaths, just due to the balance issues.
I suggest allowing us to recruit a lot more people from havens, and give us the ability to recruit people from our own compounds.