Feedback: Lethality


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.


Second literally all of this.

The cover mechanics are senseless right now, the manual aiming is savagely broken, and the near perfect sense of where enemies is immersion breaking for both sides, especially with a Chiron or two on the field.

I normally care a lot about my soldiers in games of this type, i don’t even bother re-naming them now.


Thanks, glad my post captured the feelings of others.

Just wanted to ask for clarification on this point. I was wondering if I should add a section about perception.

Seems as though some enemies (like the Chiron) once “alerted” can basically “see” where your folks are even through buildings, huge piles of multi-level cover etc.

The Lair raids are great examples of this but it happens on any map type.

They have LOS interrupted by 3-4 different obstacles, but yet have perfect knowledge of where your folks are without needing a spotter.

The game doesn’t provide much of a view into the mechanics and rolls so I can’t say exactly what is occurring under the hood of the knowledge mechanic.

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Let’s not draw comparisons to UFO Defense as that game presented soldiers in the abundance, here you need to chase and purchase soldiers one by one and for smaller teams. Also consider the RNG perks that means soldiers have much bigger value, incomparable to random stats of the old games. Getting crippled, damaged or killed has several time more drastic effects already. So no, lethality shouldn’t be on that game’s level. Bleed already occurs when a limb is destroyed, it’s way better than a RNG bleed.

And accuracy is already pretty bad unless you pimp out your team with Synedrion sniper stuff and long range weapons. Try hitting someone with a helcannon with heavy armor set, as in the game presented it was the intended play and tell me if accuracy is too good. The trade-off is that even a starter crab can turn level 7 chars into Swiss cheese in a turn.

I think let’s do draw comparisons to the original XCOM, as it was the primary marketing for this game. If it doesn’t stand up to a decades old game, that is a problem. And if there are differences, they need to be justified as equal or better than what they replace.

I ought to add a section for this. The game’s balance makes death reasonably common in the game, especially for non-expert players, and especially since 0 HP means instant death. The hoops and hurdles of recruiting new operatives does not fit the game well in terms of story, balance, or mechanics.

My thoughts on traits are generally covered in the Willpower = Morale thread Suggestion: Make Willpower = Morale
and the abilities rebalance thread Feedback: Abilities - #12 by ZeeraCamay

I don’t consider stats of incomparable value. With various stats, you can get a strong guy who is a coward, or someone who is fast and courageous, or so many other types of characters which can express a personality. If everyone of X class unlocks Suppressing Fire at level 4, that’s not unique or interesting. Having to memorize thirty abilities is also just a pain, if you’re replacing losses.

Having a unique perk is OK, and can add character and interest in a way stats cannot. But only if the perks themselves are well designed. As pointed out in those threads, they generally are not.

Crippled? You recover from a crippled head and torso in half a day of bed rest. There are 0 stakes as far as that’s concerned, and getting shot in the head is an annoyance.

You need to qualify this statement. What makes it better? Certainly, if the bleed was totally RNG as you might be thinking, that’d just be random and annoying. Then again, you can die from a cut thumb, so maybe that would be reasonable.

You did remind me of something important, though. Medikits, they’re currently healing potions from DnD. It would make more sense to have Medikits be dedicated healing items, which can be used continuously (they can have ammo, still). That’s how it works in various games, where you have the medic bandage your wounded or bleeding characters to cure them. The more wounded, the longer it takes. That would make a crippled arm seem serious, if you have to rush to the medic before you bleed out, and one guy is busy for a turn healing your casualty.

Would be better than just adding a bazillion crab enemies to the maps until you get bored of waiting to your turn, surely.

It’s not bad at all. I barely ever have to worry about cover, as even at medium range I can hit people with machine guns and heavy weapons. I often get shot in the face from considerable distance, with automatic fire. The six rounds to the head wasn’t a joke.

The fact you consider only the best sniper build in the game accurate is really weird, as I’ve basically never missed with my basic sniper you get at the start.

So, if you take the VERY least accurate build in the game, accuracy isn’t good? What is this idiocy?

I often use my heavy from a rooftop, and lay hell cannon fire on my enemies, as intended. I’m really disappointed there is no suppression mechanic, but hitting nearly half the time is still pretty good, for a 1-hit-kill weapon. Of course, the real issue there is that LoS and Free Aim don’t work.

Which is why half the people cannot get through the game on easy, and the other half worked out how easy it is to break:

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You cannot compare because the systems are VASTLY different. I’d have liked the game to be a remake of the old game mostly with updated mechanics but we don’t have that. Marketing is irrelevant for this discussion, it’s akin to “from the studio that brought to you…”

Geoscape isn’t better, should be better yeah but it isn’t. Only thing better is tactical combat. This particular issue can never be compared to the old game because it’s a sub-set of a bigger overlaying section that is comprised of unit value. You cannot have a game where a unit is way more valued to have the same lethality levels, it’s a pretty elementary decision. You want something but you cannot have that unless the whole structure is changed. What you could have done is “I want the units as expendable and common as the old game via this and this, then I want the lethality level to be increased”. So yeah, you cannot have one without the other.

That also covers other things like perks, max unit count in missions, gear cost, resources needed to acquire said gear, facilities required to generate revenue, lack of loot, time required to train etc the list goes on and on, the bottom line is that no, you cannot have OG lethality right now currently. It’d need a total conversion mod. And no, OG RNG stats provided nothing like unloading a full sniper rifle clip onto a target from max range while staying completely invisible.

Makes it better by virtue of not being RNG. And yeah dying from cut thumb sucks. I have enough experience with RNG to disable it for game mechanics when something non-arbitrary can be made which also makes sense.

Yeah well no to that as well, 8 people max at endgame so I don’t need someone bandaging himself or being bandaged for turns. It would suck big time here where every turn means a lot and most armors suck so bad, I’m still at beginner level protection at midgame because protection choices are stubborn to be sidegrades or are no-brainers to stay offensive.

“Can hit” doesn’t mean much really. Counting on hitting that to stay alive and hitting 50% of the time is a massive difference in a game like this. I find I cannot hit anything (meaning I wouldn’t rely on a hit to save my life) unless I’m stacked to the brim with accuracy up modifiers.

It’s as idiotic as using sniper rifles and sniper sets and claiming accuracy is okay. Seriously, the balance is all over the place when it comes to weapons and armor. There are tons more needing to be fixed before it can come to this properly. If protection is adequate then lethality could have been an issue but it’s not. Hit points and armor stagnate through the game effectively and it’s fine as it is.

Jeez man, I’m using that stuff myself and also commented on the thread about it. A couple of broken perks doesn’t define a game’s difficulty. Next week they’ll nerf it to the ground and people will whine about game difficulty. It’s not game difficulty! You cannot have a solution without a proper analysis to base it off.

You and me both. You should try out Xenonauts.

The current structure involves unloading a clip of sniper ammo across the map with perfect accuracy, allowing you to wipe out all enemies in two turns.

Let’s change it.

You should try out Into the Breach, it’s a game with no RNG. Well, sort of, there are rogue-like elements.

That’s why you shouldn’t get shot. When you lose the initiative, you’re forced to play defensive for a while. But that’s the nature of tactics, as opposed to a walk over with bullet sponges pretending to be humans.

Since cover is useless and enemies are powerful bullet sponges, you do get a stupid thing where if you don’t wipe out the enemy right now, you are likely to lose guys to their berserk tactics and pin-point accuracy. Realistically, you can use cover and tactics to whittle down an enemy without exposing yourself, which is how XCOM games are meant to work.

PP feels like a worse Valkyria Chronicles, as that game was built around the concept of tactically overwhelming enemies in a few turns.

I don’t know if you’re arguing for or against my points, here. I agree the balance is idiotic and weapons and armour are weirdly handled.

This is just nonsense.

Ok, sorry but but I won’t back and forth with breakdown replies like that. Played Xenonanuts, waiting for second. Heck, even still waiting for UFO XT2.

I believe I explained sufficiently that you cannot tack on what you want onto the current game, patch or no patch. One broken perk isn’t the structure, again, wrong analysis. The structure is geoscape and how it’s imagined. I don’t like it, it’s more akin to UFO After~ series. But that is a whole different topic than what you’re talking in this thread. Possibly we share some grievances but lethality doesn’t seem to one of them, if anything, I like higher valued units compared to expandables. Even if re-imagined the game, one thing I loathed in the genre has always been plasma bolts flying off the fog of war one-shotting my units at the start.

What you want might be done down the road with a complete overhaul mod though.

Yesterday, I had an Arthron send me a grenade although there was no chance he could know where I was. I had changed place and was on a rooftop with no enemy able to see my heavy. But somehow, he decided to throw a grenade spot on.


To me, it seemed to break down into a discourse I could not follow, which seemed biased in its reasoning.

You can patch anything you like into the game, given the resources. What I suggested requires practically no resources, besides the already-necessary bug-fixing. Most of it is literally changing numbers, a few days of work for one person with a sense of balance.

This seems to suggest the whole system of magic powers is well balanced and effective, aside from one perk. I strongly disagree, as I go into detail in various threads.

Interestingly, I let almost no one die in my runs through XCOM style games. Sometimes no one. I remember my run through the original XCOM, on the hardest difficulty (hahahah), I ended up using just four guys through most of the missions, who I trained up to have high stats and the best armour and weapons.

So, it’s not that I want expendable troops, so much.

I think I found that part the most interesting. Getting off the ship was always tense, and required some planning and scouting. I would use the wheels of the plane as cover, and try to peel away the darkness in all directions. With decent use of cover and management of TUs, I don’t think I got too many random deaths. That’s what I found rewarding about learning the game, and tactics.

It would be nice if the Devs carried their weight, instead of leaving modders to fix all the glaring balance issues.