Alright, I just finished my first playthrough of Phoenix Point and I thought I’d make a feedback on the game and its game mechanics.
First I want to say that I backed this game more than a year ago, I was disappointed by the Epic exclusive but I stick around because the game looked promising and I can’t get enough of XCOM like games (I finished both XCOM and XCOM2 in legendary Iron Man several time and I think XCOM2 is the game I’ve played the most on Steam). So this was my first playthrough of the one year edition of the game. This might get a bit long so get yourself a tea, coffee or whatever beverage suits you and let’s go !
- What I enjoyed
- Real balistic model. It is much less infuriating than the bullshit statistical model of modern XCOM (seeing your soldier shove his rifle IN the alien face and finally decides than, no, he’d rather shoot the wall behind is bullshit).
- Factions. Even if they are a bit stereotypical they are great.
- Vehicles. I wanted them so bad in XCOM, it’s a great addition.
- Enemy design. Lovecraftian and disgusting. I love it.
- Damaging body parts. Sometimes killing is not the best option.
- What I didn’t enjoy
- Base system. There’s no room to specialization or customization. I expected a base named “PHB-R&D” to have a bonus in research, one with “aeronautics” in its name to have a bonus when crafting planes and so on. But no. All my bases are Medbay, Crew quarter, Mist repeller, satellite uplink and sometime R&D, manufacture and archeology lab
- The manufacturing system. While I enjoyed managing the ammo of my soldiers (and even once scavenging a rifle on a corpse to continue the fight) having them automatically replenished and teleported in their inventory feels weird. Just make a manufacturing queue for each manufacturing center and deal with storage separately for each base and maybe had a convoy system to send ressource from one base to another. I think I saw this idea in another thread and I completely agree.
- Enemy variety. It feels like I am facing the same 5 or 6 enemies with skin swap. I know they have different abilities but it is not significant enough to adapt my strategy accordingly. But it is also linked to the next point.
- Class balance. Marksman, Heavy and Infiltrator are so overpowered I didn’t play with anything else. Marked for death is ridiculously OP, I OS the final boss with a pistol shot dealing 12K damage. On the other hand, mind control is so expensive that Anu Priest are not worth investing in and Berzeker are plain garbage.
- Research and weapon development. I expected different tier of armor and weapons but the research tree as it is is disappointing. For example you first get the Mercy shotgun and then the Slamstrike who deals less damage and has less ammo. What’s the point ? I know about the shock damage but it doesn’t feel worth the investment. I also expected the Phoenix Point research to allow for hybrid technologies between the different factions like a laser gatling (synedrion jericho), piercing and shredding shotgun (anu jericho) and why not the same with vehicles like arming an Armadillo with Phoenix Point rocket launcher, having a medbay in the scarab tank. Same with aircraft. There’s room for personalization but it is lacking from the game. And some tech are absolutely useless. Honestly, who used the riot shield ?
- Virus and paralysis. There is no counter to these before very late in the game. Medkit should get you rid of virus and paralysis but no you have to wait X turn to make your soldier available again. I mean I had a few missions where I had to wait 10 to 20 turns doing nothing but passing turns for my soldier to be able to move again and evacuate. How fun is that ? The answer is : it is not. Or give an option for other soldiers to help their comrade like giving them motivation, or carrying them when they are paralyzed because right now they are like “oh no Bob is paralyzed… Well, shame I can’t help him in any way”. Or make the virus stack and disappear in the same turn, like you stack X virus on an enemy, at the beginning of its turn it drains X willpower and the virus is gone.
- Mission variety. By the endgame it becomes defend haven -> destroy nest and that’s it. It is not interesting. I would have enjoy a way to solve these fights automatically like Haven defense when you don’t intervene. Send a troop in a nest and based on soldiers level make it succeed or fail.
- Damaging body parts. I like it but at the same time it feels meaningless excepct for arms and legs. Reduced accuracy for “losing” your head and reduced max HP for losing torso would be nice. Or make it harder to heal between fights.
- Insta death. Your soldier reach 0 HP it dies. I would like them to have a chance to survive and being stabilized like in modern XCOM.
- Vehicle ramming. How come my 4 tons heavy armored Armadillo can’t just run over a poison worm ?
- Unit position at the start of missions. Is there really no way to choose where your units start the mission ? I had a Phoenix base defense with a vehicle stuck in an inaccessible space of the base. The only access was for a heavy with a jet pack or with jet jump bionic legs and that wouldn’t have been my choice I must say. And I had the same issue with a mindfragger spawning in the same kind of inaccessible area. If I hadn’t bring a heavy, I would have been stuck forever.
- Final mission. Without spoiling, the final mission is not interesting.
- Titanium and Blood : I am mixed on this one, I like the bionic augment system (except the heavy torso that won’t allow you to equip mounted weapon and the shield isn’t useful enough to justify the tradeoff) but the Pure sidequest feels unfinished… I was expecting a whole new faction when they asked for help but instead you end up with a new threat that looks like Jericho and that’s about it. As for the forsaken it’s the same gimmick with mutation and Anu faction
- Ancient Knowledge : About same as above, I like the Ancient weapons, the assault and defense on exploitation sites and all. But I don’t like the fact that it costs so much ressource and you can’t craft these weapons without the right manufacturing place. I understand the point of it but it’s lacking something, I mean, I finished my playthrough without finding the last manufacturing site so I couldn’t craft the Ancient sniper. That is how hard these place are to find. Besides, you can’t craft the weapons without the right manufacturing site but you can assemble a cyclop ? Also I would have make the Cyclop a Vehicle to accompagny your troops on the field and maybe design a new ancient airship to make it worth it. It could have been great but not so much as it is.
- Living Weapons : The armor is nice, the assault rifle is ok I guess and the heavy weapon was too inaccurate for my taste. It is a poisonous Deceptor with a fancy skin. Why can’t we retreive the research of the mad scientist and craft them using captured pandorians ?
Overall I enjoyed the game but not enough to replay it over and over again like I did and still do with XCOM2. There is a lot of room for enhancement. As it is now, it has a lot of potential but feels unfinished. I’ll wait for the rest of the DLC to be released before giving it another try but I have very little hopes given the ones currently out. I hope the devs are going to take our feedback into account to improve the game one way or another.