Feedback & propositions for managing multiple teams

This is gonna be a long read and I’m sorry for that, however I gave my best effort for feedback & propositions here.

I think i’ts really cool that Phoenix Point encourages you to manage multiple teams. Among XCOM games, that would make it rather unique thing for PP. It’s not that you wouldn’t have multiple teams in UFO Defense or Xenonauts, it’s more so that their function is to be a backup. Phoenix Point offers so much variety with classes, different weapons etc, that you can have two teams that feel very different from each other.

It’s such a shame then that Phoenix Point coincidentally also punishes you more than any other game for actually trying to compose multiple teams. In this post I’ll describe the problems and, towards the end, propose solutions that hopefully will be friendly in both terms; balance-wise and also hopefully for an indie team to implement to begin with.

Costs of composing another team

Talking about purely material costs, you wind up spending roughly 800 to 1000 materials and close to 200 tech + whatever food it costs per member. In terms of missions, this is roughly 0.6 times or something like that of what scavenging mission gives you on the average, perhaps. Given scav missions limited nature, it’s better to talk about raiding missions, where the costs are roughly 1.8 missions per member: slightly less than one material mission, slightly less than half of a tech mission and about a third of food raiding mission.

These costs of course aren’t so much for the early game but mid/lategame and are based on naked recruits. On top of this, for every team you are required to do a steal aircraft mission or alternatively multiple raid missions to cover the costs. And of course, you are required to spend your manufacturing time on all the gear.

This means that for a team of 7 members, just the costs of equipment are going to be high enough to require you materials that are worth more than 10 missions. As it stands, currently even getting your second team up and running is painful due to the fact that it will take away from constructing stuff in your phoenix bases. Whole team actually costs more than a fully fleshed out phoenix base, somehow.


Here comes a bigger issue: the EXP/SP system that Phoenix Point uses. In this system, the difference between a rookie and a veteran is similar to the difference between a toddler and a terminator. The reason its like this is due to power creep of pandorians. Pandorians get significantly stronger, so your squad should too. This is unlike original XCOM’s, where the power level of aliens doesn’t rise that dramatically and large portion of power level rising comes from simply gear. Firaxis XCOM also opted in for a system where gear is significantly responsible for power level.

The system that PP has makes sense, but it has an unfortunate consequence: later as the game progresses, fielding rookies becomes troublesome because rookies are essentially a liability for your team. When talking about rookies, I’m talking about lvl7 people with 120SP. Most of the SP is pumped into STR so your rookies have a chance to survive a single shot from Pandorians.

You can do mixed squads, but these mixed squads will be facing bullet sponge tritons and sirens. You really can’t afford to have members that aren’t capable of burning through willpower to get rid of high-prio targets ASAP. And even if you would, the problem is that you gain only 12 SP per mission. At most, 24 SP you can give to a single individual per mission if you burn through the Phoenix SP. Phoenix SP barely is able to mitigate anything here, unfortunately.

Traditional XCOM has easier missions where you could field your rookies to gain exp. In particular, when you downed scouts for instance, those missions exist thorough the game. In PP, Pandorians happily throw Chirons and Tritons and Sirens at you in any kind of mission with Pandorians in the lategame. No way to field a squad of rookies during lategame, and if you split up your squad with half vets and half rookies, you risk a lot after midgame. This is only truly feasible with your second squad that you assemble, not third or fourth.

However, traditional XCOM model of easier missions won’t save PP, because we already know whats it like effectively. Stealing research missions are very plain and simple and you can accumulate easily max SP by siphoning a single research station in a haven with a full team and and infiltrator with maxed speed + dash + instill frenzy priest. You can do these missions in two turns easily, and you have practically zero risks of losing anyone as long as all your rookies have 120SP and you have dumped it into str.

Problem here is that it takes eternity of repeating the same mission over and over again to get to max SP threshold. It takes probably 30 of these missions. And the SP gain is the same regardless of mission, unfortunately.

Why is it vital to have mostly maxed out SP? Well, here’s why:

  • High STR to survive more than a single shot (playing safe is one thing, you can’t guarantee that you are not gonna get oneshotted if your rookie has low health
  • High willpower to be able to use important abilities for clutch plays
  • High speed to be able to go to cover and use your abilities / weapon
  • Most of the skills that are necessary for clutch plays

Tediosness of gathering resources

Resource gathering in general is very tedious in the way it currently works. You basically raid factions and you do these crate missions and then have to evacuate every time. I love the mission type a lot, but the amount you have to do them is rather extreme if you want to have multiple squads. If said squad is 8 members, then we’re talking over 15 missions, all of which go the same way. Even if you use Scarab, it wont save you from the fact that it’s really boring to do this over and over again, against the same haven.

In general, missions that force you to evacuate are not really that fun especially if it feels like there’s no real need for an evacuation. Clearing out haven forces is fairly easy and then you just have to deal with sparse reinforcements that barely matter. Yet, you have to evacuate - even under most ideal conditions of having maxed out speedy assaults this process gets easily tedious. I don’t think it should be part of core gameplay that a player has to do this specific mission type over and over again.

Tediousness of trading

This is another aspect in this game that gets really tedious really quick. You need a single ship that flies from one base to another (and can be empty) with no other purpose than to trade with factions. Doing this efficiently time-wise (without wasting any time) is once again tedious. Yet, this is what you have to do constantly if you want multiple squads because you want to convert that food into other resources. Somehow in a world where havens are dying of starvation, your own faction tends to have ton of surplus food.

So what do I propose then?

Let’s begin with the gear costs

There are many ways to solve gear costs. The simpler solutions PP is certainly aware of such as “decrease the costs”. So my proposition will be less simple than that and hopefully more interesting.

Point 1: Get rid of tech/material/food resources and consolidate them into a single resource.

There is no point to have three resources that all can be exchanged into each other through tedium of trading or acquired through the same kind of missions. They add no real gameplay value in my opinion.

Point 2: introduce four new kind of resources; faction resources.

First resource is the one that Phoenix Point uses for its own construction and its own weapons. Acquiring this resource should be a matter of building specific building that lets you accumulate them passively. It shouldn’t play any kind of other strategic importance besides the fact that it is the only faction resource that can be easily accumulated and essentially serve as a resource that you can easily use to equip your new rookies with basic and advanced PP gear. Similarily, you should be able to hire basic rookies spending this resource. Upkeep costs can also be based on this resource. Converting Pandorians into this resource should be a viable strategic option in the sense that, with active capturing, you could get rid of these facilities overall, perhaps.

The other three resources are based on each faction and they are used to construct faction-specific gear that you have researched. The idea is that each faction uses its own specific construction materials (various alloys, composites ie), so whatever is used to build Synedrion gear is not durable enough to build NJ gear and whatever is used to build NJ gear is simply too crude to facilitate complexities necessary for Synedrion gear.

From there on, you could also later expand into equipment that requires resources of two or more factions at once to construct.

Point 3: Havens should play a role in gathering faction resources

Each haven should give you passively resources based on the standing you have with that specific haven. Primary way to gain haven standing is to complete quests for them. These quests can be based on current map templates; they may ask you to retrieve an artifact, to scavenge an area, to save a group of their civilians or soldiers and to defend from an assault that they have scouted. These missions should give you minimal amount of faction rep (2 to 5) and plenty of standing with the haven itself - they should not result into any inter-faction standing changes. Perhaps, to max out standing with a single haven, you need to complete 2 or 3 of these missions.

The system can be really simple and resemble the current one: each haven reveals a POI that is their specific “quest”. Over time, they reveal another POI as their second quest, and then a third one. Haven defense missions still play as much of a role as they ever did, as you would not want to lose any havens that you have a good standing with.

Faction diplomacy should be the same as it is now, in my opinion.

Point 4: Introduce a new facility: Salvaging station

To gain resources by combating a faction, you simply gather the stuff their combatants drop when killed and process it as salvage. There should be still a chance that their equipment (INCLUDING ARMOR!) drops in a fully functional state (which should also depend on what body parts you damage), but otherwise they should simply drop broken equipment that you can process as salvage to gain faction-specific resources by processing them. Salvaging station should work much like manufacturing station.

Point 5: redesign “steal research” and “raid” missions

Steal research missions as they are can be exploited too easily, and raid missions are far too repetitive for the amount you have to do them. There should be a better alternative and for this, I propose something else. Factions shouldn’t keep their resources or their research out in the open, but rather in a fortified area - much like that Pirate King map. This fortified area should be protected well.

To replace raid missions, you should have “raid armory” mission. Here you can steal “armory crates” that weight a ton and are intended to be loaded into the Scarab and then escape the premises. These armory crates then can be opened and you get bunch of loot (armor and weapons) and you can process unwanted stuff through the salvage station to get their resources.

To replace “steal research” missions, Scarab shouldn’t be necessary, but you have to have a squad capable of holding out the position as the operation should take 3 turns before an evac (and Scarab perhaps could be essential for evacing easily). Honestly, the current research mission can exist too, it’s not really a big problem, just feels like you can easily abuse it to get all the research you want from the faction without any effort. You should also get bunch of their research at once, not a single research.

Looking at the Pirate King map should really give a good idea of proper fortified NJ area. Anu and Synedrion ones should perhaps not be underground. Anu could have fortified area behind a big fortified wall or just be a huge maze, whereas Synedrion could have a large complex that you have to slowly get into (as long as you fix the FPS drops with Synedrion structures). The idea shouldn’t be that you do these missions on repeat, but rather once every while.

Point 6: SP overflow should go to other squad members

If you have maxed out squad member, its SP gain should simply be shared between all the other guys. This makes it worthwhile to actually bring out underdeveloped person into the squad as they can develop quickly. It also makes sense too: they watch how the pros do it and learn much quicker.

Point 7: fixing SP gain

One thing that seems obvious but cannot be done is just increase the overall gain (which Point 6 doesn’t address). Increasing the gain sadly makes earlygame a breeze in any difficulty. There already exist tactical combat games which have implemented systems where this particular issue is solved, such as Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced.

Often in these games, you can send an assortment of squad members (or a whole squad) on a mission or a quest and there comes a panel which tells the risks and rewards. I think thematically this doesn’t fit with the vision Snapshot has for PP. But with a slight adjustment, it could.

Using faction resources, you should be able to send your combatants to factions training camps which give both exp & SP. There could be a lot of things done with this such as adding the chance of gaining perks and what not based on the faction you use for training, but it can be just a “dumb” system to solve the issue of SP gain. So basically, you send your squad away for perhaps a week and they come back with loads of SP. The point of this system is add another sink if you have too many faction resources of specific kind, out of the allied factions. This option could also perhaps unlock only after 100 rep by a faction, so you can’t actually abuse it early and you’re encouraged to play with 2 underdeveloped squads early to mid.

Point 8: recruitment

There should be universal recruitment pool where each haven that has a training facility and is in good standing (or even 100% standing), will be added directly into the universal recruitment pool. Flying between different havens for recruits is another thing that isn’t all that fun and should only be done on a clutch (like say, if faraway you have a really good recruit that you want for its perks).

This way, lategame, you don’t need to manually go between different havens for their recruits and you can assemble teams much quicker by picking recruits that you want directly from the pool.

Point 9: outsource the map making with a map editor

This isn’t directly related, but it is tangentially related. From what I’ve seen, maps are extremely similar to one another and there isn’t much in terms of procedural generation. This is a design choice that I can agree with, because on their own, a lot of the maps are actually really interesting - well, until you do them for the fifteenth time.

If you had a map editor that allows the community to make their own maps using existing assets, you could solve this problem by outsourcing it to others. It does pose its own costs by mandating additional networking infrastructure, but I think those costs would overall save a lot of other costs in lieu of longetivity through map variance.

You could use a system where there’s “officially accepted maps” (meaning they got Snapshot approval) and the community accepted maps and so on, which players can opt in to have them in their map pools.

Lot of indie games get longetivity through community content (maps & mods) and I really think it would be a great bet for Snapshot as well. I understand that it’s probably not on high priority for now, but it’s something I hope you guys are considering for future because it takes a lot of valuable time for a small team to develop enough map layouts to have enough variety.

I know that there has been in the past talk about how these maps are going to be procedurally generated, but I assume they aren’t as of right now because I keep seeing the same maps constantly.

Anyway, this should be pretty much it, focusing on the idea that managing multiple teams simultaneously is a thing in this game. As it stands, it’s just too much work for players to viably do this.


Just great. There is many good points and feedback here to use for devs. Modding will come later probably as we don’t have all the game features like we will have air fights at next DLC.

this is fantastic feedback.
And I fully agree, especially with rookie vs. terminator part. I don’t even take my assaults for a mission before they get the dash and return fire via levelling in the training centre. otherwise, they are just dead weight.

A lot of intriguing ideas in here.