Final feedback from Michael Ignotus [spoilers redacted]

So, as I predicted a couple of days ago, I lost my first playthrough to the ODI which hit 100% just 20 hours before I could complete the Virophage Injector – despite one final mega-sweep, where I took out 2 Citadels and a Lair in one non-stop run, that didn’t even dent the 98% ODI. I’m assuming that’s a bug?

To somewhat cheekily quote JG back to himself: “If there’s anything that’s a problem with the game, it’s that you can be playing it for quite a while without knowing that you are actually completely screwed and you should have stopped and started again.”

You might think I’d be pissed off, but I’m not. I really enjoyed this game. I had a great time – played it obsessively every hour I could snatch from a manic work schedule. I love the way the AP system gives you infinite flexibility on the battlefield. I love the way the targeting system allows you to neutralise dangerous enemies – sometimes forcing you to choose between taking out that RF Machine-gun or that scary, scary Acid lobber on the other arm. I love the way the Encumbrance system allows you to overload your Squaddie if you choose to do so, and the fact that you can equip any Squaddie with any weapon, with an accuracy penalty if you do so. And most of all, I love the open skills sandbox, and the way that you can shape almost any Squaddie into a specialised combat machine designed to slot into your tactical system to perform a particular role.

Imho, this is a great game… BUT… It is also COMPLETELY BROKEN!

Let me explain. Like many on these forums, I soon learned that the open skills sandbox enables you to build massively OP Skill combos that can completely clear a map in 1 or 2 turns without even breaking a sweat. If you don’t believe me, read this: To prevent alpha-strikes. This gets boringly old sooo quickly that I know many people have abandoned the game and won’t come back until it’s fixed.

I took a different approach. Like @VOLAND and I believe @conductiv), I imposed limitations on my gameplay. We limit each Squaddie in our team to 1 use of each of their skills per turn. Volund even goes to far as to limit Rally to 1 use per Squad per turn – I’m not a good enough player to get away with that, so I spam Rally like there’s no tomorrow. I also allow my Techs to Activate more than 1 Turret per turn – but that’s just me being contrary :wink:

I also enabled 2 key mods: Sheepy’s ‘Unlimited Deployment’ and @Pantolomin’s excellent ‘RF a la Carte’, which allowed me to reset RF to the way it was before it got so awfully nerfed.

This completely transforms the game! It turns PP into the tense, tight cat-and-mouse game of tactical teamwork that we were all looking for. It’s great! It has teething troubles (Lairs are such a pain that in the endgame, I simply voided my restrictions and Cheesed through them to get the damn things over with), but I recommend you do a playthrough like that – it shows you what Phoenix Point could be, if only the devs would grasp the nettle.

Now, before some of you start screaming the usual abuse at me for wanting to spoil your fun, both myself and Volund keep on saying that we recognise this isn’t for everyone. It should be linked to the Difficulty Setting you choose at the start of the game – so if you want to spam skills like there’s no tomorrow, you choose a setting that enables this. To keep this post short, I’m posting my thoughts on that on Canny: https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/use-difficulty-settings-to-enablelimit-skills-exploitation and you can comment/vote on them there. TBH, if this doesn’t get fixed eventually, this game loses me. You can only play for so long with one hand voluntarily tied behind your back before it becomes frustrating.

To finish off that thought, I am going to misquote possibly the most famous superhero of all time: “With great power come great limits on ability.” This game is fun – really fun – when you respect the DDA by not saving & restarting every time you lose (a mission or a squaddie) and you don’t exploit the skill combos to cruise through every mission. The DDA keeps it tight but not overwhelming, and because you can’t simply run across the map and one-shot the Big Nasty at Will, the game becomes a tactical tug-of-war – and bear in mind, I’ve been playing this since December, so my DDA is still the original infamous ‘Difficulty Spike’ one, which my chosen play style never once triggered.

OK, that’s long enough. I have a lot more to say, but I shall put my thoughts into separate posts to keep this short. If you’re interested in reading them, they’re posted here – with insincere apologies to those whose posts I have hijacked rather than duplicate their thoughts:

USE DIFFICULTY SETTINGS TO ENABLE/LIMIT SKILLS EXPLOITATION: https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/use-difficulty-settings-to-enablelimit-skills-exploitation

SO THE GAME CURRENTLY OUTSTAYS ITS WELCOME: The game outstays its welcome https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/reduce-endgame-research-times

WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THE SCYLLA IN THE ROOM: The Scylla in the Room https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/make-the-scylla-less-vulnerable

NIX THE MAGUFFINS: https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/a-way-to-fix-the-citadel-mission

ENABLE TRADE WITH HAVENS FOR RESEARCHED EQUIPMENT: https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/enable-trade-with-havens-for-researched-equipment

TAILOUR FACTION GENERAL MISSIONS TO EACH FACTION’S TENDENCIES & ATTITUDE: https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/tailor-faction-general-missions-to-each-factions-tendencies-and-attitude

[DLC/MOD REQUEST] THE PATH OF THE PEACEMAKERS: [DLC/MOD REQUEST] The Path of the Peacemakers

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I added something to canny as commentar:
https://phoenixpoint.canny.io/feedback/p/use-difficulty-settings-to-enablelimit-skills-exploitation

Another setting option:
EASY: no permadeath if mission successful
.
VETERAN: Permadeath ON
.
HEROIC: SP from completed missions are distributed in degressive sizes (e.g. 1 SP is reduced per level, so that there are only 4 SP / M on level 7)
.
LEGENDARY: Collected experience is based on e.g. 75% set, so it takes a little longer to level up the soldiers.

What do you all think?

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I take it that means there’s still no Ironman mode? :wink:

Thanks for all your thoughts. I haven’t really checked on this game much since late December but I thought I’d pop by to see what state the game is in. What you’ve written is very informative, cheers for going to the trouble.

You’re welcome. I’m glad it was helpful.

For what it’s worth, I really like the core mechanics of the game, I just wish they’d realise that the lack of balance is ruining it and do what needs to be done to fix it. If they just introduced some cooldowns and limitations on the squad skills, and toned down the overwhelming odds on the other side at the same time, they’d have a great game on their hands.

Yes, but …
The cooldowns would be okay as a quick shot. For a clean balance (only main problems) at least the team-wide skills have to be given an effective radius, since electrical reinforcement and rally the troops are absolute no-brainer. No-Brainer = No tactical decision. In addition, the team-wide skills of large teams (base defense) get an immense advantage (asymmetrical).

Building on this, you can “polish” and create a great game.

You have no arguments from me there :smirk:

I am fast coming to the conclusion that @SpiteAndMalice is right: “Take off and nerf everything from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

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I have high hopes for this game.
But what I’m wondering:
Why do they install such wonderful, flexible and, above all, complex mechanics that are then simply skipped with OP builds / skills? That’s too bad.

Simple answer? Law of Unintended Consequences.

I think Acid is a perfect example here. In the early build, it was completely useless, because to survive you had to alpha-strike, and Acid is a delayed-action weapon which is completely useless in an alpha-strike. So people complained.

So they buffed Acid - and because it seemed cool, they added a couple of weapon mods to the Pandas which used Acid too.

Now Acid’s a beta-striking weapon that can kill you in 2 turns, but it’s so powerful in the hands of the Pandas using the spiffy new weapons the devs thought up that it damn near breaks the game.

So no-one’s satisfied, because no-one apparently thought through what giving 3-shot Acid Lobbers to Chirons would do in the new Acid environment they had just created.

I don’t want to diss the devs here, but it does sometimes feel like this game is being built by people who don’t really quite understand how to properly balance a game. It feels like they introduce something, see how it works, then panic and take it to the other extreme. Hopefully, by the time Steam comes online, they’ll have found a middle ground and everyone will be happy.

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I don’t want to bad-mouth the devs either. In fact, I am grateful to the Snapshot team for this game.

It is strange, however, that there is no statement from the devs on the whole “alpha strike” discussions. At least I haven’t seen it yet.