First play through, some thoughts

So I’ve played my entire first campaign now, and it was enjoyable.

I play as though the game is Ironman. I do not load previous saved games unless it is to continue an existing game. So I accrue casualties along the way and no matter who dies, I continue.

I had my squad totally wiped out in the later stage of the game by crabmen with machine guns and a strange white carapace. Every crab man had this. Prior to this, I was defending havens just fine and two factions were at war. I had picked a side in that war and was defening the havens of my chosen faction successfully, so was pretty confident. However, the Pandorans had developed about 10000 hit points and armour that could easily soak up shotgun shots, so the squad was totally destroyed. Incidentally this was only in a ‘get the resources from the crates mission’, which I could have retreated from, but these were men used to winning and would never surrender.

Not to worry, I picked up the pieces and dutifully carried on. I had 2 spare soldiers back at base and through a little trading I aquired enough resources to make a basic 3 man team. I then did some exploration to find some more resources and found another resource site. Alas, this 3 man team was then wiped out, though interestingly there was only a single crabman this time in the attire from before, I was still unable to take him down even with the funky little turret that gets deployed, putting down decoys and using those spider drones (which most often got shot to pieces before they could do anything, but was nice when one actually did do its job properly and blow up).

So now I have thousands of food and need some soldiers, so I trade it all away and get another tiny 3 man team in place. This time, I won’t be able to proceed if I lose the squad. So it should be fun. The game will recognise that Phoenix Point needs some time to recover from these two losses and go easy on me in the mission, I felt, because I’m doing nothing at all to stop that bar of theirs from advancing. Wrong. Entire mission of super crabmen with the white shells and the team is wiped out again.

Now there is no way to advance because there’s no way to get any more soldiers, the havens are falling (should we even care about this anyway as there are hundreds of them and it doesn’t really affect the game too much if they do) and I would have thought the game would detect it had check mated me and say ‘game over’. But it does not and I have to keep advancing time to see what happens. I’m told my soldiers are losing Stamina and Health (what soldiers - there aren’t any - why are you telling me this irrelevent stuff?). The red bar keeps advancing. What will happen, when it reaches 100%, will the game recognise game over? Luckily it does. I get some nonsensical cut scene about how the earth is overrun but ‘we will keep fighting on’… with what… I have no soldiers… the earth is overrun… surely this should be the ‘humanity has lost ending’?

So I’m left with a feeling that the game is assuming the player reloads any time there are any casualties and is built with that assumption in mind. I also feel that simply adding masses of hitpoints to the starting enemies, colouring the shells a kind of white colour and adding masses of armour points to them, seems kind of disappointing. I thought they might evolve huge tentacles, not merely machine guns that destroy crates in one shot (so you cannot possibly save them… why is this a good idea?). Also, losing health & stamina seems to be a way to kick the player in the gut and laugh about it knowing you’ve slowed them down… but if they’re already at 3/6 (3/8 in the UI, for some reason) capacity, what’s the possible justification for doing this?

Anyway, just some thoughts. If the game wasn’t enjoyable there’s no way I would have stuck it out for so long. It is, but some of these game design decisions feel very strange to me. So long as the aliens red bar is advancing, who cares if the game gives the player some easier missions to get back up to speed? They’ve probably already lost the campaign, but really, you do not want to lose the actual player in the process.


I’d argue it’s actively encouraged, even. Between the autosaves before every mission and the ‘restart’ button readily available from the options menu during.

This is actually what is causing the difficulty spike for many people.

It’s actually expected that the player will lose some missions or will at least take some casualties. When a player reloads to ensure they only ever have successful missions and no losses, the games’ adaptive difficulty goes (oh, it must still be too easy), and turns up the heat.


So the ‘restart’ button is literally y’all trolling us lol? XD

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It’s actually expected that the player will lose some missions or will at least take some casualties. When a player reloads to ensure they only ever have successful missions and no losses, the games’ adaptive difficulty goes (oh, it must still be too easy), and turns up the heat.

This could be a major design flaw if I’m understanding things correctly. An individual mission result has no effect on the campaign itself unless the red bar is slowed/stopped/reversed as a result of it. So long as that red bar keeps advancing just fine, the aliens are winning and the difficulty level does not need adjusting. Even if I’ve understood things incorrectly, it should also be possible to calculate if the player can even complete the campaign in the remaining time and if they can’t do it (or they can but it would be really very tight for them) just leave the difficulty level alone. i.e. dynamic difficulty should be based on overall campaign status and time, it’s really nothing to do with the end status (win/lose) of most of the individual missions the player engages in.

The game is hard unless you get your tactics right, but a lot of people like it that way. There are other threads about what those tactics should be but broadly, in the late game you need to be bringing the maximum 8 soldiers to each battle and they need to be a good mix with the right skills.

For instance, if I want to take out heavily-armoured crab-men with my assaults I soften them up first with a grenade launcher or two, or make sure I use assaults with the close combat perk (the one that gives +20-odd% damage with shotguns). Alternatively, I kill them with snipers.

Also, don’t bother with scavenger missions after they get difficult. Even if you don’t lose a squaddie they often cost you more in ammo than you get back in resources.

If you lose a lot of your best units like you did then I agree, without some luck you’re on a slow road to defeat.

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No, in my experience it was a quick road to defeat. Three missions, back to back total squad losses (remember, after the first mission wiped the squad out it was not possible to win any more with what was left - really the campaign is over with the game in its current form) - in my campaign Phoenix Point as an organisation was totally finished and there was no coming back from it. Many players would walk away from the game forever at that point and that’s not something I think the game should push, I would like Phoenix Point the game to be successful. I’m acutally arguing for a ‘slow road to defeat’ because there’s more chance of keeping the player that way. Ramping up the difficulty when the aliens have already won, honestly, that will drive players away.


In my opinion an Ironman approach when learning play, is very hard. The problem is if you play too well then get a difficulty spike surprising you, and this results a team wipe out.

It can turns less ugly, and instead of a team wipe out, have 2 or even 3 soldiers dead, this will be much more manageable and will low down quickly the difficulty. But this is luck, no real guaranty.

Moreover count on difficulty levels to temper an ironman approach will not work. In fact even if Legend is harsher on many aspects, it isn’t really harder than Easy for combats.

So currently this game doesn’t match at all a first play Ironman.

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I don’t understand either. The maximum I’ve seen was 1600 hp Scylla.
10 000 sounds rediculous.

My grandpa is 10000 years old


That being said, people do keep stating fake large numbers to exaggerate a point and I’m actually not sure if the game does add more and more HP as the months go by or not. I’ve never let a game go on too long so I don’t know if they just keep infinitely scaling or what? It’s never risen to a number I considered problematic though.

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Probably some USA-specific thing :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
When I was visiting a molecular biology lab in USA there was a bottle labeled “200% ethanol”. Labeled by manufacturer! And I was like - WTF??? :crazy_face:

Ok but then write something more like, 10000 no 100000 in fact 1 million if not a billion. 10000 looks weirdly possible because of final boss.

So you have learned that you can’t loose your soldiers. :slight_smile: If you feel that you can loose then retreat. You can’t save every haven. But you need to keep your guys going. You will probably loose some but you should never allow for total squad wipe. Also you should keep 2 or 3 backup squads to handle the missions.

This is way, you should try, to be able to win with ironman approach.

I’ve beaten both of the new Xcom games, incl War of the Chosen, in Ironman mode. The latter on Commander difficulty (and I have the Steam achievements to prove it). I know all about what the right thing to do in Ironman is. What you’ve missed is that I was clearing the earlier missions just fine, then bump, the difficulty just spiked beyond what the squad could do. Imho no game should do that if it wants to keep its players.


PP isn’t XCOM1&2, perhaps you are right and your play was unbeatable, I have some doubts.

You’ll hardly make it without prepare backup soldiers first and use training centers for that. Have you done it soon enough?

When you lost a full squad, you couldn’t retreat to save a part of the team? Eventually you played too aggressively, could work in XCOM1&2, and not in PP.

The scaling is so special in this game, that it’s impossible to affirm anything, but in either way I believe.

At end, for you it’s your feeling that matter, now is your feeling a perfect transcription of game reality, probably not.

Well, there’s really two ways to respond to the post Ive made. One is to blame the player (me) and one is to blame the game. The issue with blaming the player is that, while I’m not offended or put off by this game play experience (I fully understand the game is still being balanced - hence my specific play style and play report), I would put money on other players walking away from the game. In the background the game should make adjustments to allow a crippled player to get back on their feet, especially as they’ve probably already lost the campaign, so really what does it matter? This is similar to how a Dungeon Master would adjust play in real time for her players in Dungeons and Dragons, tweaking the experience for an overall better game for the players (e.g. the party is battered, lets remove some Orcs from this encounter) - because the goal of any game is to be fun for the participants. This may be antipathy to some of the pure simulationists here, but their games are niche are for a reason, so I believe I am making a valid point that could help the game.


There’s a delicate balance between streamlining and simplify a game to attract more players, and do it too much up to miss the target and fail achieve any good game in the genre.

I’ll repeat in what seems your case:

  • You choose ironman, that’s quite ambitious. A player playing Ironman should be ready to not win at first attempt. For me it’s player fault, could be wrong.
  • You picked some difficulty, no matter which one, the auto scaling makes difficulty levels very relative. This could have surprise you if you choose Easy, and then it’s game fault. If you picked Legend or very high level, it’s player fault to consider it cannot fail a campaign when knowing nothing of the game and picking a very high difficulty level.
  • First fail, it’s game fault, you played perfectly without knowing anything of the game, sorry but it’s weird.

Losing can be fair and fun, but I don’t think it’s the case here as I have similar experience as OP and I share his opinion. Most of the game difficulty issues comes from the fact, that your soldiers are not expendable in any way. Moreover, early on it’s impossible to recover from wipe and you either reload or restart playthrough. Later on, it’s also close to impossible as recruits are even more scarce. I don’t mind difficulty spikes that wipes the team, but it’s strange design decision to make it extremely hard to recover from such situations. Mid-game is only stage when you can afford losing team like once or so, because you have the chance of filling the rooster with new people.

It has nothing to do with going Ironman or not, hard or easy difficulty. It is fine if wrong decisions and failing missions over and over again led you to the point it’s just impossible to progress and you are doomed. But it is far from fine if you’re doing great but the game forces you to reload in case of random wipe (because of difficulty spike or not) as that’s all what it takes to make you doomed. This is just nuts.

“It’s your fault that you don’t reload the game in case of wipe” is nothing but justifying bad game design. You either go “flawless win” (reload until it’s flawless) or you don’t win at all.

200% ethanol probably meant to say 200 proof. Proof is double the percentage of alcohol. So 40 proof whiskey would be 20% alcohol.

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Lol, you played bad to get a wipe team, but you don’t want admit it. Send the save before, and we will see.

You believe master the game even before to have play it, perhaps it’s how works most players, but I feel it weird. Eventually I have an isolated opinion on that.

I gave up 4 campaigns before finish one, I didn’t found it scandalous.