When it comes to “meta” game mechanics, I see a striking difference between older builds and BB5. One of the thing I dislike about Firaxis’ XCom is all kind of abilities and game mechanics that have very little, realistically speaking, sense and make game more akin to a card game or a fantasy RPG than a strategy game in Sci-Fi setting. Abilities like “Quick Aim”, “Mark for Death”, “Rapid Clearing”, “Rally Troops” all sound like “gain 2 magic resistance points but sacrifice 30% of defense against fire spells”. “Dash” is an outright teleport that can be easily abused. Sure it can be balanced, but it’s not about balance but doing actions that are simply literal abstracts of the game mechanics. Why not replace these with more physically based abilities like:
- heavy armor being able to crush through thin walls
- grenade launcher barrage, similar to "rage burst " but with high dispersion of grenades
- something like a “killzone”, an overwatch not limited to a single shot
- ability to “nest” a sniper to get accuracy bonus in exchange of being immobile
- ability to hunker down with loss of perception and mobility but much smaller silhouette
- specialty equipment like smoke grenades and flares
- “hold breath” improves accuracy of next shot for a cost of action point and willpower
- climb ledge if you don’t or can’t use stairs, for a high cost of AP
I feel that BB5 went to far with being XCom a like. In past, I would pull assault with shotgun closer to enemy while others would cover him from being flanked with overwatch. Or use shotguns as close range choke points while others retreat to a safe distance. Use explosives to deny enemy cover or remove their overwatch. It had this feel of classics like Jagged Alliance 2 and old X-Com while being done in more user friendly manner and done with more modern gamedev tech.
But in BB5, I can just “teleport”, shotgun two enemies from closer range and teleport back. Or run to enemy, smack him with a hammer and then other squadies can restore your action points so you can run back. On top of that, AI doesn’t seam to posses the same abilities - imagine Sirens dashing several times a turn to your position… what is this? People who like this kind of meta gameplay already got such game years ago.
I’m really worried as to where Phoenix Point is going. One of the reason I’ve supported it so far, was specifically more “to the ground” approach on game mechanics instead of being an abstract game of stats and abilities. A LOS based shooting instead of hit chance. A body parts damage system instead of a single healthbar with buffs/debuffs. Separate ammunition management instead of doing everything with action points. But new abilities are converging into what late game XCom is: count squares to know if you will be detected, boost this guy so he can teleport and instakill this enemy, double armor on this guy, half armor on this enemy, cast a healing spell, use special ability to break overwatch.
Some new armor designs are already giving me flashbacks into XCom 2’s car paint looking armor atrocities like we are playing some sort of mages fighting evil demons.