How about less meta mechanics instead of more?

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.

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Agreed with most of what you said, but I really liked the XCOM ability to “paint” a unit in garish colours. When you have 20+ soldiers it’s really important for them to stand out, so you immediately know who they are what they can do. I had each soldier with a unique colour, so I had my pink, red, yellow, green, blue, etc…

I’m ALWAYS confusing my 3 starting assaults, they look exactly the same.

PS I agree that they should have traditional “camo patterns” for those that prefer a more realistic look

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Hi,
I totally agree with most of what you said. Abilities shouldn’t be “magic” or inhuman. I wouldn’t like seeing a Siren dash through my troops before shouting.
The problem is finding those abilities that make sense for each soldier class.

  • Shoot for 1 less AP but with half the accuracy and no possibility to target a specific part of the body (center mass) can make sense for an assault weapon, you are taking a quick shot without aiming.
  • Crush through a wall :+1:
  • Better accuracy for a sniper by costing 4AP (nesting but without crouching)

They already said (if I followed correctly) that they wouldn’t put postures so “crouch”, “kneel” or “hunker down” won’t make it, although I would really love it. 2AP to crouch, 2AP to get back up, wonderful.

Healing costing 4AP just like “recover” for WP ?

For the customization part, I really like to differentiate the classes by color. It helps when you see your placement from above to know instantly where your ranger, marksman, heavy and specialist are (FiraXCOM) to put a tactic in place. I do believe that the default appearance should be a camo one as real soldiers would wear.
Keep Synedrion bright shiny easy to target white ? Even if the aliens are color blind the sun still makes them easy to see, even if you are an infiltrator unit specialized in stealth :wink:.

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+1 I totally agree.

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and I don’t agree with me that a large number of the mechanic very much why casualising everything guys.game for this marcorsyscom I lie in wait after the release so it will not pull

Firaxis games need this kind of stuff, as core mechanics are really basic. PP has more depth, and I think more could be done in exploring the core mechanics, rather then implementing straight up skills. Dash seems to be a big offender. I don’t think that sacrificing will for movement is a bad or “magic” concept. I would make it much more subtle of situational. Perhaps one will point per one extra square?

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UFO defence, TFTD and Apocalypse did not used special abilities and it was great, the new XCOM brought set of competence in order to look like an RPG but it does not bring much to the game except overpowered moves

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Don’t get me wrong. Customization is a good thing especially if it helps players or makes game more enjoyable. I have a problem with a design itself, it looks more like a fashion victim than a piece of military equipment. Which is again a matter of taste but it sort of reinforces other issues with X-Com - we are not playing a strategy game about fighting alien invaders in near feature but a fantasy game with spells and magic, its just assets are made to look like a Sci-Fi. It feels like fantasy not because of how it looks, but because of what your characters can do.

In regards to PP and Dash. I honestly don’t know why willpower would allow you to “teleport”. And I do mean teleport because dash doesn’t consume AP, it’s not that you can just run further, but you can sort of “appear” anywhere at 50% of your regular full AP move and then do everything as if you just started there. This not just breaks immersion but introduces something that is both non-intuitive and unnatural to the setting of the game.
I remember how at the beginning, willpower was used for things like Overwatch, which imho makes sense as not only it stops you from going into easy defensive but it requires “concentration” or higher awareness of a soldier. The same with taking more time to do a precise shot or taking several less precise shots under pressure.
But being able to get extra AP just because you just killed an enemy…? Or half target armor because you have “willpower”, this feels like magic. Imho if you have to memorize what each ability does and under which circumstances then it doesn’t feel like it’s a simulation like game, more like a card game with arbitrary rules where everything is possible as long as it’s written somewhere.

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But having more unit customisation with a balanced move set does tend to create a better tactical experience. More options, more ways to accomplish one goal, better sense of mastery.
In the originals your guys had very disparate attributes and many firing options, kind of like Laser Squad, the famous single, burst, FA.

@Vindex
I understand your point, just not sure if this is really the right way to do it.
I don’t know if you have played Jagged Alliance 2 1.13. Not only it’s an RPG with skills and “abilities” but a newer builds work almost as a simulator. It’s just abilities are more to the ground, like being able to disguise as a civilian or enemy, have a much higher chance to disarm traps, have extended range and higher accuracy with specialized weapons, have a better control of auto weapons, higher chance to pick a lock without making noise:


I understand that some of these are not applicable to PP but you could have a bonuses to various stats and specialist weapons/armor instead of having “special moves”.
For example, you can move further if your encumbrance is below 75%, instead of having 3 other guys “rally troops” on you. You can deal an extra willpower damage to enemies in 10 tile radius for “overkill” (dealing way more than necessary damage), instead of having a “war cry” which literally takes away their action points, even a stun grenade would be more appropriate than someone just shouting really scary.
You can have willpower linked to your stats, as in if someone is near to panic he can tumble on shot or lose accuracy/perception. And this can be applied to enemies. Like right now, crabman will run away from map if they loose their weapons, but won’t give-up if their health is almost at zero or they will die in few turns from bleeding. At the same time, you can see that they are afraid to die as they will actively avoid known overwatch zones.
Which brings another subject, I don’t know why we or enemy can see overwatch cones. One would assume that any enemy that you see, can have an overwatch on some sector and you should act accordingly - smoke grenades, explosives, covering fire and etc.
Something else that plays a role in JA2 1.13 is suppression mechanics, with enough shots going in a general direction of the character, he is not only loosing time units but can be forced to take cover and be taken out of action for next turn. This gives a special extra role to machine guns and assault rifles.

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I played Jagged Alliance 1 ages ago on PC and I remember loving it, pretty much another life by now. Not sure if I ever played 2, for sure not the modded version.

Having less encumbrance allowing for more move is nice, but would probably require some gear reworks, etc. I actually like that in games, I remember having guys with light loads in the original UFO.

It seems in PP armor will dictate your speed (all else being equal). Seems like that ship has sailed, but it could also have been load and then the armor would still play a big part, since it’s a high percentage of what you carry. Not to even mention that stuff you wear actually counts as less. It’s a lot easier to run around with 20 Kg of well distributed armor pieces, than with a 20Kg log for example. Some games use an encumbrance value, which is a good enough approximation.

JA2 1.13 is drastically different version of the original game. They managed to make it sort of real-time and largely eliminate issue of long turns. For example, time units can go to both negative and positive way - leaving some time units at the end of the turn, moves some of them to the next turn. At the same time, blashbangs, stun grenades, suppression, injuries, gas and smoke, lower time units and can make them even negative, which means that next turn you start with less TUs than your normal amount.
The other part of being closer to real-time is a large probability for interrupts. It depends on amount of TU left at the end of turn, stance of interrupter, location in the view cone, time spend in view cone, if weapon is raised, view cone gets smaller but interruption chance goes up. Peaking into the room, might not trigger interrupt even if you are visible, taking few steps in, raises chance of interrupt. This is besides the mechanics of being spotted in the first place. Of course PP won’t have anything like this as they are not using TU anymore, I’m just saying that when one wants to solve the problems of the old game, he doesn’t have to swing all the way into another extreme as what X-Com did.

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My thoughts exactly. I never like super-powers in new XCom. It was cool at the beginning to discover and use them but quickly got tedious, making each mission too puzzly.
I always say that the best part of the XCom game is beginning and initial missions, when soldiers are weak, have simple equipment and don’t have dozens of superskills slowering pace of the game.

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I do like bladestorm in XCOM though (if someone comes near you, you slash him with your sword). It’s super overkill but I love the animation of a Chrysalid being cut in half or a snake pulling you with his tongue to get slashed.
But clearly I’d rather see the game balanced than needing such overkill skills to be able to overcome the aliens.

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Feel the same way. I don’t really like the crazy skills, and i find willpower to be just mana. I am not sure if it’s the placeholder name for something else, but i find it a silly resource.

I would actually prefer more passives that define the classes (and no multiclasses), rather than abilities. Berserker passives are great for example. (even better if there were no classes, and just stats… but nowadays no chance, flashy trumps anything).

And i say this as someone who just killed 31 aliens in a single turn in an ambush with a squad that was fully exhausted (only 2 AP). No problem, rapid clearing, dash, some rally troops juggling, and taking advantage of heavies passive that gives your whole team +1 willpower per kill. I had an assault with 30 willpower before he got to move lol.

It’s just ridiculous gameplay.

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I think most of these problems could be solved with cooldowns. Like, Dash is super OP because if you have a guy with high starting Will, you can just Dash him all over the map on the very first turn of battle and he’ll still have full APs/TUs. But if you added a cooldown to Dash, that makes it much less OP while still being useful to get in the right position and so on.

First of all, I dont like the name ‘willpower’ because it suggests some connetion with ‘heart and mind’. While it would be OK to use that resource for Mind Crush or Adrenaline Rush, using your willpower for launching jetpack is silly :wink:
The problem is that in current state willpower and attack points work for the same purpose physical abilities.
I would rather expect that you have your AP for ALL main abilities related to actions and WP as a potential modifier for them. To give you an example:
An Overwatch costs you 2AP, but with 3WP at the top, you can transform it into Continuous Overwatch, so you can react for multiple enemies during the enemy turn.
Same with Rage Burst, it sounds perfectly as WP modification.

I wouldn’t like to go there. Having a resource to spend, and lack of which makes us vulnerable to mind attacks is good enough mechanic. It needs to be properly balance rather then introduce extra mechanics on top. Either increase skills cost, or limit it’s effectiveness, or make willpower more difficult to regain.

That sounds quite a bit like Banner Saga system, which was pretty excellent. However, I doubt we can expect ground up redesign of game’s mechanics at this point in time.

fully agree, maybe for DLC :wink:

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Well, I honestly don’t know what will be reaction of other players if it comes out like this. Week one there will be a guide for ultimate character build and 2-3 strategies that allow you to eliminate everyone on map in few turns. Then game will get patched and balanced against this. For the rest of the people, who enjoy studying game mechanics on their own and learning tropes, it would be a surprising discovery to find out that combining everyone with one single class for two ultimate abilities, is the game changer and answer to everything.
Placing hopes into a balancing is good and all but imho, problem is not in balance but in what strategy these abilities dictate. In BB4 you would get some idea as to how to solve situation, come up with a plan and then take several turns to execute it, reacting to changes as you go. In BB5, because of the matter of abilities, you just check if you have enough willpower and execute your plan in a single turn. This is not all that fun. Even if you balance how much something like Dash costs, it still there so what you will do is save up or gain willpower for it and use it just as before. You will just do it less frequently. So in between, you can just stay defensive and recover willpower.
I had so much fun in early builds, when abilities where really basic and few and gave you just a bit of edge over the enemy. Going from cover to cover, one covering another, luring enemy into a crossfire, making mistakes or running into unanticipated enemy and nervously looking for solution. In BB5 this is gone after first few missions, especially on your 2-3 run of campaign when you know that assault combination is all what you need. That enemies will actively go around your overwatch so you can get them exactly where you want for “Dash and Smash”. Pain Chameleon just becomes a nuance when you can dash so far at the end of your turn that Triton won’t have any chance getting remotely close to you. There is no need to “prepare” for this or plan what you are going to do if that shot doesn’t disable his torso or doesn’t kill him.
BB5 has so much more content but I barely get interest in continue to play it, while in BB4 I’ve spent probably a 100 of hours just going through battles.

What I’m saying is that abilities should get you a bit of extra help, instead of being a decisive factor in the victory. In BB4, I had a sniper with broken arm, being last guy standing, dueling few half dead last enemies to recover downed teammates. Now I’ll just restart because replacing wounded or dead guy with a rookie just doesn’t make any sense unless you want to babysit him in battle so he can gain experience fast. As without abilities he is just not even remotely useful compared to others. You could even make abilities like Dash, a single use per battle only - this doesn’t change a thing, as you either will always prepare to use it in most beneficial way or completely forget to use, which will probably lead to fail in log run as game will be balanced around you using such abilities.

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