Oh man do I want to see a lot of new things in Festering Skies .
My big hope is that the new combat aircraft in Festering skies can be used in an air-to-ground attack role instead of just an air-to-air interception role. Imagine if say the drone UCAV fighter jet-like combat aircraft that we would probably get in Festering Skies, could swap out the guided missiles that they would normally use for air-to-air combat, and be armed with guided bombs instead so that the combat aircraft could be used as fighter-bombers that could provide Phoenix Project operatives with close air support when needed, when a ground-attack capable combat aircraft is present at a mission site before the mission begins.
An in-mission close air support feature would need to be balanced, of course. Limited numbers of carried munitions usable in a mission, turn delays before munitions hit their designated targets, deployment limit of one combat aircraft per mission, munitions costing significant amount of resources to be replenished etc. This feature could work in a similar way to how off-map artillery and air support works in games like Helldivers, World in Conflict or C&C3 for example. Combined with the Canny feedback page planned future update to ground vehicles/mutogs that would make them upgradable and customisable with different loadouts, then being able to use operatives, combat vehicles/mutogs and combat/transport aircraft all in unison together to complete missions would do a lot to enrich the gameplay experience of Phoenix Point. While Phoenix Project operatives should always be the core of the player’s mission force, being able to support them with a wide range of different unit types and capabilities together as part of a proper combined arms team, would make missions so much more interesting to play.
Besides, I totally want an excuse to give my operatives AC-130 style fire support from an Anu blimp Battleship decked out with acid/shredding cannons and mutated organic bombs/missiles .
Another reason why combat aircraft in Festering skies should have ground-attack capabilities, would be so that they can be used to attack and destroy the ground-based air defences that faction havens and Pandoran bases are likely to have in the new DLC. Given that the Pandorans would soon catch on to the human’s reliance on aircraft to transport strike teams to attack their colonies and bases, it would make sense that they would develop biological equivalents to ground based air defences that would try to shoot down any Phoenix Project or faction aircraft that come near lairs and citadels. The Phoenix Project could counter this by sending in ground-attack configured combat aircraft to try to destroy the air defences first, hopefully without being destroyed themselves, in a special minigame. If the player is successful, the way is now clear to send in and land their transports full of operatives safely. Or the player could try to chance it and hope that their transports durability is high enough to withstand being sent into and landing in an anti-aircraft fire hot zone (high durability transports like Thunderbirds or Tiamats could be much better for this than Helios’s, it would give a good reason to use transports other than the super-fast but fragile Helios). Same deal if you try to raid faction havens or fly aircraft near faction havens that have declared war on the Phoenix Project. Also same deal if factions or Pandorans send aircraft to attack Phoenix Project bases that have air defenses (I hope we get to build ground-based air defenses at our bases in addition to combat aircraft). Could even be reasonable for enemy factions and Pandorans to benefit from close air support of their own if the player doesn’t shoot down the enemy combat aircraft at a mission site before the mission begins.
The other thing I would like to see in Festering Skies, is having enemy/friendly flying units featured in the tactical mission level, not just the Geoscape level. If the Pandorans could have gargoyle-like or floating tentacled flying enemies in tactical missions that have their own full set of different mutations, then they could serve a niche as an extremely mobile but relatively fragile enemy type that is quick to exploit any vulnerabilities in the player’s formation.
We never did get those Synedrion UAV’s and canine UGV’s that were shown in ’The Science of Synedrion’ 13 July 2019 website news update. If they are eventually ever going to be reintroduced to Phoenix Point, Festering Skies would be a great opportunity to bring them into the game. If we could deploy a variety of different mini-UAV’s from an operatives inventory in a similar way to the deployable turrets and spider-bomb drones we already have and control them in a similar way, they would be great for things like reconnaissance, support and fast-attack. The Synedrion UAV’s probably got cut out of the released game due to technical and time constraints, but they look too cool to stay left out of the game forever, I really hope the developers can make them work and bring them back for Festering Skies.