And while FiraXCOM had lines during development, they decided against it for release, as it made the game more about “trying to find a tile where there are good lines while being in cover” instead of moving on a map… or something similar.
That’s exactly how I feel.
I can see that sight-lines might be very useful for players who are new the genre, and/or those who just want to experience a light TBS game. But from my perspective, as someone who’s played this type of game since Rebelstar, I feel like a professional cyclist who’s suddenly being been given a shiny new bike that looks fantastic, but has had stabilisers wielded to the frame. I just want to take them off.
If it was a case of just switching the game as a whole from one system to another, then I’d completely agree with you. But if you’re giving players choice(s) as a game-play options then players are balancing their own preferred difficulty by using those options.
I do think PP has made a game where it’s is not especially easy to just see where you’ve got LoS by looking at the map, but that’s a problem that’s never been resolved due to having sight-lines as a system in the first place… and I’d still prefer to play the game without them, I want to think for myself about where I’m moving to, not have the game present me with 2 or 3 choices.
It wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to spend half your time trawling your mouse around the valid movement squares trying to find where those sight-lines are. The whole mechanic is absurd imho, I’m not actually using the visuals in game to look to find the enemy and then see where I might attack them from, I’m slowly moving my mouse around to try find a tile to move into that has a sight-line on it, I might as well go play a hidden object game if I’m going to do that. To that end, I think a third valid option wouldn’t be to colour tiles differently where they provide LoS to an enemy, if you’re going to provide an aim assist to players like this then you might as well let players go the whole hog.
I reevaluated my opinion now and actually think that two bellow are acceptable:
- having no sight lines
- having no health bars on enemies we didn’t previously encountered yet
The reason behind it is simple. The training centre in PP which allows for your recruits who sit in the base to continuously gain experience even if they don’t go the actual combat missions (albeit a bit less of the xp). This makes PP more in line with old xcom games where wiping on a mission did not mean almost automatic game over, as soldiers did not lose more than some stats like AP and Aim, this in comparison to losing all abilities in the current iterations of xcom, and as we all know soldier without abilities is many times less useful in new xcom games. Training center makes the oh f…k moments where you lose a soldier or two more bearable allowing for multiple mistakes during the game.
Because of the above, the learning curve attached to not having sight lines and not knowing enemy hp and in turn these causing some of your soldiers to unexpectedly expire makes more sense, as it is less punishing.
Tbh, I find sight lines both extremely useful and incredibly irritating in equal measure.
The idea of having to crawl square-by-square across the map, searching for a valid sight line would drive me stark staring mad – it’s a real turn-off in my book. But it’s just as annoying when you move to a sight line, only to find it still doesn’t give you LoS on a Crabbie.
Giving the player the option to turn sight lines on or off seems like the most sensible compromise to me.
I don’t mind toggles, what puzzles me is that idea the FiraxCOM did well without indicating sight ranges. Sure, in the end I learned about step out mechanics, what covers are see through, and which are not, I learned which covers don’t grant flanking bonus, even though they kinda should. I learned to count tiles to know the range of the overwatch. I never felt that conserving LoS was intentional, therefore not being able to get those information on a glance seemed to me like a poor design, rather than “hard mode”.
XCOM2 additions to UI is something I am not willing to play without anymore. Sure I can count tiles, or I can have the game do it for me. Designing a game with minimal UI is great, but then those information need to be expressed on the map.
If removing some mechanic led to frustration or annoyance then I would rather keep it. In perfect world map design would be clean and interesting (new XCOM 1 was nice example for me to an extent). But if this is not achievable then having some life improving mechanics is desirable. I think that PP gives you sight lines but they are not perfect as @MichaelIgnotus has mentioned. This seems to me a good compromise then (in light that level design probably won’t change anymore).
It’s only a compromise in that it doesn’t work to satisfy anybody’s preference, which isn’t good compromise imho. Sight-lines if present should work for those who want/need them, but you should also be able to turn them off.
I agree with you that level design probably won’t change at this stage though.