Let's talk explosives (and abdomens, and AI)

Let’s do a summary first:

  • Explosives are very unreliable and behave unpredictably when used by player.
  • This is not the case for AI, making use of explosives against player incredibly destructive.

First is obvious. There are many problems with using explosives. First, they are a lottery roll, either doing nothing at all (when landing 1 pixel outside the map), very little (when landing at enemies with equipment like shield crabs, or front claws of a scylla, they seem to only affect equipment, ignoring everything else in blast radius), or too much (shredding armor and destroying every body part, causing massive bleeds and ragequits). Second, they are too unpredictable, having their landing point altered by aim, they may miss the target entirely, or, with grenade launcher, blow up in your face! There is no indication of how far they can miss, like we see with shots.

This problem is especially obvious with how AI handles things. Diving into the code base of the game using dnSpy to fix obvious issues with explosive abdomen Chirons being dastardly overpowered, I am making an educated guess that: a) The same AI is used for all difficulties, and b) AI, by simulation (which is essentially save scumming), knows exactly what his explosives would do when flung at every possible target, making it able to always employ them with the most destructive result, regardless of difficulty setting.

My suggestions:

Give that simulation power to the player. Free aim can be left as it is for using explosives as tools, explosive as aoe, etc, but let us also just fling it into enemies (and perhaps various bodyparts of large enemies) and see exactly what sticks to the wall. And please, remove aim deviations, blowing yourself up is not fun, it’s practically forcing a quicksave every time you’re about to fire that bloody thing. For shots, free aim adds to the experience, making shots more predictable than xcom roulette, but free aiming explosives is actually detrimental, making them entirely unpredictable, which is a good enough reason to go.

Consider changing the way explosives work and deal damage. They deal very little damage to hp pool, but have potential to disable each and every body part… for a human. Aliens soon grow enough bodypart hp and armor to lose less than 20% of total health after two grenade hits, but humans do not get that. Maybe they should start dealing more damage, but concentrate it into one, maybe two, body parts? Maybe human armor needs to get some padding so that explosives are not as effective against it, perhaps as a mount?

Yes, so is my experience. .
Explosives are so unreliable in the player’s hands, but the result of the team gathering and being affected by the explosives is devastating.
And I’m still on easy difficulty, and the enemy has so many grenade launchers that it’s extremely difficult not to be bombed. .
And AI still has programmable grenades?But players don’t? This is ridiculous. .

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I agree with you there, in that explosives should still work if landing outside of the map.

Beyond that I feel that explosivs should be a lottery in terms of damage output and aim. If the AI is simulating that damage and choosing their best attack after ‘save-scumming’ then I think that ability should be nerffed for the AI rather than accuracy being increased for the player.

Regards the percentage of HPs that explosives can take from Pandorans and their increase in HPs during the game, I think the fix in this case is to allow the player to be able to research upgraded explosives as a counter.

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XCOM choice to make grenades a 100% hit is weird, perhaps justified from tactical design point of view, but weird.

I haven’t yet decipher nor really notice the problems in PP, so I won’t comment it.

Have you played XCOM 2 Long War?

They made grenades not fixed damage, but a roll, reduced damage towards the outer edge of a sphere, and locked damage to cover behind skills. They still remain useful AoE abilities (because enemies tend to stick to squads in XCOM, and Long War squad sizes can be up to 8 units), but not as easy to use… without some serious skill investment.

But Phoenix Point has exactly 1.5 grenade skills, and neither is particularly useful. I mean, the best thing you can do is Berserker/Heavy with every grenade taking 1 action, which is like 4 grenades, and individual grenade is like what, 50-90 damage? That will struggle to kill the basic crab. No, it’ll absolutely break every part of his body and make him bleed to death limping around in a funny way, but stronger enemies like Sirens and Chirons would just shrug it.

Yes I played LW2, I didn’t noticed the difference for grenades. LW2 squads can be up to 10 if I remember well, but it’s dreaming, even 8 will hardly be a good choice, it’s much more groups of 4 eventually 5, past that there’s a system that will scale up too much enemy to make worth it except when you discover very soon a mission. LW2 is a good game, different than XCOM2 even if many aspect are shared, I don’t consider it superior to XCOM2. I particularly dislike LW2 stealth missions, tedious to play, boring to watch.

It seems they explode twice on direct hits. I calculate damage following the blast damage rules given by the game. Depending on situations (I think direct hit) I need to apply the rule once on twice the get the exact result calculated by the game.

I fear that grenade works like projectiles. If they hit something that can take damage they inflict damage. And because they are grenades they explode anyway. So sometime they explode twice. I created a post on the bug forum with few exemples if you want more details about my assumptions.

FYI, the reckless perk increases damage by 30% from everything. Thrown grenades from my reckless shotgunner tear things up.

Enemy Humans’ Grenades and Arthrons’ Grenade Launchers need to stop being 100% accurate.

Since enemies always aim for the lowest amount of armor possible, Every single grenade that lands on my Non-Heavy units is a Headshot that is going to apply bleeding and cut their Will Points in half.

While if I throw a Grenade myself, No matter how I aim it, I hit 2 out of the 3 enemies in range.
Damage one’s legs and destroy one’s arm.

New run because of update, had my level 3 squad wiped by Launchers in the first nest you find.
Close Quarters against infinitely spawning Launchers.
Bleeding out assault couldn’t Dash to extract cuz half Will Points, 4 Medkits wheren’t enough to stop the heads from bleeding.