My BB5 impressions

Hi there, I’d like to share some of my opinions/suggestions on the still fresh and new backer build 5 :slight_smile:
Any agrees or disagrees are welcome.
Of course I’m total aware that backer build is far from being final version of the game so many things still could change.
What I like:

  • Backer build 5 feels like a big game at last, with researches, diplomacy, bases, manufacturing, and evolving story :slight_smile:
  • geoscape is impressive and it’s difficult to say what can be improved here. Maybe fights are too frequent.
  • manufacturing is very simple and clear. I appreciate tabs for sorting stuff.
  • I love soldiers’ management:
    a) training: there are fewer skills (than in BB4), they are random and more expensive. Also gaining new levels by soldiers is slowered down. All of this feels very balanced which is so great!
    b) equipment - equipping our soldiers is very intuitive, icons are well designed and appropriately differentiated: therefore legible. Round of applause for ammo+ button, simplicity of adding, moving or removing stuff, also reminders of replenishing weapons and ammunition.
    TACTICAL MISSIONS:
  • night missions, I like them.
  • sounds are perfect, I love the gunshots, enemy voices, also echo which gunshots create! VO of soldiers isn’t so good but fortunately these are placeholders :slight_smile:
  • music is nice, I’m waiting for more music tracks from Mr. Broomhall.
  • Triton is new interesting enemy even if I still haven’t figured him out too well.

What I don’t like:

  • small maps, therefore too fast battle build-up. Too many times my soldiers see Pandorans on first or second turn. There is no much tension because of this. It still feels like quick skirmishes rather than full tactical missions. Don’t be afraid of making at least some of these battles longer, on bigger maps, even with a price of losing some dynamic (it’s not that important in turn-based tactical game).
  • High mobility is very nice providing that there is more space for exploration and navigation. Now movement range of skilled soldier seems ridiculous as he may run through almost half of the map in single turn. see: small maps.
  • problems with first person camera: view is often obstructed by a wall, even if soldier see his target. Maybe add some lean function for such situations? Or maybe option of rotating soldiers or making them kneel/stand (at least for FPP aiming purposes only)
  • some of skills feel overpowered: maybe reduce jetpack range, at least for inexperienced heavy? The same goes with dash skill.
  • squad icons are well designed but portraits would be better for easier recognition of soldiers (icons could stay on their portraits).
  • I’m not sure if I like yellow markers of enemies who got out of sight. Wouldn’t be better to not know where they are, like in (old) X-com?
  • I don’t know if I like seeing whole layout of the map from the very beginning: maybe hide further buildings, at least partially, behind the fog of war of some kind to make mission more mysterious/sinister?
  • the “void” surrounding tactical map is very distractful.

Neutral:

  • Overall atmosphere of the game: I feel like Phoenix Point cuts off of its Cthulhu inspirations and horror theme. It’s not near as scary as build 1. Even music by John Broomhall is almost friendly. But most important thing is to deliver good, entertaining strategic and tactical game in the end, so it’s not something bad after all.
  • I don’t know if it’s on purpose but there is much less emphasis on building rooms in base. But maybe there will be more various and crucial rooms in the final version?

That’s all I want to say for now. I’m excited by how this game is evolving and how much fun it is providing, nevertheless some things which I don’t like. It’s time to go back to game now:-)

2 Likes

As you wish. :smiley: Here will be disagrees, as for other parts I agree.

What can be improved in strategic part: Manufacturing and research should be separated per base. Only in case of research I would allow 2 bases to join their efforts in doing the same research. I hope they plan it for final release like that.

You mean that they need to rest in base? Because from overall progress I think that my soldiers in BB5 gained levels faster than in BB4 even if it is the same xp required for each soldier level. :wink:

I would add only that when number of enemies is small this current map size 48x48 is ok. But with greater numbers it should be like in BB1 and BB2 where were maps of size 64x64.

This hasn’t changed since BB4, unless you mean super fast classes. But typical Phoenix soldiers I think move even closer than previously.

I would leave them if enemy can be heard by any adjacent soldiers. :wink: Maybe just add some inprecision, so the marker will be between 4 squares not on one specific.

With bigger maps yes. But current small maps should not surprise us if we go there by air. :wink:

They told it will change.

I’m going to highjack this post a bit ;o)

It would be nice to know which areas you have scanned, because after having +25 with Synedrion they showed me all their havens around the world. This is nice, but now I’m having trouble knowing where I haven’t scanned to FINALLY find a FIRST Phoenix base after 4 months (curses). Returning from Paris to Khabarovsk each time to rest/change troops in manticore …

For the soldier abilities, I think they have done a good job balancing them a bit. The new power resides in “dash” and “quick aim” that enables your “assault/sniper” to do 4 shots in a turn for the price of lots of willpower (nearly free if you kill one alien with each shot - happens less and less). The heavy is lagging behind and really needs the grenade launcher to be useful. Difficult to put him in a position to use his “hellcannon” (even with “dash” if making him assault).

Well, I wouldn’t call the jetpack overpowered since the heavy can’t do much after it. Either bash for not much damage (and damage on his weapon) or body slam which does not much damage. Maybe I missed something that would change the heavy for me.

I would add that I hate losing a weapon 5 times out of 6 that a grenade hits a soldier. Need to bring a spare weapon in my backpack …
… and lots of ammo now because there are more and more foes on each map. It costs an arm in material and there are not enough scavenging sites to make up for it.

Other than that I feel the same. The game promises a lot.

2 Likes

I found that odd too. The same goes for the markers indicating alien reinforcement points, I felt that it was reducing immersion to know this rather than discover via observation.

1 Like

Agree.

If I go hide behind a wall I do expect the opponent to wonder where I am exactly. There with this yellow “sound” marker, I know where to send the grenade.

It’s not like in FiraXCom where you have to plan your move carefully because you have only one before shooting. Here you can move to the wall, then see where the alien is and then continue to move or retreat. Maybe put it as an option for those who don’t want to keep track of which alien ran behind which cover.

1 Like

I’ll bet in the final game there won’t anything like these yellow markers, not in the beginning, at least. It will only appear after proper research and manufacturing, like a motion tracker from the Aliens movie.

I think the purpose is to be for other perceptions than sight to be a factor in your planning. So the yellow markers are where sounds come from. They often do line up with where an enemy is, but the enemy might be able to move quietly after making a sound so you don’t know for sure that they are there.

Or like the motion tracker in the 90’s X-com. But I think that this is a way to add other perceptions to the game that are beyond sight, like hearing. In reality each soldier would be able to hear which direction certain sounds came from, and in the future the helmets might be able to have a sonar like capability. But that doesn’t come across very well in a game so they adjusted it.

1 Like

I don’t know, it simply doesn’t harmonize too well with horror theme and fighting with unknown. It’s not fun in a game about fighting the monsters when you know exactly what is a pattern of their move/behaviour. And what’s the point of AI breaking LOS when I can still “see” them, one way or another? I still can shoot them maybe even dealing some damage. It could please those players who want to have perfect control on battlefield, but not me. I would play Chess if I wanted it.
Still I could see that as a cool feature but late in a game eventually, with proper research and with no 100% effectiveness.

It would be even worse: yellow markers all over the place and you wondering which are more or less precise. Besides, what’s with enemy AI trying to hide and then surprise you by flanking or improving their position on battlefield?

Yes, 64x64 were better but still felt rather small. But maybe it was caused by lack of sight limitation back then, I’m not sure. Personally I would like to see at least 64x64 maps and bigger as well. Mind that bigger map doesn’t always have to mean more enemies: their number or strength shouldn’t be so obvious. And important thing is to not have any maps overcrowded with enemies, I would like to search area, look for them and eventually find them scattered around (or letting some of them finding me), but not like in first two turns. Where’s the pleasure of exploration? :slight_smile:

Logically, yes. But discovering your surroundings only by your soldiers would be much better in my opinion, even if environments and buildings are repeatable.

1 Like

If you want to add hearing into the game you could just use sound effects, left and right speaker, increase in volume if an enemy is nearer, that adds tension - at the moment it’s like your whole squad has Synesthesia.

1 Like

Re map size, variety is king imho. Any size of map with any density of opponent quickly becomes boring, it’s better to have some small maps, some large (regardless of your squad size) and some that have a large number of opponents, some that have less (again, regardless of squad size).

I do think that as a rule maps should trend toward being larger and having more enemies on them as the game progresses and your squad gets bigger, but surprises are nice to experience, and I’d hope for some exceptions to the rule too.

2 Likes

3D stereo sounds for positional audio works best in first person situations where you have a limited point of view and a left or right audio cue works to give you direction and possibly distance with volume. It is harder for people to translate those cues of left or right from an isometric perspective because it doesn’t match the visuals they are seeing on the screen and it is not how we have developed to process positional sounds. So for gameplay reasons, positional audio alone doesn’t seem like a good idea for incorporating stealth/sound mechanics.

In addition, militaries have used methods of audio based positioning in the past and acoustic location is being used for a variety of things today, including tracking gunfire (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_location and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunfire_locator). So I don’t know why an earlier Phoenix Point project wouldn’t have included research into using sound to penetrate mist enclosed targets and put such technology into the helmets of your soldiers thus allowing them to pinpoint the source of sounds.

But this is a lore reason, the gameplay reason is because positional audio doesn’t work well for isometric views.

Don’t you just have sounds from the left hand side of the screen go to the left speaker, and sounds from the right hand side of the screen go to the right speaker?

Or, if you’d rather do it from the selected soldier’s perspective. - We already have a 1st person camera for them when they zoom in to take shots, use that as your base for sound direction.

Again, if you do it this way people will think the sound is off the side of the map because people don’t locate sounds well within their visual range without corresponding visual cues.

The issue with this way is if you have a soldier facing “north” they hear an enemy to the left. A soldier facing “south” hears the same enemy to the right. If you go with the closer soldier then you would have to indicate which soldier is hearing it by centering on that soldier. In addition, do you rotate the map so all soldiers would be facing the same direction to the player when the audio cues are played so the player has a consistent left/right orientation? If so, then the map will become more confusing to the player if soldiers are different directions and the cues play only for a second or two. If you don’t rotate the map, you suffer the same issue I listed originally that people don’t do well with audio cues on an isometric projection because directional audio appears to come from off the side of the screen and not on the map where the source is supposed to be. And if you go to first person perspective you loose track of which soldier and orientation is being referenced especially with short sound effects and switching between them.

The simplest solution for an isometric projection style game is to have a visual indication of “other” senses such as sound.

1 Like

Ja2 did this in pretty nifty way. Depending on the stealth stats of the enemy they can sometimes make noise and noise marker will be placed visually on map. Noise markers don’t move, they just stay in place, so a single guy who is running and jumping through a window, will leave several sound markers. It doesn’t tell you where enemy is, it just tells you that someone made a noise there. It could be a one guy or a dozen.

2 Likes

@BoredEngineer, And THAT mister would be much better solution! Thanks for this example.