Alright, I will preface this by saying that I haven’t finished the game yet, but that is one of the reasons why I’m giving you my 2 cents here as the game has become so tedius that I had to quit. I think the game has great potential, it just hasn’t been realized yet. Here’s what I think is bad and should be improved (and some suggestions as to how):
*Auto-resolution of battles. One of the main reasons I quit playing was the incessant number of haven battles that pop up constantly after you go over 10% alien threat. You’re basically just running around from haven to haven doing battles which can either be really easy to complete or really hard, but regardless, take a really long time. I understand that this is the case with most turn-based games, and I am a huge fan of them, but even Age of Wonders from way back in the day had this option. I don’t wanna go into a full tactical battle for every little annoying group of aliens that threaten a haven, but instead go into battles that require important tactical decisions and are actually hard. Imagine if you had to fight a manual battle each time you engaged an enemy in Shogun: TW. The combat was great but you’d definitely quit playing after a while.
How to improve this: Have the transport either be capable of carrying bombs instead of soldiers or just implement an actual auto-resolution algorithm. The former would be prefered as you can just bomb the aliens in the haven, but you could offset it with a chance that it might damage the haven itself or kill haven soldiers. This would in turn make it so that you could actually lose favor with that faction and it would still have potential consequences down the road.
*Research. While there’s quite a bit of reasearch available, there is very little variety from what I’ve seen in regards to your phoenix soldier armor and weapons. Granted, I haven’t seen all of it and there might be more down the road, but from what I’ve read on the forums, 80% of you gear comes from other factions.
How it can be improved: Make some PP equipment which would have average stats compared to faction equipment, but would still be better than the stock equipment available now.
*Trade. I found it really easy to get materials in this game, simply because food is always so pletiful and because the trade rates for it at havens are too good. I literally had a ton of food stacked up and if I ever needed materials I’d just fly up to one of the havens with one of my spare transports and trade 70% of my food for a ton of materials. I like the fact that trade is there, but the rates are a bit unbalanced.
How to improve this: Either make food harder to get, or tone down the trade ratio.
*Auto-complete finished battles. I sometimes had to spend 15 mins just moving my soldiers to the exit of the map because they got ambushed, but I had already killed all the enemies. The same problem remained for raids, where I had killed all the opposition and then had to spend a tedious amount of time destroying objectives.
How it can be improved: Just have the battles be over if there’s no more threats coming. There’s no need to waste time on the player like this.
*Return fire. While the idea if return fire isn’t bad, the implementation is again, tedious and unbalanced. The enemy, for some reason, gets an unlimited amount of return fire, regardless if they already had it that same turn. The result of this is that you get really long turns that slog down the gameplay and also unfair mechanics.
How it can be improved: Make return fire dependent on AP. If a combatant has AP left when they end their turn, they can return fire once. Otherwise, they can’t. That way, having AP at the end of the turn gives all combatants a benefit and also prevents this spamming of return fire. If you want to play defensively, you should spend AP to do so.
*Mind-Control. There should be some kind of defense based on Willpower in order to be mind-controlled. If reaching 0 Willpower panics combatants, then how come a soldier with 18 Willpower cen be mind-controlled so easily?
How it can be improved: Make mind-control chance based. The chance should be the difference between the mind-controller’s Willpower and the soldier’s Willpower. If a mind-controller has 2 Willpower and a soldier has 20, they should have very little chance of mind-controlling them.
*Pandoran Nests. This was one of the deal-breakers for me as the enemy gets insane reinforcements constantly, while you’re stuck with the same soldiers and the increasingly lower ammuntion. I get that the point of the nests is that you’re going into the belly of the beast, but there were times where I got obliterated simply because I was stuck in a stalemate in the nest, trying to fight off the legions of enemies coming my way. The biggest problem with this is that a ton of them could mind-control you and then it went all downhill from there.
How to fix this: The idea that enemies constantly spawn in nests is not bad per se, but you could make it so that the most powerful units spawn on the map from the start and then the reinforcements themselves would be the weaker units (no sirens or grenade launchers). Another idea is to make it so that the reinforcement points could be destroyed with explosives (if you still had them).
*Cover. This has probably been mentioned already, but a lot cover doesn’t count as cover, or if it does, it count’s as lower cover even though it’s the same type of object as one with heavy cover.
How to fix this: Go through the levels and check if the cover is being placed correctly. I am fairly sure this is a bug though and not a feature.
Overall, I think you have a gem of a game here, but unfortunately for now, I think its still flawed. I purposely only mentioned gameplay aspects which I think didn’t work and didn’t bother reporting all the bugs, because I think most of the people here did that already.