My few words on Phoenix Point full release. Overall, I’m kind of disappointed so this post would be harsh, too… I’ll try to tell you why. I was waiting for proper X-Com sequel for many, many years. I remember my level of excitement after new XCom was announced and then released. It turned out to be a nice mix of something familiar and something new - such as more clear interface and gameplay mechanisms adapted for nowaday gamers. The game was streamlined too much but still was a blast: 2-point action system was something fresh with fights looking more dynamic and dramatic. And modern graphics shouldn’t be ignored while talking about good changes. XCom 2 was even better, more polished and expanded experience. As a reboot both XComs are certainly a very good titles, but I still waited for something more similar to the original.
Then I remember how excited I was again when Phoenix Point was announced. Another X-Com like turn based game, but this time being created by Julian Gollop himself. Moreover, Phoenix Point was an X-Com game Mr. Gollop always wanted to make! Hopes were so high and the scale of this game intimidating. I’ve been waiting impatiently for release while playing backer builds. I was certain this will be another game played for years, with hundreds of hours spent. From the very beginning I liked the idea of transferring some gameplay mechanisms from Firaxis, because why not? Now I’m thinking that new XCom didn’t help at all…
I think the biggest problem with PP is lack of identity. Of course we have separated story and world building and some gameplay elements which obviously are expected in a proper X-Comy game, like geoscape, tactical turn based missions, researches driving the whole experience etc.
Unfortunately there is too much things taken from Firaxis which feels just unfinished or unnecessary.
I wouldn’t complain about 2-point action point system because TBH, it was solved brilliant and is far superior. I’m not happy with skill based system, though. There is a problem with proper balance which creates another problem, especially in a game where every soldier is difficult to get: losing highly skilled veterans is often a thing which you can’t afford to. Why not taking another familiar route to make soldiers unique by giving them various weapons based on what stats they have? There are basic stats in PP, (mixed skills) but it’s not the same.
There are other not too good things which sometimes feels added for a sake of being added, like base building or research…Both aren’t much interesting and feels diluted. Customisation options feels hurried and unfinished, with just some basic stuff thrown. And changing faces or hairstyles doesn’t make any sense right now. Giving a 2D or 3D posture of the soldier on his info screen to fix it wouldn’t hurt anyone, I guess.
John Broomhall made soundtrack once again and I like familiar notes and similar monotonous character of the music. Too bad it’s so repeatable. Few more tracks could help on that matter.
And the last but most important things to mention in this post totally ruins my experience with Phoenix Point. We all know that real essence of each tactical turn-based game are tactical missions. I was sure I shouldn’t worry about it (Julian Gollop, right? He knows what’s he doing!). Unfortunately Mr. Gollop and Snapshot Team didn’t make some simple steps to elevate this game above Firaxis XCom. It’s even worse when you realize solution was already on the plate - presented so many years before in original X-Com game! And by this I mean reduced visibility of soldiers. I can’t understand how the heck devs ignored this one simple - but strong - feature which would not only repair the problem with small maps and instant firefights, but also add to the overall atmosphere of the game (which earlier in production was expected to be more dense and horrorish). Why Mr. Gollop forgot what made tactical missions in OG so scary and well…tactical? Why, WHY? I know that 360 degree vision was inspired by Firaxis XCom (again), but copying it wasn’t a wise design choice. All the time I believed naively that Phoenix Point will have that element implemented in final release and devs are concealing it only for the purpose of backer builds…I really did! It’s not good to have my soldiers see all the enemies in just first few turns in average random missions, and couldn’t even encircle them because maps are so small. There’s still simple fun in shooting and killing monsters (aiming system in PP rocks), but there’s no mystery and uncertainty in approaching them because they are always waiting just few meters away (even without the ping thing where would they hide on such a small maps, after all?).
This is a real flaw to me, ruining my experience with the game and making me unwilling to play it more. I won’t expect upcoming patches or DLCs will change that, all I could expect are some serious modding attempts on that matter (if modding support is still a thing), which I will be patiently waiting for, along with any news on improving Phoenix Point in any way, mentioned or unmentioned by me or anyone else here on the forums. This game deserves to be so much more than it is now.