Just finished a full Legend campaign played on the Necronomicon patch. It was also my first game with the Blood and Titanium and Legacy of the Ancients DLCs.
- Necronomicon patch is very good, clear improvement over Cthullu.
- Blood and Titanium is decent.
- Legacy of the Ancients is very bad.
I went for a New Jericho victory this time, partly because I happened to start right next to two good NJ havens, and partly because Synedrion are whiny and Anu tech is bad. (Their storyline sounds interesting, though, so if I play another campaign I’ll probably try for the Anu ending.)
Full campaign log is below. Click if you’re interested in the details. It’s spoilered for length and for a certain amount of swearing.
Started in Pakistan (last game was Bolivia).
Personal house rules that I play with:
- No swapping gear between soldier teams on different aircraft. It makes the game much easier but it’s very slow and boring and it breaks the economy.
- No chain-raiding. Again, it’s slow and boring and breaks the economy.
- No Rapid Clearance or Adrenaline Rush. IMO, both skills are inherently broken and should be removed/reworked (general rule: no ability should give you back more action points than it took to use it). I know lots of people like them but I really can’t see any way to make them balanced.
Jan 1 - Game start. Usual early game routine – explore, research, build, recruit.
Jan 8 - Lost 1 soldier to a Pandoran Nest (new recruit, died because of lack of armour)
Jan 11 - Two Sabotage missions on Anu havens get me Aligned status with NJ. Faction tech is a go.
Jan 13 - Stole a Synedrion Helios.
Jan 14 - Scarab built. One-man exploration team sent out.
Jan 16 - First Lair killed. Lost my level 5 Assault (new Sirens are nasty). RIP Squall.
Jan 17 - Ally status with NJ. Second Manticore built on location in Panama. B-team deployed to Panama and starts clearing the Americas. They’ll stay in North and South America for the duration of the campaign.
Jan 20 - Third team deployed (scout only).
Jan 26 - Third team reinforced to C-team status.
Jan 27 - Stole second Helios. That should be enough Helioses for this run.
Jan 28 - Third soldier lost, this one from my C-team, paralysed defending a Synedrion haven.
Jan 29 - First Ancient site (Living Crystal Quarry) and holy shit these things are ridiculous. The golem was easy, but then we got attacked by ten Ancient Guardians all at once from all angles. And they put the exit on the opposite side of the map so you can’t retreat!
Jan 29 - C-team wiped out in attempted defence of a Synedrion haven. The WP loss for civilians was what killed me. Team had their WPs drained down to zero and a Siren walked over and mind controlled everyone while they were panicking. Helios is re-purposed back to scout duty.
Jan 30 - First Citadel destroyed.
Jan 31 - Second Ancient site (Orichalcum Mine). Not as bad as the first time but still irritating. Way harder than the Citadel. Ally status with Synedrion.
3 Feb - Pure fortress destroyed. No rewards. Lame.
3 Feb - Third Ancient site taken (Mutane). These missions suck.
5 Feb - Another Citadel down, scanning tech researched to reveal nests on map. 6 total. All Ancient sites discovered. I don’t want to do the refinery/forge missions…
6 Feb - Swept Australia of 3 Pandoran sites. Attack in Africa. New C team is deployed and barely managed to win the haven defence.
8 Feb - To Antarctica mission completed by B-team.
10 Feb - Took the Refinery. Slow and tedious.
10 Feb - Took the Lapidary and Forge. Jesus fucking finally. At last I can build these weapons and don’t have to do any more Ancient sites.
11 Feb - Killed another Citadel. Third Manticore has been built and all three special resources are being harvested. Researched Signal Disruption Tech. Two days to wait on Command Fortress. 8 Research Facilities built, settling into a holding pattern.
12 Feb - Yeah, this is taking too long. Started construction on four more Research Facilities.
13 Feb - All visible Pandoran lairs destroyed. More trading. Started another four Research Facilities.
14 Feb - More trading.
16 Feb - Yet more trading. Repelled a Forsaken attack with 1 unarmoured heavy and a Scarab for roleplay reasons and because I was curious to see if I could do it.
17 Feb - Command Fortress built. Anu and Syn declare war on NJ. I hate these psychotic fucks. Completed City on a Hill and saved Tobias West. 16 Research Labs operational.
18 Feb - New Jericho starts destroying Anu havens in retaliation.
19 Feb - Project Nemesis research started. NJ is at war with everyone. The whole left side of screen is full of haven attack notifications. Population is at 66% and dropping.
20 Feb - Project Nemesis completes. Aircraft sent out. Population at 63%.
21 Feb - Aircraft arrive. I wait a last few hours for Project Vulture to complete and get to hear Synedrion complain at me one final time. Final human population as we go in is 62%.
All the changes I could see were good! Reduced rate of haven attacks is a relief and has helped with the midgame grind. Difficulty is much better. Late game isn’t so much of a walkover and melee enemies are actually dangerous (most of my soldier deaths in this game were to melee attacks, as opposed to earlier patches where the biggest threat was sniper rifles).
The heavily reduced SP rate on Legend does limit options a bit, but it adds to the challenge so I think it’s an improvement. I did have to think a lot more about where I was putting my skill points (as opposed to my Cthullu campaign where my A-team ended up very nearly maxed-out).
The main issue that’s still dragging the game down is the economy. I don’t think the designers intended it this way, but Phoenix Point is turning into a game which is all about how rich you are. Resources can get you practically everything – more soldiers, more research, more build speed, more gear, more bases, more aircraft. So much of the game ends up revolving around grinding for money – finding some activity that earns you resources, and doing it over and over again. For me it was trading – other people go in for raiding instead.
I think I can see how you could limit the grind and make the game less about earning money and more about saving the planet, but feedback tickets on Canny on the topic seem to get no response so I’m not sure it’s something the devs are interested in.
Blood and Titanium Feedback
The DLC is decent. The storyline kind of makes sense, though I still didn’t really understand what was going on on those timed missions. Bionics are nice, very expensive but open up some fun options in the later game.
Main issue is that the Pure aren’t very interesting to fight – they’re ridiculously tough but come in very small numbers so it’s just a matter of staying at a distance while slowly whittling them down with sniper rifles. The Bionic Fortress mission is also a letdown, the ‘Fortress’ is guarded by something like 6 soldiers and gives you no rewards for taking it (despite the mission text saying that you ‘take their advanced tech’).
Still, variety is nice and I’d say it’s worth the money.
Legacy of the Ancients Feedback
Positive things first. The music is nice. New maps are pretty. The weapons look kind of cool, even though a lot of them are useless.
Negatives . . . okay, look, I’m going to be honest. The DLC is bad. It has the potential to be good with a lot of work, but right now, in its current form, it’s bad. Not only is it not worth the money, but IMO it actually makes the base game worse. Why?
- It’s not integrated with the lore or story
The focus of Phoenix Point is supposed to be defeating the Pandorans and saving the human race. Now this new DLC comes along and it’s like everyone completely forgets about that. All of a sudden EVERYONE is psychotically obsessed with gathering these new materials. They’re literally facing extinction and all they care about is accumulating shiny stuff they can’t even use!
The missions that you’re sent on in the DLC tell you to kill NJ, kill Anu, kill Synedrion, kill NJ again. There’s no way to talk or negotiate, there’s no interaction with your faction ratings. I don’t understand what the hell the designers were thinking. It’s like they just wanted to pad the DLC out with more battles and didn’t want to put in more Pandoran fights so they had you kill faction soldiers instead. It breaks all immersion.
I already hate the fact that I have to go murder a bunch of Synedrion or NJ soldiers every time I want a new aircraft. Now I’m murdering them just for a bunch of blueprints in a suitcase. I’m supposed to be best friends with these guys and regularly get messages from them telling me how much they love me, yet apparently the only way I can get access to their blueprints is by killing them. They’ve already shared their technology with me! It doesn’t make sense! Why can’t I just ask them for their blueprints? Why can’t I sell them Orichalcum or Living Crystal instead of having them come try to kill me for it?
And when you finally get this supposedly godlike technology, the stuff that the rest of the factions were literally willing to kill themselves for, what does it amount to? A better grenade launcher and a slightly better sniper rifle. It doesn’t do anything to give you a strategic advantage or save the human race or advance the primary story – you still have to do all the Antarctica and Antediluvian Civilisation research and then research one of the endings the exact same way. It’s a dead end.
- Missions are slow and frustrating
The Legacy of the Ancients missions are harder than any other mission type in the game. Hoplites wielding shields that give them 90% cover, with weapons that do sniper rifle levels of damage, plus a Cyclops that can instantly one-shot your most heavily armoured soldiers from the other side of the map. To complete the missions safely you either have to be in the late game and have a super-powerful A-team, or you have to play a painfully slow battle where you hide behind cover, let them come to you, and whittle them down slowly one by one. If you leave even one soldier even one tile out of cover on the wrong turn, they die instantly.
By the third one of these missions I hated them with a passion and wanted to do pretty much anything else, but there’s no way around them. If you want to use the LotA stuff you have to do all six of the bloody things.
The blueprint missions are almost as bad. They’re relatively easy but there are far, FAR too many of them and there’s no good justification for their existence. It’s just a series of arbitrary fetch quests where you’re told to fly to point X, kill all the people there, grab the objective, repeat. I don’t understand how anyone could have thought this was a good idea.
I actually came close to abandoning this campaign because I was so sick of doing the LotA stuff. Only reason I didn’t was out of a sense of completion and because I wanted to see the NJ ending.
- It doesn’t help the player
Phoenix Point is tactically easy and strategically difficult. On the tactical map, you can generally win every battle you get into. On the Geoscape, though, you’re constantly short of resources and time and never have enough to do all the things you want to do.
By giving you a lot of extra missions to do (some of them very tough) and requiring you to dump a ton of resources, soldier hours, and flight time into Archaeology Labs, probes, and expeditions, LotA makes the Geoscape part of the game much harder . . . for no reward. The DLC constantly dangles the carrot of fantastic new materials and technology, but you go from mission to mission with nothing to show for it. I did something like 6 Ancient Sites, 7 blueprint/rescues, and 2 site defences, and got less resources than I’d get for a single Scavenging mission.
Only at the very, very end do you get any return for all your work, in the form of a handful of overpowered weapons. Except that if you can get them, you can already beat every mission in the game WITHOUT those weapons! So the last 20% of the game just becomes a duck shoot until you finish your victory lap.
What LotA reminds me of are the ‘bonus bosses’ you get in Japanese RPGs, like the Weapons in Final Fantasy games. The whole point of them is that they’re harder than the final boss, so they’re an extra challenge for players who’ve finished the game already . . . except that in LotA, you get thrown up against them right at the start! The LotA content makes the strategic layer harder, and the tactical layer easier but only in the very late game. That’s the opposite of what you need!
I didn’t enjoy most of the LotA content, and it made my overall game experience worse. I’d recommend against buying it, and if I play another campaign, I’m going to turn the DLC off.
Spoilered since none of these are very important (apart from maybe the first)
- Too many evac missions with no way to speed things up
Scavenging, Lairs, Citadels, raids, etc etc. Having to spend the last five minutes of every mission moving your soldiers towards the exit one by one gets really old.
- Auto-loot missions aren’t labelled
Sometimes I automatically get every item dropped by enemies, sometimes I don’t. I still don’t really know which is which.
- Will point losses for civilians
Okay, it adds to the challenge, but it’s kind of ridiculous that all my soldiers are panicking because 3 civilians died inside a building on the other side of the map.
- Quick Aim
Please make it an active ability. I spend way too much time going click-click-click on that button and waiting for the animation to finish.
I should finish by saying that I really do like the way the base game of Phoenix Point is developing. Bugs are getting fixed, balance is getting improved. Hope you guys keep on working on it and it keeps getting better!