Yeah, the big weakness of PP at the moment is its strategic layer. The tactical layer is pretty good, but to have a good strategic layer, you need a well-functioning economy (ie the way players gain and spend resources). And PP’s economic system has two big problems:
Almost everything in the game can be bought with resources. Tech/food/materials can be used to buy extra Phoenix Bases, extra soldiers, equipment, extra manufacturing capacity (via fab plants), more research (via Research Labs), soldier health (via medkits), soldier experience (via Training Facilities), etc etc etc. EVERYTHING comes down to resources. And this is bad, because:
The best way to gain resources is to identify the ‘farmable’ activities that let your soldiers accumulate resources (trading, haven raiding, etc) and do them over and over again. These ‘farm’ activities aren’t very interesting, and get even less interesting by the 10th or 15th time you’re doing them.
Or to put it more simply:
- the best way to get stronger is to farm resources;
- farming resources is boring.
It’s the combination of 1) and 2) that’s really deadly. If the best way to get stronger was to farm resources, but farming resources was fun and challenging, there’d be no problem. If farming resources was boring, but you didn’t need to do it, then there’d be no problem. But as it is, farming is necessary AND boring. Bad combination.
Back when I was playing the game and posting regularly on these forums and on the PP sub, I kept on going on about this – made forum posts, put up feedback tickets, etc. Since then there have been a ton of fixes and balance changes, but they’re all minor tweaks. I know it makes sense to focus on bugfixes and low-hanging fruit, but the longer the devs ignore the big problems with the game, the harder it’s going to be to do anything about it.
And then LotA came out, and it basically completely ignored these problems and (if anything) made them worse, by adding on a second economic system without fixing the problems of the first one.
So it’s not surprising that the hardcore Youtubers have stopped playing PP. It’s basically a ‘solved’ game at this point – once you’ve figured out how to play the strategic layer, you can easily get a 100% win rate on the highest difficulty. Compare that to something like Slay the Spire, where you can play it for hundreds of hours and still have more to learn.
At this point I’ve kind of given up, to be honest. I’ll try Festering Skies when it comes out, since I paid for it and I’ve put enough hours into the game that I’d like to see what its final version looks like, but it doesn’t feel as though the devs intend to make any significant changes any more. Looking at the Canny site, the closest I can see to anything that addresses any serious problems with the game is an ‘in progress’ note on a ticket saying ‘Attacking Faction Havens Should Have Worse Consequences’, but that feedback’s nearly a year old! And even then, you’re treating the symptoms, not the root cause, which is that success in PP, at the moment, basically comes down to farming.
So yes, I think the game’s going to continue to decline. It’s a bit sad, since I really like a lot of its aspects and I think it had the potential to be something special.