Phoenix Point is a masterpiece

Phoenix Point is a masterpiece

As most of the feedback seems to be critical, I just wanted to go ahead and say it.

The game does need some polishing and bug squashing, but IMO it’s a remarkable achievement. And while bug squashing, balancing and polishing is all good and necessary, it’s uncalled for to assume that every way in which PP does not conform to one’s idea of what an updated Gollop Xcom should be must be a bug, or a missing feature.

I have put in 1000s of hours into the original Xcom-TFTD when it came out (yeah, I am old), and later Xcom Apocalypse, and 100s into the Firaxis Xcoms. I’m also a fan of Gollop’s less known but brilliant Laser Squad Nemesis, which had a unique (until Frozen Synapse at least) simultaneously resolved turns system. And I’ve played JA1 & 2 to death, and a lot of other stuff too.

From reading the criticisms on this board (and “professional” reviewers) it seems like many people are disappointed because they expected some sort of Gollop Xcom, only better.

So here are my two cents.

The genre of turn based tactics has, in broad terms, moved between attempts at simulation and attempts at recreating a board or miniature game.

The original Xcom was a simulation, that was, at times, extremely effective. And sometimes it wasn’t, but the good parts far outweighed the bad. All attempts to replicate it failed because this balance (the “magic”) got lost in the process. (See Xenonauts, for example). It reminds me of what happened with the original Operation Flashpoint and the ARMAs. Or, in the same genre, with JA1&2 and its hopelessly miserable iterations.

Firaxis took a different approach - they went full board game (or miniatures, if you prefer). It’s not only about the dierolls, though it’s perhaps the biggest one. Basically Firaxis Xcoms can be played without the processing aid of a computer - it’s just way nicer to have it. And, IMO, they are great games and have been very important in bringing TBT to the uncouth and ignorant masses.

So coming to Phoenix Point now, PP is not a return to the purity of the original XCom; it’s not an attempt at a simulation. Just consider the perk & classes system, and how fast the combat is (most encounters are over in less than 4 turns, in my experience): if anything, in that sense it’s like Firaxis XCom on steroids, because there is no cool down for the special abilities and the maps are smaller, and you are encouraged to drain WPs to get kills to get more WPs in a vicious spiral of carnage.

But then PP does this thing where the trajectory of each projectile is individually calculated and all you can say about where it will hit is “100% inside the big circle, with 50% chance of hitting the inside of the smaller circle”.

It’s genius.

I find it hilarious when people say, “yes, those circles are nice and all, but what are the chances my shot will hit where I am aiming at?”. People instinctively look for the odds of a roll of a die, when the physics of a projectile will always be more fun than a die roll, the latter being ersatz for the former.

Projectile physics is something you can’t do without the processing aid of a computer. The closest thing I can think of is playing toy soldiers, or miniatures, with a small sling, or an airgun, or something like that.

And embracing the physics of projectiles VS die rolls, changes everything, because then the maps in PP can be made very small: every tile and what’s in it matters, and verticality becomes crucial.

As in F-Xcoms, the right way to play is by making combinations of different abilities, but in PP there is more choice and freedom to combine, because soldiers can be of 2 different classes, there is no cool down on the abilities, each has 4 action points instead of 2, partial use of the movement action is allowed, etc. This makes for fast and exciting engagements, where you have many options and all of them matter. Also, it has little or nothing to do with Xcoms, neither the original, nor the Firaxis.

In fact, PP plays differently from every other game in the genre. Which is exactly what one should expect from a Gollop game. If you want 1/3 same, 1/3 improved and 1/3 new, you can always bet on Firaxis.

So kudos to the developers and best of luck in polishing, bug squashing and future endeavors.


Yes,in early game,this game is a masterpiece,but in the late game, problems start to float to the surface,such as unbalanced enemy mechanics, unbalanced mission mechanics,limited crap research,A unavoided fiction war,l don’t want to mention all of it here, because it would take a lot of time, but after you play 72 hours into the game and get wreck by the unbeatable final boss you will know why this game is a unfinished and a unbalanced game,for me,this game is a 1/3 masterpiece for me


I agree. Phoenix Point is a masterpiece, a classic and probably will become the bar that all others in the genre must follow.
Phoenix Point takes all the good points of the genre throws them all into a pot and brews up a completely new slant to the game, and boy is it good, pure addictive game-play.
You know it’s a masterpiece, I know it’s a masterpiece and later on the gaming world will accept it as a masterpiece.
The game is taking a bit of stick from certain areas but that doesn’t worry me. PP is a run-away train no amount of ridicule is going to stop it.
It needs work, it needs polish but the heart and mechanics of the game are already in there, and that gives me that warm and fluffy feeling inside.
JG done it, cracked it, smashed it. He has done it again.


I agree that it’s good that games have different gameplay, but I wouldn’t comment on PP gameplay until the numerous OP holes and balance problems have been targeted.

About realism:

  • None of those game have realistic combats, and I doubt it can be fun with turn based if it was really realistic.
  • It seems you make a difference between special skills or not, I think it’s possible to stick to to shooting skills and make a “board” game. There’s a lot of possibilities, suppression fire, sprint, camping, quick shots, aimed shots, various burst, spreading shots, various explosives, various gaz effects, flamethrower, “bravery” points allowing special actions and systems to restore those points, morale and fatigue, many more.
  • A “realism” approach can’t be a justification by itself, the tactical value and diversity needs be here anyway.

For the free class mix:

  • I think it’s a design error that will not allow them balance properly different ranges. The problem is on this base longer range is better and can’t be counter with specific skills as multi class will allow pick them. Sure the balance can be targeted through other way that is damages and precision, but it won’t work, players will whine long range do no damages, or they will whine sniping is impossible to hit.
  • Ok currently move range tend counter balance shoot range, but I doubt it can go further and I doubt it already achieves a balance.

Beside different combats, the management aspect is much more developed than in XCOM series, it’s not X-Com, but for me it’s better like that.

Yeah, free aim is a good idea in concept, but it’s not combining well at all with the game’s cover system/return fire mechanics, and the lack of possibility for the player to be able to manually override their soliders’ stances is a gaping hold in the game IMHO.

EDIT - It’s also combined badly with the mechanic of targeting individual body parts (another nice concept), it has to make head-shots a non fatal attack and has left a situation where attacking an arm is a higher priority target area, which again IMHO is jarring and unimmersive.


I’m from those who are for more realistic approach and probably waited for some X-COM: UFO Defense reboot. But I was also expecting some streamlining like in recent XCOMs. I must agree that I probably expected too much.

And definitely Phoenix Point has strong base mechanics. Foundation of this game can be considered improvement over what we saw in last decade. But I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece. Many things need a change to make it like that.


The ‘Phoenix Universe’ as I think of it as, is definitely a well crafted masterpiece.

The current game within that masterpiece of a creation is slightly rougher and doesn’t touch on some of the more engaging parts of the ‘Phoenix Universe’ that I had hoped it would, however it is early days and there are many expansions to go with each seemingly designed to delve specifically into focused areas that could allow Snapshot to fully tap into the masterpiece they have on their hands.

I’ll hold off judgement on if Phoenix Point achieves utilising the masterpiece it has available to it until the full scope is finished.

At the very least I am very much looking forward to the Terror From the Deep Reboot DLC release.

Yeah, PP is totally rad. I personally have never seen anything like the Realistic Ballistic Model. The lore and mechanics are awesome. And they’ve got loads of DLCs planned. It is a classic.

I personally believe that players expect to win with the first attempt at playing. I’ve played all of the Gollop brothers’ games starting with rebelstar raiders as well as the Firaxis games etcetera and it is easy to slide into old habits. This game is complex and complicated. Remember that if it’s too easy it becomes boring - hard is fun. Trying to find out which strategies and tactics works at first based on previous games won’t necessarily work - if it did what would be the point of playing a new game? We all remember TFTD, and it was just a re-skin of the original xcom game. With PP, you have to explore and tease out the new ways of approaching a game of this genre. Julian always promised much replay value with this game. After reading from these forums and playing the game, I have come to the conclusion that there are many paths to playing and winning the game. Remember it’s an experience not a race. The replay value of this game I suspect will be immense. It is a masterpiece (that still requires some tweaks)!


I agree with you that hard is fun, and I enjoy finding strategies to win/not lose a game. But those strategies still need to make some logical sense and not be things such as to find out that flanking an enemy and shooting from cover isn’t going to work and that you’ll end up more damaged than that enemy that you just out manoeuvred because return fire is OP and cover is ineffective. What we’re actually doing with PP at the moment is working out the exploits.


Yes, i play original x-com 1 and 2 (i don’t count hours of play of X-com: ufo defense and tfdd… i play this games on 386 black and white, 486, pentium 3, ps1 and i bought mouse only for xcom, and new game rig and now on i9 2060rtx… this game is must have on pc…). The game is way better than fraxis…fraxis use only name and aliens… This game will be better and better… If any one read what is coming with dlc will understand. But i think that this game need more balance and all first 3 dlc need to be included in base game. They promised that features and now they rush game and sell them… I am backer so for me it is not problem, all i want now is more patches and key binding ENABLED. Game as is now is way better than fraxis x-com and have more content then Xcom. When they release dlc the game will have more, and even if they give us expansion… Fraxis xcom 2 have only 1 exp and dlc that i don’t count. for 5 years game they live on community mods and linear game… So PP go on and develop, polish, finish the game… It will be game for next 25 years with mods…

Give us PP base location to choose… Thanks for great game and nice Holiday.


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There’s Xenonauts that already tried, I didn’t found it that fun, it failed grab me long, could be my fault. the 2 is coming. Frankly the base management bores me I don’t want it, it’s weak 4X. I think PP did a good job on that, myself I don’t want more.

For combats, it’s possible Xenonauts failed grab original X-COM spirit, I never played the original much, also failed grab me.

I think it’s a masterpiece lore wise but I can’t say the same about gameplay. It’s need a lot of work to express this amazing universe mr Gollop has created.


PP has interesting ideas, but as of right now I wouldn’t even call it good. I won’t even comment on promised missing features, but core gameplay is having some major issues, with X-COM and XCOM mechanics not melding very well.


I think that’s because it’s not Xcom it’s a new slant on Xcom called Phoenix Point. I don’t think it’s even trying to be Xcom apart from maybe Xcom Apocalypse. It doesn’t necessarily have missing features. It has new features.

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Missing features as to what was pitched and planned, not compared to FiraXCOM (nor original XCOM). Biggest offender being geoscape, which is just not very interesting.

My complain regarding PP (aside bugs) is that it’s design undermines it’s interesting mechanics, rather then focusing on them and fleshing them out. Playing it is very monotonous - in spite of complex mechanics, the tactics available are limited and repetitive. I found enjoyment in it, but it didn’t held my interest. Skills instead adding to decision making, serve as a removal of core combat consideration: like positioning, or distance of engagement.

I will give it another chance when the game spent some more time in the oven. Still, my major issues with it where highlighter by people back in beta, and they were not addressed, so I don’t hold my breath waiting for a redesign at this point.


'Fraid I’m one of the sad old people that cut their TBS playing teeth on XCom. I loved the combat mechanics and eking out the TUs, making sure soldiers were facing in the right direction, all that stuff. It was a pain to learn, I don’t know how many attempts I had at Enemy Unknown before I got it right. But the thrill of getting to the end of the game… It felt like a real reward.

For me XCOM Apocalypse was a masterpiece. But as with anything in life it’s personal taste. PP has echoes of that, and I think there’s certainly the core of a game that could be the best since those original XCOM games. But it’s probably a couple of sets of patches away from that.

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Same here, and I agree. I just think that there is no point in making another XCom. Also, I don’t think it could be made without some changes, and then you will have something like Xenonauts, which for some reason is not as good, even though all the changes seem to make sense and there is a ton of quality of life improvements.

I’m also very fond of Apocalypse, and certainly PP borrows many things from there. And of course PP needs patching and polishing. But I think it is wrong to come at it from the XComs, especially to think that PP has to be a synthesis of Gollop’s XComs and Firaxis Xcoms. That it has to be a simulation (for example, that there have to be different fire modes that consume different time units) but with some “streamlining” and quality of life improvements from Firaxis XComs. It’s not a simulation, it’s more like a board or miniature game with balistics, which has not been done before.

It’s a good analogy, but I’d be hoping for more, given the flexibility of software over cards and dice.

One thing I do like is the streamlining of soldier training. It’s faster and means it’s possible to recover from some mistakes in picking perks. Also soldiers become closer to disposable in the context of the overall battle. Which is, probably, (and sadly), more like real life.

I’ve never been one to get into the whole customisation thing, don’t care about names, don’t care about outfits, don’t care about voices. Just want the right squaddie for the right job and with the best survival chances…

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It’s very easy to compare gameplay of X-Com and Xenonauts. There is OpenX-Com which is very much a clone of the originals, with some nice improvements + complete modifications of the game if you are into it, capable of running on modern hardware. It could be the case that you guys are remember not how it played but how you felt about playing the classic game, 20 years ago, when you yourself where quite a different person, with different experience and preferences. Xenonauts is hands down much better implementation with quality of life features, which is not surprising as it was made rather recently. Just as you are not into it, you won’t be much into classic X-Com playing it right now.
X-Com had some major issues with the main game loop, like not being able to scale difficulty and enjoyment from mission to mission along the whole campaign. Which is just a side effect of having a “simulation”. Which was amplified further as maps get bigger, you get more equipment, you try to have less losses while fighting larger groups and more difficult enemies. Anyway, its an old game with know problems. One of the issues with Xenonauts is that devs really wanted to re-build original, so they picked up most of the long term issues that original had in its design and they did it consciously.

With Phoenix Point, I can’t understand how you can compare it to X-Com at all, the loop of the game and style are completely different. It plays and feels more like a partial copy of Firaxis XCom2 (a board game in it’s core) with some features swapped to other features. There is one features that is universally hated in XCom from firaxis - hit chances, that’s what PP challenges. Sadly it does NOT play organically with the rest of the mechanics in the game, detail on this where already mentioned in other posts. Some might find take on abilities system to be refreshing, as now you can chain and abuse them to a point of diminishing gameplay to usage of few broken combinations. While if you look at the most popular mods for XCom2, it’s pretty clear what players want, and it’s not OP combinations of magical spells.
The time unit system, while more flexible than XCom, doesn’t change gamplay all that much because of how the rest of the systems work.