[QUESTION TO JG & THE DEVS] Am I playing a totally different game to everyone else?

Yup… I am more than 100 hours into my 3rd playthrough and even though I did encounter a couple of crazy difficult missions here and there that gets 1 or 2 of my men killed, difficulty always comes back down to normal after that and generally, its really easy for me. Now that I know how the difficulty works, it really makes sense. I think people save scum because they don’t prepare for attrition due to being not familiar with xcom type games? I always prepare a stable of about 20 men and tries to maintain at that number at all times so that attrition isn’t that bad for me. I also just name my men by role so losing them don’t mean a thing… like if I lose one Assault Heavy, I have another few assault heavies in training ready to take over.

I think the key is, don’t try to make your team too unique. Play it like what xcom is supposed to be played… attrition.


Its not so “randomized” as you think. There is a difficulty system, what the devs called “evolve according to your tactics”. There is a post here somewhere that took apart the technicalities of that system. Basically, if you keep winning with full team intact, the pans are going to throw everything at you on your next mission. But if you die normally, the pans will go easy on you.

Yes, I guess it is not “so randomized”, but I did get starts with:

  • crabs with normal head, pincer, shield
  • crabs with spitter head, machine gun, grenade launcher

So first mission is quite randomized still.

I’d really be curious to know the differences between the difficulty levels. By not losing a single soldier, did I get to play “hero” in the end ?

I forgot which thread it was but it was described in deep detail in that thread. Machineguns are normal its just the 50dam machineguns that are not. If you save scum enough, you get a swarm of 20 50dam machineguns which was a sure squad wipe before this patch because ALL of them return fires on you on every one shot you make.

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never got the “supported” swarm, its either an all crab swarm…or a mix of troops with advanced pandorans but the unit total is much lower (barring story missions that just have a lot of troops in them)

and I do have casualties, over the multiple runs…I have only loaded-into-the-past 3 times…once by a crab grenade that wiped out the entire squad, once by a cross map bombard chiron hiding in the fog of war that killed 2 troops hiding in cover on his first turn and once because a mission locked up giving the pandorans an infinite turn.

from the dead I have learned to never underestimate crabmen, they…are responsible for the majority of the deaths. return fire machineguns…cross map machineguns…grenades…poison. (I can remember the first death by poison, I confused the poison entry with that of burn damage and thought poison couldn’t stack beyond 40…the poor heavy got hit for 240 points because he was face hugging disarmed machinegun/shield crabs and promptly keeled over, rechecking the phoenixpedia entry I facepalmed) unlike some of the advanced pandorans that can be ignored under certain conditions…crabmen are always dangerous…well up to the point they have no face and lost both arms…or are completely paralyzed.

it’s here: AJS Review of the Game
described by @cfehunter

Difficulty also factors in contents of certain scripted missions.

For example if you play on legendary, then the first ever Anu mission you will do will always have a Chiron that infinitely launches explosive buggers at you until you kill it. Any difficulty below legendary will not have a Chiron, and it will just be a fixed number of initial enemy.

What you encounter in a mission as the game progresses from what I can tell is partially tied to how active you are uncovering/attacking nests. In one campaign I was defending every base attack from the Pandorans and destroying the revealed nest and the ramp up of enemy difficulty was much more immediate compared to a different campaign where I decided to let the entire world burn other than Anu Havens.

As it took months of game time before any Anu haven was attacked and me defending it, I never uncovered any nests (For those that aren’t aware, they only appear on the map after you defend a haven). I was still facing generic enemy similar to what I’d been fighting for 20-30 hours of playing all the while fielding advanced Anu class units with mutations, mutogs with 6 bases and enough food to trade in for any resources I could ever need.

Wasn’t until I defended a Anu haven from a Pandoran attack, uncovered my first nest of that campaign and took it out that I really saw any significant ‘evolution’ to the enemy (Other than Tritons sometimes swapping abilities in some missions). And even then the most significant step up I encountered was just some Tritons with armoured face plating and such… didn’t encounter a single Siren or Chiron (Other than the first Anu mission forced placed one) in over 30 hours playing that campaign.

Edit: On the subject of “The game scales itself on your successes, if you do too well then it will ramp up really hard”… I never really found that, unless Snapshot have decided that watching the Pandorans just clear out all hostile factions that want me dead because I am so in bed with the Disciples of Anu is “Doing badly”.
Didn’t have a failed mission or unit loss (Did have some strong casualties with long recovery time though), and the game never really escalated anything at all until I started stomping nests.

So the part of the code cfehunter sampled may only have some very strict use cases? Assuming it’s even hooked up to anything at all.

From poking around games in the past (Unity makes it real easy to decompile projects built using it ironically enough unless you take additional 3rd party obfuscation steps), I’ve often found code floating around that was never even hooked up to anything. Entire systems sat there not removed from bundled in Unity scripts that weren’t excluded from the build compilation that represented something someone wanted to do at some point but never hooked it all up to anything.

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I’ve been playing easy trying to make it through the story and learn the game before going back to a higher difficulty. Don’t do much reloading, few times something like my own guys overwatch shooting an explosive barrel i had a guy parked a few tiles from and it just happens to disable multiple limbs… that i’ll reload on. That said i have found it to be rather brutal in some missions.

Worst battle yet was my first tier 2 lair (colony or lair, i forget the exact name) which was also the second one to appear on the map for me. Had a corridor that took my assaults 3 full dashes to get to the end in with almost no cover for the full length. So i used their dashs to get there and found one siren… moved my heavy up and between th eheavy and 3 assaults the first siren was down within one turn of seeing it. Had one blip on each side of this long hall and an enemy spawn point on one side as well. Turned out both of the blips were sirens, and the first thing that spawned in was another siren. First four enemies in this lair were sirens while on easy, with a corridor where i had no way to get to them.

Of course the two sirens i hadn’t uncovered at the end of this corridor uses their scream to send my guys panicking on their turn. Believe it was two assaults and hte heavy that panicked, the third assault i was able to run a bit back down the corridor. The most annoying part was the sirens didn’t try to engage into a fight, instead the three of them paced back and forth on the outer parts of the corridor and kept the two assaults and heavy in constant panic mode. After ten turns of that i reloaded back to map and went back in. Had the exact same map, but with new set of enemies wasn’t nearly as bad as that nonsense.

Also i kind of wonder about the line of sight of aliens. Had a haven defense where i went to evac some civilians. There was a building blocking direct line of sight for the few enemies i didn’t kill on turn one. Ran some of my rescued civilians out the back of a building i occupied and put them behind cover about halfway to the evac point. I’d say they were 40 tiles from any Pandoran units on the map, and of course the building itself blocked line of sight, so no way the Chiron would blind shoot over the building at these guys right? Totally wrong. Darn thing blind fired into the fog of war and hit the civilians that it shouldn’t have had any way of detecting in the first place. Kind of felt like the AI knew exactly where to shoot without any realistic way of knowing where i had parked the civilians. I get if if i make a mistake and park in line of sight, but with a building my guys can’t shoot through in the way there is no line of sight.

This difficulty setup is pretty backwards, easy shouldn’t really be punishing players for save scumming if that’s what’s really going on in some of these cases.

Well that’s completely arse about face :thinking:
I’ve been working on the standard strategic assumption that if you stomp on an enemy early, it doesn’t give them any opportunity to build up their forces; but if you leave them be and let them grow, they’ll eventually raise an army that can crush you.

Now you’re telling me that the game is programmed to do exactly the opposite. That’s just stupid! (I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m saying that the devs have got it the wrong way round).

I must admit, I’m playing on Heroic and I’m finding most of the missions incredibly easy compared to the Haven Defences and Lair Assaults.

The Symes Mission was a doddle, Synedrion Diplomacy Mission 2 was a turkey shoot, and I did a side-mission called ‘The Alchemist’ which I completed without a scratch in 3 turns.

By comparison, my B Squad has been forced to evacuate from 2 Haven Defences involving Scyllas, and I’m currently running an attrition rate of 1 man per mission vs the Pandas.

So yea, I’m finding it tough - but the only time I’ve ever encountered multiple Sirens (so far) is in my first Lair and my first Citadel.

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Sounds brutal - and ridiculous!

I’ve fed back on multiple strands to the Devs that there should be max 1 Siren per Mission on Easy - and at most 2 or 3 in a Lair, depending on Difficulty Setting and Squad Lvl.

It sounds to me like the RNG has no filter, so it doesn’t check the number of Big Nasties on the map before spawning another. I’m no programmer, but even I know that it’s fairly simple to put a line in the spawn code that says ‘IF Sirens = 2 then new Siren = NO’ (or the other way round).

TBH, I assume that the Pandas have no fog of war. Frankly, the fog hardly exists even for us - it’s usually pretty easy to spot a Chiron on the other side of the map and react accordingly. The small size of the maps is another exacerbating issue in this debate, but I’m assuming they don’t have the resource budget to make them much bigger at the mo. As I say, I’m no programmer, but it’s a fair bet that increasing the map size creates more issues than just scaling things up.

I’d say it was just really bad luck with the spawns… one siren on the map to start, and i think it was turn 2 or 3 when the other two that were blips on the sides of the hall spawned or moved there. Several sirens isn’t usually an issue, and honestly my biggest gripe there would be how they reacted. They just marched back and forth using the scream to keep several guys panicked rather than going in for the kill. Though 4 at once is a tough fight, and i think my crew was all under level 4 as it was still early in the game. I’d imagine 4 sirens at once is doable with the right team and a map that doesn’t shaft you. Had it been a couple of grenade toting crabsmen i’d have been in the same boat. Had a first lair go that way once, large U shape where both objectives were in the center with some crabs lobbing grenades over as i tried to advance. Course my heavy couldn’t jump over for whatever reason, but then it was enough in there the heavy wouldn’t have survived it anyway. Long corridors int his game can really set you up for death traps, or in the case of sirens just a long panic attack.

Few things can be involved here:

  • first thing can be story missions which tend to have quite formidable enemies if you will try to enter them early: with not full squad, before your soldiers will have good skills and decent weapons. After them any other typical mission can seem easy. This can be unbalanced, but these missions are not obligatory in a given period of time and can wait for proper approach.
  • increasing difficulty curve if the player performs high above estimated outcome (save scum can be involved here, but is not required) - selected game difficulty has greater impact here on higher difficulties, so if someone save scum or just perform incredibly well on tactical missions on Legend then he can quickly encounter overwhelming forces without being able to research good enough weapons. But this can be also true for Hero or Veteran (Rookie too?) difficulties. For some it will be interesting challenge for other unbalanced game.
  • encountering regional cluster of alien bases which wasn’t bothered for a long time and had opportunity to evolve to the point where there are couple of alien Lairs or maybe even alien Citadels. Missions generated there can swarm with enemies and be much more dangerous than mission encountered in region which we previously had control over. This case can indicate such a “difficulty spike” and I wonder how many times players refer to such situation. This is natural progress of aliens if they are not bothered by player and I’m not sure if it should be balanced in any way. Player should have in mind that if they will sit in one place on the globe, then other parts can become too dangerous to lurk unprepared. This is reality of alien’s strategy and player should adapt to it or loose. Of course this forces all players to expand to each alien mist as soon as possible which may be odd for players who like slow and steady progress. Then yes they can complain about difficulty spike in some moment. And now imagine also impact of previous point applied to this case… Without super-powers impossible to overcome.
  • I’m still not sure about how ODI is correlated with alien evolution or what is their impact on values which aliens use to deploy units on each battle, but I suppose that the lower ODI the more light battles await you. If you have it at 12% then I think you are safe. :slight_smile:

This difficulty setup is pretty backwards, easy shouldn’t really be punishing players for save scumming if that’s what’s really going on in some of these cases.

Precisely. I can’t stand losing my men. So, I freely admit, I use save scumming to prevent exactly that. I also play on easy, because I want to have an entertaining time while gaming - no brain shutdown time, otherwise I would play casual games, but also no punishing mixture of stress and frustration. But Phoenix Point prevents exactly that. After a few hours of exciting battles, which exactly met my idea of a balanced level of difficulty, I am now overrun by the described enemy waves and I have no chance anymore. To simply let my squad be wiped out is not an option for me.

There is only one choice left: stop playing - Phoenix Point is no fun for me anymore. Is that the goal of the dynamic difficulty level? To spoil the fun for non-hard-core players?

This is especially annoying as the game grabbed me in the first few hours and now it is doubly difficult to let go. I vote for making the dynamic difficulty level optional. Forcing players to play a certain way is not a good idea. It should be a game that normal players can enjoy, as well, not a hard job without pay. For players who like it hard, there are the higher and dynamic difficulty levels.


Two things to say to that:

  1. NOTE TO DEVS: This is what ‘Easy’ should allow - a managed difficulty level which would be boringly easy for hardcore players, but which people like Spitfire could enjoy.
  2. NOTE TO SPITFIRE: You’re probably playing the wrong game, mate. Gollop X-Coms are notoriously famous for their high casualty rates (to the extent that in the original X-Com, players didn’t even bother to name or customise them because the attrition rate was so high).

You really are playing the wrong game. Even if they fix the balance to most people’s satisfaction, this is a game where you will take losses, and the trick is keeping them to a manageable level. That will sometimes involve realising that the battle is unwinnable and bugging out - or deciding that it’s too important to lose and taking the consequent losses on the chin.

At the crucial moment in the Battle of El Alamein, Montgomery ordered his reserve tank division forward into a death trap. Its commander protested, saying they would get slaughtered. Monty’s reply? “I am willing to take 100% losses to this Division if it means we take that ridge.”

Sometimes you just have to accept that your men are going to die. If you can’t do that, find a different game.

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i started a campaign some days ago, anu all over the place wich is not a bad thing i like purple. Do some random quests and scavenge, help a haven defense, clear the nest and bam anu aatacked by force strenght 26 it could be a scylla so soon? I run to help and yes not a common scylla but the frigging armored one with a tons of enemies never saw nothing like this even with 29 force. and i get my squad wiped after some syrens make their appearence to make everything worse. Maybe i would let the haven go and it’s ok i can’t save anyone and everything everytime. Long war teach me that sometime you just let it go, there’s nothing you can do. I can accept that but it was like hey xcom terror mission my second one maybe i found mutons and you find the frigging sectopod backed by cyberdisks while you are not even liutenant squad, i will accept a swarm of manageable enemies like more arthrons, tritons ecc.ecc. but no this insane formations at the start at least.

All good points, Yokes.

  1. I must admit, I find the Story (and Diplomacy) Missions incredibly easy compared to Haven Defences and Lairs. They’ve become a refreshing escape from the war in the trenches, if you know what I mean :hot_face:
  2. Totally agree. And what this means for perfectionists like Spitfire above is the game will ultimatly ramp to impossible levels because it believes he’s not being challenged enough. DEV SOLUTION FOR SPITFIRE: Turn off dynamic difficulty on Easy. Stultifyingly boring for the likes of me & Yokes, but then we’ll be playing on Veteran/Heroic anyway (I expect once you get this right that Legendary will be impossible for me - and imho that’s exactly how it should be).
  3. That’s how it should be, but @Tikigod on this thread seems to be experiencing the opposite:

If that’s the case, it feels just… wrong. It should work the way you describe.

  1. That’s been my experience. If you can keep the ODI below 15%, the Spike is manageable. I’m now at ODI 30+%, and I’m taking an attrition rate of 1 man per mission - and it’s going up.

I think I’m about to hit the wall on this first playthrough; but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I can’t survive the early game of XCOM or LW on anything higher than Normal Difficulty and generally ramp it up after the first Story Mission; so I never expected to get to the end of this game on Heroic in my first playthrough.

The game’s supposed to be HARD, people - especially on the Heroic+ settings. That’s not a problem in my book. My issue with what I’m hearing on these forums is that it’s equally hard on Easy, and that’s just going to lose Snapshot paying customers (and though I’m not an Investor, I DO want this game to succeed, as it’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for) :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I tried playing differently each new game and each game I think I have got past what triggers this difficulty spike and each time it has come like a thief in the night, basically bringing my game to a halt. Where the missions felt right for my progression, they then become impossible.
I haven’t a clue why and when it does this but something is broken.

Playing on EASY.

I had a thought. Do you think this bug is confined to the EASY mode only? Those that have this difficulty spike, are you playing on easy?

Thanks for the reply, Michaellgnotus.

NOTE TO SPITFIRE: You’re probably playing the wrong game, mate. Gollop X-Coms are notoriously famous for their high casualty rates (to the extent that in the original X-Com, players didn’t even bother to name or customise them because the attrition rate was so high).

I did bother in the original X-Com :wink: Granted, I never got to the end because repairing my jets at some point took near endless time.

Sometimes you just have to accept that your men are going to die. If you can’t do that, find a different game.

Yes, I know that’s how it’s meant to be. I simply don’t enjoy that play style. It’s a game, not a real war. Of course you could argue that’s exactly why losses don’t matter and this is a perfectly valid argument, too, it’s just not how my brain is wired. Thing is: I tremendously enjoyed the first few hours until the game started to punish me for save scumming. By simply making dynamic difficulty optional, I could resume playing the game again and I really would like to play it again, but for me, it currently makes no sense. Maybe there are other weirdos like me. So, adding such an option could open the game to a broader range of players. Normal players can still do it the hard and more realistic way.

PS: How do you properly quote in this board, including the name of the original poster?

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Select text with left mouse button and click pop up button named “Quote”.