Another long one, I’m afraid. For the record, I’m 40+ hours in, playing on Heroic with an ODI of 12% (down from 14%), and I have just 1 Base.
In general, I find the Geoscape fairly basic but functional. On an Indie budget, I don’t think you could do much more, though there are a handful of Quality of Life tweaks I’d like to suggest:
- I get that too much info on the Haven iconography will clutter things, and while I find it mildly irksome, I understand the decision to fade out some detail when zooming out. However, it would really help if alongside the Recruit Icon there was a symbol showing the TYPE of Recruit being offered. Having to go into the Haven screen to find that information is as tedious as planet resource trawling in Mass Effect.
- This may just be a foible of my machine, but some Mission Objectives refocus on the objective’s map location when you click on them and some don’t.
- Is there any way to refocus BACK to Phoenix Base(s), rather than laboriously scrolling round the planet? If there isn’t, can we have one please ;0)
Thank you for including the second transport slot we requested during BB5. It makes life so much easier.
Also thank you for the pointer towards the second Base. I haven’t found it yet, but at least I feel like I’m looking in the right place – even if looking for a base in ‘Southern Asia’ feels like looking for a needle in a haystack
And thank you for reducing the number of Haven Defences. It gives us time to explore and progress the story – albeit very slowly in my case.
I like the system, but at the moment it is completely unbalanced. You don’t even have to cheese food farms to exploit the market – I usually do it with Tech (of which I always have more than enough for some reason). At present, I have something like 250 Tech, more than 1700 Mats and c.450 Food, just by playing the market.
This makes Scavenging Missions utterly pointless – especially since you can train up your troops faster by simply leaving them in the Base Training Facility than taking them out on missions (and more on that later). What’s the point of risking your men for a few hundred Mats when you can make twice as much just by trading with the Factions?
This feels wrong for a post-apocalyptic setting, where resources are supposed to be scarce and everyone is scrabbling for every scrap they can get. So I’d suggest the following:
- Double the reward of every Scavenging Mission across the board. Make them dangerous but worth doing.
- Reduce the trading ratio of Faction Resources and link them to the Difficulty Setting. So:
• EASY: Keep the max ratio as is – ie. 2 for 8,9 or 10
• STANDARD: Halve the max ratio – 2 for 5
• HEROIC: Halve it again – 4 for 5
• LEGENDARY: Invert it – 5 for 4
Suddenly Scavenging Missions are worth doing – damn near essential on the harder settings. Of course, this only works if you also rebalance the Panda Hordes so that the Difficulty Spike isn’t as brutal as it is currently, but I think that goes without saying
RECRUITS & TRAINING ETC
If Resources are harder to come by, you should probably halve the cost of Recruits. With the system as it currently stands, I have no problem with Recruits costing what they do – it’s fairly easy to do a couple of trades for the Food/Mats you need.
Personally, I really like the fact that Recruits come in different states of readiness depending on Difficulty. The first time a Recruit turned up empty-handed on Heroic, I was like: “Oh, so that’s how it works now is it? Cool!” I think it’s much more ‘realistic’ that Havens would dump their troublesome black sheep on you but not let go of valuable weapons – for a given value of ‘realistic’, of course: after all, we are talking ‘Alien Apocalypse’ here
I didn’t like the fact that the Specialists could turn up without a proficiency in any of the basic weapons available – but then @Pantolomin reminded me that firearms no longer fumble, so I’m alright with that.
What I don’t like is the TRAINING SYSTEM. I have nothing against it as a concept – in fact I think it’s a really good idea to be able to train up replacements as your active teams are out in the field. Once again, the problem I have is balance. As things stand, it’s more productive to have your troops sit in the base and do nothing except lift weights than it is to send them out into the field, where they will gain less experience and run the severe risk of getting shot. This runs contrary to every known tenet of combat training in history – you learn the basics in training: you learn how to survive through hands-on experience in the field. There are some obvious solutions to this - one easy, the others more interesting:
- Halve the amount of XP you can gain from training and limit it to one Training Facility per base (or Squaddie). Of course, you need to rebalance the Panda Spike to make this a viable option. Or…
- Squaddies can gain as much XP as they like on the training wheels, but THEY CAN ONLY SPEND IT ON ATTRIBUTE STATS (Str, Will & Speed). You can only LEVEL UP, and unlock Skills at that Level or below, after surviving combat in the field. That way, you can prepare your Squad as much as you like, but to gain the vital experience they need to survive, they have to see real action. &/or…
- XP gained in Training can only be spent on Skills, and you have to specify which available Skill you are training for like you do in XCOM2.
The important thing is to make training less valuable than in-combat experience, which is how it should be.
Forgive my bluntness but bases are boringly limited at present. I’m not talking about the graphics (Indie budgets again, what can you do [shrugging emoiji guy]), I’m talking about the choices. In the early game, you have a simple no-brainer – do I go for Food first, or Training? That’s your first 2 builds sorted. Then you reach a point where you need to expand your living space – Build 3. Then it’s another toss-up as to whether you add more Food or more Training. By now you’re 40 hours in and you haven’t yet made an interesting or painful choice.
Forgive the comparison, but XCOM does it better. The fact that you have to excavate to make room for your facilities, you have to upgrade your Research and Engineering facilities to speed up progress, you never have enough power, your Training Facility doesn’t just spam XP, there’s never one obvious path that is better than all the others, makes the choices that you do make have meaning – and gives you real headaches over the trade-offs.
It may just be that I haven’t progressed enough yet. I can see that soon I’m going to have to decide which of my spare facilities to sacrifice to make space for a Containment Facility and maybe even a Security Room – but I also suspect that by the time I get there I may have actually found that elusive second base.
Right now, it just doesn’t feel… interesting, and I’m struggling to figure out how to improve that. Maybe on the higher difficulties, your Base should start out with most facilities damaged and on reduced production, so that you have to decide what to repair first? I dunno, but I WANT to be agonising over what to build (or repair) next, rather than going for the obvious no-brainer all the time.
FACTIONS & FACTION WARFARE
This is a big one which I have and will touch on in other threads, so I’m not going to say too much here.
First off, something positive. I really like the announcements the Factions make and the simple binary choices you give us on the interaction screens. I know some people have complained about the lack of graphics, but Indie budgets – what can you do ? Personally, I like the way you’ve done it, and I can feel myself getting pulled into the world as I am presented with seemingly simple choices that feel like they could have far-reaching ramifications.
So that’s the good bit. Here’s the bad:
I’m already on record as HATING the fact that the first Diplomacy Mission you are presented with by any Faction is a Sabotage Mission. It really sticks in my craw. I’ve been told that I don’t have to take this to progress the Faction Specific Missions, but there is nothing in-game that tells me that. If I’m a Newbie and I’m presented with this, I automatically assume that I can only progress with eg. Synedrion if I do the BS ‘pick on someone else’ mission that they have presented me with, and that sucks big time!
As things stand, the REAL Faction Diplomacy Missions take an awfully long time to appear (and develop), and the PP-specific Missions are so far away on the map that it takes an age to get to them. So far, after 40+ hours of play, I’ve only done ‘Symes’ and the Synedrion ‘Seed Sowing’ mission. Anu and NJ have only just offered me alternatives, and Synedrion seems to have defaulted to picking on everyone else again, so F!*£ them!
It’s also impossible to avoid the fact that the Factions will ultimately go to war with one another, as it’s blared all across these forums with no regard to spoilers for those who are either new to the game or don’t have time to play the whole game in a week. While I have no problem with Faction Warfare per se – in fact it has plenty of historical precedents (see my reply to the complaints here: [MOD-REQUEST] Stop the faction war on each other) – I would really like to think that you have built in a path where we can try to defuse the situation and pull the Factions back together. If you haven’t, I would strongly urge you to do so with DLC 4 or 5. In fact, I intend to propose a Mission Route called the Path of the Peacemakers in a separate thread, which I hope that either Snapshot or some enterprising modder will run with.
So if anyone has already found that path, please tell me so that I don’t waste my time.
I could go on, but this is already too long, so I’ll stop here.
Hope it helps.