The game feels better on hardest difficulty

So, I played the campaign on the hardest difficulty and it feels kinda easier despite the harder missions. I concluded that it’s actually easier to get new recruits and so I’m not as desperate to keep them alive, and because the dynamic difficulty scales with units lost, I feel more comfortable playing more to my skill level. Although having a powerful squad member bite the dust still feels upsetting, but not game breaking. Also the pandorans seem a bit more active giving more opportunities to make the factions your allies meaning faster faction tech. I was scared to try it, but after I did, I felt like it was possible to beat it.


I’m sorry, but I don’t play to send pawns out to die to even the odds. If this is how the game was designed to be played, to make the player immoral, that’s immoral in my book.


This is such an excellent point. If it’s an unintended consequence of the game design then it needs addressing - if it’s intended then it’s just plain wrong.


You’re not meant “to send pawns out to die to even the odds,” but likewise you’re not meant to savescum or restart endlessly in order to have a “perfect mission” every time either. Problem is recruit cost vs resource income imbalance makes supersoldier squads inevitable and the loss of even a single squad near game ending sometimes.

It’s no surprise that the lower cost of recruits on the highest difficulty level makes the game feel easier as a result.


Okay lets do this. First of all I play as though the game is in Ironman mode, which means I only save when I leave the game so I can continue it later, and any deaths that occur are permanent. However this doesn’t mean it is right to stop people from ‘save scumming’ to get the perfect mission result. It’s their gameplay experience and if they are having fun, the game designers should be happy because their game is supposed to be fun. This ‘I know better than the players what fun is’, when fun is not objective but subjective, is a pretense that has to be dropped. So what if someone plays to perfection, with or without, saving the game? Guess what people it doesn’t matter. So stop designing games to prevent a certain type of player from having fun with it, please. You’ll always lose because those players will stop buying your product.

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I play, to out play the AI. If the game is designed for the player to accomplish this by deliberately losing, I find that poor game design. The goal is brave the odds and win, not do stupid things like killing off one’s units. PP has its own savescum feature, restart mission. Which I used at times during my first foray as a learning tool. Whether a player/purchaser opts to savescum is their concern, not other players. Same goes for players that want to sacrifice their units to make the game easier. However, if the game is designed for players to do this in order to play, that’s poor game design in my book.


Lower cost at the higher levels is because one is buying raw meat without armor or weapons, not so they can be fed to the wolves to keep them at bay. At least that’s my understanding. But as I said, to each, his own.

Thoughts for a mod or changes under current terms of employment:
for hard - inexperienced recruits with diseases or defects (faction refugees)
for easy - level 3 fighters (current high hiring price)

I don’t think there’s any question that the dynamic difficulty scaling isn’t working as intended. That is where these issues come from. Save scumming isn’t the problem it just amplifies it causing a light to shine on the scaling issue.

100% agree. Scaling just isn’t working as intended. I suspect because it was conceived of as a valid replacement to the advertised Pandoran evolution.

In other words, I don’t think that scaling in PP was intended as a save scumming prevention mechanism (though it wouldn’t be the first, by any means - for example, all Firaxis games by default use the same seed to generate a random result, so no matter how many times you reload before an action that had a 98% of success, if it failed the first time, it will fail always [unless you do something to force a change in the seed, often do a different action first]).


I think you misunderstand me. I don’t “Feed my soldiers to the wolves”. Rather, I let soldiers who are fully equipped stay dead. Then I go grab a new slab of meat and slap the old slab of meat’s armor on them. This means it only gets so hard, it will never be impossible, because the soldiers I have die, which the game takes into account. I don’t intentionally kill my soldiers.

This was meant to illustrate that I can play missions according to my skill level, because I’m not save scumming to keep all my soldiers alive resulting in an inevitable difficulty spike. Not I shove one into the meat grinder to make it easier on myself. As illustrated by this line.

Meaning I let powerful squad members die, because I can grab a new recruit to replace them. I don’t actually think there are players who shove their troops into the meat grinder, and if there are, I’m not one. Hope this clears that up.

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There’s a couple of sides to that coin.

If/when dynamic difficulty works correctly, it’s also ‘not right’ to stop people who find that system fun from enjoying it either.

You’re right that fun is subjective, but lots of games within this genre are balanced to accommodate players who save scum. In comparison, very few are built around this type of dynamic difficulty adjustment which provides fun for those players who enjoy save scumming not being a tempting strategy to use.

Save scumming should still be playable however. The absolute most difficult encounter the game can throw shouldn’t be impossible to beat with the right team build and tactics. If it is that shows a problem with the design.

The flip side of that is not blaming the design when one hits the limit of their own abilities and can’t win an encounter.

There’s different definitions of ‘beat’ and also ‘tactics’

If we’re saying impossible to beat without losses (and a player’s tactic is save scumming to avoid any losses) then that ship may have sailed a long time ago in PP for a given player depending upon how long they’ve been using save scumming as their tactic for previous encounters.

PP as a game as a whole is designed around the concept that on some encounters a player will take losses, by using save scumming a player is breaking that design. But I don’t think that it’s necessarily a design problem in the first instance so much as a lack of game options.

A comparison might be a chess game which matches the AI’s ability to the player’s based on previous results and ability (Elo rating). It works well as a game design for players who play the game honestly. But if a more casual player comes along who likes to replay any move where they lose a pawn in order to get a perfect victory, and in the next match they’re matched against an AI that is stronger, and the one after stronger still… they’ll eventually face an AI which they can’t beat in game at all (even with save scumming) never mind with a perfect victory.

In that chess example it’s not the DDA or the game itself which has a problem with the design. However the option should be there for a player to turn that DDA off in order to keep facing the easier level of AI opponent. (You can also let the player setup a game against an AI opponent with a reduced number of pieces).

The game of Go is a prime example of this principle. The handicaps aren’t in place to make the game easier. The object is to learn and improve one’s strategy and play style. Currently PP is the exact opposite. Punish the player for attempting to learn. Again I suspect this is a blatant cover up for the fact they couldn’t quite accomplish their initial goals of the game. Once DDA kicks in, it’s a no win situation for the player to learn. This is an end of game for many players who want to love this game.

I’m not so sure, I think whatever Snapshot’s rational behind DDA is, they’ve not sat around a table and said:

‘‘You know what we really need to do with this game? We need to punish players who are trying to learn it.’’

It’s not quite on a par with, but in the same vein as saying:

‘‘Yeah, and let’s put a hidden message from the devil into the soundtrack which can only be heard if people play it backwards’’

I think what’s more likely is that they’ve wanted DDA to work as an alternative to the standard escalating (or descending) difficulty model for these types of games, and it’s either yet working as intended and/or they’ve not quite understood why some players choose to save scum in the first place.

‘‘What, you mean they’re still save scumming even though it makes the game more difficult for themselves?’’
“And they know that save scumming will make the game more difficult”
“Why are they doing that?”
“Well, that’s a long story, but it appears that Steve from sound design put some kind of hidden message into the soundtrack…”

The way you prevent save scumming (if that really is their goal), is you don’t allow saves. At least not during the mission. Many games accomplish this by this method, not by throwing an unlevel playing field at the player. Oh, let’s give the player an option to restart the mission, but if they do, let’s punish them for using a tool we put in the game. And it’s possible to play the game and not save scum and still not lose units. So the game designers punish this kind of player as a save scummer, even if they didn’t save scum.

Also I am not a big fan of other players belittling other players that want to enjoy the game they bought. Just because they may save scum. The current design of the DDA actually encourges save scumming, not discouraging it.

Again, I don’t think that DDA is about preventing save scumming. It’s about giving a suitable challenge to the player based on their previous success in missions.

Apologies if you took things that way.

Not for me - How is it doing that for you?

By the very fact that the DDA is unbalanced. I win a couple of tough missions by the skin of my teeth. Go back to base to heal up my prime squad, go out on the next mission and instead of the usual batch of enemies, I am presented with 5 Sirens, 5 Tritons, a ton of grenade launching Arthrons, 3 goo lobbing Chrirons, a poison worm Chrion. Oh, just in case we didn’t make this challenging enough, we need to have a missile lobbing one as well. This is early in the game and at Rookie and Veteran levels. I either need to go back to a previous save or say to hell with this game. As I’ve said there is so much good in this product, it shouldn’t be ruined by an over aggressive and extreme ramping up of DDA. I’m not sure if it’s Dynamic or Dumb Difficulty.

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Yeah, there’s certainly a difference between a DDA that gradually increases difficulty from a 1, to a 2, to 3 and so on; versus one that suddenly takes a player from a 1 to a 9 or a 10.

I do think PPA has issues around the extreme to which DDA works, (as opposed to the concept) - And I really don’t like the overwhelming mission odds, but for me that’s more about being forced to use the also out of balance perk system.

  • Does anyone know whether DDA takes into about HP loss during mission, or is it just looking at fatalities?