The visual downgrade of the game

I’m not going to lie here. I’m very disappointed by the shape this game was released, and even now the situation is not meer acceptable for me. I have pre-ordered this game in Luxury Digital Edition, and as it turned out in Digital Download Edition too. I really like the Xcom games, and this title looked promising for me. It turned out that it is not, but this is my opinion. What should be above my opinion is how this game was downgraded visually in comparison to even pre-alpha materials that we all cand easily find. Recently I looked at the first video of the game on the official Phoenix Point Youtube channel. This is one:

Just look at it for the moment and compare this over 2 year old video of the demo version of the game with that is available now. Here is the newest video from the same channel, form this very week:

Do you see the difference? The light sources, shadow play, even the lamps on the vehicle? Meanwhile, the released 5 months ago full game does not have shadows even on the characters. Here is material from Backer Build 4 form channel of Retcon Raider, the person that convinced me to purchase this game. Even here it looks much better than what we have now:

I have sent an email to the Snapshot Games witch some questions that trouble me, amongst the others about this issue, and in the reply I got, there was no answer on any of them. I was wondering how many customers are aware of this downgrade, and what you think about it? Personally, I believe that this is greatly unfair that some 2 years old pre-alpha looks visually much superior to the supposedly ready to release product. On top of that, after raising more than 4 times more money than the first threshold in the campaign if we believe , + money form epic that had to over double that, and after like it looks like 11 months delay. I don’t have much of a problem with Epick deal, logically it was the best course of action for Snapshot Games, and they gave people the opportunity to withdraw, fair enough. But it looks like the quality wasn’t coming alongside with the money.


First demo wasn’t procedurally generated and it was easier to prepare shaders for such map. So it is hard to compare those to procedurally generated maps that we have now.

Although, they posted video in September '19 with very interesting play of shadows and cones of vision. Last communication in this matter was that there was some bug which caused game to hang. That is why it wasn’t implemented in final release.

We will see if they will bring it back.


Perhaps. But still, the game looks visually worst of all available Backer Builds and despite this was jurged as fit for full release. BB3 had those shadows for objects, light sources, and it looks like some filters too. And that BB come to with the geosphere, I don’t know if every map there was prepared?

I don’t know why it is so, but the released game looks wors than any Backer Build in visual terms. I don’t know about any other owner of this game but I would like to hear some explanation about that. But it seems that discussion on this topic is not something Snapshot approves because this topic is already unlisted and can’t be seen on the forum in the topic list any more.


Probably was unlisted automatically because of links. Happens sometimes. Now looks ok. I can’t speak for the devs. Would also like to hear if there is something done in this matter. But for me dynamic shadows don’t play significant role in strategy games.

Shit…It really looks much worse than before…I didn’t even notice. Another thing to fix, Snapshot team.

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The topic is visible now, I see. If it has been unlisted automatically, I have thrown some accusations. Well, no disrespect intended. I have PM UnstableVoltage about it, but he did not say that it was not him, or it may happen automatically. He has explained somehow why the game looks inferior to years old footage, but I do not buy it. The reasoning he presented was quite surprising for me, and I hear such an explanation for the first time. I will not try to explain it here because I do not agree with it and I don’t want to twist it, maybe he will do it much better than I can.

Perhaps shadows are not essential for such game, but such things are an indicator of products quality as its whole. On top of that, showing on multiple occasions, something that looks much better then the final product for with people have paid is unfair and dishonest.

There are a couple of different things going on here. First of all, the game does still have shadows. You can clearly see them here in a video I just grabbed from the current public version via the Epic Games Launcher.

The second issue is that YouTube videos are being used to make comparisons. YouTube videos are highly compressed, the colour gets washed out and you lose a lot of detail. There are also likely to be differences in quality based on the capture software and settings used and the game’s graphical settings at the time of capture (particularly when looking at videos created by different people).

One of the largest issues here is the comparisons with the Fort Freiheit map.

FF was the first map we had, which was originally created for a February tech demo at PC Gamer Weekender in London back in Feb 2018. This map was made before we had map procedural generation fully working, so much of it was hand-crafted, and light sources were placed manually (and we were transparent about this at the time). In the Feb demo (plus the first few Backer Builds), we did not have a day/night cycle for the tactical missions - meaning every map could have fixed lighting, instead of the shaders and dynamic lighting required to light each procedural map for 4 different times of day (Day, Night, Dusk, Dawn).

We weren’t focused on optimisations or performance back then. This is going back to a time where the game literally had two video presets - “Beautiful” and “Potato”. We hadn’t even implemented any adjustable video settings, and many people complained about poor performance on all but the highest spec hardware.

As development continued, we added the procedurally generated maps, which have to use different lighting which is both dynamic for the time of day, and also the placement of light sources is in part procedurally generated too (if the game places a street light on the map, that becomes a light source).

Different map types (tile sets) also have different lighting shaders. You can’t really make a comparison between a New Jericho Haven, a Pandoran Nest and a Scavenging Site because they all use different lighting and shaders to give them a different look.

On top of all this, some of the volumetric lighting and hard shadows had to be tweaked to improve performance and stop the framerate from tanking.


I personally think that the game looks stunningly beautiful, especially when comparing to Xcom 2 which I very recently played through. I also think that a very key point to take away is how powerful your gaming hardware is. On my machine everything looks fantastic on “very high” graphics setting. There’s still Ultra as the ultimate setting, which puts the shadow distance up to it’s full potential. This naturally would require more processing power and probably slow my game down. In Xcom 2 with full graphics settings on I think that the graphics look a bit cartoon-like. It’s an older game so that’s to be expected. So I honestly think that we got the graphics we were promised, despite the original prototyping map.

I’ve just put my laptop on Ultra and there are great shadows, and when zooming in using T and G keys, the detail is fantastic including reflections of light. Surprisingly, it also runs great too. Perhaps there has been some optimisation since it’s initial release. If anyone knows the answer to this, I would be curious to know?


While visual aspects of game may somewhat downgraded,
its good in my eyes. I even wish there is further downgrade or optimization, to make it run smoother on lower spec machines.

Surely, some high end eyecandies are always welcomed - like mentioned shadows,
but games has many concept flaws, that I would leave it for the end.

Nothing against it. Bigger downer factor (to promised) is that aliens dont adopt at all, even in “mutation limbs” system (not to mention experienced Xcom players excepted something more of enemy AI adopting in sense of alien selection and numbers).

Interesting. I checked it in the game on my ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB STRIX GAMING ine. I used Youtube video for convenient, as it was an official video on your channel. It looked pretty much the same to me. I will recheck it in the earning when I will be back at home.

I think we had a conversation on this subject not so long ago.

Never underestimate artistic freedom that handcrafted map gives to the artists vs. generated stuff. XCOM2 is clearly better looking then XCOM1, and yet I prefer the look of the original game better. Handmade maps vs. Generated one is, I think, a big part of it. Unified and consistent tone and look is another.

What I will agree that the early demo sells the atmosphere which for various reasons I didn’t feel when playing on release. What the demo is, and what the final game is, are quite different things, so comparison isn’t apt, even if disappointment is unavoidable.

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Ok. I’m home now, and I checked the game.

Indeed, there are shadows in the game! You must look after them really, really hard, but there are there!

I played 2 battles, and in the first one, I have seen nothing. But I tried again, in midday and have found them! Barely but I manage!

I have all setting max out. I’m running game on:

Intel Core i9 9900K

I made a few Screenshots:

First one: I see no shadows here. Even a vehicle that I produce, especially for this occasion doesn’t have one for my eye.

Second one: Anyone sees any shadow of this lamp pole? I don’t.

Third one: Here I have found them. This guy has one that is actually visible if you look carefully. Shadow moves with idle animation of this guy, that’s the only reason I noticed it.

Honestly, if those supposed to be shadows in this game, it might as well not have any at all. Here are 2 shots of game wit the shadows and without. Is it much of the diffrence?

Here is a video from Backer Build 5 uploaded on 2 sep. 2019. 3 months before the full release. This is form UnstableVoltage Youtube channel aparently, so you can suscribe if you want. Here, even after Youtube mercilessly mangled the quality of the picture, you can clearly see shadows.

A question about that presentation, if I may? Why was it so polished if you knew that map generator was not yet ready? At this continues through all Backer Builds. If you ask me, it looks like something to make an impression. And It was impressive, but you decided to mercilessly stomp that impression with the full release, with was downgraded. This situation resembles me somehow the great stories you have published describing the history, events, and the world of the game in general. And in the game, the Phoenix Point organization in nothing more than pawns and minions of the main fractions. While those fractions are interesting and have their representatives we can identify, Phoenix Point is hollow as hollow can be. There is no Central Officer Bradford type of guy, nothing, Phoenix Point is completely anonymous and 100% dependent of the others. What a great protagonists for a game.

About PP looking better than XCOM 2. I can’t understand how? It would be hard for me to find any aspect of the PP that is superior to the Xcom 2. Just look at the multitude of maps there are there. Cyberpunk , gas station, magazines, highway, forest, offices, ruins and a few more I’m sure. In PP we have like one that resembles nothing. Many of Xcom’ 2 Missions where alive, with civilians, billboards and such. PP has none of that. What types of missions we have in PP? Ambush, scavenging, defence, nest assault, are there any more?

Another interesting experience for me is a complete disregard by some people, I see that some would be happy to push it even further. I will have it in my mind when I come wit idea to back some another project or buy very early preorder.


First of all. What you show on screenshots aren’t night light settings? :slight_smile: With such lighting don’t expect much shadows.

Second thing. Do you have set your graphics card more to quality rather than performance?

Third. UV mentioned in last sentence that shadows were softened to run game on lower specs machines.

You have Randolph Symes telling the story. Btw did you just compare indie developer to Firaxis? :slight_smile: If they would have 3 times more people there you would have maybe even 2 Bradfords caring even for baby Junior Bradford.

There are. :slight_smile:

How old are you? Because you sound like some angry kid, who is mad, that game has no clear and sharp shadows… RAAAGGGGEEEEEEEE!

EDIT: btw screen from my current map made few second ago. Daylight, details at ultra:

I hope you can see shadows over there. :smiley: If not - believe me. They are there!

Oh maybe I will show it with zoom:

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I’m 33. I respect the time I put into my work, and the money I earn their it. Maybe I am in the minority, and to many people there money comes very lightly. I don’t like to being played by people I have trusted because ”reasons” after the money were exchanged. And is not about shadows only. To me, visual appearance is important, but this is not the only problem this game has.

The mission time is midday. Night missions don’t look much different than day one, in my opinion.

What do you mean by setting my card? I don’t know what this is about, but I do not have any problem with any other game.

Why did they not diminish the visual effects of this game earlier then? Like when people were still buying this game, and had the option of a refund and just jump with such idea with the release?

This old guy and his stories are far detached from the operation of the PP in the time of the game. He gives no life to fraction, if we can call it a fraction at all.

What are those other generic missions types that I have not listed? I can’t remember any now.

Ok. So you are not a kid. Sorry about my implication. Yes, game has other bigger problems than not great shadow play. :slight_smile: But I understand that visuals are important for you. Well there is only hope that they will enable better graphics with next content released. Because game is still not finished.

It really surprises me because missions during day look different in my game than on your screenshots.

When you enter properties of your card (nVidia Control Panel) on one of the first tabs you have slider which you can set between performance and quality. Set it to Quality.

Better visuals were before release and caused some players big performance problems. Full game has lower settings from the release. I suppose it was possible then to refund.

Phoenix Base defence, story missions, sabotage and steal missions if you ask about mission types.

If you ask about map types each faction has at least 5 different tile sets so it gives like 15 different looking maps (sometimes those are small things, but still unique for a given district of each faction) + Phoenix bases + alien bases (and each level of alien base is different).

Keep in mind that a big chunk of people here are backers - so guys and gals, who are interested in the concept and makers to the point of giving Snapshot cash to make the project happen, without knowing if it will be any good.
It might not be the case for everyone, but for me that means I don’t really get angry or disappointed about stuff. I paid them, hoping they will do the best game they can. As they still work on it, I will reserve my judgement till it’s finished. I was sold on the idea, not a screenshot or demo.

For anyone buying the game, I feel there have been plenty of signs as to what state the game will be in - though me being a backer, and following the closely from even before the fig campaign it is difficult for me to judge if it was marketed fairly. If someone saw mostly marketing material (such as the demo prepared for conventions you quoted in your opening post or trailers) they could have far different expectations.

I followed gaming for long enough time to know that things change, and any pre-release footage should be taken with a grain of salt. From my experience when it comes to graphics, it’s better to assume that the game will look worse then better. It just happens all the time. XCOM2 first reveal has some much better looking destruction then final game. Witcher3 early trailers show far more detail and better lighting then final game. etc etc.

Some things get cut because they create problems which can’t be resolved, some get cut because of performance concerns, some might be hacks (hacked - implimented in inproper way to work for now, but will need to be replaced for final game). UV gave you the most indepth answer you will get. I am not sure if there is anything else we can do for you.


Yeah, but who are we to judge unfinished game half year after its release, right? :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: I will not hijack the topic so I’ll answer here :slight_smile:

Actually, I wouldn’t mind unfinished game if I knew development is going the way I expected. It isn’t. :slight_smile: I start the game every few weeks or so to try out changes and I am still disappointed. Yet, to say it out loud, lack or quality of shadows is near the very bottom of my list. :slight_smile:


Of couse we can judge. But things still can change.

I think that is perhaps the main reason for people’s annoyance. It was meant to be finished. However, once I accept it - it seems much better. Keep going development team!

No problem. I’m not easily offended.

According to the Snapshot Games, it was ready for the full release 5 months ago. Who if not they should know when the game is finish or not? I may be wrong, but I have not heard from them anything admitting that.

It looks definitely different indeed. I will tinker with it when I am back home. I will try a different time of the day, as well that graphic card thing.

There where quite a few Backer Builds, and they have noticed performance problems just before release? And changed that behind peoples backs.

I meant generic missions. Xcom 2 has like 13 generic mission types. PP looks to have like 7ish? And in my opinion, there are pretty boring in conversion to those of Xcom 2.

According to the game industry Snapshot Games to August 2018 gathered $2,154,262. On fig, they get $765,948. So, people who had preordered the game brought 1,388,313,3 to the table (over 64%), and this is only until Augusti 2018. So, the majority of the money comes from the people that did not back this game on fig. And I think that they did not do that just to found Snapshot Games fantasises.

I have checked first gameplay of Xcom 2 on Xcom official YouTube channel and gameplay on release day, and I have to say that I don’t see much of a difference. There are comparable, and definitely not of the level of Phenix Point.

And I don’t recall that Xcom 2 had so many critical issues as PP do on the launch day either. It was a good game, Witcher 3 is regarded by many as the game of the decade, and I bet that discrepancy there weren’t such pronounced as in case of PP.

It is true. But this leaves as always customer on the losing end of this developer/publisher machinations because developers, nor publishers rather do not tend to admit such changes if there is still time to withdraw.

When I made this topic, I did not have in mind that “shadows are the most important issue of the game”. It is not. But It is most pronounced, You can show someone from the street how the game looked then and how it looks now, and everyone with a sense of sight will tell you which one looks better. The game was greatly downgraded visually, and as far as I’m aware of, customers were not worn about it. And what kind of argument is that this was some polish demo presentation made exclusively to show of on PC Gamer Weekender? That demo is available in Backer Build 3 to the players. Every single BB whos looking better than released game. What it was if not playing on people’s experience?