In many threads here we ask about adding a particular feature we loved in one of the existing “xcom-like” games, be it originals, UFOs or FXComs. But how about naming a feature, an enemy type or a game mechanic you want to not be included? Maybe it was immersion-breaking, maybe you felt like it slowed the game to a crawl, maybe it made the game mind numbingly hard of cakewalk easy… As long as it is something you would absolutely hate PP to have, feel free to share it here.
~ “Enemy pods”, FXcom. Enemies travelling in small squads is not something unique for FXCom but the “you spotted an alien so now he and all his squad mates have a free mini-turn to react, get into cover etc” mechanic was something unique and, in my opinion, rather clunky. I’m not against enemy overwatch or enemy anticipating the incoming xcom operatives but a hard-wired “reaction turn” is a completely artificial mechanic which, in 1st FXcom wasn’t even considering any kind of stealth mechanics and simply assumed that both aliens and xcom soldiers will be guaranteed to spot each other.
~ Timed missions, FXcom. To clarify, I have nothing against a time limit as an occasional mission condition but having a quite severe turn limit almost every mission was negatively affecting my enjoyment of tactical combat. For me, it was especially bad given this mechanic felt artificial, tacked-on for the sole purpose of preventing players from “overwatch turtling” through the map(which, funnily enough is a rather reasonable combat tactic in real life).
My biggest issue with this is that unlike Long War, vanilla FXCom had a hard turn limit: you ran out turns, bam! mission failed. Long War managed to convey the similar feeling of urgency and the necessity to hurry by introducing reinforcements which provided a soft limit to your mission time. Sure, you could drag your mission longer but you had to deal with strong enemy reinforcements as a consequence. Overall, I would prefer hard mission time limit to be absent from the game almost entirely(outside of, maybe 1-2 plot missions) and even soft time limit not to be the main way of speeding up the mission pace.
~ “Trash recruits”, original XCom. We’ve all been there: you recruited a bunch of greenhorns to boost up your squad and guess what? Some of them are absolutely bloody useless. I mean deadbeat useless. Their aim is abysmal, their strength is sub par meaning their movement range even with a modest loadout will be quite limited, their morale is nothing to write home about either. It’s not the case of being bad at something but ok at other things, it’s having RNGesus absolutely hating this particular soldier. Now I know what a lot of you guys think, “such underperforming soldiers might actually be immersive element of the game, especially in a post-apocalyptic setting of PP”. And I do agree to some extent, but here is what I think.
Firstly, no recruit should be bad enough to be unable to perform at least some combat activity in a serviceable fashion. If a soldier is weak-willed, slow and unable to hit a broad side of a barn from inside the barn, he has no place on the battlefield. Baby-sitting a trash rookie for several missions to make him at least remotely useful is hardly fun. And even from an in-universe perspective, no matter how desperate you are, you will not include severely crippled people into your spec ops team. Last stand base defence? Certainly. But away teams are supposed to be better than that.
Keep in mind BTW, RNG shenanigans like that are not only a part of distant past. As a personal anecdote from one of my FXCom playthroughs, I had a slow rookie with crappy aim levelling up into a sniper. Poor fella was absolutely useless for quite a long time. I managed to kit him out into a serviceable gunsinger/utility item carrier but all in all he mostly just hung behind the front line unable to provide any kind of meaningful contribution to the team.
~ Last alien syndrom, original XCom. It’s hard to find a black cat in a dark room. It’s even worse if the cat is actually a dangerous, energy weapon wielding alien who wants kill you. Searches for “that last sectoid” on a large multi-level map can easily be one of the worst experiences in XCom. Especially so if that is a crysalid instead. Bonus points for having a large squad: you are tempted to ignore 2/3 of the squad to speed things up but you might end up putting your “scout party” at risk by leaving it without a proper fire support from the rest of the squad. As intense as this kind of gameplay can occasionally be, it is not something you would like to have to do each mission. A perfect combination of tedium of moving the whole team across the map with nothing to do on the way and the risk of suddenly encountering a potentially dangerous alien with your team being already worn out by combat, this is a recipe for unnecessary combat loses.
The good thing is, there are many ways to avoid that. Aliens fleeing the battlefield or becoming overly aggressive and actively searching for your soldiers when outnumbered. Regular troops moving in to take over the cleanup, friendly operatives simply disengaging after completing the objective with “kill all enemies” never being their objective in the first place. Heck, even the good old full map reveal can work if done right. And, guess what, as alien hunting can be fun every now and then, why not introduce it as an actual mission? A small scout party, a large section of an abandoned military complex a sneaky and dangerous alien lurking somewhere in there. Be sure to give your butchy minigunner a red bandanna for this one.