Things we *don't* want Phoenix Point to have


#1

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.

I’ll start:

~ “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. :wink:


#2

the devs have previously said that there will be NO pods.


#3

True. But my idea for this thread is not so much a feedback(hence creating in a general PP-related discussions category) but rather an open discussion on what other backers think as worst features of existing XCom-like games and why. I think such discussion might be insightful in it’s own right as while analysing what was bad about the existing games we might come up with some good ideas in the process.


#4

What I don’t want Phoenix Point to have is microtransactions.
Hopefully there’s no need for me to elaborate on that statement.

Edit: Oh, and please refrain from implementing loot boxes.


#5

They are already implemented, you can find them in the pre-alpha, containing weapons/greandes/etc. :stuck_out_tongue:

(The crates, and /s).


#6

#7

I don’t want complete weapon disable via body part destruction since it only frustrates me when applied on my squad, and can be abused by me as numerous players reported. Perhaps impairment is ok. But complete disable is too much.


#8

I’d argue that what we don’t want is scampering and activation shenanigans then, and I fully agree about this. However, I wouldn’t mind enemies patrolling in groups when it makes sense to do so. It creates more intense fights than stumbling upon lone aliens and would also alleviate the last alien syndrome to some extent.

I like a few timed missions thrown into the mix, but totally agree with the artificial nature of some. Another option is timed bonus objectives (like meld in Enemy within), competing for neutral objectives (I liked the “tag the crates” supply raids in WotC). the absolute worst offender were council missions in Vanilla X2 : timed mission, cannot abort it, lose your entire squad if timer runs out.

Nothing more to add on trash recruits and closet aliens, still dream of going through a ships’s closets to find the last calcinite on a terror mission.


#9

THIS. Probably the worst reboot gameplay decision. I mean, both in terms of common sense and tactical play. Half of the time you’re thinking about is how NOT to step on a wrong tile which would activate a pod (or worse - 2nd pod… or still worse 3rd). This mechanics is perhaps the most unpleasnt for me in FXcoms. Second is timers.

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.

FXComs offered the best solution: sound (marked by visual aid) coming from enemies.


#10

Vision arcs…

I’m probably going to get the hate for saying it but I don’t see what it adds to the game or the immersion thereof. If I’m crouched behind a crate, I can see roughly 270° with the centre perpendicular to the crate. When I turn to fire at something on the opposite side, I will bring the ‘blind spot’ into view anyway. If my job is to hunt down mutant crabmen, you can bet I’d be keeping my head on a swivel.

I think it will just slow things down and add to the tedium without adding to the fun.


Instinctively, the body part distruction doesn’t seem so much of an issue to me (aside from it impairing my abilities and making things harder obviously) but I can’t imagine someone going “Oh well… my arm fell off, better throw a grenade”. They’re probably going to go into intense shock and be totally useless. Impairment may be more realistic since if you actually took enough damage to a limb to disable it, you’d probably be curled up screaming rather than just carrying on like it ain’t no thing.


#11

You could just ‘reveal’ the location of ‘‘that last sectoid’’ after a number of turns have expired. Explain it happening as a result of PP getting their satellite system to come online in orbit above the battlefield.


#12

Just to be as blunt and pointed as possible: just anything new with XCOM2. Especially the idea of having people at the base that level and the asinine carebear concealment mode. The only things that COULD be good from it are those things that don’t mess up the formula such as constructive key features such as the ability to carry people to cover when they’re incapacitated etc.


#13

That’s pretty harsh and not super constructive. As a matter of fact, X2 and WotC have offered a lot of mechanics that PP devs (Well, JG mostly) have said they like and want to adapt in some shape or form.

I’m not overly fond of excessive in-base training, but base XCOM only offered the first promotion, which allowed you to make sure that you had the classes you needed if RNG decided it didn’t want to give you one of them (aside from the guaranteed first four). On a broader note, having training facilities in your base isn’t immersion breaking and makes sense in many ways in this kind of game.

The stealth system is less than perfect, but it allowed to retain a successful ambush and a proper overwatch trap in a game where timers were omni-present. Fix the timers and you can revamp stealth to make it better, but it’s far from bad. My main concern wouldn’t be concealment and the initial ambush though, but skills like phantom that allow you to have a perma-scout. That is a much bigger issue.

On the other hand, XCOM 2 promoted things that aren’t new to the genre, but are worth noting :

  • Weapon customization. Not sure if PP plans for this and it’s not crucial tbh, but it’s nice
  • Factions that can be interacted with (WotC)
  • Soldier bonds (I know you have them in other games, but they added a nice touch)
  • Recurring enemies (rulers and chosen). System needs tuning but it’s a step in the right direction
  • Mod support
  • Improvements to the geoscape and strategic layer. Still a bit too simple to my taste but still nice.
  • I’ll even mention the photo booth, silly as it is. Spend way too much time playing with it!

Yeah, such a shitty game, don’t draw any inspiration from it please!


#14

Trash recruits would be bad. When you get recruits that would miss the side of a barn at close range. It really takes you out of the moment. I only refresh my shooting skills once or twice a year and I can shoot better than all the recruits in XCOM 1/2. It finally forced me to go into the txt file and mod all the default weapon accuracy.


#15

I didn’t say they couldn’t draw any inspiration and adopt some things from it and even gave exception to the rules they could incorporate into the game. Thanks for the fail reading comprehension though! :wink:


#16

Game balance trumps realism, and shots in XCOM already hit way too often.

That said, it’s easy to forget that XCOM troopers aren’t performing in a shooting range. They are performing in urban warfare conditions, day and night, among explosions, plasma melting stuff all around, alien chemicals and other nastiness. The enemies they are fighting are non human and may move in unexpected ways. Turn based nature of the game makes us forget that a soldier missing a 90% point blank range isn’t walking to the alien, pressing the weapon against its chest and dropping it before firing. In all likelihood, he had to leave his cover, run across a danger zone, get close to an alien that may be twice his size, wearing armor plating and, more importantly, will do everything in its power not to be shot. That includes wriggling, punching, grabbing the gun …

Is there any other way to read and comprehend this?


#18

I remember something about in PP we can’t really “manufacture” items but “modify” them, which sounds somewhat like weapon customization. Can’t remember when/where, maybe it was one of the Gollop interviews.


#19

Cherry picking in a four lines long post is a bit nonsensical. However, this argument isn’t productive at all and won’t stay civil for much longer, which would be a shame considering we’re such on a great forum. Not point continuing.

And a last friendly bit of advice, considering that a large number of people posting here seem to have played XCOM back when it was released in the nineties, I’d say you won’t endear yourself to them by calling people “kid”. Your call.


#20

Features to avoid in my opinion:

  • One-themed mission types in FXCom - look at all the different variants:
    – escort the VIP - and then kill all enemies,
    – find the package - and then kill all enemies,
    – disarm the bomb - and then kill all enemies,
    – kill all enemies - and then kill even more enemies.
    The only sort-of-stealth missions were the ones about hacking Exalt transmitters with 4-soldier squad and escaping, it was fun and refreshing.

  • The FXCom civilians that take cover between big green mutant with gun and big red mutant with claws.
    At least in Xenonauts the civilians were running away from the fight and in the direction of dropship, which made some sense. Also, the armed civilians and police officers were active and defended themselves quite good. The fighting resistance members in WotC were an improvement too.

  • Magical items or abilities that make little sense except looking cool.
    FXcom and WotC again: weapon add-ons that deal damage even when the shot misses; weapon add-ons that sometimes allow for the next shot based purely on RNG; abilities that allow killing multiple enemies without spending action; drones that instantly heal/revive from the distance; teleporting/switching soldiers in place… and many more that belong rather in fantasy setting. I would prefer more realistic approach in s-f genre.


#21

Once again, you’ve made another post hoc. Plus, your statement is nonsensical because THAT is the Fraxis XCOM I’m giving my critique to which is COMPLETELY separate from devotions towards the original xcom series made by Gollop. I’m fairly sure that even with a modicum of critical thinking you can conclude then that the only fan that would be butthurt about such a nonsensical link would in fact be you! :wink: