Think combos are OP, don't use them

There’s a lot of sturm und drang on these boards about the OP skill combos possible in this game. I really don’t understand why folks get so upset; just don’t use them. I’ve never particularly enjoyed skill exploits in games, so I don’t take advantage of them. PP is a very good squad skirmish game if you don’t feel compelled to take advantage of every loophole.

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You will find that many players feel cheated because they feel forced to not use them. Not only that, they feel that those that want them are cheated as well. There’s no pleasing everybody.

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I agree that this is a different opinion. But can you give examples of games where it was successful?

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Put simply, it’s not (just) OP combos/exploits, it’s a balance and gaming experience issue.

I’m a new player, playing the game the way it tells me to play it. I don’t open the console to input a cheat command, I don’t go looking online for an unlikely combination of actions that lead to an unpredictable result (I don’t know, something like move 3 tiles forward and 2 tiles back, and one to the left and all the enemies drop dead).

The game encourages me to try different skill combinations, to stack buffs to accuracy and damage for better effect. I do just that. Thirty hours in, the game is completely broken: no matter the difficulty level, any number of enemies of any stats can be dispatched in a few turns. There is no challenge anywhere to be seen.

If you read the forum, you will see that this is a fairly common experience. After that it goes two ways - some players quit playing, others start playing-testing with self imposed restrictions, and give feedback.

A huge part of the problem is that it’s not at all obvious what constitutes an OP combo that will break your gaming experience. For example, what damage per AP is excessive and should be avoided? How much movement per turn is too much? How many enemies dispatched by a single soldier?

And this is not going into the other side of the equation - which is that many players don’t want a fantasy power trip, but they find the game too hard if they don’t resort to these OP combos. What they want is a reasonable tactical challenge for their skill level.

So no, this is not like playing a table-top skirmish game with a friend where you both know that such or such faction/character/tactic break the game and you agree not to make use of it. This is you and your friend playing a new game and suddenly, what, did you just wipe my whole team before I had a chance to move? Did we read the rules right? Then you spent 3 hours changing the rules and trying again. Well, that’s slightly better, but didn’t do it either…

Which is what you see happening here. The game is in much better shape since release for all players, but there is still a long way to go.

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These games aren’t a sandbox.

The satisfaction in playing the game is figuring out how to win and there should be a set standard at each difficulty level, inside the rules of the game. If you undermine the standard, you defeat the point of the game.

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How about you make a chess game, and you allow every piece on the board to be a queen.
Then you say: Hey if you find it overpowered, why dont you just move it like a king?

Can you see how boring a game would be if you had to luxury of walking like a king, and still win it?

Not gonna rant about importance of balance, skill synergies and the challenge/reward thing that 98% of the gaming community is looking for.

It’s not particularly militant to want every player to play the game with the same ruleset when there are already different difficulty levels to allow for different skill levels.

It’s not like Sekiro/Dark Souls where a large part of the player base won’t even countenance having different difficulty levels.

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I’ve been playing PP since BB4 and follow discussions on these forums regularly, so please know that I’m not some newbie. I’ve also played wargames of all variety, fantasy and historical, tabletop and computer, for all of my adult life, which is not short.

No game has ever been released that doesn’t have some issues, and there are always ways to rape the rules to your advantage. In a single-player, no p-v-p environment like PP, you get to control your experience. Nobody is making anyone cast RC and then AR so they can clear the battlefield in one turn : that’s a choice. Choose not to.

There’s certainly balance issues beyond that, and some really annoying bugs like the hard corner LOS bug, but PP is easily one of the most satisfying squad skirmish games that I’ve played. I guess I’m lobbying for people to lighten up a bit and appreciate what they’ve got. If you expect perfection, you’re bound to be disappointed.

I just cleared a citadel with a 5 man L7 team, and aside from one rage burst against the Scylla, all I used was dash (no more than 1/turn), war cry, boom blast, quick aim, MC (once to aid the getaway), and panic. Almost lost two soldiers, and it was an entertaining nail biter the entire time, especially with the swarm of sniper Triton reinforcements. That’s a winning wargame experience in my book.

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An ideal balance is unreliable, therefore:

  • don’t remind about it,
  • do not complicate an already difficult situation,
  • don’t help fix it.

You want challenge and proper tactics ? Great, just make sure you don’t use half the features in the game …

It’s hard not to discover something that is broken almost by accident first few play through. Since you are such advocate of the “just don’t use it 4head” movement, I’m sure you can refer me to an objective and uptodate list of things not to use that can easily be recommended to new players yes ?

Sorry I really hate this why balance the game, just don’t use things you think are OP mindset. It doesn’t make any sense no matter how you twist it. You pretty much saying game is fine. It’s done and finished. Perfect polish. All that is needed now is further expansion packs and with them further power creep.

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Not really how game balance works.

There needs to be a base line from which the developers scale content difficulty by, currently that baseline includes overly effective skill combinations that turn many combat encounters from something that requires squad tactics and planning into some single unit class combo fantasy power dream.

The whole “If you don’t like it, just don’t use it” doesn’t really work for establishing a cohesive experience… which honestly is something the tactic combat side of Phoenix Point does suffer from greatly since the last backer build onwards.

It seems Snapshot have a roadmap for getting the game together however. Hopefully that includes reviewing the weird out of place feeling super combo solo soldier vibe present at the moment, either by revamping the Pandorans and their later evolutions to render such combos less effective or through a skill revision.

First approach would be more interesting in terms of Pandoran diversity, however it would more push players into having to utilise super class-combo solider builds throughout their squads as a normal approach to deal with the Pandorans that have been balanced to stand up against those builds.

Second would give a more solid overall experience without forcing players to adopt set strategies, but may put some people off who are used to the super powered soldier fantasy feeling Snapshot introduced into the game leading up to release.

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This can be included in the second spiral of the game update, after successfully balancing the main / first.

The thing is if Snapshot start balancing based on certain OP class-combo capabilities, then any one playing and not using those OP class-combo capabilities suddenly get punished with a much more negative experience as the difficulty has been tailored for the extreme fringes capable with specific class combinations… now that could be countered by bringing every higher level ability/skill to the same capability and turn the later parts of the game into some crazy power fantasy experience no matter what builds you’re using and the game just slowly adjusts so you’re still having singular human units performing divine-feats, they’re just doing so against equally god-like targets.

Personally I hope Snapshot don’t go down that route as it would absolutely butcher what hope I have for the game salvaging itself with further development work put into ironing out the creases… but given they already kind of already started down that route in the lead up to release, I am half expecting that’s where we’re going to end up and it is their game at the end of the day.

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It should be started with

then, after finding the balance, to introduce new monsters and their features in the new DLC

“Half” is a gross exaggeration.

I’m not saying that it’s done and fine. I’m saying that it’s not nearly so bad as some here think that it is based on some exploitable skill combos.

I just don’t agree with this POV. Game balance was clearly designed without skill combos exploits in mind; if you play without them, the game is far more tactically satisfying. This idea that “it’s there, so I’m compelled to use it” just makes no sense to me. It’s not evidence that the game is broken; it could work better, but it’s far from broken.

IMO, focusing so intently on the imperfect leads to unnecessary frustration and disappointment. It’s one thing to suggest improvements, it’s another thing entirely to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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It is pretty bad. It’s not as bad as it was at the beginning, but the game can still easily be trivialized. You have to exert quite some self restrain not to walk all over it. Limiting your own creativity while the point of the game is to overcome the challenge it poses exactly by using that creativity and the tools given to you.

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, and people do that already - myself included. However, you cannot simply suggest that everything OP is a loophole that you shouldn’t use. Again, who is defining those loopholes, where do new players find a list of loopholes to avoid ? This is the point you don’t get. It is impossible to discern between a ‘loophole’ and clever use of game mechanics. Tinkering and theorycrafting is part of the gameplay.

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And there, in a nutshell is my point.

The game clearly was designed without these OP loopholes in mind - and the devs have tacitly admitted this in various ways. Unfortunately, what that means is that when people discover them, use them, then publicise them on the Web, it presents a very badly unbalanced view of the game.

You’re quite right: when you play without Saving & Restarting, without resorting to ‘broken’ combos, and with a set of self-restrictions that doesn’t make Squad Skills ludicrously OP, this can be an excellent tactical game. That’s how I play. I don’t even use Rage-Bursting Snipers because I think they’re an abomination that were very clearly never intended to work the way they do (and for that refer to Keep Rage Burst as it is (Please)).

But that’s not the game that is being presented to people! The game that is being presented to people is a Power-trip of OP Superheroes that renders tactics meaningless by the time you’ve reached the mid-game.

So for this game to succeed in the long-term and find the audience it deserves, it needs to rebalance itself to become the very good tactical game it could be, rather than the comic-book mess it currently is.

Though as I have said before and I shall say again, the Genie is now so far out of the bottle in some players’ eyes that I think Snapshot will only ever be able to please everybody by providing a set of Second Wave Options that allows Player A to play like a Superhero and Player B to play like a Tactician.

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The coin always has two sides. You belong on one side and I belong on the other. Unfortunately, the coin doesn’t belong to us, only the person who flips it can decide whether it’s right or wrong. I can’t hear loophole anymore, although I have played the game several times with different builds, no loophole could be detected but as I said, leave it to the developers.

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So lets say that Starcraft could be designed with Siege Tanks shooting any possible units. It wasn’t planned to be so effective against airborne units, but it is. And players use it to their advantage despite it feels overpowered and quite boring and in long term unsatisfying. Do you think players wouldn’t use them because they feel overpowered? Some probably won’t, because they like challenge and don’t want to use exploits (like me and some other players on this forum), but many would, and it would be broken in terms of game and rules governing this game.