Thoughts on Phoenix Point ahead of Backer Build One (long read)

Hello! Am I the first one to create a new topic? (edit No, I’m not :() Do I get a prize for that? Induction into the Phoenix Point forum Hall of Fame (let’s be honest, every forum needs one of those)? Cookies? One PhoenixBitCoin? I even completed the tutorial with discobot and that ugly unicorn. No?.. Oh well.

OK, jokes aside… let’s get down to business. So… Phoenix Point… where to start?

I have to say that this is the first time in a very long time (like, 10 years or so) that I’ve been this excited for an upcoming game. In fact, it is also the first time I’ve preordered a game. And so far I’m very pleased with how it’s coming along.

I really love the small changes to the UI as compared to XCOM. I can’t tell you how annoying it was to not be able to see whether I will have line of sight when I move to a tile. As far as I can tell, you’ve also made a split between solider and weapon abilities, which should remove another one of my annoyances with XCOM, which is pressing a number key too soon and having it change to another function. Like throwing a grenade instead of… doing something else. Can’t remember what it was, but I do remember blowing my soldier up.
I also like soldier portraits in the UI. Makes identifying them quicker.

I love some of the changes you’ve made to the mechanics to bring it closer to the original series. Not being able to move tile by tile was a major annoyance I’ve had with XCOM, so what you’ve done here brings back some of the freedom missing from the Firaxis games. I really like the idea of willpower for abilities, but I’m not quite sure how it works. I realize that certain abilities lower it and that there are ways to raise it (resting, killing aliens, accomplishing secondary objectives etc.). What I don’t understand is when do negative effects occur: only when willpower goes down to zero, or does the chance of something bad happening increase as your willpower goes down? Also, do soldier deaths decrease each remaining soldiers willpower? If so, is this rank or stat based or just a flat number?

Another thing that is bugging me is return fire on the assault rifle. While it’s a great ability to have in theory, I’m wondering about a potential problem with it. Suppose that I am far away from an alien and have no realistic chance of hitting it, why would I want to use it? Especially when I have limited ammo. Is there a way to prevent that situation? Perhaps clicking the “return arrow” icon to change how it’s used. Say: “always use”, “prompt for confirmation” and “disable”.

Free aim. I’m split on this one. It’s a great idea, but I’m worried about two things here. The first is something you’ve already noticed yourselves, which is that it slows the pace of the game down. The second is that it seems overpowered. what is the downside to using it? Apart from laziness, obviously. If I can only gain an advantage by using it, then I will most likely use it all the time (easpecially on higher difficulties), which goes back to slowing the pace of the game down. Instead, it seems a lot better to me that this ability is only given to the sniper class. In fact, it can easily replace the old body part aiming system you had for the sniper, while still giving you an aim bonus on top. The question remains whether to give free aim to all soldiers when fighting behemoths though. One other thing I’ve noticed is that free aim tends to… spasm a little as the alien moves in slow-mo. I think this could easily be dealt with by allowing the player to stop time completely when he’s satisfied with the position. Say, you could hold Ctrl to fully stop time and release it again if you’re not satisfied. While time is stopped, you could perhaps further adjust your aim. This only leaves one problem that free aim solves, which is destroying cover. However, I don’t see why this couldn’t be done in isometric view for other classes instead. As you may recall, RTS games such as Command and Conquer used Ctrl + left click to force shoot. I don’t see why such a method couldn’t be used here. You hover the mouse over the target tile, then hold Ctrl to enter “object highlight” mode, and once you’ve picked the correct object, left click to shoot. You could also zoom in if the object is smaller.

Multiple shots per turn is another mechanic I’m split on. Although I’m used to it in the original series, I’m not sure how useful it is, especially with the willpower mechanic. One of the downsides of the way it used to work in UFO is that all your auto-shots from all auto weapons fired three bullets. Which doesn’t really make sense to me. So if a weapon now fires 6 bullets, it’s kind of like shooting twice in UFO, except you have less control. For some weapons it makes more sense to me to have less control than you did in UFO (not to mention the per-bullet control you had in Apocalypse’s TB mode). Yet at the same time, I would like to have more options. Willpower is one way, having to exert your soldier for every additional shot. Another thing that could be done is to give the player the ability to add additional bullets to the shot at the cost of additional TUs or willpower. This would be a useful ability of some automatic weapons which would balance them out with the sniper’s free aim. So instead of getting more damage via accuracy, you get more damage via bullet count. So if your shot would normally use 6 bullets, you could now trade say… 4 TUs for 3 extra bullets added to your shot. But always in stacks of multiple bullets, so the player doesn’t have too much control. Willpower could also be used for this instead of or in addition to TUs.
This does bring up a problem in terms of conveying the bullet count to the player via the UI. While I don’t mind the wheel interface (especially if I can use keyboard shortcuts to rotate it or pick directly), perhaps it would be better to have a vertical list instead? This still allows you to select them via “rotation” (the highlight moves to show which item is selected) while also confining item icons to the same outer limits, as well as allowing you to have a unified way to show item information. You could use the same “progress bar” you’re using for time units to hint to the player how much weapon ammunition is going to be spent, while also allowing you to display a number denoting current and total ammunition. Obviously, the same goes for items such as medi-kits.

Overwatch is a nice thing, but I’ve been thinking that this is one mechanic that could be expanded upon to make the game less like XCOM and more like X-COM. And the idea I’ve got is actually something that’s been used before… in X-COM Apocalypse. Agents in Apocalypse had aggression controls which allowed them to react to aliens in different ways (the same was true for aliens). Instead of always reacting with fire, they could also attempt to run and hide. This is something that I could see increasing the tactical options of Phoenix Point. Say, if I don’t think my soldier can do useful damage, he could fall back to a safer location instead. This would have three possible uses that I can think of:

  1. outrunning melee aliens you can’t take down during the current round
  2. hiding from potentially dangerous aliens
  3. using a soldier in a bait tactic to lure the alien closer

The question is how should this be done? Should it be a soldier/class ability? Or perhaps it could depend on the soldier’s character? Or amount of willpower? Or how the soldier perceives the current tactical situation? Remember how in Apocalypse, the aliens would escape when they thought they were in a heavy disadvantage? Your soldiers could choose to run or hide instead of shooting if they think it’s the safer option. The downside of letting the computer figure it out is that it takes control away from the player. You could also use the interruption system of Jagged Alliance to give the player and aliens freedom to spend the remaining TUs as they wish during the opposite turn. On the other hand, this does slow the game pace down, especially with multiple soldiers.

Which brings me to my next point. The general pace of tactical missions. While I hated the 4-soldier initial limit of XCOM, 16 seems a bit much to me. One of my major gripes with the original series was that missions tended to be long. Initially, this didn’t bother me, but as the game went on, it really felt like the game as a whole moved slowly. Part of the problem was the general lack of mission diversity, but also mission length. Ideally I think a single mission should be 15-30 minutes long, except for special missions. This makes the game more dynamic in my opinion. I realize that there are players that like spending a long time in missions, but in the last few years I’ve come to value game replayability far more than game length. Replayability allows me to put in a lot of hours into the game, while not making any single playthrough get to the point where I’m just wishing I’m done with it. So it seems to me like the maximum soldier count shouldn’t be more than 10 or 12 at the most.
The second thing that can influence the pace negatively is map size. This was a problem in Apocalypse where the maps were too big in some cases, making the issue of finding that last alien a chore. The problem was partially alleviated when the aliens decided to escape, but this didn’t always happen.

One more question mark I’ve had is secondary objectives. How do they work? Can they have pros and cons? How do you plan on explaining them for each mission, so that they make sense? Do they give you rewards other than willpower: e.g. resources or weapons, or perhaps techs or bonus to techs, or relations with other factions? Can aliens use them as well to give a sort of “compete for objective” side? This would be really interesting if a faction for example asked you to retrieve some item for them as a secondary objective, but if the aliens get it first or destroy it, this could make your relationship worse.

Moving on to general notes about the game.

Factions - I feel this is not only a good idea, but also I like that there’s only three of them. They are diverse, while allowing you to balance things well. You can always expand them by another one or two in expansions later on, as well as give the players additional diplomatic options or having any future factions influence the game differently. I can really feel the influence of Apocalypse with this idea, and it’s a good thing. As a minor digression, I could never really tell what were the cons of losing some of the organisations to the aliens were, but for the rest, I really loved how each provided you with something else. Marsec and Megapol provided you with weapons and vehicles, Transtellar provided transportation, the Government with base locations and so on. This is something I’d like to see in Phoenix Point or in some future iteration. So not always soldiers and tech, but perhaps resources (independent havens could also be used for this), or intel on alien nests or behemoths and so on.

By the way, how does research and engineering work? Are scientists and engineers just a number like in UFO, or is each an individual as in Apocalypse or something else entirely? I don’t remember this being explained.

One overarching sentiment I have is that as much as I liked the new XCOM series, there are two major things I really disliked and am hoping Phoenix Point will do better. The first is the general feeling of lack of maneuvering space. By this I mean things like only being able to build one base, having to choose only one mission at a time and not really being able to ignore missions (why does ignoring a supply raid cause me to lose the territory?). The games also depended far too much on having superhero soldiers (XCOM2’s “Marvel superheros” look didn’t help). While soldier attachment was a thing in the originals, so was the bodycount. UFOs were also not as major a part as they were in the originals, especially in XCOM2 where they only appeared once every few months. Then in the tactical part there were the cover mechanics and the 2 action system. It’s not that the new series is bad, it’s just that I always felt so… confined. I don’t mind them being hard (I still can’t beat them on the highest difficulty), but the beauty of the originals was that they allowed you to make mistakes and bounce back if you played well. Some of these seem to be corrected in Phoenix Point.

The second thing that was really lacking was the “enemy unknown” part. Which is kind of ironic, given the first game’s title. It became all the more apparent as I replayed the originals recently, and it’s definitely something that could be used to make PP stand out more. I think that, especially with the Lovecraftian influence, the overall tone of the game should be that of tension and fear of the unknown yet with hope and bravery to not make it too depressing. I think that in terms of atmosphere Terror from the Deep was actually the best of the three originals. Just listening to the soundtrack brings back those nasty memories of Lobstermen completely shrugging off my entire Aquanauts’ turn worth of Gauss rifle shots, the floating-Chryssalids a.k.a. Tentaculats coming out of nowhere to give my Aquanauts that sweet, sweet zombie-kiss-of-death and those Tasoth screams which still send shivers down my spine. This is why it’s great news to hear that John Broomhall will be scoring the game, and I’m hoping for something reminiscent of TFTD’s soundtrack. Though I do like Simeon Dotkov’s current piece and hope it’s not thrown away.
But it’s not just a matter of sound, or game difficulty. One thing is how the game portrays the unknown. While I realize that there is going to be fog of war, it isn’t clear if it applies only to what the soldiers can see. One of the ways UFO and TFTD made the unknown more apparent was that everything you couldn’t see was black. The new games did the same, but somehow it didn’t have the same impact. I’m not sure if it was due to the color palette or the fact that you could see the silhouettes of buildings, but it didn’t quite work for me. One thing I definitely disliked and would like changed is the alien’s healthbars. I feel that at least initially, these should not be displayed. This adds to the player’s uncertainty with regards to the enemy he’s facing. How dangerous is it? Will I be able to take it down quickly? How fast does it move? How much armor does it have etc. When you’re displaying health and armor, you’re already telling the player what he is facing. Instead, please consider hiding this information until the player researches the alien (works if research is split into body parts) or carries some sort of Mind Probe equivalent into battle. Or make both a requirement. If you really want, you could give a general feel of the alien’s health, like Fallout did (healthy, wounded, severely wounded, dying, dead), but honestly, I wouldn’t even recommend that. This does leave the question of behemoths… as far as I’ve gathered they will tend to escape, so you may not be able to research them until they’re already dead anyway, right? Perhaps you could gain intelligence on them in other ways then? Via other research or perhaps from factions or some other means.
You could also apply this “unknown” to the Geoscape. Sure, you don’t know where the locations are on the globe. But at the same time, why should you even know where you are on the globe? You could make the whole globe dark in the beginning (apart from your immediate surroundings). This way the player would not know how for he is from the sea where the mist is, and would be forced to go into the unknown until he gets a sense of where he is. I’m not sure how mist applies to the Geoscape so I don’t know if this would make sense, but sounds very appealing to me.

One final worry I have is diversity. So far my impression was that there isn’t much of it in terms of how the aliens looked. I realize that this is partially achieved via mutations, but they should also look distinct enough. While I’m aware that you have a certain theme going on, it still looks like you could add more color differentiation to them. It all looks grey-red-brown currently and I can’t tell the aliens apart at first glance. If you’re using animals and humans as the basis for mutations, there’s more than enough color in nature.
The same problem seems to be in environments so far. Again, I know there’s a theme you have, but it would be nice to see different parts of the world look different to some degree (snow, desert, forest, etc.).

All in all, I’m really looking forward to both the Backer build and the final game. I didn’t mean to be overly critical of what I perceive to be (potential) problems, so please take this as me wishing the game to be the best it can. And of course, correct me where I’m wrong.

I intend to add more to this thread as the game starts moving toward the final release and as I think of more things to add.

Whoosh, that was a long post, wasn’t it? Do I get an award for that? Heck, whoever read this in its entirety should get an award of some kind, I think.


P.S. Excuse the rambling tone and errors, it’s too late here so I’m not in the mood for corrections.


I, for one, really like the idea of free aim coming back. In the original X-Com, at least, for me that was a way how to deal with cover sometimes, once you got to the Laser/Plasma weapons and if you had no soldiers withing grenade-throwing range. Shooting cover on purpose, just to see through, and maybe get LoS to an enemy that your squad couldn’t otherwise see, was a very legit strategy. Also, without free aim, I wouldn’t have beaten the game on superhuman. I remember the fun days of everyone forming up in a line, and then unleashing blasts from Laser Rifles on full auto just outside Skyranger to one direction, then after 20 turns, move the line to another direction, and so forth, until you’ve simply blasted most of the terrain away with your shots, then sloooowly moving for a clean.

Or the age old tactic of mind-controling a muton, making it drop it’s gun, then training people’s reaction skills by standing around the poor sod, with nothing but laser pistols to accidentally not kill it. Ahh, thoe were the days. :smiley:

Afaik “mental disturbances” (mental attacks, ally being killed, whatever else the devs decide) will check against “current Willpower”, and the maximum Willpower a unit has can be modified (for example “trauma” lowering it until treated), but I don’t know if ranks will increase it. I would guess yes, as a veteran soldier has greater Willpower, but probably balance will decide it.

I think this has to tie to an overwatch/return fire “vision cone”, so you tell your soldier that you may fire in that direction, or of course disable it (for a turn).

About Free-aim: I personally don’t have a problem (right now) with even the pace being slower, and would make free-aim the “only” mode (you could still tab-snap to enemies, if zoom allows it see more of the battlefield, etc.), I like how it replaces %-to-hit. Auto-aim could be improved, maybe even with a few clickable options (most damage, highest chance of disabling anything [for bleed], etc.), but I would not take it away from all soldiers.

The player will be able to use vehicles, even going as far as mounting weapons on it, which could help not just with map size, but squad size too, as you can’t transport 16 soldiers and a vehicle at the same time, so players could decide if they want a mission to take “longer or not”. Beside the normal strategical decisions of course depending on mission-type and your style.

Not saying it solves all the problems with pacing, but could be used to have a bit more freedom for players while still being relative balanced.

I believe the mutants (and other factions on a battlefield) will do their own objective by default, which should usually be the opposite of what you have to do, so if your mission is to retrieve a piece of wood, I expect the enemy (be that alien or human) to either defend it or search for it (depending on mission), and failing your missions should have negative effects with the faction who gave it to you.

There were user-discussions about making them tech/interrogation/autopsy dependent, but my problem will always be the same, even with hundreds of mutations, player-knowledge will affect it greatly, and I’m not sure that taking it away for the first… 2-3 playthroughs is worth the risk of… “alienating” new players. (Sorry, couldn’t resist… making the learning-curve so much steeper during the beginning.) I’m still not sure if it’s a good or bad idea, but I see both pros and cons.

You don’t know that your “Rome” Phoenix Haven is where on Earth? You don’t know how Earth looks like? Sure, you don’t know exactly how much the Mist advanced your way, but a thousands year old, knowledge-based organization must know what their planet looks like. They may not have accurate information about other bases of them, but Earth didn’t change much just because a few animals are a bit stronger.

Did you check the latest development update? Showcases examples of different mutations having different visuals, and I have hope that the colors will be distinct enough too.


That was an interesting post.

I’m with you about the manual aiming feature: At first glance it looks like a nice addition, but then I realizzed that it’s a fire option that it’s strictly better than the aouto one.

So basically doesn’t add any choices to the game, because you know it’s better, makes the flow of the game slower, and makes another feature of the game (auto aiming) irrelevant, which is always a bad idea. Quality of life (auto is faster, less effort…) sould never balance with power of different options, so I’m not sure about this one. Maybe spending willpower?

About willpower, I’m worried about the alpha strike potential of having all willpower available at the beggining, when your soldiers are fresh and ready to put a thousand bullets/grenades/rockets into the enemies’ faces.

Personally I’d prefer if you started at zero or at least minimum willpower, and as you achieve successes in the mission it goes up, giving you an edge for that final part when other resources (HP, armor, ammo, grenades…)
are dangerously low.

About HP bars, maybe the best option is having them visible by default, and have an optional setting to turn them off (Pillars of eternity does that, for example).

The last thing I hope gets more fleshed in more advanced builds is secondary objetives. Just standing in a place that happen to be in your way doesn’t seem much of an objetive. Time-based objetives, like retrieving something bafore it’s destroyed, rescuing someone before he dies or killing an anemy before it scapes (maybe even capturing something alive???), or killing additional enemy/enemies, probably stronger, which are not necessary for your primary objective, should feel more like an achievement that deserves extra rewards and would make more sense fluff-wise (you get the piece of tech/ person that was saved, etc…).

I disagree, but that’s me, I’m willing to have longer missions in exchange of the freedom manual aim gives. And I believe that the “wasted time” can be reduced greatly with fine-tuning the auto-aim (now it focuses on center of mass, it can be tuned during the polishing before release), so even those who like a faster pace can enjoy PP.

If most of the abilities cost 2+ willpower and you gain 1 for a kill (or a similar ratio), I will not be that worried about this. You may alpha-strike the few enemies you see, but then the others will have a much easier time driving your soldiers panicking (or using some kind of mental-attack on them), so it’s a risk-reward balance (risking mental damage for less physical [killing enemies faster early]).

They have more than half a year before release, I’m 99% sure objectives will be a lot more polished than what we see now.

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That’s what I was talking about, quality of life is something that should be as good as possible in any game, not a trade-off for efficiency.

If there was some downside to it, like increased TU pojnts or willpower cost it would be more of a tactical decision, and something that you won’t be using at every shot. That would make the gameflow smoother and provide you with more options at the same time.

It would be like the most expensive (in TUs) aiming in original xcoms or xenonauts, an option, the best one, just not always the most efficient one (or even always available)

I know, the game is pre-alpha so I’m not going to whine about things like that (or anything except the core systems, and those are looking great so far), just throwing some ideas out, who know, sometimes you say something that give ideas to devs.

As far as the health bars and such, I think a cool feature would be you only see health bars of aliens that you have captured or autopsied, having spent time studying them should net you information on how tough they are. Even better… only getting body part info for the mutations you’ve learned about. So sure, after fighting the crabmen a few times you may know what that shield is all about, but if they toss a new type of shield or whatever into the mix, you may see the healthbar of his other parts, but not his new shield.


Hello everyone and sorry for not responding sooner. :slight_smile:

@Curonian I’m not sure if I made it clear, but I don’t mind there being free-aim. It’s just that I’m worried about the fact that currently every unit can have it without and drawbacks. Like I mentioned in my original post, I don’t see a reason (apart from development time) not to add an isometric free-aim. Kind of like it worked in the original X-COMs maybe a little improved. So if, for example, there are two objects on a tile, each being half a level tall, you could enter an item highlight mode and then choose the one you would like to shoot.

@Potkeny thank you for the informative post.
When it comes to objectives, do note that I was talking about secondary objectives, not primary. For example, in the demo mission, we’ve seen a control tower which you could seize for a… willpower bonus, was it? This is not your primary objective, so I was hoping to get a little more information on how it’s going to work (read the original post for more details).
As for the health bars, yes, I can see your point. Yet, that same argument could be applied to the rest of the game. What’s the point of the developers holding back on other mutants, behemoths, research and so on? Anything new you see or wish to know, you’ll be able to search for online anyway. It’s only good for the first playthrough, and even then only if you don’t look up the information online. In fact, I’d say you’re more likely to forget the health and armor of most mutants between two playthroughs (assuming they’re far enough apart) than other things in the game, like their abilities, or some of the research and so on. Alienating new players is a problem for sure, though. Perhaps there is a way around it, though? A good tutorial could make it clear to new players why this is so. For example, there could be VO commentary on how you should be careful because you don’t know how much it will take to bring a mutant down. You could also have opponents in that same tutorial whose health you do know, e.g. humans? robots? automatic defenses? Additionally, you could tout this as a feature throughout the pre-release period: interviews, press releases, demos, making sure you tell the media (magazines, websites, LPers) to mention this in their previews, etc. This should cover most issues, I think.
Thank you for answering about the globe part. I was under the impression that at the start of the game you don’t know what happened to the Phoenix Project, so I thought you lack other information as well.Thought it was something like a post apocalyptic setting. Am I wrong about this? Is there something specific that says you have this kind of information? I mean, looking back at the originals, why would you not be able to know what your surroundings were as you landed on this mission site? But the mission area being hidden added to the tension, to the feeling of venturing into the unknown. You didn’t know where the UFO was, what were the surrounding tiles (barn, wheat, cabbage, house, etc.) and so on. What I was aiming for was to reflect this to the globe, where you would initially only know about your immediate surroundings. This would add to the exploration part of the 4X, much like what you did in the early parts of Civilization games. But on top of that, you add the tension of potentially going to your doom. Even if you’re right, I would be willing to trade some contradiction for this exploratory feeling.
I did in fact see the images from the development update, but I forgot all about them, so thanks for linking to them. The images of Chiron is what I’m hoping for. I am assuming the rest are still WIP, but I hope they will be just as distinct.

Kai, you bring up a valid point about the alpha strike. I guess it will really depend on how strong each opponent is. If even one is difficult to take down, then the alpha strike’s potential is lessened, I guess. We’ll see in a few days.

One thing that I’d like to add is objectives and factions. Mr. Gollop talked a lot about how in UFO: EU the aliens had their own agenda. You weren’t even in their focus a lot of the time. Apocalypse expanded on this idea with the different factions, each of which did its own thing (e.g. attacking each other). I don’t know how much of this is going to be carried over to Phoenix Point, but it’s definitely a feature that should be given more attention when showing off the game. It would be really interesting if each faction had their own agenda, not only for the globe (which is probably already so), but also on any tactical missions as well.
So let’s say the mission includes mutants, Phoenix Project and New Jericho. The primary objective of each may be completely different, while secondary (optional) objectives may actually be the opposite of the primary objectives of one of the other factions. Now depending on your relations to New Jericho, you could be fighting with them, against them or neither. This alone would mean that even with just one mission type, things could be very different from mission to mission depending on secondary objectives, factions present and their relationships. Oh my, that sounds like glorious chaos!

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For me, the only difference between the two is the amount of reward you get by completing them (in some games it’s less balanced, rewarding “mission success/failure” to primary and a lot less to secondary), I just simply like the idea of not having a primary, “mission-failure” objective, instead you get rewarded for whatever you did, even getting intel on a newly built Hive can be crucial, even if you couldn’t destroy it, and lots of “secondary” objectives are similar to that.

There are players who just simply don’t want to play a game where they don’t see the HP/details, see HP visibility thread, and excluding a relative big part of the TBS playerbase is not the greatest move in my opinion, even if the game less mainstream than FiraXCOMs, a really niche game will get less additional content from the devs (like underwater missions!), so I would rather have more options/some compromise instead.

Your “Phoenix Project Haven” does work, contains information, you “just” don’t know what happened to the rest (communication failed for too long), so knowing the basic shape of your surroundings sounds not that farfetched for me. Sure, you may not know how exactly the “mission site” looks like, but that’s battlescope, not geoscope. If the geoscope was procedurally generated too, I could somewhat see the benefit, but as far as I know, “only” the havens will be randomized (so you don’t know where other havens are), Earth will remain more or less Earth-like. You still get the Explore from 4X, just not the basic geography but the man-made changes.

Yeah, I only saw that thread after my last post. I’ll add a comment there.

Ah, OK then. Although, why would you not know where the havens are? Are you talking about Phoenix Project havens or geoscape locations in general?

I can imagine security reasons for not telling every PP base where all the others are, but other havens/locations should be known only in really close distance (where communication is still working, which is not that far).

OK, so I played the backer build for a few hours now, so here’s some more thoughts.

I played Fort Freiheit first, and it was easy considering it was my first attempt. I only lost one guy, but maybe I was just lucky. The random missions… I still haven’t beaten one (3 or 4 times).

Generally speaking, the game is fun and considering the development state I’m very satisfied. Two thumbs up from me.

One small thing I really liked is how climbing ladders is not a free action TUs, unlike XCOM. Actually, I got the impression it will always spend one “action”, making you go from blue to yellow, no matter how many TUs you have. Am I right here? Also, I couldn’t climb a ladder with the heavy, is this intentional?

There are some things I don’t like and am hoping they will be changed.

The game is really slow to start. Granted, I have a ProBook 650 G4 with an integrated GPU, but even when playing on 800 * 600, it was very slow to start. I am assuming this will change as the game gets closer to release, but wanted to mention it anyway.

No way to quit the mission, load or save. Yes, I know I can Alt+F4, but then it’s back to the above issue. Please implement this for the next build. The reason I mention loading and saving is that it would be much easier for me to test the game for bugs, which brings me to the next point.

The bug reporting tool needs some work. I can only add one screenshot, which is a problem if I want to show a “before and after”. 3 screenshots would be more than enough.
Going back to saving and loading, this could be used by the bug reporting tool to take a snapshot of the game state so that developers could check it out.

I remain at my stance about free aim (read first post). I ended up using it all the time which slows the pace considerably. I would really like some way of freezing time when I’m satisfied with the enemy’s position.

Same thing for health bars. I’d really like to see them gone until the mutant body part has been researched and then only visible to soldiers with proper equipment, and at some TU or willpower cost. Intel on behemoth body parts could be gleaned by other means. Either from factions or as mission rewards or maybe interrogations etc.

Return fire has already been mentioned, both by me above and by others. The solution is not so easy. Just having a toggle doesn’t seem like a good solution to me. The issue here is that I really want my soldier to shoot at an enemy he actually has a reasonable chance of hitting. If I toggle it off but an enemy is just around the corner and shoots me, my soldier won’t shoot back even though he’d probably do some damage. So maybe return fire options should be based on minimal chance to hit?

Cover doesn’t quite work the way I would hope. I’ve had two situations, one of which has been mentioned by others. Standing next to an edge of a building will often block my shot. It makes sense, but it would also make sense if the soldier could “peek out” of cover. Kind of like what XCOM does, but perhaps with a bit of twist. If you peek out and shoot, you remain out for return fire. So at least your upper body is exposed.
The second situation is about crouching behind cover. It boils down to the same problem. The soldier was crouching behind some half-cover (pipes) and couldn’t shoot the enemy. When I went into free aim, I realized that it was because he was crouching. Again, it would make sense for the soldier to “peek out” (stand up) and then shoot, while at the same time being open to return fire.

Point blank shot missed, even though the body part was covered by both circles in their entirety. If I understood correctly, this is a bug?

There’s two bugs I noticed which I think are not mentioned in the list of known issues. Assault’s exertion doesn’t increase you TUs over the max, which means I can’t use it when I have (close to) full TUs.
The second bug is related to weird camera issues, making it pan as I move the mouse around (NOT to the edge of the window). The last time it happened, I was in free aim mode just before that, if that’s any help. I’ll see if I can reproduce it to give you more details.

A few suggestions:

Performance isn’t very good, so could you please include a “low quality” setting for the next build for those of stuck with poor machines? :slight_smile:
A proper issue tracker (e.g. JIRA) would be very useful to see both the bugs we had submitted via F12 ingame, but also to add new issues outside of the game.
When in free aim it would be nice to have a clickable list of enemy organs. On click the reticle would snap to the organ. This would make free aim faster because you could quickly switch between organs, and then fine tune.
A message log window would be very useful. The last time I played the mission, I didn’t even realize I lost a guy, which is probably due to poor performance.
A toggle for fps and current turn number would be nice. Would also help with bug reporting.

One question I had was that I noticed that when my heavy’s hand was disabled, I couldn’t use the machine gun, but I could still fire rockets. Is it a two-handed vs. one-handed weapon issue?

All in all, the game is slowly shaping up, so I’m very excited for future builds. I’ll add more thoughts once I had some more time with BB1.

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Yes, the heavy is too… heavy to climb ladders.

Yeah, I only noticed the icon on my last playthrough.:man_facepalming:

@UnstableVoltage I noticed the game has a console for entering commands. Is it just a placeholder or are there actual commands we could enter? If it’s functional, could we get a list of commands? It would also be nice to have a command which is going to list all the commands, like “list” or “help”.

@Kurungu The current console commands are mostly for internal development purposes. We’re not giving them out at this stage, as their use could cause undesired behaviour which could impact our bug collection process.

One of the ways UFO and TFTD made the unknown more apparent was that everything you couldn’t see was black. The new games did the same, but somehow it didn’t have the same impact.

By the way, will there be some kind of Fog of War on strategic map?

@Azimuth There will be the mist.

A lot of good observations and thought, @Kurungu, I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything and I want to specifically mention the health bar issues. I completely agree that having the detailed health and armour info right off the bat is going against the spirit of fighting an unknown, alien threat.

I do understand how some tactical game aficionados always strive for having as much detailed information about combat situation as possible to make the best possible decision but in case of XCom games(and I use this term loosely here), fighting the unknown threat, making the best of what you know and learning more through research is a crucial part of what makes those games unique and appealing.

I do think that outside of basic human opponents, well-known human vehicles and tech(i.e. mutants and experimental tech fall outside of that category), enemy stats should not be available to players unless particular enemy is researched. Information starts as “healthy/lightly wounded/severely wounded/dead” and “unarmoured/lightly armoured/heavily armoured” for unresearched enemies. Researching a body part provides detailed info for it while having more than 50% of the enemy body parts researched provides the detailed info on the enemy total health.

As for new player experience, firstly I do not think the game should extensively cater for inexperienced and, more to the point, those unwilling to learn. XCom-like games were always quite hard and quite complex; those qualities are an integral part of what makes them appealing, what makes them stand out. So a good tutorial and detailed “ufopaedia” articles should be much more preferable that an overbundance of easily available tactical information with no efforts required to obtain it.

Now, how I think new player experience as well as veteran experience should be tackled. My solution is to tie the stat information availability into difficulty settings. While basic selection of “easy/med/hard etc” difficulty levels should provide a quick way of selecting a difficulty, all(or at least some) variable difficulty settings should be available via advanced difficulty options, similar to how it is done in Long War. Each “base” difficulty setting will have a pre-set of advanced options with a difficulty score indicating how selected difficulty mode relates to pre-set modes.

Easy mode will have “research required for detailed enemy stats” disabled by default while other pre-sets will have it enabled. Players will be able to either pick a pre-set which will cater for their overall idea of difficulty or, in case of a experienced player who simply prefer having the full stat info right off the bat, pick a difficulty and then tweak it via advanced options. To keep the difficulty score at the desired level(i.e. custom but still qualifying as “hard” for instance), other difficulty options could be enabled to compensate for the additional stat info. This will solve the new player experience issue for those who will be unable to deal with the lack of start right away.

Now, to make things interesting for seasoned veterans, who are on their Nth playthrough and could already memorized all alien start, we can introduce and additional difficulty option to slightly randomize the stats for each alien body part at the start of the campaign. I expect this to be in line with the overall feel of the game as randomized alien composition from a library of body parts is already being implemented, this idea only takes this a step further, if not envisages the already planned but not yet announced feature. Stat variation have to be limited, of course, to prevent aliens form being impossible to kill early on. But if implemented as a pick out of 3-4 stat pre-sets for each alien body part, instead of being fully random, it can go a long way to make stat research meaningful even when you have several playthroughs under your belt.


Yes, difficulty is definitely one way to handle this. Difficulty alone can be enough if the mutants have higher stats (e.g. more health) on higher difficulties. Then, even if you beat the game on lower difficulties, you don’t know how much health the mutants have.

What if each mutant’s stats would be randomly generated upon their creation? Like start of the mission, or in BB1 when they appear with the queen. Their ufopa… er, mutopedia? viropedia? mistopedia? entry could then say: Head HP: 5-7… and so on for each body part. This would add just a bit uncertainty to every mission where you wouldn’t immediately know what to expect. It would work especially well if you needed equipment to view their stats.

I’ve been thinking about return fire some more. Perhaps the way to make it more useful would be to simply limit the weapon range? I don’t know if that makes sense given the map size. The way I would handle this is taking current weapons and finding out the distance when the weapon stops being effective. Effective in my head would be the chance for at least one bullet hitting the target. So I’m not saying chance per bullet, but rather total chance to hit (at least) once. For example, if you fire 10 bullets and one of them hits (on average), that would be 10% chance to hit. Anything worse than that would be wasting ammo, in my opinion, so that’s where you would limit the weapon’s range. I’m not sure if I explained this idea well, would be a lot easier if I had a piece of paper and a pencil. And some actual drawing skills. :joy: Maybe there could be an option to force a shot regardless of hit chance, for when you’re really desperate.
The same rules would apply to your opponents as well.

On an unrelated note, I still haven’t beaten the random missions. I need to start using explosives more often and stop making stupid mistakes.

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As much as I like the idea of more customisation options, I don’t really think it must be good for the game. There were already games built around pleasing everybody (both casual and veteran players) and ended up poorly…
I don’t know if you are familiar with Thief series: the last Thief game is a perfect example of how to ruin experience while trying to please all the people, adding billions of options to toggle on/off… In theory it sounds awesome, in practice it made last Thief a game without identity, game which couldn’t decide what type of experience wanted to deliver…
But not only too many options made it poor game, also lack of character and weird gameplay choices. Thief wanted to be more streamlined and tried to please old fans at the same time - that was the reason why it was received with mixed feelings and seen as lost potential. I wouldn’t like to see mistakes like that in PP. Trying to please everybody demands much work and I would rather see PP as a game with determined status and firm core, but also a game for people who like challenge and are familiar with turn based games.
Personally I’m not a fan of too much info (visible HP bars), but if there will be option to toggle it on/off I’d like to be sure game won’t hurt because of it.

@Kurungu, return fire shouldn’t be so annoying and powerful after implementing fog of war.

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