What's the difference between mutations and variants?

Phoenix Point provides a mutation system whereby creatures are going to mutate and, hopefully, change to adapt to the human player’s actions, but how is that different to the enemy variants that crop up in many other games? Are we getting something different here, or has that term ‘enemy variant’ just been re-branded?

I think the idea is that by mixing individuals body parts together we can get more variations of the same core enemy, rather then gaving just couple enemy types per “species” at best.

Whenever it will result in a better and dynamic enemy variety, or simply most enemies being poorly designed remains to be seen.

You can say it was re-branded. But some enemy variants are so similar to each other that it is better to say ‘we have 7 aliens with mutation system making them more varied’ than ‘we have 85+++ enemy variants’.

I think they’re literally variants. They just came up with the mutation system name because what they are doing with it is a unique way of designing enemy variants.

I can’t think of another game which would construct enemies from individual body parts so it is a new thing. Which is well expressed by its name:

the changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form that may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes.

In fact, all these mutations are just a set of equipment. Frankly, mutants with different body parts are no different from your soldiers with a variety of equip. We can say that their equip is bionic, and yours is technogenic - until Anu begins to mutate :). *Example: they can use agile legs or strong legs same as you can equip berserker legs or heavy legs. This is just a matter of terminology.
As we have already discussed, there are no reliable parameters for the procedural selection of enemy equip (okay, mutations). Thus, it will be either a random choice associated with a certain increase in the access to mutations available to aliens.
Or, the developers will analyze the experience of fighting from saves of BB5 and manually prescribe patterns to generate increasingly complex opponents, depending on the techs and equip (and maybe! tactics) that you use at a current moment for your soldiers. Nothing extraordinary original, but hope it will be better then now.

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What about StarCraft 2 with Zerg upgrades vs Terrans equip?

Not really, as they can’t swap it during fight. :slight_smile: And one kind of Arhron can’t become other kind. When developed and mutated in nearby Nest they can’t change their set body parts. Aliens to have different Arthron will need to create another Nest with some specific mutation - there may be a hope that those next Nests will have some pattern to follow.

And this means that human soldiers are more flexible than aliens, in addition to players intelligence :slight_smile:

From what I have seen it sounds like far way of describing it, though I do hope they have more interesting things in store then gun vs granade.

As it should be. Game can be tactical only if enemy is somewhat predictable. Making enemies flexible is not very useful as it is unlikely AI would be able to effectively utilise it. Having them change the loadout “on the fly” could only make things frustrating, assuming AI wouldn’t get stuck constalty changing its mind regarding what it should do.

Aliens should be granted overall numerical advantage to counteract players tactical superiority.

But it exactly is. I mean, almost every single aliens’ mutation has an analogue in humans’ equip and abilities, except probably mist emitters. And that is big question why we have no smoke grenades by the way.
I tried to mark that humans’ flexibility contents abilities, equipment, ammo types, armor types, mutations, tactics etc. Some of this is shown only in blanks and templates (like some weapons or equipment), or unbalanced, but it is already shown! And all of that can be combined with players’ intelligence, experience and save-load :slight_smile:
In contrast, aliens can provide onlt a limited, random-based set of mutations. We can talk about the benefits of predictability for gameplay. Yes, at a base level, this is so - there must be some kind of game rules. No one will play chess if the opponent at any time can jump with any figure through the whole board to any cell and knock down your king and 8 pieces around him. (Actually, the player can now do just that without even using SL - poor aliens :slight_smile: ) However, the limited capabilities of aliens are alarming. They are dull, and their power based on quantity only. Why does the triton have 4 different arms, if he manages to use only one - like a reserve? Tell me, are you afraid of a siren or chiron when you meet them 3rd or 4th time? Personally, I had only one concern - how to capture them alive without accidentally killing them. Ok, this convers is almost useless while player soldiers so overpowered. But I won’t believe that balance would be reached by nerfing humans - aliens should be boosted too. But how?

And we do not have any hints from the developers on how they are going to improve this in an interesting direction. That is why this topic will cause such concern among those who played this build for more than 2-3 weeks. Okay, we can certainly be sure that they will prepare for aliens a wider and more suitable set of mutations. We can hope that they will teach the AI ​​of each alien how to use each specific mutation. Perhaps even groups of units with mutually complementary mutations will appear. We can assume that the developers will at least try to interconnect the AI of different units for group interaction. It would be nice if the process of spreading the virus on the globe would be at least a bit like a frightening directed evolution, and not like a civil war on a blushing globe. I’m a little worried about how they can show the dynamics of each alien species during the game, so that it will looks like a frightening mutations, instead of like “ok, now this arthron has a new level and can spit acid, fancy head by the way”. And finally we really want to believe that, in sum, all this will work harmoniously :slight_smile:

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Enemies being able to change loadout has been present within games for donkey’s years, it’s just a case of scripting it and making it appear to be ‘on the fly’ whilst really it’s planned in advance based on game conditions.

Enemies should be predictable, but only to a certain point. 100% predictability, that’s ultimately no fun, you just end up gaming the system, there needs to be some variation and randomness to how an enemy will react too, preferably that happens as a response to the player’s actions.

How well the AI can implement that randomness, depends upon how well it’s programmed.

The answer should be: because it’s Beta not final release.
As I said: I HOPE there is more in 1.0 in terms of mutation variety and enemy development and PP progression and equipment available.

There are very serious problems with logical tolerances: now we should have to discuss how it could happen that in the beta version there is a huge amount of unbalanced, raw and sometimes non-functional human content, and (comparatively) there is practically no such stuff for aliens at the same time.
We can assume the developers’s attempt to carefully hide main secrets (mutation system), or the development of two games separately - a module about aliens and a module about players, but it smells like conspiracy theory. It’s much easier to assume that the developers honestly showed exactly what they had at the time of publication of BB5.

Well, balance is something you do once you have all things in place. According to updates balance passes are happening currently, though I did find it disheartening to see no evidence of skill re-balance in the recent peak into the dev build.

I don’t know. it doesn’t seem out of bounds of reality to simply not include alien body parts/PP items in BB5, either intentionally or due to more work being needed. If it is more they have produced, then I don’t see a way PP could turn out playable, and all I can hope for is that the year of exclusivity and DLC will be enough to flesh out the game.

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I think I’m almost planning for that - I’m going to dip my toe in upon release, and I’m prepared to be wrong, but I think that the game is going to then give a lot better experience for waiting a while after release for that DLC and the patches/balance tweaks that it may need.

So the reason why I said it was a variant is because a variant is basically an enemy with a certain aesthetic or roll being tweaked to look and behave just a little differently while ultimately having their aesthetics and behaviors similar and that’s exactly what this mutation system does. I feel the advantages of doing it the way Phoenix Point had done it is that the that there is a wider variety because of the nature of how a randomized system works. The disadvantage is that you can’t name each individual variant as there are too many possibilities.