Phoenix Point (TBA)

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[PC] [MAC] [ONE] [PS4] Phoenix Point

Unread postby Saf » 17 Mar 2017 03:06

Official site: http://www.phoenixpoint.info/

https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2016/0 ... an-gollop/

Adam Smith wrote:Phoenix Point: Every Detail Of The X-COM Creator’s Return To The Genre

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One of the most exciting games in Los Angeles this week won’t be featured at press conferences or on the showfloor. Phoenix Point [official site] is the new tactical-strategy hybrid from Julian Gollop, the creator of the original X-COM, and we met yesterday to discuss its procedurally generated alien threats, simulated human factions and much more. Here’s the world’s first in-depth look at the game.

This is more than a remake of X-COM, that’s clear from the start. While the turn-based tactical combat looks a great deal like Firaxis’s take on the series, with destructible terrain and entirely procedural levels, the strongest and most exciting ideas in Phoenix Point might well be in the strategic layer, which combines elements of grand strategy with the lurking horror of Stephen King’s The Mist. Before digging into all of that though, here’s how the future looks. It’s not pretty.

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Phoenix Point may be humanity’s last hope. An isolated settlement of survivors in a world that has gone to hell, it’s a peak rising above a tide of horrors that are threatening to consume what remains of humankind. Your task is to lead the ragtag band of people who have made Phoenix Point their home, at first ensuring that they survive by gathering food and other resources, and later by fighting back against the threats that surround them.

The game is set in 2046 and the last pockets of the human race are hiding in havens, scattered around the world. That’s because something went terribly wrong a couple of decades ago, when the melting of the permafrost released a long-dormant alien virus into the oceans. That virus is capable of mutating any species it comes into contact with, which leads to an initial wave of horrific aquatic creatures, reminiscent of Terror From The Deep, and eventually makes its way onto land.

The virus spreads under the cloak of a mist that you’ll be able to see spreading across the map. It plays a part in tactical combat as well as on the strategic Geoscape layer, and I’ll go into more detail about that later, but right now it’s best to think of it as both a cover system and a literal fog of war. It hides creatures and protects them, and represents both the presence of the alien hordes and a form of corruption that they’re spreading across Earth.

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One of the key tenets of Phoenix Point is taken from the most important word in X-COM’s title: Unknown. Gollop tells me that he wants to create a game in which the player will fear the dark and in which the enemy will intelligently react and adapt to their tactical choices. If you repel an initial wave using skillful sniper shots, the next attack might feature new monsters with chitinous shields or front-facing armour, or humanoid hybrids with guns of their own to return fire. Switch tactics to take these new creatures out with incendiary weapons or explosives, and the next batch will find ways to counter that tactic as well.

And if all else fails, the aliens can always just beat you down with their sheer size.

“Procedural generation works on two levels,” Gollop explains. “The first is interchangeable body parts. The other thing is morphing in size and shape to some extent. It might be that an alien has a vestigial element that can get larger. Or it might be a relatively small creature that is based on a large insect or bat, but that might get bigger or nastier.”

Initially, the aliens you fight will be based on combinations of sea creatures – I saw crab men but Gollop mentions squids, octopi and sharks as well – but as they force their way in-land, new hybrids will appear, based on animals from the regions in question. That means your location in the world will dictate, to an extent, whether you’re facing petrifying pachyderms or…giant penguins? I make the latter suggestion and Gollop seems enthused.

“Yes, maybe. And elephants with long legs, enormous bats and insects, or giant chameleons with wings.”

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Part Dali, part Cronenberg, the aliens of Pheonix Point won’t just be unknown on each playthrough, they’ll be uncanny. And when Gollop uses the word “giant”, he’s not talking about a beefy Muton. Pointing out a skittering monstrosity that seems more claw than flesh and could probably lob a small building at your squad, he describes it as “a tiddler”. Later, when he shows me the first example of a mission in action, the sequence ends with an oil rig being assaulted by something emerging from the deep that seems almost large enough to devour the entire structure.

It’s more reminiscent of Dagon’s attack in Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth than anything I’d expect from X-COM and the Lovecraft quote that opens the presentation makes a lot more sense in the context of these gargantuan horrors. This is a game about biological horror but the virus is cosmic in origin and, I suspect, some of the late game developments will focus on that element.

“I don’t want to give too much of the plot away right now but there are several endings,” Gollop explains. “If you choose to, you’ll learn some interesting things about how the world came to be as it is. The virus has been on the earth for thousands of years and determining its origins is one of the important mid-game objectives that could provide a possible solution.”

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We should rewind a little though because as fascinating as the creatures are, and as central to the themes and mechanics of the game as they might be, I’m surprised to find myself more excited about how Gollop is handling the other human survivors. Aliens, I expected; I didn’t expect a deep strategic simulation reminiscent of both Alpha Centauri’s factions, grand strategy and X-COM: Apocalypse’s complex diplomacy.

The loop of the original X-COM and Firaxis’ take on the series involves sequences of alien activity, both in the tactical and strategic levels, and then the player’s response. Phoenix Point adds an extra complication with the activity of other factions.

Across the world, you’ll discover havens, places where humans have managed to survive, usually because of some geographical quirk that prevents the alien mist from drowning them. Because the collapse of civilisation and the presence of the mist have isolated these havens from one another, they’ve developed radically different ways of thinking about the world, and the aliens. That means they might be friendly or hostile to you, and to one another, depending on how you choose to progress through any given playthrough.

It’s the fact that they might attack one another that I find most exciting. When it comes to strategy games, I always feel much more comfortable within a simulated world that can unfold without my influence. It’s one of the reasons I love Paradox’s grand strategy releases: they’re engines for the creation of alternate histories that you can partake in, but they don’t direct all of their attention toward the player.

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Phoenix Point, like Apocalypse before it, shares some of those qualities. Factions will develop their own agendas and develop technology, and they need to gather resources to survive just as you do. They’ll make alliances and fight one another, as well as battling against the aliens, and entire conflicts and emergent stories can play out without your involvement should you choose to turn your attention elsewhere.

You might be wondering why the last remnants of humanity would be fighting one another rather than concentrating on an external threat. First of all, their isolationist nature and divergent ideologies sometimes means they just plain don’t like one another. And then there’s the scarcity of resources in the world – if you need to feed your people and the group just over yonder has a surplus of food that they won’t trade, it’s possible to organise raids.

Of course, you might believe your interests are better served by alliances. Trade and diplomacy are both supported but the distinct belief systems and goals of the factions will eventually cause tension and conflict. You can’t be friends with everyone. There are likely to be more types of human group in the finished game but Gollop has three in mind already.

Sanctuary are a highly scientific ecological group who believe that the future of the planet involves co-existence with the aliens. To that end, they’re developing biospheres in which to contain lifeforms – artificial ecosystems of a sort – and early warning systems, as well as technology that can repel the mist. Their motto, in brief, is “we stay in our space and you stay in yours”.

Taking the opposite view, the Human League are a survivalist militia who believe they can find a military solution to the menace. They don’t think co-existence is possible and want to repel the invasion through force.

Finally, there’s Advena Domine, a religious cult who sacrifice their enemies in a ritual of alien ‘communion’. Normally when a human is infected with the virus, like any other animal they lose their consciousness and become a puppet of the alien force. The cult have developed a tech that allows them to receive the alien DNA while retaining their own consciousness.

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In a further twist on the game’s structure, you’ll be able to use the unique tech developed by each of the factions provided you can seize it or have a strong enough relationship to allow for shared research. When it comes to the Advena Domine technology, there’s a distinct nod to Enemy Within – altering your soldiers’ DNA may be beneficial but there is a risk of losing their humanity entirely.

There several other branches of research independent of the other factions. One is purely based on building earth-based technology to improve weapons, armour and equipment, and others are based on the X-COM staple of autopsy and study of the aliens themselves. If you meet a mutant form that is vulnerable to fire, for example, you’ll be able to set your researchers to discover ways to exploit that vulnerability, through development of flamethrowers or incendiary rounds, for example. You’ll be able to explore biogenetics even without Advena Domine influence as well, taking elements of the aliens you encounter to ‘improve’ your own soldiers.

All of that comes later though. Initially, your goal is simply to survive. In an inversion of the usual X-COM setup, you begin with technical superiority but the aliens have sheer weight of numbers in their favour, as well as their ability to mutate and adapt. The other factions will generate missions for you in the early game, providing supplies and tech if you are willing to help them when they’re attacked, but you’ll also need to repel attacks on your own havens. If the mist encroaches on your territory, there’s an immediate risk of attack.

As well as defending what you own, you’ll also need to concentrate on expanding your territory, however, in order to make contact with other factions and to increase the flow of supplies by discovering new scavenging zones. All of this takes place on a Geoscape that looks remarkably like a directly updated version of X-COM’s original globe. There, you can see the advance of the mist and key strategic points, such as scavenging locations and havens.

The majority of your time will be spent in tactical combat, however. Levels are procedurally generated, just as the creatures are, and the visual style is similar to Firaxis’ XCOM. There are changes, however, most notably in the ability to target specific body parts, primarily on larger creatures. You can take out the arm that wields (or IS) a gun, or damage legs to reduce or disable mobility. In the mission I was shown, a creature with a growth on its back that emitted mist, providing cover, shrouded itself in darkness, reducing the accuracy of attacks against it and entirely hiding it from view.

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Mist plays a key part in battles, providing a more literal fog of war. Monsters within the mist are a mystery – you can fire on them but they’re indistinct shapes and you won’t have any idea what their abilities are until they emerge or you find a way to evaporate the mist and reveal them. In the example I saw, a sniper with a height advantage managed to take a shot that ruptured the growth from above, infuriating the creature but destroying its ability to hide itself and its allies.

The procedural levels will have their own in-built mini objectives in the form of strategic points scattered throughout. These might be elevated structures or vantages, control rooms, or alien installations. Taking control of them will allow you to play tactical cards, brought into combat from a deck built in the strategic layer, that provide buffs to individual soldiers or entire squads.

Soldiers themselves are fully customisable and there’s an air of XCOM 2’s ragtag bands about them. Post-apocalyptic fighters, without uniforms or regulation haircuts. As well as cosmetic alterations, you’ll be able to give them equipment including spotter drones, various armour types and other enhancements, as well as the weapons you’ve researched. Gollop says class delineations won’t be as strictly defined as in XCOM and its sequel, but it’ll be advantageous to build diverse squads.

All of the changes to the core X-COM idea – whether it be the addition of diplomacy and simulated human factions or the adaptive mutations of the aliens themselves – appear to serve a single purpose. Gollop wants to create an open world strategy game and he wants to create a game that forces the player to alter strategies and tactics on the fly. A successful tactic won’t be effective forever because the enemy will literally morph in order to counter it, and the very weapons you decide to use will determine the kind of aliens you meet.

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It’s a tremendously exciting proposition, combining the fears and anxieties of the original X-COM with the polish of Firaxis’ remake. Add that dash of grand strategy and the memories of Apocalypse’s strongest ideas and Phoenix Point becomes something unique. When I arranged to meet Gollop I was half-expecting the game to rely much more on the legacy of its creator and his most famous game. I knew about the adaptive nature of the aliens and the ability to target individual body parts but that seemed like a wrinkle added to the tactical combat rather than a dramatic change.

We won’t be able to play a finished version for a while though. It’s due out in 2018 and it’ll probably be the second half of the year. Gollop is in town to talk to publishers as well as press, and already has a working prototype of the strategic game. Tactical combat is almost ready as well, in pre-alpha form.

With its inter-faction diplomacy and strategic simulation, Phoenix Point excites me far more than a more direct attempt to tap into the memory of X-COM would have done. It’s a bold game which has taken lessons from every strategy game in the series, including Firaxis’ remakes (which Gollop repeatedly enthuses about), but also looks at the wider field of grand strategy and survival horror. For a strategy fan, it’s hard to think of a more exciting reveal in a week that doesn’t normally make a great deal of space for the genre.
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Unread postby Saf » 17 Mar 2017 04:54

Teaser Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA8qUfUd25s

https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/0 ... sic-writer

Adam Smith wrote:A new teaser trailer gives very little away, but does arrive alongside news that John Broomhall, composer of X-COM’s superbly creepy music, has joined the team as audio director and composer, and that Jonas ‘Talos Principle’ Kyratzes has joined the writing team.
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Unread postby icycalm » 19 Mar 2017 19:27

Added to Most Wanted section. This takes it up to 31 games, but I don't care. I'll shoot for 40 or 50 or whatever. I mean why not? The page can be as long as I like.
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Unread postby icycalm » 07 Dec 2017 09:25

They are going all-out with this:

https://phoenixpoint.info/game/

Fantastic-looking game and great official site too.

It'd be nice if they can put the fear of God into Firaxis and force them to up their game.
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Unread postby icycalm » 09 Dec 2017 02:51

XCOM Creator's Phoenix Point: 8 Minute Boss Battle Gameplay
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uMePkH8oX0

It looks incredible.
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Unread postby icycalm » 02 Nov 2018 04:59

Official Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qTArKX-DLg

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Not great as a trailer, but good as a demonstration of some features.

There will also be a ONE version, by the way: https://twitter.com/Phoenix_Point/statu ... 7242115077
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Unread postby Discord BOT » 12 Mar 2019 21:00

CULT|earthboundtrev
https://twitter.com/pcgamer/status/1105554064316743680
It'll be exclusive for just a year according to PC Gamer.

CULT|icycalm
I've been wondering when that would show on Steam
It's a huge win for Epic
Might I say... an epic win?
Originally posted in the Insomnia Discord.

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Phoenix Point livestream + commentary starting soon

Unread postby icycalm » 08 Dec 2019 22:18

This finally came out earlier this week, on Tuesday the 3rd, on the Epic store: https://www.epicgames.com/store/en-US/p ... point/home

I will be streaming it later tonight, probably in about an hour or so, with full commentary, so hop on to Twitch if you want to catch my stream: https://www.twitch.tv/insomniacult

I'll be sitting in a voice channel on Discord so people are free to drop by and chat with me about the game and related stuff while I am playing (just make sure that you have the Twitch tab muted before you come in).

In the meantime here's the latest pics from the Epic store to whet your appetite.

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Official Launch Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRBlPg8nRuQ

Phoenix Project Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJV_5HAgyps

"Next Life" Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70oK7TDLK_0
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Unread postby Discord BOT » 09 Dec 2019 03:30

CULT|icycalm
Quick question: are the Firaxis XCOMs best played with a controller?

CULT|Robomoo
No
It's possible but just slower
If you play 10 turns, it might take you 20 minutes longer with a controller
So the controller gets more and more annoying the longer you're playing for at once
I always like to play those games in long sessions, never short bursts, so I never use a controller
Then again, if you started by using a controller and never knew how much faster mouse and keyboard was, I guess it wouldn't seem so annoying

CULT|icycalm
Ok, thanks, just asking because console tactics games like Fire Emblem are designed to work best with controllers, and the new XCOMs have a reputation of being somewhat "consolized" compared to the old ones

CULT|Robomoo
I heard some bad stuff about Phoenix Point, so I went and asked for opinions in a specialist XCOM discord and they are calling it trash.
"the first person aiming system is gimmicky and works against the game more than with it, the enemy AI is really dumb, the locational damage system doesn't make the game more interesting, the game is incredibly poorly balanced (if you lose a soldier in the early game you effectively have to start over immediately because you literally can no longer recruit new soldiers) and several features just seem to have been implemented with zero regard to how it actually alters the rest of the game"
"if this was the first new X-Comlike in a long time we'd all be very impressed
but it's a massive step backwards from EU/EW and 2"
"There's also general lack of anything impressive compared to EU or especially XCOM 2 in terms of graphics, voicework, story, cutscenes, soldier customization, etc."

CULT|ysignal
I lost a soldier early on and recovered just fine...
Also, the ballistics are a good step forward from EU, where the shooting machanics were just dice rolls and produced absurd hits and misses
I didn't play XCOM 2 but the art is a big step up from EU, especially the character design
It's true that the AI isn't great

CULT|icycalm
Sounds like an interesting game to try out!
If you get any more soundbites from that Discord Robo, or if either of you find any cool reviews later on to post on Insomnia, let me know
But I purchased the game and I am streaming it either way as the first step toward the "icycalm show"
I will be streaming the coolest-looking new game every week from now on
More details on Patreon tomorrow
I am setting up the stream now

CULT|Ciaróg
"Also, the ballistics are a good step forward from EU, where the shooting machanics were just dice rolls and produced absurd hits and misses" EU cheats in your favour on Normal and below difficulty. It stops being an issue on the higher difficulties. It does make the lower difficulties unplayable though.
Originally posted in the Insomnia Discord.

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★★★ Phoenix Point (2019, PC)

Unread postby Insomnia » 07 Jan 2020 02:13

Review (3/5): https://culture.vg/forum/topic?t=7189

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Insomnia wrote:An exciting idea, with great design elements throughout, that just wasn't ready for prime time.
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Unread postby Ciaróg » 07 Jan 2020 14:50

There is one glaring problem in one of those Phoenix Point reviews. It says there is no way to know the chance for a shot to hit but there is, you have an inner and outer crosshair with a 50% chance of hitting anywhere within the inner one and a 100% chance to hit anywhere in the outer. I haven't seen anyone else on the internet who understands this because the game does such an awful job of explaining how things work and I only figured it out through trial and error. My main problem with the game is that the devs seem to expect you to google how everything works. Phoenix Point could be great but seems unfinished. There are five pieces of DLC on the way and if they fix some of the the issues I will consider it the best X-COM-like game. As stated above the current dependence on RNG is what kills it but it feels more like they almost had the game ready and rushed to release it before sufficient beta testing than anything else. It feels better built for ironman runs than the Firaxis games although the devs need to make the game stable enough to bother with ironman runs first. Veteran soldiers are less irreplaceable than the Firaxis games but it is still a fundamental part of the game to try to keep them alive because they do offer enough of an advantage to necessitate them as you face stronger enemies but not to the extent that losing a high-ranked unit is enough to make a run unwinnable. I like it more than the second Firaxis game as it is despite it being unpolished and buggy.
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Unread postby ysignal » 07 Jan 2020 16:16

I don't like the over-the-shoulder firing and dumbed-down mechanics they copied from the Firaxis XCOM games. The close-up perspective looking down the sights of a gun just makes the mechanics look flimsy. They did address it a little in Phoenix Point by simulating the individual bullets, but it still doesn't look good to me. For these games I prefer the arrangement used in Jagged Alliance 2 where battles are entirely top-down. Maybe if you have enough cool animations it makes the close-up perspective worthwhile. I'll have to try XCOM 2.

I also don't understand the appeal of ironman mode. If I'm going to spend dozens of hours micromanaging tiny squads of men in a turn-based fashion I want the tactical difficulty to be sky-high, which means plenty of squad wipes, which are fatal to your save file unless your soldiers are expendable, in which case the importance of the tactical side of the game is diminished and then what's the point of all the micromanagement and tiny squads? I prefer to reload my save a few times if the battle is a total disaster, and if I have to keep reloading then I've obviously made a strategic blunder and I start the whole campaign again. But in ironman mode you have to start over whether you made a strategic error or not, and if your error was tactical then you're just going to retread the same strategy again, which strikes me as an exercise in tedium.
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ICYCALM LIVE: Phoenix Point (ft. recoil)

Unread postby icycalm » 07 Jan 2020 19:36

First off, let me link my brief impressions run from last month that I've neglected to link yet. I will be using stuff that happened in it in my commentary below.

ICYCALM LIVE: Phoenix Point (ft. recoil)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCLNlFmfuOY

Ciaróg wrote:My main problem with the game is that the devs seem to expect you to google how everything works.


That would never be my "main problem" with a game. I wouldn't even bother mentioning it in a review, probably, that's how much of a non-issue it is to me. Give me a great game and I'll happily google all day long to figure out how it works, or even stumble my way through it blindly no matter how long it takes me. Hell, I'd probably enjoy myself even more that way, especially if I am playing a great game (because of course struggling to understand a mediocrity has the opposite effect and adds insult to injury).

Ciaróg wrote:Phoenix Point could be great but seems unfinished. There are five pieces of DLC on the way and if they fix some of the the issues I will consider it the best X-COM-like game. As stated above the current dependence on RNG is what kills it


Again, RNG or not is a detail to me. In many cases I can't even tell the difference and I don't care. But I do care if the Lovecraftian horrors in the second mission decide to attack a bunch of Apple boxes sitting on the ground and I have to essentially run a protection mission on them. That's just retarded and kills the immersion for me. I can't take the game and the story and the setting seriously with stupid shit like that. In my brief impressions run I hoped that this mission was just an oversight, but going by one of the reviews posted, this shit keeps happening ten hours in, and the mission quality in general is apparently subpar, which is why, among the torrent of other issues analyzed in great depth in the reviews, I went for a provisional 3/5 rating. Now the game of course also has a great deal of positives, seemingly just as many as the negatives, so it's quite possible that, seeing the thing as a whole, it all comes together to make for a very good game, and maybe even a great one. But no one has convincingly made this case yet anywhere on the internet, as far as I am aware, and until that happens Insomnia will have to stick to a lower rating. If such a review can be written at all, it's quite possible that I'll have to be the one to write it, but my short run put me off the game and I haven't touched it since. I can see there are great aspects there, above all the look and atmosphere, but then you have the ugliness of the enemies when zoomed in, the jankiness of the terrain destructibility, the silly way in which the map is flooded with situations before your characters have had a chance to rest and regain even 1 hit point (at least on the highest difficulty; but is it unplayable then?), and it's like, damn so many aspects are badly thought out, and I just don't see how DLC will fix it. That kind of stuff has nothing to do with DLC, it's baked into the core game and will have to be fixed as patches to the core game IF the devs understand that these things are issues, which seems doubtful because enemies hating Apple boxes more than they hate you seems to have been a core priority of the project.

Anyway, from my brief experience with the game I'd guess it's worth a 4/5, and that's what I would have given it personally if forced to give a rating at this point, but it's hard to reconcile this rating with the analyses I've posted, so I went for a 3/5 for now. But maybe I should bump it up a notch. I'll think about it.

On another note, I loved ysignal's analysis of ironman in this subgenre. Such a great understanding of the difference between strategy and tactics. Feels good to have smart readers! And yeah, I'd need someone to counter his reasoning for me to consider playing one of these games in ironman. It just doesn't seem worth the effort unless you're a fanatic for these games and replay them so much that you learn them inside-out and you may as well try ironman too at some point.
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Unread postby Ciaróg » 08 Jan 2020 17:29

I would have agreed with you on the over-the-shoulder aiming before playing Phoenix Point but Phoenix Point honestly uses it in a clever way. Soldiers know roughly how small of a target they can easily hit at a certain range but this becomes less precise at longer ranges. They could have streamlined this into an exclusively top-down system and given you the option to use the reticle targeting but I kind of like it as is.

You made a lot of good points about ironman mode ysignal, but I think you made one wrong assumption. You seem to think think that there is a point of no return and once you think that you hit it the game stops being fun and you should just start over without seeing how far you can get if the game is unwinnable. The premise of these games is that you are in charge of the best of the best fighting a futile battle with an enemy unknown with the possibility of victory far from guaranteed. Would you watch a movie where the humans give up almost immediately because the aliens are too strong?

The fun of ironman mode is to see how far you can get in spite of some mistakes, not to have one perfect run. Firaxis said the idea behind XCOM 2 is that impossible level difficulty ironman mode was the canonical difficulty of the first game and despite the best efforts of the X-COM project the aliens won the war. And the second game goes right from there with you essentially being a terrorist organisation performing guerilla raids on the alien government because people don't surrender to aliens if they lose a couple of battles. They double down.

I get that these aren't 20-minute-long arcade games and don't think people are playing them wrong if they don't want to try to play them like that but I don't think it's just for fanatics, I think it's a much better way of managing difficulty than just making the enemies stronger. I remember reading in one of icy's essays that he played Civ on the hardest difficulty and kept failing until he got good at the game. This is the exact same thing.

The original games did this even better. As long as you had one base left you could fight to the last man which is exactly how things should go down in this setting. The ideal use of this setting for these kind of games would be auto-adjusting balance by the game throwing more resources at you if you are losing on the strategic side allowing you to focus on the tactics if you are struggling on the strategic side. I find it ridiculous that Russia or America pull out of the war against aliens if their best guys are doing badly. Realistically they would throw everything they had into reverse engineering the alien technology if they were losing a war with them.

"'We do not negotiate with little green men' says US president over controversial opinion to pledge 15% of US GDP to the as of yet rather unsuccessful X-COM project" sounds a lot cooler than "Russia has abandoned the X-COM project because they are unsatisfied you only shot down half of the UFOs in their airspace".

I should have explained my take on RNG better, i's not that I dislike RNG as a concept, in fact I welcome it for these games since as I said I don't want perfect runs. My problem is that as stated in one of the reviews Phoenix Point makes the RNG too stacked against you to be considered anything other than poor game design.

The apple box defense missions are a knock against it for sure but what people forget is you can avoid them. The game is based around scouting and you don't have to go search for supplies every time that your scouts report that they see apple boxes being used as bait by the enemy. Which does kind of make a little bit of sense in a game based around monsters that are trying to exterminate humanity for reasons unknown. Phoenix Point really dropped the ball here now that I think about it. All human bases have a population that gradually drops as the game goes on and it would have been cool if they made this more of a core element instead of the 0-100% scale of what basically amounts to a "World is fucked" meter where when the arbitrary scale hits 100% you lose.

icycalm wrote:the silly way in which the map is flooded with situations before your characters have had a chance to rest and regain even 1 hit point


You send out scouts and if they don't get shot they can keep scouting. If they get shot you drive back to base and let them recuperate and take someone who hasn't been shot in their place. This isn't bad design in my opinion. The map is hectic by design and it gives you an incentive to try not to let your men get injured at all so you can keep scouting. This allows high-level players to scout fast. If it's too hectic lower the difficulty level.
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Unread postby icycalm » 08 Jan 2020 18:55

Your Civ analogy is false. The moment I see that things go south in a Civ game, I start over. Same with PA or any RTS: the moment hope for victory is lost I give up and start a new game. I cannot imagine deriving any pleasure from fighting to the last soldier. We tried to do this in PA because we saw good players do it and it was impressive, but we failed. It's just more fun for us to start a new game. And if this is true for one-hour PA battles, it sure as heck is true for 20-hour or whatever X-COM-like runs. I stand by my assertion that ironman in these games is for fanatics who enjoy putting 1000 hours in these games. I am so sure of it I wouldn't even try a single ironman run just to see what it's like. Then again, I have put very little time in these games, so I guess there is the possibility that if I play more I'll change my mind. But from the little I played of Phoenix Point the idea of trying ironman never entered my head, whereas when I play other stuff that features ironman, e.g. Wildlands, I go immediately for it, before I've even tried any other mode. With X-COM-likes it just doesn't make any sense to me.

I think Ciaróg's idea of the game giving resources at you if you're failing at strategy is nonsense. It defeats the entire point of the strategy part, and if there was such an option I'd turn it off. If it was mandatory I wouldn't play the game.

On the over-the-shoulder thing, I am with Ciaróg. The only problem I have is that the monsters are too low-poly and in zoomed-in first-person it looks bad. The characters look good, but the monsters look bad for it. If we could take some polys from the soliders and give them to the monsters, it'd be good. The soldiers are surprisingly high-poly.

Ciaróg wrote:The apple box defense missions are a knock against it for sure but what people forget is you can avoid them. The game is based around scouting and you don't have to go search for supplies every time that your scouts report that they see apple boxes being used as bait by the enemy. Which does kind of make a little bit of sense in a game based around monsters that are trying to exterminate humanity for reasons unknown.


"Bait" lol. You remind me of those guys who make fanfiction about games in their heads, building entire novels. The aliens are ATTACKING THE BOXES AND IGNORING ME DUDE. If the boxes were bait they'd be attacking me lol. These missions are the stupidest thing I've ever seen in a tactics game, and the moment I saw this the integrity of the world collapsed and I felt like I was playing some mentally retarded "indie" developer's game, so I stopped playing and it would take quite a lot to get me back. You now say these missions can be ignored? If so, that would be a good reason to retry the game. But that still leaves the doubt that the kind of person who thinks such missions are a good idea can design decent missions at all. I suspect all missions are of generally lower quality, and some of the reviewers confirm this. Hell, even the mission I played after the apple boxes was bad. It was just some dude in a corner throwing exploding little aliens at me. It was worse than Final Fantasy Tactics. I am just hoping these were just bad first impressions, and that things improve further on.

Ciaróg wrote:You send out scouts and if they don't get shot they can keep scouting. If they get shot you drive back to base and let them recuperate and take someone who hasn't been shot in their place. This isn't bad design in my opinion. The map is hectic by design and it gives you an incentive to try not to let your men get injured at all so you can keep scouting. This allows high-level players to scout fast. If it's too hectic lower the difficulty level.


I am not talking about scouting. I did not mention scouting at all. I am not talking about difficulty either. I am talking about the game throwing 30x more situations on the map than even God can handle. I am talking about this: https://culture.vg/reviews/in-depth/xcom-2-2016-pc.html

Insomnia wrote:There's a nice balance that Enemy Unknown struck between the Strategy and Tactical layers of the game, The Tactical portion was an overt stress-fest of playing hide-and-seek with bullets, doing Hail Marys behind the tiny log that is your only available cover, and hoping to Sweet Baby Ray's that the Meld canister you were after wasn't just a total pod-fest of X-rays. The Strategy layer was much more subtle, and the contrast made the game actually playable. The Strategy layer gave you time to think, to manage your resources and marshal your thoughts on your game plan. It could be a good ten minutes before another mission cropped up, which was good downtime for the player so they weren't keyed up for too long.

XCOM 2 learned nothing from its predecessor. The constantly running around, the Doom Ticker front and center, everything taking too long, and missions popping up with an annoying frequency to how much you can actually get done in the Strategy layer before "Hey, you gotta pop half-way round the world to go save those dirty hippies again". There's really never time to rest in XCOM 2 and it's frankly exhausting even thinking about booting the game up.


It appears that this problem is just as bad if not worse in Phoenix Point. The idea of throwing more missions at a player than he can conceivable handle is okay up to a point, up to say 2x more, or 3x more, because it makes you think about which missions to pick. But 30x more? That's just retarded, and if true would be good enough reason for me to give the game 2/5, or maybe even 1/5. I am just hoping it's not true and that I overlooked something somewhere.
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Unread postby Ciaróg » 09 Jan 2020 15:40

I started playing ironman mode because of some snarky comment I read somewhere telling me I was basically cheating since I wasn't playing on ironman mode and ended up enjoying it. I estimate I put in about 200-250 hours in total in the first Firaxis game before I had enough of it so maybe I am just a semi-fanatic. I don't like games that make themselves more difficult by just giving enemies more health or giving you less resources. Ironman mode is the only currently existing way of making games like this harder without going down that route as far as I know.

I suspect the reason that the enemies have such a low polygon count is tied in to the mutation mechanics because only the two most basic enemies that to my knowledge are the only ones that mutate are janky looking. The other enemies aren't fantastic looking either but are notably better. That doesn't justify it of course and I would have preferred if they just scrapped the mutation mechanic and made the crabmen.

I wasn't trying to write fanfiction, I was trying to think what could possibly have been going through the head of whoever decided that "defend apple boxes from crab people" was remotely acceptable and the only alternative I could come up with was that they just threw something together to release the game before it was finished. A couple of scripted missions to break up the procedurally generated ones would have gone down well but I think they probably made a choice to not go down that route to differentiate Phoenix Point from the modern XCOM games. Plenty of people have noted that Phoenix Point seems to be trying to bridge the gap between the original game and the reboots and the lack of scripted sequences is a big part of that.

icycalm wrote:It appears that this problem is just as bad if not worse in Phoenix Point. The idea of throwing more missions at a player than he can conceivable handle is okay up to a point, up to say 2x more, or 3x more, because it makes you think about which missions to pick. But 30x more? That's just retarded, and if true would be good enough reason for me to give the game 2/5, or maybe even 1/5. I am just hoping it's not true and that I overlooked something somewhere.


I haven't made it far enough into the game to have seen that myself but it does bear considering that there are three warring human factions as well as the monsters in the game. I can't help but wonder did the people who complained about this just overextend themselves trying to save everyone.

The impression I had for most of it was that it was made by very skilled developers with a couple of great ideas who lacked either the time or money to make the game they wanted and had to make compromises. I think I'm finished with it for now but will check back on it as the DLC becomes available.
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Unread postby icycalm » 09 Jan 2020 16:38

The more cerebral the game, the more that AI has to cheat to give humans a challenge. 4X games, which are the most cerebral games, are notorious for it. The only way to play them with the AI playing fairly and still giving you a challenge is to be bad at the game. If you are any decent, you want the AI to cheat or you can't play these games. And in any case, even when the AI doesn't cheat it still gets tons more resources than you. In Phoenix Point for example you start with one base and two units and the AI starts with countless spawning points and countless units. Even at the lowest difficulty it gets more resources than you. So I've never had any reason to dislike such design tactics. They are the only reason I can enjoy these games.

Ciaróg wrote:Ironman mode is the only currently existing way of making games like this harder without going down that route as far as I know.


For the record, "We send you back to the beginning of a 40-hour game if you make even a single mistake" is the stupidest way of making games difficult I have heard of. It would be reason enough for me to stop playing games if it was universally adopted.

Ciaróg wrote:I suspect the reason that the enemies have such a low polygon count is tied in to the mutation mechanic


I suspect the reason is low budget, or bad budget allocation priorities. Budget either way. Once more, I don't think the plot has anything to do with design or the art assets.

Ciaróg wrote:I haven't made it far enough into the game to have seen that myself


It was blatantly obvious within 1.5 hours. Check my video linked above. I don't see how it's possible to play the game at all without noting this, unless it only appears in the highest difficulty which I played and you're playing a lower one.
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