Did you forget about Phoenix Point, the upcoming turn-based tactical shooter from the original creator of X-COM? Because I sure as hell haven’t! This is one of my most anticipated games of all time, so I’ve been waiting for a nice big update and now it looks like we’ve got one. The game’s Geoscape and ballistics systems have been laid out.
You start with just a single home base (called Phoenix Point) which you will protect and maintain. You’ve got a jet, and plenty of places to check out. Some of them will be “havens” — which will generally belong to other factions who must be dealt with through negotiation or combat — or they could be independent havens who have their own rules and trade offers. They could be alien constructs, resource-rich material sites, and a lot more. Exploring the world is a series of gambles.
You can see a list of basic options on the right side of the screen, and below you can see a more detailed look at what the game could look like. It’s all placeholder, but it proves that this game will be WAY more advanced and detailed than the simplistic board-game system of that Firaxis XCOM reboot. This is very good news.
The blog post emphasizes that they’re aiming for a “4X” style of gameplay. That means Explore, Expand, Exploit, and Exterminate, which is the foundation of most strategy games like StarCraft or Masters of Orion. But there’s a feature even more exciting to me that hearkens back to the most advanced video game ever created: Dwarf Fortress!
A very clever simulation, which all happens behind the scenes, simulates several years of war between the factions and the independent Havens, fighting over outposts and resources. The alien threat starting to encroach on the land, consuming and mutating as it goes. Each faction has its own “personality” which tells the simulation how and where it should try to expand. You will never have the same play-through twice.
Rather than randomly placing a bunch of stuff and sacrificing logic in the process, the game will randomly “seed” the world with people and places and then fast-forward what would happen in that arrangement. What you see is a world with history and logic, but one that will never be the same twice.
Just as exciting is the ballistics system, which has been confirmed by Julian Gollop himself. In a triumphant victory for true X-COM fans, projectile simulation is coming back and better than ever! Your bullets will always hit something, even if it’s not the target, and this can have unintended consequences! Shooting your friend in the back, or hitting some piece of terrain? Yes, those tough decisions will have weight once again. You can manually adjust your aim once you select a target as well. If you’re like me, you’ll want to jump over to the forums to read it in detail. He even acknowledges the challenges and potential downsides of such a simulated system, such as not being able to mathematically calculate how good a piece of cover is, or how exactly a creature’s pose should be if he wants to maximize cover effectively. “Cover” is dynamic and complex, not just waist-high objects all over the damn map.
If you want to watch Julian Gollop modestly walk through the history of X-COM and its derivatives. I laughed when he said that he only plays Japanese turn-based games like Advance Wars, Disgaea, and Final Fantasy Tactics! Great taste!