Phoenix Point was released too early, because there are a lot of mistakes here. However, tactical combat and interesting solutions can catch the screen.
Fans of the XCOM series did not hide their satisfaction when in 2016 the co-creator of UFO: Enemy Unknown announced that his studies are starting work on Phoenix Point. The game was to stand out from contemporary strategies from Firaxis in a larger scale and degree of development of gameplay mechanisms. The promises have been fulfilled in a sense and we have certainly received a good game, though not worked – sometimes really noticeable.
The story that is the background to our actions is a classic motif of humanity’s fight with strangers. This time, however, the aliens came to earth a long, long time ago – in the form of a virus that, as the global warming progressed, began to evolve so seriously that it took control of marine organisms, as well as many people who, under its influence, threw themselves into the seas and oceans. As a result, our main opponents are all kinds of water mutants .
To try and save Earth, we’re renewing Phoenix Point. On the world map, we clean other locations from strangers, look for resources, scan subsequent areas and interact with three different factions that want to face the threat in their own way – and they don’t like each other too much.
Gaining the trust of a selected faction is important because it allows you to use the technological facilities of a given group – and although we can also rely on captured equipment, it’s nice to have access to the option of producing specific gadgets, weapons. In addition, each faction also has its own unique classes and vehicles . The three groups are completely different – we have military traditionalists, technologically advanced scientists and cosmic religion fanatics who use mutations and biotechnology.
As we progress, we need to keep an eye on the factions, because they are even starting wars with each other. A great addition is the opportunity to invade and rob the bases of all organizations – so we can use this option if we have already discouraged someone. Thus, we have fights not only with mutants, but also with other people. There is also a trade opportunity for those who prefer to avoid confrontation. In general, the motif of various factions was certainly better implemented than in addition to XCOM 2.
On the screen with a view of the entire globe, of course, we also have access to our bases (we start with one), in which we build selected facilities, develop technologies and produce equipment. We recruit recruits from settlements or faction bases – recruitment costs, but it is worth completing large troops as soon as possible, because we quickly realize that without a larger number of ships with crew ready for action, it is difficult to control the dynamic situation related to virus activities on the entire planet.
In addition to the element of management, expansion and exploration, of course, the most important is combat. We land in a given location, our soldiers are deployed on the map and we start the fight, without division due to initiative. Here, the division into turns is simple – first all our units perform actions, then enemy soldiers. Sometimes it makes things easier because we have a better chance of spotting opponents at the beginning of the battle.
The most interesting aspect of the game is the ability to aim accurately during a fight . This option allows you to choose which part of the opponent you want to hit – which turns out to be extremely useful, and sometimes necessary. For example, we can break the mutant’s hand in which he holds the weapon, or destroy a specific element of armor. Such aiming is absolutely crucial during clashes with bosses that cannot be killed quickly.
Interestingly, each missile is a separate physical object at Phoenix Point. So it can happen that if only one of the whole series misses the opponent – then he will go on and hit something else. Even in another enemy or in an ally. More important, however, is that there is no percentage chance of hitting the game at all. Accuracy and damage depend only on the distance, strength of the weapon and protective elements on the body of the enemy. So there is no such absurd situation from XCOM when we miss standing two meters next to the target.
A destructive environment is also a nice change. If we know that the enemy is behind a wall, we can simply demolish it with a grenade or a rocket. We can’t collapse the entire building, but this lower level of destruction is also useful and increases the realism of the game.
The fight, when everything works, is pleasantly engaging and full of tension . The level of difficulty is considerable, although at first it may seem – treacherously – a bit too low. The game is starting up quite slowly and it really begins to pull in only when we develop properly and we get more toys available. The abilities used by the enemies evoke respect, such as the classic taking over control of the mind of our units, which behave quite intelligently as puppets of the enemy.
However, any pleasure can spoil errors and shortcomings. I’m talking about technical mishaps that are easy to turn a blind eye to – these are stuttering animations or problems with displaying interface elements. The joy of fun completely takes away, however, even a completely broken design of some maps.
Locations are randomly generated and it may happen that the game offers us a level with a narrow gap in the middle. It happened to me twice during a mission where the target was on the other side of the map – and none of my team could get there except for one soldier with a jetpack. However, sending him alone would be tantamount to suicide. So it was loading the old save.
In areas remodeled by the cosmic virus, we also often have to destroy rocks and various objects to move on. In such cases, the inaccurate designation of the explosion area and the waste of valuable ammunition turned out to be frustrating, when the explosion for some reason did not violate the destructible fragment, although it should definitely.
Several times there were problems with saving progress , when loading the game resulted in being thrown to the main menu. In addition, problems with the balance of difficulty, which over time becomes simply annoyingly difficult – making even with the best equipment sometimes feel useless. Side missions and some battles related to saving allies can also ruin humor when it turns out that we are wasting time and resources to start a battle in which only two basic opponents are waiting for us.
It is worth keeping your finger on the pulse and observing the situation with the development of Phoenix Point. Perhaps a few updates are enough to fix more glaring errors – and without the most annoying problems it will be a game really worth recommending to any XCOM style strategy fan. At the moment, however, it is better to wait.
|alien idea and designfree aiming systemvarious factions and interesting technologiesengaging gameplay (when it works)||quite a few minor technical errorsserious problems with generating some mapsoccasionally unable to load game statedifficulty level balance needs correction|
Platform: PC, in 2020 PS4, Xbox One – Premiere: December 3, 2019 – Language version: Polish (subtitles) – Type: tactical – Distribution: digital – Price: from 140 PLN – Manufacturer: Snapshot Games – Publisher: Snapshot Games