Phoenix Point - Realistic Ballistics Are In

Buried on the official Snapshot Games forums is an announcement from Julian Gollop that should have been broadcasted on TV and projected into the night sky instead, on account of it being such great news – Phoenix Point will feature realistic ballistics where each bullet is accounted for, similar to what we could see in the original X-COM games. The system still needs some work and may be tweaked a bit before the game's release, but already it sounds way better than a simple roll of a 100-sided die to see if an attack hits or misses.

Here's how things currently work:

We have implemented a 'realistic ballistics' system which works in a similar way to the original X-COMs. It does make combat quite fun. Each bullet has a separate trajectory and damage whatever it hits.
  • Snipers can make headshots against enemies who think they have good cover
  • Heavies can unleash a hail of 12 bullets with their machine guns - but they are not likely to hit - but then they do frequently blow away any light cover
  • Assaults fire a burst of 6 bullets normall, but 4 with overwatch, and 3 with return fire.
Range is a very significant factor with this system since there is an inverse square deterioration in accuracy with distance (as in real life).

For the interface, we have created a first person view with a couple of probability circles - one for 50% of shots expected, and one for 75% of shots. It allows the player to judge the enemies cover visually, and accurately.

It's simple and definitely makes fire-fights tense. There are some issues though
  • Cover is basically WYSIWYG - therefore it is difficult to give the player much info about cover unless he is able to 'see' from different positions. There are no numbers worth displaying. A cover system similar to new XCOM doesn't work.
  • It's would be difficult to give the player meaningful data about expected outcomes from an attack. We could show 'average expected damage' mayber, although it's not easy to calculate.
  • Firing from a first person view all the time would slow the pace of the game. It's not important if the optimum target point is always calculated, but that's not easy. At the moment the player can adjust the precise firing position with the mouse (in the future, you would be able to click on a body part to aim at it, but that's only useful if your accuracy circle is not too big).
  • Soldiers do crouch down next to low cover - but their precise pose is very important because it would determine how much of their body might be exposed above the top of the cover.
  • Stepping out from cover to shoot exposes soldiers completely - to overwatch or return fire. A partial step-out pose may fix this. Similarly, popping up to shoot from low cover also exposes the soldier to return fire - again, maybe fixed by a special pose (depending on weapon).
  • There is no simulation for the difficulty of shooting a moving target, which has always been something that bugged me about turn-based games. There may be a way to do this, but I don't know what it could be.
Overall, I like the visual/naturalistic feel of the shooting, but it might not be everybody's cup of tea. You can expect a video demo of it soon.