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Snapshot Games' Julian Gollop talked about Phoenix Point for some 40 minutes at EGX Rezzed, showing off some new gameplay systems, alien mutations, and the current iteration of the Geoscape in the process. And if you'd like to hear a bit more about all that from the people who got a chance to play Phonix Point at the event, you can now do so thanks to a couple of fresh previews that both feature the venerable creator of X-Com.
First, there's Gamereactor with 8 minutes of video interview where Julian mentions how he sees Phoenix Point as the continuation of many of his ideas from X-Com: Apocalypse:
And then, there's the hands-on preview part:
After a while spent fending off alien grubs, a colossal arachnoid queen showed up to cause us more trouble, and could in fact waltz through buildings like they were nothing, meaning that our previous tactic of cowering behind cover had to be quickly rethought. If there are more of these big monsters - akin to bosses - in the game, this should keep things challenging for tacticians, as we couldn't even take the queen out before she stampeded us into the Game Over screen.
Regardless of our sticky demise, we had a lot of fun toying with the various elements of Phoenix Point. The slick and easy UI meant we could easily work our way around the various buildings and cover available to us, but when the going got tough we were able to dodge trouble using our new abilities before using our wide arsenal of weapons to send aliens to their maker.
While we didn't get to see much of the narrative, Phoenix Point impressed us, especially when we consider it as a spiritual successor of sorts to the Xcom series of which we're so fond here at GR. While it's more like a Firaxis game on the surface, especially when it comes to the visuals, Gollop and his team at Snapshot is clearly trying to bring the strategy of the '90s games into the modern day with Phoenix Point, and they've done a great job from what we've seen.
PCGamesN, on the other hand, has both the preview and interview all wrapped together in a neat article package. An excerpt:
“We have more flexibility in the tactical systems,” Julian Gollop, founder of Snapshot Games, says. “We also have more inventory management, multiclassing characters, and a lot more flexibility in the loadouts of your characters. It has elements of the old X-COM and the new XCOM, and I think I would say it's definitely an evolution. It's a mutation.”
The first indication of this mutation is the chunky, Aliens-like troop carrier positioned at the very start of the demonstration mission. I’m unable to use it here, but Gollop promises I can get behind the wheel in the final game. “Vehicles give you alternative ways for deploying troops,” he explains. “You can load up your squad, the vehicle will move very quickly across the battlefield, and safely deploy troops into cover. Some vehicles are armed, and some of them can be used to ram terrain and clear a way through areas.”
That last point links into another new element Phoenix Point introduces: completely destructible cover. Everything you see can be reduced to rubble, be that by a vehicle smashing into it, or one of the game’s colossal creatures tearing it down. “It poses a challenge to players in the fact that you cannot entirely rely on cover because it might not be there,” Gollop laughs. “At the same time, you have to use the cover to hide from some of the ranged combat enemies that you'll face. So it's a question of balance, deciding where you can reliably stay for a short period of time.”
This makes combat much less comfortable than that seen in XCOM. The sentiment applies to much more than reliable cover, though. Your weapons fire projectiles with more maths underpinning them. For example, a 67% chance to hit doesn’t apply to the whole shot, but to each of the individual bullets fired in a burst. Small adjustments like these make the Phoenix Point experience feel much more on a knife point than XCOM’s; there are so many variables that could see you toppling into failure, but so much scope for inventive tactics and enhanced soldier development.