Phoenix Point Backer Build One Impressions

Not that long ago, the team at Snapshot Games has made an early Phoenix Point build available to its backers, offering a glimpse at the game's tactical systems and turn-based battles. We already got a chance to see this build in action, but now we also have this PC Gamer article where the editors discuss their Backer Build One impressions and praise its major but perhaps not immediately obvious differences from Firaxis' XCOM games. An excerpt:

Tom Senior, UK online editor: It’s a significant change from XCOM’s decisive approach to flanking. You have to move out of the enemy’s forward arc to get your (massive) attack bonuses. Phoenix Point cares about the precise angle your gun has on the foe, so you can be in front and to the side of an enemy and make quite strong attacks. This rather undermines the poor shield crabs. They can move their shields to try and block shots, but it’s easy enough to make a short lateral move and get the shot you need. You’d think a crab would be particularly able to deal with enemies walking sideways, but there you go.

This small detail illustrates the way that Phoenix Point is aiming to be a more detailed sandbox take on the X-Com formula. Firaxis’ XCOM is very boardgame-like. You move your soldiers like tokens and they get one big dice roll to hit an enemy. In Phoenix Point individual bullets have varying chances to hit or scatter, and the game rarely shows you percentage chances. Instead the enemy’s health bar flashes to indicate the potential damage you’re doing to a given bodypart.

There are some new elements to the latest build of this demo that even move the game closer to something like Men of War. Your soldiers have backpacks and inventories, and you can pick up battlefield objects and discard your own kit. When one of my soldiers ran out of ammo I ran over to a box looking for more. I found just a grenade inside, which basically doomed that soldier to run at the enemy screaming and throwing bombs. The ammo restrictions are very punishing in this demo, which is nowhere near final balance, but the inventory system potentially means soldiers will be able to swap clips or scavenge new gear from the battlefield that you can use immediately.