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Phoenix Point's tactical layer was on display during the recent PC Gamer Weekender, where a playable Pre-Alpha demo offered a decent idea of how that game's tactical combat would look like. But if you're more interested in the overarching “Geoscape” strategy layer of Phoenix Point, you can check out this PCGamesN article where Julian Gollop talks about the importance of research, faction interactions, dynamic world map and more. An excerpt:
“If you recover an alien you can research its individual body parts to work out what its function is,” Gollop explains. The function of a limb may appear obvious but studying it can also reveal its weaknesses. For instance, if a crab evolves a shield it is plain that it blocks bullets, but in researching it you can learn its limitations - such as the fact that when it is deployed, the crab is locked in that direction, leaving it vulnerable to flanking moves.
Your scientists will also suggest research to invent that may help to counteract particularly powerful mutations. The example Gollop gives is of a poison-spitting ability, “which is quite nasty,” he adds. When you first encounter it, you don’t have anything in your arsenal to counteract the poison’s effects, but if you can catch a spitter and study it then you can develop antivenoms and armour to protect your soldiers against it.
“They can also evolve laterally, completely changing some of the function of their body parts,” Gollop reveals. “It's that progressive development the aliens have that you need to keep track of. You'll get quite different creatures encounters in different parts of the world and between different games as well.”
The world map can shift and change dramatically throughout a campaign too. Deep under the sea, alien mist generators belch out a strange semi-intelligent fog that rolls across the land. The AI can direct the mist towards human settlements, surrounding and engulfing them. “Any haven or base that becomes enveloped by the mist is in severe danger of being attacked,” Gollop says.
The vaporous menace is more than a cloak: “The mist is what the aliens use to communicate with each other, to regenerate their systems, their health,” Gollop explains. The aliens can only build their structures in areas wrapped in mist and, the longer they go undisturbed, the larger they can build.
The simplest structure is a nest that produces monsters with simple mutations. They are more of an irritation than a serious problem. However, a nest grows into a hive, and a hive is ruled over by a hive queen.
The many-legged Hive Queen is quite the thing to contend with: crammed with health points and built like a tank, she is able to charge through walls, even collapse entire buildings. She will run down any soldiers in her path and force your squad to abandon their positions and scatter before her. However, you can drive her back to the hive if you cause enough damage - “she will try and preserve herself,” Gollop explains. Until you raid the hive and kill her once and for all, the queen will repeatedly appear in battle. Worse still, if you blast off her limbs they will grow back even stronger than before. “Each body part has several levels of power,” Gollop adds.
There are bigger structures than the hive and with tougher guardians than the Hive Queen, but Gollop isn’t showing them off just yet. “Locating these structures and destroying them is very important because they will expand the aliens’ area of influence,” he says. Gollop also explains that, early in the game, the aliens have such a strong grip on the world that you will be spending most your time leaping to the aid of settlements under assault by the aliens. “You will get rewards from havens for doing this, in terms of resources, or, if it's from some of the major factions, they will start to share some of their technology and research with you as well.”