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Author Topic: My 2.5 feedback  (Read 4963 times)

Offline Sarin

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My 2.5 feedback
« on: June 19, 2014, 11:52:09 pm »
So, I've finished my 2.5 campaign on standard, and there are issues that need feedback.

The stat progression is now fast, but quite uneven. In the campaign, I had some ~60 missions, all done by one team, the second one was just getting ready when I hit the endgame tech. The assault skill is definitely fastest progressing, and I hit a few superhuman level assault troops, mostly thanks to machinegun. Strength was, on the other hand, biggest blunder, both as starting stat and in progression. On the beginning, only few soldiers are able to utilize combat armor without going over 50% weight, if I want to keep my options open by giving them at least medikit, few grenades and one reload (that's pretty much what I consider bare minimum once you get few months within game). Those few early recruits can get decent strength before armor, decent complement of grenades and medikits become necessity, but integrating new troops into team becomes horribly frustrating. Basically you end up with few supersoldiers that make up a core of unit, and high turnover fodder. And my attempts to give the soldiers "realistic" loadouts with sidearm, knife and spare reload for both needed exceptional and experienced soldiers.

Weapons and weapon stats. Well...assault skill seems to be the most important one. It's good to have a sniper or two around, but I found these to be mostly pulled into "throughwall" niche by late game. A big one, mind you, I was clearing corrupters by pinning down enterance with long range RF, and used snipers+IR spotters to shoot out aliens through the floor. Close skill is next to useless. Few weapons use it, and with exception of sidearms (that I almost never pulled out) they are quickly replaced around midgame at latest. Explosive skill is another niche, although a good rocketeer is useful from time to time. Grenade launcher is, with the omission of burst fire, useless as in most cases old good frag grenades or standard firearm do the job as well. This skill is mostly about grenades.
There is a lot of useless weapons. From starting human tech, I found little use for shotgun, GL, flamer and micro shotgun. Sidearms generally were pulled out only couple of times. As the game progressed....I tried to use plasma blaster, but its niche-8 TU ball shot-is simply too small to justify using it. Heavy laser was also of little use. By the time the extra punch per shot gets more useful than better TU/damage, clip size and versatility of laser rifle, I had better weapons already and soldiers that could effectively use them and didn't need laser's precision. Needlers are downright useless against anything with armor, and that is everything by the time they get deployed. PB are rare, powerful but they're, IMO, overshadowed by EP guns.

In the end, the weapon balance seems off toward humans. Early on, you are facing just sidearms, so your tech is better. Briefly, aliens have superior firepower with plasma rifle, but soon after that humans get the lasers, and balance is shifted toward them again. Then, as aliens get needlers, humans can effectively deploy EP weapons. Then, at endgame, it becomes a matter of who hits first. A full auto from EP AR kills any alien just as well as burst from PB rifle or cannon tears up a human. Frankly, it feels like aliens are trying to catch up with humans all the time, instead of the other way around. Like I said, only in one, quite brief, period I felt outgunned on the ground, and managed to quickly turn that around. Aliens beat humans on the armor though. But still...in the endgame, armor stops only glancing shots. When someone, alien or human, takes it fully, it's adios.

Campaign pacing. Campaign is divided into few discreet epochs. I felt there's too few of them, and not well spaced out. The campaign went in a rush toward harvesters-both scout and fighter phases were too quick. Then, the game stopped for a few months. I was fighting the same battles, had time to research everything and upgun. After that, a brief phase with supply ships ensued, and next month I had a face full of corrupters. Before I had time to research most of the tech, I had a visit from bomber. Endgame. I didn't even get to deploy power armors and face gunships, the first UFO from this wave was a bomber right away. I know that alien progression speed is inversely proportional to your performance, the more you let them complete their objectives the faster they progress. I didn't miss much I think, because after first month my relations went just up, and I didn't lose any ground mission. Something probably slipped through my lacking radar coverage, but that was inevitable. By the time of endgame, I had only most of Americas, Europe, Africa, and bits of Asia covered, and was building another base that was to cover most of the rest of Asia and Australia.

So...I think this is needed at least: Aliens should get a new weapon-light plasma rifle-right away It should be more powerful, slower and longer ranged than pistol, while being weaker but more accurate than normal rifle, acting as light sniper support. Needlers should lead not to coilgun-leave that to heavy needler-but to advanced combat armor, something lighter and stronger than normal combat armor, but not as protective as nanocomposite armor, to help fielding new recruits. EP ammo should also wait until heavy needler or perhaps even medium alien armor.
For the alien waves. I think the early skirmishes should last a bit longer. Needlers should come a bit sooner, perhaps before supply ships. A bit longer time between supply ships and corrupters, and separate heavy needlers+medium armor+gunships to come before, not with, bombers and PB weapons.

Well, that's all for now, might have more to add later.

Offline ShipIt

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2014, 07:58:17 am »
Good assessment. You really hit the point quite often.

Offline AntJam

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2014, 06:36:53 pm »
Definitely agree with most of your points the first time I played 2.5 . So on a second playthrough (actually in 2.6 this time) I deliberately tried to use a wider weapon selection.

   I did use the shotgun and found it quite effective even upto mid game but only on a support/scout soldier with plenty of smoke, frags/plasma grenades and stun/blister gas plus no armour for max. mobility. Seems a shame there are no saboted EP shotgun rounds for late game use. Maybe an auto shotgun in mid to late game for a little more stopping power might be nice. In fact I still have my shotgunner in power armour roaming the missions but more for nostalgia than effectiveness.
   Also used the Plasma blaster in the same role but its horrible accuracy means its only effective at anything other than point blank range with a high close skill. But it is effective for reaction fire in ball mode.
   Similarly I used 2 snipers throughout the game mainly unarmoured to get 2 aimed shots early on then switch to snap shots as accuracy increases , one staying with the Sniper rifle for sustained fire and later on the EP rounds the other using the EM rifle then Coilgun for damage and multiple wall penetration. Great for clearing wide open maps without having to walk too far.
    I rather liked the needle gun when used by a high skill soldier especially for reaction fire and the bleed damage is handy but you really have to upgrade to the heavy needler as soon as possible and I wouldnt equip more than one soldier with it.
    I think your a little hard on the grenade launcher it does more damage / AoE and has better range and with the option of impact mode is more accurate than grenades although high flight arc makes indoor use problematical (never used the direct fire un-explosive rounds).

   Never even bothered with secondary weapons the holster is better used for the medikit and a couple of smoke grenades. A shame really because this is a whole class of weapons with nice models going to waste.

   PB weapons are definitely overshadowed by EP rounds but I only use the EP sniper rounds 'cause I like shooting green beams at aliens.
 
 So to sum up if you want to efficiently kill aliens use assault weapons with EP rounds and grenades only. Or if your like me you compromise your squad because you will use that shotgun even if it makes no real sense.

Offline anonymissimus

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2014, 03:05:22 am »
The grenade launcher is about the most useful special weapon in the game.
It can shoot over obstacles and around corners, which is possible with grenades too, but has better range and precision than those. Shooting over high obstacles is much saver by avoiding the timed explosion - a grenade can fall back and kill your squad. (In fact, it kind of always does...) Its limited range can be increased somewhat by aiming at a field in front of the target and pressing shift to aim higher. Direction and height need to be estimated, but the target doesn't need to be hit very precisely. The last point it also useful if you cannot get a direct shooting line or want to avoid reaction fire.

EDIT
Also, in 2.5 there are so many mean starting setups where soldiers and civilians start as fresh meat outside of some building and aliens are well hidden inside of it. On such maps I like to have 2 or even 3 grenade launchers to shoot through windows on the first turn to kill some aliens. Grenades are way to dangerous, they hit the wall and drop back; and other weapons need a straight shooting line. The improved AI enjoys withdrawing from the window after shooting too, so normal weapons are hard to use on subsequent turns as well. And I definitely don't recommend entering the building, that is too dangerous and takes too much time, civilians are dead until then.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2014, 03:17:52 am by anonymissimus »

Offline Sarin

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2014, 06:36:55 am »
I solved many situations like than in a different way. Grenades, sometimes, or rocket launcher when I needed the blast, or even throughwall sniper shot. I had no moments when I needed GL and nothing else would do, and its limited range and tactical inflexibility (sometimes the blast is a problem, not advantage) made it harder to use effectively.

I have used both GL and flamer through early to mid-lateish campaign, and kill ratios of the soldiers with them were far lowest from team.

Offline Grug

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2014, 08:13:41 am »
Interesting reading everyone's perspectives, both in this thread and others.

I used the grenade launcher and flame-throwers heaps in early game (2 of each on a squad) and found them super useful, but far less so by mid-game. I used the rocket launcher a few times initially, but found after about the first 6 months that I was taking far less shots with it than anything else so dropped it.

I'm still in love with my snipers, especially with EP rounds. I also make extensive use of assault rifles with EP rounds and fairly frequent use of grenades.

I have also never bothered with secondary weapons. The TU's required to get it out of the holster, shoot and return to the holster is usually more than using the primary weapon. I've found it far more effective to carry and use grenades for close range.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2014, 08:18:16 am by Grug »

Offline H-Hour

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2014, 02:57:27 pm »
Thanks for the feedback Sarin. As ShipIt said, there are some really solid points in there. I'll just raise a couple of things to keep in mind:

1. You're right, the pace is pretty quick now, especially for someone like you coming from the ~300 mission marathon that was 2.4 and previous versions. I still feel the game is pretty long in general game terms. We have a lot of content to get through and the number of missions for a campaign can vary a lot. Sometimes it can take a month before someone spots a Bomber, which can easily mean another 10-15 missions at that stage. But control over pacing is kind of a trade-off between structured pacing and the game's loose sandbox mechanics. We determine when a weapon/ship/alien is available for use, but not exactly when it will first appear.

2. I agree that Assault tends to be the most widely useful, but like anonymissimus the GL is actually the powerhouse for me. All my best soldiers were GL and Snipers because their survivability rate is much higher than assault the way that I play (they're never in RF positions). Close weapons are certainly a skill that takes time to learn properly, and I lose close specialists more than anyone else. They have a limited use case, but I couldn't enter buildings without them.

3. You're right about pistols and knives. I don't think we have a good solution for them yet, but an EP pistol could do wonders for them in the late game.

4. That part in the beginning when the aliens have only pistols seems too easy because you've been playing this game for a long time. But that's kind of a "free month" we give new players, because they will just be learning some of the basic mechanics. If you play on hard or very hard the aliens will start with rifles.

5. The issue with outgunning the aliens is a structural one that ShipIt has raised in the past. As soon as the aliens field a weapon, you can research and deploy it quickly, so their advantages are very short-term. I don't think we've found a good way around this that doesn't feel like a hack, but it's certainly on our radar. It's actually one of the reasons that Needlers work the way they do. They're a pain to face (getting wounded all the time) but not as effective to use yourself.

6. FYI, supply ships and corrupters come at the same time. Each new phase introduces two ships at a time. It was just chance (sandbox mechanics) that it was a month before you saw the corrupter. ShipIt has suggested that we make the "epoch" shifts more gradual, but this will cause issues for outgunning the aliens. If you face your first needler early, you'll have it researched and in the field by the time the aliens are showing up with it regularly.

7. It sounds like endgame came quickly for you. Typically it takes a while for a Bomber to show up. But obviously this part will be better when we extend the game to the Carrier.

Offline Grug

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2014, 05:34:31 pm »
5. The issue with outgunning the aliens is a structural one that ShipIt has raised in the past. As soon as the aliens field a weapon, you can research and deploy it quickly, so their advantages are very short-term. I don't think we've found a good way around this that doesn't feel like a hack, but it's certainly on our radar. It's actually one of the reasons that Needlers work the way they do. They're a pain to face (getting wounded all the time) but not as effective to use yourself.
I would think the answer to this is simply that alien armour is more effective at blocking their tech. If I recall correctly, that is how it is documented at the moment (possibly only for the grenades) and how it seems to work. I used plasma rifles as soon as I got them early game but by mid-game they were virtually useless. Maybe dropping their usefulness in the early game (and the other alien tech) even more would have the desired effect?

Offline AntJam

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2014, 05:45:55 pm »
Another option might be to increase the number of weapons needed in storage before being able to research them from 1 to say 4-6 this would at least give the aliens several missions before you could even start researching the relevant tech.

Offline ShipIt

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2014, 06:33:19 pm »
Another option might be to increase the number of weapons needed in storage before being able to research them from 1 to say 4-6 this would at least give the aliens several missions before you could even start researching the relevant tech.

The very best way imo would be to have a seperate weapon-tech tree for humans (because the alien weapons are not made to be wielded by humans). This would just need somebody making additional weapon models.

Offline AntJam

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2014, 06:48:42 pm »
Quote
The very best way imo would be to have a seperate weapon-tech tree for humans (because the alien weapons are not made to be wielded by humans). This would just need somebody making additional weapon models.

I completely agree with you shipit..in fact I rather like the idea of going further and having prototype weapons that are heavy and inefficient , costly to make and after field testing and more research full production models that are lighter and more effective and cheaper/less materials needed. Of course that would effectively double the number of new models required.

Offline Noordung

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2014, 08:00:56 pm »
or make weapons like alien crafts. you cant get intact weapons just parts. so for you to use you have to combine parts. but this would reqire parts models. cuting existing models to parts... maybe...

Offline AntJam

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2014, 06:42:13 pm »
Quote
or make weapons like alien crafts. you cant get intact weapons just parts. so for you to use you have to combine parts. but this would reqire parts models. cuting existing models to parts... maybe...

   You could take an intact weapon say plasma rifle and dis-assemble it in the workshop for components (e.g reaction chamber , accelerater coils , targeting system etc) research each item and then require these to make a new human designed plasma rifle. This would make alien weaponary spare parts/resources therefore still worth collecting especially if you cant manufacture these parts yourself.

Offline Noordung

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2014, 09:24:32 pm »
disasmeble and research each part separated. research time in this case should be changed. and research times fot weapons should be much shotrer than for crafts.
but i feel some may say its too complicated and doesnt improve game enough...

Offline H-Hour

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Re: My 2.5 feedback
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2014, 11:43:14 pm »
I'm sceptical of solutions that just add more components to the research/disassembly process (researching pieces of a weapon, for instance). If we just want to delay the research process we can always just extend the time it takes to research a weapon. But we do that at the expense of the aircraft research times. We only have so much game time to split up between research items, and the aircraft (long-game) research should feel like the harder investment.

I think that ShipIt's approach (separate human/alien weapon trees) has the most merit. Unfortunately, it goes against the alien/weaponry design we have in place, which raises a few issues that aren't as easy to solve as just balancing a few numbers:

1. The Taman, Shevaar and Ortnoks were all designed to be humanoid and wield humanoid weapons. That's good because we can reuse these art assets as they upgrade alongside you during the campaign (pistols -> plasma rifles -> needlers -> particle beams). We can do some things with weight -- for instance, only let Tamans equip light weapons -- but only so much before we lose this ability for them to stay with you throughout the campaign. Some clever ideas and maybe some new mechanics or art assets would be needed to resolve this.

2. Because of #1, most alien weapons have been designed for humanoid hands. We'd either need new art assets (weapons/aliens) which emphasized some kind of critical humanoid-alien hand differences or some other clever idea to make this seem realistic.

3. Our auto-equipping algorithm (and team composition) already struggles with the current rules. If we introduce more complexity to the alien equipment loadout (for instance, only allowing some races to equip some weapons), we'll also need more development on this front.

I think the approach (greater distinction between alien and human weapon trees) is great from a gameplay standpoint. But we'd need a comprehensive set of ideas for what these trees would be like, how they'd interact, and then what kind of art/story assets need to be changed and what game mechanics need to be implemented to make it happen. And that's a difficult set of tasks that require a lot of coordination and long-term development. And I really shouldn't even be talking about that kind of stuff these days as I haven't made a real contribution in nine months.