|Classes and Skills|
|Final Mission (Spoiler!)|
- 1 Overview
- 2 Action Points (AP)
- 3 Will Points (WP)
- 4 Shooting in Phoenix Point
- 5 Detection
- 6 Melee
- 7 About weapons
- 8 Armor - what is it good for?
- 9 Vehicles
- 10 Capturing Pandorans
The biggest difference in gameplay between Phoenix Point and similar games is that Phoenix Point is quick.
1) By the end of the first turn of each mission you should usually know where most of the enemies are, and perhaps kill a couple of them. Sometimes you can also do a "First Turn Strike" (FTS), i.e. put out of action (kill, or cripple) most of the enemies on the first turn.
2) Maintaining an enemy engagement for more than one turn is usually a bad idea. Once you are shooting at the enemy and the enemy is shooting at you, one of you is going to die very soon. You must either kill, disable or disengage. The most common mistake is putting your soldier behind what looks like a solid cover, taking a couple of shots at an enemy within range, and ending the turn while your soldier remains within the range of an uncrippled enemy.
3) Missions are usually over in a few turns (with First Turn Striking, sometimes in 1 or 2. But even without FTS it usually doesn't take more than 5 turns). However, in the rare longer missions, that can last 10 or more turns, it's important to understand that strategic decisions are made on each turn. For example, assaults on lairs (a type of Pandoran base) take place on larger maps, with infinite enemy spawning and architecture that can create choke points. On these missions you may be tempted to take a wait and see approach, because enemies take a while to reach your troops, but you shouldn't Very simply - don't waste turns. Overwhelm the enemy or disengage. A stalemate will mean that you lose!
Action Points (AP)
In Phoenix Point all characters have, under normal circumstances, 4 action points each turn
(see the following exceptions: Tired, Exhausted, Paralyze Damage, Dazed, Panicked and War Cry as situations in which available APs are reduced, and Onslaught and Rapid Clearance where they are increased).
A distinction is made between skills, which are acquired with skill points as the character levels up such as, for example, dash, and Abilities that are granted by equipping gear or through mutations or bionics, like jet jump.
Different weapons, abilities and skills have different AP costs. For example, it costs 3 AP to shoot sniper rifles but only 1 AP to shoot most pistols. There is no prescribed order in which actions have to be taken, allowing you to move and shoot, or shoot and move, and shoot or move again afterwards (if you have the APs). Movement is continuous, meaning you can spend part of your APs to move, then use the remainder to move some more, or instead take a shot, or use a skill, and then spend the remaining APs to move again. There are no restrictions on which order APs are used.
Will Points (WP)
All characters start missions with will points (WP) equal to their willpower attribute. WP are used to power skills and abilities. They also decrease when a teammate (or an ally) dies, certain body parts are disabled (normally head), or due to receiving viral damage, or a psychic attack.
They can be recovered by:
- Giving up one whole turn (
Recover: spend 4AP to receive WP equal to half of current max WPs and gain immunity to panic for one turn)
- Killing enemies (depending on the enemy, from 2 to 10 WP), opening crates found on the battlefield (5WP).
- One of your Phoenix Point operatives, or other characters under your control, reaching specially designated locations on the map (these are marked in white and will give a certain number of WP to each operative and character under your control, regardless of where they are).
- Through certain skills of other operatives ( Inspire and Radiant Hope).
When the WP of characters are reduced below 0, they Panic, which causes them to make a random movement, lose their remaining AP and, if applicable, overwatch and the ability to return fire. The next turn after the panic they will automatically recover. Therefore panic makes a character lose 2 full turns.
Shooting in Phoenix Point
In Phoenix Point, the trajectory of each projectile (bullet, pellet, etc.) is individually calculated independently of other projectiles fired from the same weapon. If it hits something, be it the targeted enemy, another enemy, a friendly, or a piece of scenery it will do (or fail to do, depending on armor/strength of the scenery material) the damage per the projectile of the weapon. For example, the Ares AR-1 assault rifle fires 6 projectiles that do 30 damage each (shown as 6 x 30). If the 6 projectiles hit an unarmored target, it will receive 180 points of damage that will be subtracted from its Hit Points.
To understand fully what happens, we need to look at several different elements like accuracy, body parts, and armor. But for now, most important to realize is that there are real ballistics (although with not very realistic firearms buffs - beware!) and there is no random (RNG) element in the damage calculation itself. The only RNG element is if or where the attack will hit (whether with direct fire weapons, explosives or melee).
This means that with enough accuracy, a shot can be guaranteed to hit, cripple or kill an enemy without any random chance that it will miss. What's more, the game will tell you when a shot is certain to kill a target, displaying a flashing red skull & crossbones next to the enemy's HPs bar.
Each weapon has an inherent Accuracy depending on its
Effective Range, defined as the range at which the weapon is likely to hit a human-sized target 50% of the time. The range is calculated in tiles. So, a weapon with an effective range of 20, will hit a human at a distance of 20 tiles 50% of the time.
Still not clear? Where are the hit chances expressed as a percentage?
There aren't any. Usually you can manually aim the weapon using the 'free aim' mode. In the free aim mode you use an aiming reticle, which is a small circle inside a big circle. The small circle is one quarter of the size of the big circle.
Each projectile fired from the weapon will hit somewhere inside the big circle and there is a 50% chance that a projectile will land inside the small circle.
The aiming reticle is static; it does not change when you move it around or zoom in/out. As your operative approaches the target, the chances to hit it increase, as she/he moves away, they decrease. The increase/decrease in Accuracy (i.e. the portion of the target covered by the aiming reticle) is linear.
In addition to the inherent Accuracy of the weapon, the soldier who wields it can buff it through skills, personal perks, armor and augmentations. For a complete list of things that can buff (and debuff) Accuracy (see accuracy buffs and debuffs).
Increasing or reducing Accuracy means that the aiming reticle gets larger, or smaller by the % of the increase or decrease.
The game always operates in terms of size of the aiming reticle. Effective Range is a value to illustrate it to the player for easy of reference, and this is why weapons have odd Effective Range numbers such as "51" or similar.
As an example, an operative with Master Marksman will see the Accuracy increased by 30% (provided there are no enemies within 10 tiles), which means that the aiming reticle will be reduced in size by 30%. Conversely, a soldier firing a weapon after activating Adrenaline Rush will have Accuracy decreased by 50%, which means the aiming reticle will grow 50% in size.
Another way of looking at it is that each weapon comes with an aiming reticle of a certain size. For example, a Firebird SR has a smaller reticle, a Hel 2 Cannon a much bigger reticle, and an ARES assault rifle is somewhere between the two. The size of the reticle will then vary depending on the skills, personal perks, armor and augmentations of the soldier.
The important takeaways from this are that the closer you are to a target, the more likely you are to hit it, and that a Hel 2 Cannon can be as accurate as a Firebird SR with the right accuracy modifiers (derived from skills, personal perks, armor and augmentations).
The biggest chance to hit a target when aiming, is around the border of the inner circle!
What is proficiency?
In Phoenix Point any operative can use any weapon, armor or other equipment regardless of its class, but not being proficient (not class related weapon) in its use carries a penalty:
- A 50% reduction in effective range for ranged weapons when wielding them without the corresponding proficiency.
- In all other cases, such as when attacking with melee weapons without being proficient in them, a 50% chance to Fumble; that is, to fail to take the action after spending the requisite APs and WPs on it.
Line of Sight vs Line of Fire
The Line of Sight (or LoS) is the imaginary uninterrupted line connecting any part of a character to another. It does not matter how small the parts are as long as there is nothing between them. LoS is different from
the Line of Fire: the imaginary uninterrupted line going from the barrel of the weapon of one character when in firing position to any part of another character.
What this means is that often your operatives will spot enemies that they can't shoot at, with which they have Line of Sight, but no Line of Fire. Also, they will often have Line of Fire (that blue, or orange line you see when selecting which tile to move on) but where only a tiny part of the enemy will be exposed. And if your operative carries different types of weapons, sometimes they will have Line of Fire with one weapon, but not with another, because their barrels are positioned differently when aimed.
Free aim vs snapshot
Though free aiming is very cool and often allows to make the better shot, the auto-target or snapshot mode has its advantages. In free aim you aim at the space where the target is, not at the target itself.
Many enemies are still moving while you take the shot, particularly Tritons, which tend to bob and weave. Consequently, it is possible for the enemy to move out of a bullet path. It’s often more noticeable with burst shots, because enemies can also flinch from being hit.
Explanation (from Snapshot Games):
"While it may not be an ideal solution, it’s an abstract representation of a moving target. While the game is played in a You Go, I Go format, in reality the enemy wouldn’t be moving all of their soldiers and firing and then standing still while the player moved all of theirs.
In most games like these, it is presumed or implied that a “turn” (a full round for the player and AI) consists of a certain amount of time, and that all action is happening at approximately the same time.
We did several experiments (particularly with the free aiming system), with freezing the animation (which just didn’t look right), slowing the animation down (which is what we do now) and having the animation run at full speed (which made the free aiming more like playing an FPS).
We decided to settle on the slow motion as a compromise - but the fact that enemies do still move and flinch is taken as “you’re firing at a moving target”.
This was also done mechanically to give the “snap shot” (as in, the shot without manual aiming) more utility.
Manual aiming was originally a Sniper special ability back in the prototype, but backers liked the idea of the free aim so much, they wanted it as a mechanic available for use by all classes.
This comes with some design decisions: Do you limit its use? If so, how? Do you make an aimed shot cost more AP? Do you make it cost WP? And if so, do you need to have the WP to even go into the free-aim mode.
One thing we were very aware of is the potential for free-aiming to slow down the pace of the game. When the player takes every shot in free-aim mode, searching for the sweet spot, how do you make it so the snap shot still has value?
In the case of Phoenix Point, the snap shot tracks the centre of the target. You can see this on enemies that move a lot, as the crosshair will stay on them.
It becomes really obvious with something that has a long burst, like the NJ Heavy MG. In free-aim, the soldier will continue to fire at the same point in space, even if the enemy ragdolls out of the way (useful if you want to continue shooting at something behind it). But, with the snap shot, the soldier will track and continue to fire at the target even as it moves."
Most characters have different body parts, and each body part has a certain number of hit points and may be protected by armor. The damage done to a body part also reduces the total number of HPs of the character.
All humans have 60 hit points in the head and arms, 80 in legs and 100 in torso.
Once the hit points of the body part are reduced to 0, the body part is disabled and the character is crippled in some way, suffering some negative effects (losing strength, speed, willpower or abilities). Additionally, a bleed value may be applied.
Three important things to bear in mind:
- The total HPs are not distributed among the different body parts and the body part hit points do not scale with strength, so it is as easy to cripple a character with high strength as it is to cripple a character with low strength.
- Even once a body part is disabled (its hit points are reduced to 0), further damage to that body part will continue to reduce the total number of HPs of the character.
- Projectiles will traverse disabled body parts to hit other body parts behind them, and if a projectile reduces the HPs of the character to 0, it will hit whatever is behind him/her/it, be it another body part belonging to a different character, or a piece of scenery, and inflict damage on it with the remaining strength of the projectile.
Each attack or projectile does a fixed amount of damage minus the armor covering the body part diminished by the piercing strength of the attack or projectile. Additionally, depending on the weapon, may shred a fixed amount of that armor, the shredding being applied after the damage is calculated.
An Ares AR-1 does 30 damage, has 0 piercing, shreds 1 armor per projectile and has a burst of 6. Bob shoots at Tom and 3 projectiles hit the target: two in the torso, and one in the head. The body armor Tom is wearing has 20 armor, and the helmet 18. Tom received 30 - (20) + 30 - (20 - 1) = 21 damage to the torso and lost 2 points of armor for that body part, and 30 - (18) =12 damage to the head, losing 1 point of armor for that body part.
Alice then shoots Tom with the Piranha AR-51 that does 40 damage per projectile, has 15 piercing and a burst of 4 projectiles. Two of them hit Tom in one of his legs that have 30 armor. Tom receives 2 x (40 - (30 - 15)) = 50 damage to the leg, but he did not lose any armor points.
Finally, Clive shoots Tom with a Firebird SR that does 110 damage per projectile, has no piercing and doesn’t shred armor. It hits Tom on the left arm, that has 20 armor, doing 110 - 20 = 90 damage, which are subtracted from the total HPs remaining. The arm has 60 hit points, so it is disabled. Disabling an arm also reduces a human character’s maximum HPs by 10, which means that this health cannot be recovered by healing during the mission and that he loses one point of strength. Tom is now bleeding and can’t use any two-handed weapons, but he did not lose any armor points.
The damage per projectile can be increased through various skills and personal perks so that armor becomes less relevant (e.g. an assault rifle with a 100% buff to damage will do 60 points of damage per projectile, easily overcoming all but the hardiest of armors).
There are many kinds of special damage in the game (for a complete list, see Damage types).
They can be grouped into the following overlapping categories:
- Damage over time (or DoT): Acid, Fire, Poison and Viral.
- Damage that disables a character without reducing its HPs: EMP, Paralysis, Psychic, Shock, Sonic and Viral.
- Damage that affect limbs: Acid, Blast, Fire and EMP.
- Damage that only works against certain characters: EMP (turrets, drones and characters with Bionics) and Virophage (Pandorans and characters with Mutations).
- Damage that reduces armor: Acid and Shred.
- Damage that ignores armor: Paralysis, Poison, Psychic, Sonic and Viral.
- Damage that only applies if at least 1 point of Standard Damage is inflicted: paralysis, Poison and viral.
Piercing is not include in any of the above damage types, as it does not do any damage, but rather facilitates inflicting Standard Damage.
Things to be mindful of:
- All DoT 'ticks' at the start of the afflicted character's turn. Therefore, any DoT inflicted during the enemies turn, will reduce your HPs as soon as your turn starts, before you can remove it. This means that if your operative receives enough poison during the enemies turn, he is as good as dead.
- Shock or Sonic Damage will either Daze the target or have no effect on it at all. You will see that weapons that do Shock Damage have very high values, but the only meaning of these numbers is to verify whether the attack passes the following check:
If the remaining HPs of the target + armor on body part that is hit by the attack is less than of the attack, then the target becomes Dazed.
- Blast Damage inflicts the damage value of the weapon on every body part affected by the blast. This is any body part within the blast radius not obstructed by another body part, character or scenery element. In other words, there is no 'damage drop off' in Phoenix Point. It does not matter how close the target is to the center of the explosion, everything within the radius of the explosion that is not sheltered by something else will receive the same amount of damage. However, the positioning does matter; when you have two or more targets, you want the explosion to happen in the middle of them so that one target does not act as cover for the other.
- Most weapons that do some special damage also do some Standard Damage, and a few weapons (particularly Grenades) do several types of special damage at the same time. This is another benefit of explosives. They always do Blast Damage and some Shred Damage, effectively stripping armor from multiple body parts and making the target more vulnerable to weapons with low damage per projectile (like Assault Rifles or Shotguns).
- Do not underestimate Virus Damage! It can easily 'stun lock' your operatives, and it is also very effective against enemies, particularly when you want to capture a Pandoran. The reason for this is because Virus Damage reduces the character's WPs by its value each turn. Whereas the amount of the Virus Damage in the infected target is only reduced by 1 per turn, and Recover gives back only half of the character's max WPs when used. So a character that receives 20 Virus Damage and has 20 Willpower Points will Panic after no more than 2 turns. Unless the Virus Damage is removed with a Virophage Kit, the character is Frenzied or protected by Psychic Ward, it will keep panicking because Recover will raise the WPs to 10 at the end of each turn, only to have them wiped out again by the Virus Damage at the start of the next turn. This will until the Viral Damage is reduced to 10, 8 or 9 turns later. To prevent the 'panic stunlock' some players have suggested that they would like to have Recover grant a 1 or 2 turn immunity to Panic.
- Paralyze Damage is checked against the character's Strength to determine its effects, and the APs of the character are reduced in proportion to the Paralyze Damage. (However, it is a mystery exactly how the game decides how many APs a character should lose when the result of applying the proportion of strength lost to the remaining APs does not result in a whole number. It seems like a Paralysis value short of one to match the strength of the character will leave it with no APs, but a paralysis value short of two will leave one AP). Therefore, reducing the character's Strength makes paralyzing easier.
The Strength of the character can be found out by dividing its HPs by 10, and anything that reduces the maximum HPs of the character also reduces its Strength. So disabling a character's limbs also reduces its Strength by the amount of maximum HPs lost divided by 10.
Because of the real ballistics modelling in Phoenix Point, cover only works if it’s actually in the way of the projectiles and doesn’t get destroyed by them. If some part of a character (even if very small), is exposed (e.g. because the attack comes at an angle) and the attacker is close enough to accurately target it, the cover will not do any good.
When coming from Firaxis XComs and its clones, one has the “must be in cover” syndrome. Staying out in the open means flanked (so very high 'chance to hit' and score a 'critical'), means death. Just find anything and get behind it. A flower pot, a rubbish bin… This largely dictates positioning priorities in these games: stay in cover, try to flank, avoid being flanked.
There are no critical hits in Phoenix Point! Getting shot in the foot behind cover and getting shot in the foot in the open is exactly the same thing. When it comes to positioning, what matters most in Phoenix Point is Line of Sight (LoS)/Line of Fire (LoF) and distance. If you are far enough away and the enemy doesn’t have long range weapons, you are safe even if out in the open. If an enemy has a sniper rifle and LoF on you, any cover offers limited protection.
Because movement is continuous (you can spend part of an AP on movement, do an action, then spend the rest of the AP on moving some more) and you have 4 APs, you can move to a point where you have good LoF on the enemy, attack it, and then move to break LoS, and that's the defensive measure you want to take in Phoenix Point, rather than staying behind cover in LoS or LoF and in range of an active enemy.
Put simply, Phoenix Point is much closer to the original X-Coms in this than to Firaxis take on the genre. In the latter you would shelter behind a corner safe in the knowledge that, unless completely flanked, you are well protected. In Phoenix Point any attack coming at a 45° angle renders such protection null.
However, rather confusingly the game uses the same shield icons as in the Firaxis games to describe cover - this that seems to denote full, solid cover, and this one that looks like partial cover.
And it's all wrong, because actually what these bizarrely chosen icons are meant to represent are the different behaviors that the characters adopt when positioned behind each type of cover.
In reality, there are two kinds of cover in Phoenix Point:
High Cover⇒ and Low Cover⇒
The difference between them is that, in addition to the character behind low cover being partially exposed by definition, a character in low cover will kneel(so that he/she/it is partially exposed, - normally head and shoulders in case of humans) and will fire without changing position, while a character in high cover will step to the side to fire, being completely exposed in the process.
Note that high cover is not necesarily full, or solid cover: the cover might be of poor quality, e.g. not large enough to actually cover the whole body, or be of very weak material (glass, scrap metal, trees). All that this shield icon means is that the soldier will step to the side to fire at an enemy.
One reason why it matters is that if an enemy is on overwatch covering that corner, stepping to the side to take a shot (whether at that enemy or another) can mean entering a world of pain. Similarly, if the enemy is an Arthron or a human with the Return Fire, the return fire from the enemy will activate (if the enemy is still capable of shooting) before the operative returns to cover.
Shooting from low cover doesn’t activate overwatch and partially protects from return fire. The disadvantage is that any return fire will probably hit the soldier in the head, which usually has less armor than the rest of the body. Still, the head makes for a smaller target and it’s more likely that the return fire will miss the partially covered soldier.
However, in practice
2) if you are shooting at an enemy with the better just make sure she/he/it can’t shoot you back (because after your shot it’s gonna be dead, its weapons disabled, or you are more than half its perception range away)
But, as explained here (Overwatch), low cover has some advantages when setting up overwatch from it: it is easier to set the cone on the area you want covered and because there is no step to the side animation there is a longer window of opportunity to hit a moving target across an overwatch cone with a short base.
Note that heavy weapons, because they are held at waist length, cannot be shot from behind low cover at high angles (this means you can't shoot a Hel 2 Cannon over the railing on a rooftop while aiming down).
Takeaways: don’t assume that a nice shield icon means good, full cover, and most importantly, don’t overestimate the importance of cover.
My advice: examine the map to find positions from which you have good LoF on the enemies and from which the enemies have bad LoF on you. Your best bet are multistory buildings with windows. Take cover behind walls next to windows allowing you to shoot at the enemies below while they can’t shoot at you. Bear in mind that this does not mean that your soldiers are now perfectly safe. Enemies have explosives, both long and short range, and psychic attack abilities (notably mindcontrol), some of which don't require LoS .
Also, on many missions you can’t just wait for the enemies to attack you, because they have to destroy some mcguffin (like civilians, or equipment) or because there is an infinite number of them and you need to destroy some mcguffin (notably in the Pandoran Bases).
To illustrate the importance of the angle of attack, courtesy of MadSkunky from the official forum:
|Aim 1||Aim 2||Aim 3|
|The soldier behind the cover is completely protected from any shots coming from directly in front of him.||The solder behind the cover is almost completely exposed to any shots from this angle (approximately 45º)||The soldier behind the cover is completely exposed to any shots from this angle (approximately 90º)|
Overwatch is an ability that any character wielding a direct fire weapon can use:
Character will attack once the first enemy that moves into the overwatch area (a cone with a maximum angle of 175° and a maximum height equal to the perception of the character) provided that the enemy is within perception range of the character modified by the stealth attribute of the target. Requires direct fire weapon, AP cost same as regular shot with weapon (unless character has extreme focus skill); ends turn and while active prevents the character from returning fire.
So, although the in-game description does not mention this, overwatch may not activate even if an enemy steps into the overwatch area due to a perception/stealth check, e.g. a target with +50% stealth will not trigger overwatch from a character unless it is within less than half its perception - this is why some Tritons with high stealth can avoid triggering overwatch from your operatives, and more so during night missions, when perception of all characters is halved
Though return fire will not activate if the character is on overwatch, it will activate if the character is attacked after the overwatch is triggered
Some things to bear in mind about how overwatch operates:
- The target continues to move as the character on overwatch initiates the shooting animation, and thus often the target will have moved into cover or behind an obstacle when the shot is made, particularly if the overwatch is set up from behind high cover and the character needs to make a side step before shooting.
- Low cover intersecting the overwatch cone will often interfere with the overwatch shooting, sometimes in unpredictable ways: some low cover elements are very resilient or invulnerable though they don't appear so, and characters on overwatch shoot at the center mass of the target - even if it's hidden behind low cover - instead of aiming at an exposed body part. (However, at other times the results are all too predictable: for example, Tritons move on all fours and therefore have a very low profile, making it very hard to hit them in overwatch when they are among low cover items)
- When several characters are overwatching the same area and the overwatch is triggered by an enemy, they will take turns shooting at it. As the enemy continues to move during the shooting animations, subsequent overwatch shots may be suboptimal, or the enemy move away from the overwatch area and avoid triggering all of the overwatches.
In short, overwatch comes with all the blessings and curses of Phoenix Point ballistics: projectiles only do damage to what they hit, but assets don't always behave as expected because they have too many hit points or their hitboxes marginally exceed their size.
Some players also take issue at how the target continues moving as the shooting animation plays and how their operatives "take turns" at shooting a target that triggers several overwatches
One way of looking at overwatch (okay, my way of looking at it) is that it gives a low quality opportunity shot that can catch some enemies at their most vulnerable (for example, Arthrons with shields) and, most importantly, it's a shot where the enemy spends APs to improve your accuracy. When set up right, overwatch can be very effective, but that might require putting some thought into it:
- Remember that it takes time to shoot and the target will continue moving: if the base of your cone is narrowly set up between two elements of cover and the target will be moving from one to the other, rather then moving towards your operative, you have a very short window of opportunity to make a good shot.
- In connection with the point above, making an overwatch shot from high cover requires stepping to the side, which takes more time than shooting from behind low cover or in the open. Setting up the overwarch cone from high cover also take a little getting used to, because you have to take into account that the operative will step to the side if necessary, although it might look like your high cover is intersecting the overwatch cone.
- Don't forget about accuracy: you can set the height and the angle of the overwatch cone way beyond the effective range of your operative's weapon, all but guaranteeing a miss. For weapons with short effective range, go for a small overwatch cone.
When do you spot enemies and when do they spot you?
Detection is determined by the perception attribute of the observer and the stealth attribute and the size of the observed. Perception is expressed in tiles and stealth as a percentage (which can also be negative, meaning the observed is easier to detect), the stealth reducing the perception range vis a vis the observed.
So, if Bob has a perception of 35 (base perception of all human characters), he will detect all enemies with =<0% stealth within his Line of Sight (LOS) within 35 tiles. He will also detect enemies further away if they have a negative stealth attribute (which is usually derived from wearing heavy armor, see here all the things that increase or decrease the stealth of a character). For example, Bob will detect enemies 49 tiles away within LOS whose stealth is - 40%. Similarly, Bob will be detected by enemies depending on his stealth and the perception of his enemies. Bob will also alert enemies to his presence by shooting a non-silenced weapon.
You can calculate the range at which any enemy will detect one of your operatives: just check the perception attribute of the enemy, adjust it with your operative's stealth, and count the tiles. Not that I suggest doing it before making every move…
The size of the character is also relevant for detection purposes: large Pandorans like Chirons, Scyllas, Sentinels and the Spawnery are easier to detect, while it's harder to spot Worms and Mindfraggers.
A character with stealth 100% or higher will be detected by an enemy if it gets to within 5 tiles of it, unless he/she/it casts vanish, which allows the character to stay hidden until the end of the turn, or it is a Triton that activated pain chameleon, which can make it completely undetectable inside the Pandoran mist, even if standing right next to it. If not in the mist you will usually spot it a couple of tiles away, and always if on a tile next to your operative
Detected characters will stay detected during the rest of the turn (so you will see where the enemies finish their turn even if you lose LoS on them) and their last known position will be marked with a red ping (missing pic). The red ping also indicates the location of any character that generated any kind of noise (usually by using a non silenced weapon: that is, any weapon that is not a crossbow or a melee weapon).
A peculiarity about AI and detection: unlike the player who controls the whole squad and is aware of what every operative perceives, the AI controlled characters are only aware of those enemies that they detect, so if one Arthron sees your operative, it doesn't mean that other Pandorans will be aware of him as well.
characters controlled by AI will also detect those enemies detected by a friendly within the perception range. For example, if your operative is detected by an Arthron and that is within the perception range of a Chiron, the will also know where your operative is (and probably attack him or her with its indirect fire attack).
Characters controlled by AI that have not detected any enemy, will either stand put or wander about, often neglecting cover
A key idea to keep in mind about stealth in Phoenix Point is that it requires 'dedicating' or 'committing' the character to it. Because characters typically have high perception, unless the mission takes place at night, they usually have no trouble spotting each other very fast. In other words, anything below a stealth of 50% or more usually does not provide a tangible advantage.
There are two kinds of melee attacks in Phoenix Point, a 'bash' with any item and 'strike' with a dedicated melee weapon.
Neither attack triggers Return Fire
Striking with a dedicated melee weapon requires to be on an adjacent tile to the target and to be proficient in melee weapons (otherwise there is a 50% to 'fumble', i.e. fail to do the attack after spending the APs on it). All melee weapons cost 2APs to strike with (though in the Blood and Titanium DLC there is a bionic augmentation, Vengeance Torso that grants the combat matrix ability, which reduces the cost of using melee weapons by 1AP, to a minimum of 1AP).
Melee weapons can also be used to bash (which costs only 1AP) but for much less damage (because they only weight 2 units, see below why that matters)
There is no free aim, or body part targeting with melee attacks, which means that some RNG is involved because any body part can receive the hit and different body parts have different armor.
The big advantages of melee weapons are the high damage per strike, which guarantees easily overcoming the toughest armors, that they have some secondary useful property (like piercing, or inflicting paralyze damage, bleeding, or shock damage) and that they are all one-handed weapons (except the Scyther in the Legacy of the Ancients DLC).
Note that the Neurazer doesn’t require melee proficiency and costs 1AP to use, but for all other intents and purposes acts like a dedicated melee weapon. Most importantly, to inflict paralyze damage it has to be used to 'strike' an enemy, not 'bash' it.
Bashing with an item an adjacent enemy is always available, provided that the soldier’s arms have not been disabled (for items requiring 2 arms to operate, both arms are needed to bash with the item) and always costs 1 AP.
The damage of the bash attack is calculated by multiplying the weight of the item used for bashing by the strength of the character doing it. So a soldier with 15 strength wielding an Ares AR-1 that weighs 3 units will do 3*15=45 damage with the bash.
The item that is used for bashing will also suffer 25% of the damage inflicted with the bash, calculated without subtracting armor or taking into account bonus to damage from vivisection research However, all human weapons have 20 armor and the damage to the weapon will be reduced by its armor. Even so, brittle weapons like sniper rifles make for poor candidates despite having considerable weight.
(Weapons that get damaged in combat will be automatically repaired after the battle, but not so the weapons that are destroyed)
Because bash scales with strength, it can actually do as much as damage as a melee weapon (for example, Marduk's Fist) but for half the AP. A character with 32 strength (that can be achieved with max 30 strength and the resourceful third-row skill wielding a heavy weapon (e.g. Deceptor Hel 2 Cannon, Goliath GL2 - all of which weigh 5 units ... and an additional +3 strength can be obtained by completing Project Vulture) will do 32 * 5 = 160. This is a 100% increase in damage per AP, but really anything above 80 damage (that is, with strength of 17 or more) would seem to make bash preferable to melee.
There are a few caveats, however:
Melee weapons are one-handed while bashing with a heavy weapon requires both hands. This doesn’t seem very important… Until your heavy has one arm disabled.
Bashing can damage the weapon, and at very high strength the damage can be quite high higher; you might get no more than 3-4 bashes in before the weapon breaks (for example, Deceptor and Hel 2 Cannon each have 150 HPs, a character with 32 strength, brawler and close quarters specialist will do 288 damage with each bash, so 52 damage to weapon).
Even though the damage per AP is important, when it comes to melee weapons remember that their big advantage over other weapons is the high damage per strike. A basic ARES does more damage than a Marduk's Fist (180 vs 160) for the same 2 APs (and over distance, too!). However, ARES fires in a burst and each shot does only 30 damage, which means that whereas against a target with 50 armor, the ARES will do 0 damage, a Marduk's Fist will do 110 damage. Similarly, even though 2 bashes of 90 damage each add to 180 pts of damage, against a target with 50 armor they would only do 80 in total.
For bash to compete with melee in damage, a serious investment in strength is required. (This is not too big of an issue currently, as you will have more than enough SPs to completely max out the stats of your veterans by late game, especially on the easier difficulty levels)
If you have the Blood and Titanium DLC, you can augment your soldiers with the melee bionic torso, which reduces the cost of melee attacks by 1AP.
Conclusion: The big advantage of bash is that it costs 1 AP and that with high enough strength it can do as much as damage as a dedicated melee attack that costs 2 AP. This makes it ideal for heavies (who have the Brawler skill, LVL2 Passive Heavy Skill, adds 50% damage to bash and melee attacks), that can jetpack to an enemy and club it (which is the best thing they can usually do after jetpacking anyway). It is also very useful for other builds, to take care of worms and mindfraggers. However, a dedicated melee fighter can be devastating, especially when considering all the buffs available to melee and that they don’t need to care about accuracy.
Weapons have the following stats:
Piercing: how many points of armor each attack ignores (see Damage for examples)
the range in tiles at which the weapon is likely to hit a human sized target 50% of the time (see Accuracy for detailed explanation). Note that for melee weapons this is always 1
how many projectiles the weapon shoots with each attack
Action Points: cost in APs of using the weapon
Special: some weapons do special damage (see here for a complete list of all the different kinds)
Ammo capacity: how many attacks can be made with the weapon before it needs reloading
how many HPs the weapon has; a weapon can receive damage from attacks by enemies, or bashing, and if reaches 0 it is destroyed (weapons are automatically repaired after each battle). Note that all human weapons also have 20 points of Armor that act exactly like armor on a body part.
Hands to use: if a weapon requires both hands, the character won't be able to use if one of his/her/its arms is disabled, and if it requires only one hand, if boths arms are disabled.
Some important concepts to bear in mind when discussing weapons in Phoenix Point:
- Damage per second(DPS)/Damage per AP: this is damage per attack multiplied by burst divided by AP cost. This tells how efficient the weapon can be: the higher the DPS of a weapon, the more you are getting out of the APs spent on using it.
- Weapons with high damage per attack are those that can go through armor of any strength and inflict respectable amount of damage (generally, anything of 80 damage or more), and the opposite are considered weapons with low damage per attack/projectile (most notably shotguns - 35, and assault rifles, between 30 and 40).
- Long burst weapons are weapons that have a burst of at least 6 or more.
Weapons in Phoenix Point tend to follow some rules (though there are exceptions and the rules themselves can be subverted by skills and perks):
- Weapons with high damage per attack/projectile are single shot (sniper rifles, Hel 2 Cannon, or have short bursts ( Destiny III, weapons with low damage have long bursts (most assault rifles, all shotguns and all heavy machine guns).
- Weapons with high ER have lower DPS: sniper rifles have the highest ER and the lowest DPS, assault rifles have medium ER and medium DPS, shotguns have lowest ER and highest DPS.
So the first conclusion seems simple enough: short range weapons do more damage. However, that is only really so when considering unarmored or lightly armored targets... When dealing with armored targets weapons with low damage projectiles seem to become ineffective and the sniper rifles reign supreme. But that's also only part of the story, because it doesn't take into account:
1) Synergies from different skills (more on that in the Character Development section, but the main principle is that the damage per projectile of long burst/low damage per projectile weapons can be increased with personal perks and skills to the point where they easily punch through any armor)
2) Benefits from combined tactics (using one operative to strip armor from enemies and another one to attack them)
3) The ambiguity of effective range.
Here I will talk about the last one, because it's the most complex and it's directly related to Phoenix Point opting for realistic ballistics vs die rolls.
But, what is a human sized target when you are dealing with enemies that are sometimes much smaller than humans and other times much, much bigger? And do you actually want to hit the target itself?
In reality, no. Or, at least, not usually past the early game. What you want is to hit specific body parts because they have the lowest armor (even the most well armored Arthrons and Tritons have body parts with 20 armor) or give some nasty ability to the enemy. These body parts can be huge (like a Scylla's abdomen) or very small (the thin Arthron's arm holding the shield or the Triton's weapon hands, mostly hidden behind his other pair of arms). Moreover, you are not only limited by the size of the target, but by the angle of attack and the obstacles between you.
So what happens in practice is that often to reliably land the shot you want, you have to engage the target at perhaps 20 tiles with a sniper rifle, and at that point you can also dash at it with a shotgun, and just kill it point blank, or engage it at a slightly longer range but different angle with an assault rifle.
What this comes down to is that comparing weapon classes among each other is as interesting as it is inconclusive. This is perhaps one of the biggest achievements of the game - that practically all weapons are useful depending on the play style, kind of like what happen with From Software games, and for similar reasons.
A few tips:
- When dealing with armored targets, assault rifles are intented to to be used to disable less armored limbs (20 or less) at some distance (5-12 tiles) and to chip away at armor, while shotguns are best at very close range (2 tiles or less).
- Hel 2 Cannon has a short ER (17) but it packs such a punch that it doesn't matter that much where it hits.
- Deceptor is mostly effective against large targets, like Chirons and Scyllas. Against medium sized-targets it has to be used at short range (8 tiles or less).
- Goliath 2 GL is excellent for stripping of armor from multiple targets simultaneously (when not disabling them outright) allowing a an effective use of high DPS weapons against them.
Armor - what is it good for?
Each piece of armor comes with an armor value and some bonus/malus to attributes (accuracy, perception, speed, stealth).
The different armor pieces for head, body and legs can be combined in any way, and there is no penalty for using armors outside the class.
Armor is very important in determining the role that the operative will have within the squad, because
all humans, regardless of class and experience, have the same accuracy (+0%), perception (35) and stealth (+0%).
This means that if you want to turn your heavy into a dedicated mid-range shooter you can replace his heavy armor with the sniper armor, or if you are willing to exchange the extra armor and jetpack for mobility, you can give him the assault armor.
One key thing to understand about Phoenix Point character system is that classes do not dictate the role: the way you build and kit out your operatives determines who they are going to be. This is discussed in far more detail in the Character Development and Classes and Skills sections.
However, there are synergies to be found in kitting out the operatives with the armor corresponding to their class. For example, sniper armor is very weak; you want to keep snipers as far away from the action as possible, so although you could give it to a heavy to improve their accuracy with the , they would have to use it at mid-range, where they would be very exposed.
Combat in Phoenix Point is very lethal and armor offers limited protection, but it's far from useless. Often your operatives will die after receiving 2-3 attacks, and what armor gives you is that chance to survive 2 attacks instead of 1, or 3 instead of 2. And besides outright death, you have to worry about limbs. A soldier with a disabled arm is often out for good from the mission at hand, and the difference between an attack disabling the arm or not might be a few points of armor.
To give a few examples:
- A starting recruit on Legend (with 14 strength) not wearing any armor will die from a single shot of Cyclops SR7 (it does 130 damage, so it will reduce global HP to 10, and as it will also disable a body part it will cause bleeding of 10, which will apply at the start of the turn).
Wearing armor will not stop the operative from getting a body part disabled (in fact, even wearing the strongest armor can't prevent that) and get seriously injured, but it will prevent outright one-shot death.
- A blast Chiron projectile does 50 damage and 3 shred, so if two of these land on the same operative, he needs to be wearing armor with armor value 22 or more to avoid getting one or both arms disabled, because hit points on each arm is 60, so with 22 armor the damage will be 50 - 22 + 50 - 19 = 59. This is where the extra 4 pts of armor of the pay off (it has 24 armor vs 20 of the other assault armors).
- An armor of 30 or more (only heavy armors) will prevent an operative from receiving any damage from the Redeemer (the viral assault rifle, which has 10 piercing and does 20 damage and 5 [devastating] viral damage per projectile with a burst of 3), and the an armor of 40 (only New Jericho heavy body armor) will prevent any damage from a Hera pistol (which has 30 piercing, 10 damage and 7 paralysis damage).
When you look at the different armors in Phoenix Point you may notice that armor strength is traded for accuracy and speed at a fixed rate of 1 Speed = 2% accuracy = 2 pts in armor (at least for the assault armors of the Factions).
One common approach is to combine different armor pieces to achieve a particular set of stats (for example, to offset the penalties from one armor piece, like the heavy body armor). When doing this it's important to bear in mind that enemies tend to target the body part with the least armor: it doesn't make a lot of sense to look at the average armor the operative is wearing.
As with all research in Phoenix Point, technological progress when it comes to armors is *mostly* horizontal. PX starting armors can be considered as Tier 1 - they are outright worse then any of their faction counterparts, which can be considered as Tier 2.
Tier 3 armors would be the specialist Infiltrator, Technician and Priest sets.
The Priest armor set (body and legs)
is simply not very good and is easily outperformed by any Tier 2 armor set, perhaps with the exception of the Berserker set, which is also unjustifiably bad. This has been changed in the YEO/Polaris update, with Priest armor now granting a bonus to accuracy; I'm still testing it atmo
The Technician helmet is the one straight upgrade I can think of when comparing it to Assault Armors - it has the highest armor rating (25) and grants +5 to Accuracy, with only a minor penalty to Stealth (-5%), easily making it the best helmet for the Assault class. It does cost a little bit more. Before YEO/Polaris update the bonus to accuracy was 10%
The Infiltrator set is all about... Infiltrators, as it prioritizes stealth over everything else, granting +50% in total, which with the basic class training amounts to +75% while undetected.
Finally, there are also plenty of Tier 0 armors, that raiders and other neutrals wear, and which may end up in your stores as you recruit them. These armors are outright worse than their PX counterparts, but sometimes you have no other choice and when it comes to armors something is better than nothing.
An operative cannot have more than 2 augmentations.
You can access the inventory of a vehicle by opening the inventory of an operative inside it. This is very useful on scavenging ops and raids, as vehicles have unlimited inventory and carrying capacity.
Once you research Pandoran Capture and Containment and build a Containment Facility you will be able to capture Pandorans in order to research them and harvest them for mutagens (if you have mutagen harvesting technology) or food (with food harvesting technology).
Capturing some Pandorans is necessary to win the game.
You can only capture Pandorans, not other humans or humanoid enemies.
You can only capture them by paralyzing ( mind control does not work for these purposes; if only mind controlled enemies remain in a mission that only requires killing all enemies, the mission will end successfully but these enemies will not be captured).
You will automatically capture any paralyzed Pandorans once the mission ends. Also, remember that if any of your soldiers are paralyzed on a mission requiring evac, as soon as you evac the other operatives, the mission will end and your paralyzed operative will be fine.
Weapons that inflict paralyze damage
- Neurazer ( Phoenix Project item, available after Pandoran Capture and Containment)
- Hera NP-1 ( Synedrion hand gun, available a few days into the game after Synedrion completes the Neurotoxin Weapons technology research, used by snipers and Triton Poacher)
- Aspida tech arm ( Synedrion land vehicle's melee weapon, available after Synedrion completes the Aspida development)
- Athena NS-2 (advanced Synedrion sniper rifle, available after Synedrion completes the Advanced Paralyzing weapons, used by snipers and Triton Poacher Alpha)
- Tentacle torso mutation ( Disciples of Anu mutation, available with Advanced Mutation technology)
It is perfectly possible to use any of the weapons above to paralyzed Pandorans for capture, but the Tentacle torso mutation is probably the least reliable - it costs 2 APs and 2 WPs to use. Aspida is generally the most recommended method, as it applies the most paralyze damage per AP (20), it is sturdy enough to take a lot of damage, and even if it gets destroyed you can just build a new one - you are not losing a veteran operative.
Paralyzing small and medium sized enemies is easy enough.
To paralyze a target you need to apply paralyze damage equal to its strength. The strength of the target is its max HP divided by 10. Disabling body parts reduces strength in the amount of max HP lost divided by 10. Therefore, disabling body parts makes an enemy easier to paralyze and for best results disable those body parts that reduce HP by the biggest amount.
However, you should also beware that disabling body parts causes bleeding and your target might bleed out before you can paralyze it or before you can complete the mission.
Paralyze damage reduces the AP available to the enemy roughly in proportion to the paralyze damage vs strength. This means that the more paralyze damage you inflict on the enemy, the less likely it is to retaliate; you want to apply as much paralyze damage as soon as possible.
Capturing large Pandorans
With targets that have a lot of HP (especially Scylla ) you can't expect to inflict around 400 paralyze damage quick enough to prevent her from retaliating, unless you make a very dedicated effort. One option is to panic the enemy first, by attacking it with viral weapons. A favorite (and some may say exploitive) technique is rage bursting a Scylla with a Deceptor MG and the Biochemist personal perk , as this can stunlock a Scylla for the rest of the mission for 3AP. In any case, it is easier to cause a Scylla to panic rather than paralyze her straight away because of how Virus Damage works (see detailed explanation here; in short because it does damage over time and it only reduces by 1 each turn). Another option is to use war cry to prevent (or, at worst, minimize) retaliation. It is, however, inadvisable to reduce the strength of the Scylla by disabling her body parts, first because they have a lot of HPs, and second because disabling them causes a lot of bleeding: in fact, disabling body parts is better for killing, rather than capturing a Scylla.