Phoenix Point Tips and Tricks04 Feb 2020 1
Phoenix Point has been a contentious game since it released on December 3rd, 2019. Created by the original designer of the X-COM series, Julian Gollop, the tactical/strategic hybrid definitely leans on some of the hardest underpinnings of the original title while giving the nod to innovations brought by Firaxis Games in the XCOM reboot. Released exclusively on the Epic Games Store for a year, divisions were already running high.
Notable bugginess and balance issues continue to dog the game's steps, but if you can dig through some of the jank, there is an incredible game to be had. It's an experience that will benefit from ongoing discussions of strategic deployment, tactical nuance, and general exploration.
We can help you out with that process.
Phoenix Points Guide | Basic Principles
Phoenix Point is not XCOM
This is difficult for a lot of people but the same strategies will not work. Character classes have different strengths and weaknesses. If you play Phoenix Point as if it were XCOM, you'll have a bad time of it. Think of it more of a Rogue-light than an XCOM-like.
The whims of RNJesus are a big deal. Sometimes you will be in situations which you can't actually beat and it becomes reasonable to figure out how to save as much as you can. Randomly generated maps and available characters make every experience very different.
Be willing to lose a bit before you abandon a run through
The power of random means that even in a worst-case scenario, all is not necessarily lost. Sure, maybe you lost two good men or women on that last fight against Tritons and Sirens but you very well may be able to pull it out at the last minute. You might even be able to pull off several more heroic saves until you can get enough resources to pick up some replacements. At least try before you give up for good.
You are not expected to win
Especially on the higher difficulties. In order to succeed, you need to be clever, understand the tools at your disposal, understand the weaknesses of your enemies, and manage your relationships with the major factions – all at the same time. It is not going to be easy, no matter what other people say.
Phoenix Point Tips | Squad Tactics
Overwatch is not a waste of time
If you've been conditioned by XCOM, you think that saving some Action Points to take a shot if something moves in your overwatch cone is just wasted AP because you are unlikely to hit. Not in PP. Because of the way ballistics are more directly modeled, your chances to hit if you can get something in overwatch are pretty good. Sometimes better than taking normal shots. The Dec 16th patch forced characters with burst-capable weapons on overwatch to fire full bursts rather than half bursts; this makes a huge difference to your ammo consumption.
The Hel Cannon is great in overwatch
Because all characters in PP have four Action Points per turn and firing the Hel Cannon (without skills modifying it) requires three AP, putting your Heavy in some cover along the line of approach to your team with one AP and then going on overwatch means you are likely to be more careful with positioning and catch your enemy at much closer range, where the single shot death machine has a much better chance to hit.
Enemies are not the only valuable thing to shoot
Only heavy weapons and sniper rifles can penetrate terrain to do damage to things behind it. Don't forget that the lowly Ares AR can blow away a lot of blocking objects to allow all a clear shot from someone in a protected position. This is particularly useful to set up shots from your Sniper, who won't have enough Speed to be in exactly the right position at any given time. A friendly Assault can also take down an intervening wall for headshots.
Pistols are not a waste of time
While they aren't powerful (and in the case of the Synederion side arm, more akin to an angry bee sting), pistols have an extremely low AP cost both in direct fire and overwatch. A Sniper with Extreme Focus that allows him to reduce overwatch costs by one AP effectively can go on overwatch at the end of every single one of his turns with his pistol for free. Against things like fire worms or acid worms, that means kills at medium-range every time. Even against bigger prey, a two AP pistol shot can keep the pressure on and sometimes even blow a limb completely off.
"Boom, arm shot" is a sound you will grow to love
Particularly for crab men (I mean Arthons) and Tritons, keeping them from using their rather vicious weapons can be more useful than outright killing them. Particularly if they are carrying grenade launchers, which can wreck your day and your entire team before you can blink twice. You can target the weapon itself but if you can make the shot, taking out the arm will be faster and more effective. Notice the stance of most of the mutants and how their arms tend to hang low. A Sniper bullet can slide around terrain or under shields and often take out arms on the other side.
Triton cloaks are really annoying
Tritons can go invisible if they take damage that doesn't kill them and they can get a few squares away from a spotter. When that cloak drops, if you have overwatch on that area it doesn't trigger. (This may be a bug but definitely the case as of December 16.) Since most Tritons pack a bloodsucking arm that heals them as well as does damage, a close Triton needs to be focus fired quickly in order to cripple his Torso and disable his stealth, or you need to accept you will take a hit in close combat when that stealth drops.
A Siren is your top tactical priority, no matter what else is happening
Sirens have the ability to mind control your characters and they do so at range and can maintain it over multiple characters. The first patch was supposed to reduce the Siren ability to rebuild Willpower while the mind control was up to keep them from simply chain controlling your team but the jury is out on whether the fix is in. Regardless, with a truly ridiculous amount of armor and on all of their extremities and in particular the head where the mind control power is housed, a Siren needs to be the focus of all eyes when they become visible. Yes, more than the Chiron. A point-blank Hel Cannon is ideal but runs the risk of your Heavy being the first one that gets mind controlled. Proceed with heavy caution.
The bombard Chiron is annoying and frequently 1st / 2nd-turn lethal but probably not the most important thing on the field
At least if there is any sort of indoor area because they can’t target characters which are under cover. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where a Chiron (or worse, several) are on the other side of the map, unbeknownst to you, but a much closer unit can provide spotting. This will result in you suddenly taking vast indirect artillery fire with truly disgusting accuracy and hideous damage. This can wipe a whole team early in a map and there is very little you can do about it. Luckily, artillery Chiron take a while to start appearing so you will probably have a few maps to begin learning about scouting for overhead cover as quickly as you can.
Human enemies can be some of the hardest you will face
Except for the Siren. Missions against the other factions throw you against their best and brightest with technology which, early on, you won't have any access to and often bests your own, especially superior armor. It's the armor in particular that can be a problem because mutants don't often have armor which covers their arms and humans almost always do. Targeting weapons becomes a critical mechanism, balanced against the possibility that you could pick that weapon up and research the technology after the fight. Assuming you survive.
Phoenix Point Tips | Next Steps
We've really just scratched the surface. Phoenix Point is a game which will continue to provide tactical and strategic complexity as gameplay evolves. We haven't discussed faction-specific classes or weaponry. We haven't talked about the use of various deployable vehicles. We haven't even begun to discuss the higher, strategic level of management of your bases, supplies, and playing off one faction against the other.
How have you found the game so far? Have you discovered any strategies or techniques which make dealing with some of the twisted mutants easier? Do you have a preference in weaponry? Is there something that you absolutely want to see mentioned when we talk about strategy?
Let us know down below and we'll be happy to write up some more guidance!