Acalanthis

A Tad Disappointed With Available Tactical Options and AI

16 posts in this topic

So I've been playing a lot of Xenonauts recently and one thing that I'm consistently noticing is that it doesn't really feel as though I'm fighting intelligent opponents.  Part of that is an issue I have with the enemy AI, and part of that is an issue that I have with how enemy defenses are set up and the weaponry available to them.

The first and most glaringly obvious thing to me is the lack of stationary weapons emplacements whenever we're boarding UFOs.  My reasoning is thus: the aliens are a reasonably tactically versed enemy.  They also know that humans with some pressing questions and heavy weaponry and explosives will be showing up within 24 hours to speak with them; any longer and (since the UFOs disappear without any cash payment or any mention of any action by local governments) they will be rescued and the craft salvaged.  Their larger UFOs are also laid out so that there are several chokepoints with relatively long lines of sight.  They are also capable of building burst-fire weaponry.

So why is it that we don't see an equivalent of, say, an M2 Browning, a heavy weapon capable of sustained fire that you can set up in one position to cover a certain position?  The very first thing I would do if I knew that I only had to hold the ship against enemy attack for a certain amount of time would be to set up a machine gun or equivalent to cover the chokepoints within the ship.  The sheer volume of fire that it would be able to deliver and its relatively high ammunition capacity means that you would be able to tear any nosy humans to literal shreds if they tried to get in for quite some time, and since they don't have weaponry capable of going through the walls, it instantly makes the ship much, much more defensible.  On the human side, this also increases the tactical usefulness of snipers and rocket launchers, because those let you kill the aliens manning those weapons with relatively little risk to the soldiers in question, as well as explosives (provided we get destructible walls in future), which would let you flank them.

I also have a bit of an issue with the enemy AI after you've slaughtered all the aliens in the UFO and are on the way to capturing it.  Why is it that the aliens don't immediately converge on the UFO once you've initiated that victory condition?  It makes the "five turns after you've occupied it" victory condition a little unnecessary to my thinking, if you're already guaranteed victory after you've captured it, and it'd make it more interesting if you're four turns in with three Xenonauts on the verge of death by bleed-out and then that one bastard of an Sebillian you missed blunders in, resetting the timer.

All in all, I think that it's a very fun game with a lot of replay value; I just think that those little additions would make the experience feel that much more real (as real as a game about shooting space aliens can be).

Edited by Acalanthis

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The latter point about the AI converging is a valid one, I think it was just us running out of development time before we shipped the game. We'll likely address it in X2 because it was originally intended to work as you describe.

Stationary weapon emplacements, though - I don't think they're a great idea. Most people already find assaulting a UFO to be a bit of a slaughterfest given the chokepoints in their design. Having a plasma machinegun open up on your troops the moment you open the front door would make the assault pretty much impossible, as a multi-shot plasma weapon would most likely take down even a combat shield solider in a single burst. I'm not sure what counter the player would have for it - firing rockets into the UFO you're trying to capture would wipe out all the items that you need for research, and machineguns have similar range to snipers (and it'd be quite easy to position a stationary weapon so it's out of the firing angle that a sniper would be able to get when shooting through the main door).

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13 minutes ago, Chris said:

The latter point about the AI converging is a valid one, I think it was just us running out of development time before we shipped the game. We'll likely address it in X2 because it was originally intended to work as you describe.

+1

13 minutes ago, Chris said:

Stationary weapon emplacements, though - I don't think they're a great idea. Most people already find assaulting a UFO to be a bit of a slaughterfest given the chokepoints in their design. Having a plasma machinegun open up on your troops the moment you open the front door would make the assault pretty much impossible, as a multi-shot plasma weapon would most likely take down even a combat shield solider in a single burst. I'm not sure what counter the player would have for it - firing rockets into the UFO you're trying to capture would wipe out all the items that you need for research, and machineguns have similar range to snipers (and it'd be quite easy to position a stationary weapon so it's out of the firing angle that a sniper would be able to get when shooting through the main door).

+1

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15 hours ago, Acalanthis said:

I also have a bit of an issue with the enemy AI after you've slaughtered all the aliens in the UFO and are on the way to capturing it.  Why is it that the aliens don't immediately converge on the UFO once you've initiated that victory condition?  It makes the "five turns after you've occupied it" victory condition a little unnecessary to my thinking, if you're already guaranteed victory after you've captured it, and it'd make it more interesting if you're four turns in with three Xenonauts on the verge of death by bleed-out and then that one bastard of an Sebillian you missed blunders in, resetting the timer.

I personally have yet to try the "X-Division"-edition (waiting for the "Community Edition"-update and maybe also the "X-Pansion-pack"), so I've to try any of the more "advanced-alien-intelligence" in this game.

However, at least in the "Community-Edition" sometimes strayed-aliens that were hiding close enough to the UFOs denied my 5-turn-victory-condition, so I afterwards always send at least two solider to check the entrances just in case (or left some of the already wounded to guard there).

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Regardless though, tactical-choices in any video-game (or in everything) are limited by the amount of available mechanics.
for example since in Xenonauts (without mods) you are not able to breach / destroy the outer walls of the UFOs, that already limits players to "exploit" the Suppression-system in this game (primarily, that is when trying to barge into "camp-rooms").

In a away, just like even in (Open)Xcom, all the tactics eventually just becomes a "routine". But then again that kinda is the reality ("Swat 4") being a rather good comparative example in relation to procedures, real-life and such too.)

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Since "Xenonauts 2" apparently is going to be more more of experimental of the potential (real-)Xcom-games can become (for example, adding more in-depth relation-systems and such), it will be interesting what sort of new complexities we (since we players are going to help) are able to bring to these markets.

"Xenonauts 1" was meant to be a modern clone of (Open)Xcom (at least this is how I've understood), and for the most part it was surprisingly good and unique to stand spart from its "grand-father".

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just a thought about assaulting a UFO with heavy weapons deployed within it - why not flashbang/ stun gas anyone inside? That would be the reasonable thing to do tactically. and adding more grenade types should really be a simple issue in terms of development. I remember that their even was the EMP grenade in X1 so is that really that big of a difference ?

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3 hours ago, raziel1981 said:

just a thought about assaulting a UFO with heavy weapons deployed within it - why not flashbang/ stun gas anyone inside? That would be the reasonable thing to do tactically. and adding more grenade types should really be a simple issue in terms of development. I remember that their even was the EMP grenade in X1 so is that really that big of a difference ?

 

If you are hinting about enhancing the "Suppression"-mechanics and such further, that is indeed something nice to see sure.

 

What seeming @Chris was saying though was that the spacious / tight-corridors could become a little too difficult to breach-through  than what they already are (primarily due the camping habits and "100%-Time-Unit-precision" when aliens operate / chugs grenades (at in the case of "Community Editions").
(( I've more in in-depth with @Charon elsewhere with this "Alien-Intelligence" on the following thread:
http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/index.php?/topic/14299-how-do-people-assault-ufos-in-this-version/ ))

In the end it would be a quite a balancing act to making "not cheating AI" and "not too well fortified UFOs", I believe.
I'd personally just see more "organic" and fun AI than "just too good". And I'd say the AI should take the priority over the heavy-weapon-placements and such.


(( Although, the developers are free to do things they want to do them; just my opinion on this whole thing in general. ))

 

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The problem is you have to spend TU to open doors and throw grenades etc, so an alien on 100% TU lying in wait with a massive machinegun will likely gun down your men before they get a chance to throw the flashbang. Sure, you can work around that in various ways (e.g. reaction modifiers), but I think UFO's are already pretty difficult to assault compared to the rest of the game.

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3 hours ago, Chris said:

The problem is you have to spend TU to open doors and throw grenades etc, so an alien on 100% TU lying in wait with a massive machinegun will likely gun down your men before they get a chance to throw the flashbang. Sure, you can work around that in various ways (e.g. reaction modifiers), but I think UFO's are already pretty difficult to assault compared to the rest of the game.

Yeah, but this is why I suggested changing the interior walls so that they're destructable, but only by the demo charges (since I'm getting basically no use out of them aside from sadistic amusement at the moment).  You could throw a demo charge with a few turns on the timer, arrange the squad so that they have good fields of fire through the resulting hole, and reduce the machinegunner to gibs once the wall is gone.  You wouldn't be destroying much, on average, since there'd only be a couple major separating walls inside, and it'd let the demo charges fulfill a more significant tactical role.

EDIT: another slightly tangential thing.  I think it might be interesting to have randomized interior damage to the UFO that extends to normally indestructible scenery; some bits of wall might be missing, for example, or a teleporter might be nonfunctional.  I'm of the opinion that it wouldn't change the tactical environment too much but it would provide a little variability.

Edited by Acalanthis

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The interior walls should be destructible already - as far as I'm aware the external walls are the only indestructible parts (of course, that doesn't fix the problem that the UFOs are horrible shapes and there's not that many internal walls in the early UFOs).

The UFOs need a rethink for X2.

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6 hours ago, Chris said:

The problem is you have to spend TU to open doors and throw grenades etc, so an alien on 100% TU lying in wait with a massive machinegun will likely gun down your men before they get a chance to throw the flashbang. Sure, you can work around that in various ways (e.g. reaction modifiers), but I think UFO's are already pretty difficult to assault compared to the rest of the game.

Only in X:CE though, where you can get reaction fire through doors. In vanilla, you can open the door and fire your own machine gun, eliminating the chance of suppression. I'd say it made assaulting UFOs easier than the rest of the combat.

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On 2/3/2017 at 10:54 AM, Chris said:

The interior walls should be destructible already - as far as I'm aware the external walls are the only indestructible parts (of course, that doesn't fix the problem that the UFOs are horrible shapes and there's not that many internal walls in the early UFOs).

The UFOs need a rethink for X2.

Uh, I'm sorry if I'm wrong, but I suspect that we may be discussing two separate things.

I believe that what you're discussing are those half-size partitions that can be shot over.

I'm talking about the full-size walls within the UFO with the doors in them, that block all vision and fire into the next room.  Those I've never been able to breach, not even with the MAG Cannon on the Hyperion or a stack of plasma charges.

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35 minutes ago, Acalanthis said:

Uh, I'm sorry if I'm wrong, but I suspect that we may be discussing two separate things.

I believe that what you're discussing are those half-size partitions that can be shot over.

I'm talking about the full-size walls within the UFO with the doors in them, that block all vision and fire into the next room.  Those I've never been able to breach, not even with the MAG Cannon on the Hyperion or a stack of plasma charges.

I can confirm that interior walls are destructable, all of them are, they just have a lot of hp and armour.

Dont stack explosives, multiple explosions on the same occassion dont work.

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You wouldn't happen to have a rough estimate for HP and armor?  I'm going to try downing one the next time I take out a UFO without psionics.

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The vanilla files say 120 hp, but i guess it could be the quadruple of that. Also dont really trust other damage sources than incendiary, walls could have an incredible high armour for ballistic, energy and chemical, no one really knows.

Just keep shooting, they will fall eventually.

wall_ne_spectre.xml

wall_ne.png

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Maybe in the sequel they can buff the demo charge damage so that it can punch through those walls (to allow for the kind of breaching I was discussing above?), but require that you set it down at your Xenonaut's feet to keep it from being a "lol nop everyone dies" weapon?

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I'm currently replaying though vanilla Xenonauts and CE, and maybe X-division after that, and at least in CE (not sure if the AI is fundamentally different from vanilla) AI is definitely "smart" enough once you get to later months and bigger ships, since higher ranked aliens tend to come in clumps of 2-3 and take FAR more punishment to clear out unless your running all mag weapons and sentinel armors.  Early on you are literally fighting "civilians" 90% of the time, so you cant expect them to fight well.

On a tangent, can we hope that in X2 aircraft missiles might be useful again? I stopped using anything but torpedoes and cannons once I got corsairs, since all medium and up ships can be beat by 2x foxtrots as long as you keep up with explosive upgrades (and can catch them).  The exception is ships with fighter escorts, but then you send a corsair or two to take out those first.  Missiles just seem useless when dual cannons cant miss enough to matter and kill things just as fast.

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