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Topdecker

Balance and starting options

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First, I want to say that I really, really like Xenonauts. That said, the rest of this touches on things that I think need some improvement and hopefully they are presented in a way that is helpful.

Starting. If the only way to start a game it to thump down two additional bases so you can intercept UFOs, then you might as well make it the default starting point. It will save some newbie tears. Seriously, if the game is so inflexible that there is no other starting strategy than to ramp-up several bases, why not take us past that point so we can make some meaningful decisions rather than redundant repetitions. Or just give us a base and two interceptor stations to start with.

UFOs. I have sent out interceptors to attack some fairly near UFOs. The UFOs out run my interceptors while staying inside radar range AND they perform missions - DOZENS of missions - with fighters in hot pursuit. The suggestion here is that UFO missions should take some time to complete; they should not be instantaneous and perhaps the time should relate to how much damage is being done. Anyhow, I end up losing money and not downing a UFO which is pretty frustrating. (There is a lot that you could do with UFO missions - I mean, if the missions was spotting for orbital bombardment, I might find it a good reason to re-route some fighters)

BAD NEWS. The monthly report seems to be a flood of bad news. Do we EVER get rewarded for doing well? Too much negativity. It should be more like - hey, our industrial and economic systems aren't disrupted, here is some more money - keep up the good work.

Anyhow, just some thoughts. I like the tactical game a lot, but I think that the strategic game needs some serious tweaking.

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Starting. If the only way to start a game it to thump down two additional bases so you can intercept UFOs, then you might as well make it the default starting point. It will save some newbie tears. Seriously, if the game is so inflexible that there is no other starting strategy than to ramp-up several bases, why not take us past that point so we can make some meaningful decisions rather than redundant repetitions. Or just give us a base and two interceptor stations to start with.

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I do agree with this part. You really need to build interceptor bases ASAP or you will quickly lose funding and spiral into disaster, as with less funding you are less likely to have to money to build those required bases.

I think a way to fix this would be if the countries that are not covered by your radar, take their own actions to shoot down UFOs and tell you where/if UFOs land, and as long as you send in your men to clean up, your relationship with them won't sour as quickly. This would make a one/two base strategy more viable for a while.

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The problem with this suggestion is that you are significantly simplifying the strategic level, which was one of the complaints about the recent remake.

Yes, I agree that you need to place new bases early on, but there are still interesting decisions to make about the locations and compositions of those bases, and also at what point you decide to construct them. Bases are a significant investment that may require you to slow down other projects (upgrading soldier equipment, for example), giving you a trade-off; do you want to spend the money now and keep your veteran troopers alive or do you want to risk saving up for a base to cover North America?

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To the newcomers it might not be obvious that you need to build bases ASAP and radar arrays inside them so that they can detect anything. When I was a child and played the original X-COM I mostly one based for the entirety of the game. Granted this might not be a game for a 8 year old but having a very visible tool tip or something along the lines of "it is generally very good idea to build more interception bases early in the game as soon as possible" would be nice.

Maybe such info can be incorporated to the quick-start guide if it already hasn't.

It might be possible to argue that you need to find that out yourself but really such a tip would be general good knowledge and not so much a tip about an optional strategy, because this is pretty much the only strategy that works. I understand that GH doesn't want to instruct the player to use only one strategy when there are multiple different to choose from (ground combat for example) but this isn't the case here.

Edited by Tulx

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UFOs. I have sent out interceptors to attack some fairly near UFOs. The UFOs out run my interceptors while staying inside radar range AND they perform missions - DOZENS of missions - with fighters in hot pursuit. The suggestion here is that UFO missions should take some time to complete; they should not be instantaneous and perhaps the time should relate to how much damage is being done. Anyhow, I end up losing money and not downing a UFO which is pretty frustrating. (There is a lot that you could do with UFO missions - I mean, if the missions was spotting for orbital bombardment, I might find it a good reason to re-route some fighters)

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I'd say that's the main issue at present. I definitely think that events/missions should take at-least a token amount of time (say 1 hour) and that the UFO AI needs to make a decision either to try and outrun an interception, or carry out a mission and risk almost certain interception. I don't know if that is possible within the confines of the game however.

I'd be happy if the funding increase from performing missions and shoot-downs was increased to compensate for the nations leaving. As it is I have played a near perfect game so far and my expenditure is pretty much the same as my income by November with missions only really covering the cost of replacing lost equipment and just keeping up with the Aliens tech. I certainly can't afford a third base!

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As it happens, the bombing events cause the UFO to hover over the same place for a short while. It's just not implemented for all UFO types.

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It sounds a lot like the OP is sending Condors after Scout craft, and they just aren't fast enough to catch up. You need to get the new fighter craft and use it.

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Yes, you do need to build more bases, radar and fighters, but isn't discovery of the strategy part of the fun of a new game? If a decent strategy was just "handed" to you at game start what fun would that be? Besides there are plenty of threads, guides, youtubes, etc... that suggest how to win. I personally never read that type of stuff when I get a new game. I want to learn it myself.

Edited by StellarRat

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Yes, you do need to build more bases, radar and fighters, but isn't discovery of the strategy part of the fun of a new game? If a decent strategy was just "handed" to you at game start what fun would that be? Besides there are plenty of threads, guides, youtubes, etc... that suggest how to win. I personally never read that type of stuff when I get a new game. I want to learn it myself.

If you'll pardon the harshness, the problem is Xenonauts largely has one geoscape strategy, with minor variations. Stray too far from the optimal and you lose. Funding's too tight to have any reasonable kind of freedom. At least perhaps before the late game. Haven't made it there yet on my first playthrough (Veteran).

Edited by Shadow86

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If you'll pardon the harshness, the problem is Xenonauts largely has one geoscape strategy, with minor variations. Stray too far from the optimal and you lose. Funding's too tight to have any reasonable kind of freedom. At least perhaps before the late game. Haven't made it there yet on my first playthrough (Veteran).
That's not completely true. You have many choices in research, weapons, tactics, the number of bases, what's in them, aircraft type and numbers, etc... I can see dozens of different approaches to the game (not all Geoscape of course.) I'm playing on Veteran and the funding has not been "tight". Edited by StellarRat

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problem with xenonauts, that it's spawns ufo randomly on globe and doesn't give two s***s can player react to them or not.

in old xcom there were graphs - they were showing to player where is ufo activity increase and allow him to counter it.

atm xenonauts wave system is full-on luck based (first wave outside radar and interceptor rage? ha-ha f*** You! get this -100k funding. one time on one wave in November and save loads i've achieved results from -400k and -2 territories to +20k and evetyone is kinda pleased, feel the difference) and this is pretty bad design choice. it would be better if there were some sort of strategical ai, that would guide invasion, instead of rng.

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Yes, you do need to build more bases, radar and fighters, but isn't discovery of the strategy part of the fun of a new game? If a decent strategy was just "handed" to you at game start what fun would that be? Besides there are plenty of threads, guides, youtubes, etc... that suggest how to win. I personally never read that type of stuff when I get a new game. I want to learn it myself.

The problem is, that there is no deviation from the 3 base build. You place the first base always in the north Africa (to cover EU, NAfrica, SAfrica, Middle East and part of Soviet Block, and then your second base is most likely somwhere on Cuba or Mexico to cover Majority of Americas, and 3rd is around Phillipines or Japan. to cover Asia, other part of Soviet Union and Australia.

You always pump up immediately 2 additional radars in the first base.

I mean, in theory you have a lot of choices, but in reality, there are no choices at all... You have to go a specific route or you will fall behind due to funding problems, especially on anything above normal.

The first X-COM wasn't that restrictive, even the New X-COM gives way more real options (use of satelites, starting location and play style from there, build order of buildings).

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I'm playing on Veteran and the funding has not been "tight".

Yes, but remember Stellar, you're an old hand that knows all the tricks and the OP says he's on his first playthrough. I think tips like Crusherven's are the difference

Edited by dpelectric

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To be fair, you don't have to place your first base in North Africa, that could be your second while you cover the Americas first. Next, the way UFO activity plays out should pretty much determine where your second base goes. For example, in my current playthrough the Soviet Union is getting pounded so I'm opting to place my second to cover that area instead of going straight to Central America, which hasn't been too badly affected.

Pumping 2 additional radars early gets you max coverage and you can afford it so why not? What I really think the game needs now is some super obvious sign saying that the first/second months are rough and you should expect funding to decline since you don't have a lot of coverage yet.

I'm still noticing that the issue is players don't like losing resources because they think they should have an immediate answer to the coverage issue, when they really shouldn't. Either that or they can play on Normal?

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Sure you can place it in other place, but you expose yourself to more negatives on funding and less positives on funding. 1 base won't cover all of americas, while 1 base covers whole africa, europe arabia and a decent part of soviet block...

The point i was trying to make is still the same. there is very little variety in builds to have a decently successful game. Try to play without expanding radars and going for fast second full operations base (with second drop ship and stuff) or even try to go for 5-6 bases world wide (with 3 being filled with soldiers)... not doable, at some point (month 4-5) you get starved by funding hits, because you had less than optimal radar coverage.

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You need a second base with some amount of radar and aircraft in the first couple months. Beyond that, pretty much any other choice is viable. My current game on Veteran I stayed on two bases (one ground team) until January and it's going fine. Yes, the middle east and Caribbean are pretty clearly the optimal places to put bases, but I'm not sure how to fix that without completely trivializing the Geoscape. My only real idea would be to make bases cheaper but not allow multiple radars to stack, which would require eventually building a larger number of bases.

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My only real idea would be to make bases cheaper but not allow multiple radars to stack, which would require eventually building a larger number of bases.

Or shorten radar ranges. Having an opening choice of expanding your starting radar coverage or building a new base for further coverage might be interesting?

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Or shorten radar ranges. Having an opening choice of expanding your starting radar coverage or building a new base for further coverage might be interesting?

It could be, I suppose it would depend exactly on the relative costs and range of bases and radars.

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The problem is, that there is no deviation from the 3 base build. You place the first base always in the north Africa (to cover EU, NAfrica, SAfrica, Middle East and part of Soviet Block, and then your second base is most likely somwhere on Cuba or Mexico to cover Majority of Americas, and 3rd is around Phillipines or Japan. to cover Asia, other part of Soviet Union and Australia.

Very similar placement was optimal in the OG as well. It was just less obvious.

You always pump up immediately 2 additional radars in the first base.

I didn't.

I mean, in theory you have a lot of choices, but in reality, there are no choices at all... You have to go a specific route or you will fall behind due to funding problems, especially on anything above normal.

I'll grant you that keeping nations happy is more important in Xenonauts, but I see that as a weakness in the original. Ground missions were worth so much you really didn't care that much what the aliens did.

The first X-COM wasn't that restrictive, even the New X-COM gives way more real options (use of satelites, starting location and play style from there, build order of buildings).

Uhhh... what? You really don't have that many choices in it. If you want to keep nations (and your post assumes you do) then you're pretty much just reacting to what the aliens do for a lot of the game.

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As I see it, going with only 2 bases is completely doable, but you might have to run some calculated risks in order to pull it off effectively. Losing the Americas is only three countries, which won't make you lose the game alone. It does rely on you being able to counter any and all terror missions in the remaining countries, as one going through would result in you having a bad time.

I'm in the middle of an Insane run, where I made the mistake of constructing a third base on November 1st, since I tried to cover the Americas I was losing (I had bases in the Africa and Asia). I ended up with a tight budget, and not having enough coverage to fully protect the Americas before I had lost both South and North America. At this point I'm considering just letting central America fall and continue focusing on the other regions. I haven't had any problems mostly ignoring the Americas. It is also possible to be lucky/unlucky (depending how you look at it) and get a ground terror site in a region you are about to lose. Winning such a scenario will give an substantial increase in funding, and make them less likely to leave the council (unless something equally terrible happens in the same month of course).

I also only use 1 dropship, and I would never consider use more than 2 at maximum, simply because having so many troops stationed and equipped is very expensive, especially considering the amounts of aircraft you need constructed on Insane (I don't know if it is less of a hassle on the easier difficulties). Furthermore, I find that 1 drop-ship is capable of getting to most of the crash-sites generated from a single wave (if you don't have too many casualties you can easily send it straight to the next site after a mission), and I like to airstrike a few once I get to Landing Ships, which makes it easier.

I also used the strategy of constructing my 2nd base immediately at the start of the second month, and getting it operational ASAP after that, while keeping up the production/purchase of interceptors in the initial base. I feel the second base is absolutely mandatory, but whether you build it in the first month or the second month is up to the player. Once you have constructed the second base and get some radars and hangars up, you can pretty much take it anywhere you want from there. I don't feel constricted in what I had to do to be honest, although I found the production of interceptors to be fairly slow (once you get past Foxtrots). But that is also based on the fact that I think I'm doing too well in my current play-through, as I haven't gotten ANY bases as of yet (in January at the moment) since I'm shooting down at least 7-8/10 UFO's over Africa/Asia, and I guess I've just gotten unlucky with the aliens not setting up a base in the Americas.

A quick question if anyone has actually read this wall of text: Will the aliens construct bases in countries that have abandoned the council? They don't hesitate to produce terror sites in such countries at least, which got me thinking, seeing as a base in the Americas is my only shot at performing such a mission it seems (apart from willingly letting UFOs fly uncontested through my Radar range).

Edited by Slandebande

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I'm doing a 2-base run at the moment (insane difficulty, bases in middle east and middle america), and i got no problems with funding so far (mid december).

The only things i build in my first base during month 2, where living quarters and a garage.

Instead, i build my 2nd base on day 1, where i build a radar, 2 hangar, a living quarter, and a research lab (but without hiring the scientists for it during month 1).

With some light scout missions i barely got enough money for the following things during month 1:

-get my main base to 15 scientists

-increase number of my xenonauts to 15

-build a hunter scout car

-build 2 foxtrott (which means i have 1 condor and 1 foxtrott at each base)

At the start of month 2, i could afford the following things:

-build 1 new hangar at each base

-build 2 foxtrott (getting me to 2 foxtrott + 1 condor per base)

-hire 15 scientists at base 2

-build 1 additional radar per base (getting me to a total of 2 per base)

By now (mid December) i have:

- a team with wolf/flying armor + laser weapons, including a hunter (still the basic drop shit though, researching the new one soon)

- am currently researching heavy plasma weapons (and startet production on my first plasma rifle)

- 1 corsair and 4 foxtrott per base

- 3 radar per base

- 1 full functional lab and 1 full fonctional mamufacturing centre in each base

Australasia hates my guts, russia and india are on poor, but my predicted funding for the enxt month is still 500k more than my expenses, and rising.

EDIT:

As this is only my second try at a 2-base-run, i do not know how much luck this needs during month 1.

If you are curious why my first try failed: I ended up at -600k funding and a messed up scout run during month 1.

Edited by spacebug

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Making the funding a little random can help offset the normal base placement. Firaxis XCom had an interesting solution by making the different locations provide different benefits, although it ignored the traditional interception strategic layer aspects. At this point though, I'm not sure if Goldhawk can do anything to change the mechanics and metagame.

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problem with xenonauts, that it's spawns ufo randomly on globe and doesn't give two s***s can player react to them or not.

in old xcom there were graphs - they were showing to player where is ufo activity increase and allow him to counter it.

atm xenonauts wave system is full-on luck based (first wave outside radar and interceptor rage? ha-ha f*** You! get this -100k funding. one time on one wave in November and save loads i've achieved results from -400k and -2 territories to +20k and evetyone is kinda pleased, feel the difference) and this is pretty bad design choice. it would be better if there were some sort of strategical ai, that would guide invasion, instead of rng.

I've been saying this since v22.

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The UFO wave system needs a fundamental rework, but I very much doubt it'll get one via official means at this point. The trick is to increase player agency without diminishing challenge too much. Closer to the original X-COM, random UFO appearances wouldn't be so crippling if all ground missions increased relations, and if such standing naturally increased after a certain period of time of no alien activity over a given region.

I'm not sure if Xenonauts' moddability would allow for such changes, but with proper balancing, it would be a good way to stop the strategic layer from feeling so luck-based during the first few months without depriving it of difficulty.

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Putting down three bases ASAP is a good way to lose. Reserve funds are critical for maintaining your personnel and equipment levels and upgrades. You're better off with two bases for a while. If you spend all your money just building bases you're screwed if something goes wrong like a squad wipe because you can't hire replacements and buy upgraded equipment for them. I like three bases EVENTUALLY, but the third waits until I have lasers/Wolf for my troops.

Edited by StellarRat

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