Jump to content
Decius

Useful combat shields

Recommended Posts

History

If packing a shield replaces your primary weapon and doesn't make the wielder literally invincible, how can it be made useful? If the secondary weapons that can be used with a shield aren't up to par for putting aliens down, then it doesn't matter how many shots the shield soaks; the wielder is combat ineffective from the moment their equipment loadout is selected, barring the cheese case of using them as expendable spotters for a sniper or HMG, or the other cheese case of using an OP shield vs an AI incapable of ignoring a non-threat.

 

One thought would be to allow SMGs with a shield, and make SMGs up to par as a close weapon. That puts the SMG in the same niche as the shotgun, as the close range finisher.

Another thought would be to give the shields the best melee attack, which is reasonable given that riot shields are often used by police to pin targets; having a big rigid shield with a person on top of it is a tough grapple to break, and even if a target is able to push back against the shield they wouldn't also be able to fire a rifle at the same time.

A third though is to give the shieldbearer a grenade-heavy loadout; depending on weight balance maybe that just works out fine. But I see the six-shot main weapon grenade launcher and wonder if a smaller, single shot grenade launcher firing one of the same projectiles makes sense as a secondary weapon for shield bearers. Something inspired by the M79 grenade launcher could reasonably be fired one-handed, and is no harder to reload one-handed than a pistol. If it fires the same projectiles as the larger main weapon GL does, then it won't alter the balance of non-shield users (since they could just as easily pack a full grenade launcher for the same effect).

Anyone else have any other thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I found the shields very useful in xenonauts 1 (at least until the point was reached where everyone had the best armor). The concept of a secondary weapon did not exist in the same way then, however there was one 3x2 area on the belt where either a pistol or a stun-baton would fit. You would actually have to drag the shield out of and weapon into the soldiers hands in inventory, which conts some TU, but still running up close and then stunning the alien or finishing him with the pistol was a working tactic, mainly because it was nearly a guaranteed hit. (btw. I am wondering why meelee weapons have just 40 % hit chance now?). At the beginning aliens were unarmored, so two or three pistol shots would actually kill at least the weak race, later you would develop better pistols (laser, plasma, mag-pistol), so pistols were a valid option for a great part of the game.

Still yes, choosing a shield instead of a weapon would make the soldier more inefficient. But the main advantage of the shield came from the fact that it is not only protecting the soldier him/herself, but the soldier behind, too. This made it extremely useful in tight situations in bases or larger UFOs where you at some needed to open a door to some corridor with multiple aliens that would immediately reaction-fire and kill soldiers without shields. The shield-bearers would go first, then duck and the rest of the squad can shoot over their head. And paraxodically, in open areas with virtually no cover it was useful, too, so you could hide a second soldier behind the shield and keep moving, instead of crawling from one of the rare covers to the next. And Generally this was a good advantage as you would never want to find yourself in a situation where a soldier runs around a corner and spots an alien with the last TU and noone being able to help. If this was a shield-barer it would not really matter and you still had one more turn to correct the mistake.

And giving the shield-bearer a grenade-heavy loadout was always an option in later stages of the game as the strength of everyone grew, however this option was taken out as a design-decision in Xenonauts 2 because it produced more fiddeling with loadouts (you could save loadouts, but always had to remove stuff if the soldier was just not strong enough after loading it).

Maybe it is a little too early in the game development to discuss precise balancing issues, however I don't think that making the overall efficiency of an individual shield-bearer up-to-par with a normal soldier is a good idea. Then you could just equip the whole squad with shields. The advantage should come from working with other soldiers, ie. a shield soldier with 2 normal soldiers behind should be more efficient in storming tight spots as 3 normal soldiers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

X1 made good use of shields as reaction fire catchers while fighting in confined quarters, or as mobile cover providers during the exploration phase of the battle...as to not have the point man instantly plastered when a alien went around the corner...the no-shields counter to this problem would have been completing every mission at a snails pace as to have enough TU's left to react against enemies doing the "bolt around the corner and unload" tactic

pistols did identical damage per shot to an assault rifle and had a range and reaction fire multiplier identical to a shotgun, this wasn't bad as most enemies died in 2-3 shots and the pistols shots where cheap enough TU-wise to fire 3 in a round. so pistols remained viable throughout the game...well..

the biggest problem X1 had loadout wise was that early game the high accuracy precision rifle allowed for reliable hitting, the pistol could compete with this in confined areas. 

but the late game was dominated with dudes at 80+ str 100 stam and 80+ acc so they just moved around using a LMG like it was a submachinegun. when you have a team of rambo that can use 10-shot-bursts of high damage rounds like it is nothing...a semi-automatic pistol looks rather weak (just like ANY other weapon for that matter, even the close range shotgun couldn't match the LMG in damage potential), the much heavier armor also allowed for a much larger margin of error..in the early game you would instantly die..in the lategame you can take the hit so shields started to become less important..but still useful

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shields could be useful in X1, can be better in X2.

The advantage is keeping the soldier alive until your turn. Push these shield guys ahead - probably they will be alive at the beginning of your turn, and spot for the rest of the squad, maybe pull a shotgun from the backpack and contribute. :)

My problem was that they don't get partial cover defensive bonuses, so shield compared to ducking was not always the best option, and cost the main weapon slot.

The other pain is an old decision, maybe from the original UFO - that grenades destroy loot. That rendered grenadier tactic useless for me (with the notable exception of stun grenades). IF the team would be willing to change this (come on, when will a frag grenade destroy equipment made of alien alloys??? The HE damage is negligible, the shrapnel kills!), then shield users would be improved as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, so in my head the primary purpose of the shield guy is to absorb reaction fire that might otherwise kill your soldiers when going through a protected doorway such as those on a UFO. I don't really think a shield guy should have a similar damage output to other soldiers because he's already providing your team quite a significant bonus in other respects (particularly if said shield guy is an expendable rookie).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the only useful role of the shield-bearer is to take reaction fire, at least make them exceptional at that- they should actually provide sufficient protection when used as intended (instead of having a chance of being bypassed completely and only absorbing 1-2 hits if it does work), and cover a 3/8 arc instead of a 1/8 arc (so that there's never a case where you can't prevent an alien from taking one step and being outside of your front arc and bypassing your shield).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That was actually in the game in the first 2 builds, but it caused animation glitches (shield clipping through soldier), so it was taken out again. I can imagine that the decision wether or not it should be allowed is not final, yet, maybe when they have an idea how the game balance works out once all the features that are yet to come are in the game. But it will definitely cause some more work on their side if they want to do it properly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry Decius, but I disagree with you here. Judging from the way shields work in X1, they are pretty great. Since the pistol does the same damage as a rifle, the shield negates the disadvantage of shorter weapon range. At the same time it helps not only with reaction fire (which you should suppress away anyway, if you can), but also as mobile cover for troops that cannot take cover this turn or just for general protection against enemies that flank around your cover on their turn. Plus, the pistol also has great reaction fire capabilities, as even when their modifier is set to 1 with the shield, firing it is pretty cheap, so you can do a lot of damage on the alien turn at close range (i.e. with high accuracy).

You just should treat shielded soldiers the way you treat your other troops: try to avoid taking damage with them in the first place (using suppression, smoke and flanking the enemy), and a shield will typically hold through all the mission.

Make them even better than they were in X1, and I likely will field a roman legion shield wall platoon every time in X2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/15/2018 at 1:35 AM, Dagar said:

Sorry Decius, but I disagree with you here. Judging from the way shields work in X1, they are pretty great. Since the pistol does the same damage as a rifle, the shield negates the disadvantage of shorter weapon range. At the same time it helps not only with reaction fire (which you should suppress away anyway, if you can), but also as mobile cover for troops that cannot take cover this turn or just for general protection against enemies that flank around your cover on their turn. Plus, the pistol also has great reaction fire capabilities, as even when their modifier is set to 1 with the shield, firing it is pretty cheap, so you can do a lot of damage on the alien turn at close range (i.e. with high accuracy).

You just should treat shielded soldiers the way you treat your other troops: try to avoid taking damage with them in the first place (using suppression, smoke and flanking the enemy), and a shield will typically hold through all the mission.

Make them even better than they were in X1, and I likely will field a roman legion shield wall platoon every time in X2.

You're free to disagree, but I find it odd that you pack enough ammo to suppress enemies before you can see them, or that if you can suppress the 3+ enemies before opening the door you'd use a shield at all, when shotguns are much better at close range than pistols.

 

I found that a shield will handle 1 to 3 hits before catastrophic failure, and has about a 75% chance of intercepting an attack coming from the frontal arc, which is about 1/8 of a circle. Boosting that to take 3-5 hits before disintegrating and having a 100% chance of absorbing a hit from three octants would justify not packing a primary weapon or a 'secondary' weapon that is just as powerful. And fielding a shield wall should be a viable tactic for some situations; that's why they're part of SWAT team loadouts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Decius said:

You're free to disagree, but I find it odd that you pack enough ammo to suppress enemies before you can see them, or that if you can suppress the 3+ enemies before opening the door you'd use a shield at all, when shotguns are much better at close range than pistols.

I never said I'd suppress enemies I cannot see (which, of course, I do if I know they are there, but that is not the usual case). And yes, I suppress the Aliens through doors if I know/suspect they are there, but that has nothing to do with shield usage. What if, behind them in some corner, sits an alien with high reflexes that shoots over its fellows (which happens often enough)? I have no way of knowing that, but a shielder can take the blow without flat out dying, so I can find out from relative safety. A shotgunner in the same situation might just die if he is unlucky or get suppressed, which, in close range to multiple enemies, is pretty much the same. Plus, my shielder can have a shotgun in his backpack which he can get out once I know the situation is safe for that. Your shotgunner cannot get out a shield.

Quote

I found that a shield will handle 1 to 3 hits before catastrophic failure, and has about a 75% chance of intercepting an attack coming from the frontal arc, which is about 1/8 of a circle. Boosting that to take 3-5 hits before disintegrating and having a 100% chance of absorbing a hit from three octants would justify not packing a primary weapon or a 'secondary' weapon that is just as powerful. And fielding a shield wall should be a viable tactic for some situations; that's why they're part of SWAT team loadouts.

I have never had a shield be destroyed after 1 attack, but fair enough, let's use your numbers. What is better: Your shotgunner dies in one hit or your shielder takes that one hit, possibly dying to a second one? Also, what is better: your rifleman or MG gunner gets flanked without cover and gets shot at, or he gets flanked and has a 75% chance not to get hit from each shot? The shield is a survivability item, and it works very well in this role as it is (protecting the wielder 100% from frontal shots and everyone behind that to 75%). But that does not mean you can just throw your shielders into the open for the enemies to practice their aim.

And yeah, I make mistakes. Everybody does. @Svinedrengen does and @Charon does, and these two are the best players I have seen. And guess what, they are using shields to alleviate their mistakes, secure flanks and check places they have insufficient information about. I am sure both of them could manage a playthrough of the highest difficulty of X-Division without shields as a challenge, just because they are that familiar with the game and can adapt well to most situations, but unless they do that challenge, they always have shielders. In comparison, until the most recent change, no one of them used SMGs because they deemed them too bad an alternative, and I have yet to see anyone of them using melee weapons. But as far as shields go, they are an essential item, not only to X-Division, but also to the vanilla game, because they are good the way they are. If they were not, they would not be used, and if they were even better, no one would use anything else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shields were actually extremely viable in X1 and CE made them even better. Though it might be good to add more variety to weapons that shield carrier could use. Like melee weapons for bashing and slashing aliens in close quarters, some one handed plasma pistol designed to knock aliens off their feet (hello PEPS from Deus Ex) or maybe a grenade satchel which will allow you to trade secondary weapon slot for additional space designed to carry grenades. Actually shields could get more variety and customisation as well. Like let us mount a floodlight on its front side, so shield guy could light the area infront of him during the night missions, additional plating/coating for resistances, spikes for melee damage etc. There could be a smaller light shield which would allow trooper to use a rifle or shotgun at the cost of less protection and covering - they will not be able to cover soldier behind them and enemy fire will still have a chance to hit them in unprotected leg or head + reduced accuracy because of the shield attached to your assisting arm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Farya said:

Shields were actually extremely viable in X1 and CE made them even better. Though it might be good to add more variety to weapons that shield carrier could use. Like melee weapons for bashing and slashing aliens in close quarters, some one handed plasma pistol designed to knock aliens off their feet (hello PEPS from Deus Ex) or maybe a grenade satchel which will allow you to trade secondary weapon slot for additional space designed to carry grenades. Actually shields could get more variety and customisation as well. Like let us mount a floodlight on its front side, so shield guy could light the area infront of him during the night missions, additional plating/coating for resistances, spikes for melee damage etc. There could be a smaller light shield which would allow trooper to use a rifle or shotgun at the cost of less protection and covering - they will not be able to cover soldier behind them and enemy fire will still have a chance to hit them in unprotected leg or head + reduced accuracy because of the shield attached to your assisting arm. 

X-Division has you covered on melee and 'knocking off their feet' weapons (and not only SMGs that have better suppression, but also a new "SHOCK" mechanism that reduces their next turn TU).

The last point you bring is already in Xenonauts. It's called "Armour".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wasn't aware that the CE made it 100% for the 1/8 that it provides protection for. Still, there needs to be a way to protect yourself from any two adjacent squares, and if you pick one of eight facings and get protection from a disjoint set of attackers for each facing, that can't happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×