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Chris

Xenonauts 2: Soldiers & Vehicles

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Your soldiers and vehicles are the brave heroes that face plasma-death in battle against the aliens every time you run a mission. Our plans for these units have also changed over time, with the original idea being to give them simplified attributes and inventory system and then add a skill system on top of that. The simplifications we made to attributes and the inventory proved pretty unpopular with players and the skill system was difficult to visualise (there's already a ridiculous amount of information on-screen on Soldier Equip screen), so we decided to move back to the X1 setup with a few carefully chosen additions.

The systems are:

  • Inventory & Secondary Slot
  • Stat Modifiers
  • Vehicles
  • Further Ideas

Inventory & Secondary Slot:
The soldier inventory system now works much like it did in the first Xenonauts, except units now have an additional "secondary weapon" inventory slot (they can carry an item in their secondary slot even if they have a 2-handed weapon equipped in their primary slot). This slot is limited to small items - pistols, melee weapons, medikits, etc. 

This is a usability change more than anything else. In X1 if you had an injured soldier it was pretty annoying to have to open their backpack to see if they had a Medikit, and if they did then you'd have to drag it into their primary slot and use it, then open the backpack again and move it back into the backpack and re-equip your primary weapon. Same if you wanted to get out a stun baton and stun an alien; it usually involved a lot of needless backpack interaction. With the new system it's very easy to see which units have which items and using a secondary item only involves a couple of clicks.

The backpack and belt are still fully functional and if you want to load your soldiers up with lots of additional weapons and ammo like you could in the first Xenonauts 1, you can still do that. This change only expands the inventory system, it doesn't take anything away from it!

Stat Modifiers:
The new modular armour system (explained in the Research thread) has much more robust support for stat modifiers than we had in X1, so pretty much any item can be used to positively or negatively modify the stats of the soldier carrying that item. What this means in practice is that you can customise your soldiers for their role more than was possible in the original Xenonauts.

For example, each suit of armour has a light and heavy variant available so you can opt for more protection at the cost of more weight, but the light variant of the end-game exosuit also provides a TU bonus. Once you reach the mid-game there are helmets that offer reduced protection, but grant an Accuracy bonus to the wearer. If a soldier is likely to be exposed to dangerous environmental effects, you can issue them a Rebreather which slightly reduces their Accuracy but makes them immune to gas damage.

It's possible that this system could see other uses, too - for example, maybe using a shotgun could grant you extra Time Units. I'm not completely sure this is a good idea (it's a bit "gamey"), but those options are now available to us in a way that they weren't previously. I suspect modders will be very interested in taking advantage of them too!

Vehicles:
Vehicles in X2 are now smaller, filling only a single tile and replacing only a single soldier in the dropship - although the number of vehicles that can be carried is limited by the dropship type (with more advanced dropships allowing more vehicles). This allows vehicles to be more consistently useful by letting them enter small spaces, and although an individual single-tile vehicle is less powerful than the larger 3x3 equivalent from in X1 it is still be faster, tougher and better armed than a soldier (there's quite a bit of cost and research time involved in producing vehicles and keeping them upgraded). 

The other major change to vehicles is that they too are now somewhat modular and upgradeable. The starting vehicle has two possible configurations even when first built: a light variant that has less armour but has more TUs, and a heavy variant that is tougher but slower. Instead of having to build a whole new vehicle every few missions because new technology the old one becomes obselete, you can instead run upgrade projects to improve the armour on existing vehicles to keep them relevant. Vehicles now have a wider selection of weapons available and also have a secondary slot, which can mount a weaker secondary weapon or support items like defensive smoke grenades or a rangefinder that increases the accuracy of the primary weapon.

There's a design choice to be made about how many vehicle types we add to the game. At the moment there's two vehicles: the early-game tracked vehicle and then a late-game hovertank. However, it almost seems more sensible to just have a single vehicle type and make everything an upgrade - I think it'd be cool to be able to keep the same vehicle throughout the whole game, slowly converting it from a small tracked drone to an armoured hovertank. We'll make that decision based on playtesting later on in development.

Further Ideas:

  • Stress / Fatigue: at one point we had a fatigue system in the game to encourage players to rotate their soldiers. It's been disabled for a while so would probably need a bit of work to get working again, but we're planning to give it a test once the game is fully playable to see if it adds anything to the gameplay experience.
  • Stat Caps / Diminishing Returns: one of the issues with the X1 soldier stat system is that any stat can reach 100 no matter what level it begins at, so having high starting values doesn't give that much effect. In X2 we're currently using a system where a soldier can only gain 30 points in any attribute, which makes the starting values more meaningful. Having a hard cap is probably a bit too harsh, though, so we'll probably move to a system where soldiers get diminishing returns as they gain skill points - so gaining 10 skill points is easy, gaining the next 10 is harder, etc. This means units with low starting stats can still reach 100 but would require a lot of missions (or training) to do so.
  • Casualty List: One of the new features in Xenonauts: Community Edition was the addition of a casualty list that displayed all the soldiers you had lost, their medals, what date and mission they were lost on, etc. It's a small thing but we're planning to add it into X2 before the game ships.

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Stress / Fatigue:
I absolutly hate this idea. I put so much time and efforts into creating my ideal squad (its like building your character in any RPG game) and then you prevent me from playing with it - horrible

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Love the ideas, however one stands out to me that raises some concern.

Part of the fun of X-COM/Xenonauts to me has always been my attachment to certain soldiers (and their inevitable demises at the hands of a slightly incompetent commander).

The system you suggest of putting a hard cap on soldier progression in stats would trouble me greatly, as it would mean some soldiers would be guaranteed to be incompetent later-game. I wouldn't mind making it harder to grow as they get further from their original values, but it would be nice to have the reward of keeping soldiers alive and going on more than just the required missions stay in the game.

All in all, hard cap would really affect the experience for me, but I could see how the other system you suggested where it gets harder to improve skills as they go further from their original values could be interesting(hopefully not being so restrictive that some soldiers are screwed from ever having perfect stats anyway if they start a little lower).

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Posted (edited)
On 5/20/2020 at 7:38 PM, Chris said:


Vehicles in X2 are now smaller, filling only a single tile and replacing only a single soldier in the dropship - although the number of vehicles that can be carried is limited by the dropship type (with more advanced dropships allowing more vehicles). This allows vehicles to be more consistently useful by letting them enter small spaces, and although an individual single-tile vehicle is less powerful than the larger 3x3 equivalent from in X1 it is still be faster, tougher and better armed than a soldier (there's quite a bit of cost and research time involved in producing vehicles and keeping them upgraded). 

 

I love any other features in this thread except this one i'm not so sure, as i mentioned in other thread I still miss the old 3x3 tile "armoured vehicle", and think it would be cool and challenging if aliens have same kinda tanks for a open invasion and we have to use better assets to deal with them. Not that I'm complaining the decision or asking to bring it back, but I'm just not sure that while using actually small UGV robots as so-called "vehicle", and for me the only advantages are they are tough, have heavy weapons and expendable, what is the point for players to employ these robots if human soldiers can actually have upgraded armour, can equip rocket launchers or LMGs that are just slightly weaker than robot mounted weaponries, and are actually expendable as well. This might be my own issue about robotic assets in such genre because I also found myself having the same attitude towards things like SPARK/MECs in XCOM2, but after all the UGVs are choiceable, so I'll just stay with a all-human squad and see what the UGVs would have in the final build.

 

Also for the Fatigue system, I hope the system can remember several build of squads (like saving squad 1 and squad 2), so that while the squad 1 needs rotation you can easily choose a entire squad 2 to exchange them, instead of dragging individual soldiers to dropships from a list of names.

Edited by EurekaSeven

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Here I can speak as an Beta-Tester too, because we could test some of that in the Betas:

1. The Refit with the Inventory-Slots / Backpacks were needed. That was and is the best Decission the Devs could do for the Soldiers. Now they are real Soldiers again.

2. The Vehicles are a very good Reinforcement to the Soldiers. The Vehicles are a must have for every Combat-Team you have on Ground-Missions, because they are Multi-Role. You can use them as Artillery (Rockets / Grenades), as close Combat-Fighters (Heavy MG´s), Spotter and much more. And if you get them Armor you can use the Vehicles as Cover for your Soldiers too. Like already mentioned the Vehicles are fully modular and upgradable.

But they are implemented firstly in Beta 10 or 11, which means they need a lot of bugfixing until Beta 13. We will see in Beta 13 how good the Bugfixing get done.

3. Stat Modifiers grow very slowly until the Betas, because the Soldiers couldn´t train. You could build up the Training Center in your Base / Bases but it had no effect until Beta 7 or 8 until now. Only in the first Betas with the old Main Base (5 to 7 or 8) the Training Center was useable. So we Beta-Testers haven´t any Datas on the Stats, because the Soldiers growed very slowly in only Ground Combats, which aren´t neaningfull enough.

4. The Stress / Fatigute System is a very good Idea. It´s working in XCOM2 and Phoenix Point very good. You have to switch your Soldiers that everyone has a chance to fight and get Experiance. Why not implement here, which gives more replayability and makes Groudn Fights / Ground Missions much more interesteing. I´m exited to see it in the Game. Love that in XCOM 2 and Phoenix Point. And most important: It´s realistic. A tired soldiers can´t fight and the Mission get lost. The same with medium and heavy wounded soldiers.

5. The Stat Caps / Diminishing Returns System have to implemented too, which like the Stress / Fatigute System makes the Game much more realistic. You won´t have perfect Soldiers, you have to specialice them. :D

6. The Causalty List is nice to have, because it remembers the other living Comrades / Soldiers what failures they have to cancel. And it improves the Willpower to save the Humanity.

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