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Aaron

Ground Combat Balance Discussion v19 Experimental

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Here's a new thread to continue the balance discussion around Ground Combat. Please only post in this thread if you are using the experimental Steam branch (information here).

These are the balance changes since the first Steam version (i.e. v18.51 Hotfix 3):

- Implemented new alien count per UFO type (4 for Light Scouts up to 16 for Battleships)

- Grenades, Rockets and Alien Plasma Cannon shots no longer lose damage over range

- Strength based maximum grenade throwing range implemented (5 tiles + 10% soldier strength)

- Xenonaut vehicles made significantly tougher (x2!)

- Xenonaut vehicles have slightly more AP

- Shotgun BUFF!

- Fairly significant reductions in the effectiveness of Xenonaut weapon suppression power across the board

- Damage of all Xenonaut precision rifles boosted a little

- Precision rifles no longer have their 20AP aim level, so they are now in line with other weapons in having 3 aim levels

- Alien Plasma Cannons deal slightly more damage

- Reaction fire potential of MGs and precision rifle doubled (MGs probably still won't react due to burst fire bug though)

- Sebillians have same visual range as Xenonauts

It's not a hugely long list of changes as I've been spending lots of time on the Geoscape for the last couple of weeks, but also as a couple of the changes (removing range damage scaling and fixing low accuracy shots) could have a pretty big impact on balance and I didn't want to change to much until we see how they behave. Please let me know how you find them.

The next thing I intend to implement is differentiation between the alien races.

Also right now it sounds like some people are experiencing a very imba crash at the end of the first mission, fix will be available as quick as I can find it.

Edited by Aaron

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Removal of explosives from the game is amusing but probably overly harsh for some people.

*as in they crash your game

Drops microphone, walks off stage.

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I also notice you didn't mention the removal of two weapon slots from the Foxtrot. Intentional?

"Reaction fire potential of MGs and precision rifle doubled (MGs probably still won't react due to burst fire bug though)"

I've always been able to do reaction shots with MGs (played Steam version), they just only fire once, and I'm not sure but they don't seem to require 40TU

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Yeah, the Foxtrot is down to 2 heavy missiles (it actually shows up with 2 heavy and 2 light missiles in combat at the moment), this was missing from my changelog because it was actually made before we put the first steam build together, but was not included in it. The reason for it was previously 3 Foxtrots could apparently kill any UFO in the game, even the toughest ones, and that shouldn't be the case. You'll have to bear with us on the Geoscape, there is little rhyme or reason to how any of it is setup right now (to balance it I am basically resetting the stats of every system in it from scratch). Anyway, the changes to the Geoscape are minor enough we can leave discussion of that to the existing thread.

Are you absolutely sure about doing reactions shots with MGs? Them only firing a single shot sounds particularly weird - they don't even have an AP cost associated with firing a single shot (or animations, sounds etc...).

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Absolutely, and at every Tier. It's very noticeable when you end up with 14, or 9 etc ammo. I have not played around with it in the new game, haven't gotten past pistol whipping sebillians for skillups yet.

Pretty easy to test anyway, give a soldier a ridiculously high reaction score and run a bunch of civilians in front of him. I mean Sebillians. Same thing.

For everyone else, I'm noticing something funny about where shots are landing. Anyone else notice a pattern? I don't want to bias the results since it might just be my perception and I don't want to influence.

More on topic, the increased sight range has made the sebillian's slightly more of a threat, but the addition of the Combat.shield has nicely balanced that, leaving them still fairly farmable for stats.

Edited by svidangel

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Oh, and I think the grenade range is a bit to short to start. Not sure about later, but at the beginning when I imagine you would want it most (hard cover is actually hard to penetrate with ballistics, so grenades seem to be more useful early on), the range is generally shorter than the distance between any two pieces of cover for soldiers with 60-70 strength.

Course this could be because I still largely get the desert maps with almost no cover on them =/

And its a REAL pain on this night mission for flare throwing. Which is why I bring it up. Next time I'll just wait, this is awful for flares. I do like the increased sight range on the troops. Maybe a little too much. But it balances the flares being near useless.

Interesting thing about the flares now since you can only throw them to the edge of your soldier's view. If the square the flare lands in is not visible, the flare reveals nothing, and brightens some squares at the edge of your vision. The second you step into view of where the flare landed... POOF the whole flare'd area pops into "view." Not yet sure if the "view"ed area actually shows aliens, guessing not.

Edited by svidangel

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Ok, really liking the new fog of war (walking back out of range of an enemy re-hides them from targeting, wasn't expecting that!) at night.

What was the shotgun change? I didn't use them before and the listed stats on the soldier equip screen didn't seem great.

edit: Ah, 40 damage in the mouseover, still says 25 in the description up above. Iiiinteresting.

Edited by svidangel

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Actually 45 damage according to the files. Damage is random though so up to 55 I think.

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The tooltips unfortunately are all set individually - so if I change the damage in weapons_gc, I also need to change it in two other places to reflect that... I'll try and keep them up to date, but it's quite time consuming when you are making lots of small changes so your best bet is always to check weapons_gc for the real damage.

Edited by Aaron

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So yeah, the BALLISTIC shotgun is buffed all right, but its futuristic counterparts are still inferior in terms of range AND damage when compared to the basic rifles of the same tier. And they're offering no extra advantages to make their existence justified. Oh yeah, reaction fire, right. It's quite unimportant in this game since it's single shot only and out of about 50+ instances of my reaction fire I observed during my last playthrough, never ever it resulted in killing or even thwarting an alien. They're just too tough for that.

Also, I'm confirming it too, I have seen it multiple times, machineguns always fire their reaction with single shot.

Also, I know geoscape doesn't belong here, but you must realise that taking away two missiles from each MiG will just force players to deploy more of them? Instead of a single pair, flying two sorties with 3 each. They're bombers, they don't need to enter dogfights, so they can be deployed in any number regardless of the 3-plane group limit. All in all I think you're looking for balance in a horribly wrong direction here.

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Just as an aside on the grenade range thing can the ranges be set individually?

Just wondering if it would be possible to allow flares to be thrown further than offensive weapons.

Maybe the weight could be taken into account when working out throw range, or use the existing "props range=" flag to set a bonus to range in the same way strength does.

For example every ten points of range on "props range=" would give another tile to range.

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shame about that missile payload. Would it be easier to reduce the damages? Or not, but I guess I'm just a sucker for huge missile salvos slamming into & obliterating (eventually) stuff.

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Would be nice if the combat shields had a higher block chance if the character is kneeling. I would even be willing to give up the ability to perform reaction fire to not have a random chance of bolts slipping by. Especially when the stray bolt can one shot most of my troops (plasma rifles doing 80 damage, ouch).

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Would be nice if the combat shields had a higher block chance if the character is kneeling. I would even be willing to give up the ability to perform reaction fire to not have a random chance of bolts slipping by. Especially when the stray bolt can one shot most of my troops (plasma rifles doing 80 damage, ouch).

I second that. Since the shield would be resting on the ground, and you'd have less limbs sticking out, the hit change should be reduced by a significant amount. Like, 80% to 95% or something. On the sides, 60% to 75%. So, a 15% increase.

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Shouldn't we have a Geoscape Balance Discussion for v19 as well?

In the absence of one, I recommend Foxtrots should have two heavy missile hardpoints and two light missile hardpoints. This would help fix the problem of the Foxtrots being overpowered, while not reducing their effectiveness as much.

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That is sort of what they have done. Sort of.

Agreed though, it would be nice if they could be used against both smaller and larger UFOs without rearming them every time. Downside from gameplay is that you could use those two smaller missiles to waste heavy craft with anti-missile systems' anti missiles.

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"Too long, didn't read" version: in my playthrough of v19 so far with the smoke removed, I think soldier XP increases too quickly and that the shotgun needs something more.

I'm trying to play as unmodded as I can, since I usually tweak everything I can. I'm currently up to corvettes appearing now; I'm on my third or fourth corv crash, and have completed a terror level.

My gut feeling is that the rate of soldiers' stats increasing is probably too much, and I haven't even tried to abuse the levelling up system to get extra accuracy, apart from making sure my soldiers are right below their weight limit to get loadsa strength. I've not done anything like lizard farming to get those sweet, sweet accuracy points.

In the first few battles against light scouts it felt that my guys had to choose between moving and firing (well, if they want to hit, anyway); now, my guys can zip all over the place and still be able to take good shots. Maybe if you reduce the rate of soldier XP, you can boost rookies a little bit so that it's not such a stark contrast. Perhaps +5 TUs to what they start off with now.

Super soldiers are going to make it hard to balance the guns, because as soon as I get troops with a bit of combat experience, their stat gain softens the shortcomings of (say) heavy weapons. In my current mission, my soldiers have 70-80 TUs. My RL guy can fire and reload on the same turn. An LMGer or sniper can take their shot then zoom forward. Admittedly, I might end up eating my words when I encounter Androns and co., but right now? I haven't lost a guy since I stopped using shotguns.

I'm not feeling it with the shotgun. Even inside a UFO, where they should shine, I'm not using them. Instead, I get an assault shield guy to open the door, pop a flashbang/grenade depending on the number and spread of aliens inside, and then get the other soldiers to dump their real weapon and lob grenades in there. Yes, splash damage seems to do less damage than a direct hit. It seems to be something like half damage? But that's still fairly decent damage done. When I tried using shotguns, I'd have my assaults guys take their turns trying to kill the campers and only hit the cover, more often than not. Now add on top of that that the upgrades for grenades improve all of my frag grenades, forever, at no cost.

The TU cost seems right. The shotgun should already two-shot most of the aliens you'll enounter that weapon tier when it connects, so that seems suitable as well. Maybe it can afford to have an absurdly high accuracy, considering that even if you do hit with a shotty at even a medium range (let's say 20 squares), its damage is going to be pants while causing no suppression...?

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When attacking UFOs, I just chuck grenades. Open doors, throw a nade, step aside. A few high-precision guys can shoot, but it's mostly nades. It works and is even kind of boring. At least on small/normal Scouts. This is mostly because aliens are hiding behind consoles anyway, so shooting seems less effective than throwing grenades.

I do not think the new grenade throw range is working, though. Seems to 5 tiles for me instead of what I gather should be 10 for a 50-strength soldier.

Accuracy sucks all over the place for me with assault rifles, but suppression is still high. Aliens will still get suppressed by 1 bullet sometimes. Inside a small scout, both aliens can be suppressed by firing a shot at one!

8B29DF31357B3D6FD1D949480B2C8E088699FF7D

First 5 guys shooting at that open Seb missed completely. That's some impressively bad shooting.

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I made a post on a diferent thread, but i'll copy-paste it here if you don't mind:

This is specificaly for ground combat:

Even tough for purposes of balancing i understand that the rookie soldiers should be much weaker than later in the game hardcore veterans in therms of accuracy sometimes i am extremely close to the aliens and still i have 20-30% to hit with a rifle and then i miss most of the time.

I understand the concepts of RNG and i understand what is a percentage to hit, but i've spent over 20 hours shooting things and it's gone to the point that a 0% chance has for me a more confidence that a 8-10-20% one and i expect soldiers to MISS most of the time instead of hitting the most basic shots.

it seems to me that the chance to hit calculations are off. Either that or there's a bug lurking around in the code. I understand that rookies should miss more, but not miss 80% of the time, after all they are trained and are not village people that has a new gun on their hands, right?

Everything else in the game is good. Still in beta and all, new UI poping up each build and things are going good, but this hit/miss chances realy make me not want to play again untill its better.

Oh i nearly forgot, i also don't like that aliens are artificialy made tougher while game progresses. A much better aproach would be to make them MORE in numbers, instead of making us believe they have better invisible armor or their skin is tougher because... they have better sun blockers?

PS: Something happened just now i'm realy sad i didnt record on video lol. One of those "impossible 0% chance" shots from a sniper rifle just killed 2 aliens. Aimed at one alien with 0% chance, killed him and the bullet went through and killed the second one that was not even all that close to the first. 0% chance rocks. lol.

Edited by Knightpt

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I am suspecting something unintentional might have been done with alien sniper rifles. Harridans shoot right through cover with excellent accuracy, I've had a plasma bolt kill my soldier and hit another one further down the map, and they also manage to destroy cover like haybails and still hit a soldier behind it with the same plasma bolt.

EDIT: Another shot from them hit the Chinook, and it looked and sounded like each tile in the Chinook got hit, a lot of sound. It feels like an alien plasma rifle shot will actually hit every tile in its path.

Edited by Solver

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I

Oh i nearly forgot, i also don't like that aliens are artificialy made tougher while game progresses. A much better aproach would be to make them MORE in numbers, instead of making us believe they have better invisible armor or their skin is tougher because... they have better sun blockers?

Many of the higher rank enemies are actually wearing more visible armour, or in the case of Androns are physically a little larger.

It might not be easy to tell because of the size of the sprites but the tougher enemies are in general better armoured.

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It took a mere two pistol shots near a Caesan (light scout, so probably non-combatant) to suppress it. Is this too much suppressive power? Or is it okay because it's a non-combatant?

Just throwing it out there.

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After playing 3 missions on this release, I noticed that the aliens inside a UFO attempt to fire at my troops outside of it(when they are spotted by an alien outside the UFO), while there is no way to make their shot(door closed, all walls). This ended up in aliens killing eachother inside the UFO before my men reach the door. I also noticed LOF issues in both direct line and angle. For example, there are many occasions that my men should have a clear line of fire to an alien, but the game calculates that it is blocked. When you attempt to target an alien at 45 degrees and there is another trooper next to you, standing, the game still calculates that he blocks your line of fire. I think both issues are connected.

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Accuracy is very low. Full aimed shot at alien in the open inside range gets a puny 40% or something like that. Thats too low. Good accuracy skill should matter more when firing at aliens in cover, but aliens in the open are just too easy to hit that being a rookie is no excuse to have so low chances.

Also seems the missed shots hitting the target anyway is fixed, wich now makes burst fire the most useless thing to use. Well, it Works fine to suppress wich makes Machineguns useless as its role is already covered by a simple rifle.

Burst fire needs a heavy buff in accuracy, its not like firing an antitank rifle on the hip, it does not have so much recoil to justify the big nerf it has now.

Note: And missed shots path is really weird, it either falls short or falls short. Its less random than ever before.

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