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Ground Combat Balance Discussion v19 Experimental Build 4

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Why would they do that? Really, can't we find better mechanics to make things more difficult than just adding unrealistic, gamey nonsense to a supposedly serious strategy game?

I freely admit it wasn't a great idea (although it wouldn't be totally unrealistic for them to have the ability to open a door remotely). Triggering reaction fire would be a much more elegant solution though.

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It would be better if the UFO door was on ground level under the UFO with a stairway, and the UFO one level higher. That meets the game settings cohesion because the door is interior while the entrance is the hull on a hinge ... see image below ;

door.jpg

EDIT ... It doesn't have to be a stairway either, a simple one tile tube with a ladder for access.

door.jpg

door.jpg.71ab3ba573884425b15ff865c62feb6

Edited by CellNav

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Never mind ... The UFO entrance already opens UP, so the door is an interior type which makes sense that it's destructable, perhaps with a more hp value ...

ufo_door.jpg

ufo_door.jpg

ufo_door.jpg.990a720c46ffc314e7a8a1103aa

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Well,

Blasting holes in the UFO is cool, but wouldn t it defeat the alien material properties, in which we cannot even scratch in lab ?

We wouldn't be technically blowing holes in the UFO ... we would be blowing off the armor plates. Besides, if the alien materials were so good then how did we shoot the UFO down in the first place? ... Perhaps because we blew off those plates and basically "made-a-hole". Same principle in the ground combat arena.

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Anyone remember the AfterX series? In Aftermath, you had to use a special teleporter to get inside shot down UFOs. In Aftershock, you could only access specific access points. Apparantly ALTAR ran into the same problems Goldhawk did, in that you can't have smexy looking UFOs and make them destructable. EU2012 did have destructable walls tho. Although their UFOs tended to be more like the EU1994 UFOs - mostly boxy and angular.

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Blowing holes in the UFO would require either a) energy weapons (plasma), or b) specially made high explosives.

This is what a C4 replacement would be useful for.

Actually, I was thinking about a tool not a weapon. If they gave us a big fat Alenium Drill that can be mounted on a vehicle then we can roll it over to the UFO and cut out a nice hole. Of course, if we cann't gain access to the UFO with a vehicle then we'll have to breach the UFO the old fashion way.

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I would rather C4 be used as a tool more than a weapon, actually. Powerful to take down walls and things, but with a short radius because the charge is shaped and focused on the wall, and not just spread everywhere.

I think of it more as a breaching charge. I guess that's not the direction the devs want to take it, though, considering it's much larger damage radius.

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On a slightly different matter, in all the experimental versions I've played so far, the game hangs, and hangs and hangs when a mission is complete. I have no idea what's going on when I have wiped out all the aliens, and I can go away for 10 minutes before coming back to a "mission end" screen. Could we have some kind of immediate "Mission Complete!" message and perhaps a progress bar "research team completing cleanup" or something, just something so we know what's going on, and that the game hasn't frozen up on us, because the impression I get is the game has crashed. Even when I know it hasn't.

EDIT: With the progress bar you could have some amusing statements like... "gathering local testimony", "preparing spin", "arresting troublemakers", "cleaning gore", "loading corpses", "bribing officals", "writing consolation letters", "denying truth", "securing loot" and so forth.

Edited by Max_Caine

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That is the exact opposite of my take on it (19.2 speaking here, still haven't gotten around to playing 19.4). The moment I kill the final alien the game automatically ends the ground combat without me needing to press "end turn" (Something I dislike, by the way).

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perhaps a progress bar "research team completing cleanup" or something, just something so we know what's going on, and that the game hasn't frozen up on us, because the impression I get is the game has crashed.EDIT: With the progress bar you could have some amusing statements like... "gathering local testimony", "preparing spin", "arresting Even when I know it hasn't.

troublemakers", "cleaning gore", "loading corpses", "bribing officals", "writing consolation letters", "denying truth", "securing loot" and so forth.

"The truth is out there." LOL. That's what SimCity used to do when it was building the maps. Unfortunately, EA managed to destroy that franchise too.

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That is the exact opposite of my take on it (19.2 speaking here, still haven't gotten around to playing 19.4). The moment I kill the final alien the game automatically ends the ground combat without me needing to press "end turn" (Something I dislike, by the way).

It ends combat immediately and you know what happened because animations stop and the screen locks in place, it just hangs while trying to load the score screen. On my desktop the delay is barely noticeable, but on my laptop (which is less powerful) it will sometimes load smoothly, and sometimes hang for over a minute. Closing the program (via task manager) and reopening it makes it load smoothly again.

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It ends combat immediately and you know what happened because animations stop and the screen locks in place, it just hangs while trying to load the score screen. On my desktop the delay is barely noticeable, but on my laptop (which is less powerful) it will sometimes load smoothly, and sometimes hang for over a minute. Closing the program (via task manager) and reopening it makes it load smoothly again.
The delay on my rig is about 5 seconds always. I have a pretty powerful set up with quad-core, 8 gig RAM, and SSD. My feeling is that it is either doing some kind of garbage collection routine because the map is no longer needed or some extra looping to calculate the score or both.

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In 19.2 it felt like the delay was longer the more my troops had statted up. Which seemed odd since I didn't think adjusting that would take very much doing.

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In 19.2 it felt like the delay was longer the more my troops had statted up. Which seemed odd since I didn't think adjusting that would take very much doing.

Maybe a center screen popup text after killing the last enemy stating that the alien threat in the area is neutralized. And an "Extract xenonauts" or "end mission" button...? At the moment the mission ends too abruptly.

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I will look into doing an "end mission" option rather than auto-ending, but it's not going to be a priority for a while.

There seems to be a few performance issues with the ground combat, I will put some of Sergey's time aside shortly to do some optimisation.

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Maybe a center screen popup text after killing the last enemy stating that the alien threat in the area is neutralized. And an "Extract xenonauts" or "end mission" button...? At the moment the mission ends too abruptly.

This would actually be really useful for crash recovery missions when you capture the UFO without killing all the aliens. At the moment, after the timer runs down, the mission auto-ends (which is usually a bad thing, since you lose points and loot for any aliens which escape). While I can't imagine it happening often, I can envisage the possibility of capturing the UFO and wanting to keep some soldiers inside without actually wanting to finish the mission and at the moment this is impossible.

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Well I'm busy with my gameplay log so didnt read all the way through this but...

Grenades:

Smoke - Is a little less effective due to +Alien Stats, However they are PERFECTLY fine. I really want to see how people use these to cause them to complain. They allow you to move across open terrain with minimal risk, they protect your flank, and they allow you to engage spotted Aliens with less risk.

Smoke = Amazing if used correctly, I can get through 10 missions with only being shot at 1-2 times total.

Flash - Needs the stun damaged slightly reduced, should function primarily as suppression, but if multiple (3-4) used should still knock out Aliens.

Stun - Needs a slightly higher initial stun, and the cloud it forms needs to be more complete, Aliens in a single cloud just simply walk away without additional stun damage 80% of the time. It would be NICE to use them to hold Aliens in place so if they tried to retreat they'd HAVE to walk through the stun cloud and take additional stun damage.

(I think stun damage should reduce TUs personally, it doesnt seem to?)

Stun Rockets - Initial stun needs to be higher, and the cloud bigger, more complete, denser. Right now they are mostly useless.

Grenades - Need to be able to destroy cover better, taking two Alenium Grenades to blow a propane tank seems...goofy

C4 - Never used it before the buff, but right now they seem to have little use, I cant blow up a train or train bed unless I use multiple, and I really dont feel like getting that close to use them. Sure you can blow a hole in a wall, but it's safer, and more effective to just have a Heavy with a Machine gun drill a single hole in the wall. And after you get Laser/Plasma they would seem even less effective.

Stun Batons - Work great so far (Nov.05) but it would be nice if after a mission, your soldiers could be re-equiped with any weapons they dropped. (Mission Over because you stun baton'd an Alien to death means you cant go back and grab your dropped rifle.)

Also Stun batons would be better if changed to a 1x4 size vs the current 2x3 size

Solder Accuracy - Does it need to change? No, its fine. If you make it so 2-3 Soldiers can kill an Alien with a Turn or Two, ground combat becomes trivial. I suppose you could increase accuracy and raise Alien HP tho, but I think the simple rule of DONT SPLIT YOUR SQUAD and expect not to have problems is the best case. (Because if you can, then not splitting your squad = easy mode/trivial, just slower)

Yes Sniper Rifles are Nice, but seriously so are Riffles, a burst round can easily Suppress Aliens, and more bullets = more cover destroyed. Sure you could go half Heavy and Half Sniper, but Snipers have reduced mobility, and so do Heavys.

Of course you can just bring mass rocket launchers for cover and loose $$$ every mission.

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Stun - Needs a slightly higher initial stun, and the cloud it forms needs to be more complete, Aliens in a single cloud just simply walk away without additional stun damage 80% of the time. It would be NICE to use them to hold Aliens in place so if they tried to retreat they'd HAVE to walk through the stun cloud and take additional stun damage.

(I think stun damage should reduce TUs personally, it doesnt seem to?)

Stun Rockets - Initial stun needs to be higher, and the cloud bigger, more complete, denser. Right now they are mostly useless.

C4 - Never used it before the buff, but right now they seem to have little use, I cant blow up a train or train bed unless I use multiple, and I really dont feel like getting that close to use them. Sure you can blow a hole in a wall, but it's safer, and more effective to just have a Heavy with a Machine gun drill a single hole in the wall. And after you get Laser/Plasma they would seem even less effective.

I think stun GAS weapons are fine. I usually throw several at once. It is gas after all. It should take some time to take affect. If you toss a few even into a big ship your just about guaranteed to knock most of the aliens. I think they would be over powered if the cloud was more complete or they worked faster.

As far as the C4 goes, well I think they are much better with the new blast diameter. In my view the problem isn't that C4 is underpowered for destroying terrain, it's that some of the direct fire weapons are overpowered. You'd have to expend an entire belt or more of LMG ammo to do the damage it does to walls and stuff in just a couple bursts. The rocket launcher is the same story. Way too powerful against terrain objects. Grenades, same story. Also, blowing up rolling stock to the point where it is completely gone would take a LARGE amount of explosives. So, I don't think complaining about the C4 not being able to blast it is valid.

Edited by StellarRat

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Solder Accuracy - Does it need to change? No, its fine. If you make it so 2-3 Soldiers can kill an Alien with a Turn or Two, ground combat becomes trivial. I suppose you could increase accuracy and raise Alien HP tho, but I think the simple rule of DONT SPLIT YOUR SQUAD and expect not to have problems is the best case. (Because if you can, then not splitting your squad = easy mode/trivial, just slower).

Not sure I agree with this.

Accuracy is relative. If its takes your soldiers 1-2 turns to kill a single alien, that doesn't by necessity make the game any more 'trivial' than if it takes them 4-5 turns, since 'triviality' will be determined by the likelihood of the aliens hitting/killing your own soldiers as well. Where I've indicated I'd like higher accuracy in the past, I meant for *all* combatants, not just the player (though maybe I never made this clear). At the very least, it's my belief that the game shouldn't be an RNG grind waiting to get high enough rolls to score hits as (in my opinion) this would be very tedious.

As regards squad splitting, I think you have an interesting point, but (personally) I don't think that not splitting your squad should be the core of the game's design. I would argue that if the game is balanced around the whole squad fighting a single alien, this makes fighting multiple aliens at the same time something to be actively discouraged while, from the position of making the game interesting, I'd argue that fighting more than one alien at the same time would be much, much better since it multiplies the number of things you need to think about.

For me, rather than having the game balanced around swarming individual aliens with your entire squad, I'd much rather have the game force me, by virtue of the number of aliens and their AI, to fight at multiple sites if I want to win/not be defeated. Focusing my squads full attention on single aliens should have a reward (quick victory, relatively speaking) but also a cost (don't know where the other aliens are and they're now moving to surround/kill me) such that (for example) using small teams to locate and pin down aliens to protect the main squad becomes a legitimately useful strategy.

In other words, I think you're right in that if the game largely involves going to find aliens who are largely on the defensive, not very active and generally alone, then it makes sense from a balance perspective to not have half your squad be capable of easily defeating a single alien. However, if you take this as the given position, I think you preclude other ways of balancing the game which would, at the same time, make the game more interesting (read: would make the game more interesting for me).

(Also: In any case, making aliens difficult to kill with only a small number of soldiers should be a result of the alien's superior weapons/armour/stats, not low hit chances. Failing to kill an alien because of low hit chances is, I'd argue, detrimental to immersion since you'd expect elite soldiers/genetically engineered aliens to not suck at fighting. Perhaps more importantly, though, I'd argue that it's detrimental to the fun of the game. Shooting eight times and missing every shot is frustrating (even if it is statistically probable); shooting eight times and having bullets bounce off for hardly any damage or being soaked by colossal alien HP at least allows the player to have achieved *something* and doesn't make them feel cheated by the RNG, as well of reminding the player of the vastly superior foe they are battling with!

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In other words, I think you're right in that if the game largely involves going to find aliens who are largely on the defensive, not very active and generally alone, then it makes sense from a balance perspective to not have half your squad be capable of easily defeating a single alien. However, if you take this as the given position, I think you preclude other ways of balancing the game which would, at the same time, make the game more interesting (read: would make the game more interesting for me).

Well, I think the alien AI is going to be a lot more dynamic and pro-active in future release. At least that's the plan from what I've read. So, this may be a short term premise.

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I think stun GAS weapons are fine. I usually throw several at once. It is gas after all. It should take some time to take affect. If you toss a few even into a big ship your just about guaranteed to knock most of the aliens. I think they would be over powered if the cloud was more complete or they worked faster.

As far as the C4 goes, well I think they are much better with the new blast diameter. In my view the problem isn't that C4 is underpowered for destroying terrain, it's that some of the direct fire weapons are overpowered. You'd have to expend an entire belt or more of LMG ammo to do the damage it does to walls and stuff in just a couple bursts. The rocket launcher is the same story. Way too powerful against terrain objects. Grenades, same story. Also, blowing up rolling stock to the point where it is completely gone would take a LARGE amount of explosives. So, I don't think complaining about the C4 not being able to blast it is valid.

The point is how everything balances with everything else.

Right now Stun Grenades = UFO breaches, and thats about it, unless you are suicidal. But you can just as easily toss 1 Flash grenade, suppress two Aliens in a UFO, and club them with Stun Batons, or just toss a couple Flash their way, its more effective as it doesnt require you to "wait" on the Stun Grenades.

So I would like to see Stun Grenades to somewhat "Hold Aliens in Place" so they dont constantly retreat, perhaps.

Right now, they just walk out of the cloud without taking stun, and yes you can use more Stun Grenades, but you could also not even bring them and just use fewer Flash to do the same thing. (Flash dont leave behind a pain in the ass cloud to have to navigate through either)

Therefore the only function of Stun Grenades at present is - VERY Poor man's Smoke, and Poor man's Flash. Or you could just toss a bunch in a UFO and click next turn a couple times, which is a less efficient tactic.

And as far as C4, yes it'd be useful if you made cover stronger, but you still have to practically suicide to get close enough to take out their cover...and then you are left with an over extended Soldier that is probably also in the line of fire from half your gun line.

And having to C4 every rock an Alien Hides behind is going to lead to bad things and ruin the game balance.

Lets face it, C4 wasnt used much in the original, and when it was it LEVELED large areas, and could breach holes in a UFO...which isnt possible here, I really wish it was, and I also wish UFOs were less about looks and more about function. (They are honestly boring to breach, and there is no exploring until Landing Ships, and even then it's overly simplistic)

But the overly simplistic layout of UFOs kills the alternate breach usage of C4 even IF it was implemented to be able to breach hulls.

So I really dont think you should nerf half the game's balance just to force C4 usage...

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Not sure I agree with this.

Accuracy is relative. If its takes your soldiers 1-2 turns to kill a single alien, that doesn't by necessity make the game any more 'trivial' than if it takes them 4-5 turns, since 'triviality' will be determined by the likelihood of the aliens hitting/killing your own soldiers as well. Where I've indicated I'd like higher accuracy in the past, I meant for *all* combatants, not just the player (though maybe I never made this clear). At the very least, it's my belief that the game shouldn't be an RNG grind waiting to get high enough rolls to score hits as (in my opinion) this would be very tedious.

As regards squad splitting, I think you have an interesting point, but (personally) I don't think that not splitting your squad should be the core of the game's design. I would argue that if the game is balanced around the whole squad fighting a single alien, this makes fighting multiple aliens at the same time something to be actively discouraged while, from the position of making the game interesting, I'd argue that fighting more than one alien at the same time would be much, much better since it multiplies the number of things you need to think about.

For me, rather than having the game balanced around swarming individual aliens with your entire squad, I'd much rather have the game force me, by virtue of the number of aliens and their AI, to fight at multiple sites if I want to win/not be defeated. Focusing my squads full attention on single aliens should have a reward (quick victory, relatively speaking) but also a cost (don't know where the other aliens are and they're now moving to surround/kill me) such that (for example) using small teams to locate and pin down aliens to protect the main squad becomes a legitimately useful strategy.

In other words, I think you're right in that if the game largely involves going to find aliens who are largely on the defensive, not very active and generally alone, then it makes sense from a balance perspective to not have half your squad be capable of easily defeating a single alien. However, if you take this as the given position, I think you preclude other ways of balancing the game which would, at the same time, make the game more interesting (read: would make the game more interesting for me).

(Also: In any case, making aliens difficult to kill with only a small number of soldiers should be a result of the alien's superior weapons/armour/stats, not low hit chances. Failing to kill an alien because of low hit chances is, I'd argue, detrimental to immersion since you'd expect elite soldiers/genetically engineered aliens to not suck at fighting. Perhaps more importantly, though, I'd argue that it's detrimental to the fun of the game. Shooting eight times and missing every shot is frustrating (even if it is statistically probable); shooting eight times and having bullets bounce off for hardly any damage or being soaked by colossal alien HP at least allows the player to have achieved *something* and doesn't make them feel cheated by the RNG, as well of reminding the player of the vastly superior foe they are battling with!

Well this is the way XCOM and nearly every clone since has been balanced, and I assure you it isnt because they wanted to stick to the original.

A full squad can engage a single Alien and if proper tactics are used, can do so safely. IF you find yourself dealing with 2 Aliens, a full squad can deal with this as well. Once you start hitting 3 Aliens, it starts getting interesting.

Again if you made it so that 4 could do the job of 8, you'd have to rebalance the entire game, you would have to have more Aliens per map, they would need AI that could allow them to "Converge" on a position and help Allies pinned down in cover. They would also need better accuracy and HP (Which I assure you is increasing their advantage, even if Human Accuracy is increased as well)

Also consider they start with Plasma and you are quite a ways behind on that...which means they can destroy your cover and you are going to have a hard time with theirs...giving them even more of an advantage...and it doesnt end here, but for the point of the discussion I think I shared my thoughts well enough.

I'll just add one more point, if you increase the number of Aliens, it's going to give them a MUCH better opportunity to flank you, and will continue to increase their advantages over you.

You cant flank if you are constantly running into new Aliens, so you are going to BE flanked MUCH more often and you're going to be fighting most encounters from a point of disadvantage, and more on the Alien's terms, and less on yours.

And in the end, a bad round for you could = multiple deaths, same with a good round from the Aliens.

As it is now, its more about being consistent vs needing luck constantly on your side.

Edited by Mytheos

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Well, I think the alien AI is going to be a lot more dynamic and pro-active in future release. At least that's the plan from what I've read. So, this may be a short term premise.

Aye, this was my impression, too (but, at the same time, don't want to make too many assumptions about what the AI will be like in the end).

Also, re: C4: If aliens can reaction-fire on door opening, I can see C4 being useful both as a way of opening the doors without soldiers being in sight and, furthermore, as a way of suppressing the aliens inside so they can't reaction-fire anyway. I think I'd definitely bring some along under those circumstances.

And, damage vs. cover: Yes, I think I agree it's too easy to break cover at the moment. I've had several occasions where I've spent time moving soldiers into a flanking position, only for a machine gun to mow down the cover I've been trying to get around and make the whole exercise pointless. Honestly, I'd be quite happy if cover was pretty much immune to anything other than plasma weapons and better explosives (depending on the cover, mind. Not so sure a wooden fence should work the same!)

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Again if you made it so that 4 could do the job of 8, you'd have to rebalance the entire game.

That was exactly my point. In broad, dichotomous terms, you can have a game of relatively passive, individually durable aliens which you seek out and destroy with your whole squad (extant system). Or, you can have aggressive, mobile, cunning aliens which fight against you at a strategic level and with stats/whatever to match (what I would like it to be). How you balance the game is contingent upon the game you want to play.

My objection to what you wrote, then, is only that it (to me) implied that there's only one way to balance the game (i.e. make it so your whole squad is needed to handily defeat an alien) - I agree that this is *one way* of balancing the game, but not the only way (and not necessarily a good way, either, depending on what you want the game to be like).

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@kabill

I understand what you are saying, and agree.

But I think playing it the 2nd way would increase the game's difficulty far too much, I would love to play the version you're talking about...but the honest truth is people are complaining about difficulty somewhat now, if you ended up greatly increasing expected death tolls and gave the Aliens more intelligence and Advantage...

Well lets just say the boards would be set on fire by complaints.

Its hard for us that have the game "more" figured out to understand the frustration this would cause newer players...and how somewhat high this game's learning curve is to begin with.

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