I have spent an unhealthy amount of time on this game already, and I have some thoughts!

Hi all! I’ve spent over 40 hours play Phantom Brigade just this past week - it’s been a long time since I’ve so thoroughly binged a game like this, and I’ve never done so with an Early Access title, so I definitely feel you’ve got something special going here. Congratulation to everyone on the team, I can’t wait to see where this game goes over the next year.

That said, it is still Early Access, and so there are some issues that need to be smoothed out. I’ve been making a list as I’ve been playing, and here are areas I think could benefit from some clarification / tweaking / fixing. I’ll steer clear of wishlist stuff (more weapons! more mission variety! etc) because I know you’ve got that in the works already - this is just stuff that’s not quite working right already IMO.


Melee

I absolutely love melee in this game, however it seems a bit inconsistent so far:

-In the early game, when I melee attacked enemy mechs, I was knocking them over regularly - in fact, not only knocking them down, but knocking them backwards into buildings, and it was fantastic! For quite a while now though I haven’t been doing so, and I’m not sure why. I know it’s related to weight class, and so I spent time speccing a mech that was both fast and heavy weight, and have been targeting medium weight mechs, but I’m rarely knocking them down, much less backwards. Is this a bug?

-Suggestion: using a melee weapon should effectively add +1 weight class during collisions, in the same way that using a shield does

-And related to the above: it’d be really good to have a way of knowing where the boundaries lie for the different weight classes while customising your mechs. I know they move from medium to heavy somewhere around weight 84-ish, but that’s only through experimenting, there’s no way to actually show it outside of battle AFAIK.

-It’s difficult to judge the power of melee weapons at the moment as they have no top-level damage stat. I know the actual damage of a weapon is some calculation based on its base damage and its level, but don’t know how this works. For other weapons there’s the top level “damage in burst” / “DPS” value, but melee weapons don’t have this. So is a level 15 melee weapon with base power 130 more damaging than a level 10 one with base power 200? No idea! (And on that note the base power of melee weapons has been consistently going down throughout the campaign - started at 200, now at level 25ish I’m picking up mostly power 90.)


Subsystems

Subsystems have the potential to be a really engaging part of mech customisation, but at the moment they’re pretty poorly explained and not easy to use.

-It should be a lot clearer which subsystems are fused and which are customisable when you’re looking at body parts that you might equip. I think (bizarrely!) that the size of the translucent grey bar behind each subsystem indicates this, but that’s really not a good indicator.

-Suggestion: maybe it would be best to whether or not subsystems are customisable consistent by part rarity - e.g. common parts all have fully fused subsystems, uncommon are also fully fused but with better stats than common, and then rare parts all allow you to customise all subsystems? Rather than this body part lets you customise subsystem x, this other one lets you customise subsystem Y, etc.

-There should be an option to strip subsystems when unequipping / scrapping a body part.


Possible bugs

-In battle, if I click one of the action icons - wait, run, etc - and there is a unit (friendly or enemy, actual position or predicted) underneath that icon, the click will select that unit - and this happens a lot given how hectic the battlefield gets. Oddly, I’ve only had this issue since the November 20th patch. It’s made me get used to using the number keys for actions instead, mind!

-Heatsync subsystems show power as a positive value, when they actually drain power - i.e. the show “power: 2” but they actually meant “power: -2”. Similarly, gyro systems show weigh as a positive value, when they actually reduce weight.

-Had a notification saying my sniper’s shield had been destroyed in a battle - which was news to me, given that he doesn’t use a shield!

-On the campaign map, if I right click to target an enemy convoy, my mobile base actually moves towards the ground the convoy is on, rather than the convoy itself (which is moving, obviously) - so you have to constantly readjust if you want to actually attack the convoy.

-This one’s a bit anecdotal, but I went through a period for about ten or so battles (level 20ish range) where the only weapons I were finding as loot were Assault Rifles and Medium Handguns. Every single enemy bot was dropping those and nothing else.

-Again anecdotal, but my “sniper” doesn’t seem to be able to hit the broadside of a barn with an actual sniper rifle. I get him to the right range (100% weapon efficiency), stop moving, he fires off a shot…and misses. Consistently. I’ve had to switch him to Marksman Rifles, which work fine, but I want a one-shot killer, dang it!


General suggestions / questions

-There should be a clear indicator of which weapons should be fired standing still, and which can be reliably fired on the go. I know this is related to spread value, but it doesn’t seem consistent - I’ve found some weapons with high spread / variable spread fine to fire on the go, but others with low spread / a single spread value where they’ve been ineffective unless I’m stood still (including a shotgun!). A clear UI indicator would help a lot here.

-Since the Nov 20th patch, there have been dots after the item level on the salvage screen (e.g. Assault Rifle Lvl 25 • • • • • • •) - what do these mean?

-It’d be great to have the option to auto repair mechs after battles. I know this will cost scrap later on though, so maybe a post-battle screen, giving you the cost and a repair all option?

-Controversial opinion time - I think there’s currently too much loot in this game (not least given that there’s no way to scrap it en masse) and most of it is useless. At first it’s fine, as you’ve got basic mechs and everything is an improvement, but quickly enough it becomes almost a chore sorting through it for the few bits you will actually want to use. I should be excited when I get loot, not dreading the fact that it’ll be busywork finding out it’s useless and then throwing it away! I think it would be a lot better if you got less loot, but each upgrade you did get was more meaningful. And if you want to keep regular item drops, maybe consider having single subsystems drop regularly still, but actual weapons / body parts could be a lot more rare. Especially when there’s an actual working economy in the game, so if you really need a slightly better , you’ll be able to buy it.

-On a related note - you should be able to scrap items from within the mech customisation screen, not just from the Inventory.

-Also you should be able to switch between mechs on the customisation screen using the F keys, rather than having to exit one mech and then go back into another. (I know you guys like Front Mission, so I’m thinking how in Front Mission 5 you could hit L2 / R2 to switch mechs in whichever submenu you were currently in - arm, body, weapon, backpack, etc.)

-Even more controversial - I think most weapon values should be standardised by weapon type, with only the damage, mass and maybe heat changing. What I mean by this is that, for example, all Assault Rifles should have the same min / max / ideal range, same spread, same duration, same number of bullets per volley, etc as each other. Because there’s so much variety within the weapon classes at the moment, it means that the distinction between the classes is greatly lessened. Obviously you can’t use a shotgun like a sniper rifle, but most of the automatic weapons feel pretty similar at the moment, with many acting outside of what I would consider should be their role - e.g. I’ve found an HMG that can be fired accurately on the move like an Assault Rifle. If you more firmly standardise values across each weapon type, I think it would lead to a) far more “grokkable” upgrades and b) far better established role archetypes for your mechs.


OK, this ended up being pretty long, so I’m going to cap it here and go play more of the game. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

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On the melee weapons, are you always using the longer blade? The medium melee weapon rarely knocks people down, the heavy one usually does for me.

I agree with you on subsystems I was assuming they were going to flesh them out later.

Also got used to using the number keys this weekend lol.

Also having totally bad luck with snipers even under ideal conditions. Switched to relying on MMGs and burst rifles as much as I can. However idk if anything changed in the patch, or if the different sniper types matter, but I had one that fired a single bolt per shot that hit reliably even at shorter ranges. My 2 shot sniper misses both most of the time.

I think the amount of loot is fine I think a quick and easy scrap solution to turn shitty loot into supplies etc should arrive. Assuming stores are on the way?

Good write up agree with most of your thoughts, loving this game

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I’ll do my best to answer your questions (and pass your other feedback to the team!)

Regarding melee - it’s in need of a rework, we’re aware it’s not super easy to use or particularly fun at the moment (though it looks cool!) This actually goes for subsystems too - they’re a little buggy at the moment and the UI doesn’t communicate clearly what the stats actually do.

-In battle, if I click one of the action icons - wait, run, etc - and there is a unit (friendly or enemy, actual position or predicted) underneath that icon, the click will select that unit - and this happens a lot given how hectic the battlefield gets. Oddly, I’ve only had this issue since the November 20th patch. It’s made me get used to using the number keys for actions instead, mind!

This is a bug! We’ve got a fix incoming :slight_smile:

-Heatsync subsystems show power as a positive value, when they actually drain power - i.e. the show “power: 2” but they actually meant “power: -2”. Similarly, gyro systems show weigh as a positive value, when they actually reduce weight.

This is also a bug! Fix coming sometime soon :slight_smile:

-Had a notification saying my sniper’s shield had been destroyed in a battle - which was news to me, given that he doesn’t use a shield!

You guessed it… also a bug :slight_smile:

-On the campaign map, if I right click to target an enemy convoy, my mobile base actually moves towards the ground the convoy is on, rather than the convoy itself (which is moving, obviously) - so you have to constantly readjust if you want to actually attack the convoy.

This is intended behaviour, but I agree it’s not the most useful behaviour - we’ll consider changing it maybe in the future!

-This one’s a bit anecdotal, but I went through a period for about ten or so battles (level 20ish range) where the only weapons I were finding as loot were Assault Rifles and Medium Handguns. Every single enemy bot was dropping those and nothing else.

This sounds like a bug, can you provide maybe some more information about which province you were in/let me know if it does occur again?

-Again anecdotal, but my “sniper” doesn’t seem to be able to hit the broadside of a barn with an actual sniper rifle. I get him to the right range (100% weapon efficiency), stop moving, he fires off a shot…and misses. Consistently. I’ve had to switch him to Marksman Rifles, which work fine, but I want a one-shot killer, dang it!

This miiiiight be a bug! But I’m not 100% sure. Which sniper rifle is it, if you happen to know?

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Yep, using the longer blade (the primary / right hand one), not the shorter (secondary / left hand) one.

Oh, I hope you don’t rework it too much, I think it works pretty well already! The only change I’d suggest is to be able to attack on either your right or left side, rather than only on the right as at current. I know the weapon is held in the right hand* but the mech could reach across his body, or spin as part of the animation, or something.

*Talking primary melee here, obviously the secondary melee is left hand and attacks on the left.

I don’t know exactly why provinces I’m afraid, but IIRC it was around the level 21-23 equipment range. After that, and all through to the end of the game, I noticed that probably still 90% of the weapons I was getting were Assault Rifles and Medium Handguns, but there were a few others mixed in now and then, at least.

Also, from about level 21 onwards until the end of the game (haven’t done postgame giga lab stuff yet), the only armour parts I found were Helge H, Bein M and Elbrus M. Absolutely nothing else.

Melee weapons were very rare throughout - I probably only picked up 5 or 6 Primary Melee Weapons throughout the entire game.

I’m afraid I don’t know which it was, and I’ve scrapped it now. If I get the issue again I’ll let you know.

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An on the topic of lack of late game loot variety, look what I got for taking out the Giga Lab (which I think is meant to be post-game content?) :joy:

I agree with this. Maybe halfling the amount of weapon/parts you get, though keep subsystems about the same would be perfect!! Though I think also loot will be cleaned up a bit once stats are standardized, as you also suggested. So much variance on same item types. Though to be honest, I like being constantly rewarded with loot, and so I don’t think that should necessarily go away completely.

Felt I should quote this, only so I can say, I agree with this, lol.

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Oh for sure! I love me some loot, it’s just that at the moment the quantity:quality ratio is way off, IMO.

-Responding about melee

There is further distinction besides primary and secondary.

Within primary (right item only) melee weapons there are medium and heavy classes. The heavy blade is about as long as the mech is tall, often called ‘Line.’ The medium melee primaries are more common. Only the heavy, extra long blade gives me reliable knockdowns.

I love the melee system, I hope they make it a bit more forgiving in terms of collisions without changing the core principle of dash\intercept\strike\dash

Please. whatever you do, just don’t take away the ability to knock people (and tanks) into buildings. I’ve never had this much fun watching robots walk into each other. Especially how a big mech can just stand in their way and they fall over if it’s braced.

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