Removing the core identity of this game is not the answer to it being too easy

Even if it’s most of the reason why it’s too easy.

I’m talking about the timeline - being able to see enemy moves. Having a couple of people mentioning how it’s too easy because of it which it currently is, but then going on to give ideas about certain units or turns or mechanics or whatever being made to be unable to see the timeline.

I think that’s a terrible idea. That mechanic is what makes the game so great, even what its core identity is and what gives it such tactical depth and potential. Removing that as a way to increase the difficulty i feel is very short sighted.

(To say nothing of the fact of where and how and when you’re supposed to aim if you don’t have that info…)

There isn’t many other options but what options there are, can be adjusted enough to the point of making the game impossible, so theoretically there’s also a point where it’s suitably challenging. I’m of course talking about increasing enemy stats or amount of each per fight - or a combination of both. As well as keeping a careful eye on weapons and their power level when they drop, throughout the progression. I got an 800 total volley damage shotgun from the very first proper province after that small beginning one.

I saw someone comment on how too many enemies isn’t fun because they shoot alot, giving you little chance to shoot back - i thought at first he had a point, but then it dawned on me, like me he’s too focused on avoiding damage entirely, shielding when being shot at, being behind a hill, using buildings as cover to entirely negate the shot etc. We’re too focused on complete damage avoidance because of how easy it is to do, because of all the options there is available that i think we mistakenly feel that’s how it’s meant to be played. It then makes us feel bad if we take any damage whatsoever.

But i feel like it’s more meant to be about damage mitigation than complete avoidance, especially when trading good damage onto the enemy in return. I did a convoy battle, so an outside map without cover with 11 enemies and i thought how the hell am i meant to do this lol. So many shots from so many angles. Longer story shorter i ended up wrecking all the stuff and though i felt uncomfortable at taking hits at first, it really wasn’t that much damage and wasn’t as significant as i thought it’d be. But i didn’t know until i was forced into the situation.

Then i had the epiphany that it’s ok to take shots, ok to take damage to some degree (As long as your doing things properly like using good weapons, stunning enemies when in close range, working outside of enemies effective ranges etc) and so trade fire instead of waiting for the perfect but elusive opportunity. So more enemies and taking shots isn’t the game breaker some think it is - it is only if you’re trying to play with complete damage avoidance in mind and being able to go through a mission perfectly without taking any return fire whatsoever doesn’t sound like very good design.

But there still eventually comes a point where it does get to be too many enemies, so then increase time to kill by increasing each ones survivability or other stats. Also adding difficulty settings later in development of course, where things like that over actually finishing core features starts to take precedence.

But take away the timeline and you’re taking away the heart of the game imo. Not a good direction to take the game in just as a way to increase difficulty.

Some food for thought.

4 Likes

I feel the same. Most people would suggest taking away the prediction system but don’t offer what to replace it. Because if you do just that, you wouldn’t know how to maneuver your units or when to block or shoot because you don’t know where the enemy will go. And the result is a battle with too much RNG and a battle that will go on until all cover is destroyed.

Still, raising enemy levels and numbers would still make perfect sense since you play a resistance faction trying to overcome a superior invader. In fact, it is how the enemy takes over your country in the first place, with sheer numbers. That said the game still has a lot in store, and I’m interested to know how missiles would work and how you would go about handling them if they were guided missiles. Also I hope somehow it would be possible for enemies to do melee attacks.

Plus there are many other ways they could increase difficulty. Maybe a fog of war obscures the battlefield and you cannot predict what you cannot see. Maybe the enemy can deploy countermeasures that disables your prediction system temporarily. Or even elite enemies with powerful abilities that can deal a lot of damage or disable your mechs.

I agree with the premise that I don’t really want to see the prediction mechanic futzed with.

Convoy battles are really the only thing in the game that’s threatening right now, and that’s only because they often spawn right next to you. (Which is kinda dumb when you think about it - aren’t we meant to be attacking them?)

I think the main problem is that the AI is as dumb as a sack of rocks. That said, I’m not sure how you’d improve it but then I’m not a game developer ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

1 Like

I was thinking about a way for certain enemies to screw with the prediction system not by completely hiding themselves from it but instead by providing too much information.

What if Ace Pilots had the ability to spawn phantom future paths? More powerful Aces could spawn more phantoms. Would something like that even be possible though?

On the chance it IS possible:

If all the phantom paths originate from the Ace before diverging how could the player be prevented from aiming at the original mech before the phantoms split off? One possibility here is the enemy Ace activating some obfuscating device at the end of each of its turns. This would make the original mech non-targetable by conventional means (AoE and manual ctrl+click targeting would still work but not track the target) and give the phantoms enough time to split off properly from the original.

Then it’s a matter of making it an engaging fight instead of something highly annoying to deal with. An Ace spitting out 3 paths(2 phantoms/1 real) each round means you have a 1 in 3 chance of hitting the correct target. With 4 pilots against just that one Ace it may not be so bad. Laying down AoE, or deliberately aiming/timing firing lines so they intersect multiple paths would keep things manageable. If whatever special tech that made this possible had a cooldown or damage threshold deactivation trigger, even better.

Even barring anything at all messing with the prediction system there’s a good chance at a difficulty bump coming with the Arsenal Update. Imagine the AI with access to homing missiles.

Someone on reddit had more or less the same idea, that an enemy pilot would project multiple possible paths, only one of which is real. It would definitely mess with your plays and there may not be an optimal way to deal with it.

I just had an idea, what if there is an enemy who could make their moves after you make yours? It should probably be an ability they can activate periodically.

Can you expand on that? You dial in your attack plan and then the special enemy dials theirs in after you hit execute?

Or is it something like they show a proper prediction path but the timing or target(s) of their attacks changes in response to your choices?

I must be playing differently to the rest of you then. I get hit a lot. But so long as I am dishing out 3 times or more damage, then that is ok.

The Prediction system is what makes this game, 30 second engagements take an age to plan and execute. I would like to see a closer up of the enemy so that you could more accurately target specific systems.

More enemies, simply becomes the same swarm as all other such games. But more complex missions as the DEVs seem to be implementing are great. Having to send half your team in one direction to meet objectives whilst the other half have to fight a rearguard action makes it more challenging.

Rather than more enemies, I think more waves of enemies would be a better option. That way you start to get worn down/overwhelmed as time goes on, rather than being bum-rushed on turn one.

I think that’s the only way to make people engage with the extraction mechanic as well. Currently, I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d want to use the retreat option as if you were outnumbered so badly you couldn’t win you wouldn’t have time to get to the extraction point either.

The only time you should be getting hit alot is either you don’t have good enough thrusters on heavy mechs, or convoy/outside battles with no cover.

Even then the shots are split between 4 of your mechs, you have enemies effective ranges to work with (outside of), you have shields, tanks cannons and half the weaponry aren’t all that accurate at mid+ range, after the first turn or so they’ll mostly target the closest mech who can then play defence while you attack with the others and as you said, is fine if you’re efficiently trading back.

Some good ideas so far to adjust difficulty without affecting the core identity of the game:

-Wave based enemies. Basically more reinforcements and a great way to increase enemy count
-Difficulty settings which adjust enemy stats, enemy numbers, gear droprate and/or power
-More objectives (Though the combat is the most fun part of the game, too much of needing to avoid enemies or do non-combat objectives etc can be a detriment)
-Line of sight being affected through weather like say fog
-Enemy homing weapons (Though another potential detriment: making other cool and tactical concepts like taking cover somewhat redundant)

As someone mentioned, the only time there’s a real threat currently is Convoy Battles which are completely voluntary, starting you off near enemies and with little cover on the entire map.

Maybe they should be made to be the more challenging more rewarding content since they’re kind of opt-in, for the people looking for more of a challenge.

Edit: In the meantime i wonder how fun, challenging and doable a Light only no Shields run would be :stuck_out_tongue:

Or, to borrow from RogueTech, how about a weight limited location, delicate bridge with weight limit or some such.

I guess there’s already missions where you can only bring 2 mechs instead of 4 and maybe pilot Fatigue will expand on this in future.

The only problem with weight limits though, is in Battletech lighter mechs = much less weaponry/power and overall ability, they don’t scale in power whereas they do in Phantom Brigade (which is cool) - in PB “light mechs” are just light body parts, just a weight category that doesn’t affect the amount of weaponry/overall ability, has it’s own stat scaling throughout the game and has the increased mobility to work with that full weaponry and scaling stats.

Being weight limited here isn’t really a bad thing/challenge, it just means more of a tradeoff between durability and mobility. Weight limits would need to be implemented for weaponry, subsystems and body parts for that kind of thing.

1 Like

One thing that could make the game more difficult, if you actually get hit is that lost arms, weapons etc, should be lost for ever. As it is now, they just get repaired whilst the crew is salvaging.

And yes weight is less important in PB, but heavier mechs tend to be slower, and less durable. Just ideas.

It depends on how missiles work. If it fires straight ahead, then it works like any other weapon. If it fires in an arc, then the timeline can display where it is supposed to hit. But if it homes in on you maybe the timeline can show its trajectory as it approaches your mech, where you can either try to do a last minute dash to avoid it, or try to shoot it down as it approaches.

1 Like

I think a lot of games have taught us not to take hits. Therefore, the convey missions do get people at first. I play with only three units to make it harder and my strategy to take down these 11-12 enemy unit missions is to literally run my heavy bois straight though the tank conveys. I forget if the crashing mechanics are explained in the tutorial but a single heavy unit can run/dash though those groups of four tanks causing them to crash and lose their turn. While my two shotgun/smg with shield units are keeping the tanks on lockdown my sniper takes out the enemy mechs.

1 Like

Thanks. I didn’t know that you could do that. I just took on my first convoy mission. Next time I can use different tactics and take less damage.

Also keep in mind it doesn’t matter what weight class you are to run over tanks, you can run into/over/through tanks with any weight mech any time to stun. Using lighter mechs means more mobility to get in, stun and get out.

Dash/Thrust into them for greater effect, to send them flying through buildings to stun and still do good damage as well looking pretty cool :stuck_out_tongue:

You just have to guestimate where they end up to know where to stand to shoot them afterwards in the same turn is all.

2 Likes

Generally why I like the heavy armored units doing it, I just run them though the mess while shooting ahhaah. Shotguns spread pretty much no matter what and tank cannons are generally worst up close.

1 Like

Having this “God’s Eye” of ours as it stands as the game’s core and inviolable identity is just going to muddle things further in my opinion.

I say that because the game will end up conflating difficulty with complexity.

Frozen Synapse has predictive power, but introduces both uncertainty and means to counter that uncertainty. Predictions aren’t perfect, and the game provides means to mitigate it by way of fire sectors and other simple actions which; in the end make for gameplay that is wholly unlike the experience of simply piecing together a puzzle. The effect you get is that of fighting a battle instead of trying to make things fit in a very inorganic manner.

Trying to increase “difficulty” by way of altering enemy unit composition or stats or what have you isn’t really going to make the game deeper than it already is, I think.

I doubt this game wants to be as deep as the series WeGo/Simultaneous Turn Based progenitor, Combat Mission and it’s countless games.

But there are lessons there that Phantom Brigade can take, just as Frozen Synapse seemingly has.

Even adding simple systems that allows for LOS/multiple prediction paths, Target Arcs, Player Assigned Targets, and an AI that supports the consequences of these could make things appear deeper, if not deeper for real.

You could say Combat Mission is much deeper than PB and I agree. But take out the granularity of its physics simulations and you’re liable to see just how simple the gameplay loop is. And how PB might benefit from taking a page from it in the end.

Unless of course, that’s just not something anyone here wants. Then I suppose it’s moot to expect more out of PB than a choreographer’s wet dream.

The game is in Early Access. If it is felt by the majority of players that the predictive system needs to be less accurate, I am sure that will be taken into account.

Personally, there are more important aspects to refine. If I reach a point where my mechs never get hit, I might change my mind.

Honestly, I think this could be a relatively easy fix. A core mechanic is that the further down the timeline you plan, the less accurate the prediction is. For people who want more challenge (not me, I’m strategy impaired lol) they could up the difficulty which would increase the inaccuracy modifier making it less accurate the further out the prediction.

1 Like