Thoughts after "finishing" the current campaign

Finshed up my first campaign run yesterday with completing the capital city mission. Just some general feedback and thoughts of the game so far.

First, for an EA game I was very impressed in the overall quality. I had only one gamebreaking bug and a few minor ones through the whole campaign. The combat system is fun and offers a lot of depth. The game looks great and the music fits perfectly.

Difficulty:
My biggest complaint so far is difficulty. The game is easy. Too easy. Both on a strategic and a tactical level.

Strategic:
Since resource cost for repairs isn’t in the game yet, the strategic part is partly understandable. Though I would like to see a more active enemy. Apart from the first few areas, I never encountered another patrol. I did not feel like I was in enemy teritory. I comfortably salvage next to enemy bases, intercept the convoys and move about freely. A more active enemy, sending patrols after you, calling for revenge forces after you attack conveys (and stronger higher difficulty intercepting patrols) would be a great way to help in this regard. It would also make it an actual decision if you can afford to salvage after a fight (because you need to stay in place and they might force you into a fight with already damaged mechs).
Something I found curious but not good or bad was that the capital was for the most part mid level enemies, which felt a bit off. Would have expected the center to hold the strongest forces. Though it kinda makes sense the way the mission is structed. (SPOILERS: By the way, was a pretty fun fight. Was expecting a bit more from the experimental units and the general but really liked it overall.)

Tactical:
However the individual missions become tedious to do simply because you can mostly faceroll them without much thought if you stay at around the same level area as your mechs. Much the way games like XCOM lose all challenge once you hit midgame. This feels like it gets worse the more you progress in gear level. Which is unfortunate since it means the absolutly fantastic turn system doesn’t get to shine to its fullest. While doing higher leveled content does somewhat help, it at the same time means that you can not use any of the gear you salvage, since it would make you too strong again and seems only like a temporary “fix”.

One solution especially if you add difficulty levels is to add more enemies when the fight begins (you should be outnumbered anyway I’d assume) and reduce the time for reinforcement to show up. I often spent a turn or two just passing waiting for the reinforcement to show up. If you had less time before more enemies showed up, it would put more pressure on the player or risk getting severly outnumbered and surrounded.

Further it would be nice if enemies would use the dash ability, and used the shield more efficently. Currently when enemies use the shield it feels like they use it instead of shooting, rather than using it inbetween shots to reduce damage.

Not sure if the squad compositions are random, but they feel somewhat off. Very often I would face only one weapon type on mechs and maybe some tanks. As an example there would be 4 enemies using an assault rifle and in the next mission everybody was using shotguns. Having the enemy use more mixed squad loadouts would probably be preferable and might add more challenge.

Balance:
Balance between light, medium and heavy armor seems pretty good for the most part, there is incentive to use all of them which is nice.
Weapon balance feels less optimal. The different categories due seem to all have a use, but short duration weapons for the most part outshine the longer duration counterparts within any category (HMG>LMG, 1 shot shotgun > volley shotgun, etc.). The only exception being maybe the sniper rifle, where the 5 shot variant feels far more efficient than the one shot counterpart (mostly due to the latters insane heat buildup). Speaking of duration, the duration modifier is busted, compared to any other modifier, and possibly in general. Shorter volley duration is by itself very valuable, as it reduces the time you need to spend exposed, reduces the time you need a clear line of fire and the time you need optimal firing distance. Ontop of that the weapons often share comparable damage per volley and damage per second as longer duration counterparts.
As an extreme example, the LMG or MMG with up to 3 seconds firing duration felt pointless to use. They do not destroy cover fast enough, they do not suppress the enemy units, and they deal low DPS. A volley of an HMG deals the same amount of damage in only 2 seconds. One way to possibly solve this in the case of LMGs would be to give them increased concussion damage, more bullets per volley, but slightly reduced damage. That way, they suppress units by putting the pilot at risk of being incapacitated should they get hit, and the long duration means it may be difficult to find an opening with unit being suppressed by an AI.

Misc:
A little more visual difference between the different manufactures weapons in terms of effects and bullets could be neat. (the models are already distinct). And maybe some more variety in terms of “crazy” weapons (FLAK is nice, looking forward to missile and artilery, hope the laser from the teaser makes an appearance), and more importantly utility systems other than dash and shield could be neat. As an example, some parts could have an active cooling help instead of the dash ability or anything really.
Mission variety is already on the roadmap, so are more maps and events, which is great.

To close out, after all the negatives, overall I really like whats in the game so far. It looks, sounds and feels great. It’s fun (whenever it is challenging) and really polished for an EA. Looking forward to how it will develop.

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I agree with the theme of your post. I have high hopes for this game. As you mentioned, their core concept is so polished and well executed, that all they really need to do is flesh the hell out of the campaign.

Really excited to see what they add in the next couple large patches.

Hi @TwinPine welcome to the forums! I’ll be passing your feedback along to the team, I’m not 100% sure what our plans are in terms of different difficulty levels. As for enemy actions our AI is hopefully going to get the ability to use all the same equipment and moves that the player currently uses (dash, melee, new weapons in the future) so this might significantly increase or decrease difficulty - we’ll adjust as we go along :slight_smile:

Balance in general is definitely ongoing! So thoughts like this are appreciated. Thanks very much!

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Some additional thoughts:

Ideas:
Pilot death. Having a mech cored could have a chance (or guarantee) your pilot to be KIA or wounded. Resulting in the player needing to find new pilots or managing pilot injuries ontop of stress level.

Railgun. A experimental sniper rifle that is capable of penetrating most inital targets, dealing damage to parts (or units) located behind it. Sort of a “shieldbreaker” that isn’t safe to block with shields, or on body hit can deal damage to an additional part (if it hits right arm it might also hit core) depending if the engine allows it.

Camouflage. Enemy or allied mechs that engage the camouflage ability (like dash ability) can not be targeted past a certain range, making shots directed at them from longer ranges very inaccurate. (or the mech can’t be spotted at all, though this might be a bit gamebreaking).

Dedicated ram ability. Using a shield to walk into mechs is fun. Dashing into lighter mechs is fun. Why not allow it to be combined (maybe requires special shield or pilot skill or maybe if mech has shield they auto hold it to the front when dashing)?

QoL:
“repair all?” popup after combat allowing all the mechs to be repaired (so long as the resources are available).

Probably already suggested but “paint all parts” option.
Also in regard to paints, allow the paint to stick to the mech unit rather than the part, so when parts are changed they keep the colour as opposed to the part keeping the colour. Since parts are often exchanged but paintjob will probably be kept. Maybe as a toggable option in the paintjob section.

Scrap multiple, scrap all below quality x and scrap all below level x options would be very welcome as the amount of parts currently received is very large.

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And before I forget. Maybe I missed it, but showing the amount of heat a weapon generats in combat when hovering over the ability would be neat.

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I would absolutely love to see this! It could work like the existing melee option, only instead of arcing around an enemy mech, it could be a straight line charge. I’d expect it to be lower damage than a sword attack, but much higher knockback.

Agree with all your QOL suggestions as well!

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Thank you for the reply. Love the edit :joy:.
Looking forward to seeing the AI pulls some tricks out of their sleeves.

Balance:
Started a new playthrough challenging myself only to upgrade gear once I complete an area, so I am generally “undergeared” for the fights. This made me realize something:
The Dash ability is insanly powerful. In a gamechanging way. Fighting the first area with just the two starter mechs was really fun, especially since positioning was extremly vital. Not just during the turn but also preparing for the next turn. Dash removes much of this. Since it is usually possible with dash to get into cover in time, as long as you do not carry over too much heat into the next turn. Movement speed became less vital, again since dash will get you there when you need to go fast. Distance matters less, being out of the optimal range of enemies is sometimes the best you can afford to achieve to mimimize damage pre dash. Once you have dash, it plays far less of a role.

That being said, I also really like the dash ability. It seperates this type of mech game from the much slower battletech universe. At the same time it is done in a “realistic” fashion. It makes the game feel faster, makes the mechs feel faster and fits the “fast paced” nature of combat (as in the actual playing out of individual fights rarely going over half a minute). And quite frankly I might be slightly biased but it gives me some nostalgic memories to a certain game I used to play (exteel).

A possible approach might be to give dash a heat dissapation penality or heat generation increasee to your weapon after dashing for a certain amount of time, rather than just a flat heat cost. That way, overly using dash due to ignoring positioning comes at a tradeoff to your potential damage, while still allowing dash to be used reguarly compared to just higher heat costs.

I find it very difficult to wrap my head around how I like dash in its current state. For one it takes a really fun aspect of the turn based system. That the player needs to not only consider the 5 predicted seconds but also think a bit ahead, plan into the next turn and consider the possitioning.
On the other hand it allows for some really cool turn, great flashy looking clips and adds a layer of options to dealing with situations which is great.

Misc:
Part and mech destruction on the player side may be something to consider. Currently, I build 4 chasis, equip them and then never build more. I suspect as repair costs are introduced, repair times adjusted and maybe hostile reactions on the map increased, it will make sense to have more than just the 4 mechs in case some are repairing when forced into a fight. Yet even then, let us assume I will make 8 chassis and then I am done. But what if getting a mech of mine cored destroys (or has a chance to destroy) the chassis. Requiring it to be rebuilt, which costs both supplies and time.

Finding those perfect weapons and parts is fun and losing them may be frustrating for some. But an enjoyable challenge to others. So maybe an option at the start of the campaign to chose whether parts that get destroyed in combat might get destroyed for real. Gone. Poof. Find a new arm…

Bug?:
Disabled tanks (incapacitated pilot) sometimes have the message that if you destroy things you dont get any drops and you should attempt to disable them instead. I assume this is just the standard message whenever a unit has no loot, and tanks sometimes have no loot even when disabled? For clarity sake the message should maybe be adjusted for those cases to just mention that you couldn’t find anything worth salvaging.

On a final note. I have spent way too much time playing this game since it was released into EA. Can’t stress enough how fun and refreshing it has been so far.

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I think one way that difficulty could be ramped up is to force players to select new components when they lose pieces of a mech. Like that sweet subsystem that boosts power output? Well you lost your legs, so now you need a new pair of legs and a new reactor subsystem. Or maybe they could add a chance that the component is not salvageable so that it isn’t too punishing.

In XCOM, you have to pick up your dead soldiers and bring them home if you hope to retain the equipment they’re fielding. I’d like to see a similar mechanic in this game–even if it’s just added as a difficulty option. Not necessarily picking up robots and bringing them home, but maybe an added salvage time per damaged friendly mechs. That would prevent players from gaining too much momentum too quickly; it would take longer to get to the mid-game steamroll. It would also prevent salvage form building up too quickly, and place more value on high-quality subsystems and components. Those pieces of tech would feel like something really rare and special.

Of course, if they do this, they really need to rework how subsystems work. Currently, I remove all subsystems from armor I’m not immediately using. I do this because sometimes I forget to take them off before scrapping a piece. I hate having a cluttered inventory–must be a strange video-game-specific OCD I’ve developed over the years. This of course has several drawbacks. One, despite all subsystems of a certain suffix sharing the exact same attributes (e.g. Heatsink-Passive are all the same. Heatsink-Improved are all the same)–they don’t share levels. This makes it a little more tedious to quickly compare armor because putting a low-level Heatsink-Excellent into a higher level armor will reduce the armors overall level. So I can’t really rely on the armor levels to determine quickly at a glance which pieces I want to keep; I have to look at and compare stats for every single piece.

I wish subsystems were separate from the armor and instead bound to the mechs themselves. Different armor types would still only allow for certain subsystems though. Maybe really advanced armors can allow for multiple types of subsystems (mobility AND defensive)–or even just outright multiple subsysyems (mobility + mobility OR mobility + defensive + offensive). Also, since I’m bringing up the subsystem topic, BYG please add overclocks/subsystems for weapons.

I’m fairly positive they’re going to add this. At least if we’re going to believe what they said on stream. Even the devs want this.

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While something like this would definitly increase the strategic difficulty and I thus support it, it doesn’t really help in terms of tactical (individual fights) difficulty. I went through my entire first campaing with losing a unit only once from a pilot knockout.
Changes like losing equiptment, pilots, chasis only really carry meaning if you happen to lose units sometimes.

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This change would affect the tactical aspect indirectly. You may not lose units–but I’m willing to bet you’ve lost components from time to time. If salvage was rarer, enemy patrols increased in number and strength like you suggest, and lost components were permanently lost after a fight, then your mechs would not have the same tech/weapon advantage. The impact wouldn’t be as great as a more direct difficulty change–which I think should also occur–but it would create more difficult encounters by artificially lowering resistance strength.

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In combination with other difficulty changes I think this would be great. It would also create a greater sense of pressure and feeling of being in enemy territory.
About the parts lost, iirc I lost 2 right arms and 1 leg. Considering I did up to level 27 encounters and then finished the capital this seems a little too few as is. But again, I agree with you in how it would indirectly help, especially say, if you were more likely to be intercepted by patrols during salvaging and thus fights where you might not yet be fully repaired.

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I agree with this. When I first started playing this game, I was surprised that I never lost anything when destroyed. Certainly feels like that is a feature that should be added to the game. I also wouldn’t mind seeing it as just a difficulty setting rather than standard. I personally am not the best at these types of games, and it would absolutely tear me up aha.

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TwinPeaks;
well reasoned and elaborated.

I’m working on some minor mods, some to address my rather similar opinions-
you up for idea bouncing? ( you can see one in the mod subforum if intrigued )

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Sure, hit me up anytime.

And its Pine not Peak :wink:

In regard to the posts on the modding subforum, didn’t wana post there as this is not really concerned with the modding, more with the idea.

Reduced turns:
Reducing the turn duration sounds intriguing, especially if it helps the aim act “smarter”. Might have to try that out myself

Slightly unrelated, but have you noticed the AI improving behaviour in terms of movement with shorter duration turns? I quite often just see the AI sitting in a spot for almost the whole turn (not just with snipers but also with shotguns, smgs or assault rfiles) if they think they are in optimal range.

Optimal Range:
In regard to optimal range, if I understood you correctly - and do correct me if I didn’t - you want weapons to be less accurate outside the optimal range, similar to the way say XCOM handles sniper rifles? If that is what you had in mind, I’m not sure I would think of it as a good solution. While statisctically it may do the same in terms of damage you do at non optimal range, it adds a (what I feel) rather unnecessary element of randomness to the game. The difference of a sniper hitting for full at close range vs missing compared to just doing 20% damage. On the other hand, missing important shots does lead to those interesting ‘oh shit how do I deal with this mess’ turns, but again, I’m not sure if it fits this game, as it mosstly avoids the heavy RNG reliance of other turn-based games (which I would argue is something good).
Then again, maybe a way to aproach this, not sure if the engine allows it, would be to seperate weapons in categories, like energy and ballistic and whatnot. Where energy weapons just have damage fall-off and ballistic have accuracy or handling problems outside of optimal range. Thus giving the player the choice on what to pick. But this would of course require sufficent weapons in both categories and still leaves the RNG in regard to the opponents.


Enemy variance:
I noticed in the item descriptions that some parts are labeld as ‘used mostly by special forces’ or ‘standard invasion army equiptment’. Just thought it might be neat if enemy groups belonged to a certain “faction” like spec-ops, infantry, experimental and so forth, and would then draw their loadouts from a pool of that faction. Would on one hand allow some larger variety in fights if the loadouts are distinct enough, but also maybe encourge the player to have different mech loadouts for different enemies and prepare accordingly to what they think they will face. And of course simetimes be stuck on the wrong mechs if they get caught out of position by enemy patrols or reinforcement of different factions.

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re: Enemy variance
they do. ( i’ll elaborate later - but you may have noticed particularly on the hq assault ? )
Surely to be expanded on, but the framework’s there. ( same with enemy “livery” uniforms, so far only used in the railyard demo scene )
As an alpha, for things like that, or weapon / role differentiation, we can see framework for later expansion -iterations - lets’ call this a “baseline” starting iteration.

Anyway, happy holidays -
and for that reason, this was just a quick check- exchange ideas later ; twin peaks ( j/k )
well met; Twin Pines.

I’ll be honest. While they did mention different groups during the HQ assault, they did not feel different in engaging them Apart from the general himself that stayed at the edge of the map. But looking back I guess they might have been discernable. However, if the framework is already there, thats great. Looking forward to see it getting built upon.

While there are no holidays where I live, I do wish you happy holidays thanksgiving?.

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You should check the developer stream. They mentioned that they were planning to bring super heavies into the game. They also said that pilot customization and focus was going to be a highlight for their game–and I’m expecting that recurring enemy/friendly pilots will probably have custom frames. IIRC, one dev mentioned that a particular enemy pilot would continue harassing us with upgraded equipment.

Developer Stream

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Oohh, sounds really neat. Thanks for mentioning that. Will need to check out the stream.

yeah, 'twas thanksgiving -
a bit odd one with “social distancing” but that turned into a nice outdoor picnic -thanks none of ours have caught the crow (corvid) . Small candle in dark times… anyhow ty. best to you & yours. <o

Anyway, there’s currently combat scenarios with scenario-specific mechs; and mostly they spawn ‘groups’ within parameters: however
as pointed out by many - for example " Not sure if the squad compositions are random, but they feel somewhat off." -
they’re more ‘random within parameter X’ than as a fireteam / squad / tank section-
SO - that’s why you tend to get, for example , 2 with mmg’s and 1 sniper-
or in early maps, lots of heavies with shield & shotgun - but rarely any kind of “compsoition” as you mention.
So; there’s in no “squad” composition as, for example BattleStar Battles had -
with the effect that the enemy - well, if this was a ‘classic rpg’, you wouldn’t drop a party of 3 rogues and expect them to be able to respond in a ‘balanced’ manner.
( such “specialists” are better in the hands of a human player than an AI; relatedly, you’ll notice in vanilla PB the AI seems better in open ground and with longer- duration weapons?- AI generalist principle )

Point being, it has several ai “roles” in behavior files - BUT -
the way they spawn - not composition, and in small groups easily isolated and killed ( in time and location ) - so that their ‘role’ in their squad is hard to see in action.
Likewise, you’ll see diff types and “equipment tiers” ( rating, r; 0-3 ) spawn,
and in inspecting the mission briefing you can turn on " see force type" -
but as yet, that primarily changes what rating equipment they get - you’ll notice clusters of similarly equipped mecha at a given level / location- ?
anyway, that’s the ‘framework’ in action ;

  • and we’ll see if persistent enemy pilots returning will figure into this -
    but so far, we’ll have to see how the systems iterate.
    For time being, for all the reasons you said, unless we have enemies that can counter or limit the prediction, there isn’t much they can do to make them anything but larger numbers in the puzzle.
    WE’ll see how pilot skills & abilities affect / are used in campaign progression-

i’d like to point out in chapter “1” - we start with industrial mechs pressed into combat they weren’t designed for, lacking “boosters” -
moving ot more modern equipment is the first “progression” - but at this stage is the only real progression ( i suppose until you start finding modern ‘barrier’ equipment )

  • i really liked the theme/aesthetic at the start, but after that guided mission and loot, –
    in this version, that " improvised versus military quality" , 'red dawn or " jagged alliance " feel;
    isn’t explored ( notice our base is a converted mining-mech tender ).

I’m hoping that, like many of teh systems you mention, gets more love past “chapte 1” -
you can certainly see from the item ‘flavor text’ some of the equipment ( not just tsubia-_old )
can be expected later to only be found at higher ratings/ rarity as this is fleshed out.

on that note - and relating to some of your points on difficulty ( i’ll get back to the ai vs turn length later )? -
what i’m testing in a mod is playing out “jagged alliance” style - militia/partisan/ resistance defenses when the invader sends a squad to retake a position-
the “b team” represents them so has lower rarity/ranking and ‘tech level’ equipment-
and no predictive AI to help.
Doing it for fun and to test “difficulty” settings possibilities.
I’ll throw a screenshot for you on the mod page if you’re curious how it looks for them ( imperfect execution on my part ) - but it was just a spice-added test …

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