A little over 3 years ago, Julian Gollop, the creator of the original XCOM series announced Phoenix Point, a brand new turn-based strategy tactics game. It was intended to be the spiritual successor to the original XCOM series, and like the XCOM games you will be fighting off an alien invasion from within.
Despite the PR disaster that is the Epic Games Store exclusivity, and the game being delayed twice, we are still hopeful and looking forward to the title which releases in just about a week. In this article, we take a look at everything that’s known so far about Phoenix Point and tell you a bit about it.
Phoenix Point: An XCOM Evolution
Genre: Turn-based Strategy Tactics
Developed by: Snapshot Games
Published by: Snapshot Games
Release date: December 3, 2019
Platforms: PC via Epic Games Store, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
Story and Setting
Set in the near future of 2022, the permafrost around the Arctic and the Antarctic regions of Earth has begun to melt, and in it is released an ancient extraterrestrial virus that starts to mutate anything that comes into contact with it, affecting all of the lifeforms on Earth.
The game begins in 2047, some 25 years after these events unfold. The Lovecraftian alien monsters created by the extraterrestrial virus now named Pandoravirus, have devastated and destroyed the majority of human civilization worldwide, reducing them to small groups of people or independent havens, and human sanctuaries that are spread thinly across the globe.
Players begin the game as a leader of one of many Phoenix Project cells, gathering some of the world’s best scientists, engineers and soldiers. The Phoenix Project is an international and secretive organization (just like the Men in Black), that exists to counteract these kinds of threats should it ever befall humanity. Whether the Phoenix Project fails or succeeds in its quest to save the human race is up to you…
Phoenix Point’s combat is nearly identical to Firaxis’s XCOM, so those who are familiar with the XCOM games (XCOM Enemy Within and XCOM 2) will feel right at home with this title. The game is still turn-based, every action has its own cost, cover is still a thing, you can still use Overwatch, the enemy phase is still called “Alien Activity”, and you shoot to kill enemies. However, there are some key difference that make Phoenix Point potentially a more unique or even, a more enjoyable experience than XCOM.
In Phoenix Point attacks are calculated a bit differently than XCOM, reducing the chances of you missing with a 95% chance to hit, hallelujah! During your turn you can take over a unit and manually aim their gun at an enemy unit from a first-person perspective. This allows you to fine tune your aim, targeting the limb or the enemy’s head. Shots inside the outer circle have a 100% hit rate while shots inside the inner circle will have a 50% hit rate. So the closer you get the higher your hit chance will be, unlike the dice roll system in the first XCOM where you can literally miss a point-blank shot.
Another great addition that I’m really looking forward to (Thanks to that stretch goal) are the driveable vehicles. So far we’ve seen the Scarab, an ATV with a mounted Missile turret and the Armadillo, an Armored APC with a mounted assault cannon. These vehicles are very versatile and perform many functions to your team.
Some can serve as armored personnel carriers, great for creating covers and taking injured units out of harms way, while some can be the big gun you need to take down a specific enemy fast, and it certainly makes your life a little easier to have one of these when taking on boss type enemies. It isn’t clear whether or not there are more than vehicles in the game, but from the Developer Roadmap we know that each faction will have at least 3-4 vehicles.
Phoenix Point also introduces 3 factions that can be found in the game:
- New Jericho is a paramilitary human faction which seeks to fight the alien threat directly through sheer force and seeks to wipe out every trace of the aliens on Earth.
- Synedrion seek to coexist with the aliens by using technology such as a wall that can repel the alien’s mist, and to build a new and better human civilization out of the detritus of the old. They also have the most advanced technology of all the human factions.
- And The Disciples of Anu, they are a human cult that worships an alien god, which they refer to as “the Dead God”. They believe that there is no hope for the human race and that the alien mist is both punishment and salvation. The Disciples of Anu deliberately expose themselves to the mist making themselves human-alien hybrids.
These factions are interesting, the lore behind them is promising, and the themes of these factions kind of remind me of Terrans, Protoss and Zerg from StarCraft.
Audio and Visual
At first glance, the game’s visual are somewhat similar to XCOM 2 but the upgrade is still there. There is a great attention to detail on everything from your units’s armors and guns, vehicles, and environment, right down to the enemies. The effects and particles are very good making the explosions very satisfying to watch, and I don’t expect many complaints in this department.
On the audio side, the sound effects for gunshots and explosions are satisfying and on-point, and they provide another layer of immersion that really helps pull the game together. The soundtrack however is unmemorable so far, because I did not notice it during much of the combat. Hopefully this picks up at full release, because blood pumping music can really make the difference in these types of games.
The game itself is more or less XCOM with some small tweaks that hopefully make the gameplay a bit less RNG-based. As a huge fan of XCOM, and of anything that requires turn-based tactics (I’m looking at you Divinity Original Sin 2) I cannot wait. I’m definitely hooked on the core concepts of the game, and I hope that Snapshot Games can deliver the game us XCOM fans have been waiting for. At the very least, we will be getting another game in a genre that desperately needs a new title, and we won’t have to wait long.
Phoenix Point releases on December 3, 2019 on PC via Epic Game Store, and on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime in 2020. If you want to check out the game before you make a decision about it, be sure to follow us over on Twitch as we will be streaming our playthrough at launch.