This is the third time Phoenix Point has been delayed; the game was first scheduled for 2018 before being pushed back to July 2019 and then again to September. In response to the delay, Snapshot Games is offering a reward to backers who have been patiently waiting. “We know this is a significant delay,” the developer wrote. “The good news is that Backer Build 5 will be releasing on our original launch date, September 3, 2019, meaning backers and early-access buyers will be able to play a much more robust version of Phoenix Point very soon.”
The crowdfunded “spiritual successor” to 1994 space strategy game X-COM: UFO Defense. While looking at the world map from a zoomed-out perspective, you explore points of interest, interact with three human factions and decide which missions to take on. During missions, you control a squad of soldiers in tactical turn-based combat against mutated aliens. The aim is to repel these alien forces, save humanity, and find out what happened to the rest of your organisation, called the Phoenix Project.Technically we didn’t give Gollop’s XCOM a 10/10 score, only the sequel to the Firaxis-developed reboot, which he had nothing to do with it. But we consider him an honorary recipient anyway, not only because the game still uses the same template he established but because we would certainly have given his original game the same score back in the day.
The backlash that Phoenix Point is currently facing is not drastically dissimilar to that suffered by 4A Games ahead of the release of Metro Exodus. In the wake of that announcement, the game was review-bombed on Steam, and series author Dmitry Glukhovsky asked players not to “betray” the developers as a result of the decision. The game was eventually well-received, and sales didn’t seem to have been particularly affected by the move.The aliens of Phoenix Point are capable of procedural evolution which will offer unique challenges and tactical choices for the player to consider. This will differ depending on the region you’re fighting in, meaning every battleground could pose an unpredictable threat waiting to pounce. To add insult to injury, they’ll adapt to your tactics and thwart them accordingly.Faction weapons now “feel more like an upgrade than just a slight variation” and ones requiring research are “much more powerful.” Haven attacks are less frequent so it’s “easier to explore without having to return to defend Havens too often.” Aircraft now have pathfinding and can handle refuelling by themselves so they need less micromanaging. Missile and other launchers now have some inaccuracy so high explosives are less of a surgical tool on the battlefield.
When it comes to the basic mechanics everything works just as you would expect, in terms of the turn-based combat, but one of the game’s key selling points is not easy to demonstrate in one sitting as it revolves around the idea that the aliens are constantly mutating. They’re randomly generated at the start of every battle and, depending on where you are in the world, will even add in local wildlife to the list of possible donor parts.
Soldiers from the Phoenix Project will all have a base class—marksman, heavy, etc—and then further specialisation options. You’ll be able to pick new abilities via a branching skill tree for every class, allowing you to create unique roles for your soldiers. Some of these will encourage stealth, and there will be a stealth system in combat that allows for silent takedowns.
Phoenix Point doesn’t have multiplayer
First announced in 2016, Phoenix Point is designed by XCOM creator Julian Gollop. An E3 2019 demo of the game revealed just how much Phoenix Point is the spiritual successor to the strategy franchise, featuring a similar story and virtually the same mechanics. Phoenix Point expands on the formula, however, with additional features–such as enemies that mutate and adapt to player strategy, AI-controlled factions that compete with the player’s goals, and brand-new combat tactics. The game takes place on Earth in 2047 and sees you take command of the last remaining base standing against a Lovecraft-inspired alien threat.