Rob Zacny

Episode 460: Looking Ahead to 2019

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Three Moves Ahead 460:

Three Moves Ahead 460


Looking Ahead to 2019
2018 has come and gone, its crusty remains pushed to the side for new buffet plate (always get a new plate) of games coming out in 2019. Rob, T.J., and Ian Boudreau talk about the games they're excited for, the games they're cautiously optimistic for, and even some that they're dreading.

Grand Tactician, General Staff Wargaming System, Total War: Three Kingdoms, Star Wars Armada, Phoenix Point, Xenonauts, Imperator, Bannerlord, Tropico 6, Iron Harvest

 

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I'm really looking forward to Field of Glory: Empires this year, it bolts on a cool looking strategy layer to Field of Glory II.

Essentially, you export the situation from the strategy map into FoG II to play the battle.

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I hear about a 3MA discord channel from time to time like in this episode. Is it internal only or can listeners take part too? (or if you'll let me be a "special friend, drop me an email!)

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Not enough about Age of Wonders: Planetfall! I'm really hoping that does come out this year and is actually good. (Add it to the top as it was mentioned - if only at the very last minute!)

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Surprised that Rob's problem with Phoenix Point is aesthetics. I didn't like it too but for me, it feels like something close to XCOM2.

 

I didn't like XCOM2 for variety of things including aesthetics (the other thing is mad difficulty curve that gives me mixed signals whether it wants me to play Iron Man - on one hand, the story is presented as something you experience once, on the other it's full of noob traps that kill if you don't know it's coming). XCOM1 felt like a world of next morning meeting an alien threat. Your soldiers started as boring mooks and transformed into godlike galactic destroyers. The stage was visible Earth-like. I suspect that Mongolian cafeteria doesn't really look the same way as Texas one but it's fine. Meanwhile, XCOM2 throws us into a world of distant future with no resemblance to our own world. Even regions are called something boring and generic. Your soldiers start as cyber-ninja and drone hackers and go weirder from here, there's nothing "normal" in this world that will show you how far from normal are you getting by the end. Valkyria Chronicles bears more semblance to WW2 than XCOM2 to fantasy story of our brave boys beating aliens.

 

As for ending state for that kind of games, there's a solution that was implemented by a certain Sid Meier once and it would work well for XCOM thematically. Sid Meier's Pirates! allowed your captain to settle. Your retirement is described as you'd become a beggar or a governor depending on your score. Same is possible with XCOM-like: if you're supposed to lose a couple of games then you can give player progression. Early in the game aliens or another kind of enemy give you "a good deal" and it becomes better each time you progress or worse when you fail. And so you get a summary about the fate of XCOM personnel and humanity in general, maybe if you've shown you're cool then humanity is assimilated or subjugated in a very benign way so that it takes centuries before humans are all gone etc. 

 

Just like @derbius I'm probably looking forward to AoW Planetfall the most. 3MA in general has committed a sin of not loving AoW3 which was an excellent game. Rob even went on record saying it's not "a great 4X". And it is.

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Starship Dimensions (Jeff Russel) has the Super Star Destroyer at 19km and the ISD at 1.6 km.

Even the thumbnail you got for the podcast has the SSD absolutely dwarfs the ISDs (as you can see the ISD in front of it, therefore closer). I don't think it would be playable at the movie scale.

 

I played Xenonauts, or some of it, recently - the first game, but it suffers from some of the same problems as Xcom1 in my opinion - namely small squad sizes.  In the original xcom, the first craft you took could take what, 12-14 troopers? In Xenonauts the helicopter you get can only carry around 8 guys or 6 with a tank.  Just not enough troops in my opinion to really embrace the attrition warfare.  Also in that game I found myself broke all the time. Probably user error, but trying to have a few bases to cover about half the earth and then I can't even hire people or buy planes.

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Slightly off topic, but Rob was expressing his love of giant spaceships delivering broadsides. I have been surprised and delighted by Battlefleet Gothic Armada 2. The first game was neat, but felt fiddly and opaque. This, while fundamentally the same game, has had some thoughtful system and interface tweaks, and a delightful, rich, and visually spectacular RTS has emerged. It's complex, because those ships are modeled in considerable detail and have a lot of different things they can do, but those options more often than not feel meaningful and powerful. 

 

To reference something that the team said about Battletech, it's very much a game of attrition, a slugging match in which your capabilities degrade over time, but careful play ensure the enemies deplete faster. Also, if having your flagship make a short range warp jump across the battlefield, crashing out of the warp in a perfect broadside and burning the engine hard for a fast turn so you can fire the guns on your other side, while boarding parties streak across the void between the two ships while you watch from the perfect angle.... doesn't appeal then I can't help you.

 

Also, props to Tindalos for the faction diversity available on release. When you have all the races present, several of whom have two or three distinct sub-factions, it doesn't feel like anything was held back for DLC.

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So about the potential different between the Romance or the Record modes on Three Kingdoms, there will be some narrative differences -

 

Here is a quote from Total War latest blog about Dong Zhou, which will be 12th faction, which you unlock by defeating him in game.

 

Quote

... Unlike the other warlords, this outcome is dictated by not one but a chain of dilemmas and events, each of which depends on the selected game mode.

 

In Romance Mode, Dong Zhuo’s dilemma chain focuses around Diaochan, the beautiful serving girl who turned Dong Zhu and Lü Bu against each other with their jealousy (which eventually led to Dong Zhuo’s death).

As Dong Zhuo, you can influence these events by giving up on Diaochan in order to gain Lü Bu’s approval – or confirming his affection by marrying her, thus leading to a more difficult outcome.

 

In Classic Mode, this dilemma chain is based around personal differences between Dong Zhuo and Lü Bu, as well as the political scheming of Wang Yun.

 

 

My guess, is that some characters will have different events playing for them, the overall thing narrative might don´t change that much, but the focus will be some characters. I also remember hearing about units and heroes having different armors in each mode (or at least some pieces, from what I could understand the game will use a sprite system akin to medieval, where units and heroes change looks depending on armor/weapons equiped). 

 

Anyway,

 

About Phoenix Point, I do like the monster/alien design, however units looked quite generic/bland falling too much on the "realistic" design, I don´t know if the game will have something like xcom 2 customization, which something I would miss a lot, having lots of generic soldiers isn´t the same once you could by hand create tons of OCs, also the impact/tension is lessened a lot. But still I am curious.

 

 

 

 

 

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