With Phoenix Point, the creator of the original X-COM, Julian Gollop, returns to the genre he helped create almost 25 years ago, but this time it has a twist of Lovecraftian horror.
The upcoming tactics game takes place in the near future. Global warming has unleashed a horror from beneath the ice: The Pandoravirus. This virus wipes through the world and pushes humanity to the brink of destruction, collapsing society to a handful of havens held together by warlords who fight over the remains of the old world. The Phoenix Project is the last hope to turn the tide, a small group of soldiers and scientists that have assembled to stand against the relentless virus.
The Pandoravirus merges DNA and evolves it at a rapid pace, resulting in large numbers of mutated animal-human hybrids. These Lovecraftian horrors roam under clouds of black mist in the areas outside of whatever safe zones humanity has managed to scrape together. They also possess intelligence, acting with goals and motives at which humans can only guess. Some creatures even use weapons and armor they've taken from the world's battlefields. However, the scariest feature of Pandora's children is their inherent ability to evolve to protect themselves from their enemies. As players progress through Phoenix Point, enemies will evolve to best counter the strategies used to defeat their kind previously.
Much like XCOM, there will be two aspects to the gameplay: Turn-based tactics and global management. Humans still retain control of the skies, but the Pandoravirus holds dominion over the seas. Humans and horrors clash over who reigns over the land. Having control of areas and being able to scavenge them for supplies will be crucial for funding research into ways to counter the virus and evolve your own equipment. Players will also be able to tackle missions to achieve various objectives, like taking down massive behemoths that roam the continents. These monsters will take coordination, planning, and vehicle support to take down. Failing to defeat them could result in entire cities being wiped off the face of the earth.
Unfortunately, not all of Earth is united behind the Phoenix Project. Numerous factions and warlords don't believe humanity can or should be saved. These attitudes sometimes put them at odds with the Phoenix Project's goals of stopping the Pandoravirus. While some might join the cause, others will not and their resources or locations might be crucial to the survival of the Project and, by extension, humanity. Players will have to negotiate with these factions, making promises, bartering, or even war to bring them around and save the planet. This type of negotiating with havens can take many forms, as Snapshot explains:
Havens will frequently request assistance fighting off alien incursions, but sometimes you will be asked to intervene in a conflict between the human factions. You will get involved in kidnaps, rescues, assassinations, sabotage, infiltration, haven takeovers and base defense missions. You will need to find out what happened to the Phoenix organisation, which involves remote locations and some missions with an archaeological aspect. Then there are the assaults on alien bases and the giant alien land walkers.
Missions will often have multiple objectives that can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Procedurally generated battlefields will have some degree of destructibility that can be used to think outside the box and defeat the enemy mutants. New weapons, technology, and more can be gained through victory, but defeat could mean even worse horrors that use the same tools against you. Soldiers gain experience over time or can undergo special training away from the battlefield. Each class a soldier can become has its own skill tree to personalize and empower each character under the player's command. Snapshot Games says that these skill trees will be extensive, so that might mean more customization than what we have seen in the rebooted XCOM's systems.
Overall, this game looks like something to keep on your radar if you're a strategy fan. While Snapshot Games currently only has Chaos Reborn under its belt, Julian Gollop is no slouch. Phoenix Point is almost guaranteed to be an interesting game with his involvement. After a year of solitary development, the project has been put on Fig to begin a round of crowdfunding which will last for the next 43 days.
The actual PC release of Phoenix Point remains far off, Snapshot Games doesn't expect to ship it until late in 2018.