Phoenix Point is a bit of an interesting game. Heralded as a spiritual successor to the XCOM series thanks to the fact that it has the original creator Julian Gollop working on it, the goal was to replicate and expand on the formula to offer players an alternative to Fireaxis’ strategy juggernaut. The result? A game that’s fun to play and that offers a lot of depth, but that doesn’t always have the polish of its forebearer. It’s available on console now in the form of the ‘Behemoth Edition’ that includes all DLC, so it’s definitely a good time to jump in if you’re a fan of strategic-action gameplay – just be wary of some technical hiccups that can tarnish the experience.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Phoenix Point sees players taking control of the titular organisation as they look to fight off a mutating virus threat that has overrun Earth, leaving humanity on the brink of extinction thanks to the mutated creatures it has created. Of course, mankind is guilty of being self-destructive in their war-fuelled ways, and that’s something that’s especially apparent across the world with the various factions that find themselves warring with the mutated creatures and amongst themselves. It’s up to you to attempt to work with them and fight for the greater good: the future of humanity.
The action of Phoenix Point will feel familiar to anyone who has played this type of strategy-action game before, with players moving different units across the battlefield and utilising cover to keep out of the way of incoming attacks. It’s all turn-based, so players will be able to move their units around stress-free for the most part, though having some awareness of enemy units can often be imperative to your survival – especially if you want to end each turn out of harm’s reach.
“The action of Phoenix Point will feel familiar to anyone who has played this type of strategy-action game before, with players moving different units across the battlefield and utilising cover to keep out of the way of incoming attacks.”
There are a multitude of classes that your units will be spread across, with each bringing with them their own skills that can be used to adapt to any given situation. The Assault units are great for flanking enemies and picking them off up close for example, whilst the Sniper is perfect for long-distance duels across the battlefield. The Technicians are great for setting up defensive units on the battlefield, whilst the Priest will help buff allies and keep them in shipshape. There are seven main classes in total, though the DLC included as part of the package also features the more flexible Mutoids that can take advantage of the skillsets of multiple classes. Between everything on offer, there’s plenty of room for flexibility and tactical planning within each showdown.
One of the most interesting aspects of combat comes with the aiming functionality, which allows players to manually target individual parts of an enemy’s body in order to take them out. This isn’t just a gimmick to add an action-orientated twist to the game either, but can actually be used to your advantage. Whether it’s to blast away an enemy’s weapon, slow them down, or simply deal the most damage with headshots, some clever aiming can be a real game-changer that can sway battles in your favour.
“One of the most interesting aspects of combat comes with the aiming functionality, which allows players to manually target individual parts of an enemy’s body in order to take them out.”
There are PLENTY of enemies to kill too, with Phoenix Point offering a range of varied (and oftentimes gross) creatures to take down. It was actually one of my favourite things about the game, with their creative designs making it really feel like I was facing off against this seemingly unstoppable mutated force of foes. The only caveat is that some of them bring a harsh difficulty spike, which will shock some players who get a little too comfortable. I’m never a fan of things like that, with the sudden surge of deaths often being a little frustrating.
The combat scenarios of Phoenix Point are fun, but you’ll also have to be strategic when exploring Earth and dealing with other factions. When not on the battlefield, players will explore the Geoscape which allows them to travel between different locales, all whilst interacting with the different factions of the world or trying to gather new tech and resources. These factions bring with them varying views on the virus, meaning they don’t necessarily see eye to eye – aligning yourself with one or the other often means you’ll make some new enemies, then.
It adds to the excitement of the game, especially since there’s a decent amount of lore to be found and plenty of choices that will help shape the narrative. There’s also a sense of unpredictability given that you won’t necessarily know what’s at a location until you explore it, especially if you bump into a faction you’re not on the friendliest of terms with. With plenty of player involvement in the overall experience though, you can expect multiple playthroughs of the game to feel very different.
“When not on the battlefield, players will explore the Geoscape which allows them to travel between different locales, all whilst interacting with the different factions of the world or trying to gather new tech and resources.”
It’s clear then that Phoenix Point offers plenty for players to indulge themselves in, though more doesn’t always mean better. There were times when I was left a little overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things I could do, whether that was simply navigating the world, looking at upgrading my squad, trading with others, or recruiting new allies. Whilst it’s something we’ve seen done in similar games, handling it all with a controller could be a little awkward. Whilst Phoenix Point’s transition to console hasn’t been so bad when on the battlefield, organising finer details outside of combat would feel more natural with a keyboard and mouse. This might be a problem that won’t bother other gamers so much, but it did irk me on a few occasions.
It’s rife with technical issues at the moment too, with crashes, camera issues, enemies not taking their turns in battle, and long load times causing plenty of problems during my time playing. Worst of all, there’s no autosave in combat, meaning you can find yourself losing a lot of progress if the game does play up – it’s something I had to deal with on a few occasions, and believe me, it’d be annoying.
It’s a shame because Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition is otherwise a pretty impressive package. There’s plenty of content to dive into thanks to the inclusion of all of the DLC, whilst the strategic action is genuinely fun. It just needs a bit of fine-tuning right now, with the technical issues making for plenty of frustrating moments.
Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition Summary
Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition is an enjoyable and robust strategy experience that’s only let down by technical issues on console. I enjoyed the action-orientated battling and devising strategies to take down foes, whilst dealing with the diplomatic side of the game outside of the battlefield was satisfying too, especially since players can influence the events of the world in multiple ways.
It’s just a shame that the crashes and technical issues hinder the experience, with plenty of progress in battles lost during my time playing. If the developers can fix this soon, Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition will definitely be a worthy alternative to XCOM for console players. As it stands though, it could have just done with a little bit more fine-tuning before release.
Developer: Snapshot Games
Publisher: Prime Matter
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC