Phoenix Point is now available for console with oodles of DLC so gear up and get ready to fight alien mutants in one epic campaign.
It's strange to say but Phoenix Point is a surprisingly relatable game for the times we live in as it takes place after a virus is let loose which was held in permafrost that presumably melted due to climate change. This virus then mutates all life that it comes into contact with; even creating giant enemy crabs along the way. The nifty thing is that the contaminating mist of this virus is shown on the world map via ever-expanding zones which acts as a driving force to play as efficiently as possible. Meanwhile, humankind has mostly died out and the remaining folks reside in havens that are controlled by various competing factions because people are stupid so of course they are. All of this comes together to make a compelling and sometimes frightening game world, especially considering how genuinely it's portrayed.
With all of that bologna out of the way, what about the gameplay? Phoenix Point is a blend of overworld menus and turn-based SRPG battles that are set up very similarly to the ones in XCOM. In fact, Phoenix Point was developed by the creators of the original XCOM series although its battle system resembles the more recent games in the series which I'm pretty sure they had nothing to do with. With that in mind, Phoenix Point adds a lot of its own innovative elements that make battles play out distinctly. For example, you can set your overwatch cone, control powerful missile-launching vehicles, target specific body parts, and quickly ascend vertical structures via jetpacks. There's more to it than that but you get the idea; it's familiar yet unique enough SRPG gameplay that's a ton of fun.
The overworld portion will have you direct a carrier around as you explore nodes which may grant you materials, present you with a battle, or allow you to interact with a haven. Speaking of which, you'll often be presented with choices that can alter your relationships with the various factions although to be frank, I didn't root for any of them as I found them equally unappealing to offer my allegiance to. Thankfully, you can choose to raid havens, assassinate people, and carry out coups. I thought that doing so in order to amass a wealth of materials while screwing other people over to be impressively satisfying but maybe that's just because of my nihilistic tendencies.
Phoenix Point features a variety of mission types and between-mission systems that make playing through its campaign a consistently rewarding feat. I particularly enjoyed scavenging missions where you have to collect as many materials on the battle map as you can. Meanwhile, upgrading your soldiers via equipment and skills is satisfying stuff, especially after you deck out your bases with new rooms that make everything from healing to performing research more efficient. There's a lot to do and it all works together well.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed Phoenix Point's open-ended approach that rewards experimentation, the campaign can be uneven at times. For example, you'll sometimes have to deal with a ridiculous amount of decisions and interactions before moving on and on other occasions, you'll encounter missions that are either tediously easy or way too challenging due to the mutants evolving in unexpectedly powerful ways. There are other issues, too, such as super-long load times and bugs like when a menu turned invisible which forced me to restart. I also found navigating vertical battle maps to be rather cumbersome, especially with the obstructive camera in place.
Of course, this is the Behemoth Edition of Phoenix Point which includes 4 DLC expansions that you can choose to toggle for your playthrough. First, Blood and Titanium features cybernetic research projects complete with additional abilities. Next, Legacy of the Ancients has you unlock pre-human technology to make new weapons and Festering Skies includes flying mutants that you can intercept on the map. Finally, Corrupted Horizons features a new virus and enemy type in the form of the creepy Acheron as well as missions where you take it on in battle. This all adds up to a great deal of extra content that mixes up the campaign in impressive ways.
It definitely has its issues but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition. From its clever battle mechanics to its depiction of a world at the brink of utter annihilation; it's one immersive and exceptionally rewarding SRPG.
- + Satisfying turn-based SRPG gameplay with innovative mechanics and complexities
- + Open campaign rewards experimentation
- + Solid amount of variety and cool upgrades
- - Lengthy loading screens and frequent bugs
- - Campaign can feel uneven at times
- - Vertical navigation can be annoying