PSA: Phantom Brigade out in Early Access today

Alt History, Mechs, and Tactical Precognition. I suspect if you are here, then at least some of this is your BS :slight_smile:

I was in the alpha for this, and honestly, it’s every bit of an addicting tactical loop as it looks. What’s largely finished now is the structure of the combat, mech customization and development, the basic strategic loop, and the hooks to deliver narrative content. What’s missing is a lot of the meat that will go on that bone. I still wholeheartedly recommend it.

Happy to answer Q’s if y’all have them.

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I’ll throw out the answer to the inevitable question I and likely many others had: Only the early access is Epic exclusive.

Here’s hoping I didn’t just jinx it.

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Brace Yourself Games is one of my fave developers, so between this and Industries of Titan (and the Cadence of Hyrule DLC), I am extremely happy this year. Definitely going to pick this up once I have a bit of cash.

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I played this at Pax and was quite impressed. Even in an early build it looked great, had a slick interface and it was immediately gripping to play. I likes me some simultaneous turns, I does.

Not sure I want to jump on too early, but I do appreciate the heads up, as I’m delighted to see this game making progress.

So am I wrong that this is a mix of Battletech and Into The Breach?

This looks really good, digging the mech design and frozen synapse like gameplay.

Yeah, that’s pretty close. Mechs are simpler than Battletech mechs in that they are all roughly humanoid and only hold weapons in their hands (instead of having missile pods and gun arms). More Gundam like, overall.

In terms of Gameplay, it’s a bit Into the Breach meets Frozen Synapse.

Where Frozen Synapse is symmetrical (enemy movement is hidden and planning is simultaneous) Phantom Brigade creates asymmetry by planning out 5 seconds of enemy movement, and then gives you full control over how you plan your movement relative to that plan.

And the prediction is detailed, you can move through the timeline to see exactly where an enemy mech will be at 2.1 seconds and plan to move your mech behind it and unload at exactly that time.

Heat is also on the timeline, so you can see exactly when you’ll be cooled off again to fire.

Weapons fire is not detailed, though. You know who an enemy will be firing at, but not exactly where the bullets will go. With practice you can get the enemy to hit its own allies (so, Into the Breach like).

Where it gets interesting is: The 5 seconds of action is not fully deterministic. So you might plan out something, and not realize that you ran into an enemy mech. If your mech is heavier, the other mech will get pushed over (and potentially into a building, or other hazard). If they are roughtly the same, both will get sent flying, and if you are lighter, bad luck for you.

If your weapons fire takes out a mech, it falls over in place instead of moving to where it was on the plan. Which might mean that a second mech trips over the mech that fell, spoiling the rest of your plan.

This part is really unlike anything in either Battletech or Into the Breach, since there is so much potential for controlled chaos that neither has.

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So I picked this up last night to see what all the fuss around the planning system was about. I definitely had to rack my brain around the UI and setting up inputs for a decent while in the tutorial mission, and at first I was feeling overwhelmed by it. But then my “a-ha!” moment clicked.

I had my rightward mech in a less than ideal position where she had three tanks enveloping her position – the nearest one was almost destroyed, but if I had pushed on it, that would have left my mech exposed to open fire from that tank’s two backup units. If this were an XCOM or Battletech, I’d have probably fled out of the line of fire to avoid further damage and simply wait for a more advantageous position in the next phase. However, if I had taken that conservative maneuver, my shotgun mech to her left would have been absolutely exposed on three sides, and their shield can only cover one enemy at a time (the shotgun mech only being able to safely destroy one tank on their side, and maybe hold off one of the three aforementioned tanks.) But then it hit me. Instead of focusing my planning around one long maneuver, I was able to set up multiple waypoints for a more complex one, and perform what was essentially a route like you’d see a wide receiver do in American football. So what I did was have that first mech step slightly toward the near-death tank, taking it out with SMG fire and avoiding the initial salvo of rear unit fire. Then, I had her perform what was essentially a fake hard right, where it maneuvered deep the the next tank’s extreme flank, putting my mech in the perfect position for a breaching shot with its primary weapon. Meanwhile I had it so my shotgun mech on the opposite side of the field finish off their own target, while then evading to the opposite flank so that it could be out of range from the tank that was now being attacked, while also focusing on defending against its next nearest enemy in order to close distance and get off a second shotgun shell within the five second window. It all goes off perfectly, and the following phase was a simple matter of taking out the last tank between my two units, and holy shit this game managed to show all of its promise in the tutorial mission.

I love me some tactics games, but I always have to come to terms with the fact that they can be really hard to breach the threshold of player expression with them in a way that actually feels satisfying more often than not. This is the first game of this genre where I not only got to that point, but did so before the game proper even began.


I realize my above explanation may be a bit hard to follow, so please enjoy this very accurate diagram I made to help with that

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Epic Game Store has a $10 coupon for Christmas, probably the best deal on it until it is out of Early Access, so I’m gonna treat myself.

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Mm, might bite on that even if I don’t play it immediately.