Like with everything else it's all a question of the budget at one's disposal.
And catering not too much to one portion of the audience (usually the one that puts intricate complexity and ever-challenging difficulty before everything else). At the end of the day even independent developers still have to meet deadlines and sell enough units to at least break even.
I do not believe I am advocating changes for complexity's sake on its own, or to jack up game's difficulty so much few would play it.
Most of my comments are about elements that would make for (admittedly, subjectively) better, more engaging, and more internally coherent gameplay.
Do you think agents teleporting all over the world for a mission is good design, or implementation? I do not. You already have a mechanic for sending agents to a specific geographic location, so it's not like the mechanics behind this are not in place.
Do you think a binary choice between "dispose of body" and "carry agent" that only works on still-alive enemy agents (but not guards, regardless of what means you used to subdue the latter) is good design or implementation? Especially since, at its basic, "pick up" is already a thing in game. Players should, at the very least, have the ability to reposition any non-messy (i.e. takedown) body to a different location, regardless if it's an enemy agent, a guard, or a civilian.
Disguises are likewise not well implemented (or balanced, for that matter). I saw a lot of people bitching about "Actor" perk, but that's just a convenience - it's current implementation of disguises that breaks game balance in the first place. And, again, there are a lot of elements that are already in place that would allow much better interaction between that aspect of the game and the rest. I already mentioned greater potential for using Language skills during missions. You'd need to balance it out by giving, say, average of 3 languages to any agent, but that's actually more in line with what I'd imagine than the one or two you currently can often see in an agent's dossier. Then there is the whole thing of interaction with guards being completely one-dimensional. Guards should
grow suspicious of odd actions taken by the player, or even the presence of disguised agents in certain areas of the map. Again, the foundations for better granularity of area restrictions (and the tied-in reaction from guards) is already in place, and at a glance from the outside it should not require too much effort to implement it. For that matter, having some "suspicion" check when an agent jumps through a window, or runs on a rooftop, is hardly a lot to ask for, yet would once again vastly improve the balance of disguises.
There are a lot of small additions that would completely rebalance (and make it all that more immersive and enjoyable) Infiltration phase, and most of the ones I mentioned would hardly require engine overhaul.
How cool would it have been if there was no checklist of the amount of loot and the pieces of intel you can pick up during assault missions at all and the containers with the loot and the intel objects would only become highlighted once you actually enter or have line of sight into the room (e.g. through a window) said items are stored in?
I'm actually ok with current implementation... in fact, I'd rather have icons for both intel and loot because "hidden object" approach (thank you kind poster for the formal definition that I completely forgot ;) ) just does not fit for me there.
Personally, I'd rather see a different way of implementing gear handling altogether. You are an experienced covert operative. You have at least access to information about potential local distributors, and if not, the means of establishing such contacts (which should not come without any danger, but that's another thing to elaborate on). "Trade contract" just feels much too abstract, and since it's completely random, as a player you have little control over its appearance.
Just makes no sense. I should be able to send an agent at a specific location to get me the equipment I need. Sure, make chapter-gates applicable to what's available ("hey, man, I can get you the good
stuff too, but it'll take time" is as good an explanation as any for non-immersion-breaking equipment tiering), but the availability of "currently allowed" equipment should not be as random as it is right now.
That would open up the possibility of adjusting loot tables to make the things you pick up during mission a tier higher in terms of availability, or at least having better potential to provide the expensive stuff.
Hell, I'd be perfectly fine with gear management and "looting" the way UFO:Enemy Unknown did it in the 90s, or Jagged Alliance a few years later. Enemies (both agents and guards) have stuff on them - if you can drag it back to the van, it's yours. Anyway, spent far more time on this one element than I intended, especially since as I mentioned earlier on - I'm OK with this part of the game as it is. At least it's not as "in your face" immersion breaking as some other elements.
Or if every time an ID is compromised and you'd have to get the agent in question a new one you'd also have to customize the appearance of the agent, not necessarily to match the new photograph as accurate as possible (which the limited customization options wouldn't even allow for in the first place) but, let's say in at least 3 critical aspects (different hairdo, different eye color, facial hair for male agents/make up and/or accessories for female agents), for the new ID to actually work?
Hell, meanwhile I am annoyed that I can't match the photo appearance of a lot of agents to the 3d models available. >.>
I'd love to have ALL the nice things too but that'd make it even more niche (and, I imagine even less well received, not to mention less profitable) than it already is.
Alternatively, it may actually prevent people currently voicing their displeasure at a lot of balance elements to appreciate the game more.
Anyway, the OP asked for feedback. I wouldn't waste my time posting (instead of playing something I already do enjoy quite a lot) if I did not care ;)
Also disappointing that you can't at least exfiltrate Aguirre and interrogate him back at the hideout if you manage to take him down/knock him unconscious.
Right? The first time I did that mission, I kept re-checking if it's a bug or whatnot. I needed
what Aguirre could have told me. I liked Leslie (also, high-profile-bombing involved, solving of which would earn my agent not insignificant amount of political capital...)
Seriously, breaking established mechanics for the sake of intended narrative is a bad and lazy practice, to put it mildly. At least do a cutscene "explanation" of why my professional Sandman failed with that one.
Edit: Thinking about it, it would have been a perfect place to have Aguirre get cardiac arrest during interrogation because he was conditioned to expire if somebody was forcibly asking about Operation Poon...
i see your point here... Yet as a side minigame, i already felt it was quite well made.
Thanks for the terms, for some reason I completely forgot the terminology for "hidden object" games. >.<
As somebody who greatly enjoyed non-walkthrough attempts at solving Investigation missions in the Secret World, I'm mildly disappointed at something that could provide at least somewhat comparable level of challenge being instead a simple matter of clicking. Don't get me wrong - I like the Intel Board. A lot. I find myself paying more and more attention to various codewords as I keep restarting early game for the nth time (don't ask XD), and start to see the narrative behind it.
I just wish it had a more "I made dis!" feel to actually reaching some kind of a breakthrough in it.
Still i see your point, it is valid... but i ask to myself: what would happen, gameplaywise, if we could select any keyword or even irrelevant portions of text ? (that, and the problem of such handpicked keywords, regarding localization). We could sometimes arrive in a dead end and sort of a bit frustrated for what is, for me, just a minigame for sake of immersion, where the core of the game is Turn Based Tactical + Strategic Base Management.
Which is why I would recommend making it either a game option (current or more difficult mechanics), or tying it to game difficulty itself. Preferably the former, since somebody may enjoy a lot of the "hard" elements, but not be such a word-fondler as myself.
Though, yes, then, the whole fact of assignation of agents to the task would be more meaningful then...
Then there's that - another already existing element that could be put to better use. Right now "Intel analyst" feels like a complete waste of a perk.
Imagine, it's like if a 4x game suddenly would stop your gameplay loop of strategy thinking to impose you to succeed a guitar hero-style gameplay to gatekeep you from continuing the game. You can safely bet many people would now complain of the siuation as well.
I wouldn't call this a fair comparison. Phantom Doctrine is a spy-pulp. You already come in expecting some degree of intelligence operations being involved. Having a word puzzle in it (especially if as an optional element) is hardly breaking the immersion the same way, especially since the game is already quite cerebral ;)
Of course dont take what i say too seriously or personally.. I'm certainly very biased because i so far like this game a lot already :)
Believe me, so do I, regardless of what faults I presonally perceive in current implementation. I'm just mourning the gem Phantom Doctrine could have been with a little bit more time and love.