Phantom Brigade – Review

Written by Dinenae

Phantom Brigade Review

Phantom Brigade is a mix between turn-based and real time-tactics with an innovative timeline-based command system that allows you to have complete control of every second in battle.


Outnumbered and outgunned, Phantom Brigade is a story about taking back your home from an invading force. You are a team of pilots that survived the initial invasion. Now, after several years of hiding, it is time to take back your home in this cinematic, turn-based mech masterpiece. 

After your first battle, you find a mech transport that will act as your mobile hub while moving around the map. This mobile base is not limitless. You will be required to go back to safe locations to resupply tools and other parts needed to repair your mechs after a rough fight. As you battle your way through contested territories, you will have some support from the Home Guard. They are the local army that is still fighting back where they can. Their numbers are limited though. You can use them as a distraction to take over a territory, but they won’t be able to hold off for long. Use them only when the time is right. 


Your mobile base is a key component to a successful campaign. Here you will manage resources, pilots, mechs, and even the base itself. You will need to monitor the supplies and the status of your mech pilots after each battle. Your pilots can be customized to some degree with options like name, gender, hair, face, and accessories. So feel free to suit up your family and friends for the fight ahead. There is also a whole tech tree for the base itself. Some of the upgrades include better sensors, mobility, and enhancements for the workshop. The workshop is your extreme mobile printing platform. After several upgrades, you can print out top notch weapons and armor for your mechs.

Speaking of mechs. Your mech units are completely customizable from head to toe. You can swap out parts of armor for the body, the legs, and each arm. There are light, medium and heavy tiers of armor. Each component can be broken down even further into different manufacturers who each make things a little differently. You will often find armor with varying amounts of mass or heat dispersion even if it is in the same tier. Then there are the weapons. There is a large arsenal of weapons to choose from.

Everything from assault rifles and handguns, to missile launchers and swords. All of them feel satisfying and different. If you have played any other mech based game, BattleTech cough cough, then I am sure you are familiar with heat building up in your mech. If you are not, just know that too much heat can be a bad thing. One of the best things about Phantom Brigade though is that the turn-based format of combat makes heat management extremely easy. 

Before each battle there is a mission briefing where you can see the layout of the battlefield. You will get a brief description of the type of mission, ie. Raid, Blitz, Liberation, etc. Then you get to select your pilots and mechs that you want to take on that mission. Even from this screen you will have full access to customize each mech. So feel free to change things around before each fight. Then you are ready to start the mission.

There are two phases of combat. The first is the turn-based portion. During this phase, you will be able to see where the enemy mechs are moving and their intended targets. After selecting a mech, it’s timeline will pop up. Here you can add actions to the timeline and get real time feedback on when it will happen in comparison to all the other mechs, hostile or friendly, on the battlefield. This allows for perfect tactical decisions.

You can see how far you need to move to the right to avoid incoming fire or even wait 3.4 seconds for a hostile mech to round a corner for that perfect shot with your sniper rifle halfway across the map. It can be very satisfying. Don’t think this makes it easy, though. Most of the time you are still outmanned and outgunned.

In the second phase of combat, you get to see all your planning come to life. The cinematic phase. This is also where you get to see if you had target fixation when lining up all those perfect shots. You hit go and don’t realize until it is too late that you crashed right into one of your other mechs during an awesome strafing move and now the timing of everything is off and no shots hit their targets. Or even worse, that you stepped right in front of one of your other mechs that you set up first, taking the full brunt of his magazine dump into your back. But the tactical decisions don’t end there. 

You have to think even further in the future than just the timeline. Sometimes how you take out the hostiles is just as important. At the end of every battle you get to collect salvage. It is easier to recover salvage from mechs that have not been completely decimated by your shotgun from point blank. Simply weakening them to the point where the pilot ejects from the suit will result in more salvage for you to recover to improve your own mechs for the next encounter.


But does it look good? All of those epic successes, or failures, in combat don’t matter all that much if they don’t look good. Some of the story cinematics seemed a little grainy on my end regardless of my settings. However, the combat always looked remarkable on my ultra wide 1440p monitor. To me, that is where it matters most. I was constantly zooming in for the perfect screenshot.

Did I mention there is a replay mode after each cinematic phase? In replay mode, you can get a slow motion replay from the last 5 seconds. There is a lot going on, even in that short amount of time, so it is nice to be able to look at different parts of the battlefield from a couple different angles. More importantly, you can pause time for the perfect photo mode. Zooming in allows you to get all the way to the point of view of the mechs. Great for the video game photographer hidden in all of us.

I really enjoyed all the visual effects of the guns, the impact of the ammunition and the mechs exploding. Some battles took a lot longer than they should have simply because I was flying around the battlefield in replay mode, trying to take screenshots of everything. 


As great as the game is, no game is perfect. Here are a few things that I am hoping to see a patch for soon after launch. 

The main one would be enabling Steam Cloud Save. With so many Steam enabled devices out there now, like the Steam Deck, people are bound to have more than one device that they play their Steam games on. Steam’s cloud save feature is a must at this point. I tried a few times with my Steam Deck, but I couldn’t get the saves from my PC to load. 

While we are on the topic of the Steam Deck and other devices, controller support is also something that I would like to see. Not only for the Steam Deck. Many people like to play on the PC with an XBOX controller over a traditional mouse and keyboard set up. Having this as an option would be very beneficial.

As I mentioned before, some of the visuals in the cutscene department could be cleaned up a little bit. I also got the occasional bug where my weapon information did not show in the bottom right corner. I am not sure what caused it as it seemed to happen on random missions. 

The initial boot of the game is pretty long. Things are fine once it is up and running though. Hopefully that is an easy thing to patch. Only a minor issue, but I wanted to make people aware. I did test this on multiple devices. 

Lastly, I was very excited when the tutorial was fully voiced. I was really hoping that the rest of the game would be. Unfortunately, it was not. I understand not having the event boxes narrated, but I hope the chat at the beginning of each fight will eventually be voiced over. That would be a nice touch since the game starts up that way.


Phantom Brigade is top notch.

I had an absolute blast planning out each and every second of my turn in combat. Sometimes it would take me 10 minutes just to plan out the next 5 seconds of cinematic combat. I would run over the timeline preview 5 or 6 times to make sure I didn’t accidentally step in front of one of my own shots or overheat one of my guns to the point of self destruction. I was filled with joy each time I ran the sequence and saw the results I was hoping for. Then I would spend another 10 minutes in replay mode watching the battle play over and over while trying to find the perfect angle for a great screenshot. 

I loved the old MechWarrior games, but I always found the many components of BattleTech a bit intimidating. I think Phantom Brigade does an exceptionally good job at teaching the player all the complexity of heat generation, distribution, and weight management without them seeming all that complex. After a few battles and swapping out some parts on my mech, I felt like I knew exactly how to design each of my mechs and what parts I needed to perfect it. That is until I found a new weapon that I wanted to try out. If I liked it, then it was back to the drawing board to build the perfect machine for that weapon.

Needless to say, I loved the game. I will definitely be spending many more hours in the world of Phantom Brigade. I look forward to seeing any additional content that the developers put out. We can also looking forward to seeing what the community comes up with since the developers stated that they designed the game from the ground up to be highly player moddable. 


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I love spending my free time playing turn-based games and discussing them with people. I find a lot of joy in talking to indie devs and getting excited about their projects with them. I'm looking forward to discovering the next big turn-based game.

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