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Game difficulty (XCOM: Enemy Unknown)

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XCOM(EU) GameDifficulty

The game difficulty in XCOM: Enemy Unknown can be set at one of four levels: Easy, Normal, Classic, or Impossible. Each difficulty setting affects a large number of game parameters creating a significant learning curve between difficulties. The difficulty setting can be changed (up or down) at any point in the game but may affect the player's ability to claim certain achievements.

EasyEdit

  1. Base global panic starts at 0.
  2. XCOM HQ has 42 units of starting power.
  3. Most alien activity only raises panic by 1 if left unchecked.
  4. Soldiers cost §10 and start with 6 base HP (and get an additional +1 from Body Armor).
  5. Alien AI is shackled; Aliens can make sub-optimal actions and are less likely to use grenades and abilities.
  6. There are fewer alien pods per mission.
  7. XCOM starts with a free satellite to deploy.
  8. The Council provides 150% of normal country funding income.
  9. Starting funding is §175 plus the funding from the country where XCOM HQ is located.

NormalEdit

  1. Base global panic starts at 0.
  2. XCOM HQ has 37 units of starting power (25 available).
  3. Most minor alien activity raises panic by 1 if left unchecked with some events doing up to 3.
  4. Soldiers cost §10 and start with 5 base HP (and get an additional +1 from Body Armor).
  5. Alien AI is shackled; Aliens can make sub-optimal actions and are less likely to use grenades and abilities.
  6. XCOM starts with a free satellite to deploy.
  7. Starting funding is §175 plus the funding from the country where XCOM HQ is located.

ClassicEdit

  1. Base global panic starts at 8. (1 per location)
  2. XCOM HQ has 30 units of starting power.
  3. If unchecked, alien activity causes at least 1 panic, but will often cause 2 or 3.
  4. Soldiers cost §15 and start with 4 base HP (and get an additional +1 from Body Armor).
  5. Alien AI is unshackled; Aliens use grenades and special powers more frequently.
  6. All ranged Aliens except Sectoids receive +10 Aim and +10 Critical Chance bonuses; Sectoids only receive +10 Critical Chance bonus. Several aliens also receive additional HP; notably the health bonuses on Outsiders (+2 HP) and Thin Men (+1 HP) paired with their high accuracy can make the first few months especially more difficult. Melee aliens receive small damage bonuses. Sectoid Commanders and Ethereals receive +25 Will bonuses.
  7. There are more alien pods per mission and a higher chance of a pod having more aliens (up to 3).
  8. Satellite coverage produces fewer scientists and engineers per country.
  9. XCOM does not start with an Officer Training School.
  10. XCOM does not start with a free satellite, unless the tutorial is played.
  11. Starting funding is §75 plus the funding from the country where XCOM HQ is located.

ImpossibleEdit

  1. Base global panic starts at 16. (2 per location)
  2. XCOM HQ has 30 units of starting power.
  3. If unchecked, alien activity causes at least 2 panic, but will often cause even more.
  4. Soldiers cost §15 and start with 3 base HP. (and get an additional +1 from Body Armor)
  5. Alien AI is unshackled; Aliens use grenades and special powers more frequently.
  6. All ranged Aliens receive +10 Aim and +10 Critical Chance bonuses, except for Outsiders and Muton Elites, who receive +20 Aim instead of +10. Melee aliens receive slightly larger damage bonuses. Outsiders receive +5 Movement bonus. Most aliens receive additional HP ranging from +1 to +5. Sectoid Commanders and Ethereals receive +35 Will bonuses. The Uber Ethereal receives +10 Will bonus.
    • The most notable Alien bonuses when compared to Classic are: +1 HP and +10 Aim for Sectoids, +2 HP for Thin Men and Floaters, and the increased mobility and +10 Aim (and +3 HP in Enemy Within) for Outsiders; all of these add together to provide a huge difficulty leap during the beginning months of the game.
  7. Even more alien pods per mission and a higher chance of a pod having more aliens (up to 3).
  8. Satellite coverage produces fewer scientists and engineers per country.
  9. XCOM does not start with an Officer Training School.
  10. XCOM does not start with a free satellite and tutorial option is disabled.
  11. Starting funding is §75 plus the funding from the country where XCOM HQ is located.

When playing on Impossible it is very likely that XCOM will lose one or more funding nation at the end of month one. In theory, every funding nation can be lost during the first month, depending on alien activity and the efficiency of XCOM's response.[1]

Easy Normal Classic Impossible
Base Global Panic 0 0 8 (1 per) 16 (2 per)
Starting Power 42 37 30 30
Alien Activity Panic 1 1-3 1-3 2+
Soldier Cost §10 §10 §15 §15
Soldier Base HP 6 5 4 3
AI Shackled? yes yes no no
Sectoids +10 Crit +1 HP

+10 Aim

+10 Crit

Ranged Aliens +10 Aim

+10 Crit

+10 Aim

+10 Crit

Melee Aliens +Dmg +Dmg
Psi Aliens +25 Will +25 Will
Health Outsiders +2

Thin Men +1

Outsiders +3

Thin Men +2

Floaters +2

Pod Count less normal more more
Sci/Eng Production normal normal less less
Starting Satellites 1 1 0 0
Officer Training Start yes yes no no
Starting Funding §175+HQ §175+HQ §75+HQ §75+HQ
Additional Funding 150% Income

Advanced OptionsEdit

Advanced options are extra parameters that can modify the difficulty of a game slightly, while keeping the overall feel as a game set to one of the above difficulties.

Ironman ModeEdit

This game mode prevents the player from saving the game in multiple files, making it impossible to load the game in a previous state should things go wrong. The game autosaves after every turn and after visiting any of the static facilities at XCOM HQ. The standard "Save Game" and "Load Game" options are replaced with a "Save and Quit" option.

Tutorial ModeEdit

This doesn't alter the difficulty very much. Turning it on enables the tutorial mission, and the player is only able to choose North America or Europe for a base of operations. After the tutorials, the difficulty with this modifier is identical to a play through without it. By default, this is turned on for the first playthrough and off for the rest. This option is unavailable on Impossible difficulty.

  • The tutorial does, however, provide a free satellite, which can be useful when playing Classic difficulty.

Second WaveEdit

Unlocked after the first playthrough, these are additional options that can be enabled to make aspects of the game harder, such as making psionics rarer or making satellites more costly. Some simply adjust the game neutrally by changing mechanics such as flanking bonuses, weapon damage range or unit statistics. Some of these mechanics make the game harder, but most simply add a degree of depth some may enjoy.

ReferenceEdit

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