While modding isn’t officially supported by XCOM: Enemy Unknown yet, one enterprising fellow took it upon himself to rebalance the PC version of the alien invasion strategy game with something he calls the “Warspace Extension.”
The mod digs deep into the Firaxis Games files and overhauls weapons, enemies, armor, squads and the strategic layer of XCOM. The modder says that the aim of the mod is to give more control to the player.
“I wanted the player’s decisions to become more meaningful, rather than being punished randomly by the game all the time,” he wrote on the NexusMods website. “So now, if you play it right, you will be rewarded. But if you play it wrong, you will be punished.”
The mod was designed for Classic difficulty but is playable on Impossible difficulty as well. You can download it and check it out for yourself from NexusMods. The highlights of the changes are below.
- Conventional weapons are now average. Nothing special about them. They are good allround. You could theoretically play the entire game using them.
- Lasers do a bit more damage, are more accurate and don’t need to reload. But sometimes they do low damage. Their damage output can be unreliable.
- Plasma weapons do a lot of damage and have very high critical damage. But they are less accurate, which makes them hard to use, especially by rookies.
- The environment can take on a few more plasma hits before being destroyed. This allows the player to make better use of cover and play more tactically.
- Arc Thrower now goes in the pistol slot. Apart from that, it works the same as in vanilla.
- Different weapon types have different accuracy settings. Least to most accurate: Shotgun, LMG, Rifle, Sniper.
- Pistols need to be reloaded (except the Laser pistol).
- Shotguns do more damage but have a bit less accuracy compared to rifles. Shotguns should be more useful now.
- The sniper rifle’s close range accuracy penalty has been removed. It still needs two moves to be able to fire, I think that’s harsh enough.
- Enemies have been changed in such a way that combat becomes more logical, resulting in more fluid battles.
- Enemies won’t cheat as much. If something bad happens, you’ll know it’s probably because you screwed up or because the enemy AI made a good decision.
- Smaller enemies are a bit harder to hit and large enemies a bit easier. This is balanced by accuracy and/or movement speed advantages/disadvantages.
- When a Chryssalid kills a civilian offscreen, the civilian will now always turn into a zombie.
- The AI will now always use more than 5 NPCs in combat, instead of hiding when the NPC limit is reached.
Strategical map rebalanced:
- The missions the player ignores won’t increase the panic level of entire continents anymore, but only of specific countries, and panic penalties are larger now.
- This allows the player to somewhat direct the spread of panic and have more control over the strategic map. But there’s still some luck involved.
- Countries have a small chance to leave the council at the end of the month when their panic level reaches level 4.
- Having a satellite in the continent or country drastically reduces the chances of leaving at panic level 4.
- Satellites are much more likely to decrease panic levels inside the country they are positioned in at the end of the month.
- Normal satellites have a very tiny chance not to be destroyed by UFOs when undefended.
- Stealth satellites have a high chance not to be destroyed by UFOs when undefended.
- European countries give slightly more money to give the player an incentive to put your satellites there.
- There’s slightly a higher chance that UFOs will show up.
- UFOs doing missions (Terror, Abduction, etc) can be intercepted sometimes before they start their mission.
- The Research Lab’s effectiveness has been increased. It’s very effective at decreasing research times.
- Research time has been slightly increased to give the Research Lab a useful purpose.
- Increased research time of plasma weapons to make it harder to unlock them and make lasers a bit more attractive.
- Facility maintenance costs have been increased, so that you won’t be swimming in cash later in the game.
- Transferring Interceptors to a new base takes much less time now, allowing you to more quickly redeploy your air forces where they are needed.
- Workshops are enabled from the start, allowing the player to begin the strategic game with a different starting move, if so desired.
- Rookies start with a bit less Will, but now you get more tools to combat panic.
- Human soldiers gain a bit more Will with each level.
- Armor plays a large role in how fast soldiers will panic. The higher the HP bonus you give your soldiers, the smaller the chances of panic.
- Just like armors, higher tier weapons provide a Will bonus, but a very small one. See it as a confidence boost.
- Human soldiers who panic won’t try to kill your own soldiers anymore.
- Soldiers who take damage during missions will be recovering for a MUCH longer time, especially if they are “gravely injured”.
- SHIV tanks take a few more days to be repaired when heavily damaged.
- Armors are divided into Heavy Armors and Light Armors.
- Heavy armors consist of the Carapace, Titan and Archangel. Light armors consist of the Skeleton, Ghost and Psi armor.
- Heavy armors provide more armor than the light armors.
- Heavy armors provide two item slots. Light armors only one.
- Carapace reduces mobility by 1 square, Titan and Archangel by 2. Light armors increase mobility by 3 squares.
- Heavy armors increase Will a lot. Light armors increase Will a bit less. Secondary armors (the ones that go in the item slot) also provide a Will boost.
- Light armors increase the chances of evading incoming fire.
- Light armors have special mobility abilities (except Psi armor) that allow them to move around the battlefield with more ease.
- Secondary armors provide a bit more HP now, making them great for use with the heavy armors that have increased inventory space.
- Normal, Classic and Impossible difficulty levels should be the same now, apart from hard-coded differences, like more enemies and unlocking the full AI.
- Basically, if you want full AI, play on Classic or Impossible.
- Keep in mind, this mod was made for the Classic difficulty level, but Impossible should work too. AI is shackled on Normal, so don’t play that!
- Second Wave is enabled. You’ll need to finish the game on Impossible to unlock all options, or download a profile which has them unlocked already (See Second Wave mod for profile).
- Second Wave Marathon mode is fixed. You can build the Hyperwave Relay with just one Hyperwave Beacon.