So you’ve been around the ADVENT-controlled block a few times and you’re ready to take things up a notch. Or perhaps you found a ridiculously overpowered class you like using and you want to balance things out so your enemies are good for more than just filling up your body storage. Either way, I’ve got two easy-to-install suggestions that’ll make you work up a bit more of a sweat.
First and foremost is . One of the easiest ways to solve XCOM 2’s problems (and honestly, any problems) is with an overwhelming number of explosives. With this mod, the power of your unstoppable Grenadiers is reigned in—now grenades deal less and less damage towards the edges of their blast zone, meaning you can’t just blanket entire groups of enemies with grenades and expect them to all die at once. Having to target and prioritize specific enemies and cover with your grenades rather than just killing everything will bring back the fear and frustration of XCOM faster than you can say “I hugely regret installing this mod!” Thank me later.
You might also like , which fits in perfectly by—yep, you guessed it—destroying the corpse of enemies you kill with explosives, cutting down on your research resources and black market moneymaking immensely. Maybe now you’ll think twice about rocketing those Sectoids for kicks. I mean, I use the mod and I still do it, but some things are more important than money.
It’s not enough to just make killing your enemies harder, though—you need to make them kill you harder, too.
is the perfect mod for the job, increasing the decision making and ruthless killer instinct of every enemy in the game. While you may have experienced the AI granting you small acts of mercy in vanilla—acts such as ignoring a low HP trooper to fire at a healthier one, or using an ability on you instead of taking an easy flank shot—this mod ensures such friendly sportsmanship is long over. Enemies will ruthlessly prioritize killshots and flank opportunities, overwatch only when the situation makes it tactically favourable, and rarely spam their various abilities if it’s better to just shoot you in your face instead. Another excellent set of changes is how the AI will pick and choose from many more options at any given moment, making enemies far less predictable than their vanilla brains allowed. Be warned: now that Stun Lancers remember they have guns, they are easily fifteen times as hateable.
There’s other mods focused on increasing difficulty, but for general purpose, the above three are the main I’d recommend that don’t require too much configuration or re-learning of the game to appreciate. I’d recommend experimenting with increased enemy squad sizes as part of your efforts to increase XCOM 2’s challenge—if you missed it, my previous article on has a section on how to add more bad guys, among other things you can do to up the difficulty of your campaign. Even just one extra enemy per patrol will make you work much harder to bring your troops home alive.
While we’re messing around with difficulty, there’s a few good tweaks and upgrades I didn’t include earlier because they tend to be beneficial for the player; though, coupled with the above difficulty increasing mods, you won’t have to worry about things being easy.
overhauls the chances your troopers have to start bleeding out when critically wounded instead of flat out dying. I think every soldier should have some chance to survive a knockout regardless of rank or experience, so this mod is one of my favourites.
takes the Armed to the Teeth bonus from the vanilla game—that’s the continent bonus that grants an extra weapon upgrade slot for all your primary weapons—and turns it into an expensive Proving Grounds project instead. Considering how this essential bonus only shows up based on chance, I think having it as a mid-game upgrade for every campaign makes much more sense.
both buffs and nerfs the player’s arsenal. In short, if you felt like the only heavies worth using were the Shredder and the Rocket/Blaster Launcher, this mod evens things out so that Flamers and Plasma Blasters are more competitive as choices for your EXO troops.
is another in a series of sensible tweaks for the XCOM player. When your troops come home in vanilla, they’re assigned wounded time based on how much damage they took, period. With this mod, they’re only given wounds based on how much damage they took to their basic health value. In layman's terms, that means if you’re wearing armor that gives you an extra four health and you only take four damage or less, you’re not wounded, and taking five would be a light injury with a quick recovery. It’s a reasonable tweak that allows your better-armored troops to put their plating to use without worrying about instant wound time. Your doctors will appreciate treating less bruised wrists and hurt feelings.
That covers most of my favourite choices from the Workshop for messing with our game’s balance, though there is one more set of mods that’s well worth a look. Read on as we wrap things up with a look at mods that overhaul our gameplay and provide entirely new ways to play.