THIS POST IS A DEEPER EXPLANATION OF A PROPOSAL WITH THE SAME TITLE IN THE FEEDBACK TOOL
I’ve been active on this forum for over a year now, and in that time I have been struck by how many completely different types of gamer are attracted to this game. Seems to me that the devs have an impossible job, because this game has to cater to players who want dozens of diametrically opposed things out of it. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but in general terms, they seem to break down into 5 generic types:
THE STORY PLAYER wants to enjoy the story above everything else. (S)he gets frustrated by difficult missions that make it impossible to get to the end of the story and find out what’s going on. So (s)he wants an easy game which feels challenging without actually getting in the way of the story’s progression.
THE CHARACTER JUNKIE loves creating characters and seeing them progress through the game. (S)he hates seeing characters die, to the extent that (s)he would rather Restart a mission and play it over again until (s)he gets a perfect result than suffer the loss of a favourite character. For them, the game needs to be easy enough to survive, whilst giving their characters legendary moments that they can savour.
THE OPTIMISER likes finding the exploits in the system. (S)he’s the one who figures out that a handful of farms and a base turned into a dedicated Training Centre will exploit the Haven market so that (s)he can hire new recruits and turn them into Lvl 7 supermen without ever having to fight. (S)he’s usually a bit of a perfectionist, so a mission doesn’t end well unless it produces an optimal score in whatever metric (XP/Resources/Squad survival) (s)he deems to be important.
THE SUPERMAN is a different kind of optimiser who loves stacking skill combos and exploiting the system to create super-squaddies who can ace a mission in 1 turn without breaking a sweat. For them, every skill nerf is a slap in the face, as it stops them from having fun chain-offing Pandas.
THE TACTICIAN is the opposite of the Superman. Like me, (s)he deliberately limits Squad Skills to 1 use per turn, because (s)he doesn’t want to ‘cheat’ through a mission (as (s)he sees it). (S)he wants a game where (s)he has to make best use of positioning and cover and overwatch screens to engage in a challenging tactical battle against impossible odds. For the Tactician, this is a game of attrition, where (s)he takes losses when they come and likes to figure out how to deal with the giant mutant crab-spider or the nightmare trap-maze of a Lair without resorting to a Rage Bursting Sniper killing it in 1 turn from the other side of the map or an infinitely Jump/Dashing Heavy/Assault doped up on Rally & Rapid Fire ignoring the tactical challenges of the terrain to hop to the Maguffin and kill it.
Quite frankly, while there is some overlap, it’s seemingly impossible to create a game like this that caters to all those mutually opposing styles of play. But I think there is a way.
Why don’t you rename the Difficulty Settings and adjust them to cater to the type of game that a player really wants?
STORY MODE would disable the DDA and limit the number of Big Nasties based on the type of mission (so Lairs get more Sirens than Scavenging missions, for instance). It would create a game that feels like it’s getting more difficult as it goes along, but is never truly impossible.
CHARACTER MODE would buff the stats & armour of the Squaddies. Squaddies would be harder to kill and the DDA would take Restarts into account, so that a player isn’t ‘punished’ for Restarting and getting a perfect score.
SUPER-SOLDIER MODE would have no limits on Squad Skills. You can create whatever exotic combos you like. The DDA would ramp up as it does now, but it doesn’t matter, 'cos you’re the Avengers and if you can’t ace the Mission in one, you ain’t doin’ it right
TACTICIAN MODE would put a strict 1-use-per-turn limit on ALL skills (including passive skill buffs received from other Squaddies, like Rally). The DDA would do its thing, and you would revel in the pain of defeating this damn game with your hands tied behind your back
CUSTOM MODE would institute Sheepy’s ‘New Campaign Settings’ idea, which I really like but think would be a tad daunting to a brand new player who doesn’t know how the different parameters can interact. This would allow you to set the basic parameters to fit your own personal preferences, if the modes above don’t do it for you.
In this way, you the player get the game experience you want, without hamstringing the devs as they work to shape a beautifully complex fractal diagram of a game in the face of the mutually conflicting desires of multiple players.