Difficulty of the game - too high ot too low?


in this forum you can find a lot of people saying that the game was too easy.
I heard somewhere else that there would be steep difficulty spikes.

So I decided to play on the lowest difficulty setting although I played OG X-Com and Firaxis XCOM before.
The beginning was too easy then it felt quite good until the endgame, where I got my ass kicked in the final mission. —> I decided to play the DLC Missions for better weapons and level a team up especially for the final mission, which I just finished. It was still a close fight ----- on the lowest difiiculty setting.

And Steam stated that only 3.8 % of all players reached the “Standard Victory” achievement (ending the game on any difficulty) yet.

—> For me rookie difficulty was fun and the right setting. But beeing the lowest difficulty setting available I think it’s too difficult.

What do you think?

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difficulty is difficult to actually set, as a certain way of playing and certain methods can make parts of the game very easy on any difficulty level.

the main thing that changes when you change difficulty is economical, on rookie, enemies develop slower, there are fewer of them in every mission so you have more time to set up your teams and its easier to successfully complete missions for their rewards (that include more SP to develop troops with). you also get more starting resources and the troops you recruit come with gear, this means you get up to speed quicker, as you don’t have to build everything for the troops you can instead use that production power for other things. it also allows you to shortcut to certain techs by reverse engineering “bought” weapons and equipment.

but the enemy…while lower in number…isn’t actually any weaker.

this means 2 major things with regards to difficulty, difficulty in PP seems to revolve much more about how quick you can progress (can you level and deploy fast enough to stay ahead of the pandoran development) and second any trounce combo you might find in a lower difficulty can still totally wreck a higher difficulty (as an enemy dead on rookie with a certain weapon+ skill combo, is equally dead on legend)…it will just be harder to get to them as you’ll have to build/buy or train more.

the third major player is that the game has a number of very powerful combo builds, and geoscape strategies that can rocket power their economy, this means that if a player on a lower difficulty finds one of these combo’s and breezes through the game, he can do it…with an economics speedbumb at the start…almost the exact same way on a higher difficulty. for players that find these combo’s the game might seem very easy, for players that don’t find them or don’t use them the game can be notably harder. it creates a disconcert in experience.


Difficulty is very dependant on the skill of the player and time invested on finding combos. But fundamentally the game, whilst not broken is severely misbalanced because of some design criteria that the devs where too set on. They wanted a “sandbox” type environment that is notoriously hard too balance and applied it to a complex tactical/strategic game play.


“the troops you recruit come with gear,”: I read that before - but this is only for troops you recruit from heavens (who are quite expensive right)? Ordinary rookies come without gear on rookie as well !

So on higher difficulties punishment for raiding friends is not increased? You could probably exploit that - which I did not want to do in my playthrough. Which then would make the economical part much easier and If that is the main difference between difficulties…

Final Mission: are there a lot more enemies in
it and higher endboss HP on higher difficulties or does that stay the same?

Never tried a Harder difficulty but expected IT to increase in every aspect

There are generally more enemies and probably also higher evolved (depends on timing because pandoran evolution is faster = better types), but the end boss has the same HP.
On Rookie you maybe don’t have seen all the latest types of Pandorans in the game when you do the final mission.
If you want to get spoilered about all possible types, these are listed in the wiki (on the right side) and there is also an excellent tutorial and more information, also about difficulties:


More Sirens especially can come as a nasty surprise! The screaming type can panic most of your troopers, and while mind control (MC) can only be used once per turn, a single siren has 30+ will and humans only cost 2 will per turn. On Hero/Legendary I’ve run into 3 who were in close proximity, of which 1 is a screamer and then 2 MC ones.

Talk of the game being too easy is from people who have played it many times.

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Then just don’t play it on hero / legend if it’s too difficult for you. Just saying and no offense.
That’s why the various difficulty levels are there, to slash down if you are overwhelmed and upshift when it doesn’t challenge you.

For me personally there was absolutely no challenge from the second playthrough, even with increasing self restrictions :wink:

Sorry, but then I think that all difficulty levels are broken in a way.

If I was in charge my first way of dealing with difficulties would be varying the punishment for raiding. The way it is now is really broken.

Spoiler ahead:
Because of the ancient DLC I thought that two more ships would be nice.
I stole a ship from Synedion —> Synedrion - 6, New Jerico +6; I stole another ship, this time from New Jerico —> New Jerico -6, Synedrion + 6, Anu + 6
----> so in the end I got 2 ships and was even rewarded +6 from Anu, while Synedrion and New Jerico stayed exactly at the same level. If that stays the same on higher difficulty levels (and I looks, it does) I can understand people complaining that this is broken.

On the other hand - in my opinion - the final mission is to hard on rookie level. The problem is not a Siren more or less. The problem is an endboss that will drain you health bar and has a lot HP while you have problems getting in position to hit him. Looks like I could have played on the hardest difficulty as well as all that stays the same there…
To be honest I still have not found a way to stop this boss from draining the health bar - I read that a level 6 priest should be able to do that but it did not seem to help at all. That boss even killed half of my squad after his own death…

I managed to get him down (in my second attempt after leveling a team against him - though the priests did not seem to help a lot). But I think for real rookies this final mission is too hard.
Only 3.8 % of steam buyers that have beaten him kind of tells a story, doesn’t it?


This is a major obstacle for novice player since campaign and challenges are basically the same. So rookie in second half of the game does not feel rookie at all :slight_smile:

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He does, and does. He is the boss after all!

A technician with WA arms has 8 charges/clip to heal with.

The Steam completion could be so low because of the time required to get that far since Dec 3 when it was first released there. The WALL time needed is somewhere around 50 hours (on a fast computer!), and if playing for the first or second time you will very like have to start over at some point like 20 hours in. EGS has still to add accomplishments.

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Never tried healing with WA arms - description said it worked only on mechanical parts, didn’t it?

These VVA arms have 2 “heal” abilities, “technician repair” to repair mechanical devices (like vehicles or turrets) and “technician heal” to to restore HP of allied soldiers.

See here, in the top description: Technician weapons - wiki.phoenixpoint.com

IIRC the priest protecting against the boss health-drain has been removed in a patch some time ago. You have to keep 5 squares between your soldiers with The Mark for it not to escaltae.
Edit: End turn more than 5 squares away from anyone with a Mark.

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Everyone 5 Files away from each other and noone will be hurt?

No, the one with the Mark will definitely get hurt, but it will not hurts his buddies:

Mark of the Void:

Apply a mark on an enemy, which damages it, and enemies within 5 tiles, at the start of each turn

“enemy” = your soldiers

That said, more than one of your soldiers with the mark and then also all close together = really bad.

It depends entirely on whether you have grasped the meta or not.

By that I mean certain players either work out (or hit on accidentally) certain Squaddie builds and skill combos that completely trivialise the game - enabling you to clear entire maps with 1 guy in 1 turn.

However, if you don’t discover these, the game can be very punishing.

We in the Council are on a constant quest to find some middle ground, where Easy is truly easy but the OP Skills sandbox doesn’t completely overbalance things and break the game. We haven’t got there yet, but we’re still trying :slightly_smiling_face:


Not necessarily.
The player only has to realize which is the most trivial way to dominate. Namely, to choose skills and equipment with which you are as effective as possible and risk as little as possible. That means high reward, low risk stuffs.
And that’s not that difficult and works without game breaking terminators.

  • spawm boom blast
  • use mount laser
  • use turrets


You dominate the pandas from the other end of the map. The pandas have no chance, regardless of the difficulty setting.

You will get all these things only in the middle or late game. In the meantime, your soldiers are well equipped and don’t need all that crap. Just nice to have. Not more.

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So you just saying: it is easy to dominate?

Dominate, where are we? In the wild west? Where everyone can shoot as they like? Enjoy the game and help create more positive topics than just crying.