One solution to the DDA would be to put some brakes on it. So for Easy you could change the rate of evolution by a factor of 10 or 20, for Veteran by a factor of 5 or 10, for Hero maybe 0 or 2, and for Legendary, either 0.5 or 1. I think it’s the rate of evolution that we beginners are finding difficult to adapt to. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the difficulty spike for those playing on lower settings and I’ve restarted at least two games because of it. The paradoxical workaround is simply not to run supply missions.
I think the idea of evolving different adaptations is OK, but another aspect would simply be to evolve new species. Why is it just crabs, tritons, sirens, worms, chirons and scyllas? The oceans have the vast majority of diversity on the planet. There should be other forms that have been affected by the virus. Mixing up the Pandas could help a lot.
As it stands now, once you get to level 7, it’s pretty easy to handle large numbers of Sirens and Chirons in the missions. If anything, just increasing map size would help a lot in terms of sniping. The bomber chirons should be on a lower selection level or be present on missions with decent cover.
Wrt OP builds based on Dash or Rage Burst, I could see these being on longer cooldowns or requiring more WP. The multi-dash maneuver is fun a few times, but yeah, it’s OP and gets old, sure gets you out of a bind if you’re not min maxing… On the other hand, Rage Burst is what takes the difficulty out of “evolved” Pandas, so there should be some form of it in the game, again, just increase the WP if it’s a balance issue. WP adjustments could easily be added to the difficulty level to improve the OP aspects of “balance.” Keep WP where it’s at for the rookie mode, double it for Legendary?
Btw, Scylla serrata is probably the fiercest crab I’ve ever handled in real life. Would love to see cones, octopuses, ambush predators (some worms, fishes), serious predators such as sharks, etc. Panda strategy could mimic PP strategy, too, wrt snipers, rageburst, etc.