Game gets way to difficult for me, what am I missing?

I have started over a few times and just can’t seem to figure out how to keep up with the increase in enemy damage, health and the number of enemies per fight. I assume I’m missing some research that will increase my damage output accordingly.

Basically as soon as the bigger enemies start showing up I just can’t kill things fast enough before I am wiped out. The early game seems easy but I feel I must be missing something obvious as I don’t see anyone else having this problem.

What is the game mechanic that tells the enemies to get stronger? Is it just number of turns or after I complete certain main story missions or maybe after finding and starting a new base? Maybe I need to advance my tech before I do whatever causes the game to increase difficulty?

I also hate losing my guys so I always reload missions until I complete them without any deaths. Is this maybe causing the game AI to increase difficulty too early? Is this maybe where I am going wrong and I just need to play with “acceptable losses?”

I have never really had any issue with XCOM style games before but feeling really dumb here. I can’t even get past a certain point on the easiest difficulty but the forums are filled with people saying how easy the game is.

TIA for any suggestions!

1 Like

Completing missions with no causalities (not necessarily deaths) causes the game to send stronger enemies in the future missions. Taking some damage to a couple of units can usually tone down the increase in enemy strength.

The other thing to consider is to reverse engineer weapons when you can, instead of waiting for reaching the tech from factions.

Also consider changing your tactics. If you are running in to take out the baddies, think about holding back and picking them off 1 by 1 instead of en masse.

1 Like

that’s true, dynamic difficulty, Devs will remove in the future but now is against you.

I wiped out Bionic Fortress , fast and clean, and next mission, Citadel was a hell, very agressive Pandas, Frenzied all the time, and a lot of Sirens

1 Like

Find builds for soldiers to wipe all enemies at first turn (or almost all enemies so that rest go to panic). It’s not so difficult

1 Like

Disabling enemies is important. Then breaking their moral by killing some of them. Carry medkits, they make a big difference. Grenade launchers are great at causing damage from afar. Shotguns are incredibly powerful especially when used with return fire.

There’s so much more, but trying different stuff out from equipment to tactics is a must. Experiment with the large variety.


Sounds to me like your biggest problem at the moment is not taking any casualties.

Though it is in the process of being phased out, the game currently works on a Dynamic Difficulty algorithm that adjusts Panda strength and numbers based on how well you did in your last few missions.
So if you Save & Reload until you get a perfect score (or no casualties), it thinks you’re a gaming god and adjusts the difficulty accordingly.

TBH, I personally have no problem with that - this game is supposed to represent a small, heavily outnumbered force going up against overwhelming numbers. So you are bound to take casualties, and your strategy should take that into account. But I’m aware that a lot of players don’t like losing soldiers in even the most ‘difficult’ of combat games, so S&R to avoid it.

This game will punish you for doing that.

1 Like

As other mentioned. If you finish mission without taking any damage, game algorithm will increase difficulty for next missions. So let enemy hit you… they will do that anyway, but don’t load game every time. This is hard lesson for players that come from other games which don’t calculate player’s performance.

Just remember that enemies will eventually get more damage, health, armor and speed or even more perception and stealth. But if you won’t piss off Dynamic Difficulty Algorithm then it will probably come later as enemy is evolving even without paying attention to player performance.

There is not much research projects which alter player’s power in the combat. So don’t expect anything like next tier of weapons or armors. You can play and win the game with basic weapons which you have from the start. It will be just slightly more difficult.

Only difference which comes from research are soldier classes. When you unlock them, then you unlock powerful combinations.

Another research projects that influence heavily gameplay which come to my mind right now are paralyzing weapons. They, except allowing you to proceed with storyline, will also allow you to disable enemies without resorting to immediate kills or even to disabling shots which often must be super accurate.

Vivisections of aliens also help a bit.

True power comes from class skills and so called perks (third row skills - there are always 3 random such skills independent of the class) that give bonuses to damage.

Read what Voland wrote here in this still not finished guide, that also may help you:

If above won’t help too much and you want some examples of skills which will let you overcome even evolved enemies then ask.


Thank you everyone for the replies!! It makes a lot more sense now. I am a perfectionist, like to replay the missions until I complete them almost perfectly. I will instead let some damage/deaths pass and see how it goes. And when my characters roll poor combinations at the later stages they will be sacrificed to the gods of dynamic difficulty algorithms.

It’s not about deaths, but damage suffered. Whether one of your soldier dies, or 2 of your soldiers suffer 50% damage is the same.

Also, it has to do with game’s expectations of how well you should be doing each mission. So, for example, the game assumes that this is an easy mission and you should have 5% (totally made up number) total damage, or less. In a harder mission the threshold will be higher. If over a number of missions your average performance is above expectations, the game will get harder. If it’s below, it will get easier.

In any case, the effects of the DDA have been significantly reduced since release. IMO, RNG plays a larger part in difficulty than DDA: if you reload an auto save before a mission you will see how the number and kind of enemies can change radically every time.

Probably unrelated to DDA, as it works with averages you should not notice drastic changes in difficulty after a single mission in which you suffer no damage (everything else - including how fast you do the mission - is irrelevant, btw).

1 Like

From the guide I found this which would not have been my expectation but is really good to know for anyone else have similar problems : “One important idea to bear in mind is that tech progression in PP is mostly horizontal: most of the stuff you will research will be different , not necessarily better . One of the most effective weapons throughout the game is the hellcannon (HC), which is one of the starting weapons.”

It would be cool in the difficulty screen if you could just disable DDA or at least tune it to your expectations. Impossible to make a change that all players like so give us the knobs to change it to our preference.

And there are some that want that knob to go to 11!

Good to know, thank you. I don’t understand DDA, as you can see :smile:

Thanks for reading :blush:

I have to update it to include all the changes in the last patch and to make a few corrections. Also, there is another chapter that is on a different thread (also pending update)

The DDA will probably be replaced by the Pandoran Research at some point, which, at least conceptually, looks really cool.

The DDA has been much maligned because it completely missed the mark with perfectionists and because it’s really hard for the players to actually know what is happening and why, so IMO it also became a scapegoat of sorts for the crazy stuff RNG throws on the map from time to time.

Yeah, you missed the great DDA Debates in January :joy:

That’s where my understanding of it, such as it is, comes from.


No there aren’t - not for Noobs & Easy players.

Yes, this game gets waaay too easy in its later stages. Yes, some of us would like it to keep presenting us with a tactical challenge throughout. But as we keep on saying, we only want the knob turned to 11 if you have chosen to do so!

It’s why I KEEP calling for Second Wave Options & the DDA/Squad Skills/Number of Big Nasties to be linked to Difficulty Choices. The player should be able to choose how hard they want this game to be, rather than having it imposed on them by the game itself.

I took the meaning of knob in the post as a player tuning option. Then the player can dial up or down DDA on the fly.

1 Like

Ah… my apologies :wink:

Most games allow the player to switch difficulty levels on the fly. I can understand why PP doesn’t have this option. But some sort of player adjustment could be offered.

I agree. As I’ve said before, the only way I can play XCOM to my satisfaction is by starting on Veteran and ramping up the Difficulty every time I trigger one of the big Plot Missions. And I’ve called for PP to allow us to switch Difficulty Levels mid-game on several occasions.

Personally, I have no problem with a DDA per se. The way I play (self-limiting HonestMan) means it doesn’t go crazy, but conversely it keeps the game interesting until the endgame, by which time my A-Squad is so powerful it can walk most of the missions that are being presented to it - or at least it could pre-Danforth (I haven’t had a chance to test a new Citadel yet).

But since most players seem to play Save & Restart nowadays it’s not a satisfactory solution to all, so Snapshot are justified in trying to replace it with something more fair & interesting.

The new citadels should be a good challenge, at least the first or couple missions. If one hasn’t faced the newly buffed Scylla, I would not want to be facing her first in a citadel. At least on my first couple of citadels, I only had to face pre-weakened queens. Even then her, fully healed armor needed a lot of weakening.