This would solve everyone’s issues over difficulties and balancing:
If you had the ability to turn the TIMER on and off at the start of a new game, but achieve victory the same way by killing the end boss. In fact I would love this it would allow all the time you need to research anything, build anything, explore anything. Then if you lost men who cares you would have time to replace and train! if you lost a base you would eventually repair it, you could really be able to get into in and fully explore ALL the factions and side missions. Everything else could stay they same outside this but the game would only end if you were able to take out the final boss, evolution stays, mist spread etc… Now that would be one awesome game! AND… It would NOT effect anyone who did not want to play this way (the could leave the timer on) and it could still be as hard as it is now because it is all about the TIMER when you boil it down. I could live with it being difficult as long as I had the resources and time to recover from the hit.
So simple solution:
1: just add the ability to turn on and off the TIMER in any level at the start of a new game
2: Play could chose any difficulty they like and decide if they want to add the pressure of the TIMER
3: It would not effect the game in anyway except for those who turn it off
PROBLEM SOLVED… and you can make all the “balancing” you like and keep everyone happy at the same time!