During the development of XCOM: Enemy Unknown at Firaxis Games, it was planned that players who complete the game and restart the title’s single player mode would find a special version of XCOM known as “Second Wave.” Similar to the New Game+ feature found in numerous roleplaying titles, Second Wave would have offered seasoned veterans a new gaming experience by rebalancing a number of the game’s standard features.
At some point however, it was decided to cut Second Wave from XCOM, and you won’t find it in the official retail release that hit shelves a short time ago. Unless you’re a dedicated modder, that is.
It seems that a modder calling his or herself “Arietatray” has discovered the remnants of the Second Wave system and after a bit of tweaking has managed to rebuild the feature almost in its entireity. Here’s a list of what this nouveau Second Wave has to offer:
WORKS Damage Roulette: Weapons have a much wider range of damage
New Economy: The funding offered by individual council members is randomized
WORKS Not Created Equally: Rookies will have random starting stats
Hidden Potential: As a soldier is promoted, their stats will increase randomly
BUGGED Red Fog: Any wounds taken in combat will degrade a soldier’s stats for that mission
Absolutely Critical: A flanking shot will guarantee a critical hit
The Greater Good: The secret of psionics can only be learned by interrogating a psionic alien
BUGGED. GAME UNWINNABLE Marathon: The game takes considerably longer to complete
Results Driven: A country will offer less funding as it’s panic level increases
WORKS High Stakes: The rewards granted for stopping alien abductions are randomized
WORKS Diminishing Returns: The cost of satellites increases with every one that is built
The Blitz: The aliens will target a larger number of cities every time they launch an abduction attack
More Than Human: The psionic gift is extremely rare
Notice those bullet points preceded by bold words like “Works” and “Bugged?” Those are features of the original iteration of Second Wave that were discovered lingering in the code of the game’s PC version. They’ve been recreated for Arietatray’s mod, but given that some of them actually prevent users from completing the game, this mod should be downloaded more as an item of interesting historical significance than as something you hope will reinvigorate your love for the game with all new playing options.
Still, it’s intriguing to look at those options and wonder “What If?” That initial Second Wave system seems to make the game both more difficult and more “realisitic,” so we’re sure that had it been polished it would have had appeal for many fans. Honestly, looking at this list, we have to wonder why Firaxis ever opted to remove the option from XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
If you’re keen to play Second Wave, despite its bugs, the XCOM Nexus offers a pretty comprehensive walkthrough for getting this mod up and running on your PC. Sorry console gamers, but as with most things created by dedicated fans, you’re getting the short end of the stick here.