In this blog post from James Clarendon, Lead Systems Designer for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, first explains the importance of keeping your squad members alive, that they will still be vital to your progress in the game. You will definitely prefer keeping agents alive so they can rank up. As the agents increase in rank, you’ll be able to customize them by making choices as to which abilities and perks they gain. He also says the game will reward players for thoughtful, well-executed play.
There will be four difficulty modes to choose from and the difficulty can be changed at any time during the game. I love that. It always drives me nuts when I have to quit a game and go to the main menu screen to change the difficulty. Not a big deal, just annoying. The difficulty modes and descriptions are:
- Rookie – This difficulty is for players who want to enjoy a cool story about an alternate 1960s America where brave agents of XCOM fight a secret war against aliens. Let me be clear though, this level is no pushover. While the bleed out times are longer in this difficulty level, you’ll still need to command your squad, stay in cover, use your abilities, and make plans to survive. What sets this difficulty level apart from the others is that you are able to replace any agents that die in battle with new recruits at the end of the current fight.
- Squaddie – Things are ramping up in this difficulty level. Enemies will hit harder and more accurately, but you might be forgiven for a mistake or two. If you or your agents go down, you will still face the threat of bleeding out and will need to quickly command a rescue plan as bleeding out times are shorter in this difficulty level. The stakes are also higher. You’ll only be able to recruit new agents at the XCOM base or at a mid-mission resupply station.
- Veteran – This is our proposed starting difficulty. There’s a lot of risk to the entire squad, and you will need to demonstrate that you are able to adapt and control the battlefield. Enemies will flank more frequently, and if you’re camping out on one part of the map, they’ll flush you out with grenades. You also really need to be on your toes here and use your tactics carefully. And to make matters worse, the only place you can recruit new agents is at the XCOM base.
- Commander – One wrong step can spell disaster, and you’ll need to exploit every tactical advantage to survive while playing on this difficulty level. Being out of cover can be lethal, and agents will bleed out quicker than all of the other difficulty levels. To compound things, your agents will only be stabilized—saved from death, but unavailable for the rest of the fight. This can really limit your tactical options, so make sure you’re making plans to rescue the agent and then get you and the rest of your squad to safety as fast as possible!
Successful battlefield commanders will need to make full use of all the tools and tactical opportunities at their disposal regardless of which difficulty they choose. However, team tactics become paramount when playing on Veteran and Commander. The consequences of every agent lost on the battlefield reverberates throughout the game and the last thing you want to see is the memorial wall inside The Bureau’s base filled with names. I know you are up to the task, so good luck agent.
Experience The Bureau: XCOM Declassified from the point of view of an absolutely horrible Commander in the video below. This is probably you right? This is just your kind of thing! Enjoy the mindless deaths of lemmings as hilarity ensues in this new video from 2K Games.