Second Wave (EU2012)

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Second Wave is a game mode enabled with the fourth patch released for XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Second Wave was initially unavailable to most players, but was partially accessible to modders who unlocked it manually through manipulation of the game's code. The developers subsequently prepared the full content for release with the help of modders who had discovered how to activate it and had tested its features, according to Jake Solomon.

Second Wave adds advanced gameplay options to increase the difficulty and randomness of the game, described below. The options are unlocked as the player wins on advanced Difficulty Levels.

Starting Options

  • Damage Roulette - Weapons have a much wider range of damage
    • Does not apply to explosives.
    • Damage range is doubled, i.e. an Assault Rifle with a 3 damage stat can deal up to 1-6 normal damage or 1-9 critical.
  • New Economy - The funding offered by individual Council members is randomized.
  • Not Created Equally - Rookies will have random starting stats.
    • Range of Will: 25~59 (normal 40), values will vary by increments of 2 to the lower 25 limit.
    • Range of Aim: 50~80 (normal 65), varies in increments of +5.
    • Range of Movement: 11~14 (normally 12), 1/3 chance of getting 11, 1/3 chance for 12, 1/6 chance for 13, 1/6 chance for 14 movement.
    • All soldiers will have the same Health Points, value is defined by the difficulty level.
  • Hidden Potential - As a Soldier is promoted, their stats will increase randomly.
    • HP: Heavy has 60% chance per level of +1 HP, all other classes have 50%.
    • Will: same increase as without Hidden Potential (variable between 2 to 6). With OTS's Iron Will, all classes can gain up to 13 Will per rank.
    • Aim score raises depend on the soldier's class:
      • Sniper: 3-9
      • Support: 2-6
      • Assault: 1-5
      • Heavy: 0-2
      • Movement: Heavy has 10% chance of +1 move, all other classes have 20% per rank gained.
    • These values are taken from Nexusmods wiki

Unlocked after winning on Normal or higher difficulty

  • Red Fog - Any wounds taken in combat will degrade a soldier's stats for that mission.
    • -15 aim with light wound, -30 with heavy wound.
    • Even 1 point of damage is considered as light wound, even though that HP is from armor.
    • Movement is impaired by wounds too.
    • Debuff is not cured with Medikit heal.
  • Absolutely Critical - A flanking shot will guarantee a critical hit.
    • Shots to flanked or exposed target has +100% crit chance, rather than +50%.
    • Hardened target has -100% chance to hit by critical, rather than -60%.
      • So it negates +100% from exposed penalty, but still 10% higher chance to be critically hit than normal. (where they has 60% - 50% = 10% resistance to crits.)
  • The Greater Good - The secret of psionics can only be learned by interrogating a psionic alien.
  • Marathon - The game takes considerably longer to complete.
    • This option perhaps brings the most change to overall gameplay, as storyline progression is affected directly by the changes to research time and facility construction.
    • Time for research: x3
    • Time for facilities building: x2 (ie: A Satellite Uplink now takes 28 days)
    • Cost of items and facilities: x2
      • You may want to try Marathon in Easy or Normal mode, as you'll need the additional funds (and the free satellite) to be able to manage Panic (doing so in Impossible with Marathon is very very hard: you might not be able to compensate fast enough with Abductions raising panic). And more fights between research completions means you'll rarely be out of Weapon Fragments for them.
    • Days in Infirmary: x2.
    • Marathon don't work if tutorial is activated.
    • Item requirement for researches, Foundry upgrades, cost of soldiers, interceptor costs, OTS upgrade costs remains the same. For example, satellites still take 20 days to build.
      • This actually makes a strong case for making XCOM HQ in South America, as instant early interrogations to reduce other research times may put you ahead of the game. Or, if lucky with credits, in Europe, and building laboratories to also reduce time.
    • Alien progress is slowed too. For example, first Mutons and Abductor UFOs show up in June, rather than May. Floaters and Large Scouts will still appear in the second month.
      • In effect: Storyline progression is greatly slowed, both on XCOM's end, as well as that of the Aliens. But, as the experience requirements to level your soldiers remains the same, this means that you may end up with Colonels before you even see a Muton; the higher-level Abilities giving you a combative edge against the stronger aliens that appear later.
        • With the Slingshot DLC making a Muton capture in the 2nd month plausible, it's possible to get a massive lead on Plasma weaponry--- if you focus Abduction/Council rewards on Scientists.

Unlocked after winning on Classic or higher difficulty

  • Results Driven - A country will offer less funding as its panic increases.
    • Funding is cut by 20% from countries with level 4 panic, 40% when it's level 5.
  • High Stakes - The rewards granted for stopping alien abductions are randomized.
    • This means the number of engineers or scientists (2 to 6) and amount of credits (about 100 to 300) you get is randomized. You can see the rewards before launching the mission.
  • Diminishing Returns - The cost of satellites increases with every one that is built.
    • This also increases engineer requirements for satellites.
    • Cost goes up when you complete satellites, so try to make multiple satellites at once to save money.
    • Satellite build time is decreased.
  • More Than Human - The psionic gift is extremely rare.
    • If there isn't any Psionic soldiers, then you'll automatically gain one amongst the next 6 soldiers tested on the Psionic Lab. However, after the 1st Psionic soldier the odds of getting a 2nd or 3rd will be very low.

Unlocked only after winning Impossible

  • Total Loss - Lose all gear from soldiers who die in combat.
  • War Wariness - Overall funding levels drop inexorably with every month that passes.
    • With enough time, funding levels will reach zero, leaving only the Gray Market and missions to raise credits.
  • E-115 - Elerium stores will degrade over time.
    • Elerium has half-life of 15 days, which means you lose approx. 4.52% of Elerium stock per day. (or 1% per approx. 5 hrs and 13 mins.)
  • Alternate Sources - The power requirements of all facilities are increased.
    • Power cost of all facilities are doubled. Base power (30 on classic) is doubled too, but Power Generators make same power.

Enemy Within Additions

  • Itchy Trigger Tentacle - Non-cover aliens (Mechtoid, Cyberdisc and Sectopod) have a 50% chance of firing at your soldiers on sight.
  • Training Roulette - Randomize all class abilities sets. You may have Heavies with Lightning Reflexes and Squad Sight. Does not affect base class abilities, nor abilities that require specific weapons (ex. Shredder Rocket).
  • Save Scum – Saving a game will reset the RNG seed for the shots.
  • Aiming Angles – The closer you come to flanking an enemy the more their cover bonus declines

See Also