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XCOM: Enemy Unknown was released on 9 October 2012 for Windows, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. It was developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2k Games. Second Wave was released on 8 January 2013. It has been billed by Firaxis and 2K Games as a DLC pack, although it is a mandatory title update. It does add some new and interesting options, many of which must be unlocked.
Second Wave does not add any new missions, units, or technology to the game. Instead it adds sixteen game options you can toggle when starting a new playthrough. All of these options are designed to make the game harder. In addition to these options, the PC version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown also adds a "hero" unit that was awarded to Chris Kluwe when he defeated Garth DeAngelis of Firaxis Games.
There are four default options that are available right from the get-go once the Second Wave update is finished. An additional eight options can be unlocked by completing a playthrough on Classic difficulty, and a further four options can be unlocked by completing a playthrough on Impossible difficulty.
Second Wave Options
The following options are available as soon as the update is finished:
Damage Roulette: Weapons have a wider range of damage. Normally a weapon one of your soldiers uses has a standard damage output. When you highlight a weapon to use in combat you will notice that the tooltip will offer you how much damage that weapon can do. Sometimes you partially miss and do less damage and sometimes you get a critical hit and do slightly more damage. This option will make that range larger, generally seeming to cater towards the lower end of the spectrum for your forces, and make even the normal hits have a range of possible damage. This change does not apply to any explosive-based weapons.
New Economy: Randomized council member funding. Normally each member nation of the XCOM Council will pay you a set amount of money each month if their nation has satellite coverage. This option randomizes that amount of money.
Not Created Equally: Rookies will have random starting stats. Normally all new recruits at the Rookie rank have the same starting stats. This option will make those stats random. Aim is normally 65, Movement is 12, and Will is 40. The new ranges are 55-80 for Aim, 11-13 for Movement, and 25-60 for Will. This can hypotehtically make your Rookies better than they normally would be, but it seems to more commonly fall into the lower ranges.
Hidden Potential: As a soldier is promoted, stats increase randomly. Normally when a soldier is promoted they have a baseline stat increase based upon their class. This option changes that and puts the stat increases into a range. Like the option above, sometimes this can result in a soldier becoming better than they normally would, but it seems to more commonly fall into the lower ranges.
Classic Completion Unlocks
Completing the main campaign on Classic difficulty will unlock the following additional options:
Red Fog: Combat wounds will degrade the soldiers mission stats. Normally your units will deal and avoid damage based on terrain, weapon type, and personal stats. This option will make it so that in addition to these factors, you suffer a penalty to both Aim and Movement. If you have any damage at all the penalty is -15% to Aim. If your soldier is below about half health the penalty becomes -30% to Aim. Healing a soldier with a medkit will not eliminate this penalty even if it brings you back out of those health ranges.
Absolutely Critical: A flanking shot guarantees a critical hit. Normally a flanking shot has a +50% chance to be a critical hit. This option changes that to a +100% to be a critical hit. This option works both ways, so it can help you as well as hurt you.
The Greater Good: Psionics can only be learned from interrogating a psionic alien. Normally you can build a Psionics Lab as soon as you kill a Sectoid Commander and perform an autopsy it. You can then send soldiers to the lab for ten days to see if they have the psionic gift. This option makes it so you need to capture and interrogate a Sectoid Commander in order to build a Psionics Lab.
Marathon: The game takes considerably longer to complete. This option changes the way a number of things work to make a playthrough take a significantly longer amount of time to finish. All costs associated with both engineering and science divisions are doubled, so weapons and interceptors require more money and items as well as all research and foundry options. Construction times for foundry projects are doubled as well and research times for science division are tripled.
Results Driven: A country offers less funding as its panic level increases. Normally as long as a country remains a member of the XCOM Council you will receive their standard amount of funding each month while you have satellite coverage. This option will reduce that amount of funding by 20% if their panic rises to level four and by 40% if their panic rises to level five.
High Stakes: Random rewards for stopping alien abductions. This option changes the rewards for alien abduction missions from being some mix of two engineers, two scientists, or $200 to a random number of engineers, scientists, or money. You will still be able to see what the reward will be from the geoscape, it simply will not be standardized as it normally is.
Diminishing Returns: Increased cost of satellite construction. Normally satellites cost $100 and require five engineers to construct. This option will make the monetary and engineer requirements go up each time you build a satellite.
More Than Human: The psionic gift is extremely rare. The exact factors that go into determining if a soldier has the psionic gift or not are not commonly known, but it seems to revolve around rank and Will level. When a soldier is sent to the Psionics Lab these values are put into a formula that has some randomized values to decide if they will receive the psionic gift or not. This option seems to make those values more restrictive so it is less likely that a particular soldier will receive the psionic gift.
Impossible Completion Unlocks
Completing the main campaign on Impossible difficulty will unlock the following additional options:
War Weariness: Funding goes down over time. Normally funding from XCOM Council member nations is static. This option will make monthly funding sources decrease the longer the game goes on.
E-115: Elerium degrades over time. Normally Elerium obtained from missions does not degrade over time at all. This option will make it so that Elerium in your supply will disappear every day. This works out to losing roughly half your current Elerium supply every fifteen days.
Total Loss: Lose all soldier gear upon death. Normally if a soldier is killed you still keep all the gear they had on them and can equip it to another one of your soldiers. This option makes it so you lose all gear equipped to soldiers when they die.
Alternate Sources: The power source cost to build facilities increases dramatically. This option doubles all power costs at your base. All three types of power generators still generate the same amount of power as normal.
PC Only Additions
The PC version of Second Wave also includes a new "hero" unit. Minnesota Vikings kicker Chris Kluwe defeated Garth DeAngelis of Firaxis Games in a multiplayer match of and received a special sniper version of himself with this addition to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. To use this sniper unit, change the first name of any of your soldiers to "Chris" and the last name to "Kluwe" and that unit will change into a new sniper unit. This unit is as powerful as the previously available developer units and will shut off all achievements for that playthrough, so be warned.
A DLC pack titled Progeny was apparently originally planned for a January 2013 release. This pack was much like Slingshot and featured three new Council missions, a recruitable psi soldier named Annette, and five new achievements. Because of the negative reception to Slingshot on the 2K forums, this was apparently cancelled altogether and is not planned to be released.
The achievements were uploaded to Steam shortly after the release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but were removed on 8 Janaury 2013 when Second Wave went live. Before they were taken down, this is what the achievement list looked like:
The Chase Is On - Complete Portent (10 Gamerscore / Bronze Trophy).
Disaster Averted - Complete Deluge (10 Gamerscore / Bronze Trophy).
Great Minds Think Alike - Complete Furies (20 Gamerscore / Silver Trophy).
Saved to Savior - Have your newest ally volunteer for the most difficult duty (30 Gamerscore / Gold Trophy).
No Sweat - Complete Deluge without activating more than 2 valves (30 Gamerscore / Silver Trophy).
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is (c) Firaxis Games and 2K Games