The game difficulty in XCOM 2 can be set at one of four levels: Rookie, Veteran, Commander, or Legend. Each difficulty setting affects a large number of game parameters, creating a significant learning curve between difficulties. The difficulty setting can be changed (up or down) at any point in the game but may affect the player's ability to claim certain achievements. Additionally, higher difficulty levels are designed to be much more challenging earlier in the game, but do not scale as quickly as easier difficulties; while the gap may narrow as the game progresses, harder settings will remain more challenging throughout. Lower difficulty levels also provide many hidden advantages for the player.
Game description: "Appropriate for players new to tactical games or XCOM in general."
- Rookies start with +2 HP and +10 will.
- Can get easier missions with fewer/weaker enemies on them.
- XCOM's chances to hit are all multiplied by 1.2 (a 50% shot that you see ingame is really a 50 * 1.2 = 60 shot behind the scenes).
- When a soldier misses, he is given a flat +10 aim bonus on all shots over 50% until he lands a hit (this bonus stacks for each miss in a row).
- If a soldier gets hit by an enemy, they get a stacking global -10 aim reduction on that turn, as long as you have fewer than five squad members. So, each landed shot makes it less likely that they will land another.
- If one of your soldiers is killed (leaving you with less than four), or if you bring fewer than four units into a mission, you will see a +15 aim bonus for any shot over 50% and a flat -10 enemy aim penalty for each dead/missing unit below four.
- The game will try to steer inactive enemy pods away as long as the player is fighting at least four enemies. It is still possible to trigger nearby pods, but they shouldn't wander into a fight on their own.
- Soldiers take less XP to rank up, and various activities and timers such as building or wound recovery are faster.
- Various other small tweaks, such as item costs and reward increases.
Game description: "A challenge appropriate for players familiar with XCOM."
- Rookies start with +1 HP.
- XCOM's chances to hit are all multiplied by 1.1
- Can get easier missions (the same as Rookie) with fewer/weaker enemies in them (more/stronger than Rookie, but fewer/weaker than Commander).
- When a soldier misses, he is given a flat +10 aim bonus on all shots over 50% until he lands a hit (same as rookie).
- The "less than four soldiers" bonus is now down to +10 hit bonus (from +15) and -10 enemy hit chance (the same as Rookie). It still stacks.
- The game will try to steer inactive enemy pods away as long as the player is fighting at least six enemies (up from Rookie's four).
- Soldiers take more XP to rank up than Rookie, but less than Commander. Build/wound timers are also longer than on Rookie.
- Item costs are higher than Rookie, with fewer rewards.
Game description: "A significant challenge for experienced XCOM 2 players only."
- Rookies start with the 4 base HP, no bonuses.
- Enemies are now given +1 health.
- Can get easier missions than Legend, with fewer/weaker enemies on them (more/harder than Veteran, though).
- XCOM's chances to hit have no base level modifications.
- When a soldier misses, he is given a flat +15 (!) aim bonus on shots over 50% until he lands a hit (a higher bonus than on Rookie or Veteran).
- Still greater item costs with lower rewards.
- Soldiers continue to take more XP to rank up with even longer build timers and wound recovery requirements.
- The game will try to steer inactive enemy pods away as long as the player is fighting at least six enemies (same as Veteran).
- Enemy sight lines will be larger and not as obvious.
Game description: "A longer game with no margin for error. Only the strongest XCOM players will survive. The Tutorial will not be enabled for Legend difficulty."
- Rookies start with 4 base HP (same as Commander).
- Legend is unable to get the easier mission types and all versions of the missions are as hard as they can be, including extra enemy pods not seen on Commander.
- Enemies are now given anywhere between 1-3 health and an extra 1-2 armor.
- There's no aim modification at all. No miss streak bonuses, no enemy aim penalties. What you see on the screen is now exactly what's going on.
- The game will not steer pods away from player. There is no max engagement size.
- Harder enemies will show up later, but XCOM research is also slowed.
- The strategic game is totally re-balanced, to the point that it almost winds up twice as long.
- Resource costs are higher on Legend. On this wiki the alternate item cost (if available) will be shown in parentheses, eg: (§123).
- Once having started the Doom Countdown, reducing The Avatar Project progress meter (also known-as the Doom Counter) back to below 12 only pauses (rather than resets) the Doom Countdown.
- Recovery times can be significantly higher on Legend.
- The hard cap for aim assisted shots is 95%.
- Aim assist only applies to shots that have at least 50% chance to hit.