After playing through all possible (and impossible) custom Xcom scenarios I kind of gave up on Xcom EU, just as I had given up on TFTD a long time ago. Xcom EU was far too easy, no matter what I changed in my gaming style, TFTD was boring for me (those endless missions, sigh) and I did not like the odd graphical look of the underwater alien bases and the terrain layout was too weird for me.
Then one day I downloaded the Xcom CE, found Seb76's loader and discovered the incredible tools in the files section here. I want to mention hatfarm's mod tools especially, which seems to have the most understating file description ever, they are pure editing gold. As are the map-editing tools like Mapview (which is a map-editor actually) etc., PCK-View, BombBlokes, tools etc etc.
They all have rather boring and meaningless descriptions here on the site, whereas they are actually essential and invaluable! Maybe this should be improved and changed?
Seb76's loader basically reinvented Xcom EU for me, finally things were possible that weren't before, especially the weapon/range/penalty feature triggered my interest.
So I made me my own custom Xcom.
I used the CE version of Xcom EU as a base.
First I applied all the route/rmp/MCD fixes found in the file section here.
Then I remade most maps, made them look more interesting to me. I also gave the transporters a small overhaul. e.g. I gave the Skyranger a different look, or added a safety "pod" to the Avenger and Lightning. I explained that in the according ufopedia entries.
Then I applied several features of the Ufo Extender, like the range penalty, mp3 music, stackable grenade explosions and so on.
After that I went on to balance the game:
-Most Alien stats are increased, more TU, much more health, strength more armor, more PSI resistable. I did not change their PSI skills though, this simply made the game unplayable as even the tiniest increase here makes them take over all your soldiers no matter their psi strength! The accuracy was left unchanged as well. I also gave the Silacoid and Gelatid a flying ability.
-Then I increased the already implemented weaknesses/strengths of the enemies, e.g. if an alien was weak against Plasma before, it was even worse later, if it was good against Laser before it was even better later.
-Then I changed the whole weapon concept, I made it so that no weapon becomes obsolete and the pistols are as valuable as the rifles or heavys etc. I made this by editing the resistances of the different enemies and adjusting damage values of the weapons themselves.
-All (shooting) weapons do similar damage, AP is a bit weaker, but more accurate, laser weapons are heavy, weak and inaccurate but hey, they have unlimited ammo. To make things ineresting Plasma weapons are odd now, e.g. I made a Plasma sniper which does double the damage but fires half the shots, there is a truly heavy Plasma rifle now that does good damge , but the ranged accuracy is limited etc. etc.
-The most important weapon change was the removal of redundancy: Now one weapon has one ammo only and one firemode only! This helped a lot to give each weapon a specific purpose and led to wonderful new tactics. More about this later. I also made the clip-size generally smaller to make ammo more of a tactical concern. This also had the side-effect of alines using more grenades, yay!
-I also changed the weight of different weapons and pieces of equipment. So I made e.g. the alien grenade weigh 9 and the HE(200 damage) 12, the medi-kit 20, made the weapons heavier etc etc. This equalized the weapons which is a good thing imo: The light normal grenade now is used for long ranged throws, the HE is too heavy for that etc. No weapon becomes useless anymore.
-PSI: Along with the extremely heavy PSI Controller (which reduces TU's that way) and the increased alien PSI strength this was further dramatically reduced by enabling the Line-of-view requirement in the UFO Extender. This was one game-breaking feature for me before, as basically everything else became useless once you had PSI in the original game. Now there are one or two PSI specialists which will do as much damage as other soldiers overall.
-Blaster Launchers: Just like the old PSI this was a game-breaking weapon imo, once you had them you wouldn't need anything else. So I gave them a big penalty, they are MUCH weaker now: I decreased the damage to 60! And that of the Hover launcher tank to 70! It still is very useful as a weapon to finish weakened threats, but no longer it is the ultimate weapon.
-Tanks: I made the hover tanks VERY fragile, they have flying ability so what? I also balanced the tank damages out, each of them has a special role now, there is the quick-fire cannon tank and the heavy damage but slowfiring laser-tank etc.
-Armor: Maybe one of the most important changes: The personal armor has the strongest frontal protection but is weak everywhere else, the power armour gives all-around protection, is unharmed by INC (this made it an anvironment suit for specially armed troops) but is not so strong at the front as the personal armor. The flying suit is the weakest of all. You can fly with it, that's more than a compensation imo.
-Incendiaries: Each weapon has one ammo now and the HC became a (200 damage) napalm cannon now. The "Funky fire" feature of the UFO Extender finally made those weapons useful and truly something to fear. By aliens and by your troops if they do not wear the right armour! The NC now serves a very unique purpose: It is used to engulf large areas in flames, damaging a lot of things over a long time. You will score a lot of "passive" kills that way by roasting unconscious aliens, lol. And it weakens most aliens for the other soldiers. Still, some aliens are unharmed by fire, so go figure.
-Weapons do have 1 fire mode now only. Now there are snipers, scouts, guards and "breachers", your soldiers become specialists that way. E.g. A soldier with low reaction but good strength takes the machine gun, a soldier with high accuracy the rifle, a light-weight and quick dude becomes the guard with a snap-fire weapon. It also led to more tactics, you will base them after observing an aliens loadout.: It has a snap-fire weapon, so you will try to avoid the reaction fire during your turn, it has a aimed/burst wepon so you will keep away from it at the end of the turn etc.
-I also made all base defences useful, later ones do have the advantage of taking up less space only. (1 fusion defense instead of 5 missile defenses).
-Base facilities are MUCH more expensive now. The base also starts without a workshop and a lab. Scientists and Engineers are much more expensive, too. MUCH more. This leads to a slower gameplay which is a good thing imo. No longer you will be in Cydonia after the first month :-P
-Everything is more expensive and you will get a lot less money when selling things. No longer can you depend on the income of selling recovered Heavy Plasmas only. You will have to plan, to postpone certain things, you will have to really earn your money the hard way and you will have to take more care when shooting at things, you might destroy them and get even less money. A tank now is truly expensive, as is an Interceptor, you will no longer be able to stock unlimited craft ammo as you will not have the money for it. A succesful mission in an alien base now gives you ~900.000 income. Enough for buying one scientist and enough ammo for a quarter of the month. If the month is very quiet.
-Cosmetical changes: I renamed all weapons. There now is a machine gun (the old AC with burst-fire only), a napalm cannon, a plasma rapid (the plasma pistol with burst-fire only), a plasma sniper (the old rifle with aim-fire only, one shot per round doing more damage though), the snap-firing Plasma Thrower etc etc. I also changed the Ufopedia descriptions. That is for the english version. I also use Bagirov's uniforms mod.
I am happy. Xcom now is the game that I ever wanted. It was awesome before, but now it is close to be perfect. There are some observations I made:
-Do not use any game exploits, they ruin the game. E.g. Do not wait until it is day on terror mission, do them as soon as possible, the civilians depend on you! Increasing the difficultly now makes formerly unused things essential: The mindprobe now helps you to decide if you will attack that alien in that round or if it is worth wasting a shot at it with a not-so-good weapon. The motion scanner now is extremely useful, e.g. when disembarking in night or to "see" how many aliens are left in that scout.
Smoke grenades are essential now, too. No longer can you ignore any threats because of your armor. Do not milk those bases and ufos. Play fair, you will benefit from it. Do not reload every move, accept it when things do not work. Retreat and abandon a mission, things like that. Don't cheat.
-Some changes (the tank stats) are not properly displayed in the Ufopedia, it seems the game does not look at the EXE stats when displaying those. The stats work in the battle, though.
-Psi and Blaster Launchers are game-breaking weapons in the original game. They make everything else useless. Also: Incendiaries are rather useless in the original game. Now that they do damge they are invaluable.
-Removing the redundant fire-modes and ammo really helped the feeling of the game tremendously. That with the range/penalty of the Ufo Extender makes the game much more interesting. You will have truly unique soldiers, e.g. the Guy in the flame-proof armor with the Napalm cannon clearing areas, the flying suit sniper, the machingunner with the heavy frontal armor protection opening UFO doors and and and.
-Being able to open doors by right clicking is nice :-D
-Using a scissor/rock/paper balance for weapons and aliens also made the game more interesting. Good luck when you forgot e.g. the grenades when facing Mutons or Laser weapons when facing sectopods. The original game had a good idea there, but it did not implement it strong enough. That and no longer weapons become obsolete. And it will lead to awesome situations during missions.
-If you change weapons fire modes, make sure that the Heavy Plasma always has a snap-fire mode, otherwise aliens become defensless as they only reaction-fire in snap mode. The HP is THE main weapon of them, so make sure it is useful and usable for them.
-Editing the PCK files is tricky, it is easy to mess the graphic files up. I made some minor changes and they showed up in the game correctly but they corrupted the Ufopedia presentation etc etc. Replacing graphics with existing ones works, though. I think it has to do with the color palette...
-Editing the number of aliens per mission is not really important, better focus on their stats and characteristics.
--Ok that's all, folks!
A big thank you to all of you editing/mod/programmer guys, it is incredible what you do/acchieved with this game! BombBloke, Hatfarm, Seb76, Bagirov, etc etc you are awesome! I love Xcom again.