I was playing Classic Ironman the second I got it, but found it intensely un-fun, so I played a savescum-heavy run of Classic without Ironman anywhere in sight and had a lot more fun and learned a lot. But sadly, the aliens are just too shitty at the game for saving to be necessary, and the ability to save in-mission is a bit overkill. I did get a lot of save use to avoid stupid stuff, or at least stuff I consider to be fairly stupid, such as discovering enemy abilities for the first time:
"Oh, so Cyberdiscs flip out into a wacky long-tailed bug monster that can throw grenades with its tail? Well... oookay."
And while that experience may be part of that whole XCOM thing, well, the second time you see it you're expecting it so whatever man! Can only be surprised once! Once I knew what things could do, I basically went through the entire game with my soldiers barely getting a scratch. I usually then loaded to remove these scratches to see how it COULD be done properly. Sadly a lot of the strategy boiled down to avoiding LOS, not bunching up, and using snipers to the abuse of the enemy since again Range and Damage and Accuracy > Anything Else. As an aside, I know one source of rage about the game is the pre-seeded RNG but I love that. I want to know that I'm not just getting a 'better' roll the second time.
In any case, the loss of soldiers to enemy fire is and is not really a source for tension. Losing a soldier 'just because' doesn't increase tension unless the 'just because' is done in such a way that it makes it clear the situation is so out of control that there's no fault on the player's end. If the player is at fault, they're going to resent being punished for something that happens without any warning or feedback. Those things are kinda bullshit, and while they can happen from time to time without ruining things I think total bullshit out of nowhere should be kept to a minimum. I consider this game's Panic System to be, in most ways, total bullshit out of nowhere.
Soldiers shooting other soldiers, especially snipers with that long, slow windup and aim, just looks retarded and has no similarity to the "Berserk" state in the original. In that game you DID at least have some warning. Before going Berserk, unless someone was Psi-Panicked to hell and back, you'd have soldiers starting to panic, drop their weapons, etc. You'd have buildup and you had a depletion of the Morale stat. You KNEW it was coming, or it came out of nowhere because suddenly 6 members of the squad were dead from a grenade. Shitty but at least explainable. It's much harder to explain how a soldier goes batshit insane after taking 2 damage. Aren't these the best of the best? Have they never taken a hit in combat? Or been prepared for one? Furthermore, I've seen people get hit, be okay, and their BUDDY goes batshit insane. They should have absolutely SEEN a buddy take fire before, even if they haven't ever been in the line of fire themselves.
I expected the panic system to have soldiers doing the "head down" or "hunker down" a lot. I thought that would be reasonable, especially if the enemy is using a suppression ability on them, I could see them ignoring an order to move or shoot and just stay there until bailed out. Or if terribly wounded, going into freak-out mode and screaming for medical help. But sobbing that they "want to go home" after being shot once seems... unseemly for my soldiers, robs me of my immersion, and totally distorts the balance of the game.
THAT SAID, once you know how to avoid enemy LOS and deny them any chance at all to shoot at you, you're well on your way to taking them down without ever suffering more than some casual damage. And then it just is kinda dumb.
I'll play on Ironman again soon, since I think I can do it this time, but it saddens me how shallow the game is. The 'tense' action of possibly losing a soldier to this game's brand of horseshit is okay but it still doesn't feel satsifying. I don't really get the feeling I'm really doing anything 'wrong' in this game. It's mostly about not having sufficient information that, once gained, makes the next step easy. That's like playing Minesweeper with infantry. Not really a strong tactical foundation.
So, I'm going to try and install these second wave mods. I haven't had time to finish the damn game yet, but the mere act of restoring the abduction and terror ships is going to change the entire thing dramatically. A lot of mods probably could fix stupid shit too, like making the labs double research speed or something, while making the projects take tons of time longer.
You'll need to play in offline mode. Yesterday they invalidated all the mods by asking the game to call back to home for the ini rather than letting people use the local one for singleplayer. Herp a derp I guess.