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I've read that what rookies rank up into is random, and I know that there are specific plot-related missions.

After I returned from a mission I saved the game. I then went through the process of the normal between-mission activities and then went to select my next mission. I was alerted of alien abductions in three countries

  • China: Easy
  • Brazil: Very Difficult
  • Canada: Very Difficult

I decided I didn't really like my options all that much and hit reload. I went through and made the same post-mission decisions/assignments/purchases as I had before and again went to select my next mission. I was presented the same three countries and difficulty levels as my options.

I reloaded again. This time, I changed my post-mission actions. Even still, I was given the same three options for missions.

Clearly, the next missions offered up are not completely random. So what, if anything, affects those choices?

I'm not so much concerned with the difficulty levels like this question, but more the general mission parameters.

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I believe that the next few missions are determined days (maybe as high as 20 days) in advance, so unless you reload a much older save you won't be able to affect them. –  z ' Dec 20 '12 at 14:03
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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The mission types and dates are determined at the time of the council report for the prior month. You can verify this by making a save just before the report, and one just after. UFO interceptions/landings, terror + council missions etc. will always be the same if you load the game just after but will change if you load the save before.

Update: as phantom42 notes and I've observed before also, the exact mission type will change upon reload. While council mission would always occur on May 7th, whether it's an escort/extraction/bomb defusal mission may still vary upon reloading. Similarly, type of requests from countries will vary upon reload.

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to add on the random seed are generated and stored in the save file so if as @peakxu said, you reload after you are presented with the 3 same missions then you will still get them when you reload again –  jonleech Dec 22 '12 at 4:19
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I saved before being notified of a council mission tonight and decided to reload after starting the mission, which was a VIP mission. After the reload, I got another council mission in the same location, but this time it was a bomb defusing. So, it seems the locations and overall mission/event types are stored, but not exact mission parameters. –  phantom42 Dec 22 '12 at 4:47
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As it is known that the game saves its random number generator state, it is of no surprise that reloading does not fix stuff. What of your post-mission actions, they don't and shouldn't make a difference, as the game does not make any random number rolls. It is also possible that mission generator randomizer has a different seed than, say, a hit-or-miss code, so making different decisions in a previous mission may not help either.

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If the missions aren't pre-cached, as peakxu suggests, there might be a way to change the outcome...recruit new soldiers. The soldiers' names are determined randomly, so if the game uses a single shared random number generator, the numbers that resulted in those missions could be cleared out by recruiting soldiers. Recruiting the same number of soldiers would always give the same result, but each different number of soldiers recruited would result in different missions. –  Theodore Murdock Dec 22 '12 at 4:36
    
@TheodoreMurdock Given that you can have multiple missions in a month, they'd have to be, otherwise after playing the first mission, the next mission would be random. –  Raven Dreamer Dec 23 '12 at 3:33
    
@RavenDreamer , eh, not sure what you were trying to tell :) They'd have to be what? –  Orc JMR Dec 23 '12 at 6:31
    
The missions must be precached; Consider: you have an abduction mission on the 7th and the 17th. If the mission results were not cached, after completing the mission on the 7th, you'd have a new set of random numbers, and you might not roll the mission on the 17th. Because the mission on the 17th happens anyway, it is clear that the mission on the 7th did not affect it. Thus, they are pre-cached. –  Raven Dreamer Dec 23 '12 at 6:34
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@RavenDreamer Not "results" you probably mean, but "conditions". But my theory still stands: if an RNG seed is saved and is not used for combat rolls, it will still roll identical missions any number of successive times.The only way to prove "seed-saving" theory versus "pre-rolled" is to find its vulnerability - like recruiting soldiers. If this doesn't help, then both theories adequately explain facts. –  Orc JMR Dec 23 '12 at 7:04
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