Let's discuss game mechanics that would make soldier death more meaningful, without ruining gameplay.
IIRC, a new soldier in XCOM94 costs less than 10,000 dollars. Add that to the cost of a HWP (150K/4 crew slots), the stupid Guile haircut and dungarees, and the fact your Skyranger can fit a zillion dudes in it? The message is clear: human lives are cheap.
On the other hand, the slow training mechanics, renaming mechanics, and late-game permadeath of favorite soldiers say the exact opposite thing.
So it's natural that there are two camps of XCOM players: the sort who treat their men like RTS units (manufacture, send to their death, rinse/repeat) and those who mournfully look at their reload button whenever a rookie eats plasma unfairly.
So I want to posit some ideas on how to make fake soldiers' lives matter in gameplay. I'm a mournful rookie resetter, and if I want an RTS guy to share my warm fuzzy feelings for cannon fodder, it would be better to show that player how playing my way can be as much fun as sending swarms of dudes to an early grave.
I think that Ironman and the Memorial Wall are awesome additions. Remembering individual soldier contributions increases their value.
Proposal: Morale Penalties to Recruitment
XCOM94's soldier cost is either way too high, or way too low. From a game-balance perspective, the cost should be 200,000, or zero.
200,000 because it costs about 150,000 or so to create a single U.S. soldier out of a high school grad, and we're assuming these dudes are spec ops.
Zero because the armies of the world would be chock full of volunteers. In reality, XCOM would be paying for the plane ticket for a pre-trained volunteer, and not much else. XCOM94 soldiers didn't have upkeep costs, so I'm ignoring that.
Anyway, the fun part. I suggest that the time cost of replacing the soldiers should be tied to combat results.
*If XCOM's overall rating is poor, it should take longer for new recruits to show up, showing reluctance of new soldiers to join a crap organization.
*If you only give armor to your elites, but let a rookie die in a few consecutive missions, the soldiers should notice that, and their grumbling should discourage new recruits.
*The worse your rating is, the better your recruits should be mentally. People who join an organization in desperate times tend to be aggressive self-starters.
Anyone see where I'm going with this? Thoughts?