UFO Legacy Defence: Xenonauts Preview

By Alec Meer on October 1st, 2011 at 1:36 pm.

Tiny men, you trust me so much. And yet my recklessess and lack of foresight means I am your DOOM

OK, I admit it: I am as cynical as you when it comes to half-suspecting that enormously ambitious, fanbase-courting independent projects announced before work on them has even begun carry the dread stench of vapourware. I’ve been very interested in Xenonauts for some time, if faintly horrified that lead designer Chris England claims he made the final decision to pour his life savings into funding an X-COM remake based on an offhand oh-if-only comment I made on RPS, but I confess wasn’t entirely convinced it would see the light of day. Partly this was due to the many tales of infamy concerning amateur game devs who started working together remotely without ever actually meeting – online tensions can run so high – and partly because I’ve been waiting a long time for an X-COM remake that actually feels anything like X-COM. It is not in my nature to believe that dreams can come true.

A playable build of Xenonauts was on show in the RPS-sponsored Indie Arcade at the Eurogamer expo last week, and pretty much everyone I spoke to about it said the same thing: “well, it’s X-COM,” they offered with a wide grin. They didn’t say what worked or what didn’t or what they’d change or anything like that – they just said “it’s like X-COM.”

I can’t think of a greater compliment for any game.

I think the same thing. And I’m struggling to know what to say about Xenonauts as a result.

Again, this is a compliment. Show me one of those Euro-made UFO games that came out a few years ago, and I could gripe at you for hours about what they did wrong and why they didn’t feel right and ewww this and ugh that. I don’t have those gripes here – not yet anyway, as I have only played a fraction of the game – because Xenonauts feels right: from the tension of alien-hunting on the ground to the micromanagement of soldier inventories and skills to, yes, the destructible buildings. It is clearly made to be X-COM remade for modern resolutions and with a clutch of the interface and control improvements strategy games have seen over the last two decades.

It isn’t simply a slavish remake, however. For a start, the setting has moved from overtly 90s-styled near-future sci-fi to an alien invasion in the midst of the Cold War, and with that comes a more subdued palette and a more military-realistic look. Much was made at the Expo of how dour your soldiers looked on their inventory screens – surly, tired, not handsome, clearly having a bad time. It’s drawn some complaints, but I am entirely behind this – send me into the middle of a desperate battle against an enemy unknown and you’re not going to find me smiling or spending time gelling my hair into a Rob Liefeildesque upright spray of preposterous posing. These guys are in a terrible situation, and it is only right that this dread knowledge would be written all over their scowling faces.

There’s a crisp two-dimensionality to Xenonauts, most everything in it looking as though it’s been clipped neatly out of cardboard. It’s unusual, and that’s for the good – again, this is trying to be its own game despite the comforting blanket that is a genuine X-COMiness. The higher resolution isn’t tokenistic, either – as well as meaning a sleeker interface in the turn-based battles, the global view screen now holds a ton of at-a-glance information, which in X-COM you’d be delving into sub-menus for, placed neatly into the space around the side. It looks thoroughly modern and has, I think, made a lot of smart decisions about how to re-present the slew of stats and facts that a game like this requires without interfering with that familiarly vintage flow or feel.

Visually, it evokes X-COM without blantantly just being X-COM – the camera angle is the same and the original’s key tropes – the globe, the radar-based air chases, the grid-based, top-down base, the troop carrier craft with a drop-down door and a phalanx of somehow nervous-looking soldiers waiting to be unloaded into an ominously silent battleground. It’s the feel – that’s the thing. That nebulous X-COMminess that has evaded so many other pretenders to the Gollops’ forcibly abandoned throne. Balancing the urge to rush my soldiers forward to locate the enemy with the itching dread that one step too far would mean sudden death. Deciding that 40% odds of a shot being on target were odds enough, instead of spending my last action points on getting my guy to cover when he’s eyeball-to-eyeball with a distressingly humanoid alien foe.

Worrying, plotting, gambling, grimly/joyfully blowing up a wall to get a quicker, safer, but noisier view inside a darkened building. Doing things that felt like second-nature, but in an unquestionably 2011 game. There is new stuff – like an expanded air chase mode and soldier inventory/stat management system, a more thought-out cover system or needing to first shoot out a window before you can shoot through it – but it seemed like evolutions of a known and successful formula, not change for the sake of change.

All this even though Xenonauts still has plenty of work to be done – the dev kept apologising for placeholder art and buggy features. That stuff doesn’t matter, because Xenonauts really exists, is really real and really does what it promised it would do. Really. You’re going to very happy. The game’s full launch is some time away yet, but if you pre-order now you’ll get access to the build I played at the Expo, plus future updates (and, of course, you’ll be helping to fund development).

I’m not sure, at this stage, exactly what it is that X-COM fans will get angry about, but I am quite sure they will – maybe the grumpy-looking soldiers, maybe the slightly fussy air combat, maybe the less sci-fi design of the human forces and weapons, maybe the fact you can’t blow your way inside a UFO as you can a building – but I am quite sure it will be little more than nit-picking. With 2K’s (let’s put it mildly) divisive XCOM FPS fast approaching, there just isn’t a better time for Xenonauts to exist.


Xenonauts will be released when it’s finished, but access to early builds is available immediately to anyone who pre-orders.

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166 Comments »

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  1. simoroth says:

    The screenshots remind me a lot of Swat II.

    Everyone always banters on about Xcom and Syndicate. Where’s the love for SWAT II? It got turned into a FPS with Swat III… if only RPS had been about then to pour on the scorn.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      I played a little bit of SWAT II, and enjoyed it, but never bought the game myself.

      It’s available on GOG now though, isn’t it?

    • Srethron says:

      Weren’t Irrational and Ken Levine involved with one of the FPS SWAT games? That might have had something to do with them not being heaped full of scorn. Although I never played the series, so I can’t really comment.

    • Nick says:

      SWAT 2 was utterly terrible.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Irrational made SWAT 4, which was the best SWAT and possibly one of the best games ever made.

    • Bull0 says:

      The thing is, Swat 3 was actually really good. It was densely tactical and unforgiving, whereas modern FPS remakes are generally dross – they’re just console-friendly unit shifters. That’s the distinction for me.

      I’m very excited about this, and I’m going to bite the bullet and pre-order. I both want to support it and want to pore over what they’ve done so far, so it’s win-win.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      On the other hand, have you seen Syndicate? It looks fucking gorgeous; we need more cyberpunk games, and it looks like it’s going to deliver.

      It also looks like it could be a fun FPS.

    • Bull0 says:

      Yeah, the trailer was nice, it’s just too soon to tell if there’s going to be any depth to it. I’m hopeful, because it was pretty. I just want cyberpunk along the lines of Neuromancer rather than, say, Lawnmower Man.

      …Comparing a book to a film is pretty unfair, I guess, but it was better than saying “I want it to not suck”

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      El_MUERkO says:

      SWAT was made by Irrational who are a thoughtful developer. Badger them irregularly on twitter about making a sequel after Bioshock Infinite.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Swat 3 was the best of the Swat games definitely. And yes, I have seen Syndicate. I’m not completely opposed to the remake or anything. But it looks rather shit. Couldn’t give two fucks about it. But we do get the fantastic Skrillex remix of the theme tune which I loved.

    • Syra says:

      Well SWAT 4 is amazing, so that’s why there was no scorn…

    • Dreamhacker says:

      SWAT 5 with a modern gfx engine, online COOP and gameplay like SWAT 4 would been incredibly cool. Although the Zombie-SWAT 4 Irrational was playing around with sounded intriguing too.

    • subedii says:

      I’ve been craving for a SWAT 5 for some time now.

      And also simultaneously dreading it, because I have a sinking feeling that if it were to arise, it’d be farmed out to some devs who are “big fans, really HUGE fans of the series, really! And that’s why we’re so intent on keeping true to the spirit of the gameplay.”

      Shortly before proceeding to add in health regen, base the gameplay model more around CoD and ballistic Hollywood / Michael Bay movie combat, and just generally taking it in the same direction as the Rainbow 6 series.

      As an aside, it was always the ironic thing with XCOM. Because as tonnes have people have said before, if Irrational had hewed closer to their SWAT 4 gameplay mechanics, that would’ve actually been a really good way of translating the concept of the early games into First Person. Ken Levine loves to talk about the “tension” and dread behind the original XCOM games, that’s something SWAT 4 had in spades.

      I even honestly believe that SWAT 4’s gameplay mechanics would work out fine console-side (with perhaps a little tweaking, but in general I felt it was actually a pretty accessible game in terms of its mechanics), and give it something more unique to separate it from the competition. Scheduled for release as it is, alongside Mass Effect 3 (I bet that’s going to change, otherwise they really are giving it the worst possible chance), it could use it.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      Although I would ask nothing more of SWAT 5 than for it to be SWAT 4 with modern gfx/physics tech…

      …I wouldn’t mind a slow-mo feature when busting through doors :)

  2. Premium User Badge

    Andy_Panthro says:

    I pre-ordered a week or so ago, such was my faith that they will complete this to a high standard.

    I’ve not being playing the pre-release/alpha versions though, I’m happy enough to wait for the full release.

    • cptgone says:

      same here :)

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      HermitUK says:

      After playing it at the Expo, I stuck in a pre-order the following day. I was really impressed, particularly with the interface. Plenty of tactical depth (love the new cover system and the air battles), with an interface that feels much more user friendly than UFO/TftD managed. Add in some proper tooltips before launch and I could easily recommend this to people who find the older XCom’s are too dated to get into.

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      Wisq says:

      Preordered back in April, just based on hope.

      Well, that, and seeing that they were doing decently well, and that even if I gave them money and they failed, I would feel worse if I didn’t give them money and they failed.

    • enobayram says:

      I’m too scared to go to their website, what if I end up donating my life savings…

      I’m glad this is really happening, I would be even gladder if you could also choose a real time battle option as in Apocalypse, but I’m hoping that this will be available, at least with a mod.

      Now, who’s developing a proper re-make for the Master of Magic?

  3. LionsPhil says:

    Borrrrring. Should have made it a cinematic FPS.

    • subedii says:

      I hate constant comments like this. You think you’re so knowing don’t you?

      It should have been a Wii game. THAT’s where the money is.

    • Unaco says:

      There’s already an FPS in the works. Wouldn’t want them to just do the same thing as that game, would you? This way we get both… A ‘remake’ with the mechanics and gameplay of the original XCOM, and a big budget, flashy FPS. Win-win, no?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Don’t you mean a Facebook game, subedii?

    • abremms says:

      LionsPhil, you are absolutely right. wtf is this isometric BS? Am I some sort of sky god looking down on the world? FPS is the only genre that makes any sense, or has any value at all.

    • Dozer says:

      Hmm. Unatco, surely you didn’t miss the sarcasm in Lionpill’s comment?

      Or perhaps I missed the sarcasm in yours…

      Anyway, X-Com as a Facebook game would be great! Especially if you need to recruit your friends to act as soldiers, scientists, engineers, radar station operatives, and vending machine repairmen. It could stream the outcome of every single gunshot to your friends’ newsfeeds!

    • Widdershin says:

      I’m sick of this pandering to inadequate consoles. It’s iOS or bust, damn it!

    • iGark says:

      Only Apple fanboys buy iOS devices. Android remake please

    • jankenbattle says:

      My main favourite thing about this sub-thread is that someone misread and repeated a username “Unaco” as “Unatco.”

      It gives me good feelings from 2000!

    • Bull0 says:

      I always read his username as Unatco, and have to mentally correct myself. I think he’s probably giving me a brain tumour.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Bah. If I can’t play it on my N-Gage, it isn’t worth playing.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Thats the first time I’ve realised its not Unatco

    • DrGonzo says:

      Unaco neither gets, nor makes jokes.

    • FRIENDLYUNIT says:

      Obvious and casually tokenistic troll comment is …. UNEXPECTEDLY WILDLY SUCCESSFUL!!!

  4. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    I sure like the hand-drawn pictures… beats rendered aesthetics all the time…

    • Ringwraith says:

      …and I wonder why I find anime art style games almost always look good these days.

      Actually, I don’t, it’s nice they can be made to look nice without spending all of the budget on it.

    • Cinnamon says:

      They said in an interview with TB that they rendered the art with 3d software but then had it all drawn over by hand because it didn’t look good enough.

    • atticus says:

      I second that, Frankie.

      This is why it’s possible to play and enjoy titles like Baldur’s Gate in 2011, but not Neverwinter Nights. Even an old title like Transport Tycoon Deluxe is enjoyable due to this fact.

      Game developers should draw more and render less, that’s my opinion.

    • Josh W says:

      Don’t totally agree with that, I’m an aesthetic completeness man myself: Stylisation lasts because it is what it is, it’s not a bad version of something else, but works with the limitations of it’s medium.

      You can go to retro-style low res art, abstract polygonal art, 3d mario, this, tf2, loads of stuff has it’s own art style, neverwinter instead tried to focus on a wow factor that no longer wows.

  5. FalseMyrmidon says:

    Where’s Gamespy when you need someone to write about why a game should be an FPS?

    • Dozer says:

      Is Gamespy still going? (I’m not interested enough to Google for the answer.)

    • subedii says:

      He’s referring to a recent Gamespy article wondering why Blizzard would go with such a bizarre decision as to not make Diablo 3 an FPS

      http://uk.pc.gamespy.com/pc/diablo-iii/1195932p1.html

      “As a lover of first person games, the isometric camera system in Diablo III felt very unfamiliar, and I inevitably wondered why Blizzard didn’t make the leap to first person like so many other developers.”

      Much bemusement naturally followed in the Sunday Papers thread last week.

    • Srethron says:

      I guess you missed their editor-in-chief’s, “Diablo 3 would be worth playing if only it was a corridor-based FPS! …guys? Guys, where’d you go?” article.

      Edit: beaten.

    • subedii says:

      In fairness to the author, they still said that Diablo 3 should remain as an isometric game. It’s just that the reasoning was still wholly specious and stupid (Basically because an isometric perspective is “fresh” and “new” which is why the game has more of a chance with it).

    • qrter says:

      I managed to completely miss that little essay. That’s major gaming sites for you, they operate much like 24 hour news channels – fill her up with content, any content will do!

      “Hey, Bennett was joking yesterday during lunch, he said something like ‘Diablo 3 should’ve been an FPS’.. what a dick..”
      “Ha ha..”
      “Ha ha..”
      “Wait- Bennet, could you spin that out into, say, a gazillion words?”
      “Uh.. yeah, I suppose so..”

    • Big Daddy Dugger says:

      If D3 was a FPS then maybe the Diablo franchise would be playable…as is it’s about the most mindless 1 button nonsense in all of gaming. Like seriously more boring than generic MMO’s. Peace outtie home slice.

  6. Ernesto says:

    I’m really looking forward to this althogh I never played the original X-COM.

    More games with beautiful isometric graphics!

  7. DK says:

    It’s great, but it has a few problems that come from sticking too close to X-com. The interface, especially on the ground, needs some serious work. Giving orders near the bottom and right walls of buildings is a crapshoot, never knowing if you’ll select something or hit the right square to move to. The combat is a little too drawn out (animation wise), and needs a “speed me up” option.

    It still has the biggest X-com problem though – the lone alien hiding in a barn in the corner of the map. And the player having to tediously go over every square inch (literally square!) just to “defeat” a non-issue.

    It absolutely needs the “if surviving aliens < x, charge player (either his men, or if that seems cheaty, his transport).

    • zeroskill says:

      Im sure they said you can win missions by securing an UFO (killing all aliens inside the UFO and holding it for 5 turns) to win. You wont have to wander the entire map trying to find that last alien (and possibly die horribly) to finish a ground mission.

    • DirtGunfrey says:

      I recall reading the same thing somewhere. That would explain the ‘Aliens Escaped’ line on the score card up there.

  8. Srethron says:

    Please bring back the magic, Goldhawk. Fingers crossed for you.

  9. Zarx says:

    For the complaints, the art style seems a tad bright, clean and cartoony the air combat is just off and the cold war setting is a tad off putting, tho I do like alternative history fiction.

    But all those things can be safely ignored if they can manage to bring even half of the magic in the gameplay of the original X-com to a modern engine with HD widescreen support and new AI weapons and maps.

  10. Eclipse says:

    they should really add shadows in the isometric view… it doesn’t look bad, but.. add shadows for buildings and characters please

    • pipman3000 says:

      They’ll get to that if it isn’t torn apart by drama and abandoned like every other X-com remake. (It’s a curse)

  11. subedii says:

    For those actually looking to see what a (still very early) build of the g ame looks like, TotalBiscuit has a 15 minute interview up with the devs from the Eurogamer expo, where they show some gameplay footage and talk about some of the changes.

    Of particular note is how they’re upping the aspect of intercepting and shooting down UFO’s, which looks like it’ll be another cool aspect in itself.

    Naturally this style of game doesn’t appeal to many people (i.e., those guys who are always making LionsPhil comment, but literally), but I have to say that after watching that and seeing what they want to do with it, I’m pretty tempted to pre-order.

  12. buzzmong says:

    Even in it’s unfinished and somewhat buggy state, yeah, it’s certainly XCOM.

    I bought the preorder about 6 months ago, such is my faith in it. Helps that it’s not an amateur effort, more semi-pro, as some if not all the staff are paid professionals.

  13. JackDandy says:

    Sounds very interesting. I never played the classic X-com games, but I always wanted to try a modern take on the genre. And no, by modern I don’t mean a cinematic FPS that insults the old fanbase.

    EDIT: Dayum. Isn’t 30 bucks a bit steep for this sort of game?

    • Persona Jet Rev says:

      Yeah, the price is certainly a bit higher than the usual indi fare. And this is the preorder price, with the final price being $5 or $10 higher according to their website.

      I think I’ll preorder it anyway, simply because I want encourage the devs and other studios to make games like this. Still, $20 would’ve been an far easier sell for me (and probably to a few friends).

    • Cinnamon says:

      The price is very cheap for this sort of game considering what goes into making it and the number of people willing to pay but no doubt it will come down over time if you only have a casual interest in it. Myself, I don’t like paying more than ten dollars for a console game ported to PC but have no problems paying that for something like this.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      Yeah I found it to be too expensive as well. I mean, I own UFO & X-COM a few times so why would I pay 5+ times as much for a version which looks a bit better but more cartoonish and which has a few changes? If it had been a true AAA title with gorgeous 2D graphics, I’d have snapped it up in a heartbeat but to be frank, the major improvement being the graphics when they’re really not that special makes $30 just too steep. $20 with $25 after release would have been much better.

    • JackDandy says:

      I’m not someone who goes apeshit over graphics, but when they’re as basic as in this game, I really can’t understand the high price.

    • jackshuster says:

      The question is if there is a market for an X-Com remake in the first place. I’m betting these guys are playing it safe because the consumer interest in these types of remakes is more niche. Panzer Corps was similarly pretty expensive.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Jeff Vogel charges $25+ for his games, always has. He does just fine. I really don’t understand why you’re evaluating a price based mostly on graphics. That’s just weird.

      You kids are spoiled with your Steams and your bundles and digital suchlike.

      Mount&Blade Warband has a base price of 22 Euro. If you’re going to whine that it’s not worth it because the graphics are like soooo bad, I will hurt you.

    • Fiatil says:

      Or our competing indie games with similarly deep gameplay and graphics that tend to top out at $20.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      @TillEulenspiegel Well done at missing the point.

      a) this is a remake i.e. almost identical to an existing and much cheaper game, it’s not a brand new game and it’s not story driven like Spidersoft’s games.

      b) I’ve read of loads and loads of people that Spidersoft’s games are too expensive for them – maybe he’s doing find but you can dramatically increase your audience by dropping the price to a level where it’s worth buying. A remake definitely has to do this because it relies on the fans of the original to buy it and if they don’t see any of a reason to pay $30 for a game they already own and can play any day they want, they’ll simply not buy it. It’s not rocket science.

      Mount & Blade, on the other hand, was successful because it was different. There was nothing like it out there so it could ask that amount of money – even Warband. If you’re incapable of seeing the difference between a remake that is almost identical bar the graphics, and a game that stands on its own, I pitty you … the former relies on the graphics because they’re the main difference! Seriously man, think it through – it’s really not that hard to get.

    • zeroskill says:

      I would even pay 60€ for this. Much better investment then all that triple A shit coming out these days.

    • WotevahMang says:

      @TillEulenspiegel

      O Rly?

    • Premium User Badge

      JiminyJickers says:

      I have no problem paying $30 to $40 once the game is complete.

      I’m just scared to throw down that much money in pre-order in case the project fizzles out.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      @WotevahMang

      Thanks for posting than link. I actually remember this game being about $30, not so long ago. And today it’s 5 USD/3.5 EUR. Nice deal.

      As for xenonauts being quite expensive – I’d agree. Being a fan of the Ufos (particularly number one and number three, i.e. Enemy Unknown and Apocalypse) I can throw that amount into it, but I don’t see it making a huge pile of money, especially with that price. I hope I’m wrong.

    • Tomsik says:

      30$ is surely more than what most indies are asking for a preorder, but consider what people are likely to buy the game — fans waiting for a true continuation of the original, most of which are probably old enough to have a job by now (i.e. ~15 years passed by), unlike teenagers that flood FPS market.
      All in all, I think it’s a wise move on their part.

  14. Milky1985 says:

    This might sound a bit silly to fans but will there be (are there) things like tooltips on the buttons so non -players can have a go. I actually have all hte x-com games on steam, but i have never even managed to get past the first ground mission because have no idea what hte buttons do (and no manual), and i’m not that bad at turn based stuff (am used to keeping people aloive, played lots of fire emblem and the old “reset” button got a lot of sodding use)

    Did manage to shoot down a UFO once tho, apparently i did it wrong since it was over sea so theres nothing you can scavenge!

    • subedii says:

      That’s part of the “modernisation” you could call it.

      It’s not a silly question unless you view accessibility as inherently detrimental to depth, which is only the case when done badly.

      In terms of Xenonauts, IIRC they are making it a priority to allow new players to get into it, because X-Com was a relatively dense game to make headway in at the start, as you discovered.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      There’s a link on the Steam page for X-Com to download a pdf of the manual, or you can check the wiki.

    • sinister agent says:

      Tooltips are a must for a game like this. I remember my first ever game of UFO when I was a kid. Even with a manual, I was practically in tears within about 6 turns of the first mission. I had no idea what the hell was going on, except that I was getting my arse kicked from every direction.

    • Srethron says:

      I remember a similar experience at a similar age — not being able to figure out how to build a building in my base despite having read the manual, which has a section on it. There’s a lot of obtuse stuff in X-COM.

    • Nick says:

      I remember being fine with it as a kid and I started with TFTD.

  15. JayTee says:

    “maybe the fact you can blow your way inside a UFO as you can a building”

    You could in XCOM, though it did involve Blaster Bombs. But was quite a nice tactic for the larger UFOs when combined with flying suits. Blaster Bomb the roof open and jetpack in. Rar.

    • Nick says:

      you could use various explosive sto blow holes in UFOs, not just blaster bombs.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      In vanilla X-Com, you needed Blaster Bombs, though there were some wall definition bugs that let explosions or even shots “phase” through some walls. With XComUtil, Hi-Ex packs were beefed up to allow UFO hull breaching. Hopefully Xenonauts will(or perhaps already does?) allow modding to either outer hull resistance or explosive yield to change this.

    • Dozer says:

      In stock X-Com, the Blaster Bomb was the only device powerful enough to break into a UFO. And even then, it could only break through the ceiling (IIRC). I used the powerful companion X-Com-Tweaker program (forget the name of it) to make the high explosives powerful enough to break through UFO walls though.

      In the v7.5 Xenonauts build (which I just got for preordering) I discovered the UFO and broke into it quite easily, as it was made from corrugated iron. In fact I thought it was a shed. Yeah, yeah, placeholder art…

    • Nick says:

      my memory must have decieved me.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I meant ‘can’t’. :( Will fix that typo now.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      XCOMUTIL offered an option to allow “high explosives” to blow holes through UFO walls. It had to be placed directly next to the UFO wall, and it would only blow up that one wall tile (and a lot of the surrounding terrain too).

      I really loved it. The AI would generally have more aliens ready facing the entrance than not, and coming in via an alternate entrance (especially right into the control room instead of wandering the corridors) was a much better tactical approach.

      Made it feel very SWAT-like — you’d stack your guys up around the corner (close to the new would-be hole but shielded from the blast by the UFO), blow the hole at the start of your turn, maybe fire off a shot from a sniper (if you can see anything through the smoke), then pile your stacked guys in and shoot anything alien-shaped.

      It had the added advantage of usually taking out all the high-ranking aliens in one turn, meaning anyone remaining on the map would likely freak out due to loss of morale.

      I really hope they let us mod this in, even if it’s not supported in default gameplay.

  16. Bobzer says:

    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

  17. Premium User Badge

    mcnostril says:

    Well, art wise, the soldiers in the inventory screen are bloody terrible.
    Seriously need to be redone (although it’s a nice touch that just like in X-com, their portrait matches their actual image), especially considering that everything else looks rather good. I’m guessing it’s the same person doing all the fancy menu art; damn good at vehicles and environments, but apparently not so much at characters – although the post-mission screens look fine. Maybe he was trying to stick to a style he was uncomfortable with? Who knows. They ought to try to fix it if they have the chance; the default armor (not the one in the screenshot, look at it on the website) looks rather hilarious, but it’s a minor niggle (and hopefully we can tinker with the files on release and fix that stuff ourselves).

    • Urthman says:

      I really like the artwork for the inventory screen. I like the way that soldier looks and the general art style.

      Not every game has to be grimdark and “realistic”.

    • Grape says:

      I agree with mcnostril, and I think I know what he means. It’s hard to explain, but it looks like the artist is really good with “dead” objects, but not so good with living ones. He get’s the shape, but not the “soul”, for lack of a better word.

      I mean this in the sense that he seemingly “gets” exactly what an object looks like in real life, and transfers this to paper very photorealistically. Just look at the M-16 in that picture, up there – it looks like a bloody photograph. Same with the vehicles and backgrounds.

      As such, the soldier also looks completely “right” in every way – he’s anatomically correct, and his proportions are all exactly like in real life. But with people as opposed to objects, there needs to be a bit more, I think. It’s all a bit “mechanical”. It’s really hard to explain, but I hope you at least get the idea behind what I mean. It’s a bit clinical and soulless.

      Not helping, of course, is that (presumably) because the human technology in the game is supposed to be a bit retro and slightly old-timey, his uniform doesn’t really have many little details and doodads and stuff and junk you find on modern personal equipment. Which makes the entire character seem all that much more minimalistic and without much vibrance and “life”.

      Again; this is just my personal opinion, and I’m open to the fact that it might just be me that’s a bit “weird” in that regard. I suppose it just looks to me like the artist’s “field of expertise” is replicating things, not life. He’s a very good artist, just perhaps not exactly the ideal kind of artist to be drawing people up close, in that way.

  18. Jesse L says:

    Is anyone willing to tell us semi-definitively that “I preordered and have played the currently available build, it’s fun”? That’s all I want to know.

    Looks kind of fun.

    • Dozer says:

      I’ve preordered and played the current (v7.5) build, it’s kind of fun!

      Very X-Com like Alec said, but no option to save the game. No research or manufacturing yet either, you can build a base, add buildings, intercept the UFO, have a fight, make bug reports. Not sure if there’s much more that can be done at this stage.

      Apparently the v7.5 build was set up with expo demonstration in mind, so the alien’s aiming skills and weapon power are much lowerer than they should be, per interviewee on TotalBiscuit video.

    • Jesse L says:

      Thank you!

    • Grape says:

      How “noob-friendly” is it? In the sense that I’ve never played the original X-Com before, ever. Will I have a clue of what’s going on? Is it self-explanatory? Is there a tutorial, or, failing that, a manual? And please don’t tell me I actually have to independently do research on fanmade Wiki’s and stuff, just to get my bearings. That’s what puts me off all these things.

  19. Dominic White says:

    I’m faintly disappointed that this just appears to be X-Com HD. The original was a classic, but I’d have thought that a modern update would have something more akin to the combat engine from Jagged Alliance 2 V1.13 (the fan-made update, which has vastly more detailed ballistic modelling, AI, gear, etc) and the environments/destuctibility of Silent Storm, which let you pick individual bricks out of walls.

    This looks good, but I can’t help but feel like they could have done so much more with it. Maybe even run with the what the Gollop Bros’ said, about how Valkyria Chronicles ended up very much how they envisaged X-Com moving into the 3D era.

    • Cinnamon says:

      The combat is influenced by Jagged Alliance 2 and they are still working on it. But honestly, the combat model in JA2 wasn’t perfect and it encouraged very different styles of play. It was basically the opposite of UFO in that you choose to fight at night to win because you are so stealthy and superior as opposed to fighting at night being an uphill struggle.

      Silent Storm also had some very nice things but it also had a lot of horrible, horrible game design problems. At the end of the day there is a reason why UFO is still remembered as a sort of gold standard for the genre despite it appearing a bit simplistic while some games made with the Silent Storm engine are things that we all like to pretend never existed. But that sniping mechanic was so good.

    • Dominic White says:

      Like I said, JA2 1.13 is pretty much the gold standard for tactical, turn-based combat engines. It’s hugely improved over the original game. Reworked down to the underlying math, even. And Silent Storm had an amazing terrain engine that deserves to be copied. A lot of the other elements can safely be ignored.

      You can fit the traditional X-Com strategic framework around those two pillars – in fact, it’d probably be strengthened significantly by it.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Space Hulk and UFO are gold standard. JA2 is silver and Silent Storm is bronze. Both did some nice things and are more comprehensive in certain areas like realism, sure, but the gold standard games I mentioned are more playable and psychologically satisfying.

  20. pipman3000 says:

    They really nailed the “freeware x-com clone from 2001″ look on this one!

    Speaking of 2001 freeware how is Project Xenocide doing these days?

  21. Zyrxil says:

    Does anyone else think that maybe Xenoauts is too X-Comish? I mean, I seriously can’t tell the difference between this and a graphical overhaul mod. I have X-Com. I can play it whenever I want. It’s been two decades and I want something that builds on it, not just an exact remake.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      There are some new features (like revamped air combat), and a new setting. But honestly, just adding new graphics and a modern UI, and keeping the core gameplay intact, is enough for me.

      The original X-COM came long before what I might call the “UI jump”, where the elements of modern game UI started to gel. For FPSes, that would be mouselook. For adventure games, contextual cursors rather than a big list of verbs. For strategy games, zooming / minimaps / etc. For games in general, support for multiple resolutions, mousewheels, etc.

      Playing games after the “jump” just feels like they’re a bit old, but playing ones from before can feel like torture at times. There’s so much good in the old X-COM gameplay, and so much bad in some parts of the resolution-limited UI, that a remake with a modern UI is all I really ever wanted.

      Plus, there’s also the potential of sequels that take it further. I’ve not seen any hint of these, but if they achieve success with this, there’s nothing to stop them using the same engine for future improvements that break out of the old mould.

  22. sinister agent says:

    Twenty quid for a beta? Eesh. I really can’t afford that. Sorry guys. Best of luck, though.

    • Kebab says:

      This is exactly my feeling. I want them to succeed – I want a man with passion willing to plow his life investment into it to get something out of it – but at the same time I’ve been spoiled by other titles that are half this price. I paid less for Deus Ex and Portal 2. Sorry, will wait to see how it turns out.

    • Berious says:

      $30 is very steep for an unfinished indie game with no demo. If they needed money for development I wish they had gone down the Mount & Blade route, giving you a taster then the option to buy in early at a discount. I loved X-COM back in the day but with all the awesome games coming out right now I can’t really justify a $30 punt on an unknown quantity.

  23. Sardukar says:

    Pre-ordered. From small seeds come..great seeds? ANYHOO. My kids need to play this.

  24. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    Had the funds idle in my paypal account so I purchased it and was immediately put off because of the repeated warnings about there being no ground combat. Downloaded a recent build to be warned again on launch that there is currently no ground combat included.

    Played the demo and boy it IS x-com.

    And I’ve just discovered… there is ground combat. Graphics/Sound quality aside, as they are placeholder depending on budget, this looks very good so far.

    tl;dr Looks good, but I think they should update some of the text in game and stickies on the website to reflect the current, more advanced, state of the game compared to the impression they give.

    ** Some nice tweaks too… such as being able to hit 1, click to move, 2 , click to move, etc. enabling rapid squad deployment. You can move a character whilst the first action is still being carried out. Sort of like apocalypse but still resolutely turn based.

    ** Finished first ground based mission, not without bugs but really really promising.

    • Dozer says:

      I must have misread, because I thought the warnings were saying there is ONLY ground combat and pretty much everything else is a long way from complete. (No research, manufacturing, saving the game, etc)

  25. aircool says:

    Promising, promising :-))

  26. Nathan_G says:

    Think it’s worth saying the sound is being done by Kaamos Sound, the same lovely bloke who did Amnesia and the upcoming Overgrowth. So there’s that.

  27. BloatedGuppy says:

    Pre-ordered. I likely would have pre-ordered even at a higher price. And I won’t be buying 2K’s loathsome “XCOM” revision at ANY price. Take that, 2K Games! (waves fist in a futilely menacing gesture)

    • Dozer says:

      Among other things, my PC won’t run XCOM. Or X-Com. But Xenonauts runs nicely.

  28. Demiath says:

    I will have to pre-order this at some point despite the dreadfully dull SWAT 2-esque art style. X-COM’s graphical design may have been completely nonsensical, but at least it was lively and lovingly low-res rather than forgettable and hi-res (the latter being a genuine liability for many old school indie developers, who should stick to old-fashioned resolutions which suit their art resources as well as the tastes of their retro-inclined fans).

  29. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    My single complaint at this point — and it’s a relatively minor one — is that they’ve taken X-COM’s globe concept and turned it into a single flat map, with no concern for the effect on geography.

    Don’t get me wrong. I actually like the flat “whole world at a glance” approach better. But it damages the realism when it takes multiple bases to cover Russia or Canada, but a single base can cover all of Africa. Or where the poles are completely removed from the map — yes, there are no countries for the aliens to piss off there, but if your radar coverage conspicuously ignores Antarctica, why should the aliens refrain from setting up base there? Out of a sense of fair play?

    And then there’s the flight paths. If you want to get from Russia to Canada, or from Australia to South America, you obviously fly over the poles. Instead, we have to fly horizontally around the world, massively increasing the flight time and fuel usage, just because our pilots think the world is flat.

    The part that bugs me most is, there is a way to have a flat map with realistic geography. You can treat the game like a globe internally, and project that onto a flat surface with standard projection algorithms.

    Aircraft calculate great-circle paths across the globe. On the flat map, they take flat paths at the equator, or deeper and deeper arcs as you get closer to the poles. They appear to fly faster horizontally near the poles, and infinitely fast at the poles, such that they can disappear off the top/bottom edge of the map and reappear 180 degrees opposite on the same edge.

    Near the poles, radar circles get larger horizontally, to the point that they start to take up 100% of the horizontal space and meet up with themselves as you get close to the poles. (If you put something directly on the south pole, your edge of coverage would be a straight line across the map, everything below which is in range.)

    I detailed all this on the forums, but the response was pretty much what I expected: That’s a lot of work, it would confuse people who don’t know about these sorts of things, and the anticipated benefit isn’t very high. And you know, they’re absolutely right, and as such, I certainly don’t hold it against them. It probably won’t really bother me that much in the long run. But it’s still going to sit there nagging at me.

    Ah well.

    • Premium User Badge

      JiminyJickers says:

      I’m happier with the flat approach. It looks better. I do get your point about flying any direction to get to your desitnation though, as long as they implement a shortest route that can go up from Europe and end up on the bottom of the map heading to Africa.

    • Dozer says:

      As an amateur Orbiter space-pilot, I had a very similar series of thoughts the first time I played on the new geoscape. I hope they will update this – perhaps even have the option to display the world as a flat map (which I prefer) or as a 3d-rendered globe as in the original, and with the world internally being a globe as you mention.

      I don’t believe it can be that much work. It would mean rewriting the bit that works out where stuff is, and the bit that works out how far away something is from something else, and probably they’d need to figure out quaternions, and graphically they’d need to rewrite the procedure that draws range circles around things. Not insurmountable, and would make the whole ‘defending the globe‘ thing a little more globe-y.

  30. RyuRanX says:

    This is now my most antecipated game for the next few months.

  31. Sunjammer says:

    So what exactly is laudable about making a carbon copy of a game that even for its time was, at times, an incredibly unbalanced and annoying experience to play?

    I know people want to relive their past so fucking bad they don’t know what else to want than exactly what the past was, but this looks positively uninspired to me. Big whoop, you reproduced an existing work of art. You’re a god damn hero.

    • Antsy says:

      An awful lot of people feel quite differently.

    • Sardukar says:

      Ah, thank you for the “Block” option. 16 yr old rants become..less pesky. Apologies to both non-crazy 16 yr olds out there on the Net right now.

    • cptgone says:

      “So what exactly is laudable about making a carbon copy of a game”:
      games from 1994 weren’t as user friendly as today’s games. usually, they were less complex and polished too.
      an updated remake can improve upon the original.

    • Nick says:

      “usually, they were less complex and polished too.”

      *head explodes*

    • jalf says:

      games from 1994 weren’t as user friendly as today’s games. usually, they were less complex and polished too.
      an updated remake can improve upon the original.

      So to you, “improving” a game means giving it a more user-friendly interface?

      I dunno, I can see where he’s coming from. It’s been 15 years since the game they’re copying, and we’re celebrating that they’re giving it a better interface? Hooray! I guess.

      A reasonably polished X-COM clone is always a good thing, but I weep for the games industry, and the future of this genre, if recreating the same game, but with a better interface, is really all we aspire to.

    • Antsy says:

      What a lot of bloody melodrama.

      Look how many people hope for remakes of classic games like Final Fantasy VII and such. This has nothing to do with not wanting new games but to do with people wanting to play favourite games that are up to scratch with the systems they are playing upon.

      It’s not as if the large games development companies are engines of innovation when it comes to the games we are offered year in, year out.

    • subedii says:

      What Antsy said, Melodrama.

      I’ve happily paid for “More of the same, but better” a dozen times over over the years, and I’ll probably do so more as time goes on. The reason for the excitement is simply that nothing else fills that gap right now despite how long it’s been. It’s not a hard concept to wrap your head around. And it doesn’t negate newer or different concepts getting a look in either.

      They’re making some changes to the gameplay and and interface, and they’re keeping what worked in the original game. That’s the point. They’re not trying to re-invent the wheel and suddenly change the core gameplay mechanics that people loved about the first game and that are still viable today.

      Those gameplay mechanics are pretty much what people loved in the first game. It raises the question of, well, what are these massive gameplay changes that you were looking to them to make? Because it seems to me, THAT’s being done already elsewhere.

      Crikey, there have been a hundred FPS’s since Doom, but that doesn’t mean I’m supposed to dislike the idea of Hard Reset or Serious Sam.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      Go look at the number of “top PC games” listings that at least include X-COM, if not putting it up at the #1 spot.

      Here’s a game that might well have been the best PC game of all time. But its ancient and cranky UI puts it out of reach of anyone who was introduced to PC gaming later than about 2000 or so.

      Xenonauts is to X-COM like the new Battlestar Galactica remake is to the old BSG series. Yeah, they’re just telling the same old story. Yeah, they’ve taken some liberties here and there. But ultimately, they’re taking a good (but extremely dated) classic and turning it into something a modern audience can enjoy.

  32. Robin says:

    I don’t mean to damage the Xenonauts’ party, but I’d like to remind the existence of another wannabe legacy bearer: UFO2:Extraterrestrials; after a looong period of total silence, now we know it’s still alive.
    I only played the demo of the first, and it didn’t strike me. Maybe this sequel will stand out more.

  33. Sardukar says:

    Well, THAT was a fun few hours. Bye bye afternoon.

    It -is- X-Com. At least, large portions of the meaty filling that make up the X-Com pie. And smooth,pretty, runs well with Windows 7.

    Naming your soldiers after your friends ( for more friendly-fire carnage), giggling as you shoot walls down to get to the enemy, swearing as you lose your experienced soldier.

    Looking forward to research and manufacture being implemented.

  34. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Targetted for purchase, will monitor progress.

  35. jalf says:

    Hmm, I’m torn.

    Boring art style (compared to X-COM), but apparently the gameplay is there, which I guess is what matters.
    And yet, is “it’s X-COM” really the best we can aspire to, something like 15 years after X-COM? How about “it’s better than X-COM”? I have a hard time getting excited about people trying to recreate past games.
    On the other hand, it’s probably a pretty good time for someone to wave the “this genre is not dead yet!” banner, in the face of XCOM and the FPS’ification of everything. Perhaps “it’s X-COM” is what we really need right now.
    On the other, other hand, cold war and realistic-looking weapons and things? Are they *trying* to avoid standing out?

    • Sardukar says:

      It’s alpha. Art style is very alpha and they are discussing the subject on the forums right now. What is being focussed on is gameplay and maps, and those are well-done from my perspective.

      Hey, I’ll take, “It’s as fun as X Com!” over “Hey, remember X Com? Wasn’t that fun?” any day. I’m even looking forward to the FPS thingy, because if it’s good, that’s a win and if it’s bad, that’s just amusing as another developer fails to learn you can’t translate everything into FPS/TPS mode.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s good to hear the art style is “alpha.”

      Just my opinion, but I think they need to have more of a unique, non-generic art style, if they want this to take off and sell to more than those who remember the original game. It looks washed-out and sterile to me. Maybe it’s just this set of urban locations. There sure is a lot of grey there. I remember the original game being more colorful.

      It’s possible to do a cool retro turn-based game while still making it graphically interesting. Look at how much Frozen Synapse accomplishes with bare-bones graphics, but it’s an interesting art style.

  36. Ranger33 says:

    $30 is a bit steep, but I love what they are doing so I took the plunge. I for one like the graphics style overall, it’s kind of retro and fresh at the same time and looks really good in high resolution. It captures the feel of XCOM better than any of the other remakes I’ve played over the years, they all just felt “off” but the Cold War setting here feels just right. FYI what you see in the Totalbiscuit video is all there is right now as far as content goes.

  37. Hendar23 says:

    I love the art style, and I don’t think $30 is steep considering a $60 FPS lasts about 10hours these days, and I have had X-COM installed on every PC I’ve ever owned.

  38. Alexandros says:

    They already have my money, as well as my hopes for the best. With what I’ve seen so far, the team is doing a fantastic job in recreating and improving, in some cases, on a beloved classic.

  39. Sabre_Justice says:

    I seriously bet you this will make more money than 2k’s ‘XCOM’.

    Even if you’re not a fanboy, I imagine a well made and polished indie-developed game with a low price and low system requirements, that’s the legacy of an extremely popular game that continues to attract new fans and players, is probably not gonna have a hard time making back its budget. And seriously, I’d never heard of X-COM five years ago, I tried the game, now I love it.

    And on the other hand, I don’t know who ‘XCOM’ is meant to be for. It’s a generic first person shooter with token squad and upgrade mechanics bolted on halfway through development and pretty much lifted from Mass Effect- and COMING OUT ON THE SAME DAY AS MASS EFFECT 3- with no multiplayer, no brand recognition except among a fanbase that they’ve completely alienated, and apparently a preachy generic plot given focus at the expense of gameplay.

    • subedii says:

      I seriously bet you this will make more money than 2k’s ‘XCOM’.

      I’m just going to say: Do yourself a big favour and don’t put any money down on that bet.

    • coldvvvave says:

      I’m pretty sure I’m not the only X-com: UFO Defense fan who is not very interested in Xenonauts. X-com is almost perfect and, in my opinion, experience of playing it( expecially first time) is impossible to recreate. If I want X-com, I replay X-com( and I do, once in a while). This game doesn’t look like it’s offering anything new or interesting( like Silent Storm’s destructible 3d environment or JA2’s free-roaming and huge arsenal or even UFO Afterwhatevers reltime-waypoints system, though it’s not really ‘new’) and it’s kind of expensive for what I see. Hell, there are other fan remakes of X-com( like the one on Quake engine) and some are free. I don’t see Xenonauts topping Steams sales charts, though I wish them all luck.

  40. Mattressi says:

    Looks and sounds good. I’m really looking forward to this. To me, all the changes they’ve made sound good.

  41. JohnH says:

    Thank you for reminding me of this game. I signed up back when the website went online but I had forgotten about it now. Got my preorder sorted so I won’t forget about it again. :o)

  42. aircool says:

    Are the original UFO aliens in this game?

    • Premium User Badge

      imperialus says:

      To the best of my knowledge, no. Chris does not have a rights to use them. So far we’ve just seen one alien type in the builds. It’s a tall, thin, grey skinned humanoid in a purple jumpsuit and a proportionally large bald head. The head is not as big compared to the rest of its body when compared to a sectoid, but it is still larger than a human head…

      There is also talk of something “much worse” than a Crysalid.

    • coldvvvave says:

      Much worse than a Chrysalid? Is that even possible? Chysalids are my most hated enemies in any game ever. What could possily be worse? Chrysalids armed with Chrysalid launchers?

    • Nick says:

      The brains in TFTD were worse.. because they looked fucking scary.

  43. Brahms says:

    I’ve become interested in xcom style games after playing Frozen Synapse. I have no emotional attachment to the XCOM series (never played it) and honestly, am probably sort of “lightweight” when it comes to tactical games. Should I get this?

    • subedii says:

      Before that can be answered, you have to know that FS is still a very different style of game from X-Com / Xenonauts in a lot of ways.

      Chief of them is probably because X-Com had a pretty large meta-game to it outside the missions. You weren’t fighting and winning each mission on an individual basis, there was a sense you were effectively fighting a globe spanning conflict against invaders. Some missions you actually have very little real chance of actually winning, like the first time you come up against enemies that can use mind-control. So you need to work to capture a specimen, study them, and see about researching your own counters to them. You get funded based on how well you protect your regions, and you use this funding to recruit, research, equip, set up bases to secure other regions of the world, and so on.

      In terms of the mission combat, things are fairly different there as well. FS uses a simultaneous turn-based system (and each time is actually 5 seconds of “real” time, as opposed to action points) that’s very direct with no room for random dice-rolls. In X-Com it’s a one-after-the-other turn based system with interrupts (you don’t need to know what interrupts are just yet) and can be a lot more unpredictable in some ways as a result. Combat situations are very often asymetrical, with one side or the other having an advantage, but a large part of that is actually because of how the meta-game works.

      I’d say in terms of the direct combat gameplay mechanics, FS actually is a bit more fun (at least online, I don’t really dabble in the offline) because of the lack of any randomness, apart from the random levels it’s a pure test of tactical ability. But X-Com can be more satisfying overall because of the meta-game and how you feel as if your gains there net you the research and equipment you need to fight the foes who were previously giving you so much trouble.

      So I guess I’m saying “It depends”. :P

      It’s also difficult to answer since Xenonauts is actually making some changes in that regard. Psychic enemies and mind control are out for example, for balance reasons. And there’s other stuff like an exclusion zone around the dropship so you’re unlikely to have your troops blasted as soon as they leave the ship.

    • Brahms says:

      Thanks for this measured response.

  44. Chris D says:

    To summarise then:

    Dev:”We’re making a new X-COM. We’ve updated the gameplay and given it shiny new graphics.”

    Gamers:”We can’t be fooled with shiny graphics! It’s nothing like X-COM, it’s just a cynical money-grabbing ploy!”

    Another Dev:”We’re making a new X-COM, we’re sticking closely to the original.”

    Gamers:”But you haven’t changed the gameplay at all and the graphics aren’t pretty enough. You didn’t really expect to make money out of this did you?”

    • coldvvvave says:

      Yes, exactly, same with Syndicate.

      As soo as first screenshots of Cartel appear, the whole “I luv Paradox they ar bros” will disappear.

    • subedii says:

      It’s almost like… there are different people here… and they have almost, I don’t know, DIFFERENT opinions on things. Unless you’re referring to a literal one person called “Mr. Gamers” here.

      Attempting to tar the commentors posting here (other people of course, not including yourself naturally) as being hypocritical or unsatisfiable in this manner is dumb. Kindly don’t do it.

      Otherwise if you’re trying to call out anyone specifically, or any viewpoint specifically, then feel free to do so. More importantly of course if you state your point directly instead of going with the petty attempts at snideness.

    • Chris D says:

      No snideyness intended, and it wasn’t my intention to call out anyone. What you like and what you want to spend your money on are your business, but the general shape of the conversation struck me as amusing and as something to bear in mind next time we get on to talking about why no one makes the games we want or why devs never listen to what gamers tell them.

    • Jimbo says:

      Next time we’ll all get together beforehand to make sure we don’t say anything conflicting, ok?

    • subedii says:

      but the general shape of the conversation struck me as amusing and as something to bear in mind next time we get on to talking about why no one makes the games we want or why devs never listen to what gamers tell them.

      It’s a topic that’s up for discussion. Uniform praise or scorn would be unlikely to impossible in itself, and pretty much never happens with discussions of any other game, especially when there are so many aspects of it on the table (in particular, the art style seems to be taking a fair few hits but most of the reaction to the gameplay has largely been positive). Pointing to that as a reason for not listening to anyone doesn’t make sense either, especially when looking over this thread, most of the back-and-forth has been moderated and lacking in invective. That would be far more important.

      Speaking of Xenonauts specifically, there have already been quite a few changes to the project both aesthetically and in terms of gameplay mechanics compared to the original title. But rather than completely ignoring this, the devs have been very direct in stating what those changes are and the thought processes behind them, and their fanbase (such as it currently is) is usually satisfied with those answers, and they still take suggestions on-board.

    • Chris D says:

      Edit: written before reading Subedii’s latest.

      Alright, I can see I should have explained myself properly to begin with. I did consider doing an explanation in the original post but figured the joke worked better without it. That was probably a mistake on my part.

      I agree entirely that it’s different people who are saying each of these things and it wasn’t my intention to accuse anyone of hypocrisy. Well, except maybe me, I recognise both responses in myself, but that’s not something I would want to project on anyone else.

      If there’s a point I was trying to make it was more along the lines of “Whatever you do you’re going to upset someone.”

      It’s also an illustration of some of the commercial realities behind the industry. As much as some of us want to see developers take more risks and not just another FPS there’s a reason why many of them go down that path.

    • subedii says:

      Well I guess I can understand that. I’m never going to say that a title like Xenonauts is viable for a big budget AAA release. At the same time though, I appreciate its existence because I know it’s likely to prove that a small budget release is viable, and it’s possible to make good use of the license in that fashion.

      I’ve said this before, but LucasArts faced the exact same problem with adventure games, they went through that period where the very idea of them was canned altogether. They could have tried to make use of things like Monkey Island franchise by turning it into a 3rd person action game (with humour bolted on), but that would have been daft for any number of reasons. Eventually Telltale came to the fore with Sam & Max, and showed that even if justifying a massive budget release isn’t possible, the license is still viable without killing off what made the games what they were. You just need to accept that not every game project is a question of the all-or-nothing blockbuster. Not every game has to try for CoD’s crown. Which is a manner of thinking that, I would say, a lot of the major games industry has been guilty of until the past few years when indies started becoming more prevalent. And I feel a lot of publishers are still caught in that manner of thinking.

  45. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    Is this as ball crushingly hard as the first game? The only way I could play the orginal was on easy, and even then one bad mission could see you loose almost an entire squad.

    Lets be honest the learning curve on the orginal X-Com was pretty much vertical. I remember having played it for hours over several sessions only to find I’d already blown the game ages ago by not constructing enough base defenses or having anyone left at the base. Cue the inevitable alien attack and it was game over and with my oldest save still too recent to avert the disaster from reoccuring.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      There’s that. But you should also consider the feeling of elation when you managed to get all your guys out and everything went according to plan. It is a game that both presents you with crushing feelings of defeat and joyous cheers of relief as the alien scum are driven back.

      So I quite hope that Xenonauts can capture that.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Recently I had a game where I had taken a long time to get an intact UFO and thus get an alien power source to make power armour, so my tech was lagging a bit and I didn’t have flying armour. A terror mission came up. Guess where this is going.

      I had fourteen guys, most with personal armour, some with jumpsuits. Weapons where mostly laser rifles, with four missile launchers and laser pistols for the heavies, and about eight Hi-Ex packs. The enemies were, as you should already have guessed, Snakemen and Chrysalids. The smart solution would have been to dust off and take the score hit. Instead, we moved out carefully, forming up into skirmish lines, moving three squares a turn if that, blowing obstructions out of the way with missiles and Hi-Ex, suppressing enemy movement with reaction fire, and, unfortunately, killing three civilians in cold blood just to be safe.

      We made it out with no X-Com personnel lost, though we lost all the civilians.Three killed by us, three killed by Snakemen, three killed twice, the second time by us. I sat there waiting as each enemy turn rolled over, listening for that telltale cry that meant someone was going to get a very vague coroner’s report. We got a zero rating for that mission. But it was an amazing victory to me.

      X-Com is a game about planning, about scheming, about building a force than can take on anything as much as it’s about blowing up some poor sod’s barn. The idea is for you to try it, fail, then reroll and fail less next time. It’s a game that forces you to learn, makes you care about your soldiers(but not too much) and makes you invest in your victories. It’s not easy, and it’s complex enough that you can miss one thing and get killed by it, because it’s cut from the same cloth as Rogue and Dwarf Fortress: If you want this fun, you’re going to have to fight for it.

  46. Phasma Felis says:

    I wanted to love X-COM so bad.

    In the end, it wasn’t that it was hard, it was that the interface was crap. There’s a “Save points for snap fire” button, great, but there’s no “save points for rotate 90 degrees, crouch, and snap fire,” which was always what I wanted to do. The weird percentage-based AP system meant that that golden number of points would be different for every soldier, so I couldn’t just go “okay, need to save 30 points,” I’d have to check every time, every turn, for each of 14 different dudes. Then I’d need to move forward step by step to make sure I had enough points left, which thanks to the idiot mouse-only control scheme meant clicking 20 times and praying that I didn’t accidentally click one pixel over and hit the wrong side of the wall, then watch helplessly as my soldier shuffled 100 feet the wrong way and into the alien crossfire, because you couldn’t cancel movement commands in progress.

    And then there was the bit where half your best-of-the-best, culled-from-the-world’s-special-forces soldiers had to be dismissed on the spot for being too puny or too cowardly for combat. And the auto-equip made the same wrong loadout decisions and had to be laboriously corrected before every mission. And the ridiculous item cap on the Skyranger made it impossible to carry a decent equipment selection for a large group. And the same cap applied arbitrarily in base-defense missions, so you’d step out to defend your home and find that all your heavy weapons had been locked away and replaced with 80 ammo clips. And and and…

    So what I’m asking is, does Xenonauts let me make interesting tactical decisions without the interface getting in the way at every step? If it does, I’m sold.

    • zeroskill says:

      I fully understand what you say, and I understand where you come from. However, if you going to criticize X-COM: UFO Defense, you have to realize its a game made 15 years ago. Thats said, its a piece of software thats older then some of there readers on this side, and I understand its a hard concept to wrap your mind around if you never played games from that epoch. BUT: X-COM: UFO Defense handling was actually considered ahead of its time back it 1994. Astonishing, isnt it?
      Thats said im sure Goldhawk is fully aware they are remaking a 15 year old game, and as far as Im informed, interface revamp made a top spot on their priority list.