Impressions: The Triumphs And Struggles Of Xenonauts

By Adam Smith on July 10th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

Xenonauts is a spiritual successor to UFO: Enemy Unknown, which means that it’s also a spiritual successor to many of the most tense and glorious hours of my teenage years. Following a successful Kickstarter and a period in Early Access, the game has been available for almost a month now. With its loyal approach to the original design, Xenonauts doesn’t step on XCOM’s toes, but I wondered if it could succesfully muscle in on the original game’s territory. Several days of playing later, I have the answer. And some anecdotes about intra-squad romance.

Toshio Ito has a bad feeling. It’s his first time in the field since recruitment and everything is going smoothly but a sense of déjà vu washed over him just now as the downed UFO came into sight. The squad have taken up position, ready to blow seven shades of reconstituted genetic material out of whatever freak opens the door, but Toshio has been told to hang back.

He’s a sharpshooter, a sniper, a death-dealing veteran of two campaigns against brutal insurgents. He’s only killed abstract shapes framed in a scope and with their own crosshair to bear, but he’s seen death up close, ragged and steaming. This is different though. Toshio Ito is afraid. He’s also the first to die.

just look at his little doomed face

Melodrama! Turns out Xenonauts brings out the giddy diarist in me just as the UFO: Enemy Unknown did way back when. I used to write what was essentially fan fiction about the lives and deaths of my soldiers, filling in the background of their lives before the invasion and (oh god yes it’s true) lingering on the romances that sprang up between missions. That one guy called with the Guile haircut (Trent Reznor) was totally in love with the new recruit (Billy Corgan), and the mission became personal when Corgan died in the middle of an orchard without a single kill or time unit to his name.

The whole thing became even more creepy when I ran out of celebrity names and started using friends. Then family. When every other barrel o’ names had been scraped to its very bottom, I gave new soldiers the names of my pets. Grizzled veteran Trent Reznor cuddling a gerbil. Dogs lying down with cats, and then making out with the cats one last time as they bled out covered in plasma burns.

(Tangent within a tangent – during quiet moments, usually when hunting down the last alien on a map, couples would occasionally smooch. To do so, they had to spend eight action points, which meant making them kneel in front of one another, and then stand up again. I was too young and naïve to realise I’d inadvertently made it look like they were noshing each other off. Or maybe proposing!)

trousers from H&M, £35

Hopefully that hasn’t entirely ruined your memories of UFO. The reason I dredge up my own idiosyncratic way of playing is to establish that while Julian Gollop’s masterpiece is an incredibly significant game in my life, the relationship I formed with it isn’t entirely serious. I’m not in awe of UFO and that’s at least partly because it gave me toy soldiers to name and play with when I was a teenager, which inevitably led to the aforementioned melodrama and bad romance.

All of this feeds into my approach to Xenonauts. It’s a spiritual successor to one of the games that caused me to love games but I don’t have any particular expectations as to what it should update, alter or retain. Everyone who has played UFO has their own memories, their own creations within the game and their own false memories about its flaws or lack of. All I wanted from Xenonauts was a game that could stand on its own feet rather than using UFO as a crutch.

It is such a game. I can’t comment on the end-game – potentially the most difficult part to make pleasing for a designer – but Xenonauts has a character of its own and what changes have been made are either improvements or attempts to express that new character. Naturally, it’s the similarities that filled Toshio with such dread.

Herbie's last stand

The situation described in that earlier paragraph – the squad forming a perfect perimeter around a downed UFO – is second nature to me. I see the UFO, I order my soldiers to preserve time units for a quick shot, I look for cover that provides a good view of the ship’s door, I move everybody into the correct position. They kneel in the dirt of a rural dustbowl or the icing of an Arctic drift. Everything is set. I’m in control.

And then, during the sinister veil of ‘alien movement’, the shattering of glass, and a sound somewhere between a raygun and a breaking bone. Toshio is dead. He hasn’t fired a shot and he’s dead. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, this snuffing out of life in an instant, this sundering of plans and protocols. Toshio knew it too. That’s where his déjà vu came from. Xenonauts may be set in 1979 rather than UFO’s future-nineties, but everything is recognisable, from the strategic Geoscape, top-down base design and isometric turn-based combat. The question becomes this – does it have enough differences to justify playing instead of its inspiration? Or, perhaps, is it simply a better game?

All of my soldiers are wounded the vast majority of the time

I surprised myself when I realised that my answer to the first question was ‘yes’. Simple things such as the handling of inventories and basic munitions are definite improvements, in my slightly conceited opinion. Occupying a UFO for five turns ends a mission successfully, which prevents one little bastard from hiding in a corner to waste your time. Governments don’t make their last, best line of defence buy basic ammunition and weapons. The Xenonauts are soldiers and they’re ready for war, although not entirely ready for the particular war that engulfs them.

That’s where research comes in, of course, turning the alien’s biology and weaponry against them. Little has changed in base management, research and manufacture, but something important is happening with the data collected. The best way to describe what is possibly my favourite aspect of Xenonauts is to compare it to Firaxis’ XCOM. In that game, the narrative of the invasion is told using a few characters, delivering fully-voiced connections between one ‘stage’ of the game and the next.

AIR TORPEDOES

The ‘stages’ might be tied to specific missions, progress or research results, but they serve to provide a connective tissue between the strategic long-game and the scattering of tactical missions that make up a campaign. Xenonauts does something similar, although it isn’t obvious at first. Instead of talking heads, Goldhawk’s game constructs its connective tissue with text and illustrations. Xenonauts contains a lot of text and it’s engaging stuff, whether describing an alien’s guts or the reasoning behind an interceptor’s upgrade costs.

It’s the reasoning that grips me. Everything in Xenonauts justifies its place, as if a constant demand of the design document were that elements must contribute to the experience and the fiction at the same time. Some people might find that a small detail to focus on but it’s the kind of fine texturing that explains a lot about the project its contained within. Xenonauts strives for credibility, explaining why an alien behaves as it does, and why refitting a vehicle takes so much time, money and effort. That credibility bleeds through into the characters and I find myself caring for them, as individuals, far more than I do for XCOM’s super-marines.

The explosions are better than anything in Unreal Engine 4

Perhaps that’s also due to the higher threat level. It’d make sense for the soldiers who stick around longest to have the most impact, but here’s me remembering poor Toshio who basically stumbled out of a helicopter and died with his laces untied. I still remember Cannon Fodder’s Boot Hill with a pang as well, and find Flanders Field more evocative than any tale of derring-do. For all the silliness I indulge in with my intra-squad love triangles, UFO and Xenonauts both successfully make me fear for and invest in the lives of my soldiers.

The visual design of the world bolsters my attachment and on that front Xenonauts succeeds handsomely. Its vehicles, gear and aliens are more realist in appearance than those of its predecessor’s chunky sci-fi comic book world. Additional touches bring the world to life, particularly the presence of ground forces who fight back against the aliens. It never made sense that XCOM were all alone in the fight from moment to moment, and it’s good to see local military and security forces doing their best to help out. Hearing a firefight break out on the other side of a map is usually enough to make me rush my squad into danger, trying to save the poor copper who has ended up trapped in a building surrounded by beasties.

This is a shitty screenshot of the optional interactive interceptions. I'm glad it's optional because I hate it and am rubbish at it.

The beasties are perhaps the most disappointing element. They hew too close to the UFO template, which is understandable but does make progression rather more predictable than I’d have liked. Enemy Known. They look great on the slab, sliced open and dissected, but they don’t have the B movie exaggerations of their predecessors out in the field and aren’t quite as fearsome.

Progress through the game is a little predictable but that’s not my biggest complaint. Right now, busy as I am, the main thing preventing me from finishing a campaign is the slow pace. Nu-XCOM rushes along a little too quickly for my liking, escalating like a coulrophobic’s blood pressure during an unexpected John Wayne Gacy fanfest. Xenonauts drags its feet too much, making the track from start to end seem longer than I’d like it to be. To move between one tier of crafts and creatures and the next, it’s often necessary to play several near-identical missions back to back. Maps are randomised but there’s still not quite enough variety in terms of terrain types and features to keep me fully engaged during a long session.

Drop the base

That said, the length of the campaign is precisely what allows the player to apply reactive tactics. When new enemies are introduced, experimental squads can be sent to deal with them. If things don’t quite work out, there’s room to tweak loadouts in order to turn the tables. There’s a much broader and more malleable approach to the structure of squads than in XCOM’s tight skill-driven processes. I’ve even found vehicles extremely useful, having been left unconvinced by every other XCOM game in history. Except, I guess, Interceptor, which convinced me of many things, including the existence of a higher power that hates me (I was 17, earned very little money, and was daft enough to have an allegiance to a franchise – never do that, franchises don’t love you like I love you).

Xenonauts is a very good attempt to update and rejig UFO. It can’t possibly leave the same impression as the original, on me at least, because it’s gracefully planting itself precisely in the impression that the original left behind. As expected, it erases some flaws and exposes others, but it also has enough of a personality to appeal to more than nostalgia. I usually have UFO installed at all times but I haven’t played it for a while and if I do fancy some turn-based alien-trouncing, I’ll stick with Xenonauts for now. And XCOM. They make a rather complementary couple.

__________________

« | »

, , , , , .

56 Comments »

  1. szhival says:

    I alter between Xenonauts and Long War. Lovely couple those two, both made by the fans love for the original.

    Also bless Xeno for autoequiping flares on night missions. Forgetting those cost me at least two dozens of squaddies in UFO.

    • Jericho says:

      “Also bless Xeno for autoequiping flares on night missions.”

      This. This right here is what made me go from “liking” Xenonauts to loving it. It’s such a small, simple little thing, but not having to worry about running out of flares or having to repurchase basic weapons and ammunition in the first tech tier is just sooooo damned nice.

      Also, unlike Mr. Smith, I think the interception minigame in Xeno is quite nice. It takes some getting used to, but it serves its purpose. Sure, when the game throws up a “100% to autoresolve” you hit the autoresolve button and move on, but for any other time it feels so nice to know that the success of a close UFO interception was all your own doing.

      Three cheers for Xenonauts!

    • TheDudesRug says:

      Lol same here. I’m really surprised playing XCom:EW with long war and Xenonauts doesn’t wear me out at all.

  2. sinister agent says:

    When I played, the very first shot of the war instantly killed the one black guy on my team.

    I’ve only played perhaps a few dozen hours, and am, I would estimate, 30% of the way into a campaign, but for the most part, I think it’s mostly better than xcom. It’s certainly the best xcom-alike I’ve ever played, retaining the good bits and improving the crappy bits. I’ve taken a break because I play games in fits like that, and also because, well yeah, the pacing could be better.

    Totally agree with how it justifies itself too, it’s really well done – e.g. why do the aliens send progressively larger craft instead of just bombing you with battleships immediately? Because their ships can’t handle earth’s atmosphere, and it takes them much longer to upgrade the larger ships. It does a great job of drawing you into its setting instead of constantly reminding you that you’re just playing a game.

    I do wish they’d taken out the floating damage indicators on aliens, though. That was a really bad idea.

    • RedViv says:

      My first drop team had a 50/50 gender split.
      All the men died, and most of the ladies are still around kicking xeno butts. I’ll just fill in the head canon as to what the larger percentage of battle maidens succeeding in punching aliens in their sneak faces will mean to the rest of the world, seeing how it is just entering the 1980s.

      • Joshua says:

        James Cameron will probably be a far less succesfull director now that, in your version of the world, Ellen Ripley from Alien is not an all that original character anymore :P.

  3. Janek says:

    It’s really solid. Some nice ease of use tweaks while maintaining the feel of the original. Also the Xenopaedia art is wonderful.

    I agree that pacing/repetetiveness is an issue – I think it’s the relatively slow progression combined with feeling like waaaay too many UFOs (I think I was up to 250 by the endgame). Enjoyed it though, even if I was quite glad to reach the end.

    It’ll be good to come back in a year’s time and see what the mod community has made of it, in terms of balance tweaks and extra maps.

  4. Big Murray says:

    Hm. This was the first thing I ever Kickstarted, and it’s been sitting in my inbox waiting for me to get over the fact that it was effectively an Early Access game until recently. Think it might be time to give it a go.

  5. S Jay says:

    I will buy it eventually.

  6. DrScuttles says:

    But what happened to Trent Reznor and the gerbil? Please tell us they made it, Adam.

    • Distec says:

      Alien blaster gave him a head like a hole.

      Sorry. SORRY. I’m so sorry for that.

      • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

        I was just browsing NIN songs and realized that Head Like a Hole is about 25 years old. That’s so hard for me to believe.

        • Joe Malik says:

          I’d rather die than give you control. So what if it’s your turn?

      • Scumbag says:

        No you are not, the comment is as black as your soul.

      • Big Murray says:

        That one Hurt.

      • mrpier says:

        Well, this thread went in a downward spiral.

  7. Emeraude says:

    This is SO on my list as soon as I can take one sleepless week of vacation.

    • zal says:

      Play it in bites, its so much better! Took almost exactly 100hrs and twice that many downed ufo’s but spacing it across a three week period made it a superb experience.

      But seriously, don’t play 4 hours at a time. When you’re cancelling that “return-to-base” order on your squad AGAIN, and giving a redirect-deploy order to that Third crash site… STOP, take a breather.
      Your squad will thank you (you won’t make careless command mistakes),
      Your scientists will thank you (less rage-use of explosives),
      and you yourself will get a better enjoyment out of it.

      Also I disagree with the article regarding the aliens. I felt they managed to make them very distinct in terms of combat tactics required to overcome them compared to snakemen/muton/sectoid/floater, and I LOVE that adjacent cover doesn’t interfere with fire (including crouched squadmates!)

      I haven’t said this about ANY of the other remakes, from UFO:ET to new XCOM, and If it weren’t unashamedly standing on the original’s shoulders to do it, I’d feel bad saying it, but….
      I enjoyed this game more than original X-Com. (which I did NOT expect)

      It keeps you constantly on edge, constantly stealing back any sense of victory or advantage as you slog onward, that nagging sense of “did I just take us down a path that will lose us the alien war?” even when everything’s going right.

  8. dongsweep says:

    Loving this game too. First kickstarter I backed and it has been incredibly difficult to not play it until it was released. Put about 15 hours into it so far and it has been a delight. I loved X-Com but was disappointed in XCOM. For me, they do not compliment each other, Xenonauts has already given me a lot more entertainment in the short amount I have played.

    I learned the hard way that aliens sometimes pack grenades. I was clearing out a UFO by moving my team in covering all the corners and making a wall of guns for the aliens to get taken out with, unfortunately for me and 6 of my 8 veteran team, the aliens pack grenades. Unlike Toshio my snipers were the only survivors.

  9. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Those three guys are obviously modeled on movie stars, and I am seeing Connery and Keitel in the first two. Who is the third one in the hat based on?

  10. Jericho says:

    For those like Mr. Smith, that love to imagine more detailed backstories for their noble troops, I highly recommend the following mod for the character generation in the game. It greatly expands the randomly generated character backgrounds, so if you’re like me and you like trying to tie a trooper’s in-game role with their imagined origins/experience, then this is a great tool.

    http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/10970-v1-07-Xtended-Backgrounds-Mod-%28v0-7%29

    A word of warning: The mod’s author attempted to tie the military recruitment ratios of different nationalities and sexes to their “real world” rates circa 1979. That means that by default there are very few female soldiers, so if you feel like eliminating military sexism much earlier in your game’s fictional narrative, you’ll need to go in and edit the ratios yourself. It’s all in one big text file, so no special software is needed, but it still may be something people want to do if they don’t want the majority of their forces to be Russian, American, or European males.

    Cheers!

  11. Shadow says:

    For me, Xenonauts has been a constant struggle between enjoyment and frustration, playing on Veteran level as I’m an experienced X-COM player. For a while I’ve tried to put my finger on what’s wrong with it, and I suppose it boils down to the ground combat. Line of sight issues aside, specifically the fact your own troopers seem to be permanently incompetent when it comes to hitting targets more then a handful of tiles away unless they’re snipers. It’s frustrating and immersion-breaking to have to totally expose your shooters and basically run into the aliens’ faces (making you a prime target for reaction fire) to get a reliable (read, 80%, not 100%) shot. And it’s particularly unnerving when you’re dealing with species which can take several (laser) shots before going down.

    Compound that with the UFO wave system which has you dealing a couple dozen alien craft (and potentially crash sites) each month, and you get exposed to increasingly repetitive, overly long battlescape sequences way too often. To make matters worse, ground combat feels unrewarding to boot, necessarily so for balance resasons given the volume of UFOs the game throws at you. So I find myself skipping more than a couple missions per wave, and end up with funding problems because I can’t stomach the ground battles, the centerpiece of the game, more than 2-3 times per play session.

    • almostDead says:

      I just wanted to say, I really agree with this. The incompetence of the marksmanship of the soldiers, combined with the fiddliness of TU, and the ridiculous LOS around boulders and tress, just made me learn to groan when it came to seeing another UFO that would lead to ground combat.

      As soon as I heard about long war for enemy within, I haven’t, and probably won’t play xenonaughts ever again.

      I’m annoyed I bought it now.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      Are you air striking the crash sites that you don’t attack? I’ve never actually tried it, but it at the lower tiers of ships ot seems like it should generate a similar amount of money, just no loot.

      • Shadow says:

        I obviously air-struck the crash sites I skipped for whatever reason, and you get about 70% of the cash you would from a ground assault, give or take. It’s not enough to live on, from the strategic perspective. That’s fine: it encourages you to hit crash sites with your men.

        But when the thought of a ground mission makes you groan, you wish either air strikes allowed you to skip them without missing on cash, or that said missions were rewarding enough not to force you to tackle most every single one to get decent monthly income.

    • Weed says:

      You do know that if you Right-Click on your target that you can spend more TUs with better aim. I only say this because the first time loaded a ground map I thought the same thing. “These guys can’t hit the side of a barn”

      But once I was able to change the aim, it all got better. Still difficult though, but loving it. Love X-Com and XCOM for what they are. And now Xeno

      • almostDead says:

        Yes.

      • Shadow says:

        Yes, of course. That’s like Jagged Alliance 2. But it’s still not enough: there’s clutter everywhere, and chances are the alien is a fair distance away behind cover. Even if the target’s completely in the open, accuracy drops sharply in just a few tiles, and provided your soldier’s in a perfect position and doesn’t need to move (otherwise you won’t have TUs for an aimed shot), you’ll get a single 60-something percent shot unless their personal accuracy is very high.

        And even then, a mid-game Sebillian might take 3-4 more laser shots before going down. I remember facing a Sebillian warrior in an alien base once, with four guys with varying levels of experience, all crouched behind cover. The alien was in the open, not ten tiles away. They fired their laser rifles: three hit, one missed. It wasn’t enough. I had to reload twice for the game not to give me the finger and allow FOUR operatives to down a SINGLE unexceptional alien. There’s just something wrong with that.

        • All is Well says:

          In this respect, the game clearly favors equipping your soldiers with shotguns. Everyone needs to get close to reliably hit their target, but shotguns are the only weapons that can reliably kill it or at least severely injure it in one hit, and shotgun wielders can move quite a bit and still be able to fire their weapon.

    • CKScientist says:

      It was similarly annoying for me. I felt that aliens had too much hitpoints, and soldier accuracy was too low. It makes reaction fire pointless as it never neutralizes an alien – shots miss, or do minimal damage. It’s annoying having to focus a full squad of firepower on an exposed alien to get a kill.

  12. GernauMorat says:

    “made it look like they were noshing each other off”

    Had to look up ‘nosh’

  13. CookPassBabtridge says:

    That is not an explosion in that picture (see alt text on 7th pic).

    It is a ball of ancient 80′s Fine Fare Yellow Pack Vanilla Scoop covered with Ice Magic

  14. Honsou says:

    Peter Petrov, my Heavy Weapons guy, alongside with my best sniper, Sara Dunne, have fought together since the beginning. They had fought out of seemingly impossible situations, and have helped new recruits get to grips with the harsh reality of fighting an alien enemy in countless battles.

    In the same battle that Peter killed 3 “Greys” with one burst of his heavy weapon, he was critically injured when turning the corner with no energy to fire, to bump into another Grey face-to-face. Peter was a big guy, massive strength and resilience, but took 2 out of 3 hits from the aliens burst.

    The new girl, Rachel managed to kill the alien, and Peter went to cover, safe in a corner with Rachel covering the only direction that any alien could come from. Peter was bleeding, but before anyone could get to him, he bleed to death, alone. After everything he went through, all the aliens he killed, he had to die like that.

    Im terrible at telling stories, but this is how it went. I really, really didn’t want Peter to die. The Squad will never the same without him. Peter and Sara were close, although I dont know whats going on with Sara and Jasper….

    Dammit, so hard not to do that! I used to write little biographies of characters as a very young kid, but I’m doing the same now in my head as a 27 year old adult.

  15. rusty5pork says:

    I love the story behind that Maps video. Karen O was about to leave on a tour, and her boyfriend was supposed to meet her at the shoot to say goodbye, but he was three hours late. She was distraught about not being able to say goodbye before leaving him for months, and that genuine emotion makes the video pretty great.

    Also: I’ve never played UFO, but LOOOOOOOOOVED the recent XCOM games, and am looking for something a bit deeper. Think I should pick up Xenonauts?

  16. johnkillzyou says:

    Interceptor was an interesting game. If they put a bit more work into it, it could have been a superb fusion of a space sim and XCom. Unfortunately, it came out the way it did.

  17. almostDead says:

    What is the deal with those screenshots, did you intentionally make them potato.

  18. lordfrikk says:

    Is there more advanced tech besides the run-of-the-mill A4M1 (or is that M16, I can never tell) and jet aircrafts like in the original X-COM games?

    • almostDead says:

      Oh good grief yes. The tech tree goes on for ages, for weaponry, air power, tanks and transportation. And armour.

      I don’t think they strayed very far from the originals in terms of tech tree.

      • sinister agent says:

        It’s worth noting though, that while a lot of the researchable weapons (disclaimer: I’ve not played it exhaustively, not researched the bulk of stuff) are broadly similar upgrades to the ones in the original UFO (ie: ‘bullet’ rifle < laser rifle* < plasma rifle), there are more varied and tactically significant weapon types from the outset in Xenonauts. They are run of the mill shotgun/rifle/pistol/sniper etc, sure, but those give you loads more tactical options that didn't exist in UFO at all (fun though the cannons were, they were of little practical use). Pistols are very fast, you're more likely to get an interrupt with them, and they can be quite effective at close range. Shotguns are hopeless but devastating at short range, etc, etc. In general, the kit I've seen isn't very exciting, but it works well and opens up much more tactical variety than "everyone has a rifle and queues up to take a shot until the alien dies".

        *some would argue that the laser rifle in the original was better overall than the plasma weapons. I came to think so.

      • All is Well says:

        Did anyone else find the whole escalation from (semi) historical equipment into increasingly sci-fi-esque weaponry to be a bit off-putting? For me, it was one of the major reasons I didn’t enjoy the game as much as I wanted to (along with tactical battles being somewhat of a repetitive chore).
        I loved the initial feeling of going up against a vastly superior enemy, your soldiers equipped with nothing but blue coveralls and simple ballistic weapons, and that feeling was interrupted when they became power-armored, plasma-shooting and able to fly.

        I realize this is probably an intentional part of the narrative – the elevation of humankind, adaptation in the face of an overwhelming adversary into something that not only matches but actually surpasses the enemy, using their technology against them, “turning the tables” and all that – but still, I wish it could have been done in a way that was perhaps a bit more “grounded”. I’d rather play the humankind that overcomes great adversity while remaining recognizably human, instead of the humankind that overcomes great adversity by developing hovertanks.

        • malkav11 says:

          I think I can understand where you’re coming from, even if I don’t feel that way myself (I’ve always much preferred high-tech to low-tech, global superheroics to street level, high fantasy to low fantasy, etc). But Xenonauts is based heavily on X-Com/UFO and that is the progression you see there. You weren’t ever going to get something more scaled down.

  19. Lemming says:

    I enjoy the familiar old mechanics, but the far-too-serious art style just keeps me from falling in love with it. It’s crying out for more comic-booky exaggeration. I know their reasons, I just don’t agree with them. The ship hulls are cool, though.

  20. Carlos Danger says:

    Haven’t played it all the way thru yet but have played various iterations over the last year and have had a blast.

    One thing I really wish they would add to this game is a geo-political mod for a more realistic funding levels from countries. Just found it odd that I would always pick my first base in Libya because it covered the most land. It would be nice to play a game where you had to cover areas not based on best land mass coverage but rather funding levels. Would just add another layer of strategy to the game.

    • Arcanestomper says:

      They actually changed that. Each country now gives different amounts of monthly funding. I haven’t actually played it recently so I can’t say how well that works out in practice. But it’s not longer the best bet to just place a base in northern africa in order to cover the most land.

  21. buzzmong says:

    I backed this from before the Kickstarter, and it’s been a great project to witness coming to fruition.

    I could nitpick about various things (and have on the forums back in early alpha), but on the whole it’s a rather good game. Chris and the rest of Goldhawk should be rather pleased with themselves.

    The only shame for me overall was Goldhawk getting lumbered with the engine they have by a previous contractor really really early on, as it’s a dog (and a discontinued unsupported one at that) that’s caused them lots of grief. They’ve made great strides, and put lots of effort in, but I still feel rather than making a good game, they’d have made something sublime if they’d started with something like Unity.

  22. supermini says:

    As much as I wanted to like it, I just…stopped playing it after a while. It has some cool ideas, but it also has some problems.

    Missions where you down small UFOs (there will be a lot of them at start) will basically be running around a huge map trying to chase down a handful of aliens, which just killed the pacing for me. That is followed by breaching through the only door in the craft, which becomes trivial when you figure out the combination of shield troops and shotgun troops that allows you to walk into point blank range and just blast them with minimal risk. The maps themselves are not very interesting, and since you’ll be playing a lot of missions…

    It’s not a bad game, don’t get me wrong, but the pacing was off and the combat wasn’t interesting enough that the final result is – it didn’t manage to draw me in.

  23. Phasma Felis says:

    It’s the reasoning that grips me. Everything in Xenonauts justifies its place, as if a constant demand of the design document were that elements must contribute to the experience and the fiction at the same time.

    Okay, this makes me actually want to play the game. Especially after XCOM: Enemy Unknown’s pathetic “I saw an episode of Star Trek once” attempts at convincing technobabble.

  24. Vegard Pompey says:

    My mother always told me not to look a good review in the mouth – but isn’t this Alec’s territory?

  25. Laini says:

    I never played the original XCOM. I think the closest thing I had was Laser Squad on the ZX Spectrum.
    So I wasn’t really too sure what to expect from Xenonauts.

    I remember loading up a build from about 6 months ago and really struggling to find my around.

    The UI still has issues I think. In one mission I accidently unloaded a clip of ammo and the logical thing, dragging the clip back onto the weapon did nothing. I don’t know if it was a TU thing or if you can only load/unload once per turn or what but next turn it worked fine.
    A message to explain why I couldn’t do it would have been nice. It’s minor but that kind of thing pops up now and then.

    But the actual gameplay part is really good fun, although I find myself playing less missions per session than I would in Enemy Unknown.
    I’ve still to really unlock anything in the tech tree so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.

    Only thing I’m not so keen on is the air combat. I can autoresolve atm but I know soon I’ll need to do it myself and I’m just not clear on how it works.

  26. Gothnak says:

    I just wish either this or the new Xcom had a different setting, enemies and tech tree. I love the basic idea, world beset by enemies, build up squads and fight them off, but why always greys, laser and plasma guns, let’s add some new design please!