Cold War X-COM: Xenonauts On Show


It’s been a bit all-quiet for the Cold War-set X-COM reimagining Xenonauts for the last few months, but creators Goldhawk have finally broken cover to show how the major element – the ground combat – looks in action. The answer, you may not be terribly surprised to hear is “quite a bit like X-COM”, but clearly that’s exactly what we want. Higher res and detail is a fine thing, but it’s especially pleasing to see that destructible scenery, something so bafflingly absent from many of the commercial X-COM remakes, is present and correct.

[Click the screenies for larger versions.]

The ground combat reveals comes via a dev diary posted on PCG, which talks through exactly what you’re seeing in the various screenshots. New features of note (i.e. stuff not in X-COM) are a directional cover system and an exclusion zone around your landing craft which means you won’t suffer half your guys getting immediately slain in the first turn.

Information on stuff like the air combat and inventory, meanwhile, can be found free from an ‘Exclusive’ tag over on the Xenonauts website. Again, it’s in the familiar-but-different vein, clearly trying to create a bespoke look and world despite being definably X-COMy.

We’ll hopefully have some hands-on Xenonauts thoughts for you in the not too distant future, but in the meantime you can preorder the game for $30, which as well as helping to fund the game’s development gets you access to early builds and features as the team comes up with ’em. All being well, Xenonauts will launch later this year. Now, what the hell’s going on with XCOM?


  1. Kaira- says:

    Is it just me or are the thumbnails bonked?

  2. Caddrel says:

    Really looking forward to this. The team looks to have done a very clean, intelligent update of the original.

    • J-snukk says:

      You mean apart from the stuff listed up there? Besides, the entire game isn’t revealed yet.

    • jonfitt says:

      X-COM is from a time before variable resolution settings. As I recall it is VGA 320×200 pixels (256 colours) which looks quite vomit inducing when blown up on a 21″ LCD. I believe there’s a mod to make it a whopping 640×480, but still…

      I’m all for a graphical update, I think there are several games from the same era that could do with a graphical update which leaves the game largely unchanged. That way they will be playable for future generations.

    • CMaster says:

      That’s EGA, not VGA (VGA is 640×480)
      BUt yeah, just being able to pick a resolution would be a major graphical improvement. That said above screenshots sure aren’t pretty – hope the gameplay is good enough (which is much more important here)

      Edit: according to wiki, EGA is both larger than that and only 16 colours. CGA is the right size, but 16 colours. QVGA is the right size and colours, but too modern.

    • jonfitt says:

      Let’s not go too retro nerdy, but VGA at the time just referred to the graphics adapter standard (not the resolution per se) the *maximum* resolution of which was 640×480. (EVGA was a earlier adapter standard). That was the best we had until the standard was extended with SUPER!!! VGA allowing up-to 800×600 and requiring everyone to go out and buy new graphics cards (little has changed in a way).

      X-COM was VGA running at not the full available resolution :-)

  3. lunarplasma says:

    Even the selection cursor looks X-COMy.

  4. heretic says:

    thumbs working now

  5. amishmonster says:

    Has anyone played the beta so far? I’m thinking about preordering but I’ve been burned on a number of preorders that haven’t lived up to what I thought they were, so I’d appreciate any inside info people may have.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I was going to, but I ran out of money and had the biggest sadface you’ve ever seen. I would, frankly, murder to play this.

      But then, I’d also murder for finished versions of Open X-Com and UFO: TTS.

      EDIT: The more I look at the screens, the more I want it. Damn my wallet.

    • Gazz says:

      Yes but with the severely resticted builds that the testers get, you can’t tell much about the final game.

      There will be a demo…

  6. The Rust Belt says:

    I cannot wait to try it but it looks pretty and sterile ad the same time.

  7. Drake Sigar says:

    I might preorder as soon as I figure out if I’d be getting a boxed or downloadable version. It doesn’t seem to say.

    • MrPyro says:

      The plan is to release on Steam as the primary form of distribution. Not sure if they’re planning on a physical media run later; it hasn’t been mentioned.

  8. Danorz says:

    “an exclusion zone around your landing craft which means you won’t suffer half your guys getting immediately slain in the first turn.” well, i hope you can turn this off.

    • Kakrafoon says:

      Yes. I mean, it certainly is frustrating to have every dude that steps from the transport reaction-shotted by angry aliens, but how are they going to explain away an “exclusion zone”? Rules of Combat Disembarkment Fair Play? In the olden days, we just chucked a smoke grenade, let the rc tank roll out first and hoped for the best!

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Smoke grenades? Pah! In my day we sent the rookies out first. If they could survive being shot by aliens, they were good enough for our team!

    • briktal says:

      That actually sums up why I don’t like all those other X-COM style games, or even games like Jagged Alliance, as much as X-COM.

    • AbyssUK says:

      I always wondered why the landing craft just didn’t have some guns on the side you could use.. could even be an upgraded craft option.. but still smoke grenades/rookies are the clear winner

    • karry says:

      “but how are they going to explain away an “exclusion zone”?”

      The same way Microprose explained away why aliens stay in the square bounds of the game map instead of hiding in the hole 50 kilometers away by the time your soldiers arrive.

    • jonfitt says:

      I think the exclusion zone is easily explained by the pilot not landing the freaking plane right next to an alien and opening the door!

      There is still no explanation for why nobody thought to look out the window and note down all of the terrain and buildings before the plane landed though…..

    • Soon says:

      It’d be nice if there was a type of alien that exploited it though and didn’t have the restriction. Maybe a melee alien like the dreaded Chryssalid. Only introduced after you’re feeling nice and safe, of course.

  9. Icarus says:

    Yes. Oh, so very yes. More of this sort of thing, please. Another one to add to the ‘keep an eye on’ list.

    • Zarunil says:

      Can’t wait for this. Hope RPS follows up when it’s released.

  10. dtgreen says:

    I hope this works cross platform, I’m on OS X and can see myself wasting my entire life on it.

  11. mcwill says:

    If it doesn’t have destructible scenery, it’s not X-COM, it’s a vile pretender.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      If you look closely at the first image, you can see that a wall’s been blown out. It even has those little craters that X-Com had!

  12. Sorbicol says:

    God damn it, too many games out this year!

  13. Srethron says:

    Sounds promising, but can you rename your troops? This, I feel, is another essential pillar of X-COM.

    Edit: I see a “change call sign” in the screenshots. Sounding good. Carry on.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I’d name the one in the picture ‘Sad Keanu’.

  14. Yargh says:

    the Altar UFO not-sequels did actually have destructible scenery, however it was bloody tough to destroy anything so most weapons made no noticeable difference, whereas in XCom a single bullet could take out a wall.

  15. Horza says:

    Looks good. It seems they stayed true to the original with floating floors too.

  16. fallingmagpie says:

    Anyone else wonder why Cpl. Michael Washington has an assault rifle for his primary weapon, and for his secondary weapon…an assault rifle. He seems to have a perfectly good shotgun in his backpack. (Also where I keep my shotgun, by the way.)

    • CMaster says:

      That’s not an assault rifle, that’s an LMG.
      It may be that it’s a two handed weapon, which would make sense. Or it may be that he really is dual-wielding LMGs.

    • Morlock says:

      I guess it’s one gun needs both hands? Either that or Cpl. Washington is super bad-ass.

    • amishmonster says:

      I like that he’s a Navy SEAL with no combat experience.

  17. PoulWrist says:

    I just bought this.

  18. aircool says:

    I’ve waited almost 17 years for this game…

  19. Freud says:

    It’s been a long time since I played X-Com, but I think the gameplay would translate very well to today. Very solid design that shouldn’t age at all. More than you could say about a lot of the older games.

    • DD says:

      I can attest to this. I some how missed X-Com when I was growing up and bought it last year on a steam sale. Mainly due to the coverage it gets on RPS.
      Played it for 40+ hours straight, vanilla resolution. All the tribute and hype it gets makes sense to me now. It really is unique and extreamly fun.

    • Phydaux says:

      @DD – I’m in the same position as you. Steam says I’ve clocked 79hours so far on X-COM. It’s a massively solid game, gameplay-wise. All it needs is a graphical overhaul. However, this Xenonauts looks a bit “90s remake” to me so I’ll probably skip it unless everyone starts raving about it.

  20. henben says:

    I think it’s really sad that so many developers are spending their time producing near clones of this one game, instead of designing new turn-based tactics games. I mean, X-Com was good in its day, albeit with a horribly clunky interface and a poor learning curve, but the Gollop’s Laser Squad Nemesis, with its simultaneous execution of orders, showed the way forward for this type of game.

    Yet almost nobody seems to have built on that mechanic. We’ve had Frozen Synapse, but that’s about it.

    It’s as if developers in this genre can’t sit down and look at what was actually fun about X-Com and then make a game with that in mind, without regurgitating the whole thing, setting and all.

    If it’s not X-Com clones, it’s clones of Jagged Alliance carefully recreating the massively tedious way you had to move your squad around in real-time in between battles.

    • CMaster says:

      I have to say I’m continually perplexed as to why people feel that XCOM-alike games have to be humans vs aliens. There’s so many other options they could go for. I’m also ever amazed, when you consider how much gamers love upgrade mechanics that we haven’t seen a game that fuses XCOM-style strategic meta layer and SWAT/R6/Op Flash (new) squad FPS when you are on the ground.

  21. MythArcana says:

    Another Steam exclusive game then? No dice here. I got this far in my live avoiding Valv3’s greed machine and I don’t expect to start now. We shall see where this one goes I guess…

    • Dominic White says:

      I see what you did there! It’s like M$. Clever.. Only not. It’s nonsensical and stupid. Stop it.

    • wcanyon says:

      Valv3 is not clever in any way. What does the 3 mean? It means he’s 1337. Like Dominic said: Stop. It.

    • Robert says:

      What did you expect, we’re on RP$ here!

      /sarcasm off.

    • CMaster says:


      Hmm, seems RPS comments system hates forward slashes.

    • Nick says:

      Shops are greed machines, hope you don’t buy anything ever.

  22. bowie says:

    New XCOM has no appeal for me but this looks great.

  23. snv says:

    Always loved the global strategy part, with researching and so on, but got bored of the tactical combat about after the second encounter. I just wish every game of that vein had a proper autoresolve option. UFO:Alien Invasion has one, but it’s not yet working correctly.

  24. Nick says:

    Huh, why do the graphics look worse than UFO/TFTD? Oh, right, bad art style.