Xenonauts’ New Look Emerges From The Deep

Is that a Nissan Micra?

It’s probably horribly sensationalist to suggest there’s a cold war on between Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Goldhawk Interactive’s more mechanically purist X-COMlike Xenonauts, but then again it is the battle to end all battles, one shall stand and one shall fall and the Earth itself will be left in smoking ruins by the time this apocalyptic conflict is over.

Xenonauts has been smartening itself up since the announcement of Firaxis’ official reimaginging, as lead dev Chris England chatted to me about a few weeks ago. More detailed environments, and the ‘evil alien sheds’ have now been replaced with suitably dramatic crashed UFOs. Images of its newly endetailed look are now available for all to clap eyes upon. Which is only so much preamble, innit? Here you are…

Before and after – click for more visible versions.

And there’s much more over on the Xenonauts site, plus devblogs on how things are going. They’ve just pushed out build 9.1 to pre-orderers, which includes much of the new terrains and graphics, plus the AI’s working again after a temporary absence.

Here’s a mockup of the Research UI too, featuring another of Xenoanuts’ characteristically miserable gentlemen:

Now there’s a guy who clearly loves his job.

You can pre-order the game here for access to early builds as they happen, as well as helping to fund development. That’s how things worked before Kickstartermania! it seems so long ago.


  1. Eclipse says:

    looks better, even if seems like vehicles still lack shadows

    • sneetch says:

      Zoinks! Like, maybe it’s a g-g-ghost vehicle?

    • mckertis says:

      Lacks shadows ? But look how neatly the aliens parked their craft !

      • dontnormally says:

        That was my first thought, too…
        You’d think they’d mess up one tile of not-grass; maybe scuff the sidewalk a bit, knock over a tree?

      • Jeremy says:

        I don’t know, that ground looks pretty broken up to me.

  2. 2late2die says:

    Honestly, just a graphically enhanced version of the original would’ve been enough for me, so the fact that there are two games coming out – one that’s almost what I described above and one that aims to introduce some new elements into the mix – is just awesome. I’ll probably be playing both though I guess at the end of the day only one of them will be sucking down dozens of hours of my life. But I’m sure to have fun figuring which of the two is the one.

    • zaphod42 says:

      This is how I feel. I love xcom so much, and I’m so glad to get a modern version… much less 2! That one is trying to stay very true to the original while another is trying to modernize some of it is just perfect, I can have my cake and eat it too! I’m going to play the crap out of both, but I’m not sure which I’ll like more.

  3. Mordsung says:

    Significant improvement, but I still see myself going with the Firaxis game just because I am less concerned about a “mechanically pure” experience and more concerned with the forward progression of a genre.

    Xcom is classic, but any of us who played it for any length of time know there were little things we’d nitpick about and I’d be quite dissapointed to load up a game this many years later and find those same problems there “on purpose” due to a desire to keep the game “pure”.

    Keeping a game “pure” is what led to SC2, and while it seems I am in the minority of RTS fans, I think SC2 was a major step BACKWARD for the RTS genre.

    I’d hate to see Xenonauts forgo innovation just to maintain “purity”.

    • Khemm says:

      You’re implying that Firaxis’ X-COM won’t be a case of ” three steps back, one step forward” – which it is, if latest videos and previews are an indicator of what they’re striving for.

      • Mordsung says:

        Nothing I’ve seen has looked like a step backward for the genre.

        I’m not into the whole “complexity for complexity’s sake”

        If a system can be simplified while still maintaining tactical options, then I’m all for simplifying it.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          I’m not into simplification for simplification’s sake either.

          • Mordsung says:

            Nor am I.

            Allow me to go on a tangent here:

            Controls and game systems related to actions should attempt to translate thought into action in as close to an instant fashion as possible.

            If you’re forced to over-think, or press too many buttons, this is bad.

            If you are also forced to under-think certain situations and your button is so contextual that you can press the same button for 20 actions, this is also bad.

            A lot of old strategy games suffer from having too many unique hot keys. Some of this was a limitation of game engines back then that made menu/situation specific hotkeys harder or impossible (or gridkey set ups like in most modern RTS, they just weren’t possible in the old engines).

            A lot of strategy games also suffer from having overly complex systems, a lot of the time these systems suffer from number bloat.

            Let’s say my character in a strategy game has enough movement points to basically move then act, or move and then move, or move and then hold action. Why would I need say “70” movement points to represent this? Can we not instead create a system where each character gets a move action, a standard action, a minor action and lots of free actions (similar to how pen and paper dungeons and dragons works)?

            You want a good balance between thinking and straight out reacting, and many old strategy games do go a little heavy on the thinking part (and thinking is good, but I shouldn’t be taking 3 minutes to figure out the best course of action in a pitched fire fight).

          • sneetch says:

            I personally am against maintaining the status quo for maintaining the status quo’s sake.

            Oh, can there ever be peace?

          • Wisq says:

            Why would I need say “70″ movement points to represent this? Can we not instead create a system where each character gets a move action, a standard action, a minor action and lots of free actions (similar to how pen and paper dungeons and dragons works)?

            Sure, and let’s just ignore that soldier X is more physically conditioned than soldier Y, or that soldier Z is carrying a gun that’s five times the size of soldier X’s and requires a lot more time to fire, or that soldier X has several ways of firing which each take up different amounts of time, or that soldier Y has a pistol and can move further while still being able to get off a few quick shots at the end than soldier X with his rifle or soldier Z with his minigun or …

            TUs / APs were a great mechanic. They were excellent at representing what they were supposed to represent, and creating appropriate tradeoffs for the characters. The only thing that’s needed, IMO, is for the UI to get better at making sure you don’t run out before you intend to.

          • ffordesoon says:

            I’m not into simplification of complexity when complexity is simplified for more complexity but simplifications of complexifications do streamline the innovations of the past of the future which is now.


          • Mordsung says:

            Wisq, those same factors could be represented in a different system.

            For instance, the more athletic soldier could move further on his move.

            I’ve been a D&D DM for most of my life at this point. After a while of being the guy “behind the curtain”, you realize simplification is a good thing. Not over simplification, but simply tightening up systems to reduce the amount of “dice rolled” or, in the case of a videogame, the amount of time a player has to think before acting.

            Your end goal is for players to have fun.

            I would actually highly suggest anyone interested in gaming play a pen and paper game as the game/dungeon master. Be the guy behind the screen for a while and you’ll look at game design completely differently than you did before being the guy behind the screen.

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            gritz says:

            My DMing experience tells me the opposite really. The more you simplify and streamline, the more the player feels design decisions are arbitrary. If the player feels like the rules of the world don’t make any sense, they’re not going to have very much fun.

          • mckertis says:

            “If you’re forced to over-think, or press too many buttons, this is bad.”

            What ? What does that even mean ? Bad why ? Bad for whom ? How do you even define “bad” ?

          • Mordsung says:

            It’s balancing act. If you streamline too much, certain feats or skills become useless. If you don’t streamline at all, a simple combat versus a few goblins takes 20 minutes of gametime.

            It’s why I switched to Pathfinder from D&D 3.5. Pathfinder basically streamlined what should have been streamlined (Grappling, wild shape/polymorph, item creation etc) while maintaining the spirit of D&D.

            There’s a reason why Pathfinder has been absolutely dominating D&D4.0 among older pen and paper gamers. I can’t even find a 4.0 game in town, but there’s two dozen Pathfinder games at any given time.

          • Apples says:

            You’re saying that in a strategy game, the “amount of time a player has to think before acting” should be at a minimum? Now hold on a minute…

            Sure, reduce the time the player spends thinking “Crap, where’s that button that does that thing I want?”, but they should be spending a fair amount of time thinking because it’s that sort of game. Taking all ‘streamlining’ measures that reduce thought-to-action time results in an action game, not a strategy game.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            For my tastes complexity and more variables adds to my perceived player freedom. I welcome this type of complexity.

          • Mordsung says:

            As I said Apples, it’s a balance. A person should have the option to sit there and mull over a turn in a single player game indefinitely, but another player should also have systems and information presented in a way that he can make decisions quickly.

            Modifying systems to allow quicker decision making while maintaining tactical and strategic options is nothing but a positive, as the person who wants to spend 20 minutes per move can still do that, but the person who wants a bit more action also has the option.

            The goal is simplification without the removal of tactical options. If you can simplify a system while not removing options, that is objectively better.

            When simplification ALSO removes many options, then you have an example of bad simplification.

            But, if it removes some options while adding others, you basically have a neutral slate. Civ 5’s military aspects are a good example. Sure, you lost options related to the composition of your “stacks of doom” but you gained tactical options by having units that can fire over other units and having “one unit per tile” meant that unit placement was much more important than in previous Civ games, where combat often ended up being a slightly more complex version of Risk dice rolling. In Civ1 through 4, defending an area with a much smaller army, regardless of terrain, was next to impossible. In Civ 5, you can create those “300” moments where your supped up unit has a choke point to work with and ends up destroying a much larger army. Now, of course, Civ 5 over simplified many systems as well, but I feel Civ 5’s military game is much more strategic than in previous Civ games.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            “….Not over simplification, but simply tightening up systems to reduce the amount of “dice rolled” or, in the case of a videogame, the amount of time a player has to think before acting.

            Your end goal is for players to have fun.”

            TU are one solution to abstract a real situation into a game or simulation. Saying they must be simplified out in order to meet the ideal level of mechanical simplicity is like saying every painting should use the same level of abstraction; just detailed enough to let you recognize the subject matter, but no more.

            I mean, clearly renaissance painters put in too much damn detail; their paintings are so needlessly busy. And that damn Matisse made dumbed-down paintings for casuals.

            A game which simulates more detail is not clunky or worse (or better) than a very abstract one, just concerned with a different experience. The problem is taking a game like X-Com, with its focus on tension and intimate narrative details -i.e. realizing your best lady doesn’t have enough TU to run over, switch her current clip for one strapped to her leg, and fire before the alien eats her face off – and transforming it into a streamlined abstraction concerned with killcams, character classes, and generic abilities – all of which serve to homogenize your soldiers rather than make them unique.

            EDIT: “The goal is simplification without the removal of tactical options. If you can simplify a system while not removing options, that is objectively better.”

            That’s a very broad statement to make. You seem to ignore the ability of the game’s rules and logical structures to set tone and create meaning; to tell stories through the mechanics. On one hand we might have a story told by a system which sees your character mechanically fumbling for that last clip of ammo. On the other, every character is streamlined into a set class, and can smoothly reload with the click of a button – a logical structure straight from a Hollywood blockbuster.

          • Mordsung says:

            Nothing says that a less crunchy system can’t still have all the depth of a more crunchy system.

            As I said, simplification without the removal of tactical and strategic options.

            If two systems can accomplish identical tasks, but one is simpler, I don’t see the argument for keeping the complex system. If all the depth of TUs can be maintained in a system without the number crunching of TUs, why keep TUs?

            That’s what I’m saying. I’m talking about simplifying systems without removing depth or strategy. I’ll again point to the change in D&D 2nd to 3rd edition, where armor ceases being a negative number and therefore THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class Zero) became an obsolete number.

            The system has all the depth of the original system, but is easier to work with and understand.

            A simple system can be just as deep as a complex system if it’s done properly.

          • marlin says:

            Christ…have we really come to this??

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            “If two systems can accomplish identical tasks, but one is simpler, I don’t see the argument for keeping the complex system. If all the depth of TUs can be maintained in a system without the number crunching of TUs, why keep TUs?”

            Assuming such a scenario is even possible? It depends what your goals are.

            Let us assume the two systems have the same depth, with one more [representative/simulated/complex] and the other more [abstracted/elegant/simple]. Let us further state that both systems are equally well designed, with most redundancy, UI crunchiness, unintuitive baggage (such as THAC0), and awkwardness out of the picture.

            If your goal is to make the cleanest rule abstraction, then you obviously choose the second system. But if you want to make a game about tension, crunchy choices, tiny details and texture, or the sort of detailed immersion that a sim provides, why *wouldn’t* you choose the first system?

      • BoZo says:

        More like… Two steps forward, one backwards and three sideways.

    • Baboonanza says:

      That’s not really what they are doing though (according to the interviews press anyway). I’ll grant you that it’s more of an update than an attempt to innovate using the concept but to accuse them of reproducing everything slavishly due to some notion of ‘purity’ is pretty unfair IMO. I haven’t played the beta but I suspect that there will be a lot of elements that are fixed’ or subtly altered, hopefully for the better.

      Put me in the ‘looking forward to both’ camp.

      • Mordsung says:

        I didn’t accuse them of anything, I simply said I am more concerned with innovation than purity.

        I THINK the new Xcom will do more to innovate than Xenonauts, but of course I could be wrong.

        • seandrake6 says:

          I have the beta but unfortunately I never played the original X-com, but if what is being said on their forums is to be believed it sounds like they are trying to innovate a bit and also fix some of the issues with the original.

        • PoulWrist says:

          Well, new X-COM sounds like they’re mating X-COM with Dungeons & Dragons 4th ed. and a couple other similar games. Xenonauts sticks with the old formula, but improves upon it in many small ways. Such as the way combat is handled, with it being much handier to work with than it was in the old X-COM titles. Also making many small additions and updates to how everything is handled within the game, to make for a more coherent experience, instead of the relatively weird version of the old ones where (and I only found this out recently) the norm among players was apparently to manufacture loads of stuff and sell that, instead of relying on the global funding scheme.

    • werix says:

      I agree with you Mordsung. I didn’t play x-com in its hayday, but came at it years latter, and there are a lot of small nitpicky things with the way the game runs and its UI and general clunkiness in mechanics that has led me to only pick it up every now and again to play it and then drop it after an hour of play. I probably spent more time with that freeware remake, UFO: Enemy Unknown than the original. Some old games can still be played just fine today (Diablo 2 and Fallout 1 and 2) because the systems were just well designed, and other old games are just messy and need a good stream-lining. I think the Firaxsis X-com is doing a good job of that from what I’ve seen.

      • Khemm says:

        Multiple bases were clunky?
        Base invasions were clunky?
        Inventory and ammo management were clunky?
        Time Units were clunky?

        Improving the UI I can understand, that’s always been kind of a given, but it looks like they’re “fixing” what was never broken.
        When will some people understand that there’s a difference between making things work better and removing or changing stuff “just because”?

        • PoulWrist says:

          From the interview with the guy at Firaxis, I’m pretty certain they’re not changing things “just because”. Their game sounds interesting and fun and like it could expand on the X-COM formula.

        • Mordsung says:

          And what if some people did find time units, base invasions and multiple bases clunky?

          I had little issue with base invasions, but I always found the need to build multiple basis was more annoying than anything.

          And time units can be simplified into a better system.

          As long as you’re moving around in a turn based environment and doing your turn based stuff, the method of measuring your action budget shouldn’t matter, be it time units or a certain number of actions or whatever other system.

          The system is just how the gameplay is achieved, the numbers behind the system shouldn’t matter.

          • werix says:

            Yeah, thankfully I blocked Khemm’s comments long ago, so I don’t quite know what he said (thankfully) but yeah, the way time units was handled in the original was just so clunky. UFO made an improvement since it would at least show how many TU’s you had left after an action, and could plan better, but they just got in the way. I’m not a huge fan of the series, so I don’t have as much skin in the game as with other franchises, but the turn-based approach Firaxsis is using looks good.

            Now I have not tried the Xenonaut’s beta. If they cleared up the TU’s it may be just as good a system. There isn’t anything wrong with time units; fallout 2, one of my favourite games, used AP a similar concept. It just needs to be less clunky than the original.

          • Mordsung says:

            That’s exactly it Werix,

            TU’s aren’t hard to figure out, it’s a simple system, but it is unnecessarily clunky.

            It was like when D&D switched from using “negative armor is better” in 2nd ed. THAC0 and negative armor wasn’t HARD to figure out, but it was clunky, so they made a minor change which got rid of the clunk while maintaining the spirit of the system.

          • Volrath says:

            This is exactly what’s wrong with gaming today. “It’s too clunky, so we just decided to scrap it”. “It’s unnecessarily complex, so we just got rid of it”. Instead of going the opposite direction and improving those features.

            I have zero faith in Firaxis after the absolute debacle that was Civ5 anyway.

          • Groove says:

            I’m in the undecided camp, I think both games have the potential to be brilliant or to have neither be perfect.

            I believe the perfect example of time units and it’s complexities is facing. A problem in X-Com was saving TUs for a snap shot, only to arrive at the end of your move and find out you hadn’t saved time to shoot AND turn 45 degress. The easiest solution is to make turning a free action. On balance this is probably a good solution, but the problem is that it DOES remove depth. Depth doesn’t necessarily lead to a fun experience, but it can. The key issue with depth is how complex you want to make the game, and how you use it. You don’t want to make walking across a room a taxxing experience (requiring math and advanced UI control) while firing an advanced weapon is a single click.

            My point, if indeed I have a point, is that change isn’t always bad; depth isn’t always good; and simplification isn’t always good or bad. It’s all in the execution.

          • Mordsung says:

            I was actually going to bring up “facing” myself Groove.

            Old systems usually made facing an issue, which really reinforced how “static” the turn based system was. Turn based systems are meant to emulate real time, but with more strategy involved, and the “spend points to turn slightly” is a symptom of a bad aspect of the TU system.

            A person doesn’t statically stare straight ahead. Bringing D&D up again, 2nd edition had facing and this really made the combat system “Stuttery”. Third removed the idea of facing and went more with the idea that your character isn’t just frozen when it’s not his turn, he’s looking about, he’s actively defending himself ect, he’s ready to react for Attacks of Opportunity (kind of how a soldier with enough TU would fire automatically at an enemy that came into view).

            New Xcom looks like it’s going with the “Active Inaction” where your soldier is still looking around when it’s not his turn, still laying suppression fire and other such things.

            And yes, I realize I keep bringing up D&D, but it is kind of the father of most of the systems we see in turn based games.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            “Turn based systems are meant to emulate real time, but with more strategy involved, and the “spend points to turn slightly” is a symptom of a bad aspect of the TU system.”

            There are reasons to go with facing, and reasons to drop it. I don’t get why you’ve (seemingly) decided it is a purely negative “symptom”. Maybe I’m misunderstanding?

            I mean, I could easily argue that any system which ignores facing is inherently hamstrung, because it ignores the depth created by flanking, peripheral vision, etc. But it’s not absolutely good or bad, it’s just one choice among many that define the logic and feel of your system.

            As I see it, if you choose to include facing, you are probably trying to create a specific, “realist” feeling of vulnerability. Characters rely on allies to guard them against flanking attacks; to check corners and cover arcs of fire they can’t see. If you remove facing and the vulnerability it entails, characters feel more competent and powerful. If you still want them to feel vulnerable, you can give them other, more abstract dependencies and weaknesses (“vulnerable against plasma”). But the specific, real world logic of fields of vision (that everyone understand intuitively), is replaced with a made-up rule. Point is, while the depth is similar, the emotional tone and resonance is very different.

            Neither system is right or wrong, it just depends what your emotional and narrative goal is. If I wanted to create a very abstract tactical game about fantastical subjects like magic and item builds, I’d probably be eager to replace facing with other rules. But facing seems like a perfect fit for X-Com.

        • Phasma Felis says:

          Multiple bases were clunky?

          Not at all. I’ll miss those.

          Base invasions were clunky?

          As the original implemented them, yes. “Defend your base with only the first 80 items in inventory” was fun. Good luck taking down a Cyberdisc with 80 electroflares. But that’s easily fixed.

          Inventory and ammo management were clunky?

          Kinda. Each body location had different TU costs to move to each other body location, and they weren’t documented.

          Time Units were clunky?

          Oh, holy Jesus Christ. Time Units were the Clunkosaur from Clunkopolis on the planet Clunkotron. How many TUs does it take to fire a rifle? NO IDEA. You’ll have to click on the rifle to check for every one of your 16 soldiers, every round.

          TUs weren’t a bad concept, and they could’ve made them work well, but the way the original implemented them was the worst.

          • Groove says:

            “Kinda. Each body location had different TU costs to move to each other body location”

            You must be kidding me. I never knew that before, and I’ve put like 100 hours into X-Com.

            And you have a point on rifle TUs, the % based TU cost made brilliant balance sense, but was a pain in the assssss.

          • Premium User Badge

            gritz says:

            Why would you calculate the TU’s for rifle firing for every soldier for every round? You’re playing the game wrong.

          • Groove says:

            “Why would you calculate the TU’s for rifle firing for every soldier for every round? You’re playing the game wrong.”

            I don’t know if you know or not (saying someone is playing the game wrong doesn’t show a terribly informed attitude) but the TUs for firing a rifle weren’t set. They took a set % of the unit’s max TUs to fire, and most units would gain TUs after most missions. So to begin with, each unit would take different TU values to fire the same weapon, then these values would change again every mission.

            If you wanted to know how many TUs to save by eye, then you had to check every time, you couldn’t memorise them over time.

          • Premium User Badge

            gritz says:

            You’d have to be pretty OCD to go into that level of micromanagement turn by turn for every unit, especially when there’s already a built in function to automatically reserve enough TU’s to make any kind of shot you want. Or you could learn how to estimate. Or you could have your units shoot first and then move.

          • Phasma Felis says:

            You’d have to be pretty OCD to go into that level of micromanagement turn by turn for every unit, especially when there’s already a built in function to automatically reserve enough TU’s to make any kind of shot you want.

            Not really. “Reserve TUs for snap shot” is effectively useless, because it’s likely to leave you standing with enough TUs to either shoot forward (at nothing) or turn and face the enemy, but not both. What the game needs and doesn’t have is a “Reserve TUs for 90-degree turn, kneel, snap shot” button.

            Or you could have your units shoot first and then move.

            …What? Have you played X-COM? Yeah, you can shoot at empty air, walk around the corner, and stare dumbly at the Chryssalid you don’t have enough TUs to shoot at, but that’s rarely a winning strategy.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          They aren’t changing it “just because.” They are changing it to appeal to mass market. Simplify, streamline, focus on visual design.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        Anyone who uses ‘clunky’ to criticise a game proves themselves incapable of intelligent discussion. Clunky is meaningless. If you can’t explain what you mean by clunky, stop writing.

        • theleif says:

          This feels like I have to state something obvious, but clearly for you it’s not.
          A clunky interface is one that forces you to do 10 mouse clicks for something that could easily be done in 4. A clunky game system is a system that does not give you enough information to use it efficiently.
          If you read Mordsungs posts you should have a pretty clear idea of his opinion on this.

          Not that clunky is always bad. I’m playing Legend of Grimrock right now, and the inventory system is very clunky. But, and this is very important: it is clunky by design. UFO:EU is not clunky by design.
          Btw, LoG is a fantastic game. Stop discussing this an go play.

    • Reefpirate says:

      There’s really only a couple of things I nitpicked about… The most major of those nitpicks was having to redo soldier’s loadouts for each mission. If Xenonauts fixes only that, which I’m pretty sure they have fixed, I will be very very happy. I’m sure they’re aware of some other nitpicks as well, like balancing out the weapons a little more, dealing with the psychic issues, etc.

      Overall I’m convinced Xenonauts will be the better game, but I am also wholly excited about Firaxis’ interpretation of the whole thing.

      • JFS says:

        They have fixed that. Loadout is being remembered. Also, PSI powers won’t be in for humans, as well as blaster bombs, because they were unbalancing. There is no “sticking to purity” here.

  4. Guyver says:

    actually it’s 9.2 version. :p
    check out these screenshots about the chinook i made with the game:
    interior link to imagehost.it
    exterior link to imagehost.it
    different mission, on side link to imagehost.it

  5. snv says:

    Maybe he`s not upset about his job. He is looking at the player, who is keeping him from his important research project to get a report, again.

    • Baboonanza says:

      He looks like you’ve just made a mildly insulting remark about his horrible goatee.

      Which I have.

      • Jesse L says:

        He probably looks like that because, according to those figures, he’s only making $56,400 a year to work 18 hours a day reverse-engineering impossible alien tech while living in an underground base far from any friends or family he used to have, under daily threat of being fired, transferred across the world, or brutally murdered by invading alien monsters.

        And that’s BEFORE taxes.

        • TheWhippetLord says:

          I love that the UI has a ‘small talk’ option. Obviously yon boffin is merely sad because the player never comes over just to talk any more.

      • BobsLawnService says:

        And in this weeks episode of Know Your Hipster Douchebag Facial Hair…

        That isn’t a goatee, it is a soulpatch.

        • Baboonanza says:

          It’s a patch that covers the hole where hipsters had their souls sucked out like a disgusting, curdled milkshake?

          Well, that explains a lot.

      • Fumarole says:

        A soul patch does not a goatee make.

    • Craig Stern says:

      He just got the memo about TPS report cover sheets.

    • jonfitt says:

      I’d love it if as the game went on, he looked more haggard and exhausted, with scraggly beard and unwashed clothes as the war effort takes its toll.

      • Ralphomon says:

        Speaking as a research physicist, it’ll only take a week of moderately disappointing data and the prospect of having to do the last few days’ work all over again ‘for the statistics’ for that to happen.

        • NathanH says:

          Speaking as a research mathematician, this state is the default.

    • PJMendes says:

      That’s clearly Otacon, not happy with how fast Snake is going through Magnetic Ion Armors in the battlefield.

  6. Verio says:

    “Here’s a mockup of the Research UI too, featuring another of Xenoanuts’ characteristically miserable gentlemen:”

    Lines like this (upon reading of which, i lol’d) are why I read RPS.

    That said, I think the-switch-base-views-sign-on-the-wall is very cool. I like creative ways to get the UI to be part of the game, and I think this is a good one. It’s all at once a sign on the wall telling the viewing in what part of the base they could fnd a certain area, and a sign showing the player what section they are in, and how to jump to another section.

  7. c-Row says:

    If this game doesn’t feature base invasions, the angry internet mob will probably tear it apart.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Base invasions and terror missions are coming in build 9.3, which is currently in swift development. The article above says 9.1 was recently released, but actually it’s 9.2. Chris England says in forum posts that he expects 9.3 to be done within this month, including fully functional base attack missions with layouts that are identical to what you build in the base management screen.

      Also, a demo is going to be launched together with a Kickstarter campaign, probably this month too.. Demo is supposedly going to be 1 full ingame month with whatever you can fit in there, including 1 terror mission and ending with a base attack.

  8. Seboss says:

    Looking good. But I still hate them for using a map instead of a globe for the geoscape. Why did they change such a landmark of the XCom series for a clearly inferior model?

    • Jesse L says:


      Edit: okay, I liked the globe too. But my love for the globe is also mixed with my love of the tense looking at globe music. I have room in my heart for tense looking at mercator-projection music too…I think.

    • Unaco says:


      Or wait… is it Heresy? Whatever, you get the pitchforks, I’ll set up the bonfire.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Sticking with a coherent design wins over nonsensical choices like globes.

      • Seboss says:

        Ok, “hate” was an exaggeration of course. I understand the whole 70’s control room design. But the liberties taken toward realism to make it work without using confusing projections for ships trajectory, fuel consumption etc make me sad. I liked my globe. It looks good, it’s more realistic and gives a better feel of distances than a projection.

        But still, I preordered long ago, and it’s just one little design decision I don’t stand 100% behind.

      • Dozer says:

        The cylindrical planet is what is nonsensical.

        Years ago I suggested they use a globe for the physics and a map for the display but they said no, it makes the range circles non-circular. Which I think is a very very daft decision.

        We could instead have a spherical* planet and a choice of equidistant rectilinear, Mercator, or aximuthal projections to display on the screen. That is a choice of a) a 2:1 rectangle representing the entire surface of the globe, b) a rectangle displaying the entire earth except the top and bottom 5° but where a straight line represents a straight compass course, and c) a circle representing half of the surface of the planet.

        I stopped following Xenonauts after realising they were sticking with a cylindrical Earth. I’ve pre-ordered so I have access to the betas, but I’ll wait for the release before playing again.

      • Wisq says:

        A map makes sense from a visual standpoint. Why see half the planet when I can see everything at once?

        A globe makes sense from a realism standpoint. Why does a base in the arctic cover less land than a base at the equator? Why do I have to travel 20,000 km (halfway around the equator) to get from one side of Antarctica to the other? Why are we living on a cylinder where Canada and Russia and Antarctica are huuuuge?

        Contrary to popular belief, you can actually marry the two. When you plot a course or measure distance, use the great arc distance. Horizontal (longitudinal) speed increases while near the poles, up to infinity at the pole itself, which is why travelling over the pole makes sense (when going 180º degrees around the world). When you place a base, a base on the equator will have radar coverage in a roughly circular shape, while one midway to the poles will have a roughly elliptical shape. A base right on the south pole would have a flat line of coverage that spans the entire map, covering everything from a certain latitude down to the pole. Night and day would have funny shapes based on the season; see link to die.net .

        I suggested this on the forum, and they just kinda looked at me funny. :(

        More precisely, they stated that “it would just confuse people”. Which may be a cover for “it’s a lot of work” or “we don’t think the spherical earth thing was that important” or “we don’t really understand”. And that’s fair. But I’m hoping that someone (possibly them) is able to add it post-release sometime, maybe as an option.

        • Dozer says:

          If players have the option of toggling the map to azimuthal projection (ie, it looks like they’re looking at a globe, like in the original X-Com) it will show exactly why that South Pole base has a range circle that looks like a straight horizontal line on the rectangular map, or why the flight path of your aircraft looks curved. The azimuthal projection would show a base surrounded by a range circle, and an aircraft travelling in a straight line, on the surface of a sphere.

          Then the user has a choice: use the rectangular NASA-Control-Room map normally, because you can see the entire planet at once, and switch to the azimuthal projection when stuff’s happening at either pole.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      For christ’s sake, can’t anyone get an X-COM remake right?

    • Utgaardsloke says:

      Omg they dropped the geoscape globe? This is actually bad news :(

    • d32 says:

      As far as I remember, they were actually lacking skill (programming or artistic) at the beginning of the development – and for some reason have stuck with this version until now. There was desire to create the globe among developers however.

  9. Malcolm says:

    I’d forgotten I pre-ordered this – still think I’ll wait for the finished product before playing though.

  10. caddyB says:

    It sucks that we live in a world that we can’t buy both and must choose and hate each other for playing one or the other.

    • diamondmx says:

      I expect this comment is sarcasm.
      But then I look at CoD vs BF, XBox vs PlayStation, hardcore vs casual, console vs PC.
      And I realise that it’s prophetic.

  11. TheWhippetLord says:

    We need a big dramatic ‘hidden movement’ screen while the Firaxis PR department make their move…

  12. CaspianRoach says:

    I was looking at the pictures and couldn’t believe that they made the game look worse than it was. Then after a minute of not believing my eyes I saw that before and after screens are reversed. Which is silly because that’s not how design works.

    • Chris England says:

      In my defence, people read from left to right and these screenshots were designed for people with extremely short attention spans.

      (I must admit I hadn’t noticed I’d screwed that up until you pointed it out, and now the mistake is blindingly obvious)

    • Dozer says:

      I thought the “March 2012” “Six months earlier” tags were a bit of a giveaway – or were those later additions?

      • Unaco says:

        Some people don’t/can’t read… they just look at the pictures.

        • Dozer says:

          Can’t read captions written on the pictures???

          • Unaco says:

            Yes… The captions written on the pictures. Which contain the pertinent information (March 2012/Six months earlier). Some people cannot read them. Because they are illiterate. Therefore, they do not get the information informing them that the newer shots are on the left, and the older shots on the right, and that it is more ‘After – Before’ than ‘Before – After’.

      • CaspianRoach says:

        The dates are presented in incosistent way, using different formats and a language which isn’t my first.
        I still sometimes forget about what part of day is AM/PM thingie so yeah it’s not that blindingly obvious for me so excuse me for assuming the order for before/after pictures was standart.

  13. Coroner says:

    I love the painting like backdrop on the research screen. Very old school. Reminds me of Ocean Trader from 1995

  14. sneetch says:

    Love that task list in the Research Labs

    Caesan autopsy
    Laser Weaponary
    Alien Alloy Fabrication

    Can you add “Spell Checker” to that list?

    • Dozer says:

      Assuming “Caesan” is a type of alien and not meant to be “Caesarean autopsy”, there’s only the one typo there…

      Excuse me, I’m going to buy a caesar salad wrap. I’m hungry now.

      • sneetch says:

        If you’re referring to it as a caesarean autopsy I don’t want you anywhere near my wife! We’ll take our chances thanks. ;)

        Actually, from the scientist’s expression I’d say someone has just corrected his spelling, “Really? We’re in the middle of an alien invasion, you’re barely qualified to pull a trigger and you’re correcting the man who’s going to be arming you?”

        I think someone just volunteered to beta test the laser weaponry.

        • Dozer says:

          My last job was providing on-site IT support for the maternity department of a large hospital. Happily I never heard of anyone carrying out a Caesarean autopsy!

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Don’t think there’s a typo, just a misspelled word

  15. RedViv says:

    Now it looks less like a Paint-made upgrade of Enemy Unknown and more like a polished cartoony JA2. More of that, please.

  16. jonfitt says:

    Am I just being a Mr Moneybags McCash, when I say I will probably just buy them both?
    It’s been 15 years since Apocalypse, and even the last of the knock off UFO: AfterX series was 5 years ago. Is it really a problem to have 2 UFO inspired games right now?

    • Mordsung says:

      It’s not a problem, and just because someone shows preference to one or the other doesn’t mean they hate the other.

      More games are always better, but the discussion does generally end up being between people who do not have the money for both, or sometimes it just evolves into a conversation about general game design and mechanics using the two games as base points for comparison.

      Hating on anyone for gaming choices is about the stupidest act anyone could do, but having heated debate about the positives and negatives of a given platform or game is perfectly reasonable.

      Positive debate on the internet is possible, people just need to try and not weave barbs and insults into their argument and need to realize there is no such thing as objective truth in art, and games are art.

      Believe me, it took me most of my adult life to learn how to have an internet debate without being an asshole and without insulting who I’m debating with, and we all still falter.

      That said, debate should never become synonymous with “hating”. Even vitriolic attack of a position is not hating as long as that vitriol is laced with facts, evidence, or rational defense of one’s position.

      Hating an idea is fine, we just need to avoid hating the person who holds the idea. There’s so many more valid reasons to hate each other.

  17. cptgone says:

    that crashed UFO looks so cool.

    can has xenoburger now? on second thought, wait till the holidays. i don’t wanna flunk my evening classes.

  18. Strangerator says:

    One of my favorite additions/improvements over the original is the random events system and the casualty counter on the geoscape. “Aliens destroy shipping vessel, 30 men lost at sea” pops up on the map, and there’s clearly nothing you can do about it. It gives the impression that this is a war that’s going on all over the earth, and seeing the casualties mount gives you that feeling of desperation.

    I’m liking the direction the project is going. Glad to have preordered.

  19. TheWhippetLord says:

    Just splurged on a pre-order and poked around on the test version. Obviously it being a pre-alpha or whatever version it has holes in it, but the UI especially is glorious – without pressing anything you can see the APs/Health/Energy of all your units at all times, for example (think mouseover was involved though.) Lots of promise here.

  20. metalangel says:

    Yet still no female soldiers? Because it would require new sprites? Can you really tell if there’s boobs or not underneath the combat equipment and body armour?

    Go on. Females were always a key part of the X-COM team.

    • Mordsung says:

      If you’re not too concerned with the sprites, couldn’t you just rename your soldier a female name?

      Also, considering that the more a woman trains and builds muscle, the more testosterone she produces, most super well trained female combat soldiers would probably end up looking quite masculine anyway.

      It’s why I always laugh at really curvy combat heroes in games. No female training to the levels of physicality portrayed in most combat video games would maintain curves. They’d look like female body builders, who often have to begin shaving after being in the sport for long enough due to how much testosterone they start producing.

      Combat makes you manly, even if you’re a chick.

      • Snakejuice says:

        Thank you! I love a fresh bit of new knowledge to feed my brain in the evening. (I’m just going to assume you have no reason to make this up and I’m too lazy to research the subject of strong beardy women any further.)

    • buzzmong says:

      Chris has said on the official forums that it is a suprising amount of work as there’s more sprites and images than you realise, although they may do it in the future after the game has shipped.

      • metalangel says:

        All I’m saying is give us a female portrait and name in the stats screen. The actual in-game sprite (for the combat sequences) stays exactly the same.

        • Saiko Kila says:

          I think they should do this. Also, the death cry (and possible other sounds) of dying one could be differentiated, like in UFO. By the way, the females in the original UFO were quite masculine in appearance. I mean the body shot in inventory view. They had the distinctive feminine features, like slightly slimmer waist, wrists and bigger boobs, they also had narrower shoulders, but otherwise they were really masculine, just like female body builders. Which was quite fitting.

        • JFS says:

          That would be cool. Chris is still contemplating a Kickstarter, maybe “female portraits” might happen if enough money is pledged. Female sprites, I don’t think so, or maybe in an add-on or something. Don’t want this game be delayed four months just because of something like this. Plus, you wouldn’t notice anyhow under a helmet and combat armor.

  21. marlin says:

    Where’s Wulf when you need him?

  22. Nameless1 says:

    I already preordered it, not going to bother with the Firaxis one (disappointing both in the awful art style and gameplay mechanics)