Intergalactic, Planetary: Xenonauts Now On Steam

Well, Steam Early Access, anyway. Seeing as X-Com has been abducted and replaced by the magnificent (but still quite different) XCOM: Enemy Unknown and snazzy 1960s hat dress-up simulator The Bureau: XCOM, Xenonauts is sort of the original’s closest living relative. So now’s your chance to return to the present’s past while clad in the graphics and interface from a past-inspired portion of the future. In other words, Xenonauts has potential to be one of the very best things. But you – and perhaps only you, but probably not – can push it past alpha and into top humanity exterminating form. Details after the break.

Xenonauts has been in development for quite some time, so it’s hovering teasingly close to completion. If you go ahead and enlist right now, here’s what you’ll be getting yourself into:

“Xenonauts is still in development and will continue to receive free updates until it is fully complete. Most of the key features are already in place and the game can certainly be played in its current state, but it has a few rough edges like as inconsistent game balance, placeholder UI elements and the occasional missing art assets. You may also encounter bugs/crashes. We are working hard to solve all of these issues and *hope* to have the final game ready later this year.”

So basically, it’s nearly feature complete, but some of those features might not, you know, work. Still though, for $19.99 you could do a whole lot worse, and even back in naive, carefree pre-X-Day year of 2012, Alec came away quite pleased.

Now then, what are you waiting for? An invitation? Because the aliens weren’t invited, but they still showed up. Rude, right? Teach them the error of their ways by flailing to keep your soldiers alive for their amusement. That’ll show ’em!


  1. Silenus says:

    I flailed often when playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I can confidently say flailing does not keep your soldiers alive.

    • guygodbois00 says:

      Spot on. Also: Xenonauts yes, Steam no.

      • Aklyon says:

        Theres always Desura (or desura’s seperate standalone downloads section for xenonauts)if you don’t want to use Steam. But honestly, desura doesn’t work very well for the number of files this has.

        • Ranger33 says:

          Agreed. Desura breaks down and has a fit every time I try to update Xenonauts. Usually have to download the whole thing from scratch every other update. I like Desura for all the little alpha games it provides me, but I transfer the big ones over to Steam ASAP.

      • Festus McGee says:

        This reminds me: When people are crazy, do they KNOW they’re crazy?

        • wearedevo says:

          These last few anti-Steamers remind me of those Japanese holdouts stranded on Pacific islands after WW2.

          • Isaac says:

            Except that a good chunk of gamers don’t want to rely on 3rd party software to tell them when they can play their game or not (Offline mode is not working correctly because I lost internet, a patch is downloading, whatever error, etc.). If you like Steam, that is fine! Others prefer to not use it.

          • Caiman says:

            I certainly have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is a certain proportion of that said chunk of gamers who have to constantly and predictably whinge about Steam every. single. fecking. time a game is released on Steam. Yes, ok, we get it – you don’t like Steam. Take your ball and play somewhere else then.

          • Tayh says:

            Yes, that isn’t at all similar to the “no steam, no buy” motto the steam horde chants everytime someone dare to release a game outside of steam.

          • Isaac says:

            Caiman: I understand that, the big issue is Steam exclusives, if I want anything but small titles and a very small handful of “big games” it is Steam or nothing. I am glad when games get multiple release channels, including Steam, the problem is Steam exclusive, the being forced to “use Steam or GTFO” for titles like Skyrim, X-Com, Dishonored. And like Tayh said, there are a lot of “Not on Steam, won’t buy” brigade, even though Indies have a hard time getting on Steam (even with acclaim and good sales on other platforms).

    • Tellus says:

      Keep calm and flail on

  2. imperialus says:

    Yay! I bought Xenonauts waaaay back when RPS did its first article on it. It’s been a ton of fun to follow its development all the way along.

    • Shivoa says:

      The devs have also been good about getting new releases out, previously managed via Desura and now presumably also on Steam updates (smart use of the Desura CD key system to give everyone who activated their alpha purchase there onto Steam quickly: link to

  3. GunFox says:

    Xenonauts is excellent. Nails XCOM like I have never seen before. Anything it adds only makes the game better than the original. Be warned though, the balance is pretty off right now and it has a los bug or two that can make it frustrating to play. Just give it a little bit and I’m sure those will be ironed out however.

    • Continuity says:

      Yeah, I backed it in the kickstarter but I’m waiting for it to be finished. I’m considering it the true xcom remake so I want to see it at its best. I was sorely disappointed in the Firaxis xcom, the fact that so many people thought it was good only goes to show how starved we are for a decent game in this genre IMO.

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        I hear you about the Firaxis ‘remake’, it was truly completely terrible, the poorman’s Xcom, or the Idiot’s Guide to Console Strategy if you will.

        Xenonauts, even in it’s unfinished state, completely pisses all over the Firaxis rehash.

  4. Moni says:

    I’ve always laughed at the pronounciation of “Uranus” in that song, then again, I’ve also named all my XCOM agents with gential and fecal references.

  5. mrmalodor says:

    Wasn’t the final version supposed to be released last year in october? They’re still only in alpha stage?????

  6. Kaira- says:

    I wonder if they had to fight for their right to release on Steam. Hopefully nothing sabotages the launch.

  7. bokkibear says:

    I think OpenXCOM is probably the original’s closest living relative. They’re like twins or something.

  8. bills6693 says:

    Looking back at the first article, and it talking about ‘Jagged alliance and X-Com back in the day’, the latter is now on steam and looking closer and closer to release, and now the former has been Kickstarted too!

    And with a ‘new’ Firaxis X-Com announced. And Double Fine’s new Kickstarter.

    It’s a good year to be a TBS fan!

    • Houghtezo says:

      All we need now is a new Incubation game

      • Zorn says:

        I always got a tear in my eye, thinking of Incubation.
        Replaying it so many times over the years.
        It’s still one of my definitive turn-based games.
        I think I love it even more than Jagged Alliance.
        One day and want to wake up and read such an
        announcement. A spiritual successor to Incubation.

        • Houghtezo says:

          Yeah, same here – it is definitely the game I have revisited most over the years. It is quite an achievement that I still get the same enjoyment from it now, 15 years on, as I did when I first played it

        • MellowKrogoth says:

          The graphics haven’t aged too well, but Incubation was definitely a great game with a great athmosphere and compelling gameplay.

          (You can (re-)buy it on by the way.)

  9. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    How does this fare in comparison to XCOM:EU?

  10. Teovald says:

    I backed it on Kickstarter, so I got an early access key. I don’t think I want to play to the early access version though.. I won’t make too many playthroughs of that game, I might as well enjoy the release version.

    What is the motivation of those that play many beta games ? Is it to be able to influence the devs ? Or is it because you can’t wait to play and you will make many playthroughs anyway ??

    • pertusaria says:

      In a certain mindset, it can be fun to find bugs and make sure they don’t show up in the finished product. I guess that falls under “influence the devs”. Also, a good community often grows up among early adopters before the number of players becomes (hopefully) too big to know everyone.

    • Grygus says:

      I’d imagine that some people beta as a sort of scout for their circle of friends; they bring the inside info back to the others and then they decide collectively whether they will play a given game on launch day. My group stopped working like this once I alienated them all, but surely we weren’t the only ones.

    • Mctittles says:

      I think for a lot of people it’s like feeling your “one of the team”. Like band aids or something. Which is why when you do actually report bugs and problems during testing the community yells at you “It’s Beta!”

    • flashmanandy says:

      I would add it to steam now and await the final release, just dont install it. That way you dont have to faff about in a few months. Steam will just update you to the fully finished game when it is released.

  11. Vesuvius says:

    Please remind me to never ever look in the Steam discussion forums for a given game. The Xenonauts forum is 75% either “what an uninspired XCOM ripoff” or “you should have made this an FPS” (not joking on that last one).

    Feel sorry for the devs given what a labor of love this project’s been.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      I think those are trolls, honestly. Unfortunately the most controversial topics always get the most answers.

      But if you’ve had a positive experience with Xenonauts, go start a thread there about how great it is? People who like the game need to open their mouths to counterbalance the trolls and bored haters.

  12. BTAxis says:

    The last time I heard from this game, it was being ruined by the fans on its forums pressuring the devs to make it the most overcomplicated, tedious system imaginable.

    • flashmanandy says:

      Chris is very single minded, if he disagrees he will shoot the idea down. He has looked hard at what is needed to make it a good xcom style game and what was just time wasting. E.g. all research leads to stuff. there is no fluff research that simply looks pretty.

  13. Vinraith says:

    Is there going to be a way to get this one DRM free, or are Steam and Desura my only options?

    • kibertoad says:

      Desura is DRM-free. Client is optional, you can get DRM-free installer from game page.

      • cptgone says:

        and the Desura client only adds ease of use.

        • Vinraith says:

          Because installing and running games is so complicated that it requires 3rd party software to make it “easy.”

          • Dominic White says:

            If you’ve got a large library of games, then a launcher that downloads, installs and patches for you is pretty damn useful. I mean, you could do all that by hand – the site lets you – but most people think that it’s a useful service rather than a shackling.

          • Vinraith says:

            If the version I’m downloading from a website is either already up to date or autopatches, in what way does an additional 3rd party piece of software make the process “more convenient?” What does a client do that a well maintained website doesn’t?

          • cptgone says:

            even so, Desura saves you the time to check if a game autopatches or not. and it helps you keeping track of what you have installed, and what games you own but don’t reside on your disk.

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            Huh? Are you for real? You sound like you’ve never experience the convenience that is Steam or Desura.

            First of all, the client manages downloading updates for you and checksums them, which makes a corrupted download impossible.

            Second, a unique client means you don’t have god knows how many apps trying to download updates at the same time. If there are several updates it can queue them efficiently. You can leave running a client overnight to auto-update all your games (at least on Steam, don’t remember about Desura), no need to launch the games or their launcher apps for that.

            Third, the install procedure is pretty much one-click, as all the dependencies (DirectX, .NET framework and what not) are installed silently and automatically.

            Fourth, having a neat manageable list of all your games somewhere instead of having to the Windows Add/Remove thingie is very handy.

            Lastly you might not care about this, but personally I appreciate some little Steam details (unfortunately Desura does none of that) like knowing how many hours I’ve played a certain games, and what games my friends are playing or what’s in their wishlist.

            I also like the fact that developers can gather some hard facts about their games through Steam, thereby really knowing how people are playing their games and being able to tailor them better to their audience.

            This said I wish launching the Steam client was optional to play just as the Desura client is… but it would definitely make the whole experience less integrated.

          • dE says:

            Oh dear, you just had to trigger his nerdrage card, eh?

      • Vinraith says:

        Interesting, I’d read in the past that some games worked that way, but some required the client. If it’s actually the case that no games require the client, I’ll have to reassess Desura.

        • asret says:

          Desura is definitely one of the better options. Their client isn’t as polished as the Steam one, but you can ignore it entirely and just go through their website. None of the games I’ve purchased there have required the Desura client to be running.

          Their support has also been excellent when things go wrong. I’ve only had to deal with once so far – but it was considerably better than dealing with Steam support.

          • Vinraith says:

            Glad to hear it. I’m glad to get that misunderstanding about the client cleared up, and it’s always nice to hear a distributor has good support as well.

    • Wang Tang says:

      Website says:
      “A Steam or Desura key for the final game on release day!”

      I assume they’d write it in big letters if they were to release this on any other channel.

    • Chris England says:

      We’ll be launching on the Humble Store shortly too.

      • Vinraith says:

        Thanks Chris, that’s good to know.

        • Bhazor says:

          From the Kickstarter Q&A

          Can we have a DRM-free version of the game on release?

          Yes – on release we’ll have a DRM-free version downloadable on GamersGate, Desura and hopefully via the Humble Store on our own website.

          We’ll give you the option to download from those places if you’d rather do that than take a Steam key!

          • Grey Poupon says:

            But the steam version won’t be DRM free? That’s a bit odd.

          • Harlander says:

            Well, it’s on Steam, which is a form of DRM, though in my experience one of the less obnoxious forms.

      • Lemming says:

        If I bought the game already via Desura, is there any way for me to get a Steam key?

        • Colonel J says:

          Yes, it’s on the ‘CD Keys’ page which isn’t very obvious to find in the client but if you click on blue button in top left and go History / Purchase History in the menu then the ‘View Your CD Keys’ link in the page, that’s your Steam key right there.

    • Dominic White says:

      Desura *is* DRM-free. You do know that you can download anything you own directly from the site, GOG-style, right?

      Edit: Oops, someone already said that. But yeah, it’s true.

    • NathanH says:

      In addition to previous answers, the Steam version is also one of those types that doesn’t require Steam running at all to use.

    • flashmanandy says:

      Humble bundle sells a DRM free one, or Desura sells the standalone download. Each will be updated with the stable releases so 18, 19, 20 etc until it goes gold. The difference is, unless you wait for gold, you will have to keep downloading the latest build without steam auto updating,

      • Vinraith says:

        I’d have to keep updating my backup anyway, so it hardly matters.

  14. kibertoad says:

    Desura is DRM-free. Client is optional, you can get DRM-free installer from game page.

  15. cptgone says:

    gorgeous screenshot. the main dev quit his day job to make this labour of love, and then Firaxis announced XCOM – which i haven’t played yet, although i did preorder Xenonauts years ago. i still think this will be the one for me, and am glad to hear about the steady progress made. as to Firaxis’ XCOM: i’ll gladly give it a go as soon as it’s price drops to €5, and not a day sooner.

  16. Wonderboy2402 says:

    I am also an early backer and got the steam early access. I played about five hours straight Friday night and I can tell you the game definitely feels like x-com, in a great way. This game is brutal on normal and as an experienced x-com player. First missions you will lose agents, alot of them. I’m talking 2/3 of your units wiped out. Even as I had upgraded equipment I would lose rookie replacements and every other mission a veteran or captain. Red shirts are fodder and I usually send them in to scout a mission can go fubar very very quickly.

    Some of the improvements I can confirm on my playing are: weapon suppression of targets, new weapons and types like a carbine category and smoke grenades, air combat now has a radar battlemap, AI for aliens means they now have distinct styles of fighting (x-com didn’t have much of an Ai, I believe it was random), local defense forces and first responders will assist on a battlemap, terror sites now are more more serious as your failure to respond to the threat means nuking the city, and some other things I don’t want to say yet.

    All the equipment and aliens definitely have x-com equivalents but there are differences that I won’t spoil.

    One of the things I suggested on their forum way back was to make alien autopsy more interactive and explorative. Chris couldn’t do it but he did write a ton of interesting content and description of each alien type. Also cutting up the alien reveals their weaknesses which is passed on to your units something I suggested.

    Overall I am pleased with this project. I did hit a wall in my play through. I can’t build the more advanced fighters because I lack the alloy to do so. I researched the tech to do so but can manufacture it… And alien ships no longer seem to crash land. So an impass.

  17. jaklar says:

    “Closest living relative…” would be Humans Versus Aliens for iOS. Great game if you love the original X-Com.

    link to

    You’re welcome.

  18. buzzmong says:

    i’ve really enjoyed playing Xenonauts. I’m slightly biased towards it as I had preordered it well before the Kickstarter (back when Goldhawk were using Paypal!).

    Chris the head honcho has a pretty good eye for game design, I might not agree with all his decisions, but he makes them for solid reasons which I understand and probably would lean that way myself if I were in his shoes.

  19. xfrog says:

    I tried XCOM and didn’t like it so much. I ended up not playing it at all and found it an experience that did not came close to the original.
    I tried Xenonauts and liked it so much that I am really looking forward to this game!
    Well done to the developers!

  20. RanDomino says:

    No love for UFO:AI? It has flaws but it’s a professional-caliber game, and open-source.

  21. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I have played just enough to confirm that I was right to purchase. I shall now climb into the Time Capsule to fast-forward myself to the time of full release so that I might enjoy its full majesty. Tally-ho!

  22. edwardh says:

    Damn it, it’s so unfortunate that I missed the Kickstarter for this. This looks so damn awesome!!
    Thank you RPS for making me aware of it! It looks like a dream come true… with every new damn X-COM game, I hoped they would FINALLY drop all the bullshit and return to its original form.

    [edit]I still can’t believe this is happening! And… it’s apparently even available DRM-free through Desura! Hell yeah! SCREW STEAM! [/edit]

  23. Hahaha says:

    Why does the thought of paying 15 quid for this feel like a complete ripoff? Is it worth it?

  24. Tayh says:

    Waiting for the DRM-free version.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      No, you’re not, you pathetic liar, because the DRM-free version has been out on Desura for a year or so, and before that was available via direct download from the developers.

      I am so tired of anti-Steam insurgents spamming every post that mentions Steam with their lying, inane nonsense.

      • dE says:

        You’re quite the curious case. I love seeing social interaction when it is outside of the norm. Your post is so far removed from normal and sane that it might be worth it’s own case study. Maybe you can help me with that.

        Do you feel sudden bursts of rage for no reason?
        Does the word DRM-Free trigger a setpiece of reactions in your brain?
        Do you often suffer from rampant imagination?
        At times, do you feel persecuted or cornered?