XCOM Who? – Xenonauts Officially Complete

We're not actually feeling skeptical right now. Our faces are just stuck this way from being skeptical so much in the past.

I am glad. Against all odds, Firaxis’ XCOM revival was actually a great turn-based strategy that captured the spirit of the original Gollop games. It wasn’t entirely bereft of blindspots, though. The art style wasn’t super menacing and didn’t allow imagination to fill in the gaps, the game sort of got easier as time went on, tension dissipated over time, etc. Sometimes, you just need a straight-up remake in order to account for everything. In the case of classic X-Com, that game is Xenonauts. Alec has both written and blathered as much before, and really, is there any greater endorsement? Alec hates everything, even rainbows and my youthful naivete. Someday I’ll earn his approval. Maybe if I become turn-based and prominently feature permadeath, he’ll finally love me too.

Xenonauts is now more or less complete, having hit version 1.0. There will be updates in the future, but mostly to address stability issues and things of the like. The Steam version is still listed as Early Access, but that will change soon. The game’s developers explained:

“We have now released Xenonauts V1.0 on the Steam Stable branch, which marks the end of formal development for Xenonauts. This is effectively the final version of the game, minus any stability patches that may be required. Official release and leaving Early Access for the game is in about two weeks, but the remaining time is mostly going to be spent on sending out review copies, the PR around the launch, porting to Mac / Linux and getting the Kickstarter rewards sorted out etc.”

“There have been a lot of changes made since the previous Stable version. The game has a much smoother difficulty curve, more information for new players, new line of sight mechanics, much improved AI and all sorts of finer polish.”

Sounds magnificent. More aliens with whom to share the gift of (s)laughter. Yes, that’s right: S laughter. I have no idea how it differs from normal laughter.

Who’s gonna grab this one? Are you in the mood for some old-school, Cold-War-era alien out-braining? Did you give Xenonauts a go back when it first started development, aka sometime around the Actual Cold War?


  1. amateurviking says:

    I think I shall take the plunge. Definitely in the mood for some sci-fi turn-based tactical action. I’ll most probably await the WIT (there’ll be a WIT right?).

    Regardless I’m really pleased it’s finished and nearly out. Seems like it’s been forever since it was announced.

  2. John Connor says:

    I like Xenonauts because the world map actually has strategy to it. XCOM’s world map has the strategic depth of a Call of Duty corridor.

    • CharlySpoons says:

      “strategic depth of a Call of Duty corridor”

      Lol, I love that sentence. If ever they modernize Sun Tzu’s Art of War I hope it includes phrases such as that.

      On topic – I’m very happy to see Xenonauts complete and finally ready to play. Good stuff!

      • scatterbrainless says:

        Sun Tzu – “These wandering nomads have the strategic depth of a Call of Duty corridor”

        Genghis Khan – “YOLO!”

    • Captain Joyless says:

      I supported Xenonauts long ago and am happy to see it finally finished.

      I also have to agree… calling XCOM: Enemy Unknown “strategy” is stretching it. EU is a turn-based tactics game. All of the strategic elements from UFO Defense and TFTD have been stripped out of the game. That’s half the game that’s been boiled down to pressing “launch satellite.”

      • running fungus says:

        Yes, thank you. I’m surprised to see anyone call XCOM a “great game”.

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      Instead of aliens, shouldn’t you be more worried about cyborgs and Skynet?

  3. Stimpack says:

    While I liked the new X-COM game, I’m saddened by the incredible popularity surrounding it. To me, it was not an X-COM game. This is an X-COM game.

    • hjarg says:

      Popularity? You do realize that original UFO was popular down to a cult status, right? And calling XCOM not X-COM game cause it”s popular seems kind of silly. Would make sense if you could get original only from shady dealers who hid behind waste baskets of even shadier streets, but…

      • Grottismo says:

        I believe he meant the new XCOM didn’t deserve the popularity\praise it got because it wasn’t as true to the originals ‘spirit'(?)mechanics(?)everything(?)

        • JimboDeany says:

          I agree with him on this one. The game was fun but remarkably shallow compared to the older X-Com titles and certain core mechanics just didn’t seem to work properly – for instance LOS seemed to regularly go a bit dippy. I’ve been watching this game for about a year so I think I’ll pick it up over the summer.

        • Stimpack says:

          Bingo. I don’t entirely see how I was misunderstood? It’s been a long day, maybe I didn’t word it properly. Someone figured it out, though.

        • jalf says:

          Which is stupid as fuck.

          X-COM’s popularity was because it was a good game. XCOM’s popularity is because it is a good game.

          That is the only reason why a game *should* become popular. “being just like a game from 1994” is not, and should not be, a reason or popularity.

          • hjarg says:

            Ahh, ok, i get what you mean. I still don’t get it though. Did you really want XCOM to be X-COM just the way it was, just with better graphics? Yes, XCOM had flaws. For example, interceptor fights could be more interesting (though, to be fair, it was the same for X-COM), the idea that you have to choose between three sites was silly, so was one team at the time. Then again, i like how they got read of time units and made a simple move/shoot. That did not take much out of the game, but added clarity. Better inventory management- yes, please! And so on and so on.
            I’d say XCOM was a good game and got it’s praise because it deserves it. And it lives exactly to the spirit of original XCOM. You kick aliens with your squad, you shoot down UFO-s and meanwhile you research new weapons, manufacture them and slowly turn the tide. Just like it used to be…

          • Lemming says:

            The point is that because this XCOM was popular, it means that’s now the benchmark for further XCOM games, rather than the depth the original offered. By virtue of it being popular, it tells developers that’s all we want. Do you get it now?

          • Sandepande says:

            Does it really? I would imagine quite a few developers would also like a more original XCOM. It is why Xenonauts was made, after all. Others, like Firaxis, wanted a version heavily influenced by modern boardgames, what with the very gamey and contrived “pick one, sacrifice something else” setup with the mission choice and all that. The developers themselves in one interview or another that they are big boardgame fans – no wonder it shows in the end product.

            Certainly that is not to everyone’s taste, but luckily there are people who like other things, too. As Xenonauts proves.

          • subedii says:

            I also don’t see how it proves “that’s all we want”, even to Firaxis. Most of the reviews and feedback I saw (some I’m sure even on their own forums) on EU made sure to mention that the meta-game was relatively shallow and needed expanding on beyond the satellite rush. It’s something even Firaxis tried to make some modifications to when Enemy Within came around.

      • frightlever says:

        I’d guess that the new Xcom game was played by 10x as many people as the X-Com original. And by definition a “cult” game does not achieve widespread acceptance, or it’s not a “cult” it’s just popular.

      • Stimpack says:

        It won’t let me reply to your other comment so I’ll reply to this one. I think it can be argued that the best parts of the new XCOM game come from using the formula that was already in place. I found the almost all of the additions in the new game were somewhat lackluster or even made the game worse in some ways. While it did do a couple of good things, I think ultimately all it did was make me want to go back and play the originals. I enjoyed the inventory management of the old games, same with time units. I felt like the older games had more areas, more items, more soldier stats, more control, and pretty much more of everything.

        While I am not arguing that the new game isn’t a good game, because it most certainly is, I am arguing that the old games were better. I’m not asking for a straight copy with better graphics, but I am saying that if the majority of your ideas aren’t really adding much.. why bother? Not letting you build your bases where you wanted, outside of predetermined locations, was lame. Satellite coverage to get countries to like you, was lame. The panic system as a whole? Meh! Call me crazy, but I liked micromanagement.

        Anyway, people are getting all in a huff over my comment. I never said the new game was a bad game. I never said it was undeserving of praise. I’m simply sad to see that the game I enjoyed has lost some of its luster in its new form. I played it anyway, a few times over. I’ll play the next one as well. I’ll remain hopeful that they’ll add content that will keep me playing for days on end. But I personally feel like Xenonauts does a better job at creating the X-COM game I was looking forward to.

        Also, Jimbo has it. The popularity of this game will only lead to more of the same. I feel we’re much less likely to see them make a proper remake, and instead they’ll stick with what’s working. I understand it, but it still sucks.

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          You have a ‘proper’ remake, it’s called Xenonauts. If Enemy Unknown, as a very good game with only a few flaws, failed to be a success, there wouldn’t be a rush of developers trying to remake the original more closely. There just won’t be any more XCOM games, period.

    • jalf says:

      Super Mario is popular too, despite not being an X-COM game.
      So is Civilization, Mass Effect or Call of Duty.

      I can’t even imagine what might lead a person to be “saddened” that “a game which is not X-COM, but which is really good, is popular”.

      • JimboDeany says:

        I think he means that he’s saddened that it wasn’t a proper remake but was still popular, meaning that the likelihood of a proper remake is lessened. I was similarly saddened that people didn’t actually seem to want another X-COM game as they were happy with what was released.

      • sophof says:

        It’s a bit of a zero-sum game. It isn’t very likely you can have both and certainly not if the current version is popular. At least you can have them in ‘spirit’ like xenonauts here, but it’ll be a while before you will be able to see a ‘true’ X-COM.

        For the record, I liked the new XCOM, but I just understand where he is coming from. I’d have rather seen it the other way around. A remake closer to the original and a new game (i.e. not named xcom) with other, newer features. I also think it would’ve made for two better games, since at some points the new XCOM seems at odds with its heritage.

        But in the end we should be happy with what we got, since it took ages for any decent attempt to be made at all. The original is showing its age though, a straight update would be really nice.

        • drinniol says:

          Yeah if only someone would do that to shut up all the XCOM grognards – OH WAIT THEY DID!

          Now you can enjoy both the modern interpretation and a more or less straight remake. What a world. Won’t shut up the whiners though.

          • Geebs says:

            Yeah, why is everybody complaining about how Enemy Unknown has prevented the release of remakes of the original game…. in a thread about the release of a remake of the original game?

      • Bull0 says:

        I’m really sad about Angry Birds because it isn’t very much like Command & Conquer ;__;

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I would say the XCOM remake was/is popular largely on its own merits. It’s a great game and for many people it does indeed evoke much of the feeling of the old X-Com games whilst being something entirely its own. I would relish the popularity surrounding it because it really highlighted to the Industry just how well TBS could do in today’s marketplace.

      At the same time, rejoice because the old-school X-Com gameplay has not been ignored, even though XCOM and its new-fangled mechanics took off so well. Here we have the proof.

    • Banyan says:

      I’ve found it easier to think of the new XCOM as fundamentally a superhero game, which became easier with Enemy Within. It also got rid of the monotonous and game-y mechanic in the original in which you bought recruits as meatshields to explore the fog of war. They’re both great turn-based tactical strategy games, and I’m delighted both exist, and I’ll probably be delighted with Xenonauts as well.

  4. termit says:

    Heh, my first ever Kickstarter-like is finally seeing the light. (they actually had early access-like thing long before Kickstarter became a major player). I have deliberately stayed away from any information about the game since backing, apart from the forum announcements so that I can keep some track of progress (as the news section of the official site was updated once in a blue moon), so I am jumping in mostly blind.
    Please be good…

  5. AngelTear says:

    Wait, Nathan, I thought you already featured permadeath? Unless, by “prominently feature” you mean get a tattoo that says “Memento mori”.

  6. LuckyLuigi says:

    Grab this ? I backed this 2 years ago ! :)

    • Malcolm says:

      Just checked my email – I backed preordered this in October 2011. Blimey. I’m not a fan of playing half finished games so I’ve been waiting for v1.0. Hurrah.

  7. BTAxis says:

    I won’t get this, because I don’t think I would play it for any significant length of time, but I’m happy to see the devs get their game shipshape. More power to them.

  8. deadfolk says:

    Splendid news. I purchased this back when it was a Desura-only thing. I installed it, played it briefly, nodded approvingly and uninstalled.

    There is no greater compliment.

  9. slerbal says:

    Please do a Wot I think on Xenonauts – I’d love to read one and the coverage would help:)

    I am wondering (and I am sure they are too) if they have hoovered up the vast majority of purchasers already as they did spend a long time in Desura Alpha Funding (when I picked it up), then Kickstarter followed by Steam Early Access (with the plan to beat XCOM:EU out the door once that was announced).

    I am sure there are more players out there for them, but they might struggle to get word out. I’ve been holding off playing until it hit version 1.0 (it has been a long wait!).

    BTW In case it isn’t obvious – I am glad Xenonauts and XCOM:EU exist. I loved the original X-COM games and had a lot of fun with the UFO After* series.

    • jezcentral says:

      Damn. I thought I was Jezcentral, but apparently I occasionally black-out , and log in under the name Slerbal. How can this beeeeeee?

      • slerbal says:

        I do have to do something to entertain myself when you are blacked out, so all I can say is don’t look in the cupboard under the stairs…

        Plus: we need more milk

  10. humbye says:

    I played it maybe a month back when it was still going through several iterations, and decided to try out the experimental patches (basically, more frequent updates but less stable) and enjoyed myself quite a bit. Then another update came along and wiped out my saves (I had just started using laser weapons), and decided to stop playing until it was finally ready.

    For those who are on the fence on this one, if you feel like:
    1. You want the same original XCOM from 1994 but with upgraded graphics;
    2. You played the UFO: Extraterrestrial game (that Russian one) desperate to relive the glory of the original XCOM; and,
    3. Felt that the new XCOM deviated too much from this path…..

    Then get this game. Its good fun and stays true – for the most part – to the original, plus add a few interesting new ideas.

    If there’s only one gripe I have with this game, is atmosphere. The original XCOM oozed atmoshpere: impending doom, a plucky force of underpowered soldiers fighting against the odd, etc. This game doesn’t quite nail that, unfortunately. Otherwise, quite a solid game.

    • Laurentius says:

      “If there’s only one gripe I have with this game, is atmosphere. The original XCOM oozed atmoshpere: impending doom, a plucky force of underpowered soldiers fighting against the odd, etc. This game doesn’t quite nail that, unfortunately. Otherwise, quite a solid game.”

      I don’t know , i never see it that way, I mean i played it back in 1994 as a teen and of course game was very atmospheric but not in “impending doom” kind of way. Why do they think included “very small alien capsule” in the game ? When you caught in landed, even your rookie underdeveloped soldiers would kick this lonely sectoid butt. For me it was about atmosphere of war, tough, long war with inevitable casualities but war that human forces can win in the end under my command. Something new XCOM completly threw out of the window, making me some dude who is told what to do nad has his hands tied.

      • humbye says:

        Hmmm…. it would seem that we had different experiences of it then. I always remember the feeling of tension and dread from the combat missions. Part music, part background and ambient sound, and part “fog of war”.
        I also used to name all of my soldiers after family and friends, and howl when they missed an obvious shot or got killed themselves. And I remember always being in awe of such a game – it had so much depth to it, it felt completely revolutionary at that time.

        • jezcentral says:

          Also, thanks to the wonders of my Intel 386SX CPU, on the aliens’ turn, they could fire unseen from a blackened out piece of the map, and the laser/plasma bolt would slowly crawl its way across the map, giving you time to go “Pleasedon’thitoneofmyoldierspleasedon’thitoneofmyoldierspleasedon’thitoneofmyoldiers…ohthankgod”. That was tension, right here.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            It’s all well and good to yell ‘nostalgia! nostalgia!’ all over the place, but when it comes right down to it, I will go on record as saying that no game since the original X-Com has EVER nailed tension like that. It was perfect.

          • humbye says:

            This, yes, this so much! Those agonizing seconds when a plasma bolt out of the blue (black?) would crawl across the screen and you’d be wondering whether or not it would eviscerate one of your soldiers…… and then “AAAAAAHHHHH!!!” as your latest rookie took one to the gut.

    • theblazeuk says:

      I think the easiest solution would be to just have the original X-Com’s eerie synth music playing throughout

      • humbye says:

        Yes, that was part of it, but it is also that, at the time, the concept itself was fresh and new and revolutionary; to me at least.

      • SillyWizard says:

        From what I recall the last time I booted up Xenonauts (pre-kickstarter), the music was one of its strong points.

      • Sunjumper says:

        I think another part of the problem is that the art desgin in Xenonauts and it pains me to say this not very good. While the graphics are OK, well drawn and there are some neat design ideas here and there, everything looks either bland or ‘cheap’. The soldiers and the aliens alike look like featureless plastic soldiers. I found the music to be atmospheric enough though.

        However the tension of combat is just like in the original. I like what they have done with the interceptor battle that now allows for some strategy. And just like in the old times the controls are fiddly and strange and take some time to getting used to. Still from playing it a little bit it seems that the core of the game it self is pretty solid, here’s hopping that there will be graphical mods avilable.

        • humbye says:

          Frankly, I’m of the opposite opinion. I really like the art direction and think the team did a wonderful job with it. The music, on the other hand, I’m not too excited about.

  11. Mittens89 says:

    Yes please. X-COM:Apocalypse used to give me nightmares.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Why? Because it was an unfinished half-game which got boring about half way through the campaign thanks to the publishers demanding the game be released without actually being finished?
      Yeah me too. It had so much hype & after playing the shit out of UFO: Enemy Unknown & XCOM: Terror From The Deep for years I had pretty high expectations which it massively failed to live up to.

      • Asurmen says:

        Thankfully I don’t think I ever knew it was in development when my brother bought a copy so I missed the hype. To me it was a different but the same game as UFO. It was only many years later that I found it boring when I owned my own copy and I did a full play through, and it was obvious the end game was never balanced and everything was in your favour.

      • Mittens89 says:

        Probably more the fact that I was about 10 when I played it (I’m only 25, you see).

        I’m not in any position to judge the originals as I was too young to appreciate them properly. I do, however, love to read and hear about them, and as a result I’ve been keeping an eye on Xenonauts for a while. Lets all hope that it’s good!

        On the topic of old X-COM, do the games hold up well today? Are they worth playing or are they just too dated? I’ve got them…somewhere, I think.

        • Shadow says:

          For a moment, I thought Malibu Stacey was talking about Xenonauts.

          Anyway, google OpenXcom. The original games are still great if you have the stomach for the 1994 graphics.

        • Themadcow says:

          Yup, they still hold up if you give the go into the game with the knowledge that missions are hard, life is unfair, and the game is all the better for it. Open X-Com is indeed ‘the daddy’ (in the prison sense) of the original game versions. I’ve tried to love ‘new X-Com’, I really have, but it just lacks that spark of brilliance the older game had.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        Whoo! Ruining people’s fun!

  12. Tom Walker says:

    Yep, pretty much any good turn-based tactics game turns out to be a worthwhile buy for me. Must’ve been all that Rebelstar I played as a child.

    One to go on the list in time for the Summer Sale.

    • Themadcow says:

      link to torinak.com

      Rebelstar 2 in your browser. Haven’t played it yet (deadlines) but I loved me a bit of Rebelstar 2 back in the day. These days it would be an instant law-suit, what with the blatent Alien rip-offs.

      • Premium User Badge

        Phasma Felis says:

        I am genuinely impressed at how playable that is without any sort of manual (once you figure out the QWEADZXC directional controls). Sitting down to an 8-bit RPG/strategy game without instructions was generally an extended exercise in “hit every key on the keyboard and see what happens.” Onscreen menus? *Different sprites for each weapon?* Madness!

  13. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Desperately striving for the approval of a grim, unforgiving authority figure is the very engine of modern western culture. Well, X-Factor and having a job, anyway. Well done Nathan.

    Xcom eh? Yes please.

  14. Lemming says:

    Xenonauts is good, but it’s hard to for me to outright love it, as I would’ve preferred a more fantasy art-style rather than the cold war buttoned-down look. Can’t have it all though.

  15. uriel222 says:

    Either the X-COM team has the WEIRDEST rank insignia, or your operations room is being run by Corporals? I mean, it’s nice to see some junior ranks for once, but still…

    • Malcolm says:

      I suspect all the more senior ranks met a nasty end at the hands of the nefarious alien fiends.

    • slerbal says:

      Hehe, I also noticed that. Perhaps the officer corps decided that fighting UFOs was beneath them, and only suitable for junior enlisted?

    • Rizlar says:

      Looks like they are just hanging out. The actual running of operations goes on in the opposite corner, these guys are just talking about lunch or whatever.

      • slerbal says:

        “Aww man! Who got mayo on my scale model of an alien invader?”

    • Shadow says:

      Yeah, the Corporals thing is a terrible gaffe which should’ve been fixed months ago. The art design is sloppy and amateurish at times, and it seems they’ve been determined not to redress anything. To be honest, considering the bumpy development process, they’re likely strapped for cash, and lucky to have finished the game at all.

      • Chris England says:

        It was fixed months ago – that’s just an old screenshot. I think you’re reading rather too much into it, to be honest.

        • slerbal says:

          So it has! :)

        • Shadow says:

          That’s good. And I see from the Steam screenshots that the game looks more polished in general. Ponderings, ponderings.

        • SillyWizard says:

          Fixed in what way? A couple of years ago now, on the GI forums, I attempted to make a case for having a closer approximation to real-world ranks, and was pretty much laughed out of town.

  16. DrollRemark says:

    This makes me very happy.

  17. Lukasz says:

    Im watching the video and….

    whats the point of playing this game over playing 1994 xcom? for people who didn’t play the original that much (i put 25 hours into it 2 years ago for the first time) who don’t need more xcom?

  18. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    If this is like X-Com but with mouse-over tooltips I’m sold. (it has tool tips, right?)

  19. Shadow says:

    I don’t know what to do about Xenonauts. I consider the original X-COM one of the best games of all time (TFTD is great too!), and I even enjoyed XCOM:EU and EW a great deal.

    But… all games are developed with an ideal in mind, one usually extremely hard to reach these days. And when that ideal is to recreate a 20-year-old game with zero innovation (please don’t bring up the gimmicky air combat), in all likelihood you’ll get something lesser and with little personality. That was my impression when I tried the demo a few months back.

    I’m not allergic to old school graphics, still enjoy UFO Defense to this day, and that’s what I’ll play whenever I get the itch to play, well, UFO Defense. XCOM:EU was its own take on the subject, and provided a different experience. So how does Xenonauts stand on its own?

    • PoulWrist says:

      Actually there’s a bunch of other things that are being used in the combat that the original Xcom games didn’t have. Suppression, being one. Various things like overkill, penetration and various things like that also play in.

  20. Michael Fogg says:

    I’m interested but I’ll wait for some reviews/let’s plays of the complete thing, I got the impression that Xeno, noble intentions aside, was kinda slow and, frankly, boring, without much tension. That was an impression I got from that ‘blather’ vid from Alec. So I hope they really improved it since then.

  21. fredc says:

    Can someone who has played the 1.0 release please clarify something for me – is this ridiculously hard in anything approaching a rage-quit-and-uninstall sort of way?

    If the difficulty levels actually work, I’ll probably buy this, but not if it’s one of these masochistic “remember what games were like in the 80s” efforts. I had a lot more time on my hands when I was 10.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Despite not having played v1.0, in my pretty extensive experience with the beta, the game shouldn’t be that type of infuriating. You can’t run around all willy nilly, but if you’re a bit careful, jealously guard your crew and keep your effective alien-murderers alive, it shouldn’t be too bad.

  22. Redgare says:

    About the coproal insignia thing, it has been fixed long time ago.RPS just used an old photo.

  23. dongsweep says:

    It has been so hard backing this game 2 years ago and waiting for version 1.0 before I did a proper play through. Can’t wait to start this game!

  24. Kakrafoon says:

    This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I’ve started Xenonauts several times before, only to stop a few hours in telling myself that I shouldn’t bother pulling through because it wasn’t complete. That excuse isn’t valid anymore.

  25. The Random One says:

    S laughter is when you laugh flawlessly. I’ve been trying for years and I still can’t even get a A laughter consistently, though getting a B laughter is easy if you focus on combos.

  26. irongamer says:

    I supported this near the beginning and it has been interesting watch it develop. It is just as addictive as the original X-COM. I have to restrain playing the game at times because when I do I will completely loose track of time and screw up my sleep schedule.

    I have also played the new XCOM reboot. Xenonauts plays much faster, if you want. You can get multiple guys moving at once if you are quick. I would suggest the pacing of Xenonauts is much better than the XCOM reboot. The biggest annoyance I had with Xenonauts was the air combat mini game, which can now be auto resolved.

    If you are looking to scratch that X-COM itch I highly recommend Xenonauts. It is a nice blend of the original mechanics, an updated UI, jagged alliance targeting (right click to increase TU on your shot), and has the tools to make custom maps.

  27. w0bbl3r says:

    So because it’s a “remake”, or “re-imagining” of the original x-com game, it has to have horrible graphics?
    I am getting sick of this “retro” look now. It was a bit nostalgic for about a week. But now almost every indie game is doing it, and it looks terrible.
    I know graphics don’t mean everything in a game. But we are at a stage where standard, average looking graphics are bloody great, especially compared to back when the first x-com came out. So why not make it look modern?
    That was one of the best things about enemy unknown; it looked great AND played great. Graphics don’t make the game great, of course. But when a game is good, graphics are a terrific bonus, and add to the atmosphere and immersion of any game

    • SillyWizard says:

      Uh. This game’s graphics aren’t really indie-common.

      Anyway, I’m pretty sure the look of this game is more of a result of a rocky project launch which left the developer stranded with some software that wasn’t really ideal, but which he’d put too many resources in to to cut his losses and start over.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Its hard to define – beauty can definitely make you feel good, imagery can definitely emotionally affect you. This applies to art style as much as it does graphical fidelity, but for me if the imagery leaves me cold, it leaks into the sensations that the gameplay produces. There is often a tactile element to it – I feel like I want to touch or wear the armours or weapons in XCom EU because they are so well rendered. Euro Truck Simulator 2 prods my gear lust with its gorgeously modeled trucks. I love Crysis 1’s Semi-plasticised gunmetal and the performance-car like detailing on nanosuit. It adds a layer to a game that triggers the desirability and touchability factor of walking around a car showroom, and its interesting to hear a common comment with the Oculus Rift about how things “feel more textured”. Quality visuals give me a finer sense of pleasurable kinesthetic feedback which can be lacking in a less appealing treatment.

      Thats not to say that simple graphics cannot produce that effect – looking at old games like Rainbow Islands, for me the same effect is there (though it may also have to do with linking primary colours with sweet / treat foods), Its just that higher resolutions and poly count amplifies it. A sense of tactile feedback from an image is something incredibly subjective and it may be my brain is wired differently from others.

      The visuals on show here are very grey and rather washed out, and even on a 16 bit computer of old would probably look uninspiring. There were Amiga games that looked much more appealing than this (Bitmap Brothers titles spring to mind).

      • SillyWizard says:

        They may not be pretty, but they work fine once you get in to it. I tend to be more on the end of the spectrum that has very low tolerance for cruddy graphics, but Xenonauts’ gameplay was solid enough that I never really thought about the graphics much once I got going.

    • PoulWrist says:

      The graphics aren’t horrible. You might consider them that way, but that’s objectively wrong. The graphics do not inspire horror, nor do they impede gameplay, information or otherwise break anything.

      The devs chose this option, despite its limitations and shortcomings to make it like the original game, and because of budget constraints and inexperience with 3D technology. The graphics are many and varied and offer loads of destruction of the environment. Something that probably wouldn’t have been possible had they had to contend with building everything in 3D on team of like 4 people.

      Things work out this way or that.

    • Strangerator says:

      The graphics aren’t top of the line, but Xenonauts does something graphically better than X-com or XCOM, and that is sheer number of tilesets. I shot down my first UFO in the middle east somewhere, and during the ground combat there was appropriate terrain along with “middle easternish” building tilesets.

      There are a lot of nice little touches which enhance immersion. It succeeds in being more of a planetary defense simulator than the recent remake. It might be at times a little too slavishly adherent to its source material, but there are numerous improvements. Being able to hand pick soldiers (view their stats before recruitment) and then assign them roles is great.

  28. dE says:

    So as a sucker for weird and interesting technologies, how weird does the tech get later on? Is it just “this AK47 now shoots green bullets” or full on “program this nuclear disc to fly around corners” interesting?

    • shadybearfaced says:

      I can’t say whether or not the late-game tech is interesting, but I did read somewhere (several years ago) that GI had no plans of implementing the blaster launcher or psy technology due to balance issues.

      I really, really, really, REALLY hope they changed their minds since then.

  29. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Top picture: Knock off versions of –
    Sean Connery
    Harvey Keitel

  30. sinister agent says:

    yaay! Finally! I bought this years ago, but stopped after a couple of hours because it wasn’t anywhere near finished (it was very playable already, and I’d not hit anything broken, but I knew they had a lot left to do), I decided to stop as I didn’t want to play another unfinished game and wear it out before it was even done, particularly as much of the joy of ufo/xcom games comes from the sense of the unknown.

    That’s my weekend sorted, then :D

  31. sinister agent says:

    So… is there a way to (legitimately) torrent this? I bought it on desura and as far as I can tell they only do direct downloads, and obviously all the mirrors are packed.

    • slerbal says:

      This might be of help? If you are not adverse to Steam then you should also have a complimentary Steam key (I got one in my link to desura.com “keys” option for Xenonauts). If Steam is not your cup of tea, I don’t know of any torrents (legit or otherwise), sorry. Desura does seem to have very slow download rates.

      • sinister agent says:

        Thanks, but unfortunately I’m not fond of steam and would rather avoid it. I’ll just give it a couple of days I suppose.

  32. n8man50 says:

    Hey Alex thanks for the video and all the content you guys put out.. Its nice to get gaming info that doesn’t feel weighted by advertising dollars or slanted opinions. I just created a profile so that I could voice my approval and hopes for more video content like opinion based “Rewind Theater” style content for new trailers, video reviews, or “Lets Plays”.

    Also, good to see a true XCOM remake. I bought the PS1 port and couldn’t stand the funky control scheme (select button was central in menu traversal) so it would be nice to find something that scratches my turn based strategy itch.

    • rory521 says:

      You can actually get a PSone mouse, which works like a dream for PS1 XCOM. The port was incredibly good with some improvements from the PC version. The graphics seem quite a bit easier on the eye and the music was even better.
      Out of interest, although the original XCOM is indeed seen as a ‘cult’ hit it is unusual in that I believe it actually sold incredibly well, especially in the US. I think it’s become a cult game more because it has never really been bettered in it’s genre and the fact people are still talking about it all those years later.
      I’ve got to say I find Xenonauts incredibly enjoyable though. A lot of really nice touches and improvements in it and the learning curve is just right now. I’d place it alongside Dark Souls, Mount and Blade Warband and Crusader Kings II as one of a new and exciting wave of games with a brain and that offer a really satisfying challenge. I’m really enjoying gaming again for the first time in many years. It’s very excited to see what Xenonauts young maker Chris turns his hand to next. Well worth $20 to support this kind of enterprise.

      • n8man50 says:

        That mouse sounds amazing! I have a fat PS3 to play the game on so I wonder if the mouse and keyboard adapters for the PS3 would read on a PSone game? Also when it comes to XCOM’s port improvements, did they fix the difficulty bug or is everything stuck at beginner after the first mission? Thanks for the info; and since this article I have put about 12 hours into Xenonauts and I already felt the 20 bucks was worth it. Its so good I can see investing a couple hundred hours in early access just like Don’t Starve, Prison Architect, and Pixel Piracy before.

  33. bonuswavepilot says:

    The team just posted their Kickstarter announcement about this, which seems to indicate that you might want to give it another week or two yet before downloading this final 1.0 release…

    You can play the game on Steam right now if you want to, but be aware there’s a number of reasonably irritating bugs in the game that we’re currently fixing up. If you wait until the 16th, you’re likely to have a much more stable (and probably much more enjoyable) experience.

    Ah well, what’s another 10 days after 2 years of wait?

  34. Josh W says:

    (s)laughter aye? Someone’s been playing small worlds.