XC’mon: Xenonauts 2 releasing free dev builds

When X-COM cast off its hyphen and complexity to become XCOM, Xenonauts was handily here with old-school alien-busting. Now you can see how its sequel is shaping up, as developers Goldhawk Interactive are releasing development builds of Xenonauts 2 [official site] for free. You can play one single mission right now, then Goldhawk plan to expand this pre-alpha demo fortnightly. They’ll start charging money once the game’s in good enough shape but paying with feedback is peachy-dory for now.

Xenonauts 2 isn’t a direct sequel, instead going back to the Cold War era to reimagine Xenonauts (and X-COM) a bit. “We can be a bit more original and innovative in our designs this time around, as we are not constrained by the obligations of remaking the classic X-Com formula!” Goldhawk have said. It’s going 3D, for starters, while expanding the strategic layer and dabbling in story more.

Goldhawk actually started releasing Xenonauts dev builds quietly in January but now they’re reaching to a wider audience. Swing on by GOG, where the demo is distributed through the GOG Galaxy client.

“Why release builds of the game for free? The short answer is that our community is providing us a service just by playing the game and giving us feedback on it. The feedback of people who aren’t willing to pay $25 for an Early Access game is just as valuable as that of anyone else. We want to know now if specific things in the game really annoy players, or if our game runs badly on specific hardware combinations – if we only find that stuff out after release we’ll wind up with bad reviews and angry customers. If you’re interested in Xenonauts-2 then please come play it and give us some feedback on our forums – it’s cool if you don’t want to pay for the game while it’s still in Early Access, your thoughts are still really helpful.”

Goldhawk plan to release updated builds fortnightly on a Tuesday, starting February 28th. It’s free for now but will be coming paid to Steam Early Access later in development. The devs say, “we’ll probably only start charging for the game when the Ground Combat and Geoscape are working and linked together.”

For now, go! Shoot aliens! Tactically!


  1. bills6693 says:

    Had an absolute blast with the original Xenonauts and it looks like the second game is going to keep all the best bits, and improve on everything else! Looking forward to playing this when it’s done. And for now, great to see them using ‘alpha’ builds to get feedback rather than just gouging players for money early under a false pretense like so many others seem to be doing.

    • FrozenHobbit says:

      A shining beacon of hope in an otherwise bleak and dreary world of early access?

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        No problem with honest devs going EA who are known for quality like say Larian (Divinity series). It’s the vast majority of unfinished and unvetted bs that broke the system.

  2. Jalan says:

    I like that they’re intending to do something original with it and not just replicate X-Com, since one problem I had with its predecessor was the feeling creeping up on me of “Why am I playing this when X-Com is right there?”

  3. Scelous says:

    Absolutely could not stand Xenonauts, as the interface felt a bit too clunky for me (and yes, I did play the original X-Com along with its sequels) and I really hated the 60’s-70’s vibe. I wanted to like Xenonauts, but every time I tried to stick with it, I kept thinking, “I’d rather just be playing XCOM.”

  4. Andy_Panthro says:

    Loved Xenonauts, although I felt it dragged a little in the middle (trying to counter alien attacks while building up your resources meant a lot of very similar ground missions). I also automated all of the interceptor stuff, because I found the air combat impossible to get the hang of.

    Have been looking forward to this for a while, can’t wait to see what they have in store!

    • Ryos says:

      with the interceptor stuff, it usually ends up being “wait for the heavy torpedos to fire, then hit escape and afterburner so you can go back to base and get two more torpedos”

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        They mention on the Xenonauts 2 site that they’re looking at changing the air combat, so perhaps I’ll be more happy with the next iteration.

        To be honest, the air combat is the weakest point of almost all of the X-COM/XCOM games (insert joke about X-COM: Interceptor here).

        • Aemon Bane says:

          The air combat in Xenonauts was actually exceptionally fun and easy, what you have to keep in mind is you always wanted atleast 2 planes and atleast as many planes as the aliens had in the engagement, you then would use all but one of you planes as bait and have the final plane swing in behind theirs and pick them off, unless their ships were capable of doing a sidewind dodge in which case they were weak and so you came at them from the side and missles away, they either roll into the missle or roll away from it, if they rolled away then that just mean it takes the missle a split second longer to hit them, dodge negated.

          Like with everything in Xenonauts it was all about strategy, I hope they make it more in depth in 2 but honestly there was nothing wrong with it in 1.

          Finally to be clear the air combat had me pulling my hair out till I realized you need to use baiting tactics.

  5. mattevansc3 says:

    Looking forward to giving it a try. I liked Xenonauts, it was a good 7/10 game but whereas XCOM was to short Xenonauts had far too much grind.

    A little bit more originality and personality and it could be a good 8/10.

  6. harley9699 says:

    I really enjoyed Xenonauts! Hopefully, there’s a discount on Xeno2 for owners of the original.

  7. imperialus81 says:

    Awesome. RPS was the site that turned me onto Xenonauts in the first place, and I ponied up my 30 bucks for an alpha build that basically let you watch the day night cycle on the Geoscape back in what, 2011 or 2012. I’m super psyched to see where they take Xenonauts 2.