Xenonauts 2’s free early version updated

I think Adam has been at the air conditioning again, because there’s a lot of XCOM in the air today. First came news of lookalike Shock Tactics and now we’re talking Xenonauts 2 [official site]. The sequel to the first strategy homage, inspired by Ye Olde X-COM With A Hyphen, has been dropping free public builds of the game as they work. This is their alternative to early access, developers Goldhawk have said previously. “The game is currently free because we don’t think it is good enough to charge money for,” they said. “Don’t expect too much!”. If you’re still into it, however, an update for the build has just added the reaper alien, introduced new weapons, fixed bugs, and reworked some of the maps.

You can read all the update notes in this post by studio head Chris England and you can get the early build itself on GOG (although the client is required).  More interesting I think is Goldhawk’s reasoning behind the free build route.

“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.”

That’s an admirable stance in a world where the early access bakeries are stuffed with paid products that probably could have been left to rise for another few months. Does that bread metaphor make sense? I don’t know, I’m very hungry.

Adam liked the first tribute act very much, and we’re told that the second is going a 3D route. Like I’ve just said earlier today, aping XCOM always seems a risky endeavour. But they will continue to bring out fortnightly updates to the early build, before eventually going the paid-for Steam early access route.


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    Drib says:

    Well Xenonauts was a fun time, with some weird bits at the end where the scientist talks about the new tech disparity.

    I’d like to see what the new one is like.

    So long as it isn’t Terror from the Deep.

    • termit says:

      You know, I never understood the hate against TFTD. Apart from the nasty research bug that could halt your game, and the bleeping spawning of aliens inside walls in some base assault missions, I personally find Terror improvement over EU on all levels:
      atmosphere (personally, I find it more repressive/scary than EU), research tree (specifically, the additional gates before some of the technologies), enemies, weapon ballance (the Sonic cannon is not the end-all be-all weapon that the Heavy Plasma is, the additional of melee weapons)and the overall difficulty curve. I have completed EU in one sitting. Never could do something like this on TFTD.

      • Troubletcat says:

        Most of the writing I see on the classic X-COM games seems to regard TFTD as The Best One for the reasons you mentioned. I don’t really think there’s widespread hate for it. I say this as somebody with no proverbial horse, since I never played the classic X-COMs. Just what I’ve observed.

        • termit says:

          A matter of perception, I suppose. I have read the opinion that TFTD is the worse game often enough to make an impresion (in before why have’t you played the old X-COMs yet, go buy on gog or steam ;))

      • Crocobutt says:

        TFTD is my all-time favourite. The atmosphere was the main hook that got me playing for many, many hours. It was really scary going about deep dark waters, hiding inside old sunken ship hulls, throwing chem flares everywhere or leveling the whole area around the landing zone with explosive gas cannon rounds.
        EU feels more goofy in comparison, TFTD was the first one I played back in the day (bias colored by first impressions, obviously). Glad OpenXCom is a thing! TFTD works very well at the moment.

      • Sin Vega says:

        There’s a lot to like about TFTD, especially the atmosphere, as you said. But it’s the only one I never completed, not because it’s hard but because it’s such a dreary, joyless slog for so very long. Once you reach your 200th mission, the last 70 of which were just marking time until the appearance of something you needed to move on with the game, it’s difficult to find any reason to keep going.

  2. mattevansc3 says:

    I really want to like Xenonauts more than I do. It’s hard to explain but its definitely missed the woods for the trees. It seems to want to capture what X-COM had but by only copying the mechanics of X-COM. Everything feels quite mechanical and lacks the fluidity, charm and soul of X-COM.

    While XCOM stripped the mechanics back too much the pacing in missions and on the global view as well as the snappiness of the units made it feel more organic and better to play.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      The visuals were charmless, unfortunately. It’s perhaps an unfair comparison, since the original X-Coms have aged terribly,but its hard not to make it.
      Also the air-combat was very much a love/hate affair. They did smartly add an auto-resolve function for players who didn’t enjoy dogfighting, but that had its own drawback that the player couldn’t retreat if things were going badly. Which had potentially game-ending consequences when experimenting with new plane types or encountering new ufos.

      • golochuk says:

        Air combat doesn’t belong in X-COM games. It is always bad.

      • MajorLag says:

        “since the original X-Coms have aged terribly”

        Them’s fightin’ words. Personally I thought Xenonauts’s art was worse, and it didn’t have the excuse of having to run in VGA resolutions.

    • kabill says:

      I say this as someone who has a great deal of fondness for Xenonauts: I do know what you mean. From a gameplay perspective, I’m not sure I could go back to X-Com. But in terms of the feel of the game, it just doesn’t have the same spark.

      I wonder whether that’s actually something that could be resolved, though. I think a lot of what made X-Com special you wouldn’t be able to get away with in a modern game. And even if you could, it will be hard for anyone familiar with X-Com to find it fresh.

      In any case, excited for Xenonauts 2, which is looking very much more to be its own thing compared with its inspiration. So maybe it will manage to pull off what it’s previous incarnation couldn’t.

      • DudeshootMankill says:

        I loved Xenonauts, but yes the art, the guns and the story were a little bland. Not ugly or bad, just generic. But its hard to compete with the nostalgia.

        Especially with the memory of buying Xcom Apocalypse with that giant colourful box. Apocalypse still has the coolest sci fi guns and rocketlaunchers.

  3. 1Derby says:

    This is a bit, okay very off topic, but as a big fan of xcom2 has anyone built (or working on) a fantasy version of the game? I’d pay for that. I’d pay a lot for that.

    • Troubletcat says:

      Check out a game called Battle Brothers (it’s on Steam). I haven’t played it yet myself, but I’ve got it wishlisted exactly because it seemed like Fantasy XCOM.