Kickstarter is always a risk, but so is X-Com. Even a 99% shot has a chance to miss, but you go for it anyway, and I’d say that Xenonauts 2 is in with a pretty dang good chance of being a solid squad tactics game. The fact that it’s halfway to its £50,000 funding goal within two hours of appearing on Kickstarter suggests that their audience agrees, and if you’re still not convinced, there’s a single-mission playable demo to poke around, hosted on GOG.
For the most part, Xenonauts 2 looks like more of the same, but better. The general flow of combat – a replication of the original Gollop Bros’ X-Com: Enemy Unknown – remains unchanged, although this time everything’s in fully rotatable 3D. From the looks of the Kickstarter pitch below, the other main differences will be in the strategic layer of the game, with the base construction side of things taking a few notes from Firaxis’ modern XCom (no hyphen, see?) games.
After a quick playthrough of the demo, I can confirm that this is definitely headed in the right direction. The design on the aliens has been tuned up, giving the basic grunt enemies you encounter an almost-but-not-quite Sectoid look to them. Despite their classically goofy appearance they’re still an immense threat, with a single plasma shot capable of killing a rookie outright, while your own troops really need to pour on the gunfire to score a kill. Often difficult in the demo, as they’re a squad of rookies that can’t hit the broad side of a UFO.
Xenonauts 2 is a refreshed take on the original game’s concept, retreading the same rough story with a few new twists. The cold war setting returns, so your initial encounters with the aliens will see you mostly equipped with 1960s to ’80s standard infantry gear and armour poorly suited to dealing with an extraterrestrial invasion. Running your base also sounds a little more complex than in XCom, with supplies needing to be ordered to keep the troops fed, but with deliveries preventing you from immediately launching sorties. Just one more plate to spin, eh?