It's inevitable that as soon as you make a list of your most anticipated games for the year, more excellent games start getting announced the moment you hit publish. Case in point: Goldhawk Interactive's long-awaited Xenonauts 2 has just been confirmed to be heading to Steam early access later this year. Huzzah! The original Xenonauts was an excellent homage to the hyphenated school of X-COMs / UFO: Enemy Unknowns of old, so I'm feeling pretty pumped to find out how its sequel builds on its classic, squad-based tactics.
Much like Xenonauts 1, Xenonauts 2 will see you take control of a multi-national military organisation in order to defend Earth from an alien invasion, which you'll be doing in good ol' turn-based fashion. On top of some spruced up visuals, Goldhawk have said they'll be adding more maps to Xenonauts 2, a larger tech tree, a more detailed and immersive strategic layer in its GeoScape, and plenty of new aliens this time round as well, many of which you can glimpse in its shiny new gameplay trailer above.
Xenonauts 2 was first announced six years ago - the week Firaxis' XCOM 2 came out, no less. Back then, it was slated to release sometime in 2017 at the earliest, and for a time there was a free, early version people could play over on GOG. Goldhawk eventually decided to raise additional development funds via a Kickstarter campaign in 2018, releasing another free demo to coincide with it (which is still available to play today on GOG if you fancy seeing what's what).
It took all of 12 hours for the Kickstarter to get successfully funded, and a closed beta then followed for backers, with an intended early access launch slated for March 2019. However, as the scope of the game grew, Goldhawk decided to extend the closed beta and delay the jump to early access, stating that they didn't feel it was ready back then. And as you can see from Goldhawk's extensive update log on their Kickstarter page, the strategy game seems to have grown quite a bit in the intervening years! There's now dynamic maps, new biomes, and revamped air combat in the mix, to name just a few.
I'm excited, and with an early access release on Steam scheduled for sometime between April and June, I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a more precise early access date in the coming months.