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Classic XCOM-like Xenonauts 2 pops out of its little spaceship on July 18th

They come in early access

A general stands in front of a table in a war room in Xenonauts 2
Image credit: Hooded Horse

Fans of clicking on little men (and aliens) will be pleased to hear that Xenonauts 2 is releasing via Steam early access on July 18th, packing a mildly modernised dose of old school XCOM from back when turn-based action was more gritty and hyphenated. You'll futz about with fighter planes, build listening posts around the globe, and send hapless soldiers to get their faces torn off. Merry Xenonauts!

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Unlike XCOM's near future setting, Xenonauts 2 takes place in a version of 2009 where the cold war never ended. It's a little more cloak and dagger, with shady humans at the alien menace's side. Beyond that it's a faithful homage, from the global strategy layer to the research programs where you adapt and adopt alien tech. I haven't played Xenonauts 1 or more than five minutes of original XCOM, but the vibe is very much about everything being more fiddly and difficult.

I'm not knocking that. If I feel a hankering to put myself through some more punishing tactics than I usually do in the coming months, Xenonauts 2 is likely where I'll turn: it looks clean and readable, with the sharpest edges of old-school arcane annoyances shaved away. In granularity there is depth, albeit also frustrating learning curves.

If that's your bag, it's worth knowing that publishers Hooded Horse say this is "less a direct sequel and more a re-imagining of the original vision, featuring a modern engine, a new setting, and refined mechanics built for long-time fans and new strategy gamers alike". There is still new stuff, mind, with developers Goldhawk promising more maps, a larger tech tree, a more detailed and immersive strategic layer, and a fresh dollop of aliens. You can comb over the update notes over on their Kickstarter page for more.

They do mention that only 60-70% of the campaign will be playable at the early access launch, seen as they thought it better to launch with a polished opening portion rather than a more spotty full campaign. Sounds reasonable.

When it lands on July 18th, you'll be able to nab Xenonauts 2 from Steam, GOG or the Epic Games store.

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