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Xenonauts: The X-COM Anti-Apocalypse?

The enduring question around 2K Australia's upcoming XCOM FPS has been "why not just come up with a new IP?" Well, that three posts about X-COM each clocked up triple-figures of comments on Wednesday is the answer to that. A secondary question is "why is everyone so upset that it's using the X-COM IP?" The IP is not what's important about X-COM. In terms of fiction, X-COM has only ever been about killing aliens. The important thing is having a game that plays as X-COM did, with its sublime multi-genre cleverness. While it's unlikely a major publisher would tackle it, the door is not closed to someone else doing that. As has been mentioned by various people, someone like Stardock would be insane to not pick up this baton - there's a vast and willing audience out there.

First out the gate, though, is indie title Xenonauts, which is militant in its desire to do X-COM properly. It also has a cute genesis - its lead designer Chris England (who is indeed from England) says he was inspired to create an X-COM remake after we wished for one on our podcast. Aw!

Here's the announcement, and there's tons more detail on the site.

Yesterday 2K announced that they were working on the official sequel to the classic X-Com franchise, showing as reckless a disregard for history as for hyphens when they revealed it would be a first-person title named XCOM. It may well turn out to be an excellent game, but it’s not exactly what strategy gamers had been waiting 15 years for – a point many people have made, loudly. Goldhawk Interactive is therefore taking the opportunity to officially announce its own title slated for release later this year.

Xenonauts is a planetary defence simulator, putting the player in command of a global organisation tasked with defending the planet against extraterrestrial invasion. Battle alien craft with your interceptors in the skies above Earth, and attack them on the ground in tense turn-based squad combat with your elite strike teams. Construct your bases and manage your budget carefully to keep your forces well-equipped and the aliens at bay, buying yourself enough time to unlock the secrets of extraterrestrial technology and turn it against its masters. This is strategy on a grand scale; commander, tactician, and quartermaster - you must master them all if you are to succeed in defeating the alien menace. Humanity's very survival rests on your shoulders.

Xenonauts is neither a sequel to X-Com, nor a remake of it. While it shares the same core mechanics that made the original so compelling, Xenonauts has been reinvented and re-imagined from the ground up to fit modern times. The result is a game with a fresh setting and story, a streamlined interface and updated game mechanics with countless new features.

Check out our new site over at to get full details on the game. However, for those tragically born without the ability to navigate the internet, the key points are summarized below:

Manage a global organization – build and upgrade your bases, manage research projects and personnel levels, customize and equip your soldiers and vehicles!
Command and control your interceptors against extraterrestrial craft in real-time strategic air combat!
Battle the aliens on the ground with your elite strike teams in tense turn based combat!
Fight a range of unique and original alien races alongside civilians and friendly AI-controlled support troops!
Randomly generated, fully destructible battlefields mean that no two battles will ever be the same!
Research and unlock extraterrestrial technology, eventually giving you the choice from a selection of over sixty weapons and items of battlefield equipment and nine different support vehicles!
Customise and upgrade your soldiers as they gain battlefield experience!
Jetpacks! Flamethrowers! Name your soldiers after your friends and march them to certain death! ‘Accidentally’ forget to defend your least favorite nations!

Xenonauts is a PC-only title intended for release in Q4 this year.

Jolly good - very much looking forward to hearing/seeing more. All we want, all we really want is X-COM at higher resolutions and with a slicker interface. Maybe these guys can do it, if they have the time, know-how and resources.

Obviously it's relatively early days for the project, and there are multiple other X-COM remake projects around, so it's still too soon to hold this aloft as The Answer To All Our Problems. There's surely a reason no-one's really cracked/bettered the X-COM formula in all these long years since. It's perhaps a matter of impetus, which has doubtless been lacking for stuff like UFO 2000. That may well all change now - the reveal of 2K's XCOM, and the scandal thereof, will galvanise interest and enthusiasm in this kind of project.That may well mean it won't suffer the problems and delays of fan-games such as Black Mesa: Source.

I have to say, though, I'll be very surprised if the original X-COM doesn't seem so rejiggeried version for XBLA, Steam, iPhones et al to accompany the FPS. All told, whatever you think about XCOM, I suspect it might be a great couple of years for X-COM after all.

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