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Xenonauts (PC)

Categories: 01 Oct 2014

Xenonauts is a PC-only singleplayer strategy game released in 2014. It is a grand strategy game in the vein of the classic X-Com series (UFO: Enemy Unknown, X-COM: Terror From the Deep), putting the player in control of an organisation tasked with defending the world against alien invasion.

Underfunded and outgunned, the player must use their combat aircraft to intercept and destroy the alien UFOs as they explore Earth’s atmosphere, then attack the crash sites on the ground with strike teams of soldiers to eliminate any survivors and capture the alien technology contained in the wreckage. Researching these captured artefacts allows the player to unlock and build new weapons, armour, aircraft and vehicles to use in the fight against the extraterrestrials, as well as slowly uncovering their backstory. It is a race against time to learn enough about the alien attackers to defeat them before the Earth is overwhelmed.

Xenonauts is several strategy games rolled seamlessly into one. The strategic game involves managing your organisation’s funding, research and expansion – choosing whether to build new bases to protect new regions, or to let them fall to the aliens in order to better protect those currently under your control. Bases can be customised at the level of individual structures – do you want to build a radar to increase the detection chance of the base, or an extra workshop so you have more manufacturing capacity? Or would you rather build a hangar and buy an extra interceptor? Perhaps it would be better just to spend the money hiring more scientists so you can get your hands on the advanced alien weaponry faster? It’s up to you, but choose wisely!

The air-to-air combat portion of the game is initiated when your interceptors catch up with a hostile UFO (or vice versa, if you’re unlucky!) and takes the form of top-down pausable real-time combat between up to three combatants on each side. Each aircraft can be controlled individually, allowing you to maneuver carefully to flank larger capital ships anddogfight smaller UFOs. Your aircraft are equipped as they were on the strategic map, and any consequences of the air combat are carried over to the strategic map. If your aircraft are destroyed in combat, you’ll have to buy or build new ones on the strategic map – so be careful!

The ground combat is the real meat of the game. Various events on the strategic map spawn a mission – shooting down a UFO, the aliens attacking a city or a Xenonaut base, etc. The player sends in a strike team of soldiers and vehicles to neutralise the aliens in turn-based combat. You don’t get any in-mission reinforcements, so be wary. Your soldiers will level up with battlefield experience, but they are also quick to fall to the aliens if you make mistakes (you can always hire new soldiers to replace them, but they come in as inexperienced recruits). The combat is deep, tense and tactical and the missions themselves are dynamic. You’ll never play the same map twice, and every single tile on the battlefield is destructible – don’t want to use a doorway? Well, make your own.

Xenonauts is a modern game with old-school design choices. It’s not an easy game, and while we’ve made it more intuitive and accessible, it’s still deep and challenging. We want to introduce a whole new generation of gamers to X-Com, and if you want to join the party, visit the official site over at at http://www.xenonauts.com

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