I regularly check these forums but rarely post; this thread’s title did make me take notice though, because I’ve been thinking along the same lines for a while. I bought into the earlier bold ideas for X2, and although they may have eventually proven to be unfeasible, I do feel a bit disappointed every time something is “rolled back”.
Still, I’m sure Chris and co. will make something awesome. I suggested some ideas a while back for X1 that didn’t make the cut, but in the spirit of positive contribution, will throw them into the hat again
My main idea is to have a new mission type where you’re exclusively controlling local forces. The situation could be something like an allied military bunker is under attack by aliens. There’s not enough time for the Xenonauts to get there, but there’s a radio link set up so you (the player) can command the local forces. Imagine controlling a large team troops armed with basic weapons (rifles, shotguns etc.) against a horde of Reapers. It could lead to great Aliens-esque missions. The odds of your team all getting wiped out are high, but in contrast to regular missions, it’s not a game over / rage quit situation if that happens.
There are a lot of ways in which you could use this kind of a premise. Maybe if your troops hold the base’s hanger for x turns, then your main Xenonaut troops turn up as reinforcements and take the fight to the enemy. Or if the aliens take the radio room then you lose contact and it’s mission over.
Basically, I think this could be a way of mixing up the gameplay as a sequel arguably should, and adding more variety in a way that hopefully isn’t a huge burden from the development side of things (i.e. it would use existing assets such as character models).
Separate to this, secondary mission objectives that crop up unexpectedly (e.g. rescuing a civilian and carrying them back to the chopper) would add more variety to core missions too. I made a huge list of options in a forum thread what must have been literally years ago, but can’t find it now!