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Everything posted by Ninothree

  1. Ninothree

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Yeah that is definitely true. Scifi authors spend their days imagining what lies next in technological advancement, so they are almost always going to beat the scientists and engineers who strive to bring those ideas into reality. I think my complaint is that there are weak applications of future technologies. Like the way that the first Xenonauts game uses fusion in grenades. Maybe I'm wrong, but to me that sounds like that is not only impractical in terms of technology, but also implausible in terms of the science. So, whilst I am happy to have imaginary fusion technology, it doesn't feel right when that fusion technology is applied to handheld grenades. The problem is that you are asked to believe in miniaturised fusion technology ... ok, not too hard ... but all you get out of it is a slightly bigger boom ... not very satisfying, especially given that grenades tend to work using chemical explosives. On the other hand, I'm not a physicist, so I don't even know for sure if fusion grenades are silly. And I don't think all scifi has to obey some rules of realism. It can just be for fun. As @ApolloZani said, the original xcom had pink mutons in green suits, thumping thrones in a pretty cheesy 80's fashion. A lot of the best scifi (think Ursula K Le Guin) doesn't even try and dig in to the rules of what is possible and plausible. But I think that when these games include research reports that give a science explainer, well, is it too much to ask for that explainer not to revolve around mumbo jumbo?
  2. Ninothree

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Well you dealt with that more diplomatically that I did. Although you misspelled maths - for some reason you left the s off the end ;) Honestly, I'm not such a fan of the science fantasy side of things, or at least, I prefer the fantasy to be used sparingly. In my opinion, making up something like elerium is all well and good, but when elerium can be used to do everything and anything, well, I just start to lose interest. The problem with the sci fi/fantasy in games is that the lore is often made to do gymnastics to justify the rules of gameplay. One the one hand, sure, gameplay comes first. But on the other hand, is it really so hard to write more consistent lore that doesn't sound spurious? A little bit of hand waving is fine, so long as it supports something that compensates. Like the bioelectronics idea. It may seem a bit far fetched at first, but it brings in to question the nature of computers and how they differ from a brain. That is really interesting and it has been a staple of sci-fi for decades. Conveniently, it can also be used to justify some of the aircombat mechanics without much of a stretch.
  3. Ninothree

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Trashman, I'm sorry for acting inappropriately. I'm just pointing out that you jump to the words 'hate' and 'stupid' quite often. You've got a lot of clever things to say, but you can be quite aggressive when you're being dismissive.
  4. Ninothree

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    In fairness, I think I've also heard @TrashMan say they hate the some lines from Arthur C Clarke and called him stupid too. Trashman, you might want to be more specific, because you're currently coming across like someone who needs a timeout.
  5. Forum Moderator, Art Lover and Heart of Stone
  6. Ninothree

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Yeah I can imagine a caste system being a solid structure for a multi-species alien collective. The fierceness with which each new species resists assimilation would give it its place in the hierarchy. And the stability of the hierarchy would be maintained by rules that prevented different species from mixing. Easier to squash a rebellion if it only consists on one caste - even if that caste is soldier, they can't survive independently. Brings that issue of genetics to the fore. If you control the gene bank, you control the species diversity, and you can make them into a specialised caste - you wouldn't want them multi-tasking because then they'd be breaking caste boundaries. Looking forward to hearing the report of the officer interrogation. This is one of the things I liked about XCOM: the fairly subtle hints that Vahlen was absolutely ruthless when it came to tearing apart alien captures.
  7. Ninothree

    UOO-1 Fan Report

    Nice update. I think the 'xenoethnology' term is a little off - ethno relating to a nation. Might make more sense if the aliens had a set of communities, rather than just the one monolithic force. Looking around, xenology already seems to be an established term. For the purposes above, that could probably be modified as 'cultural xenology', to distinguish it from the other aspects of studying alien biology or their technology. In fact, thinking about it, studying the alien technology would fall into two further categories: the reverse engineering of their tech, and probably some translating/tracing of their path through the natural sciences. It might be interesting to take a poll of the community, see if anyone is actually involved in the sciences around genetics. I know this is beating an old drum, but I'd like to have science reports that are edited by writers who can vouch for the science. There is a place for the [insert mumbo jumbo science terms] style of writing, but I think that xenonauts takes itself a little more seriously than that. Similarly for the other sciences. Unfortunately, I suspect my speciality in social sciences probably won't find much application. Doesn't help me with computer games, nor in finding a job
  8. Ninothree

    It's all gone quiet....

    It is like Monopoly, but the board is different, and so are the pieces, and most of the rules are different too. I mean okay the similarities are actually few and far between, but you get the gist of it.
  9. Yeah Afterlight had a a proper bio for each of the characters and all those bios tied in together. It didn't just feel like a little touch the devs put in there for fun, rather, it was a full part of the game that you were steering a community of survivors.
  10. My understanding is that the stat limits will be unique to each soldier. I think this will make them easier to get attached to. In X1, the global limit was 100 for each stat and that applied to everyone, IIRC. With that, there was little to get attached to; if all your dudes are 80+ accuracy then they are all sharp shooters. So whoever starts off as the sniper later becomes less distinguishable from anyone else in the squad. In XCOM it is easier to get attached because the randomised perk system can make for some interesting permutations. In every playthrough you sift through to find the solider who can make multiple kills per turn, so you end up relying on them in particular and they become your favourite. Without perks, the only characteristics of your soldiers are their stats. Stats are generic. You might lean toward giving the high accuracy trooper a sniper, but then high accuracy with any gun is beneficial. So whilst you might favour your dead eye, they don't really get to fulfill a role in the same way, so there is less room for attachment. On the other hand, if there are soldier-specific caps on stats, then the capabilities of each soldier are less generic. Your hulk soldier who can carry the heavy weapons will be differentiated from your regular strength soldiers who can't run around with a spare primary weapon in their backpack. With that uniqueness, you'll be sorry when your hulk buys the farm.
  11. Ninothree

    Air Game Musings

    This is what I've been saying for a while. The air combat either needs to be scaled up or scaled down. A halfway job is not interesting enough to be worth playing over and over - which is annoying when the autoresolve function has a lower win rate. The lane-based system has now been replaced with the old style 2D air-scape. It is indeed pretty dull in terms of gameplay, only slightly better than XCOM:EU. But the main point your making above, about variety of equipment on human and alien craft, that can be applied to the turn-based lane-based air combat. Just to be clear: I do enjoy X1 system, finding a way to navigate avoiding enemy firing cones and timing missiles/barrel rolls. But as @ApolloZani stated at the outset, the pause-play-pause nature of that combat has its flaws. If X2 moves to a system with 5-10 slots per craft, then aerial combat would be incredibly confusing if you were navigating three of your own fighters, possibly against three UFOs, and everyone was teleporting, launching EMPs, activating thrusters, lighting up barbecues etc... just looking at that would be murder on your eyes, let alone the design of the UI and balancing all those modules too. I've not played XDivision so I don't know how they managed it. In any case, I'd say prioritise keeping the modules (slots for weapons, defences, armour, sensors, propulsion) because that is the interesting bit and it links up nicely with R&D / recovery of assets from ground combat. But slim down the rest of the air combat mechanics so that the player can focus on a strategy that uses those modules. Turn based is simpler than real time (especially real time with a pause button, FTL was excessive at times). A lane-based system is a simplification of the 2D field used in X1. Maybe it is an oversimplification ... you do lose out on the attack cones and angles of approach. Perhaps if the lane system also included elevation? So you could move your interceptors forward, back, side to side, and up and down. That'd give you plenty of attack angles (e.g. attacking from above would give access to the UFO's cockpit). Ah, I digress. The original point I was making a few posts back, and what I'm reaffirming here, is that the air combat shouldn't be too fiddly. Bluntly - it is a fucking strategy game. The only versions of xcom that have ever valued dexterity are The Bureau, Enforcer and Interceptor, all of which were pants. So whilst the lane system on its base appearance is not that inspiring, maybe it is a better platform for a more interesting air game?
  12. Ninothree

    Air Game Musings

    For what it is worth, I enjoy the real time of the mini game. I'd even be happy with real time in ground combat - that is how I used to play Apocalypse. And you're right about the vocal subsets of the community who hate on seemingly any option for air combat. You can't please everyone. My reasoning is that you please the most people when the style of air combat fits in with the rest of the game. In my [inevitably biased] opinion, the best fit is something that tests similar skills to the rest of the game. So, for instance, putting in a first person perspective flight simulator would be jarring (not that I'd mind). However, I can see your point: converse to my reasoning, there is a rationale for making the mini game something that tests an entirely different skill set so as to break up the pace of the regular game. But I feel fairly confident that my logic stands, you don't want to break up the monotony with something too incongruous. On balance, I guess I just sympathise with the vocal minority who don't like to test their reactions by spamming the pause button. I hadn't thought of the thematic relationship in this way. Sure, mapping the flurry of aerial combat onto a more chill turn-based system does have a thematic mismatch. But I think the priority of good gameplay trumps all. Look Firaxis XCOM, that had a good thematic fit for the air game, remember that? Felt exactly like you were a commander in the base watching the interception on a scanner. Great thematic immersion, but it was dreadful gameplay. Overall, I think I just don't buy into your argument that the mini game has to be 'fast, short and easy to autoresolve'. Sure, even @Chris has said that the air combat shouldn't detract from ground combat. Still, I'm not sold on that (well, logically I'm not sold; financially, I have already bought the game). Air combat only needs to have an autoresolve if the mini game is not interesting enough justify making the player go through each and every battle. My reaction there is to make it less tedious or occur less frequently. X1 had the issue that you were swamped by air combat. Lots of instances of the mini game. That undermines it being a short and fast distraction from 'monotony'. As OP says, air combat in this genre of games has been a mess. XCOM2 was smart/timid enough to sidestep it entirely. Looking beyond issues of mechanics and design, I can think of three points that that part of the game addresses (apart from adding diversity): To spawn ground combat missions To test your R&D To force you to expand (maybe: to demonstrate the invasion and its increasing intensity??) The first and second points don't require air combat. There are other ways to spawn missions and the gear you can give your troopers is test enough of your R&D. XCOM2 had its own mechanic for territory expansion which is why it could make its sidestep. Indeed, for Xenonauts, it really is that third point that matters most. The bulk of the challenge of the air war is getting your interceptors there in the first place (and to a lesser extent, making sure they're well armed). As such, most of the air war is determined before the air battles even begin. So where does that leave the air combat mini game? Well, I think the design should be tailored so that air combat is better at addressing the first two points. So, the decisions you can choose in air combat are a reflection of your R&D pathway, and the goal you're working towards is the type of ground combat mission you want to spawn. With that in mind, your suggestions about diverse equipment for interceptors and locational damage for UFOs are solid. Real time or turn based; I couldn't care less. Thematic matching; meh, would be nice but is not essential. But I reckon the core of air combat should be on an ability basis, and that for me the real immersion breaker is that your fleet of a dozen condors can rule the skies.
  13. Ninothree

    Air Game Musings

    That is a really interesting argument for removing the pause button. My gut reaction is that I enjoy the perfect-or-die split-second timing of air combat - but then I'm the type of gamer who will reload until I nail it. There are a couple of points I think worth pulling apart. Fit. Opposition to real time is usually pretty vocal. The slow-intellectual strategy style of play doesn't chime too well with a mini-game that calls for quick reactions and button bashing. Any air combat system has to fit in well with the game as a whole. The pause button doesn't fit. But then a real time strategy, even without a pause button, doesn't fit either. Using Subset Games as exemplar, the goal should be Enter the Breach rather than FTL. A turn-based mini-game, even with a very simple rock paper scissors basis would make a good fit, even if it lacked excitement. Punishment. I think you're dead on here. Personally, I prefer the game to pit me against difficult challenges rather than severe punishments. A hard battle is great, even sustaining losses. But any losses that take an hour (in the real world) to recuperate are just not worth the effort. I don't want to invest that much into the game. So, on reflection, I think the air war should basically be unwinnable through the majority of the game. Instead of dominating the skies, the player merely manages to fight for a small corner of them. Losing a bunch of planes is fine, so long as you down a couple of UFOs in the process, or fend off the worst of the bombing runs.
  14. So I've been playing these games since I was a child. Somehow this basic observation has never occurred to me. My stance is always gameplay before realism, but I think it is worth re-examining the original game for what elements should actually be rebooted. I've seen Chris defend the rectangular geoscape projection because the globe version has the fault that you can't see all of it at once. Similarly, I think it is worth pulling apart the conventions around base building for the same reason. One of the problems with removing stuff is that some bits of the old school game have nostalgic value. I kinda liked spinning the globe around whilst having the time set to fast forward. But how much did it add to the game overall? Not a lot. Same with the access lifts in base building. Does it actually make building a base more interesting or challenging? Not really, it just feels like it has been carried forward by default. But if it doesn't even make a lot of conceptual sense, then that bit has no reason to be left in. (Having said that, I do remember base defence missions in xcom did have the aliens dropping in through the hangar bays, implying a cargo lift or something). Overall, I think a problem with thinking about base design is in figuring out what that part of the game is meant to do. As @Alienkiller says, how to make the current system more interesting. In XCOM, it was mostly about getting engineers for satellites. In Xenonauts, it was more about the radar and interceptor coverage. I think it'd be really nice if the game were balanced so you could make a choice between your base builds: labs, workshops or even training centres and additional hangars (so you could try to outnumber and overwhelm the aliens).
  15. This would open up different strategies for territory expansion. So you could go in hard and dominate, or go in soft and make alliances. I like that. Maybe in terms of the original idea of the thread: have the option to make missile bases. These would be part of the 'dominate' strategy as they would give a range of coverage over ground targets, providing influence over those territories (see Cuban missile crisis). Or alternatively, you have the choice to make those bases radar+airfield facilities. These would boost your alliance scores. Missile bases would have the added benefit of deterring any alien ground bases, but they wouldn't be so good for shooting down UFOs. As far as I'm aware, ICBMs aren't often aimed at aircraft.
  16. In that this is an alternative timeline, there is quite a lot of freedom as to what bloc each country exists in. Probably best to go with what is easiest. I suspect that the territory lines and country names used for the geoscape will have been pulled out of some standard map pack. Personally, I'd love to see some engagement with the Iron Curtain, but I think that space aliens are the theme of the day.
  17. My issue with this, particularly in the case of XCOM, was that every playthrough would start the same. Rush satellites. And yeah, there was something interesting about figuring out how to get a few more $$$ additional funding to squeeze out another array a month early, but it doesn't feel like a novel problem you're solving. In X1, the issue was that there was a obvious strategy to get sufficient radar coverage with three bases - that was the optimal choice. And if there is an obvious optimal choice, you don't ever pick the other choices, so the whole thing stops loses all strategy around trade-offs. I'm not saying a strategy game with an expansion phase is bad. Just that I'd appreciate it if there were multiple routes to expansion. Eg, instead of building a whole new base with radar and hangars, you hire those facilities from the local territory. This is cheaper, helps to keep the panic down in the region, but the spoils go to the host so you don't earn a profit. There is a meaningful choice there because both options are viable. Similarly, your idea about starting with a base on each continent could work. As that is the optimal choice, it may as well be the default setup. The problem is that that would remove the expansion phase of the game, so you'd need something in its place, e.g. you expand effective air coverage either by building loads of hangars, or by rushing the R&D for better aircraft (or a combination of the two). That would give some element of trade-off. But, this is getting off topic. The original question was about specialised bases. With that, there could be a lot of meaningful choice around base building. Even if you were going with the optimal three-base configuration, you'd still have freedom to choose what those bases would specialise in. However, crucially, those specialisations would need to be critically different to effects of just constructing lots buildings in a regular non-specialised base.
  18. In X1, the base rush was similar to the the satellite rush in XCOM. Expand as fast as possible to prevent the damage the UFOs would do and increase income. No other strategy was as appealing. Nonetheless, I'm not sure where I stand on having 2 or 3 bases at the start. It makes sense intuitively (i.e. being given global support), but it removes the expansion phase of the game, which I'm not sure is a good thing. Okay, it is infuriating to have to rush your expansion early on just so that you can effectively patrol all continents. But that push has a similar function to a timer - you have to move quick if you want to cover the globe. Personally, I like that kind of stress in a strategy game. Otherwise it is a bit of a sandbox. The problem is that it isn't a strategy so much as a logistical challenge of affording expansion as early as possible. But I think @ApolloZani's original suggestion was that you progress by acquiring a series of bases that each have their own specialty and unique feel. This would be more than empire building - you wouldn't just be getting bigger. You would be becoming more powerful with each capability a new base would provide. In my eyes, the interesting thing about this is to disconnect geographic expansion from other geoscape activities. So, whilst there is an early push to expand your radar coverage to gain income, there would then be a late-game push to specialise your bases. In particular, a system of rewards/penalties for specialised bases would create something like the exploitation phase from a 4X strategy, which is currently lacking in xenonauts.
  19. I guess it depends what the game experience is supposed to be about. Apparently, a lot of the old school platformers were designed to promote a feeling of frustration, so that when you finally nailed the big jump it felt that much more satisfying. With the xcom/xenonaughts, well, with XCOM the experience is more about flanking cover and leveraging perks, so being given the maximum information can be crucial to planning the optimal actions each turn. With xenonauts, okay, it has been a while since I've really played it a lot but I remember that it is less about all-out aggressive play, and more about coordinating troops and controlling the field. So the important info is where the enemy is, their last known position, and possibly the range of their weapons. That is a feature of Planetfall, if you click an enemy, you get a limited sight on their possible moves next turn and how good a shot they could feasibly get on your dudes. Is very useful in planning, but does feel a little cheaty. Still, it works for that game.
  20. Along those same lines, there is probably a lot of visual aids that could be implemented with icons. I seem to remember a lot of mods for XCOM2 were really helpful in giving the player the right info at the right time. A contentious one here is the indicator that you are moving in an enemy's FOV for reaction fire. Obviously it is helpful, but maybe it is too helpful when you know how cautious you do / don't need to be.
  21. I like the idea that the game would encourage you to build multiple bases for specific purposes, and that most of those bases wouldn't simply be clones of one another. So imagine that you'd need a base with a massive hangar to build advanced aircraft, but there would be no real need to have more than one of those because you don't need a high production rate. Also, making them location dependent would be cool, so you'd need a base in, say, the Ethiopian geothermal fissure, because that would be critical for some high-energy research.
  22. Ninothree

    So, who wants more cool aliens?

    @Solver those are great ideas. I notice that they mostly have an ulterior characteristic rather than being pure damage dealers. A lot of support-type actions. Although you've not got a healer in there, which seems the obvious choice, to me at least. Along that line of thought, a support-class alien could just be one that uses psi to buff friendlies or lower the stats of enemies. Anything from TUs to morale. If psi is the mechanism, then the alien doesn't need to be toting at gun. The Psions from Enter the Breach were just floating octopuses. @ApolloZani yeah those poisoned headcrabs were the worst. And by worst I mean best. Having an annoying enemy is good design - if it can get you really riled up but still want to play so you can smash them to bits. @Xeroxth fair point that the aliens aren't exactly making a covert war what with that giant death ray in the sky. I guess I'm trying to scope out what the feel of the game is going to be. XCOM:EU had the Etherials and their assembly of different races. XCOM2 had something like the storm trooper vibe. But I don't think X2 is going for either the zoo or the SWAT team. Like I said, I don't know what the vibe is, apart from cold war alternative universe. I use the term 'realistic' aliens to mean the type of aliens you would expect to see. Douglas Adam's Hooloovoo is probably the best alien I've ever heard of, a super intelligent shade of the colour blue. Great imaginative sci-fi and really, truly alien. But it'd make a crap enemy in a computer game. You need something that looks like it belongs in ground combat. Normally I'd be against a conservative recommendation, but in this case I think the aliens should be, for the most part, on the less extreme side of things. For the bread and butter aliens, just give them a few backwards facing joints, maybe a spine that doesn't form a straight column or a tail or something. But if you start filling the game with quadrupeds ... at some point it risks the feeling that you're fighting an invasion of horses or something. And for something like a crystalline alien, just think what it would look like fighting against a rock. I think it is important to remember the perspective of ground combat, it is a top-down view in a tile-based environment. That is how you see the aliens, so the really imaginative ideas kind of need to take a back seat to what is easy to animate in a computer game. Having said that, I think that for the special boss aliens, the ones that aren't clone-grown Earth-ready foot soldiers, the visual appearance should be really mind blowing. These would be the true extra terrestrials, with homes vastly different. These few could be the crystals or the AI mainframes or the gas clouds.
  23. Ninothree

    So, who wants more cool aliens?

    Dunno, I quite liked the Codex concept. A semi-digital entity is quite fitting with the cyberpunk aesthetic the game has. Maybe lore-wise it is a bit of a stretch, but the whole series is notorious for throwing in technobabble like quantum entangled carbon nanotubes. Pretty much all the aliens in XCOM2 are ridiculous. That is just the style. To be honest, I found the Faceless to be the most immersion breaking. The shape shifting I could get behind, but their blob-like visual just didn't seem to fit. The concept was fine but it looked wrong - no doubt because it is hard to animate a lump of goo such that it looks cool. @TrashMan probably put it best with the "setting/atmosphere" point. The aliens just need to match up. Given that, I think I would go back on what I previously said. The best aliens for Xenonauts might well be humanoid. Xenonauts is kind of a creepy game, but it is not a horror. It is an action game, but it is not full on Marvel. In no way do I think I've the right to say what the aesthetic of X2 is, but I think that the visual appearance of the aliens should be guided by that aesthetic, rather than the other way around. If X2 is anything like X1, then it won't win awards for high end graphics, but the art style will be its redemption. So the aliens have got to look cool. That rules out amorphous blobs or anything that isn't really recognisable as a 'conventional' alien. I really loved xcom:apoc for having an alien race to fill every niche - some were essentially walking weapons or grenades - but they did have a blob alien and also even a puddle alien. In that case, it fit, because the sci-fi themes included biology. The same isn't true for Xenonauts; the themes look to be less around exotic technology and more around espionage and infiltration. That would mean that the front line aliens should all look as though they could be disguised as humans. Maybe the boss fights would give you a glimpse of the true aliens. So the Praetorian equivalents could be the really wild ones, like the guild navigators from Dune, encased in their own breathing tank. But the bread and butter troops should be closer to Star Trek aliens.
  24. Ninothree

    Xenonauts 2: Aircraft & Air Combat

    The challenge around air combat is that it is just a mini-game. Players come to Xenonauts for the ground combat and stay for the strategy layer. Ground combat is the core game, but on its own would get tedious, so the long-term planning of the geoscape gives a sense of progression. But air combat doesn't really fit into either the tactical or strategy layer. It is used to setup ground combat missions (i.e. part of the strategy) but it is nothing like the rest of the geoscape activities which are planning and logistics. And because air combat is such an abstracted, simple combat system it doesn't chime with the tactical elements of the game either. Pretty much all of the strategy around the air war stops when a wave of UFOs is launched (i.e. you've already built, armed and positioned your condors; and you know what territories you need to prioritise). And in terms of tactics, the current air combat is quite shallow, at least relative to ground combat. That makes it quite perfunctory as a mini-game. This is the crux of the problem - air combat means different things to different players, and they would each want it to challenge different skills or in some cases, none at all. As an ill-fitting distraction, the air combat certainly can't satisfy everyone and possibly not even the majority. With this, I think the solution is to make air combat more closely resemble either the strategy or tactical layer: Resembling the strategy layer: here the player would interact by selecting the actions that would lead to the desired outcome, e.g. use these planes, target this module, fire missiles at this range. With that, air combat would be conducted through something like dialogue boxes. This would be simplistic but the variation would come through evolving dialogue options that relate to the UFO's response, e.g. if the player tends to rely on long-range missiles the UFOs start to focus on evasive maneuvers, but an experienced pilot can stagger the missile barrage to catch the UFO coming out of its barrel roll. Resembling ground combat: here the air combat would play out something more like Enter the Breach, with a battlescape grid, time units and multiple craft engaging one another. The player would interact by controlling the positioning of craft, their target selection and the times at which they fire. This could be a moderately simplified version of ground combat but it should still feel similar. Stripping it down to a one dimensional space (as in the 5 range bands) is just too far to keep the attention of the player. That would be like a game of rock paper scissors in the middle of a chess tournament. Similarly for the classic X1 air combat, that wasn't testing the same skills as regular ground combat so it felt out of place. I guess the conclusion is to either simplify air combat or beef it up, because a dinky mini-game just won't cut it once the novelty wears off.
  25. Ninothree

    Xenonauts 2: Game Setting

    This setting is good. Consistent and not contrived. It reminds me of a book, Footfall. Coming from space, the invading aliens have the height advantage so they can decimate any resistance; they hold the world hostage and demand subservience. The military has to pretend inactivity. Unable to launch their regular craft, Earth's fighters fly up on a ship powered by nukes exploding under a lead shell. The authors are really into their scifi weapons tech. The book has parallels in terms of the Cold War setting, and gradual research of the aliens, and a backdrop of a crumbling human society. Of everything in the original post, I think the Cold War setting is the thing that stands out. In fairness, I grew up reading Philip K Dick so am quite inclined towards that theme. A lot of those books leveraged the feeling of an unknown other against and this sense of impending doom. In my opinion, X2 would do well to draw on that theme heavily. There is some departure in this alternative timeline, in that both sides are still fighting in 2015 yet are joining up with the Xenonauts. This leaves me wondering how apparent it will be that both sides stand as aggressors in what would be a 70-year conflict (ongoing from from 1945). Are soldiers from both super powers really going to work happily, side-by-side, in the same bases? Surely there would be visible frictions internal to the bilateral funding body. And will there be elements of mistrust and espionage between the US and the Soviets? Maybe I'm stretching the idea farther than it needs to go here, but without engaging the theme, it seems a little shallow just to reference it for the sake of it. If nothing else, I'd really like to see more of what X1 did with the different art styles for the US- and the Soviet-aligned countries. Maybe have bases that are supplied by one side or the other adopt the corresponding aesthetic. So a site in the States would have guns branded with Colt - but somewhere out in the communist territories would be equipped with Kalashnikovs.