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Xenonauts 2: Game Setting


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The setting of Xenonauts-2 has needed to change a lot throughout development as the mechanics of the strategy layer have changed around it. The current setting of the game is explained below and forms the rules within which the game operates - as with the first game, we've made a big effort to ensure the game remains as internally consistent as possible!

Alternate Timeline:
Xenonauts 2 takes place in an alternate timeline to the original Xenonauts (and our own world). In the world of Xenonauts 2, alien interference in human politics ensured the Soviet Union never fell and the Cold War never ended.

Start of Game:
When you take control of the Xenonauts at the start of the game, the year is 2015 and the alien invasion is already underway. The extraterrestrials launched a wave of attacks on Earth a few days prior, causing only relatively minor damage but proving the various regional governments were completely unable to defend themselves against alien UFOs that were invisible to radar and equipped with devastating energy weapons.

During hurried bilateral talks, the NATO and Soviet nations agreed that a single unified planetary defence organisation was required to co-ordinate humanity's war against the aliens (provided, of course, the other power was not in control of it). The obvious candidates were the Xenonauts, a long-forgetten extraterrestrial research organisation founded in secret decades earlier. This mysterious organisation had used an unarmed reconnaissance plane to conduct the only successful interception of a UFO during the first wave of attacks, gathering a wealth of data and sharing it with both superpowers.

The Xenonauts are therefore formally appointed as the "first response" force against extraterrestrial attacks, with full jurisdiction to establish bases and operate military forces anywhere in the world. They are granted significant amounts of funding to expand their (initially limited) operations, and an esteemed military officer palatable to both superpowers is provided to take charge of the military dimension of the strategy (i.e. you). This is done on the understanding that the Xenonauts will share all research data with all participating nations.

The Aliens:
Little is known about the aliens at the start of the game, although persistent reports of extraterrestrial sightings have been circulating for decades and numerous suspicious instances of important politicians or generals abruptly changing long-held views to advocate military action against geopolitical rivals have occurred over the years.

Once the invasion begins the aliens offer to spare any nation that surrenders unconditionally to them. At the start of the war, all major governments and civilian populations support the fight against the aliens - but if any region suffers too heavily at the hands of the aliens, they are likely to lose hope that victory can be achieved and surrender to the aliens.

Iceland Incident:
The Iceland Incident that led to formation of the Xenonauts was a political crisis that occurred in 1963. Officially, the discovery of a secret American missile base under construction in Iceland led the Soviet Union to mobilize an invasion force in an attempt to sieze the island before nuclear warheads could be deployed. A large-scale face-off between the American and Soviet navies almost led to a nuclear confrontation - but the situation was eventually deescalated when the Americans agreed to abandon the missile base and allow Soviet inspectors to verify the closure of the site.

In reality, the confrontation was sparked when American engineers building a secret missile base in Iceland discovered fragments of an extraterrestrial spacecraft embedded in a nearby glacier. When the Soviet high command heard reports of this discovery, they assembled an invasion force - fearing that extraterrestrial technology might give their opponents a permanent advantage in any conflict. De-escalation occured when the Americans agreed to hand control of the artifacts to a jointly-established research organisation that would study the recovered technology and report to both sides. This organisation was known as the Xenonauts.

The Xenonauts:
In the end, less than half of the crashed UFO was ever recovered from the glacier and no sign of the extraterrestrials themselves was ever found. No major scientific discoveries were made as a result of the research work performed by the Xenonauts, and with no obvious signs of futher alien activity, the superpowers eventually lost interest.

Undeterred, the Xenonauts continued to operate over the following decades (on ever-smaller funding) and developed several important pieces of technology that would prove invaluable in the coming invasion. The first of these was the inference radar; an extremely sensitive radar capable of tracking UFOs via the disturbances created by their energy shields as they moved through the air. The second was the X-24 Angel interceptor - a small reconaissance jet equipped with an small inference radar and designed from scratch specifically to resist alien weapons.

When the invasion began, the Xenonauts were thus the only organisation capable of tracking UFOs and also possessed the only human aircraft that would not immediately disintegrate when hit by energy weapon fire. This proved enough for them to be put in overall command of the defence of Earth.

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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. 

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I am definitely enthralled by the storyline! A long forgotten force who only has a pilot-less plane but  risen the only hope of humanity! Ah, can't wait to have you Xenonauts2 ! As a sci-fi fan I can say very good piece of work Chris!

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Governments should significantly (for example, double) increase funding if a xenonauts base is built in the center of their territory.

Why (for example) Should Austria fund xenonauts if the organization's military bases protect the other hemisphere and never cover the territory of Australia?

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