PC Gamer
PC Gamer
Phil's 2014 personal pick

Along with our group-selected  2014 Game of the Year Awards, each member of the PC Gamer staff has independently chosen another game to commend as one of 2014's best.

If Xenonauts were receiving a proper award, it would be X-Com of the Year. It is, in its design, structure, depth and challenge, utterly X-Com. It's blatant in its similarities, almost flagrant. Not even XCOM, the Firaxis reboot, was this much like X-Com. That's why Xenonauts could never hold a place in our Game of the Year Awards proper. It's intentionally derivative. It's not forging a bright, new future for PC gaming. It's not even proving that new design innovations can fit snugly into older templates, a la Divinity: Original Sin or Endless Legend. It is, pretty much, just X-Com again.

That's a good thing, to be clear—or, at least, a thing that I'm happy has happened. Every year PC Gamer picks a fresh Top 100. It's a round-up of our favourite 100 PC games, judged from a present-day perspective and unfettered by nostalgia or reverence. X-Com made it last year, but didn't place highly. It came 83rd; XCOM: Enemy Unknown came 6th. It's easy to see why. XCOM is the better game, able to more cleanly express the core idea and hone in on the most relevant and engaging systems. But X-Com is the more interesting game. It's deep, complex, brutal—all the things that can make a game so satisfying to master. It's also 20 years old, and it shows. That interface still gives me nightmares.

That's why Xenonauts is a success. It has the same complexity and depth, and, as such, is filled with impossible situations that so effectively punish even the smallest of mistakes. But it's all wrapped up in a package that works. The interface is clean, and the graphics are crisp. That, it seems, is all it takes to revitalise such a well-proven template.

I'm being somewhat unfair. Xenonauts does do more. It's like a really good cover song: familiar and comfortable, but given a fresh twist and its own distinct personality. You can tell how fond its developers were of the Gollop brothers' game. The things they've fixed and tweaked are the sort of things that only dedicated fans would think to fix and tweak. The changes feel born of people who have spent long enough staring at an isometric battlefield to think "yeah, you know what? This is bullshit."

For instance, you are no longer responsible for every aspect of administration. You have an unlimited supply of medkits, grenades and stock weapons, because you are in charge of saving the goddamn world and maybe buying basic supplies is not the best use of your goddamn time.

The peculiarities of the setup that do remain intact are there because they're vital to what the game is. You're the world's last line of defence, and so even if North America does have a shitty time under your watch, it makes no sense for them to pull their funding and go it alone. But then, that's the key challenge: that's what keeps the world map screen such an integral and tense part of the game's strategy layer.

That's only one half of what made X-Com—and thus what makes Xenonauts—such a lasting classic. The turn-based tactical assaults are an almost paralysing web of choice and consequence. Xenonauts nails these missions. They're completely open ended in how you choose to approach them, both in the tools you take, and the decisions you make on the ground. You have a broad array of options, and many of them will result in catastrophe. Xenonauts does catastrophe right. It's version of Chryssalids are bloody terrifying—a near unstoppable force that colonises the map, turning civilians and soldiers alike. There's nothing that tells you you've made a mistake than being forced to gun down the mindless zombie that was once your top sniper. There's also little that's more effective at giving you the motivation to do better.

It's Christmas. Would you like a free game? Of course you would! Thanks to our friends at Playfire, you can get a free Steam key right now. Follow the link for full details.

Community Announcements - Goldhawk
Xenonauts V1.5, our final major update to the game, is available for testing on our Experimental Steam branch

V1.5 is a significant upgrade on V1.09 and from the testing that has been done so far we also believe it to be more stable. The only reason that we have not pushed the update out to all of our Steam customers is that several key members of the team have left for their winter holidays. If there is an unexpected issue in V1.5 we might not have the personnel to fix it, and we don't want to risk leaving the game unplayable for any length of time!

Therefore V1.5 will be arriving for everybody in January. Until then, it can be accessed by doing the following:
- Go to your Steam Library
- Right click on Xenonauts >> Properties >> "Betas" tab
- Type the password XenoExperiment into the "Enter Beta access code" box and press Check Code
- Select "Experimental - latest changes, unstable" from the drop-down box above

Please let us know if you experience any major bugs with it; the more testing it gets now the smoother the January launch will be.

  • You can load saves from V1.09 in V1.5 (but once saved in V1.5 they will no longer load in V1.09)
  • Fixes a lot of crashes and loading issues with V1.09
  • An epilogue from the Chief Scientist has been added to the victory screen
  • 70 community maps bundled with the game as an optional mod
  • Air combat now has time acceleration buttons
  • Line-of-sight system for soldiers significantly improved
  • Cover indicators added to the ground combat
  • Late-game alien psionics now less unfair
  • Units behind walls / props are easier to see
  • Soldiers now get a nationality flag
  • Money made less tight on easier difficulty settings
  • LOTS of small usability and stability fixes
The full changelog is significantly longer and will be posted with the final V1.5 release.
Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 33% on Xenonauts!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Sunday at 10AM Pacific Time
Community Announcements - Goldhawk
Xenonauts V1.09 was meant to be the final version of Xenonauts, however we have decided to add Steam Workshop support and do one last update to the game to celebrate our successful launch!

The first thing to mention is there's been a very small patch to the current version of the game to fix a bug in the final mission where it was possible to damage the final door so badly it could not open. It is now entirely invulnerable and this can no longer happen.

Onto Xenonauts V1.5 and Steam Workshop support. Both of these are in testing mode at the moment and will hopefully arrive on the main branch in the next month or so - although anyone that wants to test them immediately can also do so!

V1.5 will not include additional content like new levels or new units, but it fixes a number of interface issues and minor issues in the game - basically it just cleans up the gameplay experience and also adds better mod support (the biggest change is an improved line-of-sight system that fixes some of the sight issues in V1.09, but there are plenty of others).

If you want to take part in testing V1.5 or Steam Workshop, please follow the links here:

Xenonauts V1.5: http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/12291-Xenonauts-V1-5-Experimental-Released%21

Steam Workshop: http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/12312-Steam-Workshop-Testers-Needed%21

We'll keep everyone updated as both of these things close in on being released on the official Xenonauts default branch!
Jul 31, 2014
Community Announcements - Goldhawk
The update today does not change the game files at all, it just makes available a new folder called "Extras" in the root directory.

This contains our Kickstarter rewards - the game soundtrack in a zip, the developer post-mortem article, the game novella and some wallpapers. Feel free to check them out if you are interested.

We've also updated the compatibility version for the Mac version of the game. This is in a new zip in the Mac Steam game folder called Xenonauts_compatibility.zip and it should help if you have blurred text or have white tiles / periodic crashes on the larger maps.

It won't affect many people, but should make troubleshooting smoother for those of you having game issues on Mac!
Community Announcements - Goldhawk
We've just released Xenonauts V1.09, which contains all of the fixes from the reverted V1.08 and V1.08HF builds and some new fixes for the soldier equipment screen issues in V1.08HF.

As far as we are aware it is stable and working properly - but please let us know if you find any additional issues caused by the update. If does prove unstable we will just return to V1.07 again until we can fix the issues.

CHANGELOG: (combined from V1.08, V1.08HF and V1.09)
  • We have added the Developer Diary / development postmortem to the game, which is found in the launcher (under the Extras button).
  • The Mac game now show install instructions when you try to run it.
  • We have made performance improvements on many of the maps.
  • Harridans no longer occasionally fly out of the map and crash the game.
  • Fixed some Soldier Equip screen crashes.
  • Fixed a crash when dragging one soldier's equipment into the inventory of another.
  • Reapers no longer have a 0 reaction fire modifier.
If you are playing a modded game, you will likely have to reapply any mods that affect "weapons_gc.xml" (i.e. anything with custom weapons) as this file is being updated in this patch.
Jul 18, 2014
Community Announcements - Goldhawk
We've reset the Stable branch back to V1.07HF, as it seems V1.08 HF had some problems in it to do with soldiers and dropships. We attempted to hotfix them, but this hotfix appears to itself be causing a new crash.

We could try another hotfix, but there is no guarantee that would be any more successful than the first. Instead, we're rolling back to the older V1.07HF and will re-release V1.08 HF next week when we've had time to test it better.

V1.08HF will still be available on the Experimental branch if you'd prefer to keep playing that. Instructions on how to access it can be found here: http://www.goldhawkinteractive.com/forums/showthread.php/5958-Xenonauts-Experimental-Builds-Instructions

Sorry for the confusion!
Community Announcements - Goldhawk
We've just released V1.08 HF on the Stable branch for Windows and Linux, and the Mac version should be arriving in the next few days. It's not too big a change, but should improve both stability and performance on low-end machines.

  • We've changed the way our in-game tiles are packed in order to improve performance and stop the massive slowdown people were getting on some maps.
  • The props / cover is no longer invisible on the final mission.
  • Reapers no longer incorrectly have a 0x reaction fire modifier (it is now 1x). Previously any unit with TU would automatically reaction fire when they saw a Reaper...which is why local forces were so good at killing them.
  • Harridans no longer occasionally fly out of the map and crash the game.
  • Fixed a crash with the soldier equip screen that occasionally happened after a ground combat mission.
  • Fixed a crash when you tried to drag an item from one soldier's inventory to another's.
  • Fixed a rare crash if aliens destroyed a Xenonaut base while an aircraft was in transit to that base.
To anyone that is using a modded version of the game - we've updated /assets/weapons_gc.xml and if any mod uses this file (i.e. the mod contains custom weapons), you'll need to re-apply it before you continue playing.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Adam Smith)

Xenonauts is a spiritual successor to UFO: Enemy Unknown, which means that it s also a spiritual successor to many of the most tense and glorious hours of my teenage years. Following a successful Kickstarter and a period in Early Access, the game has been available for almost a month now. With its loyal approach to the original design, Xenonauts doesn t step on XCOM s toes, but I wondered if it could succesfully muscle in on the original game’s territory. Several days of playing later, I have the answer. And some anecdotes about intra-squad romance.>

… [visit site to read more]


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