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Update: Xenonauts 2's Kickstarter campaign has been successfully funded, several hours after going live. As outlined in our original story below, the project sought £50,000. At the time of writing, its total has reached £67,698—with 29 days left to go.
An update posted by studio head Chris England thanks backers and explains developer Goldhawk Interactive will now turn its head towards stretch goal voting.
"I had genuine concerns this morning about how well this campaign was going to go," says England. "The games market has become far more crowded since we started developing the first Xenonauts, and Kickstarter is hardly the fresh new way of funding games that it was when we last ran a campaign back in 2012.
"We wondered whether people would still be interested in Xenonauts-2, especially now it's four whole years since the original game came out."
If you fancy backing Xenonauts 2, its Kickstarter is this way. Be sure to check out the alpha demo featured there too. Our original story follows.
Original story:Officially confirmed in early 2016, sci-fi strategy game Xenonauts 2 is now live on Kickstarter. Like its forerunner, it's after £50,000, and, at the time of writing, has already amassed almost two fifths of its goal.
The first Xenonauts was well received four years ago—it was Phil's personal pick of 2014—and the likes of Endless Space 2, Julian Gollop's upcoming Phoenix Point, and XCOM 2 have further galvanised the appeal of sci-fi-spun turn-based strategy games.
Here's number two's Kickstarter campaign video:
As for the campaign itself, more on rewards and custom soldiers can be found in its FAQ section, which also contains interesting info on Xenonauts 2's closed beta and the dev's plans to overhaul its UI.
"The problem is that UI art is very time-consuming and expensive, and you end up throwing a lot of work away if you change the mechanics after you've styled up a UI screen," explains the Kickstarter FAQ. "Because so much of our game is UI (think how many screens there are on the strategy layer), we decided that it would be more efficient to re-use some of the art from the original Xenonauts while we were experimenting with the gameplay and we would do the final UI styling towards the end of development."
GOG's Summer Gaming Sale—or #SummerGaming Sale as it's stylised on-site—is live now through June 18. To mark the occasion, the digital storefront is giving away sci-fi strategy game Xenonauts free-of-charge from today through Wednesday, June 6 at 6am PST / 2pm BST.
First, let's talk deals. I like D-Pad Studio's retro-styled platformer Owlboy, which, at 40 percent off, costs £10.69/$14.99. I'm also fond of Fallout: New Vegas, the best of the post-apocalyptic role-playing series, whose Ultimate Edition comes in at £7.49/$10.59, 50 percent less its recommended retail value.
Subset Games' FTL follow-up, Into the Breach is another great pickup for £8.49/$11.99—as is Larian's all-consuming CRPG Divinity: Original Sin 2 for £23.99/$33.89. If you're after something less bloodthirsty, I'd recommend Campo Santo's gorgeous and often eerie Firewatch at £6.09/$8.49, or Jonathan Blow's 2016 Myst-inspired puzzler The Witness at £12.09/$16.99.
Spending £3.59/$5 or more in GOG's Summer Sale also nets you a free copy of Failbetter's narrative adventure Sunless Sea, while spending £14.19/$20 unlocks Rime too. Swing by the PC Gamer Collection for more shoutouts from the PCG team, and, as always, share your own picks in the comments below.
Onto Xenonauts. Ian Birnbaum's 85-scoring review is well worth reading, but I'm going to quote Phil here instead.
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.
Phil goes into more detail from there in his 2014 Personal Pick, however the above captures the essence of Xenonauts and why it's worth your time. Besides being, you know, free till Wednesday.
Check out GOG's Summer Sale in full in this direction.
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When X-COM cast off its hyphen and complexity to become XCOM, Xenonauts was handily here with old-school alien-busting. Now you can see how its sequel is shaping up, as developers Goldhawk Interactive are releasing development builds of Xenonauts 2 [official site] for free. You can play one single mission right now, then Goldhawk plan to expand this pre-alpha demo fortnightly. They’ll start charging money once the game’s in good enough shape but paying with feedback is peachy-dory for now. … [visit site to read more]
Released in the summer of 2014, Xenonauts is a turn-based tactics game that was heavily inspired by X-COM: UFO Defense. (That would be the 1994 predecessor to the 2012 update XCOM: Enemy Unknown.) But it grew into a deeper and more detailed game that proved a triumph of rebooted game design, as we said in our review: Difficult and unforgiving, but still a deeply engaging, indie version of an alien invasion that stands toe-to-toe with X-COM—the classic and the reboots. That's high praise indeed, and so it's not at all surprising that a sequel has now been confirmed.
It's also not surprising because Project Lead Chris England said last year that developer Goldhawk Interactive was actively designing and prototyping Xenonauts 2, but at that point the studio hadn't actually committed to making it. Now it has, and while a full announcement, with a website, concept art, and other such good stuff won't be coming for a couple of months, the studio decided—nudged a bit by the looming launch of XCOM 2—that now would be a good time to let the world know what's happening.
Like XCOM 2, Xenonauts 2 will not be a chronological sequel, but will instead take place in an alt-history timeline, during the Cold War. This means humanity does not start with the advanced alien technology unlocked in the first game, and we also have the freedom to subtly alter the story, setting and enemies in order to make a more interesting sequel, Goldhawk explained.
The new game is being developed with Unity3D and will make use of 3D graphics rather than 2D sprites, which will enable things like rotating cameras and physics objects. Ground combat will be enhanced with more tactical options, air combat is being redesigned to be turn-based and more tactically involved, and the Geoscape is being opened up as well, to give players greater research and organizational flexibility.
Some of the issues in the original game were caused by our lack of experience / lack of early funding, whereas others were caused by the constraints [of] remaining faithful to the design of a game dating back to 1994, the studio wrote. The experience and income we have accumulated from the development of Xenonauts mean that we can make a sequel that significantly improves and expands on the first game—and this time we can be more innovative than before.
An Early Access release is planned, but details beyond that won't be revealed until the full announcement comes out. For now, you can stay on top of the situation by signing up for the mailing list at xenonauts2.com.