Sunday, October 2, 2011

Xenonauts Overview

Do any of you remember when I wrote about the up and coming X-COM FPS developed by 2k? You may also recall how I was upset, among thousands of other fans, with the choice and direction of the new X-COM, having it resemble the original X-COM games only in title. Xenonauts is a true successor to X-COM. It is a new version of the top down turn based strategy game, only for PC. One of the most endearing qualities of the original X-COM game is how it's been fifteen years since the original game and there still hasn't been any game that has come close to replicating it. Xenonauts on the other hand, looks so much like it that people are excited, including myself. It has the same kind of overhead view, the same aerial combat, a world map, civilians, unit customization, base building and plenty of great stuff. Of course, everything about Xenonauts is new, so it's a replica of the original X-COM UFO Defense, but with new technology and improved mechanics. Most games that have tried to replicate the success of X-COM have only loosely based it on the original games, generally appeasing some fans but leaving most unsatisfied, but Xenonauts knows that it's basing most everything off the original X-COM games and that's one of it's strengths. This game is being created by Goldhawk Interactive, small self-funded team out of London. If you care to check out what I wrote about the newest "X-COM" game, head on over here.
If you somehow don't know what kind of game X-COM was, let me enlighten you. In Xenonauts, and X-COM, you control an organisation that is tasked with defending Earth from alien incursions. The aliens are more powerful, quicker and technologically advanced, making you rely on numbers and strategy to effectively fight them. You start the game by placing a base on the world map, a base that you set-up and customize. You detect alien spaceships through your radar and you have to intercept them with some basic jets, the only air combat vehicle you start with. Generally the game will only throw small alien ships and few invasions in the beginning of the game, but as you fight them more and as the years progress, the aliens get bolder and stronger. To compensate for that you have research. When you defeat aliens in combat you can research everything related to them, parts of ships, weapons, corpses and live aliens. Aliens will occassionaly invade your base and human cities, both of which are quite challenging, but offer many good chances at capturing technology and aliens. Eventually, if your lucky and smart, you get as strong as the aliens and take the fight to their homeworld, which is the end of the game in the original X-COM. Xenonauts follow's many of these same principles, but it hasn't gone as far to detail end game material yet. Base Management sound's exactly the same, having its two main aspects being research and manufacturing. Your bases can have defenses in order to defend against invasions, but if that fails then you have one last chance to fight the aliens inside your base, with your soldiers. 
Xenonauts Soldier Equip screen, X-Com
A soldier screen, but also a look at the tabs for a base

Xenonauts Air Combat XCom X-Com
Aerial Combat
In Xenonauts soldiers will have names, ranks and will hopefully hold the same level of attachment that they did in the original X-COM. You have to recruit soldiers, build housing for the, equip them and train them. When you lose a well trained long standing soldier it hurts. Combat is held in a familiar turn based fashion, having the option for several different types of fire depending on the weapon. Each soldier will also have their own weight, armor and variations. All of your soldiers have action points that regulate how many actions they may take during a turn. Unlike the original X-COM games, in Xenonauts soldiers will get better at something by personal experience, essentially the same kind of idea that Oblivion and Skyrim employ; the more a soldier fires a weapon the more his or her accuracy will go up. Each soldier will have randomly generated histories, nationality and names.
This is a very WIP screenshot of the farmyard tileset
Looks a tid bit like X-COM, good.

During combat you can destroy any piece of terrain, just like X-COM, awesome. Also, each side will take a turn and there are no reinforcements available other than the strike team that you bring to the encounter. One of the most important new aspects of combat is directional cover. Soldiers can now take cover behind walls and scenery in an attempt to make combat feel a little less random. There are other improvements with combat as well over the original X-COM games.  There will be new victory conditions, conditions that require you to capture the UFO for a certain number of turns, instead of having to hunt down every alien in the map. They also promise a greatly improved AI that makes civilians feel a little less suicidal. There will even be AI soldiers that will fight alongside you, assuming that they exist on that certain map. They are also contemplating making some AI controlled vehicles, but they are uncertain of whether or not that will make it into the initial release. The team has looked at some of the problematic weapons from the original games and decided to not include some of them, like the blaster bomb in particular (a weapon that could wipe out a large chunk of your soldiers at once). Instead, they have replaced these original weapons with weapons that should be a little less tricky to defend against.
I've missed this map
All in all Xenonauts looks excellent. It feels like the X-COM sequel that fans have been clamoring for since Terror from the Deep in 1995. It includes all the same great elements of gameplay, while also adding new innovations and a new engine. You can pre order the game right now for $30 and get access to the beta version, plus the final version when it is available. The only release date they have for the game is that it will be done by December 2012, so still ways off probably. For any fans of the original X-COM games or turn based strategy games then this will be right up your ally. I personally would love to pre-order this, but it's a little too pricey for me, but someday. Thanks for reading and for more information check out the vast amount of information available on the main website. 
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-Written by Sean Cargle


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