If you are a fan of the classic X-COM games, then you probably already have your eye on this one. Get ready for a brutal turn-based game that sticks with the classic style that many fans of the genre love. This is a preview for Xenonauts 2 Early Access launch.
Xenonauts 2 builds on the same classic story of aliens coming to take over Earth. It is your job to eliminate the threat by all means necessary. Each combat mission can be devastating or lead to breakthroughs in the story. Such as details behind the alien invasion or the enemy humans known as the Cleaners.
On each mission, you will have to decide if you want to simply eliminate the threat or leave enough of the enemy to bring home for the research team. The latter is of course, important for uncovering more about the aliens. However, it is also helpful in improving your own technology to continue winning the fight in future battles.
The gameplay can be divided into two sections. There is the very in-depth strategic layer and the devastating tactical combat. Both sections of the game will force the player to make many tough decisions. A discussion in one section can dramatically affect the other, especially when you are short on resources. Which you almost always are.
The strategic layer has all the parts that any X-COM fan would expect. They are going to need to manage their base, their resources, soldiers, and of course, the squadrons to maintain control of the air. We’ll briefly go over some of these a little bit more.
Xenonauts 2 allows the player to build and manage multiple bases across the globe. This allows for building bases focused on a specific task or ensuring that they are within flying distance so that UFOs cannot get out of the fuel range of your fighter jets. This leads to managing resources.
With few resources available, you are forced to decide what is more important. Do you want to put those resources into your soldiers for combat missions, into your fighter jets to take down UFOs quicker? Or into research and defenses for your base in case the aliens decide to come after you for a change?
Each soldier has many stats that are randomized before recruiting them. These stats can have some major effects in combat. The stats include things like strength, accuracy, and even bravery. Strength and accuracy are a big factor in what you might equip them before heading into combat. However, something like a low braving stat could mean that they high tail it to the ship as soon as the enemy starts shooting in the soldier’s direction. These are all important decisions to consider when picking who will be on the team for the next mission.
Once those soldiers have been deployed on a mission, that’s when the tactical turn-based combat section of the game kicks in. To say devastating is putting it lightly. One of the things that I really enjoyed about XCOM 2: War of the Chosen was the character customization and getting attached to your characters. Xenonauts 2 doesn’t give the player time to get to know their characters. You have to come to expect that you will lose half your squad on almost every mission.
Not to say that there isn’t any depth to the characters. Each character surviving a mission can level up and earn medals based on how the combat went. These metals help with boosting their stats so that they can hopefully continue to survive future rounds in combat. I often found myself favoring the characters that did survive a few missions because I knew the new batch of rookies probably wasn’t going to make it very far.
The actual missions do have a variety of different types and objectives. The turns are set up in time units. Meaning that every soldier has a set amount of time that it takes to do certain actions. These actions can be things like crouching, opening a door, shooting a gun, or throwing a grenade.
Xenonauts 2 does a good job at showing you what actions do what and allowing you to preview them before finalizing the action. A really nice feature is that your soldiers automatically convert any leftover time units into overwatch shots. Unfortunately the enemy does the same thing.
The visual style of the game was very enjoyable. It definitely stuck to the classic look of the games it was based on. Which is going to be appealing to many fans of the genre. The customization of the characters was visually apparent both in the armory and in combat.
The only thing that fell a little flat was the animations in combat. It is still early in Early Access, so hopefully some more depth to the animations will get added. Things like explosions seem like low impact. Some movement animations needed a little polishing.
Overall, Xenonauts 2 does what it sought out to do and does it well. Does the game stick to its classic roots? Yes. Does it fit into the classic X-COM niche? Yes. Is it still early in development? Yes.
Xenonauts 2 was a joy to play so far. I look forward to seeing how it develops in Early Access as it leads up to its official release. Early Access is a great time to get a preview of where the game is at and where they are going.
Thank you to Goldhawk Interactive for supplying us with an Early Access key.