Xenonauts-2 September Update!

Now the dust has settled on our successful Kickstarter campaign, it’s time for a progress update on Xenonauts-2! There’s lots of exciting stuff to talk about, even though the lingering admin from the Kickstarter has kept us busy and the summer holiday period means that we’ve frequently been without one or more important team members!

 

Air Combat:
The first thing I want to show off is a very early incarnation of the air combat. The art and design are both still very rough, so try to look past all the placeholder art from the first Xenonauts and the rather simple combat interactions in the video.

Our objectives for the X2 air combat were to make something that was fast-paced but still rewarded the same skills as the rest of the game – tactical and strategic planning (I felt the X1 air combat emphasized reactions over good tactics). I’ve been playing with a lot of different ideas over the past few years, but I feel we’ve now hit on a good idea that will be able to combine both speed and tactical depth once complete.

Essentially the player has a certain number of turns to shoot down each UFO before it engages its jump drive and escapes from your interceptors. Your interceptor weapons have limited ammo and generally do more damage the closer you are (as do the alien weapons). Your interceptors can make one move each turn before they attack, but the UFO is also able to move – which it does by moving your jets up and down the battlefield to represent it speeding up / slowing down. Different UFOs will of course have different strengths and weaknesses, and the system supports up to three combatants per side.

I’ll likely be writing an entire update devoted to the new Air Combat model once things are a bit more polished and the design has developed further, so I won’t try to explain any more about the rules for now – but I just wanted to show everyone that we do already have a basic air combat system working and hooked up to the rest of the strategy layer!

armory_concept_small

Armory & Soldier Equip:
The next thing I wanted to talk about is the Armory screen and the soldier inventory mechanics. The UI concept above incorporates two major mechanical changes since the start of the Kickstarter, and also gives you some idea of the direction we’d like to take the final UI now we can afford to divert some of our funds to a dedicated UI artist (although it is only a rough style / layout concept, so don’t read too much into the details).

The first big mechanical change is the return of the grid-based soldier backpack from Xenonauts 1. We were initially planning to remove this as part of a package of changes to make the inventory system less cumbersome, but we reconsidered our position after the community raised some valid points about why this might make the game less interesting to play. We’re currently in the process of implementing the old backpack / inventory mechanics (they’ll be in for the closed beta), as well as the other planned changes that were uncontroversial improvements to the system.

The second change is my first concept for the modular armour system that forms part of the modular equipment stretch goal. This works by splitting armour into two different inventory slots: the “Armour” and the “Plating”, and giving items in both a set of % resistances against different types of damage.

The “Armour” is the base layer of armour your soldier is wearing – at the start of the game it’s the blue Tacsuit, but your research efforts soon unlock different types of suit that offer better / different protection against the various damage types (ranging up to the endgame Exosuit).

“Plating” represents any additional armour you wear on top of this base suit, so the starting Tacsuit allows players to wear either “Light Kevlar” or “Heavy Kevlar” plating (the heavier plating offers more protection but weighs more). As the player progresses through the research tree, the Plating can be upgraded – e.g. Kevlar vests become more protective Alloy vests, etc.

This system allows players to mix and match armour to suit the specific mission. If you want good Chemical protection, you can equip your soldiers with a Chemsuit but then issue your assault troopers heavy plating and your snipers light plating. The way that plating upgrades through the game keeps older types of armour relevant, too – that same Chemsuit will still be somewhat viable in the late game if you have sufficiently advanced plating available, although advanced tech like an Exosuit would obviously be better in most situations.

Remember that this idea is still at concept stage and not yet implemented, so it may well change prior to release (or even prior to the closed beta!)

brain_concept
New Aliens:
Finally, I just want to show off a quick piece of concept art for a new alien to go in the game. The 3D art for this alien is not yet complete, but it’s planned to be a single-tile psionic support unit.

We’ve got a number of new aliens working their way through our art / design pipeline, and we’re making an effort to include some more distinctive aliens in the game this time around. There’s certainly a place for humanoid aliens in space jumpsuits in the alien roster, but I think any X-Com successor also needs to embrace some of the absurdity of the original games to properly capture their spirit. A floating alien brain seems a pretty good place to start!

Anyway, that’s enough from me – there’s a lot more I’d like to talk about but I really should get back to work! The closed beta is still planned for the start of November and I’ll keep everyone informed on our progress towards that deadline as it approaches.

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