Xenonauts 2 – January-ish Update

Hello!  Apologies for the slight delay in getting this update out – things have been very busy around here as Xenonauts 2 is gathering momentum and we’re responding to a lot of your enthusiastic community feedback as we go.  Here’s what we were working on during January…

New Content and Polish

We released Closed Beta V17 on the Experimental branches last week and patched a number of bugs. We’ll leave it a few more days and see how many more bugs are reported by the community after the latest patch, and if no further hotfixes are required we’ll likely push V17 out to the default stable Steam / GOG branches.

The main new feature is an adjacency system for the base structures on the strategy layer. This system makes buildings more effective if they are built next to other buildings of the same type; for example Living Quarters grant additional living space if constructed next to other Living Quarters. Although the system is quite simple in principle, it makes planning your bases far more interesting than before and I think it’ll be one of the first new features in X2 that returning players will notice, because it adds a wholly new dimension to a familiar system.

We’ve also been doing further work on the visuals. The MARS vehicles now update their art on the strategy layer and model in the tactical combat when you change their weapons. We’ve started working with a new particle artist, which has allowed us to replace the truly awful fire animation we were previously using, and we’ll be updating the smoke / explosions / etc over the coming months so they look a bit more polished. There’s been a few new pieces of research art added, we’re designing the first new dropship for the game, and we’re also working on the inventory art for the various vehicle weapons. We’re hopefully going to start work with a new UI artist shortly too, so there’s plenty going on.

However, we’ve prioritised improving the stability and usability of the game above everything else. We’ve fixed upwards of a hundred bugs or small stability issues every month since about August and we’re starting to see the results. You still shouldn’t expect Xenonauts 2 to feel like a finished game when you play it initially (it’s still a much worse experience than Xenonauts 1) but it certainly seems possible to play it for a time and enjoy it – which is good news, because we’ve still got lots of polish and improvements planned!

Upcoming Work

It’s hard to plan too far ahead when so much of our work is responding to issues experienced by the community, but there’s a few things we have our eye on.

The first thing is to get the final two UFOs that create crash sites into the game. We’ve finalised the 2D art for these UFOs and we’ve got the basic model in place, but doing the final texture work and setting up the tiles in the tactical combat is rather time-consuming for UFOs this big (plus we’ll have to create maps for them for all the different biomes). However, having all the UFOs done will be a nice mini-milestone for the project and will allow us to test the tech tree all the way through to the very end of the game.

We’re also going to be looking into some optimisations. This month we removed quite a chunk of unused old assets from the game directories, which reduced install size by 20% and sped up load times a little. We’ve also been working on improving the performance of the Geoscape by optimising the prerequisite system, as this controls everything from what time UFOs spawn and when research projects unlock to whether base structures are being constructed in a valid location or whether a specific unit can equip a specific item. Hopefully this will speed things up noticeably on low-end systems.

Other things we’re hoping to be able to spend some time on are AI improvements, putting in a penalty for going over your Stores Capacity, and making further improvements to the Stress system so that the stress accumulated by soldiers is tied more closely to what actually happens to them on the battlefield.

Early Access

Our current plan is to launch into Early Access towards the end of next month, but we’ll be evaluating the game in a week or two and making a final decision on whether to postpone the launch or not. If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the Early Access launch so you can finally get your hands on the game, fear not – we’ve been working on alternate arrangements to allow new people into the Closed Beta even if the Early Access launch does get delayed! More details on all that once we’ve made the decision to postpone or not.

Many thanks for reading and for staying up-to-date with our work – as ever please do join us on Discord, the forums or the Steam community if you have any questions.

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