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Xenonauts logo.jpg
Storefront logo of Xenonauts
Developer(s) Goldhawk Interactive[a]
Publisher(s) Goldhawk Interactive
Designer(s) Chris England
Programmer(s) Sergey Kovrov, Gijs-Jan Roelofs, Laszlo Perneky, Giovanni Frigo
Composer(s) Aleksi Aubry-Carlson
Release Microsoft Windows
  • WW: June 17, 2014
OS X, Linux
  • WW: September 29, 2015
Genre(s) Strategy, turn-based tactics
Mode(s) Single-player

Xenonauts is a strategy turn-based tactics science fiction video game developed and published as a maiden title of London-based independent game studio Goldhawk Interactive.[1] Inspired by 1994's UFO: Enemy Unknown (X-COM: UFO Defense in North America), the gameplay involves the player taking the role of the commander of a clandestine organization known as the Xenonauts in an attempt to defeat an alien invasion of Earth in the alternate history year 1979.[2] The game was released on June 17, 2014 for Microsoft Windows.[3] Ports to Mac OS X and Linux were initially based on the Wine compatibility layer, until native ports became available in September 2015.[4]


A screenshot of tactical gameplay (alpha version), showing a UFO crashed in a farm

The game retains the fundamental mechanics of the early X-COM games, in this case considered to be a real-time global air control and strategic management and research component of the game, coupled with turn-based ground combat where the player controls a squad of soldiers and vehicles against the alien forces on a tactical scale. Soldiers develop their attributes through combat experience, and terrain in the ground combat maps is destructible.[5]

Features advertised by Goldhawk as "enhancements" to the original X-COM model include the following (although many have appeared in other spiritual successors):[6][7]

  • An improved air combat model (in real-time with pause mode) that allows combat between up to three aircraft/UFOs on each side.
  • Soldier equipment loadouts being saved between missions and the ability to change the weapon loadouts of ground vehicles.
  • The starting position of infantry and vehicles can be arranged inside the dropship (at first a troop transport helicopter).
  • The inclusion of a directional cover system in ground combat.
  • Friendly local military and law enforcement NPCs present in ground combat.
  • Alternative victory conditions for ground combat missions (rather than just simply eliminating all alien forces).


The development of Xenonauts began in 2009. The game is heavily influenced by the X-COM series but is described by the development team as neither a remake nor a clone, but rather "a re-imagining". It is marketed as a Cold War-era based "planetary defense simulator" answer to 2K Marin's The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, which at the time had alienated many fans due to its FPS-based gameplay.[8][9][10][11]

In November 2010, the project launched a revamped website and announced that they were accepting pre-orders, the benefits of which included early beta access and a discounted price over planned release pricing. A provisional release date was set as Autumn 2012.[12] A public game demo was released on May 8, 2012.[13] Its Kickstarter fundraising project managed to raise $154,715 from 4,668 backers.[14]

Xenonauts for Windows reached beta and launched on Steam Early Access in June 2013.[15] A tentative release date of the end of 2013 was announced in September 2013, although the developer conceded that the title might be delayed until early 2014 if additional polish was required.[16] It was released on June 17, 2014.[1]

In 2015, Goldhawk Interactive hinted that they were designing and prototyping a sequel.[17] In February 2016, Xenonauts 2 was officially announced. The game is being developed in the Unity game engine, making use of 3D graphics. The developers announced plans to release the game in an early access phase.[18]


Xenonauts was well received by critics, receiving a score of 85% from PC Gamer,[19] and a 77% on Metacritic, based on 21 reviews.[20]

Community Edition[edit]

Shortly after the release of the stable version Goldhawk Interactive allowed selected members of the community to access the source code.[21] This resulted in the community edition of the game (Xenonauts:Community Edition, X:CE), which continues development of an independent branch of the game, adding new features and bugfixes.[22] The 1.5 version of Xenonauts incorporated a large number of these changes. As of October 2016, X:CE still keeps releasing new versions,[23] even though the official game is in maintenance mode.


  1. ^ Ported to OS X and Linux by Knockout Games.


  1. ^ a b "Xenonauts Finally Released!". xenonauts.com. Retrieved 2014-06-18. 
  2. ^ "Game Overview | Xenonauts official site". Xenonauts.com. 1979-10-01. Retrieved 2013-08-24. 
  3. ^ "Xenonauts FAQ". Xenonauts.com. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "Group Announcements :: Xenonauts". Steam Community. Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  5. ^ Goldhawk Interactive. "Xenonauts Dev Diary 1". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  6. ^ Meer, Alec. "X-Communicated: The Xenonauts Interview". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  7. ^ "Xenonauts @ Taktikzone". Taktikzone.de. Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  8. ^ Plunkett, Luke. "Another New "X-Com" Game, And It's Not A Shooter". Kotaku.com. Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  9. ^ Andrew Yoon. "Xenonauts capitalizes on XCOM rage". Joystiq.com. Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  10. ^ Alec Meer. "Xenonauts: The X-COM Anti-Apocalypse?". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  11. ^ Chris Faylor. "X-Com 'Re-Imagined' as Xenonauts by Indie Dev". Shacknews.com. Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  12. ^ Sitrep #1: Databanks Relaunched | Xenonauts official site Archived April 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "Official torrent file of the demo version". Archived from the original on September 25, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-24. 
  14. ^ "Xenonauts by Goldhawk Interactive — Kickstarter". Kickstarter.com. Retrieved 2013-08-24. 
  15. ^ "Indie X-Com remake Xenonauts launches for Steam Early Access". Polygon. 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  16. ^ "V19 Stable Released! | Xenonauts – Strategic Planetary Defence Simulator". Xenonauts.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  17. ^ Webber, Jordan Erica (30 September 2015). "Xenonauts 2 is being prototyped right now". PC Gamer. Future plc. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  18. ^ Chalk, Andy (2016-02-03). "Xenonauts 2 is officially confirmed". PC Gamer. Future. Retrieved 2016-02-03. 
  19. ^ Birnbaum, Ian. "Xenonauts review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2016-08-01. 
  20. ^ [1][dead link]
  21. ^ "Community Coder Program!". Goldhawkinteractive.com. Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  22. ^ "What is Xenonauts: Community Edition & how do I get it?". Goldhawkinteractive.com. Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  23. ^ "Xenonauts: Community Edition 0.34.2". Goldhawkinteractive.com. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 

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