Xenonauts leaves early access, brings the Cold War-style back to XCOM

Ian Birnbaum at

We came into the office today to a series of alarm klaxons alerting us to the version 1.0, real-deal release of Xenonauts, an indie reimagining of the 1994 classic XCOM: UFO Defense. The new XCOM is one of our favorites, sure, but there’s something magical about the isometric, grid-based perspective of the '90s.

I got to take a look at an early build of Xenonauts last year, and I really enjoyed it. There’s an extra year’s worth of polish on the current release version, too, so I’m excited to see what’s changed. After years and years of strategic alien defense drought, we now live in a world where we have multiple ways to relive the XCOM glory days, depending on your preference: Xenonauts brings back the classic flavors, while XCOM: Enemy Unknown (and Enemy Within) deliver the new hotness. There’s also The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, but the less we talk about that the better.

Xenonauts began development at a time when no new XCOM worthy of the name had been released in over a decade. Xenonauts would likely be much more of a revelation today if Enemy Unknown had never been released—talk about having your thunder stolen—but it’s still a worthwhile endeavor. Don’t forget to engage Ironman mode and name your soldiers after your closest friends and family. If their inevitable deaths don’t sting, you’re not playing correctly.