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Video Game / Xenonauts

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In 1958, Earth made first contact. A UFO was spotted heading for the U.S. Ruled out as an ICBM due to its suddenly changing course for Iceland, it proved deadly to conventional aircraft and was grounded but not destroyed with the Nuclear Option. A joint NATO and Soviet force moved on the crash site, but took bitter losses and failed to recover anything of worth. In the wake of the Iceland Incident, the Xenonauts were clandestinely formed through West-Soviet collaboration. As time passed and further alien contact failed to materialise, however, funding and manpower was cut, stripping the organisation to the bone.

1979. An alien fleet arrives in Earth orbit, refusing communication and resisting almost all attempts to repel them. The sole success: A mysterious interceptor taking down a scout craft.


The Xenonauts step forward and claim responsibility, asking the world's governments for funding and permission to operate in their territories against extraterrestrial forces...

Xenonauts is a Turn-Based Tactics game where you command the eponymous organisation, sending interceptors and strike teams out to fight the alien menace while researching their technology in an attempt to become strong enough to take the fight to them. It is a Spiritual Successor to the original X Com UFO Defense, by indie developer Goldhawk Interactive, taking the basic flow of gameplay (strategic layer and tactical layer) and adding new innovations, such as the ability to use cover, fully controllable air combat, while also setting up an entirely new aesthetic by setting the game in the height of the Cold War. Its homepage can be found here and was up for preorder; preorderers got to test the game as it underwent development. A Kickstarter campaign to raise money to add new features finished on June 10, 2012. It officially went beta on April 4th, 2013. On June 1st, 2013 it was added to Steam's Early Access catalog. Its official 1.0 version was released on Steam and GOG Dot Com on June 16th, 2014.


See also Community Edition, a semi-officialas in  mod that enhances certain features without fundamentally changing gameplay.

Goldhawk have stated that there are better than even chances of a sequel happening. On 4th February 2016, Xenonauts 2 was confirmed to be underway, aiming for a 2017 release.

In January 2017 a free pre-alpha of Xenonauts 2 was released on GOG Dot Com. On June 20, 2018 it went to Kickstarter. It is not a direct sequel to the first game but an Alternate Universe, set in an Alternate History present day where decades of alien interference have prevented the end of the Cold War. Following an alien attack on CENTRAL, the surviving Xenonauts have relocated to the backup site ATLAS Base, where they must fight in the air, on the ground and with Field Agents hidden within the Earth's nations to resist the aliens and complete ENDGAME before the aliens can trick the superpowers into global thermonuclear war. Among the changes will be shifting to 3D and air combat becoming turn-based.


  • 100% Adoration Rating/0% Approval Rating: Each of the world's ten regions has a separate relation rating to the Xenonauts. Successfully protecting the regions improves their relation and funding. When the region's funding drops to zero, it stops supporting the player and surrenders to the aliens.
  • Action Survivor/Badass Bystander: Unlike X-COM, some of the civilians are armed, which can lead to things such as a police officer suppressing an alien with his pistol, or a farmer killing an alien with his shotgun.
  • AKA47: Weapon names are generic, while aircraft include the "F-17 Condor", "MiG-32 Foxtrot" and "CH-48". Can be considered a subversion, as the Xenopedia pages explicitly state the mentioned aircraft as being developed from or based on the real life aircraft.
    • In some cases (particularly with the MiG-32) the Soviets were not willing to share the technology, especially since it wasn't even on the production lines yet. This doesn't bother the Xenonauts much; it's implied in the research screen that they take it anyway when the Russians aren't looking.
    • The Hunter Scout Car IS the Ferret armoured car, even being referred to as "ferret" in the game's code.
  • Alien Abduction: One possible alien activity, as in the original X-Com.
  • Alien Autopsy: Carried out automatically, and when completed, they give a small damage bonus against analyzed alien species.
  • Alien Invasion: You don't say.
  • All There in the Manual: The details of the Iceland Incident are given in the prequel novella that comes with the game, including the foundation of the Xenonauts.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Aliens can attack bases, just like in the original X-Com.
  • Alternate History: The timeline diverged in 1958 when first contact was made in Iceland. The game itself kicks off in 1979.
  • Always on Duty: No days off for the Xenonauts! Although when the aliens are not attacking, they often sit in the base for days on end, doing nothing productive.
  • Armchair Military: Seen on the title screen.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. Even the earliest-researched Jackal Armour allows your troops to survive what would be fatal to an unarmoured soldier, albeit badly hurt.
    • Also invoked for the default armor (or lack thereof): the light gear is explained as giving your troops greater mobility since no known armor can stop alien weaponry.
    • Played Straight against Reapers. Regardless of what armour your soldiers are wearing, one attack from them will instantly turn your troops into zombified horrors, who spawn adult Reapers upon being shot.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Several things are in place to punish players attempting to rely on classic X-Com tactics:
    • Forget setting up firing lines: the AI LOVES throwing grenades at bunched up soldiers.
    • In classic X-Com, you could just sit tight and wait for the aliens to come out of the ship and/or panic and run into your line of fire. Not so here. Alien officers will stay put in the bridge of a UFO, no matter how many turns you pass: you need to go get them.
    • Harridans often will be perched at high points near Androns on the ground, giving them effective cover.
  • Artistic License – Military: Female Xenonauts can be shown to have been recruited from special forces units that don't allow women in their ranks, such as the U.S. Navy SEALs. The prequel novella provides what could be considered a handwaved justification: The Sole Survivor of the team sent in during the Iceland Incident was a woman (albeit one who lost both legs in the process).
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Primarily in respect to the original X-Com:
    • Conventional ammo and weapons are free, and they will be automatically resupplied to your units after each battle. This also applies to certain disposable weapons, such as grenades, air-to-air missiles, and base defenses, which are automatically upgraded and supplied at no additional cost as upgrades are unlocked.
      • this becomes unintentionally hilarious if you have interceptors in the air when research to upgrade their weapons are completed, because somehow the aircraft while in mid flight has its old cannons and/or missiles removed and replaced with upgraded ones while en-route to their target.
    • Doors (including UFO ones) can now be opened while standing one square to their left or right, making breaching a far less traumatic experience.
    • Alien autopsies are performed without your input, instead of being a separate research project. If you do choose to pursue an additional research project into a given species after the autopsy, your troops will receive a small permanent bonus against the researched race.
    • There are more options for capturing live aliens, namely stun gas grenades and rockets. Also, a stunned unit stays stunned until the battle is over.
    • Destroyed interceptors will be recovered and repaired, instead of having to buy/build a new one (though it takes much longer than normal repair jobs).
    • When moving soldiers, you can now see how many TUs it will take them to reach a certain spot before moving them, as well as whether they'll have enough left over if you've set them to keep some in reserve for reaction fire.
    • Calling airstrikes on crash sites allows player to skip ground battle sequences (at the cost of destroying any technology or alien leaders that might have otherwise been captured). Air combat can be auto-resolved as well. This helps a lot with the easier battles.
    • If you feel like you are swamped by alien crafts, and have money and a captured black hole to spare, can make an aircraft that one-shots any fleet and fly back to reload relatively easily. The gigantic explosion per encounter will spare nothing, however.
  • The Assimilator: The Praetors, in addition to enslaving every race they come across, take their unique abilities in the process. It's implied by the Game Over screen that ends up being humanity's fate as well, which is probably why they don't just nuke Earth into the Stone Age outright.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Soldiers are promoted to higher ranks based on the number of skill upgrades they achieve through training.
  • A-Team Firing: Most rookies, as per X-Com tradition. This is also the weak point of the Sebilians, due to their close range thermal vision, which is why they favor ambush and flanking tactics.
  • Attack Drone: Employed by the aliens in several variants, and by the Xenonauts with the Scimitar and Hyperion remote-controlled tanks.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Fury interceptor. It's the fastest interceptor, and capable of destroying any alien aircraft in one hit. On the other hand, it's also the most expensive to create, and its torpedoes instantly destroy any alien ships, leaving no crash site to recover.
      • In addition, researching and building them each costs a singularity core, which can only be recovered from raiding a battleship, i.e. the strongest UFO in the game (minus The Unfought Dreadnought). So you can only get the Fury once you demonstrably don't need it anymore.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The later troop transports (Shrike and Valkyrie), but the good old Chinook is pretty awesome too in its own class.
  • A Winner Is You: The ending is just a single splash panel of world leaders celebrating victory. Even the original X-COM for DOS, working on more limited resources, had several of them, telling an actual story.
    • After version 1.5, there is a long and detailed description of what happens: All alien captives fall into a coma, and your military advisor tells you that you should neither turn over your equipment to the United States, nor the Soviet Union, but to unite a new Earth free from prejudice and broken political systems.
    • Again, Cold War, which leaves the ideas of powerful mech units for players behind... to replace them by Powered Armor with an active inventory, providing the soldiers greater versatility than X-Com would have provided.
  • Badass Bystander: Depending on the map, the local human forces you may encounter can be soldiers or police officers, but also armed arabian civilians, arctic researchers or farmers. Since the latter two are often armed with shotguns, they can actually end up killing several aliens during the course of the mission if they're lucky.
    • The aliens have them too. "Non-combatant" crew members seems to be awfully handy with their weapons.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: The racial ability of the Androns, as well as Predator power armors. Also possible with the more powerful heavy automatic weapons (laser, plasma, magnetic), with the first few shots in a ten-round burst vaporizing the barrier in the way, and the remaining ones making Swiss cheese of the target.
  • Black Comedy: In an otherwise serious game, one of the loading screens suggests renaming squad members after friends and family to make their deaths more tragic/hilarious.
  • Black Guy Dies First: The police officer sprite is a black man. Given the map they spawn on (Industrial and city maps, with lots of sightlines through windows) and weapons they spawn with (sometimes shotguns but often a mere pistol), they frequently die before your team has even seen an alien.
  • Boarding Party: Arguably the most important element of the game is assaulting downed or landed alien ships to disrupt their missions and capture their valuable equipment.
  • Body Horror: The game over screen tells you that the remnants of humanity were changed into unrecognisable forms.
    • On a smaller, but no less horrifying scale, Reapers, which convert any unit they kill into a zombie that can transform into another Reaper, Chryssalid-style.
    • It's implied that the Praetors altered the Caesians and Sebilians to suit their needs.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: One possible fate for the Xenonauts on the final mission. They kill the High Praetor, but get trapped by swarms of Reapers, and the game ends before they actually die. It can be averted by blowing up the safety interlocks in a final detour, allowing your squad to escape.
  • Bus Crash: UFOs can now attack your transport helicopters (Fighter UFOs will). Not all of the carried soldiers may survive the crash. Be careful sending your Chinook transport to a landed UFO: if it lifts off and heads towards your Chinook, it will shoot it down without a thought.
  • Cannon Fodder: A tactic happily employed by the aliens and sometimes the player too, to a certain degree.
  • Chest of Medals: For performing certain actions, such as surviving a certain number of missions, surviving being wounded in combat, or killing a certain number of aliens, your soldiers are awarded different medals. Each medal will boost that soldier's bravery rating. Obviously, veteran Xenonauts are going to embody this trope more and more as the game goes on as they survive more missions.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Soldiers killed in the field can potentially be resuscitated if their bodies are recovered intact, though the chances get slimmer with every minus past zero health. Even if they can't be revived, their gear can at least be recovered and carried back. However, if the victim gets gibbed by a rocket or grenade to the face, all bets are off — they and anything they were carrying is gone for good.
  • Cold Sniper: Harridans are the epitome of this trope, being genius marksmen but also completely oblivious to not only morality, but seemingly even reality itself.
  • Cold War: A setting choice that has helped set the game apart from the many other X-COM clones.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: alien ranks, and hence threat levels, are partly indicated by the color of their uniform, as well as the fanciness of their swag.
  • Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: For whatever reason the doors of the alien craft only close after an alien turn but are left open after your turn, hence leading to lot of frustration early on while breaching alien craft. It's not an insurmountable problem, though — just blow the door up!
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. Some barriers will impede movement and visibility, but not gunfire. The firing unit will usually suffer some kind of accuracy penalty instead.
  • Cool Plane: All available interceptors, from A.K.A.-47 versions of the F-16 "Fighting Falcon" and the MiG-25 "Foxbat" up to (for the moment quite possibly) a SR-71 copy made with alien technology.
  • Crapsack World: If you don't stop a UFO, the game gives you a popup message about how it's messing with the world and terrorizing people, and these incidents only get worse and worse as the invasion progresses. This damage progressively escalates over time to give you the feeling that you're fighting an escalating war and that the fate of mankind is at stake. Moreover, the Xenonauts and their support personnel all have uniformly unhappy expressions whenever you see them. (Wouldn't you?)
    • The Alien Empire is vast, and you are just a tiny planet a la Gaulish Village of Asterix comics series.
  • Creator Cameo: You can get Chris England's face on your redshirts.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: the Foxtrot interceptor has no cannon, and relies entirely on missiles. Which many UFOs can dodge easily. The SR-71 looking craft only carries a single super-heavy missile, making it only good against enemy capital ships.
  • Dead Man's Switch: The Praetors have one at the ready. If, by some bizarre reason, the Earthlings are able to destroy most of the armada, they have several Reaper-packed ships ready to be dropped in every major city, which will wipe out humanity in a matter of days. Fortunately, they never get to use this plan, as the solution the Earthlings do come up with takes them completely by surprise.
  • Death from Above: The aliens can conduct bombing runs on human territory. It's also possible to hand over UFO crash sites to local forces to airstrike to the ground. You will only get a fixed amount of cash (depending on the UFO type), and will lose out on the stat gains for troops, as well as alien materials. However, not having to do every last site manually really helps with tedium.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: A typical tactic used against stronger Sebillians, especially before advanced weaponry is researched. All those cuts better be inflicted in the same turn, though—Sebillians heal on their turns.
  • Decapitated Army: Kill the High Praetor overseeing the alien invasion, and the rest of aliens fall into a coma and slowly die from lack of mental input.
  • Deflector Shields: Some larger alien ships are equipped with such. Curiously, while their efficiency is absolute, they take long to recharge, which has a major impact on air combat tactics.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Considering that the timeline starts in the middle of the Cold War, where resources are usually scarce and trying to be accepted by both sides of the world from Communism to Capitalism is what the Xenonauts start off with, it's likely the case why funding was quite low during the beginning of the game.
    • While the Rocket Launcher stays in regular condition, its rockets evolve along with the technology as the player progresses, from regular explosives to alienated chemicals to plasma blasts, the existence of Blaster Launcher may no longer be needed.
  • Dirty Coward: unlike most alien captives, the captured Praetor is terrified of death and is willing to do anything to avoid being executed, including betraying the High Praetor's plans.
  • Do a Barrel Roll: Most fighters in the game, both human and alien, can avoid missiles by rolling at the right moment.
  • Do-Anything Soldier: As there are no character classes as such, every soldier can perform all combat roles. This is somewhat averted with the aliens, some of whom specialise in particular tasks (Harridans are snipers, Reapers are close combat specialists etc.). That being said, the randomized stats for all soldiers will of course render making absolutely any soldier perform absolutely any combat role nilly-willy detrimental and ineffective.
  • Doing Research: Wouldn't be an X-Com homage without tinkering with juicy alien technology. You also get a small damage bonus against alien species that are researched.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Averted. The drill sergeant, who handles recruits and current military rosters seems to be aloof and is a Handicapped Badass by the loss of his left arm, until later technologies gave him a claw-hand then a cybernetic arm.
  • Dummied Out: A lot of things in between versions of the Alpha/Beta build (ex. certain types of researchable equipment]. Putting said things back in is one of the current hot topics of the Game Mod community.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Explosives can be used to create improvised entry points in manmade structures and to ensure that the doors on that UFO you're trying to clear stay wide open.
  • Early Game Hell: Ballistic weapons are mostly ineffective against anything other than basic grunts (and the Sebellians grunts laugh at them anyway), and armor is literally non-existent when you start out. Shooting down UFOs is risky and complicated. Alien activity proceeds mostly unchecked outside your radar coverage, angering the funding nations. You need money to expand your base and build new bases and equipment, but your starting funds are barely enough to keep you going through the first month. Everything gets a little easier once you have access to tier 2 technology, but man, is it tough getting there.
  • Earth Is a Battlefield: A mild case, since the war is rather limited, but nevertheless any place on Earth may become a target at any time. It is an Alien Invasion game after all.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Well, not easy at all, but possible. The reasons include:
    • The aliens are invading a planet that is nothing like the ones belonging to any of the constituent alien species - different oxygen levels, thicker atmosphere, etc.
    • The alien ships need to be refitted for atmospheric combat, which is logistically intensive and time consuming, forcing them to rely on small scout craft for the early phases of the invasion.
    • Ultimately, this gives humans time to research and reverse engineer alien technologies, to hopefully stop the Alien Invasion before it gets intense enough to actually go full scale, which is less then a year.
    • Based on some of the interrogations, the aliens are not trying to exterminate humanity, but are trying to determine what traits they can take from humanity. If the player gets a Game Over, the aliens modify humanity for their own purposes.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Quite a few of your Xenonauts hail from various special operations forces from around the world, such as the U.S. Army Special Forces, the British Special Air Service, the Soviet Spetznaz, and many others.
  • Empty Shell: The Praetor captive falls into a shocked coma after the High Praetor is assassinated following a Villainous BSoD, dying slowly from lack of sustenance. It's hard to feel pity for the amoral bastard.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita / Monster Compendium: The "Xenopedia", which updates whenever you complete a research topic.
  • Enemy Mine: The Xenonauts were formed through NATO-Soviet (and Third World) collaboration.
  • Energy Weapon: The alien firearms. Laser weapons are the first step in humanity's efforts in this field.
  • The Engineer: Your soldiers can use satchel charges (and explosive rockets and grenades, though these are slightly less reliable) to breach building walls and UFO doors. In the strategic sense, you can also use dedicated engineers in your workshops to whip up new weapons based on captured alien tech for your soldiers.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: Alien technology helps popularize the Internet roughly 10-15 years ahead of schedule.
    Chief Research Officer: This morning we were able to transmit a mildly amusing image of a cat halfway across the world, suggesting it will be an excellent tool for sharing classified information within our organization. I named this impressive creation the "internetwork", and would be very surprised if it didn't catch on.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: While cars make reasonable decent cover, if a vehicle takes enough gunfire, it will explode.
  • Every Thing Breaks: And how! Though not as in detail as X-Com (1997) or X-Com: Apocalypse, you can destroy huge chunks of terrain, eliminating cover.
  • Expy: Reapers are Genestealers, with the added capabilities of Chrysalids.
  • Eyepatch of Power: After you hit Tech Level 3, the head scientist gains some sort of scouter-like device over his right eye.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The aliens have this technology, obviously. Researching the tech is key to defeating them, though not by developing an FTL drive, but instead creating a device that jams FTL travel so the alien fleet can't escape any assassination attempt on the High Praetor.
  • Fast-Roping: Made practical by the Valkyrie transport.
  • Feudal Future: The invasion fleet hints at this. The High Praetor simply is part of a large empire that covets your planet. Whether he succeeds or fails apparently doesn't bother the rest of the alien empire.
  • Final Boss: The High Praetor. He goes down pretty easily, but the fight to get to him is extremely difficult.
  • From Bad to Worse: In the beginning of the campaign, the aliens will usually stick to small scouts acting in the background, leaving ominous Crop Circles and abducting ship crews out on the seas. At some point though, they begin taking on local forces, winning dogfights and shooting down military transports. Becoming more bold, they continue making brutal assaults, bombarding fishing fleets, shooting at highways, strafing battleships, blowing up bridges, attacking oil rigs and sinking whole cruise liners, racking up casualties in the hundreds every time. It gets worse from there too, as the aliens decide to bring terror to the cities...
  • Game Mod: The current community is pretty active , working on anything from putting more Cool Planes on the game to adding More Dakka for the soldiers to modifying the Encyclopedia Exposita, providing more maps and putting the Dummied Out content back in. The developers have actually been pretty good sports about it.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The art book reveals that one of the original concepts for the Wolf Armour would have had these, though it was rejected for being too Helghast-like.
  • Gender Is No Object: Let's face it, having so many female officers in 1979 is a bit of a stretch. Then again, the whole world is at stake - the reasons behind that were nonsensical even in Real Life. Here, they'd be suicidal.
    • Though it is less justified than in X-COM, since, unlike in X-COM, your soldiers have what unit they were in before joining the Xenonauts listed in the equipment screen, as well as any previous combat experience, meaning you can have female soldiers coming from units that didn't allow women to join in 1979, and some of which still don't allow women to join.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Physics has some weird calculations in a turn-based game sometimes. High explosive projectiles such as a rockets and "laser" shots that stray too far away (if accuracy is low but not at zero) from its intended target can also be a good thing, as they pass through solid objects that would have been a hassle to deal with, or even destroy everyone inside a UFO in one shot without blasting or opening the front door first.
  • The Greys: Caesans most resemble the classic Greys in appearance, though they're just as tall as the average human on the tactical map and, uniquely, wear color-coded uniforms indicating their role.
  • Guns Akimbo: Can be done with pistols, but it doesn't provide any benefit. The ingame encyclopaedia actually mocks this trope, referring to it as childish.
  • Healing Factor: Sebilians heal their wounds at the start of each turn, so you'd better take them down before the turn ends. Research into them doesn't unlock this ability for your own soldiers, as it would take years of gene therapy, but does provide an upgrade for your medkits.
  • High-Altitude Battle: That often leads to a Low Altitude Battle, if the attacked UFO goes down. In the game data, flying crafts even have a maximum service ceiling, indicating that some of these battles might be close to outer space.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Justified, xenopedia states since the color spectrum of the aliens is likely vastly different from humans, camouflage patterns and their development would likely be just a huge waste of time and money thus the research department decided to use simple blue jumpsuits to make recognizing friendlies easier; though this doesn't stop soldiers from wondering why they are wearing uniforms that make them look like huge targets.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: If it's an elite Sebillian, probably a lot more. Him having a minor Healing Factor doesn't really help you, either.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: Within only a few months of your soldiers encountering aliens with laser weapons for the first time, they'll be going into battle with their own versions. Within the year, they'll have Powered Armor and magnetic mass-driver firearms. The Internet is also developed 10-15 years ahead of schedule.
  • I Can Still Fight!: Wounded soldiers can be sent on missions, as long as they're not too wounded. Their wounds have little impact on their performance anyway (especially because of a past bug that makes it possible to instantly heal these injuries with a simple medikit).
  • Immortality Immorality: Praetors engineered themselves to be biologically immortal (from the Sebillians), powerful psychics (from the Caesans), and utterly tyrannical overlords to the other alien species, plundering their genomes for desirable traits and degrading them to slave races.
  • In Working Order: Partially applicable to alien technology. While it generally can't be used straight away without Doing Research on it, a soldier can simply pick up an alien plasma rifle and use it in the same battle with only accuracy penalties. It is only after the battle ends when alien weaponry becomes non-functional.
  • Insufferable Genius: The head scientist greets you by saying "Ah, Commander. Please, tell me how to do my job..." Then he only gets more bitter and snarky as he writes more and more Xenopedia articles.
    • It ends with him saying that "nobody has done more than I to ensure the survival of the human race", though he has little doubt that the commander's name will be written in the history book just below his. And commenting that he could destroy the entire planet in seconds if he wanted to, even though you, the commander, are the one in charge
  • Interservice Rivalry: The head scientist repeatedly snipes at the engineers in his Xenopedia articles. The engineers retaliate, placing utilities such as coffee machines next to particularly violent alien specimens.
  • Isometric Projection
  • It's Up to You: Averted. While obviously the Xenonauts are the only organization that can really go toe to toe with the aliens, police and military forces will sometimes be on maps which will fight against the aliens when they can, and occasionally local forces will even bring down one of the smaller UFOs for the Xenonauts so they can execute a ground mission.
  • Lamp Shade Hanging: The Head Scientist enjoys this. Inspecting an Andron wreck will make him comment about its bipedal design (seen below), and he explains *why* you cannot store alien weapons as loot, or why aliens don't attack with their whole fleet.
  • Lean and Mean: Caesans have very slim limbs.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Soldiers can be equipped with a riot shield. While this limits them to batons, grenades or pistols, the shield can take at least one hit from all but the strongest alien firearms, making them very useful for breaching alien craft.
  • Knockout Gas: purple-colored gas whose Xenopedia description is somewhat reminiscent of carbon monoxide—that is, it binds to hemoglobin or analogous cells in the bloodstream—can be deployed via grenade or rocket. It loses its utility as later enemies wear gastight armor (to be replaced with electroshock grenades), but a thick layer of stun gas is an effective barrier against Reapers.
  • Magnetic Weapons: Powerful equipment that arrives later on, which surpasses Plasma weaponry. The Aliens don't have these, instead, this becomes your troops' Infinity +1 Sword, as the aliens develop a significant resistance to Energy weapons.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Androns you face starting with the second month are more or less the alien equivalent of combat robots. They're extra resistant to most of your starting weapons and totally immune to morale and stun effects, but explosives or lasers will make short work of them. In the "autopsy" report, the head scientist puzzles over why the aliens decided to make them bipedal and humanoid, pointing out the limitations of such a design, but concluding that whether stupidity or arrogance, humanity should take advantage of it.
  • Morale Mechanic: Every soldier has a Bravery rating. This determines their starting morale, which fluctuates through the course of battle as they and their team either inflict or take damage and losses. Soldiers with low morale have a chance of panicking, attempting to flee, or going berserk. Bravery also affects a soldier's likelihood of being suppressed by enemy fire, which causes them to lose the ability to reaction fire during the enemy's round and cuts their TUs in half on their next turn.
  • More Dakka: Some heavy weapons shoot 5-bullets in a burst, while normal weapons shoot 3. This can be (and sometimes is) modded to increase this number almost indefinitely, creating possibly unbalanced but nevertheless immensely fun weapons. LMG class weapons' final tier railgun is another example, tearing any alien caught in its salvo to pieces.
  • My Brain Is Big: Wraiths have bulbous, elongated heads.
  • Mundane Utility: The tanks have powerful headlights, which make them very useful in night missions.
  • Multi National Team: Just like in X-Com, though even more noteworthy as it is set during the middle of the Cold War, includes soldiers and base personnel from both the west and the east, and the various interceptors are based off of designs from both the US and the USSR
  • New Meat: Supposedly elite-level recruits who can't hit the broad side of a barn.
  • Nintendo Hard: The original X-Com was a brutal game if you didn't know what you were doing, and so far Xenonauts looks to be at least as tough, if not harder:
    • You have very little potential to sequence break.
    • Interceptors have a realistic number of missiles, and UFOs can dodge them.
    • New gear takes months to develop, you need to develop a strong understanding of alien technology - averting Possession Implies Mastery - before you can even develop a human-material body armor to defend against the alien weaponry.
    • Alien weaponry plucked out of their users' cold dead hands is useless to the human soldiers, being made of materials too strong to be made ergonomic to human hands, unchangeable by human science, and totally lacking optics. Basic laser weaponry might take till December to finish.
    • Forget manufacturing items for profit: all items now sell for half their manufacturing costs, not counting engineering salary. The sale prices of all alien artifacts have been significantly lowered, and are sold automatically at the end of the mission, as you cannot use them later. Also, corpses now have no value now - no more sectoid sushi for you.
    • The psionics research tree turns out to be a dead end: Humanity has no psionic potential. Around the time you discover this, alien units which are extremely resistant to energy weapons have become common. If your researchers didn't take a different path at this point, all would be lost.
    • Remember how X-Com Ethereals and Sectiods needed to have a line of sight on you before using psionic powers? Not here. Once the aliens are aware of your presence (i.e., any of them see a human Xenonaut), all the Cesan Psions and Praetors can start unleashing mind attacks on everybody in your squad.
    • And as an added treat: The presence of a live Praetor randomly generates dread within various squad members during his turn, as a free action. Note that your Bravery (the stat that resists psionics) is maxxed, it doesn't matter. Whomever is chosen (and it's usually 3-5) loses 30 Action Points for that round.
  • Not Enough to Bury: Both enemy aliens and your own soldiers can be "overkilled" if enough damage is done by the killing shot, totally destroying the body and any equipment it might have been carrying. Obviously, this is most noticeable when using explosives.
  • Not His Sled:
    • You might expect that psionics and energy weapons are your endgame tools, like in the original X-COM game. Nope! Humanity has no psionic potential and aliens highly resistant to energy weapons come into play. You have to take a different path and hope you can go far enough before it's too late.
    • In the beginning of the game, any player of the original X-Com game will quickly want to research the Alien Alloys technology, since it used to be the stepping stone to manufacturing armours made of alien alloys, which were incredibly useful in the early game. But not in Xenonauts: as your scientists note in the research report, alien alloys would make an incredibly good armour material...if only they had any tool capable of machining, forging or even cutting it. Instead, the first armor suits you get come [[spoiler: (quite realistically) from studying alien weaponry, since understanding how it operates is the key to designing efficient protections against it.
    • The second armour however, is made with alien alloys, once your scientists have finally found a way to work it.
  • Nuclear Option: The move that lead to the Iceland Incident. Also what can happen if you don't deal with a terror site.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The supposedly last line of defense against the aliens command 20 - 30 troops at most. There are various explanations of this state, mostly revolving around some political plotnote . More justified in this game thanks to the presence of police, soldiers, militias, farmers with shotguns, etc., as well as nations having limited capability to shoot down UFOs on their own.
  • Only Mostly Dead: There's a small chance that a "dead" soldier may actually survive a battle (though in critical condition) if their body is recovered. It depends on how far their HP drops below zero, though — if it falls below a certain threshold, Final Death is guaranteed.
  • One-Hit Kill: it doesn't matter what armor you're wearing, a melee swipe from a Reaper means a zombified soldier. On a different scale, the Fury interceptor's Singularity Torpedo qualifies: one launch, one UFO obliterated, no questions asked.
  • Outranking Your Job: A particular xenonaut's rank depends only on their combat experience, unlike in the original X-COM games. Players who are skilled and lucky enough to keep their veterans alive for long periods of time may end up with squads composed almost entirely of Colonels, Commanders, and Majors.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: How do you stop an invincible alien fleet from overrunning your little, fragmented planet? Find a way to scramble all Faster-Than-Light travel across a thousand light-year radius with an elaborate, giant device constructed under your base. Any attempt to destroy it will have to be done at sub-light speeds which will be extremely energy intensive. Whichever future alien race who wants the device off is going to need several thousand years in sublight travel.
  • Plasma Cannon: The only weapon type employed by the alien army (excluding Reapers). It ranges from relatively weak, short-ranged pistols to powerful, well, cannons.
  • Powered Armor: The final two armour types, the Predator and Sentinel, are these.
  • Power Copying: The Praetors do this to every race they enslave; The Psychic Powers of the Caesians and the Healing Factor of the Sebilians are just two of the abilities they took for their own through genetic engineering.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Players who try to reverse engineer Alien Alloys in the hope of creating body armour out of alien materials will find that they can't craft alien body armour because humanity doesn't have any tools or machining capable of shaping it. To get enhanced armour, you actually need to research alien weapons first, then your scientists can find out how they work and then devise an armour solution from Earth-made materials. Along the same lines, your soldiers start out kitted in bright blue uniforms: no point in camouflage if you don't know what kind of visual spectrum the aliens see in.
    • Along the same lines, you can pick up a plasma rifle from an alien's cold dead hands right from the start, but the soldier will take accuracy penalties because the rifle isn't ergonomically designed for human hands and besides, they lack optics.
    • You'd think by capturing a Sebilian alive you'd be able to find a way to make use of their Healing Factor. However, your head researcher notes that it can't be adapted to human physiology without extensive genetic engineering. What it can do, though, is be applied to improving medkits.
    • FTL research is the key to defeating the aliens, but it would take decades for humanity to develop a working drive. However, jamming FTL drives proves significantly less challenging.
  • Red Shirt Army: Played with. At first you have to make do with Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder once you hire more soldiers after your experienced starter squad, but in later phases of the invasion, nations will start giving the player more experienced soldiers, as they are no longer able to combat the alien forces alone with human technology.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Sebillians, The Brute of the invading alien species, they resemble bipedal alligators or dinosaurs.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Averted in the beginning (gunpowder weapons are quite useless), played straight in the end( Railguns absolutely murder any alien they hit ).
  • Sadistic Choice: The game starts with you setting up Xenonauts headquarters, and prominently showing your radar coverage from that base. Immediately after you select your starting location, you will receive reports of alien activity everywhere else in the world, outside your coverage. You can either expand as quickly as possible and hope to keep the activity as low as possible to prevent the funding nations from getting upset at your inability to deal with their incidents, or you can save the money and hope that you'll be able to expand before the funding nation gets so upset as to withdraw entirely. Both options are terrible, and reflect the fact that you literally can't be everywhere at once, at least not at first.
  • Sequel Hook: Unlike X-Com, which usually ends with the aliens completely foiled and/or eradicated, the endgame makes it very clear that this is not the case. It turns out the High Praetor's invading armada was just a sliver of the aliens' total might. In fact, it's implied that he was just a low-ranking elder who did this invasion as his own pet project, and they let him do it while they pursued bigger challenges. They most certainly will be back.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Zigzagged. Obviously they are most effective in closer ranges where all pellets are likely to hit. The accuracy reported over medium ranges is somewhat misleading - it seems to represent the chance to hit for each individual pellet, so the chance that at least 'one' of them connects is a little higher. They are also great for causing suppression.
  • Shout-Out: Kickstarter pledgers who donated at a certain level got their names added to the game as randomly generated soldiers.
  • Sitting Duck: Approaching a landed UFO is a very tricky and dangerous business, but if it works out, it's as good as ours.
  • Smoke Out: smoke in a tile degrades the accuracy of fire passing through it. Sebillians and a few other species are immune, but have terrible long-range accuracy anyway.
  • Sniper Duel: May happen annoyingly often if both sides are unwilling to leave their cover. This is actually a poor tactic, since aliens have unlimited ammo...
    • On the other hand, when your enemies are armed with pistols, and you have sniper rifles, you have a slight advantage.
    • Or you can just blow covers with missiles.
  • Something Nauts: The titular organization.
  • Sphere of Destruction: the Singularity Torpedo carried by the Fury interceptor functions this way; the head scientist mentions that they had to specifically limit the radius of the sphere so that it wouldn't accidentally, say, wipe out the planet. As expected, it will completely wipe out a target UFO, leaving no debris and no survivors.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the original XCOM
  • Stat Grinding: Xenonauts' stats are not gained by leveling up, but by performing appropriate actions (strength is increased by carrying close to the encumbrance limit, accuracy is gained by shooting, etc)
  • Stun Guns: The shock batons can be researched early in the game, and allow xenonauts to subdue aliens for capture; they're soon supplemented by stun gas and electroshock grenades.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: usually employed by human fighters fighting a heavy UFO (or a formation of them). After unloading all missiles to wound the enemy, the planes are supposed to disengage and return to base, letting the next squadron deliver the killing blow.
  • Take Cover!: The game features more sophisticated cover mechanics than the original.
  • Tank Goodness: After researching, the player can build scout cars, tanks and hover tanks to assist the xenonauts on missions.
  • There Was a Door: Xenonauts equipped with Predator armor don't need no stinking doors. They can just walk through a wall.
  • Unobtanium: As in X-COM, you can salvage the alien fuel source, Alenium, which cannot be reproduced terrestrially. Incidentally, even before attempting to use it as a power source, Xenonaut scientists decided they made for even better missile warheads, giving your interceptors an early shot in the arm in terms of firepower.
  • 2-D Space: seen most prominently during air combat battles. Interceptors and alien aircrafts are placed on a single plane, and your movment options include turn left, turn right and occasionally Do a Barrel Roll.
  • Unfriendly Fire: There's always a risk of your soldier accidentally hitting each other, especially when using shotguns or machineguns. The aliens have this problem as well.
  • Urban Warfare: Terror missions, naturally. Some other maps, like fan-made desert villages, also require similar tactics.
  • Vertical Mecha Fins: Harridans' armour has these.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: In an apparent attempt to dissuade veteran X-COM players from applying the usual "level everything in sight" tactics, you suffer a rating penalty if civilians get caught in the collateral damage. On the other hand, leveling a house without causing civilian casualties is just fine.
  • Video-Game Flamethrowers Suck: A Dummied Out weapon due to engine limitations, though some mods restore it. Flamethrowers are extremely powerful, but short ranged, heavy and dangerous to use. If a soldier carrying a flamethrower takes a direct hit then there is a chance they will blow up and take nearby allies with them.
  • The War Room: Seen on the splash screen and represented by the Command Center during base defense missions; alien bases and the command centers of the larger alien UFOs have a similar layout.
  • Unstable Equilibrium:
    • TU is gained by spending at least 250 TU in a single battle. For a solder with 80 TU, it means spending 3 turns running around or shooting. Someone with 50 TU will need to spend 5 turns doing that. In short, the higher TU is, the easier it is to level up.
    • If the player plays poorly and loses experienced xenonauts, subsequent fights will get harder and vice versa.
    • Likewise with funding, as the amount of funds you get is directly tied to how successful you are at destroying UFOs and bases and stopping terror missions before the aliens can wreak havoc. Fail to adequately cover one region, and it'll pull its funding from the project completely, making it more difficult to maintain your bases and replace future losses.
  • With This Herring: Averted in the sense that you get lousy newbies only if you manage to get the reasonably-experienced starter squad killed.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Absolutely averted by both sides. The aliens love hunting civilian humans, and Xenonauts treat alien non-combatants (or more accurately, alien crew members) like alien soldiers. Justified for the Xenonauts however, since said non-combatants will open fire with alien pistols or other low-level weapons the first chance they can.
  • Zerg Rush: In the final mission, you need to win by killing the High Praetor without delay. After the sixth round, six Reapers will spawn EVERY TURN. Forever. You'll either be overrun by sheer numbers or run out of ammo (and then be overrun) if you try to fight them off.
    • Bear in mind that a Reaper kills a soldier with ONE hit, armor notwithstanding. Once this massive horde closes in, that's the end for your brave troopers... and humanity itself.

    Xenonauts 2 
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Xenonauts had to flee CENTRAL after an alien assault, forcing their relocation to the abandoned missile silo in Iceland that is ATLAS Base.
  • Orbital Bombardment: A new element; an orbital alien superweapon will periodically hit the region with the least Panic, causing a large increase in Panic there.


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