Xenonauts was a game born of adversity, a direct response to the first-person shooter XCOM. Developer Goldhawk Interactive wanted to craft its own re-imagining for fans of the original strategy game. But Firaxis has since announced its own official strategy XCOM, Enemy Unknown. It seems the two would butt heads, but Goldhawk lead Chris England sees a clear difference between these offerings.
"Nobody's really done a proper remake of XCOM without changing the fundamentals, I don’t think even Firaxis are doing it."
"It's quite good from our point of view, they're not treading on our territory too much with that," England told Rock, Paper, Shotgun, "they're making a much more progressive remake of XCOM and we’re making a much more faithful remake." He says his "only concern" is that the changes don't make Enemy Unknown fail to feel like XCOM.
"A lot of the features we add in or things we change aren't going to be a big headline because they are basically incremental improvements, but I think that's the way we have to do it," he said.
That's not to say that the news of Enemy Unknown was entirely welcome. England says he saw the news and thought, "oh, brilliant." But the silver lining has been increased exposure for Xenonauts. "All of the discussion and coverage of their game has also led to a lot of coverage of us, and our pre-order sales have gone through the roof since they were announced."
Goldhawk is hoping to share similar success by being part of the conversation close to launch. "We'd like to have the game out slightly before their game comes out, ideally, whether or not it happens is to be seen yet," England said. "But the reason for that is not that we don't think we can compete with them, but that we'd like to piggyback off their coverage as we have over the last month or so. When all the reviews of XCOM appear and say 'this is a great game', if we are mentioned in the comment thread then we'll get a lot of attention off the back of that."
A date hasn't been set for Xenonauts, but pre-orders are now open. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is scheduled for this fall.