Xenonauts was a great game that fell victim to timing. It all started when 2K Games announced they were going to reboot the XCOM series, and as fan excitement quickly died down when they saw what was in store. Rather than stay true to the original isometric, turn-based formula, 2K Games was making it into a third-person shooter with some mixed squad mechanics.
Fans were unhappy, and their cries for a true reboot led to the start of what would become Xenonauts. The developers at Goldhawk Interactive set out to make a game that held true to the original XCOM games, with the same basic mechanics, but with a few new features thrown in. Unlike the futuristic games of the original series, Xenonauts would be set in the Cold War, and many of its weapons would be based on those of the real-world.
Unfortunately for them, however, 2K Games also listened to fans for their 2013 releases. They switched the name of their reboot from XCOM, and turned it into The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
Then, they went and built a true sequel to XCOM, which added a dynamic cover system, full-3D, and wound up creating what is now widely regarded as one of the best games ever made: XCOM: Enemy Within.
While this was happening, Xenonauts was still coming along, and when the full game was released in 2014, it was greatly overshadowed by the brand new XCOM, which revolutionized the turn-based genre.
XCOM: Enemy Within is a fantastic game, but Xenonauts is actually much closer to the feel of the originals—and its likely some fans looked past it for exactly this reason.
Xenonauts didn’t set out to create something entirely new. It set out to take something that was already great, and expand on it. For anyone feeling nostalgic for the feel of the 1994 classic, but doesn’t want the low resolution, pixelated graphics, and wonky menus, Xenonauts was created for just this reason.