I’ve always been a fan of the X series of games, because they’re the only games of the space trader genre (besides EVE) that really allow you to start out as a lone pilot and eventually build a literal empire. The difference between EVE and X is that while EVE is an MMO, and a pretty large one, the X series are singleplayer games, and large ones. Their scale is slightly different, as space in the X games tends to be designed around more of a Stargate system, where you travel between “sectors”, as opposed to EVE’s entire solar systems. The (hopefully) soon-to-be-released X: Rebirth will change that, and it will take on a system similar to Freelancer, with space-highways, but from what I’ve seen, the solar systems are much bigger than Freelancer, and the trailer displays a large amount of ships.
These are very open games, with a lot of depth. This has become even more true with the newest trilogy of games: X3: Reunion, X3: Terran Conflict and X3: Albion Prelude (an expansion for Terran Conflict) Whereas most space games let you be a merchant, pirate or bounty hunter, X let’s you be merchant, pirate, bounty hunter, smuggler, military commander, corporate president, explorer, pirate leader, assassin grandmaster, intergalactic hero or a combination of these. You can be one person, or you can be one person that decides the fate of credits and pilots. This game has a real dynamic economy, and NPCs can do almost anything you can do. Economies stall; sectors change hands between factions; NPCs build stations, you build stations; corporations rise and fall; pirates raid; you build more stations, NPCs build stations which get pirated, and then the economy stalls, making corporations rise and fall, and then you build stations to make a profit off of the stalled economy, and then NPCs build stations to compete with you.
Actually the pirate part may or may not happen, depending on where you put your stuff. Stations are usually pretty secure as long as your in faction space. Or maybe you are the pirate.
To me, intelligent AI and the ability to actually change the universe makes the game hugely immersive. I’m not talking about scripted story missions that “change” the “universe”. Well, there are still story missions in these games. But what I mean is that you really can do something that really affects the universe, and it’s simulated. For instance, if you blocked the base resources in an area, maybe by using your military assets to blockade merchant shipping and destroy factories, or by buying all of the resources up, you could stop production of the higher level products. The first way would probably make at least one of the factions send fleets after you, the latter would most likely cost a fair amount of money (although maybe not as much as having to pay for and supply your fleets). Either way, it would allow you to control the prices of those products.
I am an Argon merchant, with only twelve-thousand credits to my name, a Mercury-class freighter, and a Discoverer. A lot of people who choose the Humble Merchant start sell the Discoverer, but I’m going to use it as a scouting ship and an escort (although since this isn’t the best combat craft, maybe “decoy” would be more appropriate). My first goal, and really my perpetual goal, is to make some credits. I should explore to find out where the different commodities are coming from, and where they’re being crafted into consumer products. It’s been many many years since I last played X3, and that was an old months-after-release version of X3: Reunion. This is an expansion-of-an-expansion later.
I’m not picking this start because I don’t like fighting. C’mon, I play Total War, Elder Scrolls, Battlefield, and Silent Hunter. I’m actually picking this start because I want a good start that would allow me to make large amounts of money trading, so I can buy big weapons and rule fleets of military and merchant ships. I want to command might militarily and economically.
I travel East to The Hole, with my Discoverer set to “follow”, bobbing around behind me. I don’t spend much time there, travel back West, and then West again to Cloudbase Northwest, and find Argnu beef production facilities. I buy some beef at about fifty each, but with my meager amount of credits I can’t afford much. This obviously isn’t at minimum price, but it’s fairly cheap, and I’m hoping to find somewhere to sell them, as I’ve already found one medium Cahoona bakery, and that can’t be the only bakery feeding all of the industry in the area. I go back East, and sell the Cahoonas for a small, single-digit-per-good profit. I end up travelling South, through Argon Prime, past Home of Light and the TerraCorp Headquarters, and into Ore Belt. This is where I make my first real money.
The economy in Ore Belt seems to be somewhat slow, and there ain’t any ships to be found. After docking at a few stations, I find out that this is due to of a lack of energy cells. There’s just one solar plant supplying three mines, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much shipping to import energy from a nearby sector.
After scouting out and landing at multiple mines, I find that the solar plant is selling the power cells for twelve credits each — the minimum price — and the nearest ore mine to the solar plant (and the second closest one) is buying for nineteen, which is the maximum. (the last mine is at sixteen, so someone must be supplying it.)
I load up at the solar plant, which with my ten-thousand credits (I had made a trade that I couldn’t find a profit on, so I dumped it as close to where I purchased it as I could get) doesn’t fill up hardly any of my cargo bay. I haul it over to the closest ore mine, and make some profit. This puts me at around seventeen-thousand credits. I repeat it several times, eventually being able to fill up my cargo. I switch mines once the supply of one has increased, and it’s demand decreased.
I finally start making a dent in the supply of the solar plant, and the price of energy increases. I decide to go find some better trades while the supply catches up. I feel I should mention, that at this point, Ore Belt has become much more lively, and it finally has some shipping traffic. I guess I’ve restarted the industry here, as I’ve enabled the mines to produce enough ore to competitively price it’s materials, thus bringing interest from traders.
I now have a little over eighty-thousand credits. I would like to find out where the ore is being exported to. I go back North, to Home of Light, remembering there were quantum tube and ammunition factories. And yup, they want the ore, and they are buying ore for a hundred-and-sixty and up. I also buy a Trading System Extension at TerraCorp while I’m there. Travelling back through the South gate, I load up on what ore I can (it is now priced at fifty, the minimum) and fly back to Home of Light. The price the second Quantum Tube Fab is purchasing ore at is one-seventy-six, so I sell it there. I repeat this trade route several times over.
Once I’ve gotten over 300k, I now have the recognition for the first Argon story mission. I guess I’ll go see what it is. I don’t have much stuff for fighting, but I’ll probably get to map out some sectors finally.
Map out sectors I will. Mwuahahahaahaaaaaaaa.
I start my journey in Home of Light. I travel East, through Presidents End and into Elena’s Fortune, where a military outpost is stationed. As I’m about to go out the East gate, a fleet of pirates comes through. My luck.
I start swinging my Mercury around wildly — my Discoverer almost plowing straight into me, forcing me to swerve to avoid a collision — heading generally in the general direction that the military outpost generally is in. The pirate fleet is generally coming straight at me, and they’re generally hauling arsecakes. I could use my Discoverer as a distraction if I have to.
The military station starts firing at them. I veer away from the station, as now the pirates are heading generally straight at the military station, which is generally beating their fluffenutters in. One ship detonates, as the five or so ships behind it fire missiles. They’re hit with a barrage of laserfire, and they are also destroyed.
Once the fighting has subsided, I go cautiously up to the gate again. Two freighters fly past me, through the gate. Huh, guess there’s no more. I fly through the gate, and into Split Fire.
After about two more sectors, I’m starting to wonder how far this place is. I’m usually glad when game universes are big, but I’m starting to change my perspective on that matter. I catch up with an Argon Military Colossus, and its large wing of military Busters.
In an asteroid field, somewhere along the route, maybe six or seven sectors in (I’m sure you’ll figure it out which sector if you want to. I got screenshots :D), some kind of funky airliner thing starts shooting at the Argon capital ship. I think it might’ve been Split…? You’ll probably figure that out too.
Anyways, American Airlines is shooting at the big Argon Colossus, and the Colossus is shooting back. The Colossus wins, and the private jet thing drops some missiles. I pick them up, and then proceed to follow the Colossus.
Half way through the sector, more pirates fly in through the gate. The Colossus’ turrets open up on the posse of pirates. The Busters also light up the pirates with their fire.
Almost to the gate, the Colossus starts shooting at some small fighter craft above us in the asteroid field. They’re out of my scanner range, so I don’t know what they were. I just sat in front of the gate until they were terminated. They were killed pretty quickly.
I go through more sectors. There’s some kind of rehabilitation facility beyond a gate that’s red to me. I squander around it, because I don’t want it to launch ships on me or something stupid. At this point, it’s getting rediculous, and I’m scanning the gates in front of me, seeing if the next sector is Argon Sector M148.
I’ll just sum up my experience: gate, pirates, go around them, gate, stations, gate, gate, gate, really wierd looking stations, gate, really wierd looking pirates attacking a convoy of really wierd looking merchants, go around them, gate, asteroids, gate. Objective.
“Glad you could join us,” says the voice on the other end of my comms link.
And that was chapter one of my X3 Albion Prelude playthrough. I feel that for this game, it would be a good idea to post these weekly. This game does take some time, which is the way I like it. So, make sure to set your SETA up to 10x in the options, and I’ll see you next week. I really would appreciate some feedback on what you would like me to attempt in the game. I will also be doing a guide on each starting character, so tell me which ones you would like me to write about. I’m sure Squiddy McSquid will come up, and I will try to do that, but my WiFi isn’t as solid as Bear Grylls, so it may be a bit. Please, leave your feedback in the comments below, and drop me a “like” if you thought it was good!
Also, see my stock trading guide which includes how to trade both companies and commodities, and the little sneaky ninja index which can sometimes trick you here:
- DERP Guides: X3 Albion Prelude Stock Trading (doghouseblog.wordpress.com)
- Dog Builds an Empire: X3 Albion Prelude Chapter 2 (doghouseblog.wordpress.com)
- Dog Builds an Empire: X3 Albion Prelude Chapter Three (doghouseblog.wordpress.com)