I’ve been quiet lately, after the appearance of X: Rebirth earlier this month. I’ve been playing it heavily, and am here to give you my opinion on the game, its current state, and what it means for both the future of the franchise, and EgoSoft. I am going to tell you what has been done with the game, what will be done and what I’d like to be done.
Also, being that there’s so many things to touch on in this complex game, and with all the new patches, I may update this review from time to time. Leave feedback in the comments and I’ll look into and address stuff.
JUST TAPPING ON A FEW THINGS QUICKLY
Let me start with this. It is currently a very incomplete game. It is buggy, prone to crashes, and has features which currently don’t work properly, or sometimes at all.
But on with the review. I’ve spent dozens of hours in both story and free play, the game’s two modes. Story just gives you some guidance, some assets, and has an optional plot-line. Free play is without those things, and instead you just have neutral standing with everyone right off the bat, all of the universe is open from the start, and you get 100,000 credits and very basic gear.
The idea of this particular game in the series was to restart the design process, make it less complicated and strewn-everywhere, make it easier for new players and make it as deep or deeper for old players.
Firstly, the graphics are amazing in the game. It currently has some big optimization issues, but for me it runs fairly well with high graphical settings. The very frequent patches have been improving this, and the many other bugs and even interface and feature issues, adding new features entirely as they go.
The scale of everything is so much bigger now. Instead of before, where only the player has complexes, every station is a complex. They’re quite a bit better looking, and flying close to them, there is definitely a Blade Runner aura there. Planets and the distant sun(s) are much more than just distant backdrops now, as the highways and super-highways let you fly around them, near them, and even into and through them.
This game does bring exploration back into X and space games in general. Now, previous X games do have exploration, but because of the sector design, you’ve got general cubical areas that you know everything is going to be in, even if hidden at first look. The universe was a pre-made grid-pattern for you to sift through, and to build in.
But now you can exit highways at any time, and go fly out, using scanners, to find things (with currency values) and mine new mineral deposits, and find hidden bases and minefields and the covert dynamic operations of large companies. More patient people have spent long flights out to other parts of the solar system, and found full orbital patterns, with many moons that orbit around gas giants and smaller planets, and even ships and hidden stuff out there. This is actual space now, not your little sudoku grid corporate empires of before.
Let’s get into the details.
STATIONS, STATIONS, WALK IN THESE STATIONS AND LIKE IT FUTHERMUCKERS!
First off, yes, stations are all big complexes now with massive trade lanes all around them, and tons of modules and docks and such. But now, you can walk on them.
I may not have the perspective many of those who have been stalking all of the reviews and such expect.
Now, of course, people still don’t look the greatest. Honestly, this is EgoSoft, I already expected this just as a token that it’s both an X game and an EgoSoft game. Many of the women look like elders with Victoria’s Secret bodies — not all, but many — but hey, people may look like that in the future, people don’t always have to look (in your opinion) good, and you watch too much anime.
Also expected: the station interiors themselves are copy and paste. Since this game really likes to make you go on dem stationz, this can be a problem. There are different themes, and some of them are really epic and cool looking, but they aren’t near the area you start in.
I like walking in stations, it gives me something to do, and there are actually varied stations, but the problem there is that the theme is mostly chosen by what system you’re in. By far the most epic system is Omicron Lyrae, both outside in space and inside stations. Yes, you remember that place as one of the big war sectors from X3:AP. The theme here is much different from the other places, the planets look really epic, blue is my favorite color, and there’s a black hole. Also, new ships.
Also, spoiler I guess? There are multiple systems, despite what other reviewers/players tell you. You just have to find the gates to them. Yes, there’s still gates, although they play a lesser role than in previous games.
You talk to people on the stations, hire people on the stations, and loot their stuff without them caring, on the stations. Yes, you do have to find the people, but you can easily get directions to them most of the time unless everyone hates you.
I think stations should stay in, many people dislike them, but I think they should become optional, where you can comm a station if you want, but having decent incentives for going on them and personally talking to people yourself. It both doesn’t invalidate stations, and it makes sense, as just like real life, you can get better deals out of people when you’re talking to them face-to-face.
For all the traffic outside of the stations, the stations themselves have relatively few people, and they don’t really walk around or do much. I did see one NPC that walked around a bit, but that was after dozens of hours. Not a big deal to me, would be nice to improve in future updates or games.
You can also loot containers and such on the stations, for instance lockers, boxes and wallets hidden in the vent systems. No one cares if you take everything out of an entire row of lockers right in their faces, which I think is odd, but they could probably add a rep-loss mechanic in the future or something.
My opinion on the looting, is that right off the bat you can get an okay amount of credits from it, although later it won’t be extremely significant. The idea of a space trader sim, is that you start out as a person, with a spaceship, and not much else. You have to build your empire, it isn’t given to you. I think making your spoiled arse open boxes in the vents is a good way of driving the fact that you currently suck home. You’re not required to do it later, but you will at the start, as it’s what’s profitable.
I think this makes a bit of a problem early-game, which is very noticeable in free play. You can either do missions, or loot stuff in stations and in space. While the scanners are really awesome, it does get repetitive after you start your fifth free play game — like me — because your ships all got bugged and won’t take commands, or for some reason loading your save makes the game go to two frames per second. I will go over these things later.
Now, back to the fact of no comming stations. You can get missions, trade bulk wares and whatnot from outside the stations, and you are encouraged to explore the exteriors as you can get discounts by flying close to and scanning the different parts of the stations. It’s not required, but it gives you something to do while waiting for your trade ship to, well, trade (luckily, the Teladi seem to have discovered a way to increase profitssss-per-second via a new tech which allows your capital ships and freighters to noclip stations), and it makes it so that you have specific stations you like to trade with due to better deals and such. To upgrade your ship, buy new ships and hire people you do have to go inside stations.
I will say that NPC names can be confusing sometimes. Engineers, mechanics and ship dealers all offer similar services, but you need a specific service depending on ship-type and whatnot, and you can only get that from one of the NPC types, and sometimes even a specific NPC of a specific type.
I like stations, the people in them look like EgoSoft made them, but this is a space game, and space looks amazing; the need to go in them should be optional for less patient people or people who don’t like them, but with good incentives for going inside them; the stations to me add immersion and lend tangibility to the fact that the stations are actually big space cities with people aboard them. Also, it’s just cool, I like it. Redundancy does take the explorative experience away fairly quickly, though, but this should be relatively easy to improve upon, as the code architecture is already there for how stations work and all that. Just need more models and variations.
Space-sphere will forever be in our hearts. And in space. Anyways, this is the part of the game that counts.
Space looks amazing, is legitimately big, you get to fly through a planet that got sushi-chef sliced in half then ‘sploded all over the place (it’s the same planet that used to lag the peanutbutter ponies out of your game in Albion Prelude, hint is Albion, not hint is Prelude)
Highways I think are a good travel system, they’re like the ones from Freelancer but more active and have a greater feel of speed. Opinions differ, but I like that they make it more active to travel. If you want to go faster, you can draft behind other ships, constantly switching lanes to go faster and faster.
You don’t have to, you’ll just go slower, but I don’t see that as a problem for a person that doesn’t want to, as they may just want to watch Netflix or something while playing anyways.
Combat is generally more interesting, capital ship combat has a good design, however currently I’d say at the start things can be a bit too easy, and certain ships you can just wedge yourself inside and blast away without them being able to retaliate. They could just add some inside turrets or bay-shields to fix this though.
The combat does get quite a bit harder later into the game, they’ve just made it where it eases you into the game at the start, which I generally agree with, but that being able to take out a Xenon ship — even if it may be a weaker one — at the very start is a bit silly, and makes me think a bit of the Skyrim dragons — certain things need to be badarse all the time, even if a player has just started, otherwise you’re throwing lore out the window and making more baws hardcore veteran players disappointed.
Later on, Plutarch destroyers and minefields are murderous, especially when you have Plutarch destroyers in minefields. That is the reason quicksave was birthed into the galaxy, they knew this day would come. !@#$ing Plutarch. Hate ‘em.
With a few more patches, combat should be real good if they fix some of the exploits and such up.
Now, something I’ve also heard is that people are disliking the weapon variety that the game currently has. Minded, most of these people played for a whole five hours, so I’m not sure how qualified they are, but the weapons seem cool enough to me, and there is A SPACE SHOTGUN. SPACE. SHOTGUN. What more do you need? Let me just repeat that in case you didn’t get it. They took space, right? And then they added shotguns to it, kk? The variety you need is right there. Space and shotgun.
The scanning is awesome, by the way. This would be amazing in a multiplayer game, as pinging giant blue Gatorade radar waves to find gold nuggets and missiles floating is space is epic. Imagine if you got to hunt down space nooblets this way. Again, my opinion, and those who have another one are probably thinking of it as “I’m holding R, this is boring” and not as how I see it. My perspective is cooler, IMO.
I think this is a really cool way to make money, and is immersive, as I mean GATORADE BLUE RADAR MISSILE GOLD NUGGET MINING SCAVENGING IN SPAAAAAAACE, but in my free play game, I feel there should be a bit more variety to ways to make money, as you run out of things to blue radar ping eventually, and you can get tired of it. There are some simple things they can do to open the gate wider for more things to do at the start, which should be easy.
I do feel that they should open up the ability to buy ships other than capital ships, even though later you’re really only going to deal with capital ships and the various commanders and officers on them. From what I’ve heard from modders looking in the code, and playing the game, I feel like this isn’t a feature they left out fully intentionally, but they just didn’t put in. Should be simple-ish for either modders or EgoSoft, or Egosoft using the modders.
There are not currently actual capital ship bridges to be on. This is disappoint. Still, all the tech and programming is there to do it, all they really need is some 3D models and the code to position those according to the capital ships.
The capital battles look amazing, and having bridges would just be pewpewtacular.
Just on a side note: I wish you could talk to Yisha whenever you wanted, just have some simple dialogue options with her, make her feel more… co-pilotey. Also looking forward to them adding the ability for Yisha to fly the ship, which should’ve been in in the first place, but whatever. Bernd has acknowledged that adding this is likely. (“Dog, we’ve had enough YISHA! NO MORE NPC TALKING” I mostly Agree, but being that Yisha is one of the few semi-decent looking and semi-interesting NPCs, I want to learn backstory while my capital ships are noclipping asteroids)
DOG KNOWS HOW TO BUILD EMPIRES (ON THE BACKS OF NOCLIPPING FREIGHTERS) [EMPIRE MANAGEMENT REVIEW]
Essentially in free play you either have to do missions or space-scavenge to get your money to buy ships and stations. Needs more variety for the start, they probably assumed you’d just play story-mode anyways, in which case you are given big ships to start with. But the story can be hard to continue sometimes, and can get bugged and stuck, which is the game’s way of giving you replay value. I’m kidding, they’ve patched most of the big craptasticular bugs (put that in your Wiktionary and smoke it) that halt your story.
Trading… well, when it works as intended, the new system is really cool. You don’t actually have to be at a station to trade with it, you can just fly by it to collect the trade orders, and then compare the best ones and accept them later for your ships to carry out. Making profits is much less complicated, but still deep. The interface is good-ish and simple-ish relatively, I think, but it is horribly incomplete in many ways. That is to say, the overall meta-design is good, but the implementation at lower levels can be clunky and really uninformative, while still managing to be complicated. EgoSoft has stated they will be overhauling the interface, and again, this was something to be expected from X, although maybe not quite in the console-controller-ified direction which it has taken.
The radial menu design is fine, I like radial menus, but it doesn’t work smoothly for any of the control styles. There’s a strange delay between pressing things, which the menu would be fast and useful if they got rid of that, which should be very simple to do. They also recently added a button to cancel trade orders, but it’s hidden down in your captain menus. They need to move this to the trading menu.
Empire management is actually more automated in many ways now, and yes, you can build empires. Many X3 players will remember CAGs. Those are pretty much what you have now, in the form of managers. You can hand command of ships over to them, and they’ll micromanage stuff for you, and ones with better management skills will do it more efficiently. I think it’s a real neat idea.
In a way, they’ve traded in micromanagement in the earlier part of the game to have better large-scale management in the later part of the game. As this is definitely not apparent until many many many hours into the game, this has caused quite a ruckus in the X community. Empire building is there, it’s got a cooler idea to it now. Upgrades for interfaces and commands will make it all the better in the future.
The corporations seem to legitimately be dynamic and you can see the shipyards build the freighter and military fleets. The plot also tells you that you can blow up shipyards to stop a company from producing ships. That’s a big problem that previous X games had that is now fixed. Endgame involves messing other corporation’s lives over!
It irked me when building complexes in X3. First, because I’m magically the only one who can; they are hard as fuddles to align properly, and they sorta look cool, but sorta don’t, and your ships run into them way too much. All of these problems are fixed, as now stations are built on predetermined and pre-aligned points in space, the AI is better sometimes, and they took collision damage out, which is the main thing.
They are improving upon the AI quite a bit in the patches, and trading will be a bit less of a headache as they’re adding commands and fixing clunky AI issues.
The Good, the Bad, and the Futhermucking Plutarch (Summary)
This is not X4 in the sense that it’s all the old stuff but more of it. It is X4 in that it is the fourth major game revision in the series, and I’d say is an improvement in overall design, but the implementation needs some smoothing over. Also, this game is indeed X, even if it doesn’t look like it on the top, it does have all the main things that you want from an X game. How about that, another new X game that is missing features entirely and is buggy as heck. It’s pretty impressive as it is, though, especially as it is made by twenty guys. “It took them 7 years to make this? Pftt this sucks” Yes, what have you achieved in seven years. The tech is amazing. Twenty guys did that. They are the Space Germans.
Essentially, this is the new X3: Reunion. The forum posts and reviews on release of that are word for word the same as with Rebirth. X3 later became the greatest thing since X2 (lol anticlimax buziotchkins). I do think this game is pretty good already, but German Spaceship Universe Battle Paradises aren’t built in a day. As they’ve done the hard work to make this tech, and now that they have resources from people buying it, they can now keep not only updating it, but upgrading it with new features, and with both EgoSoft releasing almost daily patches, and the modding community, this game will become a masterpiece relatively quickly. Relatively, I said. Calm it.
I really want to emphasize this: the game is incomplete and half-done just like previous X games. I don’t think this is a reason to worry.”Oh nonooonon this is different they sunk the U-Boat this time Charlie Brown” This seems like business as usual for EgoSoft, that’s how they do it.
When you look at this game, you should look at it for what it is. It isn’t X4, with all of the jumbled features of previous games copy-pasted over and added on top of. On the other hand, this game has everything important in an X game, with more, and done cleaner (sometimes). Sure, it has a lot of bugs, and I mean a lot, and missing features too (oh my). Did X3 not have that? Does X3 have that now? (Dog, X3 still has bugs *facepalm*) This will be fixed much faster than X3 I believe, the game is already good if you look at it for what it is, give it some slack and have some patience.
You know what? You want more commands, you heard there weren’t trade commands and you can’t build an empire and you can’t AFK and play this game like a Farmville with good graphics in space. You can build an empire, there are commands, and EgoSoft has already agreed to add more. They have agreed to add just about every big feature that you guys want. Yeah, they should have slapped a “beta” on the end of the name, but really most people on the internet don’t know what “beta” means anyways (the other unknown word on the internet being “opinion”). EgoSoft is twenty Space Germans, they’ve been working on it for seven years, they needed resources at some point.
TL;DR (Dog is Long Winded)
This game is incomplete, but the designs are really good; welcome to the new age, Imagine Dragons; support the Space Germans.
On a fully serious note, I think you should be patient with this game. Do not write this off as EgoSoft sinking themselves, this is business as usual for EgoSoft, look at the history of all previous X games. They did what they could on the resources they had. They had to came up for air with a beta or even alpha product. They should’ve told us it was alpha or beta, but I think the general community effect would be the same. I disagree that the problems are deep-seated design issues and the entire design is flawed and OMFG gurgleomlettez.
The designs are better than previous games, fix the giant problems of the past such as static and indestructible economies and military strengths, and reopen exploration in a space game. Space is good for three main things: exploration, mining and building, and pew pew. It has all of those things.
Many of the features people think aren’t there actually are there, they’re just done differently and have different requirements than before. X games take more than five, ten, or even fifty hours to understand, you guys should know this. I have taken my time and given my opinion, this is it.
EgoSoft will fix it up, but to be honest, I don’t think this game is far from being really good, it’s just an alpha stage so the things that would make it really good don’t work quite right yet. They’re all relatively simple things to fix, and EgoSoft has learned from previous games. Everything X is here, but it is not X3: Albion Afterlife Burger Joint Rocket Palace the Third.
The designs are not bad, the implementations are bad (but not always). Implementations can be fixed.
G’night all, and I hope I’ve given you a bit wider perspective on the game.
Also, I will be again doing another edition of my DERP Humble Merchant guides based on feedback from Mr Brightside and other nice people, and perhaps continuing the series and updating the other guides. Thanks for all the views, and I’m glad I was able to help people get into X3 a bit better.
Also, I’m using a new score system for reviews, as from reading reviews of games on other places, the readers get really freaked-out by numerical ratings for whatever reason, and really numbers aren’t accurate in many many ways for games anyhow.