X3: Albion Prelude’s Sumptuous Spacestuff

By Adam Smith on December 15th, 2011 at 5:01 pm.

Space is the place

Hang on. I just need to move all this space to one side to make space for more space. X3: Albion Prelude is a just released expansion pack for X3, bridging the gap to X: Rebirth, which should be with us early next year. The storyline of clashing corporations leads into Rebirth and there are new stations and ships to play around with. That’s why I’m posting this, to be honest, to share pictures of all the glorious new stuff that’s floating about up there. X3 is a beautiful game, one that it’s easy to admire both in motion and stasis. So sit back and feast your eyes.

Click for bigger versions, all of which inform you that Albion Prelude is ON STEAM NOW. What they don’t tell you is that it costs £9.99 unless you have the X SuperBox, in which case you should have received it for free. If you want some X but don’t have any, buy the Terran War Pack for £19.99 and you’ll get Albion Prelude for free.


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76 Comments »

  1. The Greatness says:

    The perfect excuse to reinstall this mesmerising and utterly absorbing game. I reinstalled when the news of this came out and I’d forgotten just how much I loved it.

    EDIT: Hold on, how do I get hold of it if I don’t have the Steam version of X3?

    • Kelron says:

      If you have retail Terran Conflict or Superbox you can use the key to activate it on Steam.

    • Adam Smith says:

      The upcoming Mac version will be standalone apparently. Trying to get confirmation if there will also be a non-Steam version for PC at the same time.

      Also, see previous comment.

    • Knufinke says:

      You can activate it on steam? Shit, i just bought it twice. Oh well…

    • Desmolas says:

      Aww man, I just created an account to be your night in shining armour The Greatness…but Kelron helped you out first.

    • Siegfried says:

      looking forward to the more dynamic War mechanics and Graphic options but am still waiting for for steam to give me my free copy

    • The Greatness says:

      Oh cool, thanks Kelron (add almost Desmolas). Unfortunately that now means that this expansion will be added to the huge list of stuff I need to download on Steam, since I now need to download the entire game before I can play it.

      EDIT: Apparently there will be a retail version of the expansion released on the 24th of Febuary, which sounds like a long way away.
      http://www.egosoft.com/x/xnews/201112_2_44News.html

    • nimrod123 says:

      you can copy your retail install into the steam apps folder make sure it follows the naming convention (this i don’t know) and then tell steam to install, it will check which files you have and download those you don’t

  2. HoosTrax says:

    This series is really not for the faint of heart, probably the steepest learning curve of any game I’ve ever played, surpassing sims like IL-2 and FSX, but very engrossing if you can get into it.

    X series is to space shooters, as FSX/Falcon is to HAWX/Ace Combat.

    Kind of wish I could use my TrackIR set with the game though (afaik it wasn’t supported in X3: Reunion, not sure if that’s still the case with the two newer games).

    • Kelron says:

      TrackIR support is one of the features added here.

      http://forum.egosoft.com/viewtopic.php?t=311327

    • Zenicetus says:

      The only complicated thing about the game is figuring out the huge underlying spreadsheet that runs the economy, and learning how to set up and run your business interests.

      Just my opinion, but the flying in space part of the game is one of the most simplistic and boring things I’ve ever seen in a game of this type. The sectors are small, the speeds are capped very slow, and the AI in combat isn’t very good. I’ll give credit to the art direction though: The ships look very good from the outside (no cockpit to look at from the inside).

      I’m hoping the upcoming re-write of the game engine in Rebirth will rekindle my interest. The current version is a fascinating mix of great graphics sitting on top of a very creaky underlying game engine.

    • meatshit says:

      It’s a great game, but I can’t stand to play it because of the UI. It isn’t quite Dwarf Fortress levels of bad, but it’s in the same ballpark. After sinking a good 25 hours into it and building a small trade empire, I gave up on it because I realized I was spending more time fighting the interface than actually having fun.

      I just hope Egosoft improves the UI for Rebirth, because the core gameplay really is compelling.

    • Fiatil says:

      It’s really not that hard, like everyone else is saying it’s just a matter of cracking the UI. Terran Conflict at least made it a lot more mouse friendly which went a long way towards making it more usable, but either way it just takes some time to get familiar with all of the many many buttons that can be pressed. The combat is really easy to learn because it doesn’t have realistic physics or anything. Some people seem to think this makes it boring, but I love it because of all of the variety and scale the game provides. You can pilot (and have in your fleet) anything from a tiny scout ship up to a gigantic dreadnought destroyer ship or a carrier full of all of the little ships you used to pilot.

      The economy’s probably the most tricky system to learn, but it’s one of the coolest features once you get it worked out. You can definitely play the game without bothering with it though; you wont have your own factories to pump out a reliable supply of weapons but there are plenty of NPC stations that can do the same thing, just a bit pricier. I love playing as a privateer stealing enemy ships and just selling them off, and it’s a great way to make cash. Of course supporting that with your own automated merchant fleet and factory system is even cooler.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      Tried X3 a year ago, beautiful looking game, but found it almost impossible to actually play. Anyone who spends that much time on graphics and back end really has no excuse for such a horrid GUI.

    • Kelron says:

      If you’ve tried X before and bounced off the UI, wait and see what Rebirth does. It’s a new game and a new engine and they claim to be building it with accessibility in mind.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The speed going through sectors is a lot faster if you crank up the hyperdrive speed in the options. I was a little annoyed too at first.

  3. diamondmx says:

    Anyone else having trouble with the GameStop/Impulse X3 Gold key not working on steam?
    The newsletter said it should work…

    • magnus says:

      I bought it on steam and so I don’t even have a key!

    • JiminyJickers says:

      I’ve got X3 Gold and used the key without any troubles on Steam.

      I am in New Zealand though, but my copy was imported from overseas, so I’m not sure if it will be the same version as the Gamestop one.

      Edit:
      Sorry didn’t read properly and saw the “/Impulse” part, I have the box version while you obviously have the digital version.

    • diamondmx says:

      It turns out that X3 Gold, if you bought it before, doesn’t include Albion for free.
      It seemed like it should, as X3 Gold on Steam now, is Reunion, TC, Albion.
      Alas.

      PS: X3 TC key works fine, was just expecting the Gold key to work too.

    • JiminyJickers says:

      Ah sweet, yeah the key on my manual only is for TC so I used that for steam and bought Albion Prelude separately.

      You only get AP for free if you bought the Superbox, I believe.

    • yonsito says:

      I’m having trouble too.
      I can’t register my key from Impulse with Steam. I also cannot register my key with egosoft so I cannot post in the technical forum. Bit of a pity.
      I believe my Impulse key is too long for Steam.

    • magnus says:

      Sorted, it’s now appears in my library tab.

  4. Dana says:

    Sexiest outer space in Video Games.

  5. The Tupper says:

    Wow – this franchise has always been on the periphery of my awareness, but I’ve never tried it out. It looks awesome.

    • Ringwraith says:

      It’s definitely a space sim, with a fairly robust economic model so you can make a manufacturing empire to fund your fleet (or even just equip them).
      It’s also got really nice combat, (which is what I play it for myself), mostly due to the challenge as you have no special advantages to being the player other than having a brain (although that can be a drawback). It makes taking out patrols of ships alone or even a massive TL-class transport and its fighter escort with a single M3 heavy fighter all the more satisfying.

    • The Tupper says:

      Sounds like my kind of game. Will add it to the wish list.

  6. Drake Sigar says:

    I’ll probably ask around on the forum sometime because this is all very confusing to someone who has never played a game in the X series. I don’t even fully understand what it is – a third person space exploration game, a strategy, an empire builder?

    • Ringwraith says:

      It’s a space sim, you are a person who flies ships and can eventually command a fleet, (although it’s still done from a single-person perspective, you can could command a fleet from your massive carrier or a little scout vessel), and possibly even dozens of factories to provide income or weapons to run it.
      Of course the being a person thing means you have to avoid being killed.

    • LintMan says:

      “ll probably ask around on the forum sometime because this is all very confusing to someone who has never played a game in the X series. I don’t even fully understand what it is – a third person space exploration game, a strategy, an empire builder?”

      The X series is basically a space trader/combat sim in the vein of Elite, Privateer or Freelancer, with the economic aspects turned up to 11. It’s an open sandbox game where you can start wiht a single tiny ship and build an economic empire, owning not just fleets of ships, but mining facilities, manufacturing complexes, and starbases. You only pilot one ship at a time, but can assign AI pilots to run automated trade routes for you, provide escorts to your freighters, fighters for your carriers, etc. The economy is dynamic so prices fluctuate based on a supply/demand model.

      On the space sim side, there’s a good variety of ship types, weapons and add-ons you can loadout on all your ships. You can capture ships and sell them or reverse engineer them so you can build more of that model. You can dock with assorted bases to buy trade goods or ship upgrades and pick up a variety of different mission types. Combat itself can be financially rewarding, so you’re not forced to do trading to make money. The universe is fairly dynamic, so you might enter a system only to discover the base you were planning to trade with is under attack or has even been destroyed.

      The learning curve for the game is pretty steep, but the game has a great, helpful community in general, and volumes of documentation about how aspects of the game work, it you’re willing to do the research on it. The game is also extensively moddable with tons of great and useful mods, and community tools and support,

      I bought X3: Terran Conflict off the bargain bin in a store, knowing little about it, and not expecting much, but then ended up playing it for the next 4-6 months (most games for me last less than the week or two it takes me to play through it once). The biggest flaw for me was the story-based part. Once I had my fill of sandbox-building my economic empire and got onto the main plot, it felt a biit perfunctory and left me kinda flat. Buy it more for the open sandbox than the story.

    • Ringwraith says:

      That’s put better than I ever could.

      Although I will say the plot is something that probably should be done alongside your wealth-building exploits, as the missions get tougher and often require you to have more resources to be able to tackle them. They also give you some useful free stuff, like in Reunion they give you a Jump Drive fairly early on for free, as well as acting as a tutorial for it.

  7. Blackcompany says:

    I asked about this game the other day. I am on the fence about it, with that little Dragon-killing game out and all. But I am interested.
    .
    I understand the X games are simple ‘space dogfighters’ and all…that they are more strategic games. Which is what interests me the most. Getting a little tired of action-oriented, hack and slash games to be honest, and wondering if this would be a nice break from those. Sounds like it would.

    • Joshua says:

      Its really a space sandbox. With a plot in it, sure. But it mainly involves – Here’s a ship. There are many of it, this one is yours. Use it to amass a fortune.

    • Blackcompany says:

      So we have an open world/galaxy sandbox game where you are given one ship to begin, and asked to amass your own fortune. Making your own way in the Verse while you are it it. Think I could get into that.
      .
      Now if I could just find that Firefly class boat I was looking for….

    • chabuhi says:

      I’ll say this about the X series: If you were annoyed by travel times in EVE, then this is probably not the game for you. There is a hotkey to accelerate time, but without it there will be times that you can run out for a bite to eat and still not be at your destination when you return.

      I loved the original X, never played 2, and was pleasantly surprised to even know 3 existed when I happened across it a couple of years ago. It’s really deep and fun, but you do have to work pretty hard for it at times (imo).

    • Fiatil says:

      Travel time would only be a big deal if you were crazy enough not to use SATA (time compression) when you travel. Add in the fact that you get jumpdrives (teleport to any known sector/station) pretty early on and movement’s not tough at all

  8. Dreamhacker says:

    RPS, how about a “Tachyon: The Fringe” retrospective? This seems a good time.

  9. dingbat91 says:

    is…is the second to last image a star destroyer!?!

    • The Greatness says:

      I don’t know, but I want it.

    • diamondmx says:

      I don’t know, but the third image has a creepy staring face.

    • vecordae says:

      I got spammed! Oh well.

      It’s a Kyoto-class super destroyer. It’s a Terran USC vessel and it has all of the guns and shields. All of them. It costs about 140 mil and is available at the moon. There’s also a new Terran light carrier, but I’ve not yet seen it.

      There’s another pic of the Kyoto available on the egosoft forums, but attempting to link you directly to it fires off the spam filter.

  10. Bodminzer says:

    I have never played an X game in my life, but those screenshots make my heart hurt. My two favorite space games are, unsurprisingly, Freespace 2 and Freelancer. Which of those two is this most similar to? Or is it more in the ‘pretty space stuff undercut by excel sperginess’ of EVE?Please tell me one of the former.

    • squareking says:

      Closer to Freelancer. There’s a main plot to follow, but you’re free to do whatever you’d like, really. It’s very possible you’ll bounce off of it at first thanks to an unfriendly UI with buried commands and features, but like most things, once you’re used to it…

      I’ve played TC for about 8 hours and I’m just getting the hang of it. I strongly recommend you start out with CdrDave’s walkthrough:

    • Levanon says:

      It won’t scratch the FS2 itch at all, but it’s a lot like Freelancer, taken to the third next level or so.
      It’s the only game I’ve ever played where you can wander around looking at pretty things, command a vast military, operate a network of trading ships that keep the (basically supply + demand) economy running, and own a vast production empire geared either towards profit or keeping your military in missiles and equipment. Oh, you can also make big explosions.

      As such, it’s a ridiculously complex game, and the UI will still make you curse even after dropping hundreds of hours into it. It’s also very much a love it or hate it kind of game. If FS2 is the pinnacle of space games for you, X might not do the trick. If you love Elite, Privateer, Freelancer, etc, then there’s a pretty good chance that you might get into it.

      Really, it’s the ultimate sandbox. It’s the DF of space games. While the actual combat can be a little dry (personally I enjoy X combat, especially in Albion), it’s everything else that makes the game special for me. Flying into battle in a Frigate that I stole in an epic mission that resulted in the loss of my oldest, best marine, undocking my fighter wing that was produced entirely by my own factories, and defending my space weed grow-op from an enemy task force is immensely more satisfying than almost anything else in gaming.

  11. Levanon says:

    I only had an hour or so worth of energy to play this after its surprise release last night, but I have to say my jaw dropped when I saw the game in motion. The screens/trailer do not do it justice at all. I wasn’t expecting such a step up from TC, but it really does look incredibly good.

    So far, I also have to say that the space fighting feels way more impressive. So far I’ve just been cruising around the Argon/Terran front, but I’ve already seen and taken part in some pretty big skirmishes. If the war is truly as dynamic as it seems it will be, I’ll be mighty impressed. Haven’t played with the stock exchange much yet, but it sounds like it could make for some pretty great fun in terms of corporate dickery.

    Egosoft is by far one of my favourite devs. I’ve been waiting for Rebirth for god knows how long, so was relatively gutted when they announced it had been delayed. Fast forward a week or so, I say “might as well start a new TC game, why not try out the the XTC mod while I’m at it.” That night Egosoft put up a new article, “By the way, we’re releasing a new game, with all this new stuff, and it’s coming out a week from now, so that you have something to play until Rebirth.”

    I mean, seriously. And releasing it as an expansion/free to superbox users is great. I have boxed copies of all the game, and only a few on Steam, so I had to pay 10 bucks for it. But still. They could have easily tried harder to milk money out of this. As it is, they’ve given a bunch of stuff to a lot of people, out of nowhere.

  12. Silver says:

    Adam Smith: They said they haven’t yet decided on the retail version (Q12012)being steam or non-steam! (I read the forums and noticed this yesterday, but u can try to ask from them of course, maybe some update)
    since there is quite a number of anti-steam people, I think they just might do it also non-steam just for fans.

    I downloaded expansion, started to play, what can I say:

    GRAPHICS are bit better/more beautiful, actually they were really nice in X3:TC also, but little tweaking and upgrading, besides my old graphic card couldn’t handle those on X3TC.

    But I was stunned and just watched spaceships floating around /target them and then hit F3)
    Even Crysis 2 didn’t have this effect for me, but I’m geek fer space etc.

    Seems promising, I had to quit after one hour of play because being up all night and studying for exam took all my energy, I recharged myself with 4hours of sleep and I’m fresh to start.

    Haven’t taken any arrow in the knee yet, so I might be a professional dogfighting pilot.. but if unpreventable happens I’ll be a trading mogul in my own right!

    P.S. Terran Commander doesn’t have plot quests, but others do. but playing Argon Defender or what is and Terran Commander u’ll get some updates of ongoing war!

  13. rustybroomhandle says:

    Bought! Eeeeep, 8 hours to download. Oh well.

    Could not activate my TC on Steam, but thas ok, did not mind buying the combo box – I really like these guys. Might have been from the time the patch notes for X3:reunion said “removed all DRM”… or maybe it’s because of all the free stuff they kept giving out over the years.

    And now that my Skyrim binge is nearing an end, it’s nice to have another open-world game to get into.

  14. Silver says:

    this:

    CBJ wrote:
    Actually that’s a slight error in the newsletter. We don’t yet have a final decision on whether Steam activation will be required.

    P.S.

    1.”Right now you can’t get the PHQ in X3AP, but we have plans for that.”
    2.”Useful Hulls”
    3.Now the Gauss Cannon has a real use on capitals.
    4. New script commands.

    seems really promising, sorry I’m now going to spacestalk some teladi now for some space weed.

  15. AmateurScience says:

    …but the most pressing question is: Have they put cockpits back in?

  16. deadly.by.design says:

    These games always look so pretty and tempting … and then I realize they’re not Freespace 3.

  17. HexagonalBolts says:

    Are there any reviews of it or has anyone played it extensively?

  18. mbp says:

    I started a new game of X3:Reunion a few weeks back. It has all the depth that people say it has but the user interface was very unwieldy with important commands buried in non intuitive menus. I remember difficult user interfaces were a feature of almost every German game of that period (the Gothic games for example) it is almost as if it was deliberate.

  19. armaankhan says:

    According to Steam, this is “Controller Enabled”. Does that mean I can play with my Xbox 360 controller? If so, I’ll buy it, because I’ve been looking for a decent open-”world” space sim with good Xbox controller support for a long time now.

    • armaankhan says:

      Yeah, I’d read that a while ago. I guess I should have specified that I’m looking for something with native Xbox controller support, so I don’t have to fiddle around with trying to configure controls for myself, or put up with being unable to fully use all the controller’s buttons/triggers/axes.

    • cederic says:

      Your post made me download and try AP.. it has controller support but the default mapping frankly sucks – e.g. the X and Y buttons step through targetable objects, rather than one of them being “Target the item in the reticle” and the other being “Target nearest enemy”, nothing is mapped by default to ‘roll’ (rather than pitch/yaw), it didn’t look like anything was set to ‘match speed to target’ (or even max speed, full stop or increase/decrease speed).

      So it’s supported, but work required to map the bugger.

  20. jonfitt says:

    I played X3: reunion a bit, but always bounced off before I got too deep in, I found the story missions annoying (no mid-mission save), and the trading got too complex (setting up AI trading routes was obtuse).
    .
    Is Albion the one to get me in to the series?

  21. kio says:

    First picture has a warpgate… Still not interested in this series. Having warpgates named after the cardinal directions is so incredibly abhorrent to the concept of a space sim that I can’t bring myself to get invested in the series (not that that’s the only problem).

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Funny you say that as one of the reasons Rebirth is named so is that it’ll be ditching the warp gates for Freelancer style accelerator-powered highways and much larger sectors.

      I don’t care about this addon. I’m more interested to see what Rebirth will bring.

    • vecordae says:

      The most abhorrent thing about space sims is how unrealistic all the other bits are. Warp gates arbitrarily arranged on compass points isn’t nearly as damning to my suspension of disbelief as humanoid aliens, WWII-styled naval combat in space, energy shields, super-luminal speeds, and radiation bursts that don’t immediately cook all life out of my space ship once I pass the Oort cloud and get out into proper interstellar space.

      I demand that it take YEARS to get anywhere and that’s only if I spent the GDP of half of the nations of earth creating a single-man vessel to actually carry me there. I want the looming threat of micro-meteor impacts. I want to get a beep in seventeen years that tells me I can start decelerating my video game space ship and another beep two years later telling me I can start docking procedures. I want to end the game a grizzled old man who barely remembers anything outside the cramped metal tube I spent the majority of my life in. Of course, no one makes proper space sims anymore.

    • DogKiller says:

      Harpoon in space. Somebody needs to make that happen.

    • Nate says:

      I can understand considering faster-than-light travel abhorrent to the idea of a space sim– but warpgates? If you’re going to have FTL (which just about any space game has), warpgates don’t strike me as a particularly egregious implementation.

      Nor does anything having to do with cardinal directions rub me wrong. As far as we can tell, the interesting bits of solar systems are roughly planar. Hell, cardinal directions fit outer space better than they fit Earth (where we get anomalies like the poles, places where cardinal directions stop making sense).

    • kio says:

      Whether space is planar or not (not) is irrelevant because of the scales the game is played on. A sector of space in X is usually only about 10,000-100,000 km2 (or equivalent of km3, but there’s usually not much variance on the z axis). That’s about the size of a small country like Austria.

      I don’t really have a problem with the use of warpgates in a space sim, but it’s the way they’ve insisted on using them throughout the entire series. They make space feel so incredibly small and crowded. If I’m playing a pirate, I don’t feel like I’m catching people in the dark corners of the universe where no one can help them, I feel like I’m mugging someone in a dark alley because I can see with the naked eye a law enforcement ship floating around in the sector.

      Supposedly when you go through a warpgate you’re traveling anywhere from a couple to millions of light years, but you’d never feel that in game. I’d much prefer Freelancer or I-War2 style travel. Actually, just about any other space sim does it better in my opinion.

  22. DogKiller says:

    I have X3 Reunion and X3 TC (bought them cheap) and have never gotten round to playing them. I probably should now, because this looks very cool. Is it worth buying and playing the original ones first? I hear they’re generally fairly stand alone, but I don’t want to miss anything too important if I skip the originals. Thanks.

    • vecordae says:

      The story itself isn’t what you’re playing these games for. I’d recommend getting right to Terran Conflict since you own that one already. It’s got big gobs of ships and lots to do. If you enjoy it, then I’d recommend plunking down the extra money-bits for Albion Prelude.

      Also, Terran Conflict’s UI is a bit easier to use than Reunion’s.

  23. MrBRAD! says:

    So they’re using some of the hyped-up assets they’ve just recently made for the upcoming game, in a half-baked expansion for the current game?

    Smart ploy. RPS’ers will lap this one up for sure.

  24. Nate says:

    These screenshots remind me of the joy of making beautiful space craft in Galactic Civilizations. Shame that for all the effort I put into those, it never had any game effect.

  25. sonofsanta says:

    Oh dear god – from where I’m sitting, that looks like an awful lot like a single player Eve, i.e. an Eve that would fit around my life, i.e. IT WILL EAT MY LIFE, IT WILL EAT ALL OF IT

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