Afterbirth – X: Rebirth Adds Some Requested Features

By John Walker on February 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am.

Poor old Craigypops. He was so looking forward to X: Rebirth. But wot he got was a buggy mess of a poorly conceived game, and one in such a state he couldn’t see a way out for the project. Developers Egosoft are hoping otherwise, and have released a trailer explaining the fixes and changes that are new in the next patch.

With a minuscule metascore of 33, and not a single mark out there reaching even 5/10, it’s fair to say that X:Rebirth has been at the very least a critical disaster. Players haven’t been too delighted either. The developers say they are “listening to feedback”. That can’t be fun.

The game’s getting a logbook, so people can keep track of what’s going on, and improvements to trading information. They’ve also brought in X3′s target locking, which apparently a lot of people were asking for.

However, it’s hard to imagine how small tweaks like these can save the game. The issue seems to go a lot deeper here, and it does seem like they may want to consider focusing their efforts on X5, rather than trying to salvage something from this wrecked ship. Is the above enough to have you consider giving it another chance?

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76 Comments »

  1. BobbyDylan says:

    I can’t imagine anyone would be interested in playing this again. I’m not sure what steam statistics say, but I’m pretty sure no one would care if Egosoft just let this one die.

    • Sharlie Shaplin says:

      It’s not pretty viewing. It seems like their efforts might be in vain.

      http://steamcharts.com/app/2870#All

    • Maxheadroom says:

      Must be pretty soul destroying working for Egosoft right now.

      They were toiling away on this for what, 7 years? Now they’re working (presumably) full time to appease a player base of around 350 people thats dwindling lower every day.

      They’re not a big company and I wouldnt be surprised if they went under after this, which would be a huge shame.

      • kevmscotland says:

        I agree, would be a real shame if we were to lose them.
        But I think to be fair that X-Rebirth might have gone down a lot better, even with its current feature set, had that feature set worked out of the gate.

        The sad truth is it was the general terrible state the game launched in that put a lot of people off.
        I liked the way it played, but I kept running into show stopping bug after show stopping bug and with other stuff coming out all the time and steam sales stacking up my library with stuff I’ve never even got around to installing, I just didn’t have the time or patience to stick with it.

        Had it been 10 years ago when you were more likely to buy maybe a game or two a month more gamers would stick with broken stuff like this to both fill their time and squeeze their moneys worth out of it, but these days its pretty cut throat.

      • frightlever says:

        Except it pre-sold bigger than any of their previous games thanks to a lot of hype, fuelled in part by RPS but mainly by over-inflated player expectation.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I can’t help but flinch a bit when people attempt to blame the media for “causing people to pre-order”. I was utterly wetting my pants over how good X-Rebirth looked, but EVERY preview I read stated it was a limited slice of the overall gameplay, and the descriptions of the ‘to be added’ features were lacking flesh. The truth is that people needed to learn their lesson that pre-orders are simply a great way to spend money for no appreciable gain. You didn’t even get any extra content for pre-ordering X:R IIRC. Many people got burned by it, and IMO they NEEDED to be.

          Yes, RPS got sucked into it too and were given a tightly stage managed tour of the game. Their reservations were not as strongly stated as they might have been. But we cannot blame them for our not being able to just wait a tiny bit longer for a review. As a result Egosoft made great money out of impatience.

      • Stardreamer says:

        What Frightlever said is my impression as well. This sold fairly well. However, it is a huge mess – I’m certainly not going near it without evidence of a major overhaul, which the Mod community could conceivably deliver but certainly not quickly. Rebirth completely failed to address the fundamental complaints of the X series of pretty space-themed Capitalism Simulators whilst adding a host of shockingly bad design decisions that make previous series entries look inspired by comparison.

        With E:D, Limit Theory, SC, Paragon and others on the way and consistently wowing gamers Egosoft have pretty much squandered their only chance to remain relevant as a space-sim developer; they’re now most likely to be remembered only as the company who got space fans through the dark times. Only the most devoted of their already tiny niche are going to remain loyal to them after this.

      • Quixadhal says:

        It is indeed a shame. Fans of the X series are used to their games being buggy and I rather expected it to be hard to play for months after launch… but this is the first time Egosoft has developed their product in a vacuum, or at least decided to totally ignore all the feedback from their beta community.

        They’ve tried doing things that were not successful before, but in previous games they seemed to listen to the feedback and change (or even reverse) bad decisions before it got to launch, or shortly thereafter. I can only assume that this time around Bernd (sorry for spelling it wrong) forced his ideas through and ordered the devs to do it his way regardless of what anyone else said.

        I started playing X back in 2002, ordering X-Tension (X-Gold by then) directly from Germany because it sounded exactly like what I wanted… a game that felt like the old “Elite”, but had modern graphics. I was not dissapointed, and spent many hours playing it. X2 didn’t thrill me as much, but I loved X3. But Rebirth… what really astonished me was how Bernd said he wanted people to spend time playing instead of waiting for things to happen in SETA, and yet I spent most of my time doing mindless walking around on stations or fighting with the menu system, rather than actually playing the game part of the game.

        Exchanging people sitting idle in SETA for having to do “busy work” is not a way to make people enjoy the game more.

      • overthere says:

        Given the state of the game, the time taken and the history of delays horribly bugged releases that we tolerated would it not be better in the long run to say this studio just can’t make the game they want to make. Surely its better for people to move on rather than look back at 7 years of their life and say I was involved in X Rebirth.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I don’t care how soul destroying it is to be working for Egosoft right now. They made that bed, let them lie in it.

        They intentionally walked away from their existing fan base, burning everyone who pre-ordered by not releasing any real preview footage beyond pretty space views. The game is full of clues that it was intended to be a dumbed-down, console only release that was switched in a last minute panic to the PC. Now they’re trying to put a little lipstick on this pig, but it’s still a pig.

        They deserve every bit of derision they’re getting. They earned it.

      • Maxheadroom says:

        I wasn’t against them trying to up their player base, the core ethos of “X but more accessible” was a sound one.

        Even when everyone was shouting about there only being 1 ship I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. I thought it was a bold choice but I figured they knew what they were doing. Maybe they really wanted you to identify with the ship as ‘yours’ (much like the Normandy in Mass Effect).

        But the end result is just such a mess that it’s impossible to even guess what their original intentions were

  2. hideinlight says:

    I’d pay $5 for it.

    • DThor says:

      Seriously, I played several hours on a buddy’s computer and I couldn’t justify the download, let alone five bucks. It was just one of those games that offered zero enjoyment, and a lot of pain. I was hammered by tedious section after pointless exercise over and over, and the final straw hit when I went through another meaningless arcade warp travel and when I exited I ended up stuck *inside* a space station, rattling around, then the manic laughter started…

    • Noumenon says:

      I just paid $6 for the disc version of X3: Terran Conflict and I can highly encourage you to buy that one instead. Just loving the trading and beautiful space landscapes.

  3. KDR_11k says:

    If they defeat Phantoon they can salvage the Gravity Suit from it…

  4. FunnyB says:

    A lot about this game still sounds very awesome. But when you hear about all the bugs, and that it seems generally awkward to play, it really makes me disheartened. And wary.

    And I really liked X3: Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude.

    But goddamn you waste a lot of time playing those games!

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      X3 is amazing. They should have just made a new x3 in a next gen engine and better quests, but all the usual ‘ignore it all and build an empire instead’ left in. It’s a niche product with a niche audience. Making it accessible was the aim that killed the golden goose. Though as others have said they made their pre-money via tightly controlled hype and impossibly pretty previews

      • sinister agent says:

        Making it accessible was the aim that killed the golden goose.

        No, it wasn’t. The games weren’t good because they were inaccessible. They were fun and very interesting but badly designed and extremely obtuse. There is absolutely no reason they couldn’t have made a game that was just as good as their older ones, but also make it less obnoxiously awkward just for its own sake. Even most X fans would agree that it could be done. What they did, however, was plain fuck it up.

        • soldant says:

          Exactly. Every single problem with X3 is traced back to its horrible UI, which they’ve been keeping around since the very first game. The fundamentals (nested menus, with numerical desigations) dates back to the first X game. That’s what made X3 seem so difficult to play – not that the core mechanics are hard to grasp, but that getting information and giving orders in particular was a nightmare.

          They could have solved everything by ripping out the menus, replacing them with a mouse-driven one which also had keyboard shortcuts (instead of a keyboard-driven UI with secondary mouse support), and a RTS-style map for ordering units around. Also removing some of the pointlessly confusing UI options that basically did the same thing except in a limited way. And removing the stupid ‘command software’ commodities.

          Instead, they implemented a UI that offers less information, makes it harder to access by adding more nested menus, and made it work with a gamepad. Ironically it’s even harder to use, and X3:AP had 360 controller support with better freakin’ controls!

  5. amateurviking says:

    It still hurts. Lesson learned though. Not sure I’m ever going to buy a game pre-review without at least a demo.

  6. thefinn says:

    Bugs aside, having to fly around a station with no real reference points (amazing how you can get lost) trying to just unlock every trade deal that’s going on just to SEE if you want to trade there is maddening.

    What is the point to this ?

    If they’d centralise that mess I might be inclined to give it another shot, but as-is the game is just awful.

    1 Ship you get to fly – these guys went all the way back to 1986′s Elite and later Wing commander to get ideas or something, every space game or space sim I can think of in modern times allows for multiple ships to be flown.

    Apart from graphics/engine I cannot see how they didn’t just take about 10 paces backwards in terms of gameplay.
    Wish I could get my money back from valve for this crap.

    • KDR_11k says:

      The first X didn’t allow you to change ships, instead they made the X shuttle compatible with absolutely everything.

      • Heavens says:

        Exactly one of my points. In X:BtF you also only had one ship but you had a ton of upgrades, in X:R it got “dumbed” down imho.

        Also they basically removed trading in the traditional sense, which was always somewhat fun and especially rewarding in the beginning of my playthroughs.

        Which brings me to another issue, the sense of progress. I just don’t feel like doing anything besides following the plot line. I don’t care much about fleets,building, trading or exploring because I simply feel like I don’t need it, it’s a waste of time and a pain in the ass to manage.

        The whole game feels like a cheap console port and nothing like a X game. Why they simply redid all of the good features and went from there eludes me and it seems a lot of X fans too. I’m getting the feeling the people that actually like X:R are either “console-ish” players or people who didn’t really play the X games beside combat.

        Just my opinion and yes I wish they would have spent those 7 years on X4 instead of X:Stillbirth.

  7. MrThingy says:

    The NPCs remind me of Deus Ex. The one that came out in 2000, I mean…

  8. preip says:

    As much as I used to love the X-Series, the problems I have with rebirth are deeply rooted in it’s gameplay. The bugs are certainly annoying, but even if I imagine all of them fixed, the game will still not be fun to play. Sadly no amount of minor changes, maybe even not a bigger addon is very likely to change this.

    I would say the only way to save the series is to start anew and make the game that X Rebirth could, or should, have been.

  9. Taidan says:

    They should take the time to re-work it as a fancy screensaver, I’m sure there’s a market for that kind of thing.

  10. rustybroomhandle says:

    Heck I’ll give it another chance, but not yet. I’ll check back in next year this time.

  11. Correa says:

    Was burned big time on this release and such a major letdown. Unless they go back and undo all the dumb decisions then the game won’t improve even after the bugs have been squashed.

    I’m looking forward to Elite and Star citizen and Limit Theory and hoping after release the games still get a glowing reception so I know which to buy. But all the Elite video’s and people’s reaction to the alpha has really got my hopes up.

    Won’t be any building your own stations or any fleets in the above though I reckon but I still have my past X-series collection to tide me over on steam.

    • EvilLaufter says:

      Hmm? I know there won’t be any fleet stuff in Elite or SC, but I was pretty sure there will be in Limit Theory. The Kickstarter says:

      “Command a Fleet … Or Many.

      When you’ve acquired enough wealth, hire other pilots and purchase more ships. Customize and outfit your fleet with whatever weaponry and equipment you desire, then fly alongside your armada in combat, or send them off to explore, trade, or conquer while you attend to other affairs. No restrictions are placed on the number of ships that you can own. A wealthy player can play the game much like an RTS, achieving victory from afar.

      Build Your Empire.

      Buy or construct buildings on planet surfaces as well as stations in space. Acquire mines, factories, trading outposts, and more. Set up production chains to build guns, munitions, or even new ships. When hauling goods for a profit gets old, why not try manufacturing the goods instead?”

      There’s also an early video that shows fleet stuff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUPKTTsseHQ (skip to 16:30). And that was early in development almost a year ago so I can’t imagine that’s gone. No idea if the space station stuff will be all that good, and the trade stuff might not be as complex as X3, but fleet stuff is there.

  12. dE says:

    There’s some salvage to be gained from this wreck though. The graphics engine is pretty nice in my opinion and there are some interesting ships too. It just seems to me like that’s all there is worthy of salvage.

  13. Jayson82 says:

    Still waiting on X4 never mind X5 this is NOT X4 its just a generic console space game that they decided to slap on X universe lore when the original deal fell through and they wanted to make some cash from it so they decided to strip mine there loyal fans, never mind the massively different design choices its the lack of X universe content that shows its true colours. They where never making a new X game but they quickly came back to there fans to bleed them dry with this fake product when they needed the cash.

    I don’t care if they never make a new X game or if this is some sort of generic console game what I care about is the fact they tried to trick there fans by lying to them. You can trust them ever again sadly.

    • Stardreamer says:

      I’m not sure I would go that far but i do vividly recall the clashes on their forums over X3 Reunion’s troubled launch. They displayed a phenomenal arrogance towards their users that dipped several times into outright rudeness, essentially blaming the PC of every customer for the problems and not their own game. Needless to say, Patch 1.4 arrived after months of trial and error and SUDDENLY the game ran smooth as silk.

      There are some interesting personalities in Egosoft; they chose their name well.

  14. Eukatheude says:

    No, really, feedback is actually pretty good to listen to if it’s live and at appropriate volume.

  15. Caiman says:

    The only thing Egosoft can do now, I think, is concentrate on X4, sell it as the successor to X3: Terran Conflict, and never mention X – Rebirth ever again except at Christmas parties when everyone is either drunk or has gone home.

    I mean seriously, they had to patch in “target lock”? I can’t even begin to imagine the thinking that led to that bone-headed decision. Glad I waited on this one.

  16. Jim Rossignol says:

    Such a shame about this. In principle it was exactly what I wanted from a space game, but it was almost unplayable.

  17. FabriciusRex says:

    I bought this and Rome 2 on pre-order. Never again will I do such a folly thing.

    • sPOONz says:

      Good for you. Pre ordering Empire Total War was my folly. Lets hope more people learn to avoid pre ordering so companies will stop releasing unfinished games. Didn’t RPS do an article that was anti pre ordering? I’d like to see the issue raised more often in the media.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        Buying (not even preordering) Empire sworn me off Total War outside of the bargain bin. Getting shafted with a half-assed game and then told “Well we’re gonna fix it and call it Napoleon, suck it!” doesn’t pass.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Both games were a burn for pre-orders (and yes, I pre-ordered both), but I don’t put them in the same category.

      X:rebirth was an intentional money grab; a classic bait-and-switch that you can only pull off once, on a loyal fan base.

      Rome 2 was released way too early, and it has some crippling design flaws on the campaign side that probably will never be fixed, like the political system and the decision to use 1 turn per year. But the battles are improving, and except for a few people, the stability and frame rates are fine now. I’m basically treating it as a battle simulator, when I need a fix of ancient dudes hitting each other with pointy sticks. There is also an active mod scene. The modders can’t fix the core design flaws, but you can massage the game in various ways to suit how you want to play it.

      At this point, I’d say I got my money’s worth in Rome 2. That will never happen with X:Rebirth because there just isn’t anything there worth playing or patching up.

    • TWChristine says:

      I usually refuse to preorder for this very reason (and I like to play demos first as well), but I think my one exception was the Lego mmo. I ended up getting into the beta before it launched and not only was it nothing like I had hoped it would be, but it was clearly not ready for release. I kept debating on returning the game for a refund before it launched but I wanted to keep the “collectable minifig!” it came with. Not sure if that ended up being worth the price, but maybe someday it’ll be worth millions of monies.

  18. DrollRemark says:

    Things I love about the internet #192534:

    The top user review on the metacritic page reads “When you read all these review, don’t forget that it’s the vocal minority.”

    8 of 114 users found this helpful

    Yes. Vocal minority. That’s how aggregate sites work.

  19. Jertornas says:

    This is one of those games that I wish Steam had a refund policy like Origin. Such a terrible game.

    • overthere says:

      I actually got a refund from Steam for this game, after spending 1/2hr going OMG surely it can’t be this broken.
      Took a number of attempts with the final one being me asking for a legal address that I could reference in small claims court documents.

      For some reason there isn’t a steam achievement for that even though its probably my biggest gaming win!

      • Baines says:

        Valve should add that to their Steam Community achievement stuff…

        Troublemaker 100XP
        “Requested a refund”
        “Received a refund”
        “Submitted a support ticket”
        “Received a non-form response to a support ticket”
        “Had a support ticket resolved to your satisfaction”

        Current number of badge holders: 0

  20. Iskariot says:

    This game is a lost cause.

    I am looking forward to the spacesim that will rule all spacesims: David Braben’s monumental Elite Dangerous.

    I will never need another spacesim again.

  21. Sunjammer says:

    My favorite space sim of all time remains I-War 2. Such immaculate, tactile piracy and beautiful UI.

    I could never get into the X games. I want to though. Can someone explain to me exactly what it is about them that is so great? I have Reunion installed but it’s so artificial-feeling it’s like bumping against a brick wall.

    • overthere says:

      I’d second that just had an atmosphere that sucked you in to its world more than other apparently similar games.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Ditto. I-War 2 is still my favorite cockpit-level space game. It had the best approach I’ve ever seen for combining Newtonian flight physics with enough player control that it never got out of hand, and could be used tactically.

      It was great to do things like trigger active mines that would start chasing me, then I’d accelerate, swivel 180 degrees (without losing velocity) and blast the mines. Flying around a star system felt huge because space was huge in the game. And that was because they let you actually build up speed. None of this nonsense with thrusting continuously and then you hit a magical speed governor that lets you go no faster, like almost every other game out there.

      The only problem I had with the I-War series was the linear mission scripting, with just a little optional piracy on the side. It should have been more open. Still, I salute the developer of that game for trying something different and making it work so well.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      The X games are much more about the empire building than the piloting and fighting. Its being able to construct sector-spanning multi-billion credit valued oligarchies and then wield all that capitalism-purchased fleet muscle via the essentially RTS-like game mechanics.

      Its been said many times that it takes up to a year to see everything the games have, and I can well believe it. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but a slow burning pleasure. Not called Eve Online: Offline for nothing!

  22. LegendaryTeeth says:

    I loved X3:R to AP, and they got pretty bad review scores. Not as low as this though, and it sounds like there are fundamental gameplay problems that are unlikely to be fixed.

    Still, this one is on my radar. If they somehow fix it all, or release X5 or something similar, I’ll be right there with them. Shame though, I was really looking forward to it.

  23. Keyrock says:

    I’m not completely giving up on this game, but the future looks bleak. I’d have no qualms about them scrapping this and concentrating on a proper X4, as this game is messed up right down to the core level. Either way, I’m sticking with Terran Conflict for at least another 3 or 4 months. I’ll think about reinstalling Rebirth at that time.

  24. Chaz says:

    Guess I’ll stick with X2 then.

    • MrThingy says:

      I have very fond memories of X2, it really was an awesome game. I must re-install it and have a retrospective peak.

      Hazy summers, endless captured Pirate Orinokos being ‘farmed’ from Pirate Stations and sent to shipyards for $$$…

  25. Flank Sinatra says:

    I played the X series for years because for the longest time it was the only really decent space sim available. In the next few years we’ll have a new Elite, hopefully Star Citizen, and a whole squadron of Minecraft in Space games and procedural generated space exploration games, not to mention a few space MMOs. The shelf will be full of space sims to choose from.
    By the time they have a new X game out it will seem like a single player dinosaur, so why bother?
    Maybe if they had done an X: MMO or X4 with multiplayer, it would have sold well, but they put everything into this dumbed down console style game and failed.

    If they can salvage Rebirth into a decent game, then maybe they will sell a few copies before Elite or Star Citizen are playable, but I doubt they can pull it off. Rebirth will be the death of the X franchise.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      I like your name. It means you’re either awesome at tactical combat games, or oriental and into smooth crooning.

  26. Shodex says:

    This isn’t much different than every X game though, is it? I haven’t played Rebirth but that’s only because I’d never buy an X game until it’s had a year’s worth of patches and mods, plus a decent discount.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Rough diamonds can be cut and polished until they shine.
      With piles of excreta you just keep shaving off layers until you’re left with a knife and a chopping board that smell like the rectal tract of a walrus.
      X-Rebirth was not an example of the former.

    • Zenicetus says:

      No, this is very different from their previous games. With those, you could see a game that might be fun to play, after the bugs were fixed.

      With Rebirth, the game is flawed to the core by the way it was originally designed as a lightweight console release. After all the bugs are fixed, the design will still be shit.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Indeed. There was only one good thing about Rebirth: It gave the community the chance to say “go try the older X games”, which many did.

      • Shodex says:

        I’ll take your words for it, like I said I haven’t played it at all myself was merely thinking aloud.

  27. Nikita "Hot Stuff" Khrushchev says:

    Rebirth was really one of the biggest disappointments for me in recent memory. I have spent at least 350 hours each in Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude and became very invested in the universe. Because of this Rebirth became the game I was looking forward to the most for about 2 years. I’ll admit that I got to the X party later than many and didn’t experience the rocky releases of the previous X games, but the X3 games I played were solid and extremely deep games if a little quirky. In my eyes, and apparently the eyes of many others, Egosoft knew what they were doing and were serious developers. Then Rebirth came out. The best way to describe my feelings is if you had a favorite band that hadn’t released an album in 6 years only to release a collection of recordings of fart noises over the sound of ball bearings being thrown at a metal trashcan. It was rather disappointing to say the least. What hurt the most was that my trust and opinion of Egosoft was shattered over night. This was personal. If Egosoft had just been honest about the state of affairs before release and honest about it now, perhaps this train wreck wouldn’t be so bad. Perhaps their loyal fans wouldn’t feel so betrayed. Honestly I don’t see X4 happening at this point or even if it did, the fanbase as been so badly burned that no one would buy it. Really I wouldn’t be too surprised if Egosoft doesn’t survive this.

  28. racccoon says:

    Ok We’ve all made our remarks as we all or some of us believed it to be a game that we would love to play before release. The problem was teething.. it takes time for the tooth to break through. I think they are doing a great job in fixing, it is a visually well made game. When games get a rough beginning no one ever gives up trodding and slagging. Merit is given to me because of the determination of ecosoft to get it fixed. They are slowly doing that. I can see it being completed. There mistake was they needed to do more thorough tests and that’s how it all went wrong.
    I haven’t relaunched the game since it launched. I may of been disappointed but I still have faith in its completion and until then, I sit and wait.

  29. Gazz says:

    As one of the biggest fans of the X games on the planet I was giving them the benefit of doubt on the “one ship thing”.
    Who knows? Maybe it would work out.

    Alas, it didn’t, and to add insult to injury, the whole game (even if you’re playing on PC) is now saddled with a designed-for-consoles interface and a forced cockpit view with excruciatingly slow and repetitive animations for common actions like opening a menu or the system map.

    How they intended to market it for consoles I don’t know. The X games have always gotten their longevity and replayability from modding – which is typically very cumbersome on a game console if it works at all.

    As of Patch 2.0, the player may actually use the autopilot. (the crowd goes wild!)
    One of the huge improvements in Rebirth was supposedly the ability for fighters and other small ships to fight in the middle of station structures or close to the surface of capital ships.
    Now the 2.0 patch log suggests turning off the autopilot in all such instances because that doesn’t work.
    Well, you don’t need spline and whatthehellevergizmo based autopilot routines in open space. In the open the autopilot worked just fine in Reunion. =P

    I just don’t understand this. At some time they must have had a plan. A vision. But what was it?

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