X Rebirth Being Reborn With Version 2.0 Update

By Nathan Grayson on May 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am.

Once upon a time, the Internet’s most powerful Craig, Craig “Craig” Craig (Pearson) proclaimed X Rebirth “an appalling, broken mess, and I’m not going back.” Are you sure, though, Craig? Are you absolutely sure? What if… what if it stopped being entirely terrible? What if version 2.0’s changes were so extensive that they got their own PDF with a table of contents? Would that be enough? Is anything enough for you anymore, Craig? Why don’t we talk anymore? What happened to us?

I have no idea if it’ll result in a good game, but a lot has changed. A whole, whole lot. Let’s run down a small portion of a very long list.

Among other things, Egosoft has changed, overhauled, or added an improved cockpit, a new set of secret service missions, radar, autopilot, new highway gameplay, remotely dealing with NPCs, a new NPC icon system, AI commands/fleet control, advanced trading, new HUDs, new graphics options, Steam Workshop support, and probably, like, the option to buy a virtual box of turtles and groom them until their shells gleam like stars in the night sky.

So yes, X Rebirth is different now. Is it better? Is it… playable?

, .

62 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    The general guideline according to the X Universe boards seems to be that if you LOATHED Rebirth for EVERYTHING it did to THIS PRISTINE GEM OF A GAME SERIES, then you will not like it even with 2.0, but if you did see that it could get really enjoyable with a lot of improvements, it’s about four of five parsec to that point.

    • Premium User Badge

      All is Well says:

      But what of us, who never even bought the game because of all the negative criticism it received? Should we give it a whirl now it’s been, uh, reborn?

      • Artist says:

        Definatly not. Even their big “2.0” cant turn a pig into a princess. And for being fixed for 6 months now this is really a joke. The core of the broken gameplay wasnt even touched and even with the patches its stil a broken, unfinished mess. Sadly.

        • Philomelle says:

          How is the game broken, exactly? I keep hearing these words in regards to X: Rebirth, but nobody ever explains them beyond “It’s different from previous X games”. Thing is, it’s also very possible for different to be a good thing.

          So what, exactly, makes their brand of different bad? Can you explain what makes the gameplay so anti-fun?

          • Humanji says:

            The unpatched version was broken. At launch, you couldn’t progress in the campaign because of the bugs, and once they were fixed, a whole new set of bugs appeared. The game needed about half a years worth of testing that it clearly didn’t get. They took slapped together an FPS system that was utterly pointless and shouldn’t have been included if they weren’t going to implement it properly. They removed the ability to pilot different ships, which is a huge selling point for a series that lets you fly different ships. The voice acting is horrendous. The AI barely worked.

            The list goes on. I forgive a lot of bad games if I can see promise in them, but Rebirth was a broken mess. Even when everything is fixed, I can’t really recommend it as in a lot of ways it’s a step backwards for the series. And considering the likes of Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen are on the way, as well as a host of other similar games, there’s simply no reason for a new player to pick up Rebirth.

          • Logeres says:

            The main reason people say it’s broken is because there is essentially no imperium building. The UI isn’t set up for controlling ships or stations beyond your visual range, meaning that you have to babysit every ship in your fleet if you want them to do something aside from following you like little ducklings. That removes essentially 80% of the content that the previous X games had. They might’ve changed that with the patches, though.

          • BruceCampbell87 says:

            because people just wanted the same game, but with more bells and whistles. Egosoft listened the community, fixed the game that is NOW, much enjoable. Different from previous from the saga, but not worse.

          • Philomelle says:

            Thanks for the responses, everyone. It’s interesting to see so many different opinions.

            A friend linked me this video and eesh, that sounds terrible. It sounds like they got stuck on the croassroads between making an open-world space sim, a cinematic storygame and a hyper-immersive experience, tried to make all three at once and ended up with a game whose various components conflict with each other.

            And that UI is terrible. I understand the desire of making it into an immersive part of the cockpit, but I also somehow doubt that they’ll have unnecessarily convoluted menus that are tiresome to navigate in the spacefaring future.

            They’d need to fix a lot in 2.0.

          • BlackAlpha says:

            From what I understood, it’s mostly psychological. There are two crowds:

            – There’s the crowd who shows no mercy. They have been burned by the game in the past (and/or the game is different from the previous games) and because of that, this new version cannot possibly be any good.

            – There’s the crowd who does show mercy. They disliked the game in the past, but this new version seems to be a large step in the right direction and worth playing.

          • Premium User Badge

            oggnogg says:

            “making an open-world space sim, a cinematic storygame and a hyper-immersive experience, tried to make all three at once”
            That sounds a lot like Star Citizen.

      • Premium User Badge

        noisepassfilter says:

        I, too, would very much like to see wot RPS thinks of 2.0. Being one that was deterred from purchasing by the original review.
        Please, Craig, let go of your pride. Sacrifice a few more hour of life for our sins.

      • Maxheadroom says:

        I’d keep an eye on the steam stats.

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

        They’ve been dropping steadily since launch and as of last month there were less than 250 people playing.
        2.0 has brought a small upward blip in the number of players but we’ll have to wait and see if it continues to grow or drops off again

        • salgado18 says:

          But these numbers are very similar, if not a bit higher, than the curve of Bastion, which got critical praise, and is very, very good. I think the statistics are not that bad, possibly not even sales, just the game is.

          • dE says:

            Bastion is also a relatively short game with a certain endpoint. X is not. X is focussed on continued play where you build up things over the course of hundreds of hours. In that regard it’s natural for the curve to look like that for bastion but not for X.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Yep exactly, with Bastion people will play it, finish it, and then not touch it again. With the X series, they are the sort of games that people will put tens or hundreds of hours into. The fact the amount of people playing has dropped so bad suggests it’s quite bad. Also when Bastion was released it wasn’t that hyped or big and took a while for positive reputation to get around. X has 3 previous games worth of fans that would have been waiting for it.

      • Montavious says:

        You can polish a turd, but its still a turd.

        • underscore says:

          Well, not really. You can lacquer a turd though.

          • President Weasel says:

            Indeed. You can lacquer a turd and then polish it, or you can roll it in glitter.

          • 12inchPlasticToy says:

            There seems to be a whole art dedicated to make turds pretty and shiny…
            This statement alone speaks for itself.

          • Neutrino says:

            Freeze it in liquid nitrogen and then you can polish it?

          • iniudan says:

            You never watched Mythbusters didn’t you ?

        • Antsy says:

          You can’t polish a turd but you can charge twenty quid for one and say it’s half price.

      • Neurotic says:

        Yes. I really enjoyed the first 2, expansions and all, but haven’t X’d since then. If RPS or PCG UK gave me an encouraging nod, though, I’d be back in a twinkle.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          X3 still holds up well if you enjoyed the first two. It’s seemingly better than this latest one anyway and can be picked up for bugger all in a sale.

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            Tom De Roeck says:

            X3:AP is quite good, especially with mods. Much better than X2 ever was. Story will never be as good, mind.

          • Keyrock says:

            Agreed. All the X3 games are really good. The stories are throw away, but nobody plays X games for the story anyway.

  2. haafie says:

    Only 120 trillion kilometers away from being really enjoyable. That’s…that’s quite a long way.

  3. salgado18 says:

    Please, revisit the game to tell us! Please? :)

  4. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    I might have to buy this because damn, I so want it to be good.

    • Premium User Badge

      gnodab says:

      Yeah, me too. And the Screen shots look so shiny…
      But I’ll wait for a positive review / Humble Bundle.

  5. Artist says:

    Dont get fooled! The “2.0” and the 50% price reduction is rather yet another moneygrab by Egosoft. Their changelog since release has bugfixes and some, minor additions but doesnt change the bad gaming experience.
    Well, at max it turns the “scam”, the release was, into a “bad game”. But that might be a bit optimistic.

  6. salgado18 says:

    On another point, I think we must praise them for their effort. Too many in the industry just don’t care, and just make a few patches, call it a day and move on to the next project, abandoning those who waited for the game. To have so much work to make a terrible game at least below average is a feat in itself.

    • Bahlof says:

      I think something that contributes to that is that they spent something ridiculous like 7 years working on it only to be hated by everyone. They worked too long to let it die off without trying at least.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      No. No. We shouldn’t, really. We should expect a released game to be finished. It’s good that they’re making changes and fixing things, but that doesn’t change the fact that they released a flawed product. They shouldn’t be praised for trying to make amends.

  7. Bartack says:

    I’m not waiting for this game to be fully fixed before I buy it. I’m waiting for the price to come down to 99p.

  8. BruceCampbell87 says:

    Definitely you should give a try to Egosoft. Their effort bring the game in a real shaped state. X:Rebirth 2.0 is the game that they could be launch. A review is needed. There are a lot of people that continue to flame Egosoft without reason. But the game now is very strong.

    • balinor says:

      No it really isn’t very strong. It’s mediocre at best. The minigames need to be removed along with station walking. Voice overs need to be rerecorded by professionals as they are far below an acceptable quality.

      Egosoft need to concentrate on the core flight mechanics, ensuring that building and station control is up to scratch and improve the AI. The engine itself could give us a great game, but shoddy design and poor implementation coupled with an early release that was nigh on a scam does not inspire me with confidence.

      • BruceCampbell87 says:

        if you don’t want to walk in the station, then don’t do it, now it’s possible. Minigames are off and the IA has been improving A LOT. Now with the hard option, engaging an enemy with the skunk is a real challenge. An advice dude: try this 2.0 version before judgement. :)

        • balinor says:

          I have tried. I even started a whole new campaign game and I’m not saying that it isn’t greatly improved because it certainly is. However, it is still a very mediocre game with glaring faults and serious design flaws especially when you consider the size of the team that made it. Anyone with a background in product development and experience could tell you that they bit off more than they could chew, and it shows.

          I respect that you may think it is worth the money you paid or that you find it enjoyable, but there is no way I can agree with you saying it is a “strong game” because it isn’t.

          • BruceCampbell87 says:

            Egosoft is a small team, they’re around 15 people. ^_^

          • balinor says:

            The last they talked about it they said they had around 20 staff which was the point I was trying to make. With such a small team they needed to focus the development more rather than trying to be everything to everyone.

            I’m not sure what point you were trying to make?

    • bartman says:

      Rebirth was supposed to be “X for everyone”.

      They’ve removed all the things that the hardcore X fans loved and replaced them with a poor interface that’s still too complex and confusing for non-fans to persist with and too clunky (and lets face it, the old interface was no OS X in the beautiful UI stakes) for the hardcore X fans.

  9. yabonn says:

    Clueless about the game, but I like the game-dev story. “People, see those critics? That huuge turdpile of crap about our game? We are going to grind it down. We’re going to make lists, and check them. Onward !”

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      The X series actually has quite a history of that kind of story. As I recall, X3 was an absolute mess on release, but by the time I got around to buying it (by which point it too was known as “2.0”) it was one of the best space trade-y fight-y things I’ve played.

      Note that I am not saying X:Rebirth is now a good game. Just that there is precedence for this happening.

      • Keyrock says:

        That is true. The problem is that I’m not sure X: Rebirth is fixable. When X3: Reunion released it was a broken mess, but you could see a good game underneath and eventually they fixed most of the bugs, tweaked some things, and made a great game out of it. X: Rebirth, on the other hand, is a bad game right down to its core. They’ll have to essentially make a whole new game out of it to make it in to a good game.

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          On the one hand, that makes me sad. On the other hand, I’ll just go back and play X3 again when I next get that itch. Suddenly I wonder what the point of making Rebirth even was…

          • Zenicetus says:

            People have found Xbox references while poking around in the code, so there is a theory that this was a failed Xbox port, designed as a lightweight console game first, and a PC port second. The console release failed, for whatever reason. Maybe certification, or just missing the window for a game that isn’t “next gen” in graphics. So they had to do a quick ‘n dirty PC version to justify the 7 year development cycle.

            The evidence of “consolization” is all over this game, starting with the cockpit control scheme. It lacks (at least in the first release) the controls one normally expects in a space game, like shield/engine/weapon management, enemy and friendly targeting, countermeasures, view panning, and so on. It’s very obvious that the controls were designed to fit the limited buttons on a console controller. Which is not what previous fans of the series, or fans of any cockpit-level space game were expecting.

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            The emphasis they were putting on console-style controllers during the hype-drive for Rebirth is one of the reasons I didn’t buy it on release. One of the reasons. I have nothing against them in the right kind of games, but PC, cockpit-level space sim and joystick go hand in hand. So it kind of surprised me when I hadn’t heard anything of a console release. This explains a lot. Still an outright shame, but ah well.

          • Keyrock says:

            The game being designed around a gamepad, and I agree, it was very obvious, was one of the things I found extremely maddening. Even worse, when the game released it didn’t even have proper flightstick support. I’m not talking about having separate profile presets for a bunch of different flightsticks, I’m talking about even having the basic functionality of being able to map the flightstick yourself. On my Thrustmaster Hotas-X, some of the buttons and several of the axes were straight up unrecognized by the game. How the **** do you put out a hardcore space sim without even basic flightstick support? The entire reason flightsticks exist is for games exactly like this.

            I have no problem with supporting gamepads, that’s fine. However, a hardcore space sim should not be created with a gamepad in mind first, that’s madness. M&kb and flightstick support should be a priority, then you make a gamepad work as best you can after m&kb and flightstick support has been cemented. Creating the game around the worst of the 3 different control devices (for that game type), then tacking on controls for the 2 other vastly superior control devices afterward as an afterthought is bass ackwards.

            Luckily, with the 2.0 version my flightstick works properly now. I’m not sure at which point they finally got it working, since I played the game for less than a week when it launched then haven’t touched it until just now. The UI is a bit better and more m&kb friendly now too, still not great, though. Many of the missing fleet and trade commands, along with proper targeting control are now in the game too (how the game launched without those is beyond me). Also, you can now do most of your business without having to enter the abysmal station interiors and waste time talking to cardboard cutout characters with Morrowind-level character models and animations. It’s a step in the right direction, for sure, But it still leaves horrific NPC ship AI, the fact that you’ll always be stuck on that one ship, quite frankly dull gameplay, and the fact that you can never (to the best of my knowledge) jettison that insanely annoying co-pilot lady into space.

  10. sharkh20 says:

    Think I’ll wait for about 5.0 before trying this again. Was excited for this game for a long time. Ended up playing it for about an hour and a half before turning it off in disgust.

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    Joshua says:

    I have this weird tendency to mostly buy a new game in the franchise once the sequel of that particular game has been released, since a) It will be fully patched and there will be new content and b) it will be cheaper.

    This is particularely effective with the Egosoft games, who always are a bit broken and messy at launch.

  12. Keyrock says:

    Version 2.0 is indeed vastly superior to the awful mess that was the game at launch. It’s still not a good game, though. I’ll check back when they release a 3.0, until then, I’m going back to X3: Terran Conflict (waaaaaaay more fun) and also waiting for Elite: Dangerous.

  13. Zenicetus says:

    The 2.0 patch is just an attempt to scam a few more people sitting on the fence into buying the game. It will never be a good cockpit-level or empire-building space game (depending on your preference), because so many unbelievably poor decisions were made at the design stage.

    If there were absolutely no other space games on the horizon, or in near-beta stage, I’d say yeah… sure, the game sucks, but at 50% off, you might want to try it anyway to get your space fix. Since that isn’t the case, I think it’s a waste of money unless you need a space fix RIGHT NOW and can’t wait for Elite:D, SC, and the rest.

    Recommending this game, even with the 2.0 patch, is like recommending Aliens: Colonial Marines to someone starved for a FPS game.

  14. MellowKrogoth says:

    I wish I could filter out the opinions of people who like Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude. I liked X2 because of the (admittedly corny) story and discovering all the weird alien races and other interesting lore of the X universe. The BBS had quirky little stories besides regular missions. The combat was excellent as well. The whole experience was very engaging.

    After finishing X2’s campaign at a leisurely pace, I tried getting into the whole station ownership and ship automation thing, with a generous helping of mods. I found this to be the weakest part of the game, and besides the initial satisfaction of seeing my first station make money, I didn’t find it fun.

    I played X3 because of the story, but (even more with TC and AP) I was horrified to see the series abandon all attempts at adding lore and stories and only catering to the people who were making and using scripts to automate the game.

    X3TC and AP are praised a lot. I find them unplayable:
    – Interesting story premise (Terran Conflict intro video is amazing which only makes the following more painful), horrible execution. Excruciatingly bad story missions including the one that makes you wait 5 full minutes in SETA in a pitch dark sector with horrible repetitive music, and worst of all the infamous Sudoku one.
    – I feel like I’m in a cheap MMO with all those mission popups and their generic story. Even though getting those missions remotely is more “realistic”, not having to dock at the station and browse offers there makes it less personal, way too abstract. No attempt at fleshing out the game world is made anymore besides recycling lore elements that date back to X2.
    – Game’s oriented towards owning a big fleet and automation, yet the pathfinding is so horrible especially in SETA that your expensive wingmen run into each other (case in point: that 5 min mission in empty space at 6x SETA was enough to kill half of them).
    – Stupid fanboys will answer the above telling you that the game should be played without time acceleration. Sure, like I want that 5 min utterly boring mission in dark featureless space to become a 30 min mission.
    – Interface for managing your empire is ridiculous. You want to make a tycoon game, give us an interface borrowed from tycoon and 4x game to manage that part.
    – Game makes you work hard to acquire some stuff and then throws a super-expensive corvette at you for free, ridiculing your work. Or, a mission starts with an “urgent” situation that requires you to purchase a multi-million ship or station – only problem being that getting that amount of money and the infrastructure needed will take you days of work, killing any sense of pacing.

    I really want to like X3 games because of the wonderful sector graphics, music, and still excellent combat, along with the great variety of ships you can fly, but any sense of being in a coherent world is gone, I only see a dry economic simulation.

    So, if anybody shares my opinion of X3 games and has tried X:Rebirth, please chime in to help my purchase decision. It seems that it tries to put back the focus on the player and his actions, but I’m not sure how much of the X2 spirit is back. What I see on the official forums is a lot of people trying to push back the game in the direction of more automation, and that’s really sad.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I can’t say that I’m 100% in sync with your view of the more recent X games, but I did like the “flying in space” bits more than the spreadsheet empire management.

      There was a dry period there where the X games, Evochron, and Freespace mods were the only cockpit-level space games. I played through all the X games because they were there by default, not because they were the best things going. In each X game I never got much further than setting up my first few factory complexes and getting a capital ship or two, then I’d put it away because it got boring.

      Another point of departure is that I never thought the combat was very good. There is something off about the subjective feeling of speed in this series. Even the fastest fighters feel like I’m swimming through molasses… probably because each rectangular grid sector is so small. Rebirth was supposed to fix that (among other things), but the spaceflight and combat seems just as dumb as ever.

      Based on my short time with Rebirth (because I couldn’t stand any more of it), and what I’ve read from those who have spent more time, I don’t think you’re going to find the exploration, story, and lore-driven experience you’re looking for. There are so many things wrong or broken with the game, that Egosoft is focused mainly on fixing the mechanics and not expanding the universe and campaign for more immersion.

      If you’re looking for a more story-driven space game and haven’t played it yet, I recommend “Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos,” still available from GOG and I think it still runs on current PC’s. It’s very linear and scripted, but has a great spaceflight model — much better than the X series — your ship can actually go *fast*. Imagine that, for a spaceship (sigh). I-War 2 is still my favorite cockpit-level space game after all these years. Freespace 2 Open, plus the available mod campaigns are also very good, while we wait for Elite:D, SC and the rest of the newer ones to mature.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve been looking at I-War 2 for a while, I’ll take the plunge eventually – hopefully the game has aged well.

    • rittenhaus says:

      I am almost 100 percent in sync with your opinion of the X3 games. Honestly, I have spent more time watching others play them than I have playing them myself… I find them incredibly tedious. SETA, as you say, has problems, and I don’t find the game playable without using SETA and autopilot. Autopilot has destroyed so many of my ships, even when trying to do a simple task like docking, which it can easily take 30 minutes of buggy pathfinding to accomplish on those occasions when it does succeed. This need for micromanagement is pervasive in the X series, and the opposite of what one might expect in a game that wants to be about managing large systems. I think there would be a lot of fun in a game that actually does what the X series proposes to do.

      What attracted me to the X series (besides pretty graphics) was the idea of a huge space sandbox with trading. I don’t expect a sandbox game to present a narrative, but it’s nice when things happen in sandbox games that can later be told as stories. X does, nominally, provide such an experience, but one must intuit (improbable) or take notes from other players about how Egosoft expects that experience to unfold or get left behind, and be willing to tell a lot of stories that end with “and then my ship ran into a [rock,station,other ship] and exploded.”

      I own all of the X games by now, including Rebirth in its 2.0 edition. It’s a lot of fun to fly around and look at space, which is admittedly the most gorgeous space I’ve seen in a released game. As a game though, it isn’t much more approachable than previous iterations, and I can definitely see why X veterans think that it’s been dumbed down. There is still a lot you can do, if you can figure out how to do it; as is typical of the series, but Rebirth gives you very little help in understanding what you are meant to do and how to go about it, while being different enough from X2 and X3 that you have to learn a whole new way of doing things if you are used to the earlier games.

      These games are so frustrating. The vision behind them is incredibly ambitious, but at each step of the way it has been poorly articulated and realized. I don’t deny some people have fun with the X games. I would enjoy them myself, I think, if I could somehow overlook the fact that the most basic elements seem to be a bit broken, like getting your ship or your fleet ships from point A to point B.

      Anyway, I digress. From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think Rebirth will be likely to give you what you enjoyed about X2.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Thanks, this is exactly the kind of opinion I was looking for. It’s sad that the X games promise so much and never deliver, even after a reworking from the ground up. I’m trying the X-tended mega-mod for Albion Prelude right now in the hope that the stuff they’ve added such as a galactic news system makes the world feel more alive, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m not very good at making up my own goals in pure sandbox games (although I like exploring cool stuff such as Minecraft caves.)

        Here’s hoping Elite Dangerous satisfies us better than the X series.

    • Antsy says:

      Is it 100% In Sync Day already? It’ll be Christmas before we know it!

  15. Bamboonga says:

    I keep seeing people write about how the fleet action in this game suck so bad…

    I gotta ask…are they SERIOUSLY worse than Albion Prelude/Terran Conflict/Reunion?

    Never played 1 or 2…but there’s nothing I love more than setting some ships up with simple commands like ‘patrol’ or ‘attack enemies’ in a friendly sector.

    Should be simple enough, right?

    So I leave their asses in Argon space. I go hang out in Paranid space until I piss them off by stealing one of their glorious Hyperions.

    Then I return to Argon space.

    And they kick my ass.

    So I have to dig through 2000 log entries to find out some idiot fighter pilot decided to pick a fight with Argon One.

    Oh yeah, and in case you were wondering. He lost. I guess I should have specified…attack MY enemies. Not whoever you decide is taking up too much space in their own sector…wtf…

    Is Rebirth’s fleet control seriously worse than that???