X4 Not Announced Quite Yet But…

X Rebirth [official site] is not what we wanted next from the space trade-o-explore-a-zapzap sim series, and not really what developers Egosoft wanted either. They’ve improved it with patches, but alongside the launch of a new patch they’ve said some things can’t be changed – and will be tackled in a not-quite-announced future X game.

They don’t have too much to say about this semi-hypothetical game yet, but one idea they’re working on is quite concrete – now in version 3.60 of X Rebirth, you can turn try a more direct form of spaceship control.

I’ll get to that later. First, the distant future! “At some point there will be a new game because we want to improve a lot of things that we unfortunately cannot improve using a DLC or update,” Egosoft say. “These are things that would cause massive changes to balancing or completely change the structure of the economy.” They continue:

“At the very top of our list is the biggest and most popular wish of X3 fans: The ability to actively fly all ships yourself and also actively command from the bridges of capital ships. Additionally, we are working on massive changes to the structure of the universe and, with that, much improved maps and entirely new UI systems for commanding groups of ships through lists of orders to be executed in the future.”

They say they’re “working exactly as we did in the X3 times: In parallel working on a new project and improvements to the games already released.” They’re planning to keep on keeping on with Rebirth, X3, and maybe some new DLC too in the meantime.

They’re already poking around at potential new features by giving X Rebirth the option to turn off flight assist, a handy system which makes ships control more like conventional earth vehicles affected by friction. With flight assist off, you’re governed purely by physics, letting you e.g. turn around while still moving forwards to strafe an enemy. Turning it off also means you can’t set absolute speeds and don’t automatically turn to face large objects, meaning it offers more finesse but may cause terrible docking accidents.

Have a look at this in action:

That’s in X Rebirth as of Wednesday’s patch 3.60. Egosoft have also launched beta versions of the game for Mac and Linux.

35 Comments

  1. Kraosdada says:

    So, its likely they are making an X-Tension-like expansion for X Rebirth. In the first X game, Beyond the Frontier, you could only fly one ship, the USC X, also known as the Xperimental Shuttle or “Le Petit X”.

    The X was a shuttle prototype that got a Xenon Jumpdrive installed into it. It ended up trapped inside a group of star systems known as the “X Universe” for 24 years, until a Goner called Ion Battler connected the Solar System with Heretic’s End.

  2. rustybroomhandle says:

    Ya know, I might be an idjit, but despite the painful burn of X:Blerghbarf I’m still willing to give them a chance.

    • Kraosdada says:

      I love this games, even the oft-maligned Rebirth. It gets better once you start treating it as an X:Beyond the Frontier remake. The next game will be like an X-Tension remake, which will allow us to fly any ship once more, and hopefully reconnect more of the old favorite systems, I wanna finish the job Marteen Winters’ children, the Xenon, started.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Ditto. Far as I’m concerned, one horrible mess does not equal a horrible devteam. And I still play X3 to this day so whatever. Let’s see what they can do.

    • mike2R says:

      Yeah, same here. I never bought or played Rebirth due to the reviews, but even if I had and it was as awful as everyone said, Egosoft would still have a significant amount of credit in my book.

      Not only did they pretty much keep a genre I love going single handedly for years with some amazing games, the truly excellent support they provided to the X3 games – not just patches but new content, years after release and provided for free, is something that sticks in my mind.

  3. Kraosdada says:

    And i see they are also adding Newtonian Physics.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s not Newtonian if there is still a speed cap. Is there? I couldn’t tell from the narration on that trailer if “absolute speed” meant capped velocity or not.

      Anyway, I don’t think this is enough to make me install it again. I would rather see a 100% focus on the next game, instead of trying to patch this up and sell DLC for it. Doing that just continues the pretense that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the game, which suggests they haven’t learned from the mistakes. That doesn’t do much to help me get excited about the next X-series game.

  4. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I would get X Rebirth if it ever dropped in price, but it stubbornly persists at full price when even its contemporaries have dropped. I really like the series and I’d pick it up cheap to see how much of a trainwreck it really is.

    • Stimpack says:

      Apparently it was $9.99 on the Humble Store a few days ago, and at the moment it’s sitting at $19.99. link to humblebundle.com

    • gabrielonuris says:

      I played it on a Steam Free Weekend, also to see how much of a trainwreck it really is. TBH, people tends to make things worse than they really are, and I must say that Rebirth isn’t at all a trainwreck; it is indeed more simple than the other games in the series, but after spending so much time dealing with sheets in X3: TC, I thought that was a good thing.

      • Guy Montag says:

        I also played it on the free weekend, in an attempt to suss out if it was as bad as described even after the patches that were supposed to have fixed things, and I could not have had a worse experience. Bad gameplay, appalling voice-acting (that’s saying something for an Egosoft title, they seem to only go backwards), and constant bugs were my reward. I ended my run with the Skunk stuck inside a capital ship that had come to arrest me for pinballing around a station after something had knocked me into a wall. I wasn’t in a docking bay on the capital ship, mind you, but actually inside its inner workings, so I purposefully redoubled my pinballing efforts until, about 30 minutes later, both it and I exploded.

        I’m happy to stay with Litcube’s Universe on X3 and hope that X4 looks even playable.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        The steam weekend was a good few months after release. And between that time they worked very very hard on polishing this turd. The abuse the game got at launch was very very well deserved.

  5. peterako1989 says:

    So X-Rebirth was not that well thought out after all. In any case, now its fairly good. For flying just one ship they could have remedied that with extented customisation features for the skunk. Turn it to a hulking frigate with turrets, a specialised drone carrier, a fast agile fighter or an espionage ship with jammers, emp, etc and why not having some experimantation with a combination of upgrades. Im also looking foward for official bridge command support and a really persistent universe.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Independence War 2 (still my favorite space game of this type) had a nice design where your command pod never changed, but it plugged into the front of different ship types of increasing size and capability as the game progressed.

      Not quite the same as commanding from the bridge of a battlecruiser with a bunch of other crew running around, but it was a clean design. Only the external views had to change as your ship was upgraded.

      • peterako1989 says:

        oh god, I hated the tug.

      • frymaster says:

        All Elite / Star citizen needed to do was pair IWar-2’s mechanics with a massively expanded strategic / living world element and I’d have been ecstatic

      • Expanding Man says:

        Thank you so much for mentioning IWar2. It is not talked about nearly enough. I feel like the gaming press as well as developers are far too ignorant of it. It really was the best space sim ever, I don’t think anything else really comes close.

        • Kregoth says:

          I 100% agree, I still have the original disc’s. I wish RPS would actually take a look at the game, I think they would be surprised by how good it is. even in it’s dated form!

          Independence war 2 was responsible for my absolute love for space sims, it just did everything so well. If you enjoy space games, you HAVE to try it!

        • The_Great_Skratsby says:

          Aye aye, and its UI was absolutely sublime, especially the game-world overlay.

        • Flit says:

          Oh man! I haven’t touched this one in over a decade, which is weird considering I’ve replayed FS2 a couple times. Time to reinstall!

  6. Dread Quixadhal says:

    I hope they are budgeting for the long haul this time, and not expecting pre-order sales to boost them up. X: Rebirth is the reason I don’t pre-order games anymore, ever. For me to buy X4, I’m going to have to see several really good reviews from people I trust, as well as comments telling me it’s not as buggy as most X series games have been at launch.

    In short, I likely won’t buy this new title until it’s been out for several months no matter WHAT is said about it.

    • Martel says:

      Funny, Rebirth is the reason I stopped preordering games as well.

      • badirontree says:

        Yet I got the game Collector Edition for 70 euros Directly from them… :/
        Never again

  7. Doubler says:

    With the patches and some good mods this XR really started to shine for me. I’ve spent as many hours in it as in TC, achieved more and almost certainly enjoyed a greater percentage of that time.

    The capital ship bridge mod is a real must-have. Nowadays I spend practically all my time managing my empire from the bridge of an Arawn, flanked by destroyers, while occasionally telling the captain where to go and what to do. The Skunk is little more than a passenger shuttle and a precision weapon at this point.
    I certainly feel a lot more like the owner of an interstellar business than a fighter pilot now, and that’s a good thing. This never really happened in previous X games for me.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      That right there? That’s the experience I want from X4. It’s how I’ve tended to play X3 (up to the limits of that game), spending the majority of my time on a capship, which will invariably be on autopilot because seriously who flies those things manually, managing stations and freighters remotely while checking my satellite network for aliens to explode. Sure, sometimes I’ll hop in an M5 just to go zip around some particularly pretty corner of the universe, but normally the only time I fly a small ship myself is when a fight breaks out.

      If they can actually nail the feel and improve the immersion in that kind of playstyle then X4 will be basically perfect for me.

  8. McPartyson says:

    I can’t believe they released Rebirth as it was on it’s release date. What a piece of shit and a perfect way to ruin your reputation as a game developer.

    • Kraosdada says:

      It went through 3 entirely different iterations in 7 years, the second one was an Xbox 360 game, and the current game is the third, developed in 2 years.

    • geldonyetich says:

      A hollow threat to Egosoft, who did this before and emerged with an even better reputation.

      X3 was also pretty terrible at launch, but then they patched it up a lot and it was then only sort of terrible. Then along came the stand along expansions (Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude) and X3 was fine.

      X:Rebirth seems to be following a similar development cycle. A rather klugy game at launch, being patched up to be halfway alright. With any luck, we’ll get an expansion based off of the perfected engine, and that will be called X4.

      I don’t know… perhaps this model is more honest than just slapping the “early access” label on the game for 2 years.

  9. TheAngriestHobo says:

    All I want is an X game that makes the interior of your ship as interesting as the universe beyond the bulkheads. Particularly with capital ships – let me just dick around on foot, jog through the corridors, call my senior staff into the CIC, and all that cool stuff. I’ve never understood why space exploration games always neglect the human aspect of the experience in favour of the zoom-zoom pew-pew stuff. It’s not like sci-fi in any other medium focuses solely on the ships.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      In fact, Sci-fi in any other medium tends to be ABOUT the humans (or the equivalent species in some cases). I’m far more interested in seeing how people use that fancy, shiny tech, how it affects them, what such a vast expansion of borders and limits actually MEANS for them both individually and as a species, than I am in how many guns that destroyer has or how the engines on that fighter actually work. Sci-fi as a magnifying glass, to take little human issues and ideas and blow them up so that you can explore them on a much bigger and grander scale, that’s the stuff. (Although gaming is a different medium and honestly I don’t think you could translate that 1:1 to a videogame and get a result that people would want to play)

      Having said that, I still love me some pretty spaceships and nigh-pornographic attention to technical detail. Don’t get me wrong.

  10. Holysheep says:

    X3TC was one of my fave games.
    X rebirth, compared to X3, hit me almost as hard as the very shitty Guild wars 2 hit me after playing GW1.

  11. Timbrelaine says:

    I’ll never understand how Egosoft stays in business. Rebirth wasn’t the first game in the series to be released mostly broken; that’s just how they do things.