Oops! I may have made a mistake buying X Rebirth

I’ve been a big fan of Egosoft’s X series of space games. I first played X2:The Threat many years ago and loved it, logging hundreds of hours building stations and fleets. Then came X3: Reunion, and that was good too. I also played X3: Terran Conflict, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I skipped X3: Albion Prelude, but I have it in case I want to experience that universe again.

I may want to step back to the older games, because I bought X Rebirth on sale on Steam a few days ago, and it isn’t too fun, so far. When X Rebirth came out, it got horrible, scathing reviews. But, all Egosoft games are barely playable at launch, and Egosoft is very good at patching and adding content to make them whole and competent and fun. All Egosoft games also have atrocious voice acting, so that didn’t bother me one bit – in fact, I laugh whenever I hear terrible intonation or pronunciation, so it’s what I have come to expect. So I figured that since X Rebirth is up to patch 2.1, then it is likely to be pretty much fixed up and OK. Well, maybe…

The game looks pretty good and makes reasonable use of my Xbox 360 c0ntroller (the earlier games were best played with a joystick), but it has a very different idea of space than the earlier games (or pretty much most other space games). Space here is crowded, with just kilometers between space stations and asteroids and battles and such. The usual terrible Egosoft collision avoidance is still present, so other ships collide with you in the fast lane highways that let you zip between regions quickly. The old jump gates seem to have crapped out, so we’re stuck with these express ways to get around.

As with the other X games, you can trade, build, or fight your way to success. In this game, you get a bit of money to start, but you spend most of that hiring crew for your freighter that hasn’t done anything other than follow the player ship  around like a  puppy. In the old games, you could fly your freighters and, eventually, managed a fleet of freighters trading for you as you fight pirates and Xenon and whoever else needs their butt kicked. Of course, it takes a long while to build up those resources, and I’m still early in the game, so things may make more sense eventually.

I’ve done a tiny bit of fighting so far, and it seems competently done, though without the flexible loadouts we had before, but again, that may come. In the earlier games, sectors had stations in them that bought and sold goods that you could trade (or use). In this game, a single station has multiple modules, each of which has products or people or docking ports, and you need to scan the modules to figure that out. It seems that we need to fly from module to module to trade, but as I haven’t done much of that, perhaps there are easier ways.

So how is X Rebirth better than the other X games? Docking is much better. It used to be that docking (or doing anything on autopilot) in a fast or large ship had a reasonable probability of smacking you into the  station and killing you. Now, it happens safely and quickly, as far as I’ve seen.

So I’m not far enough into X Rebirth to recommend it or not. If you are looking for great space games and haven’t played X2 and X3, get the X3 Gold Box from Steam and be assured of a fun, challenging, and open-ended space game experience several times over. In the meanwhile, I’m going back to finish Battlefield Bad Company 2 and will put X Rebirth on standby. I will also continue with the Horga’hn hunts in Star Trek Online and getting my LOTRO Rune-Keeper to Rohan to get his warsteed.

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