X4 is now a thing. EgoSoft announced the game last year, and a trailer was rolled out this year at XCON. This is billed as the true successor to X3, leaving X: Rebirth as a sort of testbed for a new engine, features and other experiments. Anyone who held off picking up the latest in the X series of games will want to keep tabs on the development of X4: Foundations. Taking into account what has been shared with the public thus far, we'll run through some of the things we're hoping for in X4.
X4: What we know so far
Here are a few things that are clear about X4:
- Different ships — You'll be able to pilot and command every ship, just like you can in X3. (Yes, this includes capital cruisers.)
- Revamped map — The map has been completely redesigned to allow players to control everything from this view.
- Improved AI — The AI will have far more capabilities in building fleets and managing economic empires.
- Technologies — Researching will play a role in X4, advancing capabilities.
- Transporter — You'll be able to teleport between ships once you have all prerequisites.
- Economy — Egosoft is going beyond simple ware pricing when it comes to fluctuations and trade.
- Modular stations — When putting together stations, you will choose from various module types in a new interface.
X4: What we hope to see
Make exploring interesting again
We long to locate hidden and unique structures, locations or special objects. Space is a big place, especially in the X universe, and we'd love to be able to go out exploring with a purpose. It would be something else to come across an abandoned station, which would kick off a quest chain to figure out what happened, which could then lead to discovering a new alien race or perhaps some corruption.
Space anomalies could be implemented, which could include storms, black holes, and other random or dynamic events that cause the player (and AI) to alter the current course. This could spark new opportunities to take advantage of weakened defenses, holes in the market due to lost transport ships, or cause one to rethink a strategic expansion. It would be a small step toward making the universe feel more alive.
Easy fleet management
Creating and managing fleets can be a chore, and with this new map interface Egosoft is wanting to push, there's the opportunity to make it easier to cope with, especially for newer players. It's great fun to fly around in a single ship, but to control multiple fleets of anywhere up to a few hundred ships (including larger capital class) takes things to the next level.
News and alerts
It would be a welcome addition to have some sort of news bulletin that gets sent out on a regular basis, or even some sort of news channel that can be viewed in stations on ships, to let the player know what's going on around the universe.
Space has to be a dangerous place, especially for someone starting out. There needs to be tension, the analysis of risk, and the high possibility that you may die. Picking a fight with a faction that has a large navy should result in destruction, unless you play it smart. Heading into hostile territory should feel dangerous, unless you have a number of friendlies backing you up.
I like to play the merchant in the X universe, but I rarely fear for my life when bouncing between stations in a freighter, even when taking more hostile routes. I should be punished if I haven't timed a jump correctly or avoided enemy fleets by leaving enough distance. Also, we want to see a universe plague or parasite that forces all factions to unite or be destroyed.
After massive battles (or a fight between two small ships), I'd like to see the chance of ship debris to be left behind, so freighter (or specialized ships) would be able to jump in with an escort and fight over what remains. This would be particularly useful for larger ships that could be worth a fair penny when taken back to a scrapyard or torn apart for parts.
It would also provide yet another profession for the player to try out and would make it more worthwhile to risk your flagship in conflict if the reward potential was greater.
In X4, it would be good to be able to build an empire. If you happen to make it big and own a large fleet and a number of successful stations, why shouldn't we be able to claim free space as our own and start up a new faction? This could unlock new gameplay, including diplomatic relations, the engagement in wars, and strategic planning with allies against a universal threat.
If we aren't to enjoy empire management, it should at least feel rewarding to becoming considered high rank within an established faction.
I want my own ship
There are bound to be countless numbers of ships to take control of in X4, but what about color schemes and light personalizations? Not only would this allow for more variety of models in-game (making each and every ship feel unique — even with a slight change of paint) but it would allow the player to hunt for special paint or strive to unlock such options and make their ships (or fleets) really stand out.
Space sectors should be unique, not only in color, atmosphere, music score, and stations but also faction control and how that can change in the game. Warring factions should be able to take control of sectors and push back (and even annihilate) foes. This also goes for unmanned space which has yet to be claimed.
With factions gunning for control of newly-discovered asteroid belts and the like, it would make the universe feel alive with new operations spawning, new station developments, and more.
Your hopes and dreams
What are you looking forward to most in X4? What would you like to see added to the next installment? Let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
I've played a few of the X games and thoroughly enjoyed at least the concept. The single biggest and most obvious missing link for me, aside from AI of course, is the inability to build ships. You can actually manufacture parts you need for ammunition, but you can't build ships, even from a blueprint? You instead build a shipyard from which you buy ships fully manufactured, or you can prototype them so you can produce them yourself from your hub late-game. Makes no sense. Ships should be relatively modular so you can acquite the plans for a chassis, but then construct them from modules, parts and materials which you can gather or produce in your own factories.
Is this gpu intensive? Doesn't look it from the screenshots. Seems cool though. Still waiting for tie fighter to make a comeback in VR. #tiefighterVR #fortheempire
X:3 was everything-intensive. AI was poor, but so many actors and it gets crazy. Graphics was pretty high-end at the time so I imagine they'll continue to aim high. There are many lighting effects, polys, particles and smokes to consider. I haven't tried Rebirth so I don't know much about their more recent developments. It's certainly not going to be light-weight like Freelancer etc.
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