Played straight in the first two games — most ships, planets, and stations are laid out on a two-d plane. Averted and repeatedly lampshaded in the third game.
Terran Conflict actually falls right back into the trope a bit: while the core X-'verse sectors are certainly much more variable in their layouts compared to the earlier games, many Terran sectors are flat as a pancake with stations smack dab on the same horizontal plane. Likely due to the fact that Terran stations are massive compared to even the largest non-Terran station; you'd have trouble fitting a Terran Orbital Patrol base in a smaller Commonwealth sector.
In a possible case of Truth In Video Games, this kind of makes sense as almost all Terran sectors are in the Solar System, and the planets are mostly on the same elliptical plane anyway. By extension, Lagrangian 'points' (stable 'places' which are suitable for constructing stations) tend to trace elliptical orbits on the same plane.
Albion Prelude adds varying station altitudes to the Sol System. The Asteroid Belt demonstrates why this trope can be an Acceptable Break from Reality: they put the system's equipment dock way "below" the system ecliptic with the docking ports on the bottom. And the station still has an autopilot docking corridor longer than a Commonwealth station, meaning it takes forever to dock.
3D maneuvering is very important in combat. Most capital ships have their guns arranged with the intended anticapital mounts on the forward and flank batteries and the flak mounts on the dorsal, ventral, and stern batteries. The ideal position for a capital ship is to be three or four kilometers "above" or "below" the target, oriented on a sideways diagonal to present a broadside and the forward guns. The AI isn't smart enough for this, however, which means battles typically consist of charging the target, maneuvering to avoid a crash, then turning around. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
4X: A rare example played through the first person perspective.
Absent Aliens: Subverted in the backstory. The only reason the Terrans didn't meet any aliens during their early explorations is that the Ancients had modified the gate system to keep the Terrans isolated.
Abusing the Kardashev Scale for Fun and Profit: The Outsiders in the backstory and Encyclopedia are somewhere above Type V, and the Ancients are borderline Type IVs. Dyson Sphere and Matrioshka Brain civilizations are mentioned, and they fit into the borderline Type IIs. However, all the races the player actually interacts with are at best Type I (as an example, the Terran Osaka's weapons reactor produces just under 9 GW).
Acceptable Breaks from Reality: NPC Solar Power Plants will continue to run even if they run out of Crystals. Without this, it would be entirely possible for the game economy to grind to a halt if too many Crystal Fabs were destroyed.
Ace Pilot: The player. The highest combat rank, X-TREME, requires the player to slaughter tens of thousands of enemy starships.
Actually Four Mooks: Kha'ak Clusters read as a single M3 on gravidar but may contain anywhere between six and 26 ships. An attentive player learns to check any hostiles that come into sensor range on the sector map, which gives away the type of ship but not how many Khaak you're dealing with.
Enabling the Singularity Engine Time Accelerator. This causes the game to run AI routines less frequently, resulting in them getting dumber and dumber the higher the acceleration is, which typically results in AI gleefully plunging headfirst into asteroids, stations, or your ship. This will also apply when you enable your own autopilot, so don't sign your own death warrant by pressing J to die. When the game is taxing your CPU heavily (such as in a large battle), the enemy ships will stop firing entirely in order to lessen the load on your computer. In extreme cases, all ships in the sector will grind to a halt to lessen the CPU load.
The AI in Terran Conflict is almost totally incapable of handling combat against a missile frigate, frequently attempting to shoot down incoming missiles with anti-capital ship cannons, or outright ignoring the incoming death rockets. In the case of fighters, they will tumble wildly through space to attempt to get away. Albion Prelude largely fixed the issue - by making ships respond in kind by spamming missiles at incoming missiles.
The modern-day Xenon are descended from the Terraformers, originally built by the Terrans to terraform worlds. After a badly-written software update, they began to 'terraform' people, cities, and stations. Eventually they gained true sentience. This is why you bug-check your changes before you implement them, people.
Non-bugged AGI is human-friendly, however, as the Aldrinites can testify. And according to some sources, the aforementioned software update was sabotaged by an engineer angry about the cancellation of the terraformer program, after which he would be unemployed.
All species speak a version of Japanese. Translation Convention makes them all speak in English (or whichever language your game is set to).
Lampshaded in Farnham's Legend with Kyle Brennan being surprised and confused to be greeted in pidgin Japanese by a Teladi.
The Alliance: The Foundation Guild, the economic/military alliance between the Argon and Boron.
Alliance Meter: Each race has its own independent status. Argon and Boron are allied, and Split and Paranid are allied, but each side has neutral status to the Teladi and one of the races from each side. Argon hate the Paranid, and Split hate the Boron. Killing hated ships in sectors will give you a reputation bonus, while killing neutral or allied ships will give you a reputation hit to both the victim and the sector owner. Terrans are neutral to everyone in Terran Conflict, but are at war with the Argon in Albion Prelude. It is possible to ally to every side (besides the Xenon and Kha'ak), including the Space Pirates and Yaki, but you can't do combat missions if you wish to remain neutral or allied - race combat missions will usually feature Pirates or Yaki, and Pirate and Yaki combat missions feature race ships (like protecting a Pirate station from a Boron corvette).
The ATF in Terran Conflict are unique in that, while it is possible to lose notoriety with them by attacking them, it is impossible to gain notoriety with them. Once your reputation goes down with them, it stays down.
Alliterative Name: Several of the starting scenarios use these for their titles, such as "Suicidal Squid", "Tormented Teladi", and "Lost Lar".
All Planets Are Earth-Like: Averted. A good number of planets in-game look Earth-ish (most likely due to the Terraformers, well, terraforming them) but plenty look and are described as fairly different — the Boron homeworld being an aquatic planet with an ammonia-based atmosphere, for example.
Actually, when the network was first explored by the Terrans, it was noted that there were an unusual amount of worlds that were similar to Earth. They only had small differences (geological differences, etc.), which is why Terraformers were required.
The X-Encyclopedia, a 200 page encyclopedia on the background of the X-universe, its future (past the games' timeline), and how technology works. It loves to talk about stuff that isn't mentioned in the games at all, like the "Hatikvah Free League", a separate human government, or a species of sentient whales on a hidden Boron planet.
A rather extreme case of this makes the destruction of the Torus make military sense (since the Torus acts partially as an orbital defense station, destroying it opened the way for the Argon to invade Earth), though it's still an atrocity. Without the X-Encyclopedia, though, Albion Prelude offers no clues that this is the case.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Late in Operation Final Fury in Terran Conflict, you get called back to base after completing a mission. You emerge from the gate in Argon Sector M148 to see a Kha'ak warfleet doing its level best to turn the sector into free hydrogen.
Alternative Calendar: The calendar starts at '0' in 2170, twenty-four years after a Terran colony and war fleet is separated from Earth as part of a mass deception to save Earth from the Xenon. They quickly form their own society (the modern-day Argon are their descendants).
They also erase all mention of Earth from their histories, possibly to prevent anyone from accidentally leading the terraformers back to Earth. By the time of X:BtF, Earth is a fairy tale.
Always Chaotic Evil: The Xenon and the Kha'ak. Pirates and Yaki begin looking like that but it's possible to eventually get on good terms with them, and it's possible to befriend everyone at the same time if you avoid doing combat missions.
Anti-Air: Starburst Shockwave Cannons, Flak Artillery Arrays, and Phased Shockwave Generators are weapons geared specifically to taking down fighter craft, with their extremely high muzzle velocity, high damage, and splash damage. Carriers and some frigates are capable of mounting them en-masse, to clear the area around them for their own fighters.
Antimatter: Terran ships have Matter-Antimatter reactors, their corvettes can mount Matter-Antimatter launchers, and they also have Matter-Antimatter mines. The first game's novelization Farnham's Legend specifically mentions that the matter/antimatter drive aboard the X-Shuttle gave it superior acceleration to Commonwealth ships. The Commonwealth eventually manage to improve on the design with its Jonferson Engines.
Apocalypse How: Apocalypses of various types are all over the games and lore.
Let's start all the way back in the 2140s A.D. The terraformers going nuts resulted in Galactic-level Societal Disruption for the Terrans. Earth came within a hairsbreadth of being rendered uninhabitable.
From the encyclopedia: As a byproduct of the Xenon Conflict in the first game, a star was turned into a black hole (now the sector Black Hole Sun), causing a gamma-ray burst which the Kha'ak homeworld was caught in the path of. It suffered Planetary/Total Extinction at the very least.
The Kha'ak did a system-scale Physical Annihilation of President's End in X2: The Threat. All that's left is rubble and the gates.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can only have a maximum of 21 marines boarding a ship. This bites the OTAS Sirokos in the ass; it can carry 30 marines, and if you try to board a ship with a full bay of marines, you have to either waste time deselecting 9 marines or let those excess float around aimlessly in space to get vaporized by enemy fire.
Arbitrary Maximum Range: All weapons have a maximum range, the longest being 8 kilometers on a capital ship cannon. The effective range of most weapons is lower than the listed max range, because at long range the target will usually avoid the Painfully Slow Projectiles.
Area of Effect: Phased Shockwave Generators and Plasma Burst Generators.
Armor-Piercing Attack: The Mass Driver main weapon will outright ignore ship mounted shields and damage the ship's (very expensive and frail) hull directly. It doesn't do that much damage, but since it's ammo based rather than energy based, it can keep firing until you run out of ammo (which on a large fighter, may be 10,000+ rounds).
Artificial Brilliance: Rapid-response navy ships in Albion Prelude will jump around the universe to respond to threats to their installations and ships. They'll also jump away from combat if they start taking too much damage.
Fatal collisions among NPC ships are commonplace. Fast NPC fighters tend to splat on the station they are attacking after a few minutes of fire. Unwanted self-destruction by launching a missile slower than their ship is also relatively common. Gets elevated to the power of itself if you activate time compression; the AI routines have trouble running 10x faster, and glitch out — generally in more dramatic ways the faster the ship is. Expect to see fighters zig-zagging all over the place and capital ships ramming stations.
The player ship's autopilot appears to use the same lousy programming, leading many members of the community to jokingly dub it the "auto-pillock".
Fighter craft love to smash themselves into capital ships when attacking them. In a series of tests on the EGOSOFT forums, a player ordered swarms of fighters to attack a weaponless capital ship. Two waves, one of Busters and another of Mambas, suffered 50% losses because they were splatting themselves on the sides of their target.
Oddly enough, the auto-pillock is the only thing that mitigates the Aldrin Spitfyre's status as a Game Breaker. This is an M3 heavy fighter capable of topping 450 m/s, has 75 MJ of shielding, and can mount and fire corvette-grade weapons. The game self-balances by smashing it into things on attack runs.
The latter behavior is corrected in Albion Prelude to a rather frightening degree. As long as they can maintain their stores of ammunition, AI missile bombers and frigates will not hesitate to pour long-range ordnance into a sector until everything in it has been purged of life.
Your trading ships and Universe Traders will blissfully fly through Xenon and Pirate sectors without any regard for their life. Universe Traders will sometimes jump away when they come under attack, but not when the enemy is coming towards them - the pilots don't seem to ever notice 3 kilometer long destroyers bearing down on them.
The targeting computer auto-aims for the center of every ship, and is smart enough to lead its targets. But the Terran M1 Tokyo (and its base design, the TL Mobile Mining Base-Ship) have a long, narrow primary hull with an offset saucer section about a third of the way from the stern; the geographical center of the ship is in empty space forward of the saucer. This means that if you're attacking from above or below, auto-aimed shots will quite often miss cleanly.
In Albion Prelude, racial military ships in war sectors will attack your Player Mooks when you're OOS regardless of your reputation with them.
Taken Up to Eleven. Not only would the economy not work in Real Life, it doesn't work In-Universe either. The most infamous example is the Terrans, whose economy is perpetually stagnated, with goods sitting in factories unsold. Doesn't help that the Terran stations and sectors are massive and have a docking corridor that's the size of a Commonwealth station; anything that gets in the way will cause a docking trading ship to avert and restart its docking path. The game's GOD engine (regulates the economy, and what is spawned/removed) also likes to destroy Terran stations because they don't receive their necessary resources, which happens a lot since there will be 3-4 sectors between a technology factory and the ore or food that it needs to run. Terrans fail civil planning forever.
This is an opportunity in disguise. The Terrans are merely waiting for someone (i.e. you) to revitalize their economy by placing in their sectors factories that produce what their stations lack; doing this properly can bring stupid amounts of money to entrepreneur-type players.
Even then, there's never enough weapons to go around unless the player builds his own.
Less well-known is the fact that the Commonwealth will also crash without player intervention. The most common symptom is the removal of both Tractor Beam factories in the game (no station buys them, so traders don't trade with them), which forces the player to build and feed an entire Space Station for something he only ever needs one of.
In X3: Reunion, dropping your shields out from your cargo bay then picking them up again would instantly recharge them. Egosoft kept it in X3: Terran Conflict as it's useless in combat and nobody wants to wait half an hour for their destroyer's shields to recharge.
Similarly with the spacesuit's repair beam: entering a ship and leaving it instantly recharges the repair beam's energy, cutting down scratch damage fixes by a large factor.
Asteroid Miners: Ships can be outfitted with Ore Collectors. Blow up an asteroid with a big missile or a Mobile Drilling System, cut up the chunks into smaller pieces with your weapons, then pick it up. Players can sometimes see AI ships mining asteroids, but it's fairly rare.
Asteroid Thicket: There can be upwards of 40 asteroids (each of which 1-2km in diameter) in a 60 kilometer radius. Most sectors have only a couple asteroids fairly spaced out, but sectors like Savage Spur have several dozen asteroids in a tiny area between the gates; the sector is a death trap for capital ships, more so if SETA is running on 10x.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: Xenon and Kha'ak ships will never retreat from battle, and will blithely throw scout ships to try and kill your destroyers. Pirate and Commonwealth ships will occasionally try and retreat, but by the time they realize "oh god we're all going to die", there is usually only one scout ship left alive.
Attack Drone: Freighters love to drop these by the dozens to swarm attacking ships.
Xtended Terran Conflict adds the M7DC drone frigate class (based on the Griffon drone frigate from Xtended Reunion), which can produce up to 24 advanced combat drones. Each race has its own drone frigate and its own advanced drone. The drones are slightly weaker than an M4 Interceptor, but are quick, swarm enemies, and losses can quickly be replaced by the frigate's drone construction system.
The Motional Analysis Relay System (MARS) script for X3: Terran Conflict allows any capital ship with the MARS software suite installed to use the Goblin drone system. Goblins just use regular drones (MKI, MKII, Keris), but they are linked up to the ship's computer to form a comprehensive and intelligent offensive/defense system. Goblins will be catapulted from the controlling ship's fuselage towards their target, and will smartly execute a variety of orders - they can set up satellite arrays, pick up loot and bring it back to the ship, shoot down incoming missiles, attack enemies (or only keeping their shields down for boarding), and will even return to the ship to recharge their batteries & repair to prevent losses. The drones also have their own chatter, referring to the player as "Master", and present loot as "gifts".
Autosave: The later games autosave when you dock at a station.
Missile frigates and bombers fall into this category in the early game. Fielding them requires the player to build up a strong supporting industry to manufacture munitions. Once said industry is built up, however, they jump to Awesome Yet Practical, fully capable of singlehandedly leveling sectors.
The ATF Valhalla. 14 gigajoules of shielding, 32 Point Singularity Projectors, 24 Starburst Shockwave Cannons ... and it's so wide that it can't fit through gates. Seriously, when it enters a sector, it bangs into the gate rim and loses its shields, reducing the ATF's trump card to a sitting duck. There's a good reason it doesn't spawn in vanilla TC. The behavior is corrected in Albion Prelude, where the Valhalla warps next to a jumpgate, not inside it.
It's also absurdly slow and hard to maneuver, and its size gives it some pretty big blind spots in its laser targeting.
The Paranid M2 Odysseus and Boron M6+ Heavy Hydra are sometimes treated like this (notably on the wiki), though they're really only impractical for early and mid-game players: their price tags are quite a bit higher than the rest of their class.
Through care or an exploit, Terran Conflict players can capture the carrier-class Terran #deca, and even reverse-engineer it. Effectively gate-maximum size and with enough hangar space for fifty heavy fighters, it's a massive and frightening machine that dwarfs most other ships. Outfitting it with any weaponry, however, requires farming Khaak destroyers, and the resulting equipped ship is extraordinarily capital-intensive compared to most of the other options.
Likewise, the Goner Aran is a unique mothership class craft capable of docking another capital ship, along with massive numbers of fighters and a huge cargo bay. Completely unarmed and terribly, terribly slow, though, its primary utility is to act as a supersized cargo bay or to jump into a system, undock fighters, and jump out. It's also found in extremely poor shape, and as a result, repairing and equipping it is an exercise in frustration.
Only if you try to repair it with your spacesuit's repair laser. Just send the damn thing to a shipyard and be done with it. As for equipping it, by the time you have an Aran you're likely to have enough money to finance some shield generator factories.
M2 destroyers as player ships, because they're too slow and can't carry a fighter for use as a captain's yacht (for docking at stations without capital ship docking clamps). Most players prefer high-end M6 corvettes (which don't need a captain's yacht), M7 frigates (versatile, not horrendously slow, and many can carry a small number of fighters), or the fastest of the M1 carriers (ditto).
The Repair Laser. Free repairs? Hell yes! Except the repair laser restores hull points so slowly that anything bigger than a fighter will take upwards of twenty minutes to fix - and that's with hopping in and out of the ship to cancel the recharge time.
Once you set up a supply chain for your missile frigates and bombers, they can effectively wipe out any sector with Macross Missile Massacre.
The Typhoon Missile easily falls under this category. An eight-warhead missile whose warheads do 30 megajoules of damage each; multiplied, it deals 240 megajoules of damage. This is the bane of any fighter that isn't aTeladi Falcon Sentinel, and it is so well-balanced in its stats that it can practically be used against any ship that is not a scout craft. Despite it being a corvette-grade missile, frigates, carriers, and destroyers can carry it in bulk and can effectively become poor men's/women's missile frigates, but with more versatility than missile frigates themselves. Every other ship will learn to fear those carrying the Typhoon because it is capable of triple-M-ing its adversaries, including Xenon and Kha'ak ships, and preferably at longer ranges. Furthermore, there are working factories for the Typhoon and its factories can be purchased at just about any non-Terran shipyard. Its only drawbacks are the below average speed of 195m/s, which renders it incapable of chasing the aforementioned scout craft, and that it cannot track new targets once its original one is destroyed.
Badass Bandolier: In the X3 trilogy, several pirate NPCs and one Split NPC who sometimes gets mistaken for a pirate because of it.
Bag of Spilling: Between X2 and Reunion, Julian Gardna somehow lost his entire trade empire and battlefleet.
Batman Can Breathe in Space: The Paranids can't breathe in space, but the encyclopedia says they can survive unprotected in hard vacuum for an average of forty minutes.
The Split M7 Panther, which has a fighter bay rivaling a carrier and a decent number of frigate-sized guns. M1 Carriers also pack a good number of guns behind powerful shields, though they don't have the stamina of M7 or M2.
The ATF M1 Woden is a variant on their primary M1, the Odin. It trades off fighter capacity for additional weapons power. It doesn't spawn in vanilla X3TC, but it did make it into Albion Prelude.
Big Applesauce: New York City was one of the cities targeted by the Terraformers - the introduction movie in Terran Conflict shows Central Park burned to a crisp courtesy of an aimed meteor impact, with most of the buildings reduced to rubble, while the Terraformer ships hover overhead
Big Bad: The Xenon in X: Beyond the Frontier. The Kha'ak in X2 and Reunion.
The HUB. It's a giant sphere 30 billion kilometers in diameter, it's orbiting a massive red giant star, it's drawing power straight from the star itself, it can modify the Portal Network, and it's unknown who built it.
The Torus Aeternal◊, a massive station that wraps entirely around Earth's equator. It houses millions of people, builds most of the Terrans' enormous fleet, and has weapons capable of annihilating anything that dares to get too close.
Bigger Is Better: The Terran Kyoto and ATF Valhalla, the ultra-destroyers introduced in Albion Prelude. They are by far the largest ships in the game, and have huge amounts of weaponry.
As mentioned in Awesome, but Impractical, the Valhalla is a subversion in Terran Conflict: it's so wide it clips the gate when it enters a sector, stripping it of its shields and rendering it a sitting duck for other capital ships. Albion Prelude fixed it so it warps next to the gate rather than through it.
This is also the design philosophy of both the Boron's and Teladi's ships, though it's more justifiable in the latter's case because their ships fit the Mighty Glacier role, typically have mammoth cargo carrying capacity, and it's all for the sake of profitsss.
Big "NO!": Terran and Argon pilots usually scream "NOOOOO!" when killed.
Bigger on the Inside: Cargo bays, due to quantum compression. Ships not much larger than a modern F-16 jet can fit several dozen people in their cargo bays - which would be about the size of a refrigerator.
Special mention has to go to the Enhanced version of the Teladi Kea, which has a humongous cargo bay that is comparable to most M8 ships, making it the largest fighter in terms of cargo capacity. Because of this, it's often used as a poor man's M8, but slightly faster and better armed.
Black Box: The jumpgates play with this trope. While operation is terribly easy — push a spaceship in one gate, and it'll pop out the other gate in the pair a few seconds later, no matter how far away — no one in the Commonwealth understands anything but the lies-to-children version of how they work. While there are a few scientists capable of repairing damaged gates, no one even thinks about trying replication or reconfiguration, and the irregular outages or changes in the system caused by meddling precursors is treated like mystery or even legend where it's not just a natural risk of the gates. The species that actually made the system in the first place not only consider it outside of the range of understanding of the normal races, they think it's impossible for a species to understand without getting a few points higher on the Kardashev scale. Then the Terran humans get involved, and not only get the theory down and create a new gate on their own, but also create a Jumpdrive that's a separate Black Box to everyone else in the setting.
Blind Jump: The Unfocused Jumpdrive will randomly generate a sector, and warp the player to it; complete with radio hash and distant visible galaxies off in the distance. It's great for escaping your doom, but you better hope you brought energy cells for the return trip, otherwise you'll be stranded forever.
Blood Sport: The Split are fond of arena deathmatchs. Taken to the next level in Xtended, where the Split have created an incredibly violent version of the The Cannonball Runin space. A random set of checkpoints are given to the racers at the start of the race, and they must fly through the checkpoints. Any time a pilot doesn't fire on another race when they have the opportunity, they lose points. When the winner crosses the finish line, all the racing ships will explode after 7 seconds. Because it has such a high mortality rate, the Split have declared it the best sport ever.
Blue and Orange Morality: The Ancients' goals and motivations are basically incomprehensible to the young races. Since they've been around longer than Earth has been Earthlike (over 3.2 billion years), they've had the chance to become Type IV on the Kardashev scale, and their main plan is intended to prevent the heat death of the universe. But because they've been united for so long, they seem to have forgotten that other groups might not be so unified. Like the young races, for instance. Also, for some bizarre reason they told the Commonwealth not to finish off the Xenon after the Second Xenon Conflict, even though it was the Xenon that derailed their long-term plans in the first place.
Boarding Party: You can recruit and train Marines/captured slaves to board enemy ships, murder the crew, and hack the central computer. When they board, they'll eject from your cargo bay and space walk to the enemy ship, or if you have Board Pods you load them into your missile tubes and fire it at the enemy ship. If the enemy ship has shields when your marines come into contact with it, it will fry them.
Boarding Pod: Added with the M7M in Terran Conflict. Pod boarding has both advantages and disadvantages over spacewalk boarding: on the one hand it requires less mechanical skill for your marines to penetrate the hull, and the pods are a good 200 times faster than jetpacks which makes release position almost a non-issue. On the other hand you now have to distract the enemy's point-defense in addition to keeping their shields lowered (Flail Barrage Missiles and fighter drones are good for both), and then there's the logistics issues since there's no factories available to build your own pods: you have to buy them from Community of Planets military outposts.
Albion Prelude makes pod use a little bit easier (and cheaper) by making them not targetable by point defense.
Bold Explorer: In the backstory, the crew of the twelve-man starship Winterblossom set forth in 2045 AD to explore the newly discovered jumpgate network and find habitable worlds for colonies.
Most of the race-neutral weapons like High Energy Plasma Throwers, Particle Accelerator Cannons, and Photon Pulse Cannons are all boring, but practical due to how common they are (There's over a dozen PPC factores in the game, but only 3-5 factories for Phased Shockwave Generators, for example).
Energy Cell trading runs, particularly in the early game. Profit margins are small, but they're always in demand — as they're a necessary resource for absolutely everything — and the game breaks its own economic rules to make sure there's always a supply of them to be had.
Pirates armed with Plasma Burst Generators, and Xenon fighters armed with Pulsed Beam Emitters. Then there is the dreaded Phased Shockwave Generator in X3:R, which is a Plasma Burst Generator with a 90 degree sphere of doom ahead of the firing ship. Thankfully nerfed to capital ship-only in X3:TC.
M8 Bombers in Albion Prelude. In Terran Conflict, they were largely free kills because they spawned with hardly any missiles. Between the games, they Took a Level in Badass, and are now capable of killing at least some ships before running out.
Brain Uploading: The encyclopedia speaks of "presence clouds," an artificial nebula made of a form of degenerate matter called computronium that forms a sort of Dyson Sphere around a star. The Ancients virtualized their consciousnesses into one and create new ones around other stars as dictated by stellar life cycles.
Centrifugal Gravity: Teladi shipyards and both Argon and Teladi trading stations feature large spinning sections to generate gravity for its occupants. In Xtended Terran Conflict, every Teladi station has a centrifuge in its core section, along with several new Teladi ships having small centrifuges.
Chain Lightning: The Ion Disruptor will arc between multiple ships and deal shield damage to all of them, provided the ships are within a kilometer of each other and are somewhat lined up. It's also the best way to deal with enemy missile spam, as the lightning effectively instagibs missiles and can arc between them. Beware its ability to make the local police angry as hell with friendly fire, as it doesn't distinguish between friendly or enemy targets.
Cherry Tapping: Pounding on a slower ship who cannot turn around to face you with a weak weapon. The bailing out mechanic actually encourages it: each hit on a ship with shields down has a chance of causing the pilot to abandon the ship, leaving it for you to claim it and use it or selling it. The Pulsed Beam Emitter, which does tremendous shield damage but almost no hull damage, is very popular because of its ability to force rival pilots out while leaving their ship relatively undamaged.
City Guards: The system police like to buzz around and scan ships for illegal goods, and have destroyers to back them up. Due to how GOD works, the police fighter craft tend to be pathetically armed; most of them only have a couple Impulse Ray Emitters, which are the weakest guns in the game, excluding support equipment and Ion Disruptors.
Clown Car / Clown Car Base: The player's headquarters and a few of the trading stations have room for a potentially unlimited amount of fighters. And thanks to how the out-of-sector battle simulation works, a couple hundred scout ships bought with (end-game level) pocket change can keep the station safe from heavy invaders with little attrition costs. Some stations are far larger than the large freighter that built them - build almost any Terran station and it'll dwarf the ship that assembled it. With a Terran Military Outpost, a single component of the station will be larger than the largest large freighter in the game.
In Xtended Terran Conflict, race sectors are typically color coded via background nebula. Argon sectors are blue, Boron are aquamarine/green, Teladi sectors are yellow/green, Paranid sectors are gold/yellow, Split sectors are red, and Aldrin sectors are gold/bronze. Terran sectors have no color scheme but typically have very bright suns and very colorful planets or nebula, whereas Pirate sectors are typically dark
In the base game, Police and Navy ships generally have altered hue and saturation. Navy ships tend to be unpainted or very dark gray, while Police alter the color (such as the Argon Police having purple highlights on their ships rather than standard red highlights). Depending on the race, it's either very noticable (such as the Split) or less so (Paranid). Boron ships don't get this treatment, as they always remain green.
Microchips in Terran Conflict. They're everywhere — weapons, ships, components of all kinds. And yet, good luck finding some in the universe — there's so much demand, and the production process involves such a convoluted chain of supply, that most chip factories are permanently empty — the few chips they produce are instantly snatched up by NPC traders. And if you do manage to be faster than the traders, expect to pay ludicrous prices for them.
Oh, and you need 75,000 of them for the Hub plot.
Some critical weapons are also exceptionally rare. Incendiary Bomb Launchers (the "primary" frigate weapon) and Plasma Burst Generator have only a couple factories in the universe, and they are all Pirate or Yaki owned — meaning you need to befriend the Pirates and the Yaki in order to buy them. Since Pirates shoot anything that enters their sectors, the stations are also typically nearly empty of resources, meaning that you'll probably need to stock them up yourself, then wait for the wares to be produced, then buy them. When Albion Prelude came out, pre-existing Flak Artillery Array production stations were completely non-existent, meaning the only way to get Flak arrays was to buy and build your own (very expensive) Flak forge, then stock it up, or farm enemy capital ships and hope they drop standard flak weapons.
There is also the possibility of acquiring a station building mission to build a Flak Artillery Array. Should you have the resources, it would be advisable to take them up on their offer.
If you stray very far from the allowed approach vector in Earth sector in Terran Conflict, you'll be warned your ship will be destroyed. Continue, and you'll be the subject of a scripted insta-gib, regardless of how much shielding you have. You can't try to destroy the Torus defenses, either: they're invincible.
The Computer Is A Lying Bastard: With one exception, every time X3: Terran Conflict tells you you need to board a ship with marines during a plot mission, it's lying. The first boarding target will be given to you for free if you wait a while, the second one will get boarded by NPCs if you wait a while and the third time you can just eject in your spacesuit and claim the target like an abandoned ship. This is significant, as training marines to the point where they could actually capture anything is a very expensive and time-consuming process, far beyond the scope of anything in the campaign missions.
The one exception is the Orca you have to capture during the HQ plot. That one actually does require you to board it.
In all Taxi missions, the passenger will begin to nag you as your deadline approaches. The Boron will complain about their tentacles drying out, but due to the voice filters they have, it comes out sounding more like "My testicles are drying out!"
Plot missions do this, too. The second mission of the Terran plot in Terran Conflict will have your commanding officer repeatedly calling you and telling you to head to X system to tail a ship to its destination. And of course in Albion Prelude you'll get constant calls from the military your gamestart is affiliated with to help them invade (or repel invasion of) a sector. Thankfully shutting them up is as easy as disabling mission guidance in the first case, and turning off war reports in preferences in the second.
The introduction to X3: Terran Conflict shows a fleet of Xenon capital ships flying towards Earth from the surface of the moon, the same scene shown a decade before in X: Beyond The Frontier's introduction.
Continuity Snarl: Deciphering what is canon and what isn't can be a little difficult. As Helge Kautz put it in the X-Encyclopedia,
most of the information comes from the usual unreliable sources such as forum posts, off-hand references in text, translations, reverse translations and an awful lot of guesswork. What's still missing is made up as people go along. It's no big deal as long as people are having fun, but what ends up happening is that there a large number of slightly different universes that don't quite fit together. This is a particular problem across the various language barriers. (The text goes on to explain that codifying the lore is the main purpose of the Encyclopedia.)
Cool Gate: Ordinary jumpgates look pretty nifty. Then compare them to the Terran-designed Neptune gate in TC.
#DECA◊ M1, a massive cylindrical Terraformer CPU ship. The nose of the ship is a massive gaping hole, leading to a glowing red interior.
OTAS Boreas M2◊, a destroyer looking like something from Babylon 5, and which outguns basically every ship in the game.
Argon Elite M4+, an advanced interceptor which is a throwback to the original Argon Elite M3 from X: Beyond the Frontier and X: Tension.
Springblossom◊ M6, the single most overpowered corvette in the game, which has ridiculously insane stats for a M6. It's effectively a cockpit with some wings and a giant engine strapped onto the back.
X3R has the Hyperion◊ M7, a one-of-a-kind, class-creating (M7s didn't exist before it) ship that is given to you after you complete a fairly hard mission. Described as a space yacht, it's in reality a very capable crossover between the M6 corvette and large M2 destroyers. As it's very fast and quite well armed, it's capable of swatting standard frigates out of space with little trouble, and can kill destroyers in a one-on-one fight by evading most of their fire. It also looks wicked.
The Hyperion returns in X3:TC, and while it had been downgraded to an M6 corvette it is easily the best M6 in the game and is a fan favorite playership. It flies like an M3+ heavy fighter, practically turning on a dime, has top of the line firepower and shields for an M6, has an absolutely gigantic cargo bay (3333 m^3) and is the only M6 in the game that can dock fighter craft. And if you pick a specific game-start you can even get an overtuned Hyperion that flies far faster than you can normally tune a Hyperion to fly; reports of getting overtuned Hyperions with top speeds over 300 m/s are quite common.
The Boron Megalodon. Originally in the Xtended Terran Conflict mod, but now part of Albion Prelude.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Prelude's adding Stock Markets allows the player to easily become this — obliterating rival corporate ships in order to reduce the value of their company, to get stocks for cut-rate prices.
Cosmetic Award: Terran Conflict acquired an achievement list for the Steam version in the 2.6 patch. Albion Prelude has one as well, and X Rebirth is no different.
Crazy-Prepared: Among the functions of the popular MARS script is automatically switching guns in and out of a ship's gun batteries based on what the battery is targeting. You have to have the spare guns in your cargo bay, meaning you might end up carrying two or three entire loadouts (anti-fighter, anti-capital, and maybe anti-corvette).
Crew of One: One man scout ships? Sure. Corvettes the size of a large yacht? No problem! Battleships that are 5 kilometers long? Piece of cake; I don't need a crew! The player never needs a crew on any of his ships (save for Sector and Universe traders, which still has just one pilot), though this is averted for the AI - if you open a comm channel with an AI corvette, frigate, destroyer, or carrier, you'll get a list of names, such as the Captain and navigation officer.
The Boron Kraken missile frigate drops all point defenses for more missile launchers. This essentially means they have no way to protect themselves from incoming missiles - save for spamming their own missiles at enemy missiles and hoping they hit. This was changed in Albion Prelude, where all ships can mount Mosquito missiles, which coupled with a Bonus Pack script provide a workable missile shield. Missile frigates take this one step further and automatically provide this ability in vanilla Albion Prelude - except that they use all their launch tubes simultaneously, creating a Macross Missile Defense.
Kha'ak craft take directed-energy weaponry to one extreme with their (near) Hit Scan Kyon Emitters. While this makes them terribly effective against missiles (especially if they aren't of the Swarm variety) and any craft below M7-class, they don't rely on any weaponry other than their own, they don't scale well against the bigger capital ships, and the shielding and hull strength of Kha'ak ships are so painfully below average that they can easily be defeated by a concentrated assault of missile barrages and Wave Motion Guns. Or, better yet, fighter droneswarms.
The OTAS Sirokos M7M is designed as a "heavy capture frigate" and carries an extra ten marines ... at the cost of being unable to fire anything but Boarding Pods. It's not completely useless, though: players have learned to use it in tandem with an M7M that can actually fight, in order to bolster marines' numbers when boarding Xenon.
Terran/ATF ships are configured to only carry their own race-specific weaponry, and thus, they are unable to mount weaponry designed by the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, some of their arsenal (discounting their missiles) puts their fighters and frigates at a marked disadvantage when facing their Commonwealth and Xenon counterparts, and it only gets worse when their economy is horrendously drawn from the inside-out.
Critical Existence Failure: Averted in X2: The Threat and later games. Once the shields go down, the ship starts taking damage to the hull. When hull integrity goes below ~85%, the ship starts to lose speed, and upgrades and weapons randomly break.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The final mission of Reunion has the Paranid activating their new jump gate in the middle of the largest Kha'ak attack the universe has ever seen. Then the Terran fleet begins to pour out of the gate and stomp the Kha'ak into the ground. They then set up a blockade around the gate to prevent anyone from reaching Earth, which is guarded by thousands of ships and the Torus Aeternal. In Reunion, the Terran ships are apocalyptically powerful, capable of shredding anything they come across. Even when they were nerfed for Terran Conflict, they are still incredibly powerful, leading to Terran capital ships typically ripping apart Argon capital ships in Albion Prelude.
Darker and Edgier: Albion Prelude. The opening cutscene has one of the main characters from Reunion blowing themselves and the Torus Aeternal up, killing millions instantly (and then millions more when the wreckage falls back to Earth). A full-on near-genocidal interstellar war kicks out between the Terrans' United Space Command / AGI Task Force and the Argon Federation.
The only way for a lone fighter to win against a capital ship (without Macross Missile Massacre, at least) is to hide in a blind spot and shoot its comparatively weak weapons until the target dies. A couple hours later.
The player risks being on the receiving end of this in Xenon and Kha'ak sectors. Such sectors will spawn enemies without end.
Quite a lot of planets with their crust blasted off, leaving behind molten red hellholes.
Albion in Albion Prelude takes it to another level, with massive fissures actually penetrating deep into the mantle of the planet.
Defeat Means Playable: Pilots of fighter-class ships and freighters would sometimes bail when critically damaged in order to save their butts. The player can then exit their own ship in a spacesuit, and claim the ship to add to their fleet (or to pilot it themselves). This is the only way to acquire Pirate, Xenon, Kha'ak, and AGI Task Force ships. X3: Terran Conflict added marine boarding, allowing the player to steal capital ships after draining their shields and killing the crew with a squadron of marines. By using the Player Headquarters, the player can then reverse-engineer captured ships to put them in mass production.
Deflector Shields: Every single ship has these, you're dead without them. (Even Goners, the space monks, use them)
The Split are an In-Universe example according to the encyclopedia. Their allying with the Paranids in the Boron Campaign caused a rift, or "split," between the Argon and Paranid. Similarly the name for the Kha'ak is a loan word from the Split language, a creature from their mythology analogous to a parasitic wasp that lays its eggs in Split children. The Kha'ak bear no actual relation to this, of course.
Design It Yourself Equipment: Subverted. You don't actually get to see the equipment you've installed in your ship other than the guns. You can, however, give custom paint jobs to your ship in the Player Headquarters. The only ships you can't give a color makeover to are Boron ships, thanks to their organic construction.
Destroyable Items: In X2 and later, you have a random chance to have outfits destroyed when you take hull damage. The more damaged your hull, the higher the chance.
Destructible Projectiles: You can shoot down incoming missiles. They're One Hit Point Wonders in most of the series, but gain a health bar in Albion Prelude. Woe betide to any player shooting down Area of Effect missiles such as Firestorm or Hammerhead missiles; they can easily vaporize almost any non-M7-class vessel if too close.
Diegetic Interface: Ships in The Threat and previous games had cockpits which had bits of the HUD on them, such as a capital ship having a large gravidar screen to the side of the ship's control bridge. Fighters had hull, shield, weapon strength incorporated into the cockpit pillars or on the dashboard, with the gravidar generally occupying the center of the dashboard. Reunion removed cockpits entirely, but several different mods re-add the cockpits from The Threat, and some added entirely new cockpits.
Terran Conflict gives the player a one-of-a-kind ATF Vidar corvette midway through the Terran Conflict plot. It's a very good ship, with a very slim profile, good shields, and ammo-based primary weapons (negating the normally obnoxiously weak laser generators in most corvettes). A little while later you get access to the Aldrin Springblossom, which is frankly considered a Game Breaker.
Albion Prelude dumps a high-end Argon Centaur corvette on the player about an hour into the plot. The Centaur normally takes anywhere from an hour to a dozen hours to buy, after saving up enough credits and getting on the good side of the Argon Federation.
Xtended Terran Conflict has several alternate game starts which give the player capital ships. One of the Paranid starts gives the player a Hercules TL (~30 million credits) which is carrying the Player Headquarters (~190 miil). A Terran start gives the player a partially equipped Yokohama frigate (~35-50 mil).
Each game has an add-on bonus pack that adds a number of useful scripts, ranging from smarter AI trading (Commercial Agent, Commodity Logistics Software) to a near-impenetrable missile defense program for Commonwealth vessels (Mosquito Missile Defense).
X3: Reunion: "The Bala Gi Missions" (part of a patch).
X3: Terran Conflict:
"A New Home": New plot. Added in patch.
"Aldrin Expansion": New plot. Added in patch.
"HQ plot": New plot. Added in patch.
"Balance of Power": New plot. Added in 3.0 patch.
"A Place of Sunshine": New sector distributed over Steam.
X3: Albion Prelude. $9.99 (or free for people who own the X-Superbox), requires Terran Conflict to be installed. Adds in a stock market, improves the UI, and adds some ships from the Xtended Terran Conflict mod.
Drone Deployer: In vanilla, NPC freighters frequently carry a dozen or so fighter drones and deploy them as distractions upon being attacked. Player Mooks equipped with Fight Command Software Mk2 and using Sector Trader, Commercial Agent, or Commodity Logistics Software will automatically buy drones for this upon reaching a certain experience level. Player Mooks tend to have a better escape rate since most players fit their trade ships with jumpdrives.
Dummied Out: A couple dozen ships don't spawn in vanilla Terran Conflict, though most were never actually finished and use other ships as placeholders. The Valhalla and Woden, on the other hand...
Dynamic Difficulty: In X³, combat ranks are used to determine enemies, making the game harder as you destroy enemy craft. The combat rank will decay if you let the game idle, decreasing 2% every in-game hour. Said decay won't drop the rank below Fighter (Rank #10).
In Reunion and previous games, you start with one of the cheapest ships in the game and enough cash to make a half decent trading run if you're lucky. You're going to be spending a while grinding for credits and reputation before you can afford anything really cool.
There's several starts in X3: Terran Conflict which give you a much better fighter, or trading ship. X3: Reunion players are stuck with the Buster, the Kha'ak start a couple M5 starts, or a couple of trading starts. The Xtended Terran Conflict mod has a start where you start in a 35 million credit frigate, and another with a 250 million credit station and a 20 million credit large transporter.
This is easily subverted when the player realizes that the trader start is the best for a fighter character. It gives you a light freighter you're supposed to trade with and a light fighter to defend yourself, but if you sell the freighter you'll get enough money to kit out the fighter and arm it to the teeth. Then you start looking for medium pirate fighters to capture and resell, and before you know it you're sitting in an M3+ superheavy fighter.
The difficulty dropped a lot in Albion Prelude. The Argon start puts you at the controls of an M3 Enhanced Nova, and grants you an M6 Centaur within the plot's first hour. The Terran start skips the M3 stage entirely; you get an M6 Katana.
Supposedly the fate suffered by the Kha'ak homeworld courtesy of a gamma ray burster, whose fragments form the Nividium asteroids scattered about.
The plot of X:BTF revolves around the Second Xenon Conflict, the campaign to prevent the Xenon from using their M0 planet killer. X2 has this happen to President's End at the hands of the Kha'ak; the plot's objective is preventing an encore performance.
Easter Egg: While flying around in Terran Conflict you may come across a ship called Unknown Object. It's a small M3 fighter in the shape of a UFO. According to the wiki, it's a remnant of a "Xenon Unknown Object" from Reunion.
Eldritch Abomination: A few have been hinted at in flavor text. In particular, the description for Xenon Sector 596 says the sector was discovered by a lost Boron pilot, who was found driven insane with terror, screaming about an 'eternal cosmic horror' living inside the planet.
Elite Mooks: The Pirate Blastclaw, their only homebuilt fighter, is far superior to the outdated production models the pirates usually use. The Xenon have the relatively rare "LX" heavy fighter, which carries superior firepower compared to their standard "L" fighter; it's a favored personal ship by many due to its powerful stats, which stand in stark contrast to the Xenon's usual design philosophy.
The Empire: The Split Patriarchy, a totalitarian regime and the only member of the Commonwealth that practices slavery. The Paranid have an actual empire and come pretty close, though.
Encyclopedia Exposita: Ships, governments, corporations, trade goods, weapons, the whole shebang, accessible from a drop-down menu in X3.
End of an Age: The end of Albion Prelude, when the Ancients shut down the gate network.
Enemy Chatter: Ships will broadcast for help when they're taking damage, yell that their shields are down to their allies, and taunt you - even if they're about to die.
Albion Prelude provides a story example. The Argon and Paranids are traditional rivals, which goes back to the latter's refusal to help them in the First Xenon Conflict. The rivalry gets bloody frequently, and when the Second Terraformer War breaks out, the Paranid help out the Terrans. One of their top officers aids Lt. Col. Elena Kho in stopping the final attack on Earth, and is marooned in Sol after the gates shut down.
The Enemy Weapons Are Better: In X3: Reunion and later games, players frequently ditch their Commonwealth or Terran heavy fighters for Xenon heavy fighters, as the Xenon LX fighter is in most regards superior to comparable (non-Prototype/Enhanced) Commonwealth fighters (It probably helps that the LX lookscool). In the late game when players can out-produce most races, some switch over from buying (or boarding) capital ships from the six main races and instead start to produce Xenon capital ships, though this is mostly because Xenon capitals take a fraction of the time and resources to produce.
Energy Ball: Several of the game's Energy Weapons fire spheroidal shots. The most obvious of these are the frigate-grade Incendiary Bomb Launcher and the destroyer-scale Photon Pulse Cannon.
Energy Economy: Energy cells are the basis of the economy, though not its currency.
An Entrepreneur Is You: One of the main points of the game is building your own economic empire, with dozens of trading ships and hundreds of orbital factories.
Epigraph: Every gamestart of every game has a quote from a famous scientist, author or politician somewhat related to the game.
Escape Pod: In Xtended Terran Conflict, corvettes and larger will launch up to a dozen escape pods upon destruction or bailing; the pods will blast off in excess of 400m/s, perform some evasive actions, and use their miniature jumpdrives escape safely. Smaller craft don't get it so easily; fighter and freighter pilots either go down with their ship or jump out in a space suit, and EVA to the nearest space station; the player can pick them up and sell them into slavery.
From HELL. The amount of opponents that spawn during missions varies with your combat ratings but the escortees remain painfully slow and barely shielded cargo freighters which go down to any interceptor and fighter in a matter of seconds. The attackers seem to appear indefinitely in fixed time intervals, so it's easy to end up having to fight a swarm of 10-15 fighters every 20 kilometers — if you're lucky, as the AI certainly seems to take its time to pass through gates and dock to stations. To add insult to injury, sometimes the freighters break formation and fly in separate directions. Once you have a high combat rank, the AI will start spawning in battleships at regular intervals to try and kill the freighters.
After the first couple of such missions, most players learn not to accept them unless there is no other choice, as with the hiring missions for some of the corporations and one of the plots.
A solution to the must-do Escort Missions lies in an exploit: since the game only begins spawning enemies for the mission once the player enters the freighters' sector, simply never be in the same sector as the freighters.
The one plot-relevant escort mission that you can complete without the above exploit is the exception that proves the rule. When the Terrans tell you to babysit a ship carrying Terraformer debris on a trip from Heretic's End to Venus, the enemies involved spawn once at a scripted location, you have additional naval forces for backup, and the escortee is a personnel transport instead of a freighter so it's much faster and somewhat tougher than usual.
One forum member discovered that corkscrewing, or flying in a spiral by putting his joystick to the stops on all three axes, was a pretty effective evasive maneuver in a fighter. He was even able to survive a mob of Kha'ak fighters in a Split Mamba Vanguard.
Many ship models have spinning components, just because. Some (like on the OTAS M2 Boreas) are justified by looking like sensor dishes, or by being an engine turbine in the case of the Boron Megalodon.
Back in the days of the first game, both the Terran capital ship you start from and the planet-killer you have to destroy in the endgame have unreasonably huge spinning parts for no observable reason.
The OTAS Venti M3 fighter has twin gatling-style guns that even rotate when it fires.
Evil Is Not Well Lit: The main pirate sector, Loomanckstrat's Legacy, is the only sector in the game with no sun - making the sector extremely dark. In Xtended, poor lighting is the color coding scheme for Pirate sectors.
Evil Versus Evil: The Xenon Vs. the Kha'ak, if the Kha'ak were to jump in a sector the Xenon are in. Especially if it's a Xenon-controlled sector. Usually the Kha'ak gain a distinct advantage over the Xenon due to their near Hit Scan laser beams, unless the Xenon Zerg Rush them.
Capital ships create a giant white fireball and a large shockwave when blown to bits. It has no discernible effect on any craft passing by.
While lacking the large shockwave effect, stations also produce massive explosions when destroyed; particularly big or important ones, such as Xenon Shipyards, produce fireballs several times as massive, easily topping fifteen to twenty kilometers in size. Most also leave debris behind, which disappears after a couple game-days.
Many mods base their ships on crafts from other games, with some modifications to make them a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo. The Xtra ship mod by Cadius, for example, features several new capital ships which are based on ships from Nexus: The Jupiter Incident. Example: Terran Nagoya◊ versus the Noah Colony Battleship◊ - The ship's detail has been bumped up and textures are like those of other Terran ships, but the two are obviously the same design.
Faction Calculus: The ships have a lot of stats which can be roughly condensed into: speed, shielding, armament and cargo capacity. Crippling Overspecialization is largely avoided, making ships largely defined by what they don't have rather than what they excel at.
Argon ships are balanced (making them a case of Humans Are Average), providing a nice baseline for the Faction Calculus. Argon vessels make solid, well-rounded performers, but some will stress that there are generally better options depending on your flying style.
OTAS ships, being the experimental private contractor offshoot of Argon tech, are generally more efficient than stock ships and have just as much versatility. The offset is their excessive price.
Boron ships are fast and well-shielded, but generally badly armed with undersized weapon generators. Possibly Fridge Brilliance when you consider that the Boron are pacifist, and only maintain a military for self-defense (read as "because of the Split"). Considering missiles are standardized, their larger cargo bays (though not as large as Teladi ships) makes them great at Macross Missile Massacre.
Paranid ships are balanced, but reduce cargo space to increase close-range firepower. They also tend to be more expensive than Argon vessels.
Pirate ships have poor stats (worse in every regard to the race ships they're based on), but their ships typically offer a huge variety in compatible weapons and often can use fairly large weapons. Justified by fluff: pirate fighters (except the Blastclaw) and corvettes are obsolete production models modified and updated to be competitive with current ships. Their capital ships and space stations are kitbashed hulks and derelicts.
Split ships are Fragile Speedsters, fast with increased firepower at the expense of shielding. Note that their frigates do not follow this pattern and are arguably the most dependable well-rounded performers in their class.
Yaki ships generally imitate Paranid ships in handling and looks, but some (notably the Tenjin) follow the Split example.
Teladi ships are Mighty Glaciers, slow but durable with respectable firepower. They have significantly increased cargo space for greater profitsss. Because of this, besides being good at trading, they are the best ships for Macross Missile Massacre.
Terran and ATF ships trade some firepower (limited weapon selection and somewhat lower damage output) for speed and shielding. But they definitely aren't slouches on any leg of the armor triangle, which causes some to regard them as Game Breakers.
Finally, Xenon and Kha'ak ships are The Horde, being hive-minded races. They're subpar in most respects, but Xenon ships can be replicated quickly and cheaply with the Player Headquarters, making them popular among late-game players. Kha'ak ships aren't much used, since they require unique weapons that need to be farmed - although the almost-Hit Scan ability of said weapons can entice some players.
Failed a Spot Check: The Autopilot is incapable of looking ahead on its path, and instead will only check what is immediately in front of it with every frame. It's possible for a stationary asteroid 2 kilometers across to sneak up on ship flying around (at which point the ship will gleefully smash into the asteroid), and even more likely if SETA is engaged, which cuts the frames from half of the normal frame rate to a mere tenth of the normal - in essence, the higher one's framerate, the better the AI pathfinding is.
To be specific, the Argon government is a parliamentary democracy where every station and planet gets a senator. The Argon are led by a president or prime minister (the games use the first title, the X-Encyclopedia uses the second).
The Boron are a constitutional monarchy/parliamentary democracy hybrid not unlike the United Kingdom: the queen is a figurehead for the parliament.
The Terrans may also qualify, but their xenophobia might also make them a subversion.
One category of side missions requires you to collect cargo from another station and deliver it to the client. Another requires you to obtain a crapload of cargo from wherever you can get it and deliver it to the client.
The Hub plot takes it Up to Eleven. It's an entire Fetch Plot.
Fictional United Nations: The Commonwealth/Community of Planets, whose formation was spearheaded by the Teladi Space Company out of enlightened self-interest (i.e. getting the other nations to fight less and work together more makes making profitsss easier). The members still fight among themselves occasionally but also band together to fight common threats such as the Khaak.
Final Death Mode: Dead-Is-Dead mode in Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude will delete your save game upon death. In a game where saves can have hundreds or thousands of hours of playtime, it's very painful.
Reunion ends with the AGI Task Force fleet streaming through the newly built jump gate in Heretics End, reuniting Earth to the X-Universe. Said fleet crushes a Kha'ak invasion in mere minutes - then the camera goes through the wormhole to Earth, showing the massive Torus Aeternal and even more ATF ships heading towards the camera.
The view from the Torus in Terran Conflict shows probably thousands of ships, about a third of them Osaka destroyers, orbiting Earth behind the Torus.
Flavor Text: Just about every object in the entire game has its own little tale to tell.
Flechette Storm: The Fragmentation Bomb Launcher use flechettes to damage targets.
It tries to, anyway. The flechettes rarely actually hit anything. Ditto the Cluster Flak Array, which is the FBL writ large.
Fluffy the Terrible: The OTAS Venti sounds like something you'd get at Starbucks. In actuality, it's an extremely deadly M3 fighter.
Flying Saucer: Players can sometimes see the stereotypical flying saucer UFO (labeled "Unknown Object") zipping quickly between sectors, as an Easter Egg. The flying saucer is very useful for exploring the universe — order one of your scout ships to follow it as the saucer makes its rounds through the gate system, and they'll quickly uncover most of the universe.
Including Xenon sectors...the caveat to this being that the UFO is neutral to all races. You, however, are not. Sending an M5 into Xenon sectors is a great way for it to suffer Critical Existence Failure shortly thereafter.
Forced Tutorial: Sort of. You're required to complete the tutorial to get one of the achievements in Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude.
Scout craft, which while anywhere from two to several times faster than any other ship, will get vaporized with so much as a sneer from heavier fighters and any capital ship. Split ships as a whole also fit the type, as they concentrate on speed and firepower rather than heavy shielding. Boron ships also have weakened shields and higher speed, but not as extreme as the Split ships.
The Teladi Kestrel is the fastest ship to be purchasable from its respective race's shipyards (in fact, it's the fourth fastest overall in the game). It's not recommended to use auto-pilot and SETA at the same time because it can barely control itself at such speeds and carries a high risk of colliding with another object. It's really only good at barging through sectors hopefully unscathed because like all M5s, it won't last long in even an M4 dogfight. Although in the hands of a good fighter-jock-type player it makes a decent Gradual Grinder: having better guns than most M5s, coupled with the class's agility and speed, means it can handle itself against anything up to M3 if you keep to the side so you can attack from blind spots. Plus, since it comes with a rear turret, it can shake off any missile that tries to catch it: the Rapier missile is the only one that can catch up with the Kestrel thanks to being the fastest out of any counterpart at a blistering 657m/s (until Albion Prelude, where the still pathetically weak Mosquito missile took the title as the fastest at 700m/s) and doing a reasonable 1MJ of damage.
The Pirate version adds roughly 30 more m/s than the standard version, making it the fastest pilotable armed ship and the third fastest overall in the game.
The two fastest ships in the game, Starburst and Arrow, aren't even meant to fight — they are completely unarmed. They have shields, but they might as well not — good luck hitting something this tiny going at 1000+ meters per second.
Some Split ships, by fluff, weren't even designed with shields in mind. The design team clean forgot about it and later had to be retrofitted. Starburst and Arrow, rather than being fighters, are supposed to be used for racing.
"Raider" ship variants. Shield capacity has been reduced in exchange for more powerful engines and better weapon energy generators.
Frickin' Laser Beams: Kyon Emitters, as well as the developer-disabled Phased Array Laser/Plasma Beam/Tri-Beam Laser/Fusion Beam Cannons.
Disabled because they would instant-kill any enemy (and the player too). Kyons were nerfed from X2 onwards for that reason.
Kyons are laser beams in appearance only. Apparently the game engine can't handle actual beams, so the Kyon Emitters are in fact projectile-based weapons with beam graphics and very fast, invisible projectiles. This is sometimes noticeable when targeting fast ships, as the beam looks as if it hit, but the ship takes no damage as the projectile(s) missed.
Frictionless Reentry: Averted, surprisingly enough. Planets in the games aren't just backdrops, but physical objects with atmospheres and all, and you can actually reach them in a ship if they're not on the other side of the Invisible Wall.note Though it takes a while; see Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale below. However, ships in the X-Universe are not meant for atmospheric flight, and will burn up. The planet in Split Fire has gotten some notoriety for this, as the atmosphere starts about 1 kilometer behind one of the jumpgates.
Future Food Is Artificial: The main Boron foodstuff is BoFu, a tofu-like substance created in part from plankton. The squids love it and can live on a nugget of it for a week, but the other races can't even choke it down. For their part, Terran foodstuffs include MREs, carbo cake, and vita kainote a block of concentrated vitamins.
Future Imperfect: For around six hundred years most Argon believed Earth to be a myth perpetrated by the Goners, due to their progenitors having deleted all mention of Earth from their history to prevent anyone from leading the terraformers back there. Kyle Brennan's little mishap in X: Beyond the Frontier proved the Goners were right.
Future Slang: While the Teladi generally refer to money as profitsss/creditsss, "buckzoid", although not referred to in dialogue, is another Teladi term for money, seeing that there's a sector named Ceo's Buckzoid. In fact, one of the game starts from Terran Conflict ( after you reach a certain high rank with the Teladi) has a detailed profile for your Teladi character that even says about "making the big buckzoids".