These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Achievements in Ignorance: Placed here because it's a Real Life example. The manual for the Terran Conflict Bonus Pack states that Commercial Agents have to be of a certain rank before they can bring cargo to and from player-owned docks. Forum member StarSword didn't read the manual and started freshly hired Apprentices working for an Equipment Dock, and discovered they worked just fine.
The EGOSOFT forums can be divided into two categories: People who love Steam, and people who think it is a demonic spawn from the fiery pits of hell, destined to steal all your money. A third, less vocal category is the people who don't mind Steam in principle, but don't have the bandwidth to make use of it. If the Steam pro/con poll in the X Rebirth forum is any judge, the forums are split about 70/30 in favor.
Multiplayer is another Base Breaker. Proponents think multiplayer would be fun. Opponents point to EVE Online, which in its current state has griefing and noob-hunting as a primary activity of much of the playerbase. This is in stark contrast to the generally glad-to-help nature of the typical veteran X-er.
Crowning Moment Of Awesome: The Battle of Aldrin from Terran Conflict, with a massed Terran warfleet attacking the #deca CPU ship.
Xenon "M" interceptors. While they're poorly shielded, they come in huge swarms, and 90% of them will mount Pulsed Beam Emitters — weapons which are impossible to dodge. A single M can strip down the shields of an M3 fighter very quickly on its own — add in several dozen friends and you basically need a capital ship to kill them all without dying instantly in a hailstorm of (nearly) hitscan weapons.
The game actually seems to be aware of this, and makes you aware very early on that you will need good strategy to deal with them. At the end of the Escort Mission that kicks off Terran Conflict's main plot, you face a squad of M's. Unless you stick close to the Argon forces that accompany you on the mission, it is very likely you will die.
The Xenon "LX" heavy fighter. While it isn't as common as the M and is a tad slower, it has turret coverage in both the front and rear arcs that can easily swat out non-swarm missiles. Meanwhile, it's got the same Pulsed Beam Emitters as any other Xenon craft not an N which makes the LX dangerous for any non-M7 craft. Players try to Cherry Tap it in hopes of capturing the fighter for personal use, as it is one of the better M3+ craft around.
The Xenon "Q" frigate is a Demonic Giant Spider. On paper its stats are actually fairly mediocre for an M7 (though it typically mounts some pretty heavy weapons, including PPCs on the flank batteries), and the firing arcs for its turrets are totally bugged (the dorsal and ventral guns don't even fire!), but it is reviled for its ability to one-shot pretty much anything short of the Terran Osaka and ATF Tyr destroyer OOS. Technically every M7 can do that given a lucky break with the RNG, but as the Q is the most common enemy M7 it gets all the hate for preying on your helpless transport ships.
Any ship with a Plasma Burst Generator. They're nigh-impossible to dodge, fire quickly, and burn through shields and hull in seconds (unless you're flying an M7 or higher). At least the weapon is incompatible with Xenon craft, which were already dangerous to begin with (otherwise they'll become even more dangerous than they really are).
Kha'ak ships M6 and above. Their near Hit Scan laser beams can do quite a number on even an M2-class ship and they can easily one-shot non-swarm missiles. Your best bet is to take an M7(M) or better if you want to deal with these bad boys.
Only if your idea of an M2 is a Split Python or similar. The Terran Osaka can take on multiple Kha'ak M2s at once and come out none the worse for wear.
Designated Villain: As of Albion Prelude, we are clearly meant to consider the Terrans as the enemy, despite the fact that The Argons struck first, and the Terrans are acting purely in self defense while the Argons are attempting genocide.
However, in a rather extreme case of All There in the Manual, the X-encyclopedia details -why- the Argons struck at all, noting that the Terrans infiltrated the Argon Federation with spy ops to secretly influence the course of the Community of Planets. This explanation does, however, bring up another issue.
Evil Is Cool: For some, the Split and Paranid empires have the best looking ships.
Fandom Rivalry: With EVE to some extent, mostly out of a general dislike for its player culture. Which incidentally is one of the reasons the games are staying single-player: Egosoft at one point teased an X MMO, but the idea was rejected by forum polls.
Pirate and Xenon M5s. They do very little damage, but they come in groups of 3-10, and they'll just swarm around the player ship, slowly plinking it to death. These ships are moving around at ~300m/s, making conventional weapons useless against them, as the scouts are constantly adjusting their flight path. Mass Drivers, Impulse Ray Emitters, Particle Accelerator Cannons, Pulsed Beam Emitters, and Phased Repeater Guns are usually the only weapons that can hit them effectively. The Plasma Burst Generator and/or Phased Shockwave Generator can work wonders on them, as well; if they get within your weapon's arbitrarily short range.
In terms of missiles, Hurricanes, Wasps, Rapiers, Disruptors, Mosquitoes, and Flail Barrages/Ghouls can catch up to these craft, and all of them except the Rapier, the Wasp (if only 5 of its warheads hit), and the Mosquito can pretty much one-shot M5s.
Kha'ak craft lower than an M6. Their aforementioned near Hit Scan laser beams can prove more than a mere nuisance to even M3s and can prove quite dangerous when they Zerg Rush you.
The Cluster straddles between this trope and Demonic Spiders. Basically, it's one M3 combined with several M5s or M4s to swarm all over your ship to make your life difficult. A Plasma Burst Generator or a sufficiently powerful tracking missile can one-shot all the scouts except the M3 when they're about to break off, otherwise you better hone your piloting skills against these.
In TC, the aforementioned typo in the data for the Shadow missile that turned the Skirnir into a Game Breaker. Fixed in AP so that pro-Argon players wouldn't get blown away the minute a Skirnir showed up.
The item cloning exploit, which in TC lets you get around shortages of certain equipment, especially Terran gear and boarding pods. Find a shipyard in a sector with an equipment dock, military outpost, or something to that effect which is linked to the shipyard to let you equip ships on purchase. Make sure the EQ dock has at least one of the desired item in stock. Buy at least two ships from the shipyard, click through to the equipment screen, and buy the desired item. This will put that number of the purchased items on all the ships you're equipping. You can then sell back the item and multiply it further. Weirdly, it costs the same amount of money as it would if you were actually buying the multiplied number of items. This was removed in AP unfortunately.
Inferred Holocaust: After the events of X3: Albion Prelude. The Precursors shut down the entire Portal Network to contain the incredibly aggressive Xenon terraformer AI. Doing so on a small scale in the past has actually been a good solution to bad problems, but this means not only will the younger species be incapable of traveling or communicating with each other or their own colony planets, they won't even know where the other sectors actually are to try and contact each other for years. Many sectors have nothing but manned manufacturing plants, most of which aren't self-sustaining, and even many planetary sectors rely heavily on trade.
The shutdown is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you have the above. On the other hand, it also had the byproduct of stopping the Argon/Terran war in its tracks, which at this rate was going to end in one of the two sides being completely wiped out. Speaking of which, the faction that comes off best would be the Terrans. A, over two thirds of their sectors are in the Solar System, and they've got non-jumpgate technology for intrasystem travel. B, they do know where their other main sector is in space, and can reach it using jumpdrives. As for the other factions, planets are not villages. Aldrin survived 800 years with no contact with the outside world whatsoever. The One Product Sectors are screwed, but the ones with inhabited planets should be all right.
All There in the Manual: According to the X-Encyclopedia, those who predicted the collapse of major governments were correct. However, a modicum of interstellar communication is reestablished about two decades later by means of lighthugging message drones.
It's Easy, so It Sucks: When Terran Conflict came out, some veterans were annoyed because it no longer took as long to make your first million credits.
Briefly, a photo of Egosoft head Bernd Lehahn at his computer (posted during the announcement of X: Rebirth). The image on his screen started getting Photoshopped into all sorts of things, including an image of Bernd at his computer. It died out after the forum basically ran out of ideas.
The sector Vestibule of Creation. For some bizarre reason, Betty (the ship's computer voice) switches to a different voice to speak the name of this sector. This is most probably due to a sound engineer's oversight.
Attacking an enemy station will result in message spam with things like "You were warned. Pirate ships are now being launched" a several times a minute. And unless you're attacking with multiple capital ships, a station can take ten minutes to kill.
It's even more annoying when you're protecting the station and it got hit by friendly fire.
'You have gained recognition'. (faction rank increased)
'You are being promoted'. (increase in Trade or Fight rank)
Narm: Many of the enemy pilot death cries, but in particular a random Teladi comment about his ship being shot apart and his imminent horrific death: "Lost profitsssssss! Aaaargh!"
Most of the other death cries fit this quite well. "SPLIT CURSE YOU! Awreughrguhrgh." Or in the case of another Teladi, "Gruuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhh."
Nightmare Fuel: The Xenon, if you think about it. Imagine a robotic race that only has one desire: to completely rid the universe of all organic life. They do not breath. They do not eat, sleep or anything like that. They do not care about resources. They do not even think, they act purely on instinct. Their sole purpose is to kill, kill, and kill, until nothing remains. Terran Conflict shows that the Xenon have been expanding exponentially since the first game, even without the help of jump gates; their expansion has been increasing faster and faster, and now they possess fleets in the dark space between galaxies. The Xenon's exponential expansion is one of the factors that led to the Portal Networkbeing shut down after Albion Prelude.
The Kha'ak may be even worse, simply because we know practically nothing about them. Throughout the series, we have learned exactly nothing about them aside from their Hive Mind and nividium addiction. All attempts to spy and/or study them have ended in failure and/or disaster. They have made absolutely no attempt to communicate with anyone. (even the Xenon occasionally send messages to the Boron, and #EFFA even tried to negotiate a truce when the Xenon were starting to lose) The Kha'ak are utterly alien, and like the Xenon, their sole desire seems to be to destroy anything that's not them. Only in their case, its heavily implied that they eat their victims. (Compare to the Xenon, who "merely" just kill you)
Older Than They Think: The series is often thought of as a singleplayer clone of EVE Online by the uninformed, but the first game came out four years before EVE.
Porting Disaster: Defied. X:BTF and X-Tension were originally coded for Windows 95. When they were re-released on Steam as part of the X-Superbox, Egosoft went back through each one with a fine-toothed comb to make sure they would run on current operating systems without any compatibility issues. On the other hand the widescreen support was added rather clumsily, with part of the Diegetic Interface for certain ships in X-Tension winding up off the screen.
Play the Game, Skip the Story: The games do have a story (one going back over five billion years, no less), but the real point of the series is goofing around in the sandbox.
The Fragmentation Bomb Launcher sounds like a dangerous weapon. It's loud and produces a pretty explosion. But it burns weapons energy fast, and unless you manage to hit the target before it detonates and produces its Flechette Storm, you're not going to hit anything smaller than a corvette. Its only saving grace is its price tag: as Vendor Trash a salvaged or manufactured FBL will net you roughly a quarter of a million credits.
It's also not half-bad OOS, though there are better options in most cases.
The Cluster Flak Array is the FBL scaled to frigate size. It does, however, have one further saving grace. Some players like to pair it in gun batteries with the Ion Disruptor, which can chain-lightning between the flak shards to reach further than it could normally.
Almost every unguided missile: they are inaccurate and do very little damage. What's more, they lack actual Area of Effect damage thanks to a programmer's oversight (which otherwise could've turn them into niche weapons). The exception is the Tornado, which can be used to rig certain M3 fighters (chiefly the Falcon Hauler and Falcon Sentinel) as bombers for anticapital work.
Lasertowers fit this in X3: Terran Conflict because Out-Of-Sector combat mechanics render their chief advantage (range) worthless. Some players have had success using them in large quantities to support blockades, however. In X3: Albion Prelude they're much more useful thanks to a buff in firepower and shielding.
The Concussion Impulse Generator sounds like it can deal a lot of damage, but in reality, it's merely a scaled up corvette-sized version of the High Energy Plasma Thrower. The difference is that it has a terribly low rate of fire, and its improved range hardly matters when it uses up more energy than the HEPT. It's better off sold as a commodity in any space equipment dock. However, it is entertaining watching fighter craft being spun wildly out of control by the concussive shots. Or by using it to push freighters into each other. However, it does make a pretty good all-purpose weapon for frigates, which have the reactor strength to power it. That is, unless you're flying a Teladi Shrike or Xenon Q, both whom have terrible generators to recharge their weapons. Albion Prelude buffed all M6 weapon generators so they are much more practical there.
The Mosquito Missile was this in the vanilla version of Terran Conflict. It may be the most commonly used missile thanks to its low requirements to produce it, and it has good speed and slightly above average stats. However, it deals a pathetic 200KJ worth of damage (and in case you're wondering, 1 MJ = 1000KJ), meaning it's virtually useless against anything that isn't a fighter drone. With the release of the Bonus Pack for Terran Conflict, the Mosquito has been somewhat Rescued from the Scrappy Heap due to it finding itself being useful against enemy missiles (and it will launch against fighter drones automatically), thanks in part of the introduction of the Mosquito Defense Script. In addition, the Mosquito has been buffed in Albion Prelude to be compatible with any ship, even the Terran/AGI Task Force counterparts, as an anti-missile system.
The Cyclone Missile is derided by many players for having painfully slow speed (148 m/s, the second slowest in the game after the more powerful Remote Guided Warhead) and mediocre damage for its class (23 MJ) despite having very good range and being commonly found at its available factories; limiting it to use against slower-moving M3 fighters and requiring multitudes of this munition to dispatch them. Considering that it was developed by the Boron, it isn't surprising. The only positive thing to say for it is its unique ability to split up into smaller warheads if it misses its target, but that's it.
"Reboot" in Terran Conflict. Reboot requires you to capture a Xenon "Q" frigate, which is the single hardest ship in the entire game to capture. It requires swarms of 5-star marines (which take hours to train, and the only way to increase their "fight" skill is to board other ships, which can result in casualties). Massive amounts of Save Scumming is required to get the achievement.
Also in TC, you get "Die-Hard" for completing all nine plots in Dead-Is-Dead mode. Problem with this is that, as mentioned on the main page, DiD doesn't distinguish between dying because your ship got shot up and dying because the Random Number God decided to drop an M2 on your head. Or because the auto-pillock smeared you across the windshield of a TL.
X3: Reunion has a mission where you are taken away from your ship and given a fast, unarmed light fighter; you're then told to race two other people in fighters exactly the same as yours through a pointlessly long series of target markers. The whole thing is made very hard by the fact that the AI pilots seem very good at navigating the course, while you have to follow tiny blue arrows in the outermost part of your HUD just to visualize the targets. Of course, missing one target means you have to redo the whole thing, as the NPC pilots will leave you in the dust if you backtrack. Considering the course is way longer than necessary, this can very much cause your mouse/joystick to suddenly and violently take flight.
And if that isn't enough, this level was made even harder with one patch.
Terran Conflict has multiple examples:
In Operation Final Fury, the last mission has you attack and destroy the last Kha'ak hive in known space. Well and good, except there's multiple Kha'ak capital ships and defense platforms, not to mention endlessly respawning fighters, which requires most players to fly an M2 destroyer to survive. And the sector's jump-in point is about 250 kilometers from the objective, and an M2 can't even top 100 meters per second. So after the initial fight with a defense platform at the jump point, you're left crawling laboriously across the sector with nothing breaking the monotony except occasional raids by fighters that can't even dent your shields and are promptly splattered by your flak mounts. Most players use this time to do admin work on their trade empire and/or grab a sandwich.
The Hub plot is a huge Guide Dang It: nobody In-Universe warns you that you'll have to build about fifty chip plants well in advance of the final stage and use multiple TL heavy transports as warehouses in order to complete the plot in less than several months real time. Fortunately this Scrappy Level has a reward that matches the effort: in addition to your newfound control over the game's Portal Network via the Hub itself, the factories you built for the plot will make stupid amounts of money afterwards.
Terran Conflict's penultimate Goner mission. You have to follow a sluggish Pirate Blastclaw across several big sectors back to Gaian Star to find the headquarters for the pirates that have been attacking the Goner supply lines. Meanwhile, the game will throw large numbers of hostile pirates at you, which you have to either defeat or evade while staying at the correct distance from the Blastclaw you're following. Even with a low combat rank, chances are good you'll run into a hostile Carrack or Brigantine at least once, and generally by the time you get the warning that you're losing the Blastclaw/making him suspicious, it's too late to correct your course.
Best way to get through the level is to prepare the playing field ahead of time (the "Think" part of the series motto). Improve your reputation with the pirates by trading with and doing missions for pirate bases, after which you should be able to just coast on through unmolested. Any pirates that are still red to you can generally be made blue by (carefully) approaching within 4km and scanning them. Assuming you fitted your player ship with a freight scanner, that is, and since the generally highest-paying pirate mission involves freight scanning, you should have one by now.
Oh dear lord, Chapter 4 of Terran Conflict's A New Home plot, the part where you have to help #efaa save #cafe from the Xenon virus. Not only is it hideously unintuitive (you have to get within maximum comm range, any closer and you trigger a script that spawns in hundreds of fighters and damages your shields until you die, in a game where triggering special events usually requires you to be right on top of them), but a potential That One Puzzle where you have to brute-force a four-digit code, solve a Sudoku board, and then make a ridiculous leap of logic to get the password for the final mainframe. And, even after multiple patches, this is still a really buggy part of the game.
EveryEscort Mission except the one in X3: Terran Conflict's Terran Plot (which is the exception that proves the rule). See that page for the reasons why players avoid them like the plague.
"Follow Ship", AKA Covert Operation missions, because it takes forever since you can't just call up the quest giver and tell him the target's destination, even though it's prominently displayed in the target's infobox. Even worse when certain missions like these involve the target taking a path that leads to a Xenon-infested sector and the target has a high chance of getting destroyed by these annoying ships. And it only gets even much worse when you're working for a corporation and they randomly ask you to perform these for them and you can't avoid it. If said target reaches that one particular sector while you're working for a particular corporation (namely the NMMC), Failure Is the Only Option.
Albion Prelude and X Rebirth were the cause of many arguments over whether or not they should be Steam exclusives. The forum moderators eventually put a moratorium on discussing Steam.
Some hardcore players were up in arms about how easy it is to get money in Terran Conflict compared to previous games (read: no longer takes 50 hours of gameplay to get a capital ship) by doing the entirely optional randomly generated missions.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Subverted. The opening cinematic for Terran Conflict claims that races outside the Solar System are experimenting with AGI. The only guy in the game proper doing anything remotely like that is Marteen Winters, a Mad Scientist in the Aldrin System who's fiddling with their #deca CPU ship. Then Albion Prelude comes out and turns it into a Brick Joke with the Argon Federation's artificially intelligent warships.
The Teladi Vulture. The basic model has only 50 MJ of shields, it's the second slowest TS class overall, and has only mediocre cargo space.
To a lesser extent the Boron Dolphin, for being slower than molasses in January. On the flip side, it's extremely durable and the Super Freighter XL model has the second largest cargo bay of any TS.
Continuing on the low-tier spectrum, the Boron Manta and the Paranid Hermes are two of the slowest TPs in their class (the former being 110 m/s and the latter 105 m/s respectively). Time is everything when doing the Marine/Passenger Transport missions and, even with Jumpdrives installed, these two craft are just not cut out to perform these missions.
Then there's the Teladi Kea (not including the Enhanced variant, which is slightly better than its standard version in every category). Dreadfully slow by M3+ and even Teladi standards (a lumbering 104 m/s), this heavy fighter is treated as nothing more than Cannon Fodder by other ships.
In a rather bizarre way, the Mistral Super Freighter, the only TS to beat the Dolphin SFXL for cargo space and shielding. However, a fully equipped Mistral SF will run you two-million-plus, and considering that under AI control it won't make effective use of its cargo space (except when moving high-volume cargo like energy cells and minerals) most veterans don't consider it worth the price tag.
On the other end of the scale, the Osaka and Boreas destroyers get some hate for being functionally indestructible in player hands in TC. In AP missile frigates can counter them thanks to their AI now working properly.
Terran and ATF ships in general. They get bashed for having some of the best equipment the games have to offer and yet start off having a reallyawful economy for their ships.
Via mods. Not nearly as much as, say, Star Trek: Bridge Commander, but there's still a few out there. For example, the Xtra Ships mod adds the Longsword and Longsword Mk. II, which don't sound that interesting until◊ you◊ look at them.
There's a total conversion mod out there that replaces the X3TC scenario with Babylon 5.
Uncanny Valley: The Argon race portraits frequently dip down into the valley, and the Terran portraits to a lesser extent.
Unfortunate Implications: These really start to crop up if you start to think about who each race represents. Boron are squid, Paranid vultures, Split are warlike humans, Teladi lizards, and Kha'ak are insects/birds. Heck, there's even an unseen, non-space-capable Whale race that's protected by the Boron.
Unwinnable by Insanity: Put only five energy cells in your cargo bay and fire the Unfocused Jumpdrive. Then blow up the crate of energy cells the devs stuck in the random sector for exactly that eventuality. You are now trapped GoD-only-knows-where with no way back home.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: In-Universe, the reason for the games' Energy Economy is a piece of Community of Planets legislation called the Energy Accord that bans nuclear reactors aboard space stations, put in place due to government and civilian reaction to a major reactor accident aboard an Argon space station in 2773 AD. Remind anyone of the kerfluffle over Three Mile Island, which stopped essentially all nuclear reactor construction in the United States? (Fukushima hadn't happened yet.)
Made even more confusing by the ATF Valhalla and Terran Kyoto, which are M2s that can carry M6 corvettes. Add to it that the Valhalla is canonically an M0 Battleship. X3 simply doesn't have an M0 classification in its files, thus limiting the Valhalla to being a very slow and deadly M2 (Albion Prelude terms them M2+).
One explanation put forth in the linked thread is that in the real life German Navy at the time of the first game, the biggest ship class was the Lütjens-class destroyer. (Since then, of course, all their destroyers have been decommissioned, leaving frigates as the biggest.)