You are Ren Otani, a starship pilot in the long-isolated Albion system, now controlled by the megalithic Plutarch Corporation. You captain the Pride of Albion / Albion Skunk, a one-of-a-kind multi-purpose corvette that has seen better days after sitting derelict for decades. Yisha Tarren, a Heart of Albion agent, acts as the co-pilot and manages some of the Skunk's systems after she was rescued by Otani. After working for the Heart of Albion alongside Yisha, Plutarch tries to detain Otani - right as the Albion jumpgate sputters back into life.
Key differences from the previous games include:
- The "one ship" change: The player pilots a single ship rather than multiple ships in exchange for the ability to deploy a variety of drones, more customization, and the ability to walk around the ship. Player-owned ships are actually piloted by a hired crew, who can augment the ship's abilities, such as an engineer being able to slowly repair the ship on-the-fly.
- Space stations are built of dozens of production and storage components which are assembled into massive space cities, replacing the haphazard "spaghetti stations" complexes of the previous games.
- Capital ship combat is more epic, with each capital ship having dozens of independent shield generators, engines, turrets, and hangars.
- Sectors have been replaced by proper star systems, which have points-of-interest (Zones) connected via highways and super-highways that accelerate ships to truly insane velocities.
- Modding is easier, as the game uses a more powerful XML based scripting language rather than the old in-game Script Editor from the previous games, and gives modders more control over the game, including the physics engine.
Unfortunately - but typical of Egosoft games - the game launched too soon, with a plethora of issues and missing features, including optimization and a convoluted user-interface reminiscent of X3: Reunion's "menus buried in menus, buried in menus, buried in more menus". However, Egosoft was fast with a response and will be fixing the performance issues, followed by adding missing content. Many issues in regards to gameplay have been fixed by game mods, and by the massive 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0 updates.
An expansion pack, The Teladi Outpost which was free for all current owners to pre-order until it was simultaneously released with Update 3.0 in December 2014. The expansion pack adds a new solar system, weapon types, stations, factions, and ships.
A second expansion Home Of Light, was released February 2016 and coincided with Update 4.0. Home Of Light adds three new solar systems, new factions, a new 'warehouse' station type, more dangerous Xenon, and a 'a forgotten enemy'. Update 4.0 introduces a Bullet Board System to track all offered missions in a zone, new ship upgrades, and weapon modifications.
A Oculus Rift and HTC Vive compatible re-work, creatively titled X Rebirth VR Edition is due for release sometime in 2017, and will feature changes to the economy for VR immersion, additional missions designed to take advantage of the system, a new graphics engine, altered the game pace.
X Rebirth released November 15, 2013, two years later than originally planned. You can view the trailer here. The official website is over here. In-game development videos are occasionally posted on the X-Universe youtube channel.
The game is widely seen as the Oddball in the Series by the fanbase, mostly due to the "one flyable ship", something not seen since the very first game in the series, X: Beyond the Frontier, and the Highway system.
The game was succeeded by X4: Foundations, which was a return to form, allowing the player once again to fly any ship.
X Rebirth contains examples of the following tropes:
- After the End/Darkest Hour/Downer Beginning: The Portal Network has been shut down following the Argons' disastrous attempt at creating AGI ships, the Community has fallen apart and everyone is at each other's throats over resources, and the Xenon are stronger than ever before...
- Armor-Piercing Attack: The Heavy Laser introduced in the Expansion Pack damages both shields and hull, making it excellent for taking out capital ship subsystems.
- Artificial Brilliance: Unlike the previous games' questionable autopilot, Rebirth has much more advanced pathfinding techniques, to make ships fly more naturally and competently. Because the AI now looks ahead on its path (rather than only checking what is directly in front of them in every frame), ships no longer spaz out when they approach an asteroid, station, or large ship, and will instead smoothly fly around them.
- Artificial Stupidity:
- Enemy carriers are completely helpless if the player parks his ship inside their long, easily accessible hangar. The Sul carrier launches its drones from the very back of the hangar, which in the early versions could cause issues if the Sul turned as it launches the drones, causing them to bounce around hilariously inside the hangar.
- While the pathfinding has been enormously improved over X3's blind-idiot pathfinding, ships still get confused when in cramped spaces and can get stuck in corners.
- If the Autopilot plows head-on into something at high speed, Betty has a special announcement:Betty: Autopilot epically failed
- The Sucellus destroyer, with its massive Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon, will attempt to get into broadside battles with everything it encounters. The Balor missile frigate has a similar issue in that the fragile, long range frigate will attempt to get into knife-fighting range to use its pathetic point defenses. Both behaviors are rectified in a Game Mod.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The Chinese text in space stations is complete gibberish.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: Meta-example. Somebody on the forum's release date thread (a.k.a. the endless-complaining-about-lack-of-information thread) jokingly asks Egosoft to come in and confirm they're not dead. Cue a dozen or so devs coming onto the boards and posting "I'm still alive." Gave the community something else to talk about for a while, at least...
- Attack Drone: The Albion Skunk has these in lieu of fighters.
- Big Bad: Plutarch.
- Broken Record: Two particular forum threads as of late 2012.
- The release date thread formerly went "do we have a release date?" "No." "Do we have a release date?" "No." The release date announcement took the record off the turntable.
- The Steam pro/con thread kept recycling the same basic arguments for over 400 pages and was split four times. At one point it turned into an Overused Running Gag, with posters starting to make jokes◊ about how the thread keeps repeating itself◊. The mods eventually said "the heck with it" and locked the thread.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: Even more so than previous games: space around the space cities are crowded with hundreds or thousands of individual civilian ships that fly between the stations and modules on said stations.
- Charged Attack: The Plasma Cannon MK3 can be rapid fired or charged up to release a massive area-of-effect blast. The Railgun has a charge time, but it is so short as to be almost unnoticeable.
- Cleavage Window: Yisha's catsuit has one.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
- There is no collision detection between NPC ships. It's pretty terrifying to be inside an enemy Arawn only to see a Heavy Sul nose start coming through the wall. However, the captains will still attempt to avoid "collisions". Annoyingly, the only thing that they can collide with - asteroids - have almost no AI collision detection ticks, leading to capital ships bouncing wildly around dense asteroid fields.
- The Skunk's autopilot has no regard for the laws of inertia. If you place a huge slab of station between you and the autopilot target, activate autopilot and slam down the afterburners, the ship will be flung towards the station until it pulls a 100g strafe maneuver to avoid a collision.
- Continuity Nod: The Skunk's proximity alarms go off when it detects a battered Terran Katana for the first time, a ship which the Skunk would have fought against in the Second Terraformer War.
- Cool Starship: The Albion Skunk◊ is the rustbucket variant. She's a one-of-a-kind Argon-built prototype corvette dating back to the Terran Conflict, but she's seen better days: Ren Otani apparently salvaged her.
- Death Ray: The Heavy Laser introduced in the Expansion Pack is a close-range continuous beam laser with absurdly high damage-per-second and a slight amount of shield-penetrating damage, but overheats extremely quickly and cannot simultaneously be installed with the Mining Laser. The Plasma/JET turret on capital ships produce a similar death ray, and comes installed on the Taranis, Olmekron and Fulmekron destroyers.
- Downloadable Content: Like the previous games, free DLC is packaged into major game updates, in addition to paid expansion packs.
- 2.0: Secret Service Missions was the major update and an attempt to Win Back the Crowd after the game's disastrous launch. It added half a dozen new ships, functionality to interact with people on stations without having to dock, alternate cockpit configurations for the Skunk, autopilot, gravidar, a new highway control system, and an option to replace most of the Diegetic Interface with a traditional HUD.
- 2.5 added third person and freelook, restored the Sidebar HUD from X3: Terran Conflict, new shipyard types, and tweaked AI.
- 3.0 coincided with the release of the first Expansion Pack, Teladi Outpost. It revamps the interactive map, adds crafting, dangerous gas clouds, and allows stations to be build in unexplored space.
- 4.0 coincided with the release of the second expansion pack, and adds quests to build a Singularity Engine Time Accelerator and Jump Drive from the previous games, adds a new bulletin board system for easy mission access, weapon modifications, improved AI, and improved trading statistics.
- Diegetic Interface: The Skunk has a full cockpit ("Pride") with information shown on screens instead of a HUD - the game uses very few traditional menus, with almost everything done by looking at displays on the ship or by simply talking to people. Trading, for example, is done via a sliding screen that divides the pilot's seat from the copilot's seat. Criticism over the cockpit (which had a lot of needless clutter) lead to Update 2.0 featuring an optional traditional HUD and several new alternate cockpits - the "Hawk" combat cockpit removes the interior glass cockpit and replaces it with a panoramic display with most of the HUD projected onto it (very minimalist), the "Trapezium" trading cockpit integrates all of the displays into one simple panel, and the "Crane" management cockpit moves all of the displays to cockpit pillars on the sides, for maximum visibility.
- Drone Deployer: Rebirth's carriers use these instead of fighters. Also, the Skunk can carry a wide assortment of drones - Players can directly control 4 types of drones, with support and utility drones being autonomous.
- Assassin ROV: A weak, but extremely agile drone equipped with a pulse laser.
- Beholder ROV: Used for scanning objects thoroughly, or just exploring nooks and crannies inside ships and stations. Can also hack into devices, which can allow you to steal stations' cargo.
- Novadrone: Less a drone, and more a Torpedo, but is controlled the same way as the others.
- Trojan ROV: Used to hack ships and stations, disabling defenses or making a station vent its storage compartments into space.
- Traitor ROV: Can launch remotely-detonated satchel charges to cripple capital ships and stations.
- Autonomous URV drones come in an even wider variety of flavors, such as shield deployment, missile spam, and Beam Spam. Carriers use these rather than fighters (as with previous games)
- Early Game Hell: The developers actively tried to avoid this after it plagued their previous games. The campaign gives you a freighter capital ship right off the bat and enough credits to hire a small crew, while doing some simple missions for the Heart Of Albion gives you some new equipment. You even get a destroyer (albeit heavily beat-up) a few hours into the plot, though it's difficult to keep safe while Plutarch is chasing you down. The alternate game starts each have a specific setup for a specific playstyle - one gives you a highly upgraded ship for combat but no other possessions, another gives you a pre-built station and a construction vessel, while the last has two capital ship traders and a trading computer on the ship.
- Enemy-Detecting Radar: The gravidar returns in the 2.0 update, in a significantly easier to understand layout than previous games. Small ships are displayed as small blips, while capital ships and stations are shown as 3d objects on the gravidar. Highways are shown on the gravidar, which will switch to a larger view of the system when entered.
- Expansion Pack: Unlike all previous X-Universe games, expansion packs are compatible with old saves.
- The Teladi Outpost, which was free for all owners to pre-order up til the release date. It adds a new solar system, 3 new Teladi factions, a new full ship set, and two new weapons - a damage-over-time cannon, and a Death Ray.
- Home Of Light, which adds three new solar systems - one of which features unique spatial anomalies - new factions, new weapon variants, and a Player Headquarters-esque storage warehouse.
- Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: The Canteran Sucellus battleship has a massive spinally mounted railgun that is the single most powerful weapon in the game
- From Bad to Worse: Egosoft attempted to make the interface easier to use over X3's. The interface was slower, more restricted, and most critically, had no hotkeys. Update 2.5 restores the excellent sidebar HUD from X3: Terran Conflict and adds an option to use traditional HUD elements rather than the Diegetic Interface. You can still view the horrors of the old interface by enabling the "Legacy HUD" in options.
- Game Mod: Mods in Rebirth have even more control over the engine compared to the previous games. Most of the initial mods were dedicated to fixing the game until Egosoft's official fixes came out.
- Gameplay Automation: The game shipped with basically no automation, which was one of the biggest complaints. Update 2.0 re-introduced the Autopilot (which is significantly better / less incompetent than the old X3 one), and Game Mods make traders more independent, like the ones in X3.
- Gatling Good: The Particle Repeater is a plasma gatling gun.
- Hammerspace: The Skunk can somehow cram two platoons worth of soldiers into the ship's toilet, as they are not visible in the tiny cargo or rest areas.
- Hyperspace Lanes: Rebirth has "highways", which function similar to the trade lanes in Freelancer, allowing you to get between close locations (Zones) in a system, while super-highways are used to get between different planets or points of interest (Sectors) in the solar system. Jumpgates are used to navigate between solar systems.
- Lost Technology: The Singularity Engine Time Accelerator and fighter-mounted jumpdrives, once common in the X-Universe, are extinct in the new universe; both as a consequence of separation/loss of infrastructure, and there being no real need for them with the highway network. Both can be rebuilt using rare combat salvage in Update 4.0
- Mile-Long Ship: Almost everything larger than the Balor missile frigate. The Olmekron destroyers used by the Argon Government are at least three kilometers long. Space stations are rarely less then three in any direction.
- Multiple Game Openings: Update 2.0 brings back the alternate gamestarts from previous games; one gives you a highly upgraded Skunk with a full suite of (basic) weapons, another gives you a basic space station, and the last gives you a pair of small freighters. All of the alternate starts have the plot enabled and the gate network fully activated.
- Mutually Exclusive Party Members: The Mining Laser and Heavy Laser from the first Expansion Pack cannot simultaneously equipped, as they occupy the same weapon mount on the Skunk.
- My Rules Are Not Your Rules: The Skunk's autopilot is capable of pulling 3000g turns that the ship is incapable of performing under human control, and NPC capital ships do not collide with each other.
- Obvious Beta: As usual with an Egosoft game. The game launched with some major performance issues, and a wide variety of glitches, such as Teladi eyes rotating 90 degrees and popping out of their sockets when talking◊. Several features necessary for empire building - especially more ship commands and a report system - are totally absent, though modders have fixed some of this, and Egosoft have stated that they'll be bringing in old features that didn't make it into the release once they've solved performance issues and bugs.
- The 2.0 update works to address most of the issues, including new commands for ships, autopilot, a less gimmicky highway system, and so on.
- Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Rebirth drops the X#: Subtitle structure used by its predecessors. Justified in that the developers' goal is to re-invent the series.
- Old Soldier: Most of the Heart of Albion members are former Argon Military captains.
- One Nation Under Copyright: After the gate network shutdown, Plutarch staged a coup against the isolated Argon military stranded in the Albion system, then set themselves up as the government. In Home Of Light, Terracorp found itself in a similar situation, but took the opposite approach and became a benevolent government entity of sorts.
- Over Heating: Weapons heat up with use and will cease functioning for a few seconds if fully overheated. Luckily, the Skunk has multiple weapon slots which all cool independently.
- Point Defenseless: Most capital ships have dozens of small turrets to spew lasers at enemies. However, only the Arawn actually has internal point defenses for dealing with enemies which get inside the hangar.
- Player Mooks: Rebirth takes it to another level compared to its predecessors, allowing you to actually interact with them beyond the command console.
- Portal Network: The Ancients shut it down after X3: Albion Prelude to stop the Xenon. Part of the plot involves getting it working again. In-system travel is done via highways, a system of "tunnels" that accelerate ships to truly astonishing speeds, which have the advantage of allowing ships to enter and exit at any point.
- Ramming Always Works: Not any longer. Automatic collision avoidance (fires the strafing thrusters to keep you safe from smashing into walls and other ships) is enabled by default, and ramming itself deals far less damage than in previous games.
- Real Soon Now: For most of the game's development, there was no solid release date - originally Q4 2011, then mid-2012, and then finally a release date of November 15, 2013. Egosoft actually own the domain soon.tm.
- Regenerating Health: Engineers can slowly repair hull damage and Subsystem Damage on capital ships, though they are limited to repairing subsystems on the Skunk
- Scavenger World: The Lost Colony◊ has a Split Python from X3: Reunion gutted out for supplies, with power lines leading from the ship to a nearby installation. The Republic of Cantera relies on decades-old Terran equipment, and the majority of their spacestations are simply individual sections from destroyed Terran stations which have been patched up and used as housing and production facilities.
- Scenery Porn: Egosoft loves this trope; it grows with each installment. X3: Terran Conflict was greater than its predecessor and Rebirth tops X3: Terran Conflict. Stations and ships are beautifully detailed and can now cast shadows and light sources on themselves and each other. Capital ships now use dozens of little transports to ferry cargo between themselves and stations, and each transporter has visible cargo when loaded up with goods.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: The Inertial Hammer deals absurd amounts of damage, has very little scatter and has enough thermal capacity to not Over Heat too frequently. Its only real downside is that the ricocheting projectiles can piss off allies and the relatively low Arbitrary Maximum Range.
- Shout-Out: You can find Kerbal plushie in-game.
- Space Is an Ocean: The long range scanner borrows heavily from the depiction of submarines and boats, emitting a manually triggered "ping" that travels in surrounding space to highlight objects not visible to the short range scanners.
- Standard Human Spaceship: Omicron Lyrae combat capital ships and almost all trading capital ships follow the ISO standards for spaceships, being gunmetal gray boxes. Mining ships, on the other hand, often come in weird shapes and colors.
- Standard Sci-Fi History: The X-Universe went through the Cycle of Empire twice. Rebirth is set in the Interregnum of the second cycle.
- Stripperiffic: Yisha wears a Latex Space Suit which in a gross violation of common sense, has a "boob window". Amusingly, one of the first mods to come out was a texture change to cover up the window.
- Subsystem Damage: Capital ships and space stations feature destroyable subsystems along the lines of Tachyon: The Fringe. Turrets, jumpdrives, and the ship's engines are primary targets. Originally, capital ships could be killed in short time by just cramming the Skunk into some nook and taping down the fire key - as the shield generators didn't actually shield the ship, only subsystems - but update 2.0 significantly improves capital ship defenses, almost requiring players to take down shield generators first.
- Super Prototype: The Skunk is a one-off ship designed by the famous Bala Gi during the Second Terraformer War, to fight against the Earth State. It's extremely adaptable, and carries far more firepower than a typical ship of its size. Excessive production costs kept it from entering production, much like the Hyperion of X3: Reunion.
- Time Skip: Takes place 30 to 40 years after the abrupt end of the Second Terraformer War, which was ended by the Ancients shutting down the gate system ("The Dark") and causing the collapse of the Community of Planets.
- Used Future: The Albion Skunk starts off missing some pretty huge chunks and is covered in burn marks◊, though it gets repaired relatively quickly. Most "new" Cateran ships are old, patched-up Terran hulls with visible scorch marks, while their capital ships are old Terran frigates.
- Welcome to Corneria: While less prevalent than previous games, with much more lines being recorded, the voice acting does not scale well in large pirate attacks or when the player is attacking civilians; at release, blowing up Pirate ships would result in the nearest station owner thanking you every time with the same line, or attacking civilians causing the to station owner get into a lengthy conversation with the nearest police official for nearly every kill. Toned down in Update 2.5, which makes the gratitude and police messages only occur when all enemies are dead or have retreated.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Yoolis calls out Otani on giving the Pride of Albion an inferior name, the Albion Skunk, though Otani claims that some other joker renamed it that.