X4: Foundations

Icon - Calendar Released: 20 Mar 2021
Icon - Edited Reviewed: 20 Mar 2021
Platform: PC

X4 foundations

Here's a summary of the first 10 hours of trying to like X4:
- 2 hours of tutorial learning to fly
- 1 hour of googling what you're supposed to do at the start of the game
- Giving up.
- 2 hours of flying around trying to find a shipyard to buy a resource probe to finish the first quest
- 2 hours flying around trying to find some missions to do
- Giving up.
- 2 hours of mining enough crystals to buy a mining ship
- 1 hours of googling how to buy a mining ship and assign it, why I can't tell it to go somewhere else, what a resource probe is for, what effect crew have on a ship
- Giving up

Notes

As is often the case with game series that have a long history, many of the reviews are of the nature "This game isn't exactly the same as the last game, so I don't like it". Looking past those I could see that playing this was going to take some serious investment but it would apparently be rewarding in the end. I was determined to give it a decent shot and hopefully find an excellent space sandbox to get lost in. I'm sure that underneath all of the terrible UI and lack of information there IS a decent space sandbox here, but the developers seem to have done their best to turn away anyone who isn't already a hardcore fan. I'm sure if they hired a UI designer to completely overhaul the interface it would be far friendlier to newcomers, but as it stands, the lack of information in-game and confusing interface make it impossible to like.

Everything. EVERYTHING I wanted to do required me to Google it. From how to traverse systems, which faction to join, how to earn money, how to find a shipyard, how to find crystals, where to buy a resource probe, how to set up a mining ship, what a trade computer does, all of it had to be found in random forum posts on the internet.

I would love to recommend this, but only with a heavy warning that you're going to need to be extremely patient, and be ok with Googling everything.

Pros

  • Docking is easy
  • No loading screens at all. Getting into your ship, flying in-system, fast travelling are all instant
  • Autopilot works pretty well
  • Excellent background music
  • Nice ship models
  • In theory it's possible to set up an automated empire based on mining, refining, trade and space stations, but I gave up long before I managed to get into that

Cons

  • I got stuck inside an asteroid. Instead of crashing into it, I flew inside the model. Then I couldn't fly out of it.
  • There's very little information within the game on how to do anything, and a ton of missing information on the UI. Any time I decided I wanted to do anything, I had to Google it. "Why can't I interact with this signal?" "How do I find a ship dockyard?" "How do I find something to do?" "Why do I stop moving every time I open the map?" "Where can I buy resource probes?" "What does hiring service crew actually do?". Even Reddit didn't know what crew actually did - just guesswork from people who've played hundreds of hours and deductions made from comments from the devs.
  • There is an encyclopaedia in the game, but it's missing descriptions of the factions so you can decide who to side with, and it's missing descriptions for many items in the game
  • Voice acting is really not great, it sounds amateurish. So are the dialogue lines that play repeatedly.
  • The NPC models and facial animations are atrocious
  • Optimisation is pretty bad. I just about scraped 60fps where other AAA games are over 120.
  • You have to double click all the menu items
  • There is no up to date wiki. There isn't really any official up to date information of any kind. Every time I wanted to look something up (because it's not in the game), I usually ended up on Reddit threads
  • Very few NPC models. I've seen the same grumpy female in every station I've visited
  • The software in the ship store doesn't tell you what it does. "Trading software MX1", zero description
  • The game is too unintuitive to work any of the stuff out on your own, so you're left to resort to following guides, which have a very specific set of instructions for 'buy this sell that, mine here, buy these ships' which kind of takes all the fun out of it
  • Almost every time I logged in, I felt "What am I supposed to do?". "Play your own way" is great, as long as it's clear what your options are. The game describes itself as an open ended 'do whatever you like' game, but really when it comes down to it, it's an economics game and everything you can do is based around trade. No exploring the galaxy for you.
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