X4: Foundations – PC Review

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Genre: Action, Simulation
Developer: Egosoft
Publisher: Egosoft
Franchise: X Franchise
Release Date: Nov 30, 2018
Edited by KnightAvenger

Are you prepared to travel into the vast universe and become whatever you want? Anything from being a space pirate, interstellar trader, or even a commander of fighter fleets. In X4: Foundations, you can explore the cosmos while doing missions for factions to get their ships, or access to better equipment and crew members. This does come with a cost, as certain factions might not like you doing work for others. Maybe you choose to be a lone wanderer doing odd jobs to get by. What will your decision be?

Starting out, if you’re not used to space exploration games with ship mechanics, this game might have a bit of a high learning curve. Most of it is just how things work, with a bunch of keybinds to remember, not something you can leave and come back to, expecting to remember every little detail. You can start from a few different starting points, with different ships and backgrounds for the character, which affects your faction statuses in the beginning. Each person’s ship has qualities you might like to begin with, such as a faster ship, a sturdier one, or a fighter. Since they come with that, you also get various starting money and equipment.

I was a bit confused starting out. Going through the tutorials helps a bit, but it still feels lacking in what you should do. But I got the feeling this game was really about just figuring out what you want to do and just trying it. At first, I felt there was literally no direction because it doesn’t give you something to do or anything. You’re just plopped on a station next to your ship. Trying to fly around testing the space beyond me, I found that different space stations have randomly generated characters that give you missions that pertain to their race, faction, job, or even some dirty jobs on the dark end. You can get immersed with the vast number of things that can eat through your time playing the game, but at the same time, everything falls flat. It feels more like an empty MMO that has a bunch of things to do that just don’t matter. There is no sense of direction or goal. For some, that might be just what they want, and others probably need something to latch onto that’s worthwhile doing. Sure, you can take over sectors at a time, or become the richest trader in the galaxy, but there’s no end. The endless grind to get nothing in the end may be a turn off to some people. Then again, it could be the spacey sandbox dream some people like. Another bland part is the combat system. There are various types of weapons you can equip onto your ship, which is fine, but there are no big battles between factions or even trying to create a situation like that. Either a few raiders will chase you, or a big ship might collide with a station. Shooting your weapons doesn’t really have an impact nor does blowing something up. A few shots here and there, flipping around the open space for about ten or more minutes trying to blow them up is about it. I wouldn’t call it a more realistic way of putting combat in, because there are a couple other games that take place in the galaxy or space, which have real hardcore physics and aspects that this game is nowhere similar. Other systems, such as keeping up with factions and micromanaging trading, are very in-depth. You learn how to keep track of your business, either keeping your mining ships on the best stuff, or upgrading your transport ships to be safer. Prices rise and fall. Depending on what you sell and what is selling, you can get rich pretty quick and acquire whatever you desire.

X4: Foundations looks decent for a game released in 2018. It combines pretty good graphics to huge exploration that you would think take up a lot of usage from your computer, but it holds up pretty well without doing so. Some open world or exploratory games have trouble picking between making the game look good, or having a big world to examine and having issues with either performance, or not enough gameplay. They definitely found a great way to seamlessly combine both without one or the other, without making everything feel terrible. Everything from the planets’ details, to the types of sectors you can visit that are covered in dust clouds, asteroid belts, or frozen minerals floating around. Now, let’s lean over towards how well everything sounds when playing. There isn’t much to point out when you’re flying around in your ship, besides the slight hum when flying to your destination, or the faint zap sounds of your energy cannons firing. You do get to hear much more when you’re around stations or in them. Radio chatter from police trying to scan a cargo ship, or general life talk of other ships. Of course, it’ll feel empty out there in the big dark lonesome infinity. Not much will be going on for you to hear in your ship. Once you dock on a station, and are able to roam around, signs of life really do come through. The overhead speaker yells out random things you’d probably hear on a space station, and depending on your mission, you can get a nice amount of dialogue out of special characters. Though speaking to random strangers doesn’t give you any more than a generic voice line from each race that translates to hello. Talking with someone who ties into your quest or the main character of the quest is where the magic is. A lot of alternate dialogue from the races, it’s pretty cool how each one has a dialect sound while trying to speak in your language. Everything, quality-wise, fits pretty well to keep you immersed, and nothing feels like it doesn’t belong.

This really is a game where you can make your own story, or at least, try to with what they give you. I like the idea of using your imagination, but there are a few other space-related games that give you more, gameplay-wise. Like being able to land on planets, explore them with their wildlife, or even do things to the planets themselves while also having the space exploration aspect. I would say this is more a politically inclined game, where you do things between factions instead of just fighting. There are some mini story arcs, but it’s more like missions that are longer than usual. Being able to do things like playing the trade market, or making sure you don’t do the wrong thing to make a faction hate you, has more to it than exploration and combat.

Pros:

  • Tremendous open space sandbox
  • Various things to do
  • Extensive micromanage system

Cons:

  • Grindy
  • Can get dull fast

Avorok gives X4: Foundations a Drastik Measure of 7.5 out of 10 (75)

I enjoyed what I could, but, for some reason, I couldn’t get into it to spend more time playing. To me, if I invest a large amount of time, it’s either because of the story, or how fun it is. This game has no story, and wasn’t fun enough to keep me going. Maybe if there was a way to play with friends, I could get more out of it. I do recommend it to people who like the grind of games, or space game in general. You can pick it up on Steam for $49.99 (USD). If you’re still not too sure about it coming into space games, I’d wait for a sale. I think they still have the notion of old school games, which is great, ones that just throw you in and you have to figure out what to do, instead of spoon feeding you everything. The X series has multiple space-themed games that are all also available on Steam.