X4: Timelines – X4: Foundations DLC – PC Review

X4: Timelines – X4: Foundations DLC – PC Review
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Genre: Sci-fi space sim sandbox
Developer: Egosoft
Publisher: Egosoft
Release Date: June 20th, 2024
Edited by AlexKnight2005

X4: Timelines – X4: Foundations DLC – PC Review

The X series has been a longstanding juggernaut in the space simulation genre. However, it has always been relatively unknown until recently. The fourth numbered entry in the series, subtitled Foundations, was released in 2018 has gone through several iterations and engine upgrades over the years with each major version being punctuated with a massive expansion to the game’s world and feature set in the form of DLC. The first four packs were relatively simple. They added more stuff to the game’s main mode, now called Open Universe. This one is quite a bit different, however. In this review, I’ll give you everything you may wish to know before deciding whether or not this change-up is worth your time and money. Stick around until the end, though, because I’ll also cover some info about the free 7.0 update that came along with this expansion, so even if you don’t dive into Timelines, you may still want to give the game another look.

The first real note here is the reason I mentioned the distinction of “Open Universe Mode.” This is because Timelines is a completely different mode that has a separate save file from all your other open universe saves. You’ll be able to reset this save at any time if you so desire, but considering the only reason for doing so might be to rewatch the intro, I’m not sure how often it will be used. Anyways, after a short cinematic, you’ll find yourself in the hub of this standalone adventure. This space is a mysterious station that you’ll be exploring and learning more about through both your interactions with your fellow crewmates as well as by completing each standalone scenario given to you.

This basically boils down to dropping into the hub, checking to see if anyone has anything new to say, and then heading straight back to the mission terminal to play another distinct vertical slice of some portion of X4’s core open universe gameplay loop. Some of these missions are unique, though, and offer activities only found in those missions. One such example is starship racing.

You’ll be doing everything from flying through rings in an attempt to be the fastest through the course in the case of the above-mentioned racing missions to collecting a set amount of resources with a mining ship within a time limit or even flying through a confined space in your spacesuit before you run out of air. There are also your typical combat missions and something as uniquely odd as a conversation mission. Each mission gives you a unique loadout of equipment to complete your objective. Sometimes you’ll have a wing and others only have your space suit. You’ll even get to fly some late-game ships far sooner than you otherwise would in the open universe mode.

While most of the gameplay in Timelines is all about these self-contained missions, completing them will unlock things to do back in the open universe. All this culminates in an epic epilogue that introduces you to an entirely new faction. I won’t say much about them because of their story significance to the primary Timelines campaign, but there is a reason to complete timelines for those who love the open universe mode. There is a way to play that content even if timelines aren’t your thing, but you’ll be sacrificing achievements in order to do so.

Because of the structure of Timelines, It’s difficult to get into the overall gameplay. Egosoft sees Timelines as an extension of the Tutorial, allowing players to test certain gameplay styles in a safe environment where mistakes won’t have the potential to cause massive losses in a long-running open universe save. After having experienced it myself, I can agree with this. The only thing to note is that much like some of the missions in the rest of X4, some of the Timelines missions can make it difficult to determine exactly what the goal is or how to achieve it effectively. Some of the time limits can be brutal for players with disabilities like myself. My vision makes me a bit slow, and with a vast majority of missions requiring speed, you can guess how it turned out. Thankfully, you are not required to get 5, 4, or even three stars minimum on every mission.

The missions are divided into groups called graphs. Each graph is capped by a terminus mission, which, when completed, unlocks the next graph. In order to unlock the terminus mission for the graph, you’ll need to attempt each mission at least once and earn a certain number of stars between all of the other missions in that graph. This means if you don’t like mining but can survive combat, you can get higher star values on those missions to make up for a 0-star rank in the mining mission. I was honestly excited about the idea of what Timelines could have been, but I feel the execution is a bit lacking. It’s a good thing then that the best part of Timelines in my opinion is the free 7.0 update that everyone gets regardless of your decision to purchase timelines or not. Before shifting focus to that though, I will note here that at the time of writing, there is currently a 7.10 patch in beta that will address a few concerns with the progression line and a certain ship that’s just a bit too drifty in the second race. I have not had the chance to test this, however.

The 7.0 update itself is both massive and minor at the same time. The minor part is that the UI overall has been updated slightly. This slight change though is the major part as it adds so many new possibilities for accessibility and customization. You can now change every possible UI color on either a per color or per element basis. The game even supports custom color profiles so you can save your favorite setups. On top of this, many actions have had voiced announcements added and just a lot more text to speech overall. AI flight pathing for fleets and capital ships has also seen a massive improvement. The most noticeable change though will probably be the addition of new E variant Teladi and Argon capital ships. These E variants are more in line with modern DLC capital ships, allowing them to better hold off the hostile factions in the universe. This completely changes the entire dynamic in such a way that you won’t often see cases where the entire map turns red after around a day or two of gameplay. This allows most factions to have bubbles of relative safety for you to get stuck in and build up your empire. For those who still like a rough start, there’s still Split territory, but even that is relatively stable compared to previous versions. The final key update is the fact that new control options have been added to modernize the game for better controller and steam deck play. This takes the form of a pair of radial menus you can now bind functions onto. This improves playability for many different control types. They even added a few new default profiles for common hardware and updated existing profiles to take advantage of the new radials where needed.

Honestly, the best part of Timelines is probably going to be that free update, at least for most people. The design surrounding the timelines missions is decent at best and frustrating at worst. The unlockables add some interesting things to the Open Universe mode, but they aren’t likely to sway anyone on their own. In my view, Timelines is recommended only for those who are either long-time fans of the series looking to re-experience some historic franchise moments in a new light, new players who get curious about the lore after playing around in the sandbox mode for a while, or just those who want to support Egosoft’s great work on the update as a whole. In terms of rating only the additional content added by the expansion.


  • Unique mission-based take on X4 gameplay
  • Interesting storyline
  • Returning classic ships from franchise history.


  • Frustrating mission designs (mirrors base game)
  • Potentially lackluster rewards
  • Separation from open universe mode saves.

GlitchedVision gives X4: Timelines a Drastik Measure of 6.5 out of 10.0 (65)