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This Isn't Rebirth, It's An Abortion

The honeymoon is over for X Rebirth.  I'm geeky enough to be willing to work with a kludgy game, but only if there's something of value beneath the rough surface.  Unfortunately, after a 27-hour wrestling match with this accessibility-minded-lie of a cumbersome interface, I now realize that Egosoft has committed the worst cardinal sin a developer can bring upon their fans.

Do we need to write this on a stone tablet for you?  Thou Shalt Not Sell A Known Name Brand That Has Been Completely Reinvented To Appeal To A Completely Different Audience?  It's confoundedly obvious when put in such simple terms, and only those who are blinded by money could miss it.  Only a marketing weasel sells an icebox branded as a fireplace!   Maybe the reason why X Rebirth was released in such a poor condition that even a new audience is unlikely to appreciate it was because it was karma coming back to punish them for lying.
There are two things wrong with this picture.  First, there's way too much completely cosmetic traffic that serves no real gameplay purpose, and it's driving my frames per second into the single digits.  Second, I get harassed by so many unnecessary communications that one got jammed in the only forward-facing monitor I've got.  It's just displaying an empty bucket seat!  Due to that bug, the game is actually broken right now, because I can't open the menu to do anything while a communication is going on.  It's back to a saved game to me!
What Egosoft literally did wrong was to gut the most compelling sandbox features of this game, X Rebirth, a new installment of a series of games whose whole purpose was being a compelling sandbox.  For example:
  • Trading is downright gimped in effective appeal and purpose; I can't see supply and demand at work, it might as well not be there.  
  • I don't have nearly much control over of the other ships in my fleet, so there went the whole sense of managing a trade empire.  
  • Players can still build stations, sure, but there's no longer any relevant context for them to care it happens!  
  • Most of the ships you see aren't even real ships anymore, just cosmetic traffic!
These were features that set X apart from all the other Elite-alikes, and Egosoft just threw them away; they tore out the heart of the whole redeeming purpose of the entire X series; Rebirth is not worthy of the X in front of its title!

Lets call these an educated guess on a list of the foremost things to be done before this game becomes the one we should have got at release:
  • Put the mouse and keyboard interface first.  You can make the game accessible with a gamepad, but it will never be ideal for a game of this scope.  It's cool when you can devise a means to control a train with a light switch, but that gimmick is going to prove an impediment when there's real work to be done!
  • Stop sending so much things to the little monitor in the lower right corner of the cockpit.  I don't need to see an elaborate graphic telling me that my reputation has changed with a faction, that could be just a little popup outside of the monitor.  I don't need to see some other pilot's ugly mug chiding me for shooting him a half-second before I blow him up.  What I do need to see is details about what I'm currently targeting, but I can't see that while I'm waiting for these interferences to go away!
  • Fix the terrible engine performance.  Whatever you've got to do for me to get 60 frames per second in every zone, do it.  I've got a CPU with 4 cores running at 3.1 GHZ each, a 600-series NVIDIA graphics card made earlier this year, and 8 gigabytes of RAM.  That's that's plenty of firepower, so why are my frames per second dropping to the single digits in certain sectors and situations?  Something needs to be done.  Might I recommend starting with cutting the cosmetic ship traffic down to a small fraction of the current numbers?
  • Get rid of station interiors until the players have a good reason to go there.   Getting out and walking on stations is something I've always wanted in a game like this, but you need to have a genuinely good reason to do it.  Having me crawl through ducts to pick up garbage people have laying around is not a good reason.  Having me hunting for certain types of people to speak to face-to-face is not a good reason.   A good reason might be if stations were a full-fledged sub-game of some kind: tactical combat, an RPG, building game (like SpaceChem), whatever.
  • Get rid of unneeded encyclopedia bloat that only existed to support the pointless station interiors.  With station interiors going away, we no longer need that whole secondary cargo type that takes up no cargo space, do we?  Good, that's much less pointless entries to wade through on the encyclopedia, and frankly it was an annoying elephant in the room that nobody cared that you were ransacking every locker is sight.
  • Redo the NPC populations on stations so they make sense.  Removing the secondary cargo types also removes the need for a lot of bloaty NPCs that dealt in those items - junk dealers, farm equipment sellers, mining equipment sellers, black marketeers, ect.  While you're at it, maybe you could sort the NPCs so they're only found in rooms appropriate to the kind of NPC - no more Plutarch employees on Home Of Albion stations.
  • Give me most of the flexibility I had to command my other ships in previous X games.  If I can't order my other ships to go to a safe zone and wait there, then I don't want to play this game.  If I can't upgrade or repair them from a completely different sector, then this game is inferior to its predecessors.  I'm not saying you should let me issue orders to every turret - that was just annoying busywork - but at least give me the vital commands back.
  • Show the impact of the supply and demand in a clear, easy-to-access manner.  All previous X games, including the original X: Beyond The Frontier game, did this.  If X Rebirth cannot do this, it is no X game.
Age has made me perhaps a bit too even-tempered for genuine vitriol.  However, what X Rebirth does is so catastrophically wrong that provokes significantly more righteous indignation than I've had about a game in quite some time.

I should not feel so certain that I could make a better game just screwing around by myself on Game Maker.  Yet, if whoever is in charge at Egosoft could not figure out everything on this list without me telling them, clearly they're worse at their jobs than I am.  It certainly is a powerful reason for me to stop screwing around at get to work.


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