X3: Reunion will arrive in stores next week. But before it arrives, the folks at Egosoft have decided to give you an idea of what a typical day is like in their ambitious and huge space sim. In X3, you will be able to chart your own course in a living, breathing universe. You can choose to be a mercenary or a trader, you can build an economic empire, or you can live on the edge, exploring the unknown. That's a lot of stuff to do, so Egosoft's Greg Kingston was kind enough to describe some of the gameplay possibilities in our final designer diary for the game. X3 will arrive for the PC and Xbox soon.
A Day in X3Greg Kingston
What sets X3: Reunion apart from other space simulations? To answer this, I thought I would take a ride through one of the home sectors, Kingdom End, and describe what I see.
Kingdom End is a home sector for the Boron race. Heavily populated and well defended, profit opportunities are low, though it's quite safe. I'll ignore X3's plot completely for the moment (I prefer to do my own thing, anyway) and see what opportunities come my way.
I cruise into the middle of the sector and take a look at what is in scanner range. Immediately, I can see one of the huge differences in X3 from previous games: There is a real sense that the sector is inhabited, and stuff is going on regardless of my presence. There are well over 100 ships buzzing around, all with specific purposes and instructions. Livestock transporters, military patrols, passenger shuttles, independent traders, the list is endless.
The tranquillity of a Boron home sector has obviously affected me, so I look for the local trading station and dock to see if there are any opportunities. The trade menu comes up, and there doesn't appear to be anything spectacular on offer. I wouldn't expect anything, as this system is relatively stable. So instead, I then check with one of the merchants on board the station and see what he has to offer to test my negotiating skills. He isn't offering much to sell and he seems more interested in buying. This doesn't suit me as I have no cargo at the moment, so I leave the station and try to "find" some.
Just passing a few kilometres away is a Boron Dolphin Fresh Foods supplier. He looks like a perfect target--his weapons are limited, he has no missiles. I launch an attack. His ship is far slower than mine, and in my brutal first assault, I destroy his only weapon before he has a chance to fire.
With him at my mercy, I ask him to surrender. To my surprise, he refuses and then I realize why. I had not checked my immediate surroundings carefully, and two local police ships are speeding to his aid. The supplier was not attached to any station or factory. He was an independent trader and still they came to his aid! Cursing, I swiftly dispatch the freighter and he disappears in a cloud of dust, his scream cut short. Even in this short span of time, the police ships are onto me--one standard Boron M4 fighter and one Vanguard M4. I curse again. Although the M4s are lighter than my ship, they are faster and more agile, and the Vanguard is faster and more heavily armed than most ships.
My heavier shields should buy me some time. Without hesitation I launch a barrage of laser fire in the Vanguard's direction, hoping to score some heavy damage. I also launch a Wasp missile cluster. My laser energy is drained in seconds as the eight lasers pour deadly energy at him. I'm taking a big risk if I miss. This time, I get lucky. My lasers rip his shields apart and damage his hull. His missile defenses cannot stop all of the missiles homing in on him, and one of these finishes him off. It's an expensive kill, but I don't want the whole system turning on me. I've got to work fast.
The surviving Boron M4 fighter peppers my shields, but as soon as I give him my full attention, he is no match for the power of my guns. Afterward, I stop to draw breath and quickly check the sector. Did anyone notice the firefight? It appears I am in luck. No more hostile ships show on my radar or on the sector map. I think I've pushed my luck far enough in this sector and decide to leave. There are rumors of strange activity in the southern sectors of the universe...