X³: Reunion is a space trading and combat game developed by Egosoft for Windows. It has been ported to Linux and Mac OS X; Mac OS X for release in August 2007; the Linux version followed December 5, 2008.
X³: Reunion is the third full game in Egosoft's X series. It is the sequel to X²: The Threat (2003), which in turn followed X: Beyond the Frontier (1999). The X series is often compared to the classic Elite, in that these first-person space adventure games focus on trade and exploration, as well as combat.
This game began as project X²: The Return, Egosoft's planned extension for X²: The Threat. However, as the project advanced, it soon outgrew the constraints of the 'X² Engine'. In April 2005, Egosoft announced that X²: The Return was cancelled; the next game - using the new X³ Engine - would become X³: Reunion. A month later, they demonstrated the power of the 'X³ Reality Engine' in May's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), stunning industry insiders with high-definition moving renders of space stations, planets, and other scenes. X³ was released five months later in October.
It quickly emerged that a number of flaws existed in the retail version of X³ - including a bug which prevented the player from completing the game. Egosoft quickly released a series of patches to fix it, but some reviewers - and players - remained critical, suggesting Egosoft had released the game before it was ready.
Egosoft have continued to expand and develop this game since release: adding new ships, new equipment, a new kind of station, new modding tools, and a new series of missions. New material for this game - official and fan made - is frequently released through Egosoft's Official website.
X³: Terran Conflict was released on October 17, 2008 as a standalone expansion, based on the X³: Reunion universe.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Critical reception
- 3 Updates
- 4 Universe
- 5 Plot synopsis
- 6 Extra release information
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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The X-Series - with the slogan "Trade Fight Build Think" - is often noted for providing a large amount of player freedom, and promoting open-ended play. In X³, the player spends the most time in control of a ship, doing tasks of their own choosing. Different ships are available for various tasks - there are small, fast scouting ships; freighters; powerful battleships; and massive carriers for moving a fleet. Most ships seen in the game can be bought or captured, and flown by the player. The player is free to go anywhere in the X-Universe at any time; to explore, to complete plot-related goals, or to fulfill their own personal goals.
By X³, the X-Universe consists of around 160 sectors connected by two-way jumpgates. The main area of each sector typically contains several stations and up to four gates. The game is open-ended, allowing the player to go where they like, when they like, doing whatever they like; a player is limited only by their in-game status and resources. As such, a driving force of the game is to acquire credits - the universal currency - and status.
The game contains numerous races. Status affects how individuals in different races respond to the player, and what kind of missions are offered. A player's status is categorised according to 'Mercantile' skill, 'Combat' skill, and a 'Notoriety' ranking for each race.
Using credits a player can buy wares from stations. These wares may be used, or flown to another station where they can be sold, ideally for a profit. However, prices vary depending on demand. The less of a ware there is, the higher its price. As such, the X-Universe has a truly dynamic market-driven economy. A player can capitalise on emergent trends, meeting demand to make vast profits; or as easily, can waste money and time on a bad cargo choice. In X³, many NPC ships have the same plan, and the player can easily miss their intended market if another ship arrives first.
As a player builds profits they can buy equipment, weapons, ships, and even their own factories.
Factory stations consume power and resources to produce products, which can then be sold into the X economy. If the product is rare, and the resources are cheap and plentiful, the factory can make profit. If not, it is possible to lose money. By filling a gap in the economy, a player can make solid and consistent profit through a factory. However, X³'s economy is self-adjusting; NPCs are able to build factories and can similarly profit. As such, X³ has the most advanced, realistic, and - arguably - the most competitive economy of all the X games.
The player can acquire an unlimited number of ships and stations, of varying size, shape and function. Starting with little, the player can build their empire, set their own goals, and choose their own path in how they wish to shape the universe.
The player reprises the role of Julian Brennan - Julian Gardna from the previous game. Following on from events of the previous game, Julian's friend Ban Danna, of the Argon Secret Service, contacts Julian. Danna informs him that the Argon military has suffered heavy losses in war with the Khaak and asks Julian to help in training some new pilots. Julian agrees. Soon, a series of events unfold, leading Julian to hunt down the 'seeds' - ancient alien artifacts that may hold the key to making jump-gates, to a reunion with the lost planet Earth.
See plot synopsis.
X³ uses a new, specifically developed graphics engine to give highly detailed renders of ships and stations, along with photo-realistic planets and a host of new effects, including lighting, shadow and reflection. Graphically, Egosoft redesigned everything from scratch. The stations are restructured, larger and more detailed. Few contain the internal docking ports of the prior games, instead featuring external docking clamps. Ship sizes have been redesigned according to a logical scale. Egosoft ensured a pilot would actually fit in their cockpit, and that a carrier vessel was actually large enough to carry a given number of ships. As such, ships and stations are noticeably different in size from prior games.
The HUD has also been altered. Egosoft removed non-functional internal cockpit graphics, giving the player a largely unobstructed view of space. There are now markers over game objects such as ships, stations and large asteroids, and each object is selectable by a simple mouse click, or through a keyboard or controller. X3 uses a new interface designed to be faster, more user friendly, and compatible with a console controller. The game carries over many of the same short-cut keys from previous games, but now the mouse too can be used for functions including menu navigation, target selection, flying and combat.
The economy has been redesigned to be more sophisticated, with non-player ships now in direct competition with the player. New tools have been added to help the player compete in the X-Universe, including a new way of linking factories together into complexes which can be self-sustaining to varying degrees. There are also new in-game software products that allow a player to automate operations. In addition, Egosoft presents the player with a number of new scripting tools encouraging computer literate players to write their own functions into the game. This is further supported through Egosoft's Scripts and Modding forum where players share ideas.
Combat AI is improved, and enemy behavior redesigned. Many pirates now travel in gangs, often heavily armed, making them much more threatening than in earlier games. There are also smugglers, pirates who remain hidden until their cargo is scanned for contraband wares. There are now pirate missions available to the player, as well as a new pirate faction, known as the Yaki. Xenon and Khaak remain the primary antagonists; both races are entirely hostile and will often mount full scale sector invasions.
Status has far more relevance than in previous games. Now, many kinds of weapon, ship, and factory are not purchasable until the player has earned sufficient reputation with the vendor race. With some races, reputation can be earned through trade; with others, the player must earn respect by killing unwanted visitors in the race's space - such as pirates, Khaak, or Xenon. Some races appreciate both. By choosing to be an upstanding citizen, the player can earn the right to buy powerful new weapons, ships and technologies. By engaging in piracy, destruction, smuggling or other crime the player may lose reputation, and so may lose the privilege to buy things. The persistent wrongdoer may lose the right to land at stations, or even to enter sectors, being attacked on sight. Eventually, the player may find it impossible to buy many of the game's most powerful ships, weapons, and technologies (although such things may still be possible to acquire through less orthodox means).
X3 first showed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in May 2005, where it received considerable praise for its visuals, described as "beautiful" (Gamespot), "all very stylish and sharp" (IGN), and "by far the most visually impressive game at the booth." (The Inquirer )
On release, response to X3 was mixed. While some sources praised its vision, freedom and scope, others complained of a buggy implementation, under-performance and a steep learning curve.
PC Zone hailed it as "one of the few games that has the power to engage your imagination with pretty pictures, then actually live up to your imaginings when you get your hands on it." and GameZone gave it 'Editor's Choice' calling it "a bona fide winner." However, GameSpy asked "How much slack can you give a game that in many ways manages to achieve [its] lofty goal, but buries it under a painfully incomplete implementation?" Reviewers complained of low frame rates, frequent crashes, and bugs that made it impossible to complete the game; "the game was simply unplayable out of the box." "[I]t's not that X3 is a bad game, or that it isn't fun - it just isn't done." Sources also complain of complicated interface, exacerbated by an unhelpful manual which references "features and options that aren't even in the final version."
On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the game has an average score of 75% based on 39 reviews. On Metacritic, the game has an average score of 71 out of 100, based on 32 reviews — indicating mixed or average reviews.
Reviews consistently criticised X3's numerous bugs and poor performance, a sentiment that was strongly echoed on Egosoft's Technical Support forum. Soon after the game's initial release, Egosoft released a series of patches and an improved manual through their official website that addressed the issues. "Three patches on," Computer Gaming World's Matt Peckham wrote, "[S]omething nigh-miraculous occurred: With doubled performance and many of the mission-busting bugs fixed, X3 evolved from a Byzantine hodgepodge to an actually accessible, massively multiform space sim. The bottom line: It’s back on my hard drive, this time to stay." 
The original release version of X3: Reunion was plagued by a number of bugs and issues. Subsequently, Egosoft released a series of patches, first to resolve problems and later to add new features, expanding the game.
Patches 1.2 to 1.4 were primarily aimed at eliminating bugs, improving performance, and resolving compatibility issues.
On December 31, 2005, an updated manual was released for the game in a PDF file. This can be obtained from the downloads section of the official page and is 97 pages long, 16 pages longer than the first version. It contains information about the changes in the V1.4 patch, and corrections to errors in the earlier manual that shipped with the game.
Bala Gi Missions
On 11 November 2006 Egosoft released version 2.0.01 of X3: Reunion. This contained many new ships, features, new sectors and further bug fixes. Bala Gi's missions are available to players who have logged 10 game hours, have at least 5 million credits on account, have a good reputation with the Boron, are not an enemy of the Split or Paranid, and own at least one station. Rewards include the Player Headquarters, the M7 class prototype battleship, and the ability to build the new M3+ class of Heavy Fighters. The availability of these missions is not dependent on the main plot, and saved games from previous versions are able to receive the new missions and mission rewards. The game itself was relaunched as a budget PC DVD-ROM, appropriately titled X3 Reunion 2.0. The re-release has the 2.0 patch already applied, and contains no trace of StarForce Copy Protection.
On 24 December 2007 Egosoft released version 2.5 for X3: Reunion. This added an uplink feature whereby players can upload game stats to the Egosoft website. The website displays many different achievements in leaderboards. The uplink feature was also added to X2: The Threat.
Mac OS X Non-Cider Update
The original version of X3: Reunion on the Mac used the Cider "wrapper" technology developed by Transgaming. On June 29, 2010, Virtual Programming issued a new version of the game that eschewed Cider. Virtual Programming CEO Mark Hinton was quoted as saying: "We weren't happy with X3: Reunion's performance when using Cider, and it turned out many of our customers weren't either. As a gesture of goodwill, we reengineered the game as a native port that's a free update for existing customers. Starting today, new X3: Reunion customers will receive the updated version of the game."
The X Universe is a collection of sectors connected by a system of two-way jumpgates. The total number of sectors is around 160 in X3: Reunion. Each sector is vast in dimensions but the central area usually contains the stations and gates.
There are many different wares in X3. Some are produced, others are constantly available such as software upgrades. Example classes of ware include: Lasers, Missiles, Shields, Energy, Minerals, Foodstuffs, Technological and Biological.
Factories are stations which use resources to create one or many products. The needed resources and produced wares need to be transported by a ship. Traders in the universe must move wares between the factories to keep production going; if supply exceeds demand a factory will often stop producing goods. The player can build factories by buying them at a shipyard and loading them on board a large transport ship (TL class). The player factories can own their own ships to buy resources and sell products. There are many factory options to configure the trader ships behaviour and job. Player factories can also connect to each other to share resources and products. The factories are connected through tubes and the docking bay is moved to a central complex hub.
Trading Stations are usually found in every established sector. They each have a list of wares which they buy and sell at a fixed price. Equipment docks are trading stations which are aimed at the distribution of ship upgrades and equipment. They trade in missiles, lasers, shields, software and upgrades. All types of ships can dock at an equipment dock. Wares in both stations gradually deplete over time, ensuring a steady demand for higher-tier goods.
Shipyards sell ships and stations to the player. The player can sell and repair their ships at shipyards.
Pirate bases are located around the X-universe. The player can buy and sell illegal goods in these stations. The player can also hire a hacker to change stations from hostile to friendly, allowing the player's ships to dock at stations they would not normally be able to trade with.
There are a handful of special stations which do not produce any goods. These are used in the plot.
NPC Trading Ships
Trading ships move wares from one station to another. The NPC traders can specialise in one or more classes of ware and provide factories with their resources. Unlike previous games in the X-Series, all NPC traders are not owned by a single factory or station. They are all freelance traders, looking for the best trade runs between stations.
A range of different ship classes are available to fill different game functions. With some exceptions, each race produces their own kind of ship for each class.
- M0 Battleship: A massive ship able to destroy fleets all by itself, with massive firepower at its command. After the xenon war they all were destroyed (Remains of a M0 exists in xenon sector 101 )
- M1 Carrier: Can hold many fighter class ships. They specialise in defense rather than attacking ability.
- M2 Destroyer: Large ships capable of massive firepower. They have about 38 lasers spaced over 6 turret positions.
- M7 Frigate: A new addition with the 2.0 patch. Small capital ship. Between the M2 and M6 class vessels, it can carry up to 2 M3+ ships.
- M6 Corvette: Small capital ships. They are more maneuverable than large capital ships and have better shields and weapons than the fighters.
- M3+ Armed Freighter or Large Fighter: A new addition with the 2.0 patch. These ships have a larger cargo bay, more weapons, shields and are faster than the smaller M3.
- M3 Fighter: A heavy fighter. Most have one turret.
- M4 Interceptor: Medium shielded and armed fighter. Quick and effective on patrols.
- M5 Scout: The lightest ship. Minimal shields and weapons. The fastest class of ship.
- TL Large Transporter: The largest ships. Can carry stations to their building location. Can dock fighters. Vast cargo space.
- TS Small Transporter: A ship made for hauling bulk quantities of wares between stations. Slow, well shielded with light turret defences.
- TP Passenger Transporter: Fast ships with good cargo space.
The game picks up where X² left off- The Khaak are assaulting all areas of the X Universe, and Julian's father, Kyle, is still in a coma after being rescued from the Khaak. The player is then involved in an intricate plot, revealing the reason for the Khaak attack, the quest to open a portal to Earth with special gem artifacts, the introduction of a mysterious alien race, Kyle's re-awakening, and the arrival of Terran (Earth) forces into the X Universe. Some major plot points are as follows:
- A mysterious alien only referred to as "Sargon" who manipulates events during the story.
- Julian is tasked with finding three crystals and an artifact referred to as the "seed" in order to help open a gate to Earth by the Goner Ion. During the storyline he meets the pirate Don Toni Marani and his daughter, who help in later missions. Ion attempts to run off with the artifacts when he gets them, and reveals during his capture he was being manipulated by Sargon.
- Kyle re-awakens from his coma, though his brain waves are still linked to the Khaak leading them to open another an assault in Paranid space, leading the Argons to declare him an enemy to appease the Paranid.
- Julian is marked an enemy of the Argon Federation on hopes to avoid a war with the Paranid, who accuse Julian of committing crimes in their territory.
- The Paranid are revealed to have provoked the Khaak into attacking the races of the X-Universe when one of their scouting missions found their home world.
- The Paranid are also found to have been strip mining the valuable Nividium asteroids, which further anger the Khaak as they make their homes from the Nividium material. The mined Nividium alongside synthesized versions of the artifacts were being fashioned into jump gates, which the Paranid hoped to manipulate the economy with.
- A gate to Earth is opened, which Kyle passes through, causing the Khaak to be aware of it. They attempt to go through it and fight through a combined Teladi, Boron, and Argon fleet led by Ban Danna, inflicting large casualties. Julian and Ion try to stabilize the gate with the Teladi station, which sends both of them through it, killing Ion. Julian manages to survive and finds himself floating at a gate near Earth, with a massive fleet moving towards him.
- The Terran fleet arrives with Kyle and Julian on board through the jump hole and helps the overwhelmed defenders against the Khaak. The Terrans afterwards show their distrust towards the X Universe races, even the Argon humans, prompting Kyle to return to Earth to try and sort out the situation. Julian is released, pardoned of his crimes by the Argon Federation and the Paranid Empire, and the player is left to play in the post-plot universe.
Extra release information
On July 22, 2006 it was announced that both X3 and its predecessor X² would be available via Valve's Steam online content delivery system. The Steam version includes the most recent 2.5 patch and has the StarForce copy protection system removed.
The game was intended to be Egosoft's first multiplatform release on both Windows and Xbox; however plans changed, and shortly before release it was announced that the Xbox version had been cancelled. No Xbox version is available.
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