Written by Jonathan Lee, July 19, 2016, at 1:30 p.m.
“Trade. Build. Fight. Think.” If you remember this motto, then you might have been a part of an experience that helped carry the open-world space sim torch sparked by the Elite series when it first popped up in ’84.
The X games, or the X-Universe games, as many call it, had — and has — a lot to offer.
Space Sim Throwback: The X-Universe Games
You have your open-world exploration with many alien species to encounter and interact with. You have a reputation system for your dealings with all the alien races existing within the game. The reputation system in turn could affect your gameplay experience. Reputation affects getting more jobs to being greeted with plasma fire upon exiting hyperspace. It was your intergalactic sandbox that grew with each game.
You could trade and make credits through a remarkable AI-controlled economy whose supply-and-demand reacted to both AI decisions and YOUR decisions in trading.
In X2 and X3, you could even build factories and multiple ships (X: Beyond the Frontier and X Rebirth are the two titles where you are restricted to one ship). You produce goods, ship, and receive goods. You create a business empire!
But you have to be wary—the AI could also affect the supply and demand with their own trading decisions.
Combat in the X-Universe games isn’t the world’s greatest, but some of the battles that the main plot lines bring across the series have been some of the coolest to behold. There are small fighter dogfights to squadrons dueling amidst the colossal exchanges between capital-class vessels. X2 had one of my favorite space battles of all-time against the terrible Khaak alien race.
The best part of the X-Universe games is not just the gameplay and graphical progression, but how supportive Egosoft has been of the games and their devotion to making sure each of their titles ends up working the way it should. X3: Reunion and X Rebirth had some really screwed up launches, but they work very well now and are amazing to play thanks to that devotion.
The Future of X-Universe Games
Egosoft has also been very involved with their forums, listening to players for feedback, and introducing new features and free DLC from time to time, which is excellent! (And who knows—there might be a new X-Universe games in the future.)
So are you looking for an expansive universe to explore, trade, and wreck-alien-face while waiting on No Man’s Sky to release? You can find this series in its entirety on Steam. Be warned—there is quite a learning curve to these games, but it’s very rewarding once you learn!