When I was first set loose in X: Rebirth's vast universe, right after it's release, I was convinced it was going to be amazing. But I quickly realised that this was, in fact, a colossal supernova of bugs and ♥♥♥♥ty game design that refuses to let you have any fun – and I really tried. I forgot about the game for a while, and came back to play the 2.20 update, hoping that the game would be fixed by now. I was disappointed, again.
First problem: you only get to pilot one ship, the horribly named Albion Skunk. You're able to explore it using a first-person mode, which could have been fun if there were more than two rooms to it, and if anything was even slightly interactive. The cockpit is cluttered and restrict your vision horribly, and it took me a good while to find some of the most important HUD elements, such as the speedometer. Which isn't that well done either. Eventually I found a guy that sells different cockpits, ehich there are four of. And so, I was saved from the horrors of the stock cockpit by bying the very open, combat-oriented one.
If I remember correctly EgoSoft said that there's only one ship to incease immersion and that they couldn't have made the capitalship gameplay fun while keeping the mobility realistic. Well, changeing ships has worked just fine in the other games. I would've paid extra for the ability to change into something with more than one gun. Even if it was just a frikin' shuttle.
Then there's your co-pilot, Yisha. For a character you spend the entire game with, and who's almost constantly talking, you'd think they would have hired someone with some basic acting ability to speak her lines. But while you'll eventually grow used to her awkward delivery, you'll never stop cursing how useless she is. Case in point: if you're piloting a drone, and enemies start attacking the Skunk, she'll just sit there dumbly. Couldn't you, like, move, or fight back, or something? Not to mention her, and everyone else's, bad animations and ridiculous outfits. Oh, and a boob-window on a spacesuit. Because logic.
Second problem: The voice acting. Oh god, the voice acting is absolutely horrible. It has to be mentioned multiple times. I could rate this game negative just because of it, but there's so much more. The game has a big problem with humans in genereal. On stations – which all look identical – you'll talk to NPCs, who are terrifying, slot-mouthed, dead-eyed mannequins. While space itself feels nicely alive, teeming with traffic and huge ships lumbering back and forth, the interiors feel lifeless and boring. In a nightclub I hear the ambient sound of people drinking and laughing, but it's empty except for two people standing motionless by the bar. Thankfully you don't really have to enter stations anymore, you now can do all interaction straight from your ship. But since it's done as a video conversation with the character you're speaking to, there's no escape from the animations and voice acting.
How about something positive for a change? Stations aside, Rebirth fares much better when you're in space. Ignoring some messy shadows, it's a good-looking game, with colourful nebulas, asteroids, planets and star. The combat is like jousting in space. Ships make passes at each other, firing a volley of shots when they get close and hoping some connect. Or you can use heatseeking missiles. Hit the spacebar and you can strafe, FPS-style. Hit it again to steer with the mouse. The movement feels nicely weighty.
Except that the Skunk can only mount one weapon at a time, which are all extremely underpowered compared to the fact that enemies can mount multiple ones, and have near-perfect aim. Missiles are nice, and one of the only ways to make combat work for me. The other is to fly to a station and hope the turrets kill the hostiles before you die.
Third problem: you have separate ships for trading that follow you around and have to be given orders. You couldn't, and still can't, buy any trade-goods with your own ship, everything has to be done with slow and dumb freighters that can't even fight pirates reliably, despite the 20 turrets that are mounted on them. You can't cancel an order without editing your save file, and sometimes the freighter just refuses to move, breaking the entire save and preventing the plot from progressing. It's like I'm dragging a badly-behaved toddler around a shopping centre. Thank god they've fixed most of those bugs by now, but the trading UI is still slightly confusing at times and the ships are still ridiculously dumb.
The UI.... One word: Useless. It's confusing and mostly useless.It's designed to work around a controller, on a PC-exclusive title.
There's so much done wrong with this game, even this full A4 page of text is just the beginning. No matter what happens with stability and bug-fixing patches, its poor controls, awful interface, and dull pacing ensure that X Rebirth will remain unpleasant for all but the most forgiving, die-hard space jockeys. And oh god, the voice-acting...