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The X Rebirth expansion Home of Light is now available, as is the 4.0 update, which brings even more changes to a game that's already undergone quite a lot of them since its troubled launch two years ago.
Troubled, of course, is a nice way of saying bad, but I have to give full credit to developer Egosoft for persevering in its efforts to make the game playable. The latest update adds a bulletin board system to keep track of missions, makes big changes to the external views, enables Orders for multiple selected ships, adds a Trade Deals menu that shows profit estimates, enables time acceleration with SETA, adds new tutorials, and makes a number of other changes that will, hopefully, make the game more of a pleasure to play.
The 4.0 update will be free for everyone who owns X Rebirth. Those who don't mind spending a few bucks more can also snag the $10/ 8 Home of Light expansion, which brings three new systems to the game, including the titular Home of Light, and its massive economy to profit from. The expansion also includes specialized warehouse stations, new game starting points, new missions, and the possible return of an old and forgotten enemy, although I suspect that its mention in the update notes indicates that it's actually pretty likely to happen.
It's interesting that while the comments on Steam in response to the launch of the 4.0 update aren't quite universally enthusiastic, the Home of Light user reviews are almost universally positive. There are relatively few of them, but the general consensus is that the new content, coupled with two years of fixes, has finally resulted in a proper X game. And if you're a space sim fan, a proper X game is a pretty fantastic thing.
You have to give credit where it's due: X Rebirth was a hot intergalactic mess when it launched in late 2013, but developer Egosoft has continued to plug away at it with both free updates and paid DLC. Today the studio announced that more of both is coming in February in the form of the Home of Light expansion, as well as the major 4.0 update.
Home of Light will expand the X Rebirth universe significantly with the addition of three new systems, including the Home of Light from the X3 games. It will also add new warehouse trading stations that will enable high-volume trading, and new enemies, weapons, missions, "mysterious phenomena," and secrets to discover on the outskirts of known space. The 4.0 update will launch around the same time—neither of them have a hard release date yet—and will feature the addition of trading graphs, new engine technology, customizable weapon upgrades, and at least some of the new stuff mentioned above—enemies, weapons, secrets, and so forth.
As pleased as I am that Egosoft is sticking with it, the obvious question is whether or not all these updates are actually improving the game in a meaningful way. And I really don't know. Reviews on Steam are "mostly negative," with 68 percent throwing a thumbs-down, but that includes reactions going all the way back to launch day. More recent comments seem legitimately mixed, and much of the criticism now focuses on the fact that Rebirth is very different from previous games in the series. One such review describes it as "a great game" and credits Egosoft for being a dedicated and reliable developer, but then tags it as "not recommended" because it's "not an X game."
X Rebirth: Home of Light will normally sell for $10, but for now can be pre-purchased on Steam for $8, and will also be included in the upcoming X Rebirth Complete package. The 4.0 update will be free.
Remember X Rebirth? Perhaps you've tried to forget. The latest addition to the long-running (and, until Rebirth, quite good) space epic was one seriously hot mess when it came out in late 2013. But Egosoft kept plugging away at it, fixing bugs and adding content through two major revisions that reportedly improved things considerably, and today the studio announced the release of yet another patch and, more interestingly, talked about its plans for possible future DLC and a brand new X game.
The big giggle in X Rebirth 3.60 is the ability to toggle the flight assist feature on the Albion Skunk, enabling a more realistic (and much more difficult) Newtonian flight model rather than the atmospheric style the game normally uses. It's experimental—so experimental, in fact, that you'll have to bind your own key to the toggle if you want to try it out—but Egosoft wanted to get it in there now so it can collect feedback for possible implementation in future games.
And yes, there will be another X game. "At some point there will be a new game because we want to improve a lot of things that we unfortunately cannot improve using a DLC or update. These are things that would cause massive changes to balancing or completely change the structure of the economy," the studio wrote. "Because of this, we are working exactly as we did in the X3 times: In parallel working on a new project and improvements to the games already released. This won't just include making improvements to X Rebirth and The Teladi Outpost, but maybe also further updates for X3: Terran Conflict or Albion Prelude."
Foremost among those new-game-only features are the ability to fly all ships and to "actively command" from the bridge of a capital ship, as well as "massive changes to the structure of the universe," improved maps, and a brand new UI. Naturally, that's all a long way down the road: In the near-term, Egosoft plans to continue releasing updates and new content for Rebirth, and there may be a full DLC release as well. That will only happen, however, if the studio decides to produce a major amount of new content for the game, including new systems, stations, and ships; new gameplay features will continue to be released as free updates.
A full list of fixes in the X Rebirth 3.60 update is on Steam now.