Here I am after a couple of days trying out X4: Foundations… Beyond does not really sum things up. I’m caught in a mealstrom of thoughts and concerns. This game is overwhelming in the first instance and I’m not sure when the second instance will kick in! Let’s see if I can put that into words…

My initial thought that this space game sits somewhere between Elite and EVE Online is largely correct. However, it seems to lean much more towards the EVE side of the fence. I think in the long term game I will be spending more time manageing my ships and stations than I will be flying myself. But in the beginning, when there’s just me, I will have to fly my ship and do some work to make the money to kick off whatever get-rich-quick plan I think I have in mind. And that’s the issue – this game relies heavily on very detailed menues. Until I have mastered them, I won’t really know what my long term goal is.

I’ve spent the first 3 days since I bought the game in the Steam sale, trying out flying the ship and learning some basic ways of making money. There are missions and there’s one that is intended to play a part in expanding your knowledge of the surrounding area and the way to do things like hiring crew and buying ships. But, you may need to keep accessing the encyclopedia and help videos from experienced players to understand what is going on because it’s not really clear in the game itself. Elite is a much easier game to understand at the beginning – choose a cargo, ship it to where you can make a profit, and try not to get killed along the way. I can still remember my first couple of battles in Elite and the feeling of fear that was finally replaced with jubilation as the attacker ran away or was destroyed. I can’t say that I’ve had that in X4. I have been killed by someone who came at me out of nowhere when I was trying out that first mission. Unlike in Elite where I’d have known what I needed to do to survive, X4 is not so intuitive when it comes to combat – note to self: try the tutorial and see if that helps!

So, back to making some money outside of doing missions. I’ve been wandering around the local area trying out the long range scanner and finding other stations that are not visible to start with. Then I’ve found some asteroid fields. If you go and look on YouTube for beginners guides, you’ll find that asteroids sometimes have crystals and they can be very valuable. I’ve proved to myself that this is correct. I’ve found lockboxes – a sort of easter egg in space – but I’m wary of those as I understand that they may be injurious to my ship’s health and the goods inside may be illegal anyway! It has been a slow process of getting to know the ship that you’re given to start with and to test out it’s capabilities. Yesterday I spent a while mooching around a couple of the stations in the sector where the game starts me off. I was looking to see what other missions would pop up. But, perhaps the most important thing to happen on my patrol was the opportunity to take on some criminal vessels. These pay a small Cr500 reward but they often drop valuable items that you can collect. By the end of an hour or so, I was feeling a lot happier with my flying skills. I had 2 killed criminals and I’d been able to pick up the loot that they dropped. The first had an illegal cargo, so I ditched that (no point in getting a criminal record myself). The second had some ship parts that I made Cr30k on when I sold them. So, I can kill small ships but I will definitely need to get better at it or find out how to run in this menu driven game.

Ultimately, the beginner videos make it clear that you should be prepared to lose ships and crew. Possibly even stations if you get around to building those. This is going to be a very long-haul game and I’m not sure if I’ve made a pact with the devil on this one 😜 If this post seems less positive than my gaming posts usually are, it’s down to the uncertainty of how best to proceed. Like Elite, there is no right path to follow and no one holds your hand. However, I think I’m just about ready to start the game proper this week 👍‍