X4: Foundations, the newest entry in Egosoft's series of space simulators, will launch later this year, the developer has announced.
The announcement was accompanied by a new, seven minute gameplay video. It details a host of new features and explains how the game differs from previous entries.
X4 seems to be striking a balance between the goals Egosoft had in mind for the ambitious but disappointing X-Rebirth, and the more traditional structure of the studio's previous space sims X2 and X3.
The trailer starts by emphasising any ship featured in X4 will be flyable by the player, addressing one of the main criticisms of Rebirth that players were stuck in a single ship for the duration. In addition, the developers have strived to ensure that players will be able to seamlessly disembark from their ship and explore various space-stations on foot, as well as board other ships.
One interesting twist is that X4 will have no central plot. Instead, the focus is on creating a story that evolves dynamically as the player explores. The game’s universe will play host to multiple factions, all of which have their own goals, and can grow and evolve X-Com: Apocalypse fashion as the game progresses. That said, these faction will have their own mission chains that players can undertake, and while there is no core campaign, there is “one very special story” relating to the player’s in-game base that will offer substantial rewards if completed.
Alongside this is a whole bunch of other features, such as a new modular building system that lets you upgrade ships and build your own space-stations, and a completely revamped UI. Oh, and you can perform EVAs and spacewalks, as the video details:
“You can leave the safety of your ship and break into a secured ancient derelict station or fly into the smallest folds of an asteroid in search of crystals. Like everything else in the game, your spacesuit can be upgraded and be used in large battles to place bombs on stations, or during espionage to scan for secrets.”
It all sounds fascinating. But then, so did X-Rebirth, and that proved to be a buggy, borderline unplayable mess on launch. There’s also more competition this time around, what with Elite Dangerous and No Man’s Sky offering their own brands of space exploration, and Star Citizen ever hovering over the horizon like a pot of space gold at the end of a space rainbow.
All of those games have their own flaws, however (such as Star Citizen not being a complete game yet) so if Egosoft can deliver those promised features and ensure the game enjoys a smooth release, then perhaps it can regain its position as the space-sim to beat. We’ll find out November 30th.