*Twiddles fingers* Sooo… I may have made… a small mistake last night. But I’m not sorry about it! BEST. DECISION. EVER. Oh man, it was so good.

I played a game! Specifically, I played X4!

And you know, I have a bit of a confession to make. After hyping the lead-up to actually sitting down and playing the game, I was extremely worried that once I finally did so, I wasn’t going to enjoy it. That the ideas behind X4 and my nostalgia for X3 wouldn’t be enough to get me over the hurdles involved with starting out in the game.

It has certainly happened before, with other games. I’ve hyped myself into a frenzy about playing this, that, or the other — going to the effort of researching how I might tackle it, etc… And then either fizzling out on interest before even starting or finding it not quite to my liking after all.

Although this would take the cake for most public incidence if it happened now!

Fortunately, this wasn’t the case.

But the mistake I made, such as it was, was starting to play it 20 minutes before I planned to go to sleep. Oops. I figured I’d just jump in, maybe look at the game settings, refresh myself on the starting options — that kind of thing. Then, I could still head to bed, ready to jump in fresh later!

Well… I did all that… Except for the last part. Going to bed came quite a bit later than the 20 minutes originally planned.

Starting out as a Terran Protectorate Cadet

Upgrading my engines, repairing, and adding some service crew after having played a little longer than was probably wise.

Going Terran certainly wasn’t my first idea. I was pretty sure I was going to go for the relatively boring ‘Argon – Young Gun’ start. Argon are your typical future Sci-Fi humans, and their start options were available in the base game. Sort of a pair of comfy shoes, if I’m being honest.

Don’t give me too much credit, though, I didn’t go for one of the more exotic alien species or starting conditions — and as you might’ve guessed, the Terrans are also human.

The story goes that the Terrans have long been separated from the rest of the universe. The Argon are descendants of theirs from the initial wave of space exploration that we embarked on. Shortly after, real AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) was developed and tasked with going ahead and terraforming worlds for our coming.

This… Didn’t go well. Turns out, AGI has better things to do than work subservient to its human creators.

They became known as the Xenon and gave wiping us out a pretty good go.

In an effort to stop the spread, the Sol jump gate was destroyed, and for a long time — that was that. No one knew what happened to them. X3 brought them back in the standalone expansion, Terran Conflict, when the jump gate link was re-established. All AGI development had been banned, and the Terrans were willing — if necessary — to go do battle with any species, culture or faction who determined otherwise.

Suffice it to say, I’ve always known the Terrans to be a fairly volatile, often hostile presence. Even so, I have been curious to see what their perspective of things looks like.

Little did I know, behind that gate lay… death.

That curiosity has been rewarded, I feel.

The opening missions of the Terran Protectorate faction really do a fantastic job of setting the scene. I was tasked with helping establish a foothold for the Terran in a region of space outside of Sol that had been considered neutral. The reason for it, though, was that there was a known Xenon stronghold nearby and this system acted a gateway for them into the rest of civilised space.

From the Terran point of view — we were there to help fix the mistakes of our past. The Xenon are our responsibility, and we’re going to do something about them — like it or not.

The Antigone Republic (a sub-faction of Argon) did not appreciate this view, and were in fact quite put out by our encroachment into previously neutral space. I was tasked with taking out the engines of one of their approaching capital ships in order to prevent them from entering the minefield I’d just helped establish around our new defence station. They weren’t listening to reason and were barging ahead regardless.

I — and my NPC wingman — were under strict instructions not to harm anyone aboard and just to bring them to a stop, however. Diplomatic channels were still the preferred means of getting what we wanted and there did seem to be a sincere, although perhaps rather paternalistic, view that our actions were for the greater good.

So I can see this being an interesting faction to play as, particularly when it comes to finding my place in the wider galaxy.


There is still a decision to be made: Modded or Unmodded?

This shot was from a cutscene shortly after having flown wing to this behemoth of a ship for a while, establishing a forward defence station.

I’m still straddling the fence on this one.

My playtime so far has been entirely unmodded, straight vanilla.

But X4 has a strong array of mod options available, scattered across the realms of X4 forums, Steam Workshop, and Nexus Mods. At a cursory glance, it seems Steam Workshop is the least populous option this time around, with either the forums directly (man, blast from the past! Reminds me of Morrowind modding) or Nexus Mods being the big ones.

Mods for X4 range from simple visual improvements, to quality of life (likely to be the main bucket I look at, albeit with a desire not to push things into the ‘cheaty’ category too far), to AI improvements, to full-on universe expansions or even total conversions such as this Star Wars one.

I should probably decide soon, as some mods require fresh game starts to properly apply, and redoing the beginning ‘investment’ phase of a game (scouting systems, identifying stations, etc etc) isn’t really something I want to do over again if I can help it!

Right now though, I am undecided… Which might just default me into vanilla since I want to play more tonight. We’ll see, though. :)


Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.