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Egosoft Comes Under Fire for Troubled X Rebirth Release

After 7 years of anticipation, X Rebirth's launch is beset with problems which are testing even the most loyal of the space sim genre's fans.

X Rebirth is fast becoming yet another cautionary tale against the dangers of pre-ordering, as the hordes of loyal fans of the X franchise who took advantage of the pre-order options complain that they have been sold a product variously described as "in a pre-alpha state", "unfinished and buggy" and "outright fraud".

However, there are others who remain staunchly in Egosoft's corner, pointing out that previous X games have been released in a similar, unpolished state only to be subsequently fixed by both the original development team and the modding community.

The decision to release a premium-priced game with a claimed lack of transparency (misleading trailers and expectation management) and some questionable design decisions (broken features, a laborious walking-in-stations trading mechanic and a general lack of in-game information) seem to be the larger concern though and something harder to address in a few quick patches.

Strong Views

YouTube pundit, Mack of Mackscorner, makes his feelings apparent in this (NSFW) video review:

"We don't want these copy-and-paste stations with freaky NPCs, it's bullshit! Absolute bullshit! Trading is like pulling teeth... the combat's horrible and repetitive--I don't know what my lasers are doing or which one is the best--and the worst of the worst is how you travel around in this matchbox universe, you use highways and superhighways. In a space game."

The first Metacritic review registered is in from Quarter to Three and supports the fears of the angry early adopters:

"A mess. This is no surprise given Egosoft’s penchant for releasing messes and then tidying them up after the fact. But the problem with X Rebirth is that it’s a different kind of mess than the previous games, in new and terribly wrong ways that are beyond tidying up."

Rapid Resolution?

However, it seems that the Egosoft developers are doing their best to put out fires and CEO Bernd Lehahn has taken to the Steam forums to quell unrest:

"First, I would like to apologise to those of you who have had technical problems. I have started a thread in the Steam forums where I have listed the most common errors and have now collected a lot of information about this."

He goes on to talk about the success of Rebirth's Steam launch then lists the priority issues and performance improvements which are first on Egosoft's to-do list, before signing off with:

"For those of you able to play without problems, I wish you continued fun. For those who have technical problems, and as can of course be seen on here on the forum there are many of you, I want to apologise again and ask for your patience.

Thank you all for the huge success!"

Final Thoughts

It is a shame that a game with such promise and a loyal fanbase has hit the iceberg of a tragic release state. As a fan of the original, I was watching X Rebirth with interest, but I make a policy of avoiding pre-orders however tempting they may be.

In this case, I feel vindicated and will certainly continue to be wary of parting with cash for an untested product, although I do feel for developers who are forced to resort to questionable tactics to find the funding to finish their game.

I wonder whether Egosoft's funds just ran out? But if so, there are other, less duplicitous mechanisms for fundraising; Steam's Early Access programme and Kickstarter crowd-funding. With the widespread issues reported, surely they could not have been unaware of the likely response if released commercially.

Have you played X Rebirth? Did you pre-order it? Can it recover? We would very much like to hear of your experiences as the product continues to be developed.
Published Nov. 19th 2013
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