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I wanted to love X space game and X4 Foundations perhaps came as close as I might ever get to such an experience. It still however feels like it’s just not for me. There are a lot of things that were close like station building, mining, and trading. The details that this game has in spades are also where it fell short at least for me.
My History With X Games
I loved space simulation games. They had me at some crazy-looking spaceships from the get-go. I however usually came into contact early on with certain game aspects that made such games, not an enjoyable experience whatsoever when it comes to X games.
In the past, I’ve purchased X bundles. I have X beyond the frontier, X3 Terra Conflict, X3 Reunion, and a bunch of other stuff including DCLS. In total across them all, I have less than 10 hours played with X3 Reunion having the most playtime.
This was a series of games I wanted to love for some time now. A lot of the time with these older games the graphics did not age well. Came to an even bigger issue I could not stand the flight controls for controlling the ships. Add in some old-school bugs using gateways and my experience was un-enjoyable, to say the least.
Then came along X Rebirth. I managed to put a total of 11 hours into that one. Surpassing the entire game playing time for these games up till that point. I did not buy it at launch as it was quite a buggy mess. I waited till it was announced that it was all “fixed.”
I ended up raging and quitting at a massive game bug trying to move forward in the game that I kept hitting. I also hated yet again the spaceship controls for flying. I thought this was going to be the last chance I gave these kinds of games.
When X4 Foundations came out I did not buy it right away. I ended up picking it up on discount back in 2021 with a bunch of other space and sci-fi games. It then sat in my backlog for a while with hopes that it would become even better by the time I got around to playing it. It almost was.
With how complex a game like X4 Foundations is I thought I would give it as best of a fair shot I could. I was going to play the tutorial. Sometimes I play the tutorial in games and other times I just skip over it if I think the game will be intuitive enough and not have massively deep complexity in gameplay.
Since I had a lack of real experience with the X series of games in the past I felt my experience in other space games ranging from Eve Online to No Man’s Sky and so many games in-between was going to help somewhat but not enough. I still went in with the mindset I was going to 100% the tutorial.
That however ended up not being possible. I kept running the same game-breaking glitch when I was out in the space suit that I ended up having to skill over that part of training. If a game can’t even get the tutorial right my hopes for it being an amazing game start to dwindle quite quickly.
I however wanted to give the game a fair chance. After that, I dived right in to do the campaign. Where what I learned quickly fell apart as they were tossing too much at you at once. With this being a sandbox game after all once you are out of the garden of a tutorial the real adventure starts.
While I did not run into the same bug I did in the tutorial. X4 Foundations crashing on occasion makes me quite the frequent game safer. As it is quite an annoyance to lose half an hour's worth of progress and have to repeat the same actions.
I Hate The Movement Controls Of X4 Foundations
For me, it is a bit strange in a space game to want nothing to do with any of the controls, navigation, or the sorts in a space game. This includes not wanting to fly the ship let alone dock the thing. This also included other activities such as trying to navigate around the environment in the space station builder.
In a space game if you don’t have the controls nailed down it becomes quite an exhaustive experience. It becomes easy to become disoriented even dizzy, and just overall frustrated with the game. Being allowed to move in all directions in a game will do that to you.
I guess I’m more of an Eve Online kind of movement kind of person when it comes to space games. Even the docking experience was much worse than that of what I experienced in Elite Dangerous to the point after I docked for the first time in the campaign to sell some crystals I looted. I bought a pilot AI to fly my ship for me.
That was then the last time I ever wanted to manually fly in space again regarding X4 Foundations. I would go out of my way to ensure I would never be without a pilot AI to fly a ship for me. There were just far too many buttons and it felt like the basics of control were not nailed 100% down to something I could enjoy.
Thankfully my character rarely leaves a space station. In fact, for the bulk of 100 hours of a game, he has either sat in a station in his starting ship or one of the rooms of the space station for reduced lag. He is more like a commander giving orders anyways and is not needed out and about.
You could almost get away with not having an actual character being represented with a body in-game. Outside of the first hour of gameplay. I suppose if you enjoy doing many side things like missions, blowing open lockboxes, and taking ships it would come in handy. It would hardly be missed otherwise.
That however did not fully resolve my hatred for the controls in this game. You also have the environment for the space station when building it. You have to zoom around with the middle mouse button to get closer. Nothing snaps into place like you want. Good luck adjusting a module’s rotation unless you have your viewpoint perfectly lined up.
Even just walking around at a station feels heavy-handed. Even after attempting to adjust what setting I could. That did not solve my issue either. Walking around in space stations in games for whatever reason seems to be something quite a few games out there struggle to get the right feeling for.
I hate everything about the controls in this game. I however did my best to look past that and count playing the game. As there is a lot more to this game than just flying around and looking at things. X4 Foundations has a certain quality if you are into that sort of thing.
Usually, in these kinds of games, I prefer to go out and do the mining myself. During the early stages of needing some money I did. After that, I bought mining ships with a crew to do all the work for me. This I’m thankful for as I did not care much for it.
In the early stage of the game where you can’t even mine resources of out a rock yet unless you have special mining lasers. You can go around looking for flashes of light coming from asteroids you find in giant belts with their hexes markets in red on the map.
Those flashing lights are crystals you can shoot to blow them up. You then track in some unknown way those resources manually before they escape and are lost forever.
Trying to make hundreds of millions of credits while squint looking for flashing colors of light is going to take a lifetime for you to get anywhere. Thankfully these asteroids can be minded themselves. While there is a bonus if you do that kind of mining manually you get to a point in the game where that becomes not worth your time.
Since your haul fills up quickly and you can’t just have another ship sitting there to store ores for you. I found the mining processes manually to just be way too involved to enjoy a relaxing evening of it. Between all the endless docking and undocking and raiders wanting to blow you up. It was just not for me.
Instead, I just bought mining ships. I then would assign them to a wing of a space station to be controlled by the station commander. I then sat back and waited for the resources to pour in. Granted it takes a lot longer but when you can have 30 to 50 mining ships all auto mining for you. Whatever you could mine manually becomes rather irrelevant.
Space Stations and Manufacturing In X4 Foundations
Space stations for me X4 Foundations seem like quite a critical thing. While I could see people playing the game and being able to avoid them for quite some time. If you want to get into manufacturing and empire building it is something you need to do.
If you love building out supply chains of goods in a game this game could be for you. It is however not quite like Dyson Sphere Program or Satisfactory. As for the one you are limited by the amount of space you have purchased licenses for in that area. You don’t need things perfectly placed feeding one good into another. That is just not how it’s going go down for you unless you love pulling your hair out and screaming at the UI for not snapping things into place.
The benefit of X4 Foundations not being like those games mentioned is you don’t have to make everything yourself. Starting right away you can’t. You are reliant on other factions from within the game selling you the modules, and blueprints, and providing a worker you can hire to build the station. Assuming you have enough money for all these things and it gets costly fast.
This also means if you are not out mining all the resources you need yourself. You can just have the station manager you hire put out a buy order along with giving them a transporting ship. You could even manually try and find what you need and set up auto trading routes to buy those goods.
That is great as the starting areas I at least was in lacked any meaningful amount of gases needed to get deep enough into production lines to be making higher-tier products. I could handle the mining side for things like ore and silicon.
However, once I needed large amounts of hydrogen and methane for things like antimatter or graphene production. I was going to need to venture far out beyond the two systems my low-level station managers could send mining fleet. Not to mention those mining fleets would not have enough protection from raiding parties. They would be easy targets to pick off since they all move independently of each other and not as a giant fleet for safety if being handled by the AI.
The cool thing is you will end up building quite a few different space stations. The AI mostly seemed content with making limited-purpose stations. This made it great to easily find a refining plant or hull plating. You on the other hand are not limited to just that.
You could make a dozen different stations each handling a different process of manufacturing a good. Then buy a transportation ship and have it set up to move goods between the production lines of different stations.
You even can save a station loaded and import it in. This allows you to invest the proper time in setting up a station and have it look the way you want knowing you can reuse the design again later on if needed.
For those who are not into trying to make things look “nice” as much as you can for this type of thing. Along with those who can’t stand the bad snapping points and trying to navigate around the space station building window there is an auto combine feature. This tries to combine everything you have placed and make it work.
I would set up a station focused on say refining ore into refined metals in a dense system with a lot of asteroids. I then would buy a dozen or so mining ships along with some protection and assign them to that space station.
From there I would buy transportation ships and have them bring those refined metals into the next process of manufacturing in another system for say making hull parts. I then would also need graphene and energy cells to finish that product.
If I wanted I could do that all in a single space station. However, setting up massive production chains becomes quite an experience. There is also the issue that once the resources in a system run out you will need to get them elsewhere.
As such I preferred to use stations as mining forward bases that did not have huge investments in them. If things went south I was not going to care too much about losing anything set up.
Another huge element of this game is combat. That is also where I have spent the least amount of my time engaged in. I could not kill a rat if it went afk. Thankfully my character never leaves a space station and I have others doing all the getting killed for me.
One of the cool things, when the spaceship you are in gets blown up, is it’s not game over if your character manages to eject. As long as you get resourced before you run out of oxygen by one of your other spaceships you might get to live for another day.
That naturally requires a few things to occur. You happened to not be doing something stupid. That it is possible for a ship to survive long enough to fly out to you, you control your space suit to dock with the ship, there is no game-breaking bug preventing you from doing so, and you manage to escape.
Combat for me was setting up a defense fleet for a station by just assigning a fleet to the station for defense. You can also set up guns on the station or even deploy defense.
You can even assign individual ships to a fleet and have them guard an area. The AI is however not that bright. Despite all the information the game gives you I also could not find a list of ships lost anywhere. So you do need manually check in to see what is left and replace losses before losing it all due to endless combat.
The AI in this game is a strange one. I could set up a station and put just a couple of miners to work at it. If there were any issues with raiders the locals who owned the system would usually take care of them in overwhelming numbers.
If however, I built up that area with say a massive mining fleet of 30 miners and 20 combat ships. Over time the AI would decide I was not permitted to do that. Even if deeply into what should be a safe system within the region I was in.
They would as if they had unlimited resources or I was the only thing they cared about putting their entire domain's focus on destroying whatever area I had overpopulated. Once they annihilated most of that fleet and defenses they would just go away. Leaving the station and a couple of ships left to my name to rebuild.
It was almost tempting to take advantage of such situations. It was almost tempting to set up a bunch of stations all over the place. Along with giving them just a skeleton crew for the area to get the job done. That almost seemed like that would have had a more desirable outcome. Granted space stations can get costly to build.
There are also some important settings you need to make sure are enabled. Such as having mining and transportation ships flee when getting attacked. Otherwise, they will just sit there doing what they were doing till they blow up.
Naturally, if someone was trying to blow up your ship. At the same time, the local police who scouted that system asked to inspect your ship. The AI would not flee or deal with the attack. There was a good chance that the miner was a goner if that situation happened.
Inane Amount Information
You can and will get lost in this game's vast amount of menus and in-game information pages. There is everything from a massive wiki to seeing the last action a ship took. Finding these things, however, takes some time.
There are just so many different menus and pages of information I was lost more times than not. I would sometimes stubble upon the information I found useful to then not find it again after looking for it a dozen times over.
This game seems to suffer from trying to do too much and not doing any of it good at all. Instead of giving me just a couple of critical information windows that were easy to navigate and find. Your eyes are assaulted with an endless page of information that you need to go further down into the menu to find whatever usual information you were after.
The game also included a full-on encyclopedia in-game. If you want to get anywhere meaningful in this X4 Foundations it would be best to read as much of it as you can stand.
For those who love as much information as you can get at and the management side of things in games like these. I’m sure this part of the game is where things start to shine. It will however take some getting used to along with finding the information you want in the first place.
While it would have been nice if this was the one I would be spending a lot of time playing. There are just far too many things I don’t care about it that make it not the game for me. With that said I’m sure there are a lot of passionate individuals who have sunk hundreds or thousands of hours into this and have gotten a lot out of it.
Ultimately I feel that they would have stripped back some of the complexity, streamlined a few things, and at least made the space station builder environment not such a pain to use. It would have been an amazing adventure.
Speaking of adventures I have played a lot of other space and sci-fi games check their reviews below.