X Rebirth 2.0: Secret Service Missions is a "massive overhaul" of Egosoft's sprawling, troubled space simulator.
Last year's launch of X Rebirth, the latest entry in Egosoft's long-running series of open-ended space sims, was an unqualified mess. Our sister site GameFront couldn't even review it at launch and when it finally did, it earned a decidedly sub-par score of 47/100 - which at least was better than the 33/100 it's currently sporting on Metacritic. Bugs were the big issue but content and design elements earned their fair share of complaints, too. For long-time fans of the X Universe, it was a major disappointment.
But Egosoft isn't giving up, as today it unveiled X Rebirth 2.0: Secret Service Missions, an update that adds a new "plot chain" to the game allowing players to join the Argon Federation Secret Service. The important part, though, is that "2.0" designator at the end of the title, indicating that this is "a major update for a wide variety of gameplay mechanics" - essentially a second shot at getting it right.
The list of issues addressed by X Rebirth 2.0 is extensive, but foremost among them are a massive overhaul of the game's balancing and the introduction of three difficulty levels; several new commands for ships in your squad, permitting much finer control over their actions; UI and menu improvements; redesigned highway gameplay; the ability to deal remotely with lots of NPCs without the need to land on stations; and better support for joysticks. There are also multiple new starting points tailored for trading, building or fighting, customizable cockpit configurations, a new set of capital ships and "an overhauled visual look and feel resulting from improved shaders and soft shadows."
There is also, as befits a relaunch, a new trailer and a pile of screens. It's all very pretty, as you'd expect from an X game, but whether or not it's any good remains to be seen. I'm hopeful - I've spent a lot of hours cruising the X space lanes and I was really looking forward to more in Rebirth - but also very cautious. After all, any game that's bad enough to make its developer apologize should probably be approached with a wary eye.
X Rebirth 2.0: Secret Service Missions is available now and will be given as a free update to anyone who already owns the original version of the game.