X3:TC, Initial Campaign Completed, Endgame Forecast

Reading my save game information, subtracting the 3-12:55 “flying time” statistic from the 1-4:55 “time saved using SETA” statistic, I can say with a fair amount of reliability that I’ve played X3: Terran Conflict over the last week for a solid 2 days, 8 hours.  (With up to an additional 4-8 hours lost to resuming saved games.)

X3 Terran Conflict

At the end of my last Blog entry, I was wondering if this game’s end game was really worth it.  As of now, I’ve just finished the first chapter of the half dozen (give or take) in the game, the titular “Terran Conflict.” I’m now flying an extremely powerful corvette which can swat about 90% of the enemies in the game like flies.  Thus, I’m probably in a fairly good position to hazard a guess how the end game is like.

Well, in terms of how the end game feels in comparison with the beginning game, I would have to say that the main difference is simply that expensive equipment and ships are a bit more accessible.  Naturally, the more traders and facilities are working for you and the tougher the missions you have the gear to tackle, the greater amount of money you are making. Being able to afford better gear more frequently becomes inevitable.

Compared to smaller ships, bigger ships are understandably considerably easier targets, resulting in less enemy fire avoided, but are functionally invulnerable to ships a few classes before them because the shield generation exceeds what the opposition’s weapons are capable of putting out.   At the extreme top scale of things, you might have a prototype carrier (if not several) supported by a variable host of missile frigates, fighters, bombers, marine boarding parties, and so on. There’s even quite a bit of code support to keep them automatically resupplied.

The question becomes one of, “what is there to do once you have obtained great power in this game?” It’s a question I apply to many games that have the players grind away. What’s the ultimate purpose? If you’re getting more powerful simply to get more powerful, then it’s a very hollow thing. Having power loses all context without a goal.

Given that I have navigation relay satellites monitoring most of it, I can now see what’s going on in the X-Universe.  It pretty much involves a few roving packs of Xenon and Khaak in an otherwise relatively peaceful universe.  (The pirates are a comparatively benign threat that can usually be fended off by an adequately equipped freighter, with the possible exception of the powerful Yaki cartel.)

Though the game does attempt to scale threats based off of your current combat rating and the number of ships under your control, there’s only a few sectors of ultimate evil to purge – and I understand that enemies will respawn in these sectors anyway. So, regardless of whatever military power I might have at my beck and call, my ability to instill lasting peace of the galaxy is capped.

I could turn back to a largely economic pursuit, building some space stations to fulfill the various shortages in the universe.  However, the end result of this is mostly just earning money which I could use to buy more junk. When push comes to shove, it’s pretty much a bunch of pointless virtual pack-ratting against an uncaring universe.

So, no, I’d have to say that overall the end game was not particularly what I was looking for – insofar as finding a meaningful goal in a game is reasonable.

Oh well.  Wall of text about what I did in my 3 1/2 days of play follow.

Beginning as a Humble Merchant in Argon Prime, the first order of business was trade and scouting out nearby sectors of space.  I soon fell into the habit of performing missions to earn money for my freighter fleet to trade with, as I would soon spend myself fairly thin by purchasing even more freighters or equipment.  This initial grinding for logistics would probably be evident in any of the various starts of the game, but the Humble Merchant start was quite adept at it.

A few days in, I had about half the universe mapped and a half-dozen autonomous traders earning a modest fortune for me, I decided to get started on the Terran Conflict mission chain.  I took a Pelican military transport carrying my favorite fighter craft acquisitions (an Argon Nova, Yaki Susanowa Raider, and Teladi Kestral scouts I had to replace frequently due to their fragility) most of the way across the universe to Omicron Lyrae so that I could finally begin the Terran Conflict campaign.   If it weren’t for my jumpdrive, I probably would have been fried by the Xenon along the way.

Alas, though good times were had with my prized military transport and its wing of fighters, it was not to survive the campaign.  They were sacrificed distracting a Xenon Q frigate that wandered too close when I was in the process of repairing a Split Caiman freighter I had captured as a part of the Terran Conflict mission chain.  If I let that freighter be destroyed, I would have failed the campaign, so I beamed everything worth keeping aboard the freighter and sicced my Pelican and its fighters on the Xenon Q, buying myself time to escape.   I barely escaped with a few hull points.  I was out a few million credits, but it was credits well spent, as it was probably the most exciting thing that happened the whole campaign.  (Other than ship capturing, which is an activity well-supported by music and sound bites to be very dramatic even though it is a fairly non-interactive activity).

By the end of the campaign, I was flying a corvette capable of taking down anything frigate-sized or smaller with minimal difficulty.  I had reached the end of my patience with ejecting from my ship and using a repair laser on it, and spending 5 million credits to repair my ship did not seem like a great option either, so I installed a plugin that allows for marines to perform gradual repairs to ships.  I ended up doing most of the repairs anyway – the gradual repairs are a little too gradual, really – but this plugin probably prevented me from quitting the game outright from the tedium of keeping my ships maintained. Besides, it’s a great idea that space marines are useful for more than boarding fodder.

So here I sit, at the end of the Terran Conflict’s main storyline and wondering if it’s worth going into one of the other story lines.  To a great extent, I recognize the Terran Conflict as being a tutorial, so perhaps I should try at least one more to see if things become a bit more exciting.

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