X Rebirth Forums Explode: Bugs, Frame Rate Issues Plague Launch

It’s usually best not to read too deeply into things when review code isn’t immediately forthcoming. While some might assume that developers and publishers intend to keep the game away from the prying eyes of the press, it can just as easily be chalked up to a failure in communication at some point down the chain of command. When you do receive an official review copy, only to have it remain safely locked behind a Steam preload until launch day, it’s usually safe to assume that it’s just an oversight. Usually.

When Egosoft‘s long-anticipated space sandbox X Rebirth launched last Friday, forums exploded with chatter and discussion, and almost none of it good. Demands for refunds, accusations that the game was released unfinished, and even claims that Rebirth is an aborted Xbox 360 spinoff title reworked into a PC release have filled both the official and Steam forums for the game. It’s bad mojo all round, with the occasional positive voice in amidst a lot of pretty serious complaints. While we’re not entirely convinced by the console port theory, the game does lack full joystick support (a standard feature in all previous Egosoft titles), while Xbox 360 gamepads are fully compatible.

We had planned to review the game this week, but extreme performance problems have prevented us from getting far enough to pass fair judgement. Despite our review machine (Nvidia 660ti Overclocked, i5-3570k @3.4ghz, 8gb RAM) being on par with or exceeding the official Recommended system specs for the game, Rebirth consistently runs at 10-15fps even with most detail options set to near-zero, sometimes dipping as low as 6fps during non-combat gameplay. Needless to say, this has rendered the game effectively unplayable for us. Most puzzling are reports that people on far weaker hardware are running the game fine at medium/high settings.

When we contacted Egosoft for guidance or comment after providing our system specs, diagnostic files and more, we were informed that for all our hardware, we should never expect to see ‘FPS-like’ framerates on the game, and that 20fps average (which we only achieved by looking directly into the blank, featureless void of space) is perhaps to be expected. Shortly thereafter, they released an official FAQ/statement on the issue, confirming that there are some hardware-specific problems at work, but also that the game is designed to such futuristic standards that even modern CPUs should be expected to struggle with it. A questionable claim, considering that the previous X game only ran on a single CPU core and offered far higher performance even in the most crowded areas of space.

From what we have played of the game so far, the issues extend far beyond optimization and hardware incompatibilities. The game is currently rife with bugs, with no shortage of crashes reported, some early story quests failing to flag themselves and complete. A patch released today addresses one of the more common game-breaking bugs, which caused the space-highways connecting the various sectors of the game to spit players out tens of thousands of miles from their intended destination. Without time compression or autopilot features to fall back on, players were left with just two options: Load their last saved game or spend hours trying to fly their way back home.

There is some amusement to be drawn from the litany of glitches, however. The biggest new feature of Rebirth is the ability to land your spaceship and wander around stations in FPS fashion, interacting with story characters as well as NPC traders, recruitable crewmates and more. Unfortunately, this part of the game seems a little half-baked, with almost all the environments being near-identical to one another and populated with a cast of interchangeable, stony-faced clones that repeat the same handful of stilted lines eternally. They’re a strange lot, too, often accompanying every single line of dialogue with a squat-thrust. While I’d like to chalk this up to attempts to prevent muscle atrophy in low gravity, it seems more likely to be an animation hiccup causing them to crouch and stand each and every time they’re spoken to.

The problems with the game seem to run deeper than just glitches and performance problems, too. Some of the newer additions to the game – such as the new industrial trading system – just don’t seem to work as intended, with freighters getting stuck or confused or apparently forgetting orders. Commanding a personal fleet is just as difficult as ever (if not moreso) due to a pared-down UI that seems to make the process more difficult to carry out simple tasks, rather than simpler. Even the much-vaunted upgradeable player ship seems to be surprisingly limited in how much it can be customized, offering fewer equipment choices than many interchangeable rank-and-file craft from previous games in the series.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The X series has built up an astonishingly driven and industrious fanbase over the years, and they’re already trying to clean up some of the more glaring problems with the game. So far, it’s generally small aesthetic changes, such as greatly reducing the amount of random metal clutter on your ship’s cockpit (which normally takes up almost a third of the screen, doing nothing), or patching up a deeply questionable boob-window on your co-pilot’s spacesuit. It’s not all visual tweaks, either; one modder has already restored the lost technology of the telephone to the spaceways by allowing you to communicate with people aboard stations without actually addressing them face to face. That this wasn’t an option by default is one of the many questionable design decisions that we’ve encountered so far.

There’s ¬†every chance that patches and mods will seal up the worst of the yawning hull-breaches in X Rebirth over the coming weeks and months, but even avid series fans might want to avoid this one for now. We’ll be revisiting X Rebirth once it’s looking a little more ship-shape and sailing a little smoother, but until such time, keep your eyes on Game Front for further news on this story as it develops.

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11 Comments on X Rebirth Forums Explode: Bugs, Frame Rate Issues Plague Launch

Azurelinctus

On November 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm

As an avid X series fan I have logged hundreds of hours over previous series, I have only been able to bear 30 hours thus far of this new addition and most of it was afk, the biggest portion was because I didn’t close the game and went to bed fed up with the low frame rates, ctds, UI, gameplay etc.

Thanks for your review, it is really what the community as a whole is seeing this game as it is right now. The only communication thus far from the CEO of the company has been that they will “fix the errors”. It is not the errors that are the biggest issue but the overall game design itself.

Blindman

On November 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I was on the fence about buying this.

Now i know for sure im going to wait for a GOTY edition or w/e.

Bobo

On November 18, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I never get this sort of mentality.

“Well it’s utter crap in every way we can see except that some fan mods fix a few details here and there. So we’re just going to set it aside and hope it gets better instead of reviewing.”

I don’t know if it’s fear of being taken off the next game’s reviewer list or a simple case of really wanting to like it despite glaring flaws, but media covering anything but games will rate what is being sold.

Imagine if movie reviews went “Well, the acting is terrible and the cameraman spent half the film arguing with his girlfriend over the phone, but we’re holding off rating it because maybe the director’s cut will be great when it comes out on DVD.”

Dominic Tarason

On November 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

We didn’t run a full review because the performance issues and crash bugs at launch were so massive and prevalent that we honestly have no idea what the game looks like past the first hour or so. It’s hard to say anything beyond what you see in the article above – a warning that it’s a rushed and buggy release, and a promise that we’ll look at it in more detail once we’re capable of doing so.

Thankfully, we’ve now got the game running at a semi-acceptable rate now. Whether it’s due to a tail of suggested fixes on the forums or the latest patch I can’t quite say, but it’s actually possible to play the game, navigate and interact with the world. Expect a full review in the next few days. In the meantime, even if you are a huge fan of the franchise, you might want to skip on this one, at least for a while longer.

Mark Burnham

On November 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm

@Bobo Game Front staff have discussed the situation with X Rebirth, and have decided to move forward with giving the game a scored review. Stay tuned for it.

It shall be scored.

Steve

On November 18, 2013 at 11:12 pm

It’s true, the game is utter rubbish.

If you live in a country such as the UK or Australia with consumer protection laws you can raise a steam support ticket for a refund.

Aedelric

On November 18, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I am a big X fan and have all of them, even two copies of X3 Reunion, I also love Egosoft, they provide great support for their games. Luckily I have not bought Rebirth, I waited to see what peoples opinions were and did a little research before making my decision and boy am I glad I did.

You hit the nail on the head Dominic, it is essentially an aborted X-Box title, hastily refitted to work on PC. What possessed Egosoft to focus on console gamers is puzzling, their core base is made of of die-hard PC space simulation fans. Took them over seven years to release this stinker and less than three to create the very well received Albion Prelude.

I have not played the game so I can not truly criticize it, but only one ship? That is a complete deal breaker for me, it literally reeks of compromising for the sake of console limitations.

CKF

On November 20, 2013 at 7:16 am

Dominic Tarason, anyone on this site, even you were unable to use this product to complete a full review, many many users are in the same boat with no recourse stuck between Ego’s “It’s a massive success” and steams “no refunds” policy.

The product at launch and even now after minor patching is still not “fit for purpose” and this is ignoring design changes from previous releases which are subjective this is purely talking about core functionality of what is in the game.

What are the chances you’re organisation would try and help consumers who are left with an inadequate and partially functioning product and no recourse of action.

psycros

On November 20, 2013 at 6:21 pm

This is why the future of all serious made-for-PC games will be Kickstarter. The big publishers won’t touch these kinds of products and the smaller ones don’t have any money to pump into their studios. A few years from now most of the serious “made-for-PC” games will be cooperative efforts between the donating fans and the developers. Respected modders and other community members will serve as liaisons, helping to manage gamer expectations and organizing the feedback as to what most people really want out of a game.

Ron Whitaker

On November 21, 2013 at 5:15 am

@Psycros: Let’s hope not. Kickstarter is a money pit that doesn’t give any guarantees to people who donate. Furthermore, it’s not based on anything resembling quality or ability to actually make the game that’s pitched. As much as gamers may dislike the traditional publisher model, there’s a reason that it has worked for so long. Sure, it’s got problems. But I’d rather see new publishers spring up that find solutions to those problems thank to have the whole future of PC gaming rest on the shoulders of a poorly thought-out service like Kickstarter.

What would be more helpful would be for publishers like Devolver Digital and other publishers that favor indie/small games to grow and take on more titles. Let’s support a new type of publisher for a new age of games.

Kiryon

On November 21, 2013 at 9:49 am

Dominic I’ve got EXACTLY the same hardware (hah was I astonished to hear your review) – GTX660Ti, 8GB ram, i3570K. And this game runs great on my comp, I haven’t noticed any framerate drops so far. The only bugs I noticed is that sometimes I cannot get back to the ship’s cabin (the button behind the door is no longer “clickable”) but I just hit Enter and select the option to go back to ship. One more bug – I hit “DETAILS” button about some ship or station or w/e and the game crashed giving an error screen :)
Apart from that, I am more dissapointed with the game design itself – that we only fly in the same ship, we cannot fly in those badass carriers (only control them remotely). As for storyline – I found it very interesting at the beginning, I felt like I was in the middle of something mysterious and that it’s gonna quickly evolve into something big but… I was dissapointed in how the story died into going from place to place, buying useless stuff just to familiarize myself with them.