Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the "set-your-own-goals" gameplay of Egosoft's X3. Unfortunately, the rejigged version of the game, X Rebirth, had a disastrously release it struggled to recover from and I didn't really pay it much attention. But Egosoft hasn't given up on the franchise, with a sequel, X4, tentatively announced via the developer's recent newsletter.
According to Egosoft managing director Bernd Lehahn, it's unlikely X4 will be the game's final name, but for all intents and purposes, it's a follow-up to X3 and Rebirth. In fact, Lehahn says it should make up for the disappointment caused by X Rebirth, as the studio has had a chance to come to terms with what made the most recent instalment flop:
When we worked on X Rebirth we needed to make a lot of simplifications. We removed some features in order to be able to concentrate on others. But when X Rebirth was released, many fans expected it to be an "X4"; a game with most of the key features of the X3 games and then some.
Since then, we have worked hard to make X Rebirth a better game, incorporating player feedback, continuing to develop the engine it is based on, and releasing many updates and expansions. However we also realise that there are still many unfulfilled wishes, some of which would require extensive changes that couldn't be implemented in the existing game.
Many of these are things we would also like to see in a space game and these, along with the foundations laid by all the work and feedback that went into X Rebirth, have been the basis for the big project that we have been working on for the last few years: a real X4.
He goes on to mention that Egosoft doesn't have much else to say regarding X4, but should have a few bits and pieces to show off next year. The landscape's quite different to what it was when X3 came out -- the space simulator genre was severely neglected, so even X3 and the half-baked X Rebirth still did OK.
Now you have Elite and the upcoming Star Citizen to contend with, not to mention a flurry of indie titles on their way. Egosoft certainly has its work cut out for it.
EGOSOFT announces X Rebirth VR Edition [Egosoft]