X (video game)

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TRADE. FIGHT. BUILD. THINK.

A Wide Open Sandbox space combat/trading simulator series by German developer Egosoft.

The series (the "X-Universe") contains:

  • X: Beyond The Frontier, (1999)
    • X: Tension, (2000, expansion for X: BTF)
  • X2: The Threat, (2003)
  • X3: Reunion, (2005)
  • X3: Terran Conflict (2008)
  • X: Rebirth (2012); reboot of the series (not yet released)

Long before the events of the games, Earth built the first jump gate and launched it towards Alpha Centauri. However, in a midflight test, the Earth jump gate locked onto a random gate not built by humans - they had discovered the X-Universe gate system. All the planets discovered were totally absent of intelligent life.[1] Earth built a fleet of self-replicating and self-evolving Terraformer ships to make the worlds habitable for humanity. About a hundred years later, after the mission was complete, Earth sent out a command for the Terraformers to self-destruct. Not long after, the Terraformers show up in force, and begin terraforming everything in sight. Nathan R.Gunne, a Terran commander, lured the Terraformers past Earth's jump gate into the X-Universe, then destroyed the jump gate behind him to isolate the Terraformers (now dubbed the Xenon) and to save Earth. Gunne crash lands his frigate on Sonra-4, an earth-like world, and begins restarting civilization with his crew. They name themselves the "Argon" after R. Gunne. Earth has become a fairytale legend. The Argon begin exploring the X-Universe, and discover the peaceful Boron, the Paranid, the Split, and the Teladi. They also rediscover the Xenon. The Terrans, completely isolated from the X-Universe, build a ship with the first Jump Drive, to try and reach Alpha Centauri. However, the Jump Drive locks onto the X-Universe and promptly breaks down, stranding the pilot (and protagonist) in the X-Universe and indebted to the Teladi, who helped repair his ship. The Earth pilot, Kyle Brennan, helped prevent the Xenon from blowing up a planet with their M0 Planet Killer in the first game, Beyond The Frontier. A few decades later in The Threat, the Kha'ak show up and their first act in the universe is to destroy everything in the sector President's End and nearly destroying the planet in Omicron Lyrae. After the Kha'ak planet killer is destroyed, a Precursor shows up and begins secretly aiding the Paranid in building a jump gate. The Paranid activate their jump gate in Heretic's End—which links to Earth, right as the Kha'ak are jumping into the sector to try and destroy the Paranid jump gate. The entire Terran Fleet, completely forgotten by the rest of the universe, streams out of the jump gate and curb stomps the Kha'ak. The Terrans establish tentative relations with the other races, but try to remain isolated—hence the game being named Reunion. Terran Conflict reunites the long lost Aldrin colony with Earth, destroys the Kha'ak Hive Queen, and sees a rise in tensions between the Argon and the Terrans. In Albion Prelude, the cold war goes hot with the destruction of Earth's orbital defense station.

You can just play through the plot, content to stay in your puny little fighter and not straying much farther than your starting sector, or you can create a universe-spanning trading empire, all but controlling the economy and with enough military power to squash all who dare oppose you. You can also do things that you're not really meant to do, such as almost completely wiping out a race from the universe. It takes a hell of a lot of military resources, and it'll probably break the economy unless you supply it with that race's goods yourself, but nobody's actively stopping you from doing it. The only reason you can't destroy everything is because the game engine tries to keep the economy balanced and will slowly recreate destroyed stations if need be.

Recently Egosoft announced a revamp of the series via the next main series game, X: Rebirth, due out in 2012. To the fanbase's rather abrupt surprise, they then announced a new "expandalone" game using the X3: Terran Conflict engine, Albion Prelude, mere days before its surprise release date. Named after the ship that is the focus of X: Rebirth, Albion adds a Stock Exchange to the game, as well as progressing the story to the massive interstellar war that was brewing by the end of X3: Terran Conflict.

Last but not least, Egosoft has released a number of novels set in the X-Universe. To date, only Dominion, Rogue, and Farnham's Legend have been translated into English.

X3: Terran Conflict has its own wiki here.

Not to be confused with X 1999, X the Nintendo tank game with the same name, or the punk band X.


Tropes used in X (video game) include:

Tropes 0-C[edit | hide | hide all]

  • 2-D Space: Played straight in the first two games—most ships, planets, and stations are laid out on a two-d plane. Averted and repeatedly lampshaded in the third game.
    • Terran Conflict actually falls right back into the trope a bit: while the core X-'verse sectors are certainly much more variable in their layouts compared to the earlier games, many Terran sectors are flat as a pancake with stations smack dab on the same horizontal plane. Likely due to the fact that Terran stations are massive compared to even the largest non-Terran station; you'd have trouble fitting a Terran Orbital Patrol base in a smaller Commonwealth sector.
      • In a possible case of Truth In Video Games, this kind of makes sense as almost all Terran sectors are in the Solar System, and the planets are mostly on the same elliptical plane anyway. By extension, Lagrangian 'points' (stable 'places' which are suitable for constructing stations) tend to trace elliptical orbits on the same plane.
  • 4X: A rare example played through the first person perspective.
  • Abnormal Ammo: The Terran Point Singularity Projector shoots what are essentially black holes at enemy ships.
  • Abusing the Kardashev Scale For Fun and Profit: The Outsiders in the backstory and Encyclopedia are full blown Type IVs, and the Ancients are borderline Type IVs. Dyson Sphere and Matroshka Brain civilizations are mentioned, and they fit into the borderline Type IIs. However, all the races the player actually interacts with are at best high-end Type Is.
  • Abusive Precursors / Benevolent Precursors : The Ancients do have theoretically good goals, like doing something about that whole "Heat Death Of The Universe" thing, and they consider the Portal Network they built and maintain a gift to the younger races. On the other hand, they've got a nasty habit of thinking about the younger races as one collective group, making them frighteningly willing to toy with other species. Since their most direct method of manipulation involves switching gate pairs in the Portal Network, this means that they do things like start interplanetary wars seemingly For the Lulz, separate colony ships from their home planets, simply lock fleets in deep space with nowhere to go, or turn off the entire system of interstellar travel. On the gripping hand, that bit about shutting down the entire Portal Network also came in response to the Xenon terraformers, who have a bad habit of terraforming people out of existance, having control of a large portion of the galaxy.
  • The Aesthetics of Technology: Terran ships, despite being the most advanced ships, don't look much more advanced than the modern Space Shuttle - just a lot more clean and streamlined. The Paranid, the second most advanced race, use very high-tech looking ships with lots of curves and shiny hulls. The Teladi, who buy or reverse engineer all their technology from the other races and use lower tech weaponry, have cobbled-together ships, though they are usually just as effective as the other race's ships. The Pirates on the other hand, use scavenged and spot-repaired ships, with their capital ships cobbled together from the hulks of old transporter ships, and it shows when you look at their stats - almost all the Pirate ships have terrible stats compared to the original race's ships. Boron ships look like they ought to be superior to everything else, but really only excel as transports.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The modern-day Xenon are descended from the Terraformers, originally built by the Terrans to terraform worlds. After a badly-written software update they begin to 'terraform' people, cities, and stations. Eventually they gained true sentience. This is why you bug-check your changes before you implement them, people.
  • Aliens Speaking English: All species speak a version of Japanese. Translation Convention makes them all speak in English (or whichever language your game is set to).
  • The Alliance: The Commonwealth, which includes the 5 main races: The Argon, Boron, Teladi, Paranid, and Split. It functions more like a United Nations, though.
  • Alliance Meter: Each race has its own independent status. Argon and Boron are allied, and Split and Paranid are allied, but each side has neutral status to the Teladi and one of the races from each side. Argon hate the Paranid, and Split hate the Boron. Killing hated ships in sectors will give you a reputation bonus, while killing neutral or allied ships will give you a reputation hit to both the victim and the sector owner. Terrans are neutral to everyone in Terran Conflict, but are at war with the Argon in Albion Prelude. It is possible to ally to every side (besides the Xenon and Kha'ak), including the Space Pirates and Yaki, but you can't do combat missions if you wish to remain neutral or allied - race combat missions will usually feature Pirates or Yaki, and Pirate and Yaki combat missions feature race ships (like protecting a Pirate station from a Boron corvette).
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted. A good number of planets in-game look Earth-ish (most likely due to the Terraformers, well, terraforming them) but plenty look and are described as fairly different—the Boron homeworld being an aquatic planet with an ammonia-based atmosphere, for example.
    • Actually, when the network was first explored by the Terrans, it was noted that there were an unusual amount of worlds that were similar to Earth. They only had small differences (geological differences, etc.), which is why Terraformers were required.
  • All There in the Manual: The X-Encyclopedia, a 200 page encyclopedia on the background of the X-universe, its future (past the games' timeline), and how technology works. It loves to talk about stuff that isn't mentioned in the games at all, like the "Hatikvah Free League", a separate human government, or a species of sentient whales on a hidden Boron planet.
  • Alternative Calendar: The calendar starts at '0' in 2170, twenty-four years after a Terran colony and war fleet is separated from Earth as part of a mass deception to save Earth from the Xenon. They quickly form their own society (the modern-day Argon are their descendants).
    • They also erase all mention of Earth from their histories, possibly to prevent anyone from accidentally leading the terraformers back to Earth. By the time of X:BtF, Earth is a fairy tale.
  • Exclusively Evil: The Xenon and the Kha'ak. Pirates and Yaki begin looking like that but it's possible to eventually get on good terms with them, and it's possible to befriend everyone at the same time if you avoid doing combat missions.
  • Animal Theme Naming / Arms and Armor Theme Naming / Location Theme Naming / Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Some ships in X3 have names of swords. Others use names from Earth mythology, biology, or geography. The full list of naming conventions is as follows:
    • USC (Terran): Swords for fighters, Japanese cities for capital ships e.g. Cutlass, Tokyo
    • ATF (Terran): Norse mythology e.g. Thor, Odin
    • Argon (Other humans): Fighters appear unthemed; Greek mythology for capitals (but not those used by Paranid) e.g. Colossus, Minotaur
    • Boron: Aquatic organisms e.g. Barracuda, Shark
    • OTAS: Greek wind gods and regional winds e.g. Boreas, Venti, Mistral
    • Paranid: Greek gods, demigods and heroes e.g. Perseus, Zeus
    • Split: Predators e.g. Python, Tiger
    • Teladi: Birds e.g. Condor, Falcon
    • Terraformers: Hexadecimal numbers e.g. #deca (57,034 in base 10), #cefa (52,986)
    • Xenon: Letters e.g. J, L
  • Antimatter: Terran ships have Matter-Antimatter reactors, their corvettes can mount Matter-Antimatter launchers, and they also have Matter-Antimatter mines.
  • Apocalypse How: Apocalypses of various types are all over the games and lore.
    • Let's start all the way back in the 2140s A.D. The terraformers going nuts resulted in Galactic-level Societal Disruption for the Terrans. Earth came within a hairsbreadth of being rendered uninhabitable.
    • The Kha'ak did a system-scale Physical Annihilation of President's End in X2: The Threat. All that's left is rubble and the gates.
    • The Terran Conflict turned into a hot war after Saya Kho blew up the Torus Aeternal in X3: Albion Prelude, a Planetary Societal Disruption for Earth. A year later the Precursors shut down the gate system (maybe to prevent the younger races from obliterating themselves), which likely caused Galactic Societal Collapse.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The destruction of the Torus Aeternal in Albion Prelude is shown in the opening cinematic.
  • April Fools' Day:
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: All weapons have a maximum range, the longest being 8 kilometers on a capital ship cannon. The effective range of most weapons is lower than the listed max range, because at long range the target will usually avoid the Painfully Slow Projectiles.
  • Area of Effect: Phased Shockwave Generators and Plasma Burst Generators.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Mass Driver main weapon will outright ignore ship mounted shields and damage the ship's (very expensive and frail) hull directly. It doesn't do that much damage, but since it's ammo based rather than energy based, it can keep firing until you run out of ammo (which on a large fighter, may be 10,000+ rounds).
  • Artificial Brilliance: Rapid-response navy ships in Albion Prelude will jump around the universe to respond to threats to their installations and ships. They'll also jump away from combat if they start taking too much damage.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Fatal collisions among NPC ships are commonplace. Fast NPC fighters tend to splat on the station they are attacking after a few minutes of fire. Unwanted self-destruction by launching a missile slower than their ship is also relatively common. Gets elevated to the power of itself if you activate time compression; the AI routines have trouble running 10x faster, and glitch out—generally in more dramatic ways the faster the ship is. Expect to see fighters zig-zagging all over the place and capital ships ramming stations.
    • The player has a number of well-documented, non-exploit tricks available to him in combat that the AI is evidently not programmed to use, such as strafing and actually launching missile barrages from M7M- and M8-class ships, which are supposed to do that in the first place.
      • The latter behavior is corrected in Albion Prelude to a rather frightening degree. As long as they can maintain their stores of ammunition, AI missile bombers and frigates will not hesitate to pour long-range ordnance into a sector until everything in it has been purged of life.
    • Your trading ships and Universe Traders will blissfully fly through Xenon and Pirate sectors without any regard for their life. Universe Traders will sometimes jump away when they come under attack, but not when the enemy is coming towards them - the pilots don't seem to ever notice 3 kilometer long destroyers bearing down on them.
    • The targeting computer auto-aims for the center of every ship, and is smart enough to lead its targets. But the Terran M1 Tokyo (and its base design, the TL Mobile Mining Base-Ship) have a long, narrow primary hull with an offset saucer section about a third of the way from the stern; the geographical center of the ship is in empty space forward of the saucer. This means that if you're attacking from above or below, auto-aimed shots will quite often miss cleanly.
  • Artistic License Economics: Taken Up to Eleven. Not only would the economy not work in Real Life, it doesn't work In-Universe either. The most infamous example is the Terrans, whose economy is perpetually stagnated, with goods sitting in factories unsold. Doesn't help that the Terran stations and sectors are massive and have a docking corridor that's the size of a Commonwealth station; anything that gets in the way will cause a docking trading ship to avert and restart its docking path. The game's GOD engine (regulates the economy, and what is spawned/removed) also likes to destroy Terran stations because they don't receive their necessary resources, which happens a lot since there will be 3-4 sectors between a technology factory and the ore or food that it needs to run. Terrans fail civil planning forever.
    • This is an opportunity in disguise. The Terrans are merely waiting for someone (i.e. you) to revitalize their economy by placing in their sectors factories that produce what their stations lack; doing this properly can bring stupid amounts of money to entrepreneur-type players.
      • Even then, there's never enough weapons to go around unless the player builds his own.
    • Less well-known is the fact that the Commonwealth will also crash without player intervention. The most common symptom is the removal of both Tractor Beam factories in the game (no station buys them, so traders don't trade with them), which forces the player to build and feed an entire Space Station for something he only ever needs one of.
  • Ascended Glitch: In X3: Reunion, dropping your shields out from your cargo bay then picking them up again would instantly recharge them. Egosoft kept it in X3: Terran Conflict as it's useless in combat and nobody wants to wait half an hour for their destroyer's shields to recharge.
    • Similarly with the spacesuit's repair beam: entering a ship and leaving it instantly recharges the repair beam's energy, cutting down scratch damage fixes by a large factor.
  • Asteroid Miners: Ships can be outfitted with Ore Collectors. Blow up an asteroid with a big missile or a Mobile Drilling System, cut up the chunks into smaller pieces with your weapons, then pick it up. Players can sometimes see AI ships mining asteroids, but it's fairly rare.
  • Asteroid Thicket: There can be upwards of 40 asteroids (each of which 1–2 km in diameter) in a 60 kilometer radius. Most sectors have only a couple asteroids fairly spaced out, but sectors like Savage Spur have several dozen asteroids in a tiny area between the gates; the sector is a death trap for capital ships, more so if SETA is running on 10x.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Xenon and Kha'ak ships will never retreat from battle, and will blithely throw scout ships to try and kill your destroyers. Pirate and Commonwealth ships will occasionally try and retreat, but by the time they realize "oh god we're all going to die", there is usually only one scout ship left alive.
  • Attack Drone: Freighters love to drop these by the dozens to swarm attacking ships.
    • Terran Conflict has two new types of enhanced drones, and a little squad of them (bought dirt-cheap) could easily kill the biggest ships in the game in less than a minute with almost no casualties.
      • Mostly because it will overwhelm the game's AI, and cause the game to use more system resources. As more A Is are running, the game runs the AI less; i.e. AI destroyers will stop firing constantly, or may plow into an asteroid while shooting.
      • And because NPC capital ships are rarely equipped with weapons capable of hitting them.
    • X: Rebirth's player ship is armed with drones that can be flown remotely. This is something of a bone of contention among the fans, for reasons explained on the YMMV tab.
  • Awesome but Impractical:
    • Missile frigates and bombers fall into this category in the early game. Fielding them requires the player to build up a strong supporting industry to manufacture munitions. Once said industry is built up, however, they jump to Awesome Yet Practical, fully capable of singlehandedly leveling sectors.
    • The ATF Valhalla. 14 gigajoules of shielding, 32 Point Singularity Projectors, 24 Starburst Shockwave Cannons ... and it's so wide that it can't fit through gates. Seriously, when it enters a sector, it bangs into the gate rim and loses its shields, reducing the ATF's trump card to a sitting duck. There's a good reason it doesn't spawn in vanilla TC. The behavior is corrected in Albion Prelude, where the Valhalla warps next to a jumpgate, not inside it.
      • It's also absurdly slow and hard to maneuver, and its size gives it some pretty big blind spots in its laser targeting.
    • The Paranid M2 Odysseus and Boron M6+ Heavy Hydra are sometimes treated like this (notably on the wiki), though they're really only impractical for early and mid-game players: their price tags are quite a bit higher than the rest of their class.
    • Through care or an exploit, Terran Conflict players can capture the carrier-class Terran #deca, and even reverse-engineer it. Effectively gate-maximum size and with enough hangar space for fifty heavy fighters, it's a massive and frightening machine that dwarfs most other ships. Outfitting it with any weaponry, however, requires farming Khaak destroyers, and the resulting equipped ship is extraordinarily capital-intensive compared to most of the other options.
    • Likewise, the Goner Aran is a unique mothership class craft capable of docking another capital ship, along with massive numbers of fighters and a huge cargo bay. Completely unarmed and terribly, terribly slow, though, its primary utility is to act as a supersized cargo bay or to jump into a system, undock fighters, and jump out. It's also found in extremely poor shape, and as a result, repairing and equipping it is an exercise in frustration.
      • Only if you try to repair it with your spacesuit's repair laser. Just send the damn thing to a shipyard and be done with it. As for equipping it, by the time you have an Aran you're likely to have enough money to finance some shield generator factories.
    • M2 destroyers as player ships, because they're too slow and can't carry a fighter for use as a captain's yacht (for docking at stations without capital ship docking clamps). Most players prefer high-end M6 corvettes (which don't need a captain's yacht), M7 frigates (versatile, not horrifically slow, and many can carry a small number of fighters), or the fastest of the M1 carriers (ditto).
  • Bare Your Midriff / Form-Fitting Wardrobe / Ms. Fanservice / Stripperiffic (whew!): Saya Kho is frequently depicted as such. This image is on the back of X3: Gold Edition.
  • The Battlestar: The Split M7 Panther, which has a fighter bay rivaling a carrier and a decent number of frigate-sized guns. M1 Carriers also pack a good number of guns behind powerful shields, though they don't have the stamina of M7 or M2.
    • The ATF M1 Woden is a variant on their primary M1, the Odin. It trades off fighter capacity for additional weapons power. It doesn't spawn in vanilla X3TC, but it did make it into Albion Prelude.
  • Beam Spam: Kha'ak capital ships.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Most of the War missions in Albion Prelude involve dozens of capital ships duking it out with at least a hundred fighters zipping around taking potshots at corvettes.
    • The Aldrin Expansion in Terran Conflict, during which the player leads an ATF task force in pushing the Xenon out of the Terrans' former colonies in the Aldrin region.
  • Big Dumb Object: The HUB. It's a giant sphere 30 billion kilometers in diameter, it's orbiting a massive red giant star, it's drawing power straight from the star itself, it can modify the Portal Network, and it's unknown who built it.
    • The Torus Aeternal, a massive station that wraps entirely around Earth's equator. It houses millions of people, builds most of the Terrans' enormous fleet, and has weapons capable of annihilating anything that dares to get too close.
  • Bigger Is Better: The Terran Kyoto and ATF Valhalla, the ultra-destroyers introduced in Albion Prelude. They are by far the largest ships in the game, and have huge amounts of weaponry.
    • As mentioned in Awesome but Impractical, the Valhalla is a subversion in Terran Conflict: it's so wide it clips the gate when it enters a sector, stripping it of its shields and rendering it a sitting duck for other capital ships. Albion Prelude fixed it so it warps next to the gate rather than through it.
  • Big No: Terran and Argon pilots usually scream "NOOOOO!" when killed.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Cargo bays, due to quantum compression. Ships not much larger than a modern F-16 jet can fit several dozen people in their cargo bays - which would be about the size of a refrigerator.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Albion Prelude. After the Terrans begin moving fleets around because of rumors of the Argon developing AGI ships, Saya Kho blows up Earth's Torus Aeternal, killing potentially millions of people on the Torus alone, with even more from wreckage falling back down onto Earth. The Terrans then go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Argon Federation, who deploy artificially intelligent ships reverse engineered from the Xenon. Some of the Paranid, who normally despise other races, were horrified by this and sided with the Terrans. The year after the Argon butcher millions of Terrans, the entire gate system shuts down..
  • Black Box: The jumpgates play with this trope. While operation is terribly easy—push a spaceship in one gate, and it'll pop out the other gate in the pair a few seconds later, no matter how far away—no one in the Commonwealth understands anything but the lies-to-children version of how they work. While there are a few scientists capable of repairing damaged gates, no one even thinks about trying replication or reconfiguration, and the irregular outages or changes in the system caused by meddling precursors is treated like mystery or even legend where it's not just a natural risk of the gates. The species that actually made the system in the first place not only consider it outside of the range of understanding of the normal races, they think it's impossible for a species to understand without getting a few points higher on the Kardashev scale. Then the Terran humans get involved, and not only get the theory down and create a new gate on their own, but also create a Jumpdrive that's a separate Black Box to everyone else in the setting.
  • Blind Jump: The Unfocused Jumpdrive will randomly generate a sector, and warp the player to it; complete with radio hash and distant visible galaxies off in the distance. It's great for escaping your doom, but you better hope you brought energy cells for the return trip, otherwise you'll be stranded forever.
  • Boarding Party: You can recruit and train Marines/captured slaves to board enemy ships, murder the crew, and hack the central computer. When they board, they'll eject from your cargo bay and space walk to the enemy ship, or if you have Board Pods you load them into your missile tubes and fire it at the enemy ship. If the enemy ship has shields when your marines come into contact with it, it will fry them.
  • Boring but Practical: Rapid fire, low damage per shot weapons. Capital ships would be better off if all their turrets are filled to the brim with anti-fighter weaponry, rather than using the biggest Wave Motion Gun they can carry, even when facing enemies of equal or surpassing size. The only real advantage of capital class weaponry is range, not firepower. Unfortunately, it's next to impossible to hit even a massive, slow-moving target at ranges reserved for these weapons due to their Painfully Slow Projectiles.
    • Most of the race-neutral weapons like High Energy Plasma Throwers, Particle Accelerator Cannons, and Photon Pulse Cannons are all boring, but practical due to how common they are (There's over a dozen PPC factores in the game, but only 3-5 factories for Phased Shockwave Generators, for example).
    • Drone Spam in X3. Beat the enemy by overloading your computer's processor.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Pirates armed with Plasma Burst Generators, and Xenon fighters armed with Pulsed Beam Emitters. Then there is the dreaded Phased Shockwave Generator in X3:R, which is a Plasma Burst Generator with a 90 degree sphere of doom ahead of the firing ship. Thankfully nerfed to capital ship-only in X3:TC.
    • M8 Bombers in Albion Prelude. In Terran Conflict, they were largely free kills because they spawned with hardly any missiles. Between the games, they Took a Level in Badass, and are now capable of killing at least some ships before running out.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: The Argon backstory consists of this.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Space is pretty damn crowded with (damn annoying) civilian ships.
  • Cherry Tapping: Pounding on a slower ship who cannot turn around to face you with a weak weapon. The bailing out mechanic actually encourages it: each hit on a ship with shields down has a chance of causing the pilot to abandon the ship, leaving it for you to claim it and use it or selling it. The Pulsed Beam Emitter, which does tremendous shield damage but almost no hull damage, is very popular because of its ability to force rival pilots out while leaving their ship relatively undamaged.
  • City Guards: The system police like to buzz around and scan ships for illegal goods, and have destroyers to back them up. Due to how GOD works, the police fighter craft tend to be pathetically armed; most of them only have a couple Impulse Ray Emitters, which are the weakest guns in the game, excluding support equipment and Ion Disruptors.
  • Clown Car Base: The player's headquarters and a few of the trading stations have room for a potentially unlimited amount of fighters. And thanks to how the out-of-sector battle simulation works, a couple hundred scout ships bought with (end-game level) pocket change can keep the station safe from heavy invaders with little attrition costs.
  • Colony Drop: The Terraformers/Xenon bombarded Earth cities from orbit with asteroids and comets when "terraforming" it.
    • A variation is used as an actual combat technique by some players, wherein the player builds a Space Station directly on top of an enemy ship. The tactic has earned the moniker "station-bombing."
    • The destruction of the Torus Aeternal caused millions (if not billions) of tons of deorbiting debris to rain down on Earth.
  • Commonplace Rare: Microchips in Terran Conflict. They're everywhere—weapons, ships, components of all kinds. And yet, good luck finding some in the universe—there's so much demand, and the production process involves such a convoluted chain of supply, that most chip factories are permanently empty—the few chips they produce are instantly snatched up by NPC traders. And if you do manage to be faster than the traders, expect to pay ludicrous prices for them.
    • Oh, and you need 75,000 of them for the Hub plot.
    • Some critical weapons are also exceptionally rare. Incendiary Bomb Launchers (the "primary" frigate weapon) and Plasma Burst Generator have only a couple factories in the universe, and they are all Pirate or Yaki owned—meaning you need to befriend the Pirates and the Yaki in order to buy them. Since Pirates shoot anything that enters their sectors, the stations are also typically nearly empty of resources, meaning that you'll probably need to stock them up yourself, then wait for the wares to be produced, then buy them. When Albion Prelude came out, preexisting Flak Artillery Array production stations were completely non-existent, meaning the only way to get Flak arrays was to buy and build your own (very expensive) Flak forge, then stock it up, or farm enemy capital ships and hope they drop standard flak weapons.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: A lot of the time it goes the other way (see Artificial Stupidity above), but...
    • Boarding operations against Xenon capital ships automatically fail if you have less than (eighteen?) marines remaining when they reach the computer core.
    • See the second entry under Death of a Thousand Cuts, below.
    • If you stray very far from the allowed approach vector in Earth sector in Terran Conflict, you'll be warned your ship will be destroyed. Continue, and you'll be the subject of a scripted insta-gib, regardless of how much shielding you have. You can't try to destroy the Torus defenses, either: they're invincible.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: With one exception, every time X3: Terran Conflict tells you you need to board a ship with marines during a plot mission, it's lying. The first boarding target will be given to you for free if you wait a while, the second one will get boarded by NPCs if you wait a while and the third time you can just eject in your spacesuit and claim the target like an abandoned ship. This is significant, as training marines to the point where they could actually capture anything is a very expensive and time-consuming process, far beyond the scope of anything in the campaign missions.
    • The one exception is the Orca you have to capture during the HQ plot. That one actually does require you to board it.
  • Cool Gate: Ordinary jumpgates look pretty nifty. Then compare them to the Terran-designed Neptune gate in TC.
  • Cool Starship: Hundreds of them!
    • #DECA M1, a massive cylindrical Terraformer CPU ship. The nose of the ship is a massive gaping hole, leading to a glowing red interior.
    • OTAS Boreas M2, a destroyer looking like something from Babylon 5, and can outgun basically every ship in the game.
    • Argon Elite M4+, an advanced interceptor which is a throwback to the original Argon Elite M3 from X: Beyond the Frontier and X: Tension.
    • Springblossom M6, the single most overpowered corvette in the game, which has ridiculously insane stats for a M6. It's effectively a cockpit with some wings and a giant engine strapped onto the back.
    • X3R has the Hyperion M7, a one-of-a-kind, class-creating (M7s didn't exist before it) ship that is given to you after you complete a fairly hard mission. Described as a space yacht, it's in reality a very capable crossover between the M6 corvette and large M2 destroyers. As it's very fast and quite well armed, it's capable of swatting standard frigates out of space with little trouble, and can kill destroyers in a one-on-one fight by evading most of their fire. It also looks wicked.
      • The Hyperion returns in X3:TC, and while it had been downgraded to an M6 corvette it is easily the best M6 in the game and is a fan favorite playership. It flies like an M3+ heavy fighter, practically turning on a dime, has top of the line firepower and shields for an M6, has an absolutely gigantic cargo bay (3333 m^3) and is the only M6 in the game that can dock fighter craft. And if you pick a specific game-start you can even get an overtuned Hyperion that flies far faster than you can normally tune a Hyperion to fly; reports of getting overtuned Hyperions with top speeds over 300 m/s are quite common.
    • The Boron Megalodon. Originally in the Xtended Terran Conflict mod, but now part of Albion Prelude
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Prelude's adding Stock Markets allows the player to easily become this—obliterating rival corporate ships in order to reduce the value of their company, to get stocks for cut-rate prices.
  • Crazy Prepared: Among the functions of the popular MARS script is automatically switching guns in and out of a ship's gun batteries based on what the battery is targeting. You have to have the spare guns in your cargo bay, meaning you might end up carrying two or three entire loadouts (anti-fighter, anti-capital, and maybe anti-corvette).
  • Crew of One: One man scout ships? Sure. Corvettes the size of a large yacht? No problem! Battleships that are 5 kilometers long? Piece of cake; I don't need a crew! The player never needs a crew on any of his ships (save for Sector and Universe traders, which still has just one pilot), though this is averted for the AI - if you open a comm channel with an AI corvette, frigate, destroyer, or carrier, you'll get a list of names, such as the Captain and navigation officer.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Boron missile frigates drop all point defenses for more missile launchers. This essentially means they have no way to protect themselves from incoming missiles - save for spamming their own missiles at enemy missiles and hoping they hit.
    • This was changed in Albion Prelude, where all ships can mount Mosquito missiles, which coupled with a Bonus Pack script provide a workable missile shield. Missile frigates take this one step further and automatically provide this ability in vanilla Albion Prelude - except that they use all their launch tubes simultaneously, creating a Macross Missile Defense.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted in X2: The Threat and later games. Once the shields go down, the ship starts taking damage to the hull. When hull integrity goes below ~85%, the ship starts to lose speed, and upgrades and weapons randomly break.
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: Much of the soundtrack has this feel, and the setting has some of the elements of Cyberpunk.


Tropes D-G[edit | hide]

  • Darker and Edgier: Albion Prelude. The opening cutscene has one of the main characters from Reunion blowing themselves and the Torus Aeternal up, killing millions instantly (and then millions more when the wreckage falls back to Earth). A full-on near-genocidal interstellar war kicks out between the Terrans' United Space Command / AGI Task Force and the Argon Federation.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The only way for a lone fighter to win against a capital ship (without Macross Missile Massacre, at least) is to hide in a blind spot and shoot its comparatively weak weapons until the target dies. A couple hours later.
    • The player risks being on the receiving end of this in Xenon and Kha'ak sectors. Such sectors will spawn enemies without end.
  • Deflector Shields: Every single ship has these, you're dead without them. (Even Goners, the space monks, use them)
  • Derelict Graveyard: the "President's End" sector, which is full of wrecked stations and ships from a Kha'ak attack. Some other sectors have smaller graveyards.
  • The Don: Don Marani in Reunion
  • Downer Beginning: Albion Prelude starts with the destruction of the Torus Aeternal, the jewel of the Solar System and the home of millions.
  • Downloadable Content: Normally incorporated into major patches.
    • Each game has an add-on bonus pack that adds a number of useful scripts, ranging from smarter AI trading (Commercial Agent, Commodity Logistics Software) to a near-impenetrable missile defense program for Commonwealth vessels (Mosquito Missile Defense).
    • X3: Reunion: "The Bala Gi Missions" (part of a patch).
    • X3: Terran Conflict:
      • "A New Home": New plot. Added in patch.
      • "Aldrin Expansion": New plot. Added in patch.
      • "HQ plot": New plot. Added in patch.
      • "Balance of Power": New plot. Added in 3.0 patch.
      • "A Place of Sunshine": New sector distributed over Steam.
      • X3: Albion Prelude. $9.99 (or free for people who own the X-Superbox), requires Terran Conflict to be installed. Adds in a stock market, improves the UI, and adds some ships from the Xtended Terran Conflict mod.
  • Dronejam: Civilian ships are famous for docking at your stations and just sitting there, doing absolutely nothing for several minutes before undocking. This can prevent your own ships from docking, including when the ship is under attack and trying to dock for protection.
    • This got so bad that a mod was made whose only purpose is the forced undocking of all ships currently docked to a station.
  • Dummied Out: A couple dozen ships don't spawn in vanilla Terran Conflict, though most were never actually finished and use other ships as placeholders. The Valhalla and Woden, on the other hand...
  • Dyson Sphere: :The HUB. Follows the Dyson Swarm model, though. :Each is a hollow sphere about 60 kilometers, orbiting a massive red giant star
  • The Empire: Split Dynasty. The Paranid have an actual empire and come pretty close, though.
  • Early Game Hell: Reunion and previous games were famous from dropping the player into the universe in a crappy ship with next to no credits, upgrades, or weapons. Combat missions are painful.
  • Earn Your Fun: In Reunion and previous games, you start with one of the cheapest ships in the game and enough cash to make a half decent trading run if you're lucky. You're going to be spending a while grinding for credits and reputation before you can afford anything really cool.
    • There's several starts in X3: Terran Conflict which give you a much better fighter, or trading ship. X3: Reunion players are stuck with the Buster, the Kha'ak start a couple M5 starts, or a couple of trading starts. The Xtended Terran Conflict mod has a start where you start in a 35 million credit frigate, and another with a 250 million credit station and a 20 million credit large transporter.
    • This is easily subverted when the player realizes that the trader start is the best for a fighter character. It gives you a light freighter you're supposed to trade with and a light fighter to defend yourself, but if you sell the freighter you'll get enough money to kit out the fighter and arm it to the teeth. Then you start looking for medium pirate fighters to capture and resell, and before you know it you're sitting in an M3+ superheavy fighter.
    • The difficulty dropped a lot in Albion Prelude. The Argon start puts you at the controls of an M3 Enhanced Nova, and grants you an M6 Centaur within the plot's first hour. The Terran start skips the M3 stage entirely; you get an M6 Katana.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: Supposedly the fate suffered by the Kha'ak homeworld, whose fragments form the Nividium asteroids scattered about.
  • Easter Egg: While flying around in Terran Conflict you may come across a ship called Unknown Object. It's a small M3 fighter in the shape of a UFO. According to the wiki, it's a remnant of a "Xenon Unknown Object" from Reunion.
  • Easy Logistics: Hyper-averted. Your ships will run out of ammunition, will run out of jumpdrive fuel, and they will run out of missiles.
    • Played straight with actual spaceship fuel. No one ever needs to refuel, though the ships clearly don't have any Reactionless Drive and leave behind an exhaust trail.
    • The actual commodity known as "space fuel", is, in fact, an illegal alcoholic drink. A new player may easily be stalked by the police for accidentally salvaging it from a destroyed pirate ship without knowing.
  • Elite Mooks: The Terran AGI Task Force. They used their own unique, very powerful ships. Once you piss them off, they will never forgive the player.
  • Enemy Chatter: Ships will broadcast for help when they're taking damage, yell that their shields are down to their allies, and taunt you - even if they're about to die.
  • Enemy Mine: Advanced players who have befriended the Yaki often make use of their NGO Superpower status to steal ships from "Return Ship" missions, by docking the ship at the shipyard in Senator's Badlands. The Space Police sent to destroy the stolen ship will spawn and immediately come under attack by the Yaki, who have an M2 Akuma at their disposal. This post is a great example.
  • Energy Ball: Several of the game's Energy Weapons fire spheroidal shots. The most obvious of these are the frigate-grade Incendiary Bomb Launcher and the destroyer-scale Photon Pulse Cannon.
  • Energy Weapons: The vast majority of them, from the short-range, rapid-fire, very weak Impulse Ray Emitter up to the battleship-shredding, Painfully Slow Projectiles of the Photon Pulse Cannon.
  • The Engineer: In Terran Conflict, Mahi Ma of the Boron. The guy manages to restore an ancient piece of Lost Technology, the Hub, to full operation. All the player does is bring him supplies.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: One of the main points of the game is building your own economic empire, with dozens of trading ships and hundreds of orbital factories.
  • Epigraph: Every gamestart of every game has a quote from a famous scientist, author or politician somewhat related to the game.
  • Escort Mission: From HELL. The amount of opponents that spawn during missions varies with your combat ratings but the escortees remain painfully slow and barely shielded cargo freighters which go down to any interceptor and fighter in a matter of seconds. The attackers seem to appear indefinitely in fixed time intervals, so it's easy to end up having to fight a swarm of 10-15 fighters every 20 kilometers—if you're lucky, as the AI certainly seems to take its time to pass through gates and dock to stations. To add insult to injury, sometimes the freighters break formation and fly in separate directions. Once you have a high combat rank, the AI will start spawning in battleships at regular intervals to try and kill the freighters.
    • After the first couple of such missions, most players learn not to accept them unless there is no other choice, as with the hiring missions for some of the corporations and one of the plots.
      • A solution to the must-do Escort Missions lies in an exploit: since the game only begins spawning enemies for the mission once the player enters the freighters' sector, simply never be in the same sector as the freighters.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In Albion Prelude, the normally xenophobic and totalitarian Paranid are so disgusted by the fall of the Torus that they ally with the Terrans.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: One forum member discovered that corkscrewing, or flying in a spiral by putting his joystick to the stops on all three axes, was a pretty effective evasive maneuver in a fighter. He was even able to survive a mob of Kha'ak fighters in a Split Mamba Vanguard.
    • Many ship models have spinning components, just because. Some (like on the OTAS M2 Boreas) are justified by looking like sensor dishes, or by being an engine turbine in the case of the Boron Megalodon.
  • Explosions in Space: Capital ships create a giant white fireball and a large shockwave when blown to bits. It has no discernible effect on any craft passing by.
    • While lacking the large shockwave effect, stations also produce massive explosions when destroyed; particularly big or important ones, such as Xenon Shipyards, produce fireballs several times as massive, easily topping fifteen to twenty kilometers in size. Most also leave debris behind, which disappears after a couple game-days.
  • Faction Calculus: As explained in terms of the armor triangle (speed-defense-offense):
    • Argon ships are balanced, making them also a case of Humans Are Average. Argon vessels make solid, well-rounded performers, but some will stress that there are generally better options depending on your flying style.
    • Boron ships are balanced, but generally reduce speed and shielding for more cargo space. This makes them great at Macross Missile Massacre, but fairly underwhelming in close combat.
      • Possibly Fridge Brilliance when you consider that the Boron are pacifist, and only maintain a military for self-defense (read as "because of the Split").
    • Paranid ships are balanced, but reduce cargo space for firepower.
    • Pirate ships have poor stats (worse in every regard to the race ships they're based on), but their ships typically offer a huge variety in compatible weapons and often can use fairly large weapons.
    • Split ships are Fragile Speedsters, fast with increased firepower at the expense of shielding. Note that their frigates do not follow this pattern and are arguably the most dependable well-rounded performers in their class.
    • Yaki ships generally imitate Paranid ships in handling and looks, but some (notably the Tenjin) follow the Split example.
    • Teladi ships are Mighty Glaciers, slow but durable with respectable firepower. They have increased cargo space for greater profitsss.
    • Terran and ATF ships trade some firepower (limited weapon selection and somewhat lower damage output) for speed and shielding. But they definitely aren't slouches on any leg of the armor triangle, which causes some to regard them as Game Breakers.
    • Finally, Xenon and Kha'ak ships are The Horde, being hive-minded races. They're subpar in most respects, but Xenon ships can be replicated quickly and cheaply with the Player Headquarters, making them popular among late-game players. Kha'ak ships aren't much used, since they require unique weapons that need to be farmed.
  • Fan Nickname: The "auto-pillock" is Artificial Stupidity in ship guidance. "Betty" is the ship's computer voice.
  • Fantastic Drug: Spaceweed is a Teladi plant that is smoked or ingested and amounts to marijuana IN SPACE! Space fuel, on the other hand, is a street name or euphemism for Argon whiskey. Both are illegal in the Commonwealth,[2] and both are highly prized by players for use as trade goods to pacify the Space Pirate population.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Terran Conflict only ever addresses the player as "pilot" or "captain". You have the option to rename your pilot, but it never has any effect on gameplay.
  • The Federation: Argon Federation and Boron Kingdom.
    • The Terrans may also qualify, but their xenophobia might also make them a subversion.
  • Fetch Quest: One category of side missions requires you to collect cargo from another station and deliver it to the client. Another requires you to obtain a crapload of cargo from wherever you can get it and deliver it to the client.
    • The Hub plot takes it Up to Eleven. It's an entire Fetch Plot.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: All fighters and corvettes and every frigate except the Panther has these, usually putting their most powerful weapons there. Averted in M1s and M2s.
  • Flavor Text: Just about every object in the entire game has its own little tale to tell.
  • Flechette Storm: The Fragmentation Bomb Launcher use flechettes to damage targets.
    • It tries to, anyway. The flechettes rarely actually hit anything. Ditto the Cluster Flak Array, which is the FBL writ large.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The OTAS Venti sounds like something you'd get at Starbucks. In actuality, it's an extremely deadly M3 fighter.
  • Flying Saucer: Players can sometimes see the stereotypical flying saucer UFO (labeled "Unknown Object") zipping quickly between sectors, as an Easter Egg. The flying saucer is very useful for exploring the universe—order one of your scout ships to follow it as the saucer makes its rounds through the gate system, and they'll quickly uncover most of the universe.
  • Forced Tutorial: Sort of. You're required to complete the tutorial to get one of the achievements in Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude.
  • Fragile Speedster: Scout craft, which while anywhere from two to several times faster than any other ship will explode with so much as a sneer from heavier fighters. Split ships as a whole also fit the type, as they concentrate on speed and firepower rather than heavy shielding. Boron ships also have weakened shields and higher speed, but not as extreme as the Split ships.
    • The two fastest ships in the game, Starburst and Arrow, aren't even meant to fight—they are completely unarmed. They have shields, but they might as well not—good luck hitting something this tiny going at 1000+kph.
    • Some Split ships, by fluff, weren't even designed with shields in mind. The design team clean forgot about it and later had to be retrofitted. Starburst and Arrow, rather than being fighters, are supposed to be used for racing.
    • "Raider" ship variants. Shield capacity has been reduced in exchange for more powerful engines and better weapon energy generators.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Kyon Emitters, as well as the developer-disabled Phased Array Laser/Plasma Beam/Tri-Beam Laser/Fusion Beam Cannons.
    • Disabled because they would instant-kill any enemy (and the player too). Kyons were nerfed from X2 onwards for that reason.
    • Kyons are laser beams in appearance only. Apparently the game engine can't handle actual beams, so the Kyon Emitters are in fact projectile-based weapons with beam graphics and very fast, invisible projectiles. This is sometimes noticeable when targeting fast ships, as the beam looks as if it hit, but the ship takes no damage as the projectile(s) missed.
  • Frictionless Reentry: Averted, surprisingly enough. Planets in the games aren't just backdrops, but physical objects with atmospheres and all, and you can actually reach them in a ship if they're not on the other side of the Invisible Wall.[3] However, ships in the X-Universe are not meant for atmospheric flight, and will burn up. The planet in Split Fire has gotten some notoriety for this, as the atmosphere starts about 1 kilometer behind one of the jumpgates.
  • Game Mod: And how! With the in-game script editor and external modding tools, players can do pretty much anything from simple tweaks and added functionality to new ships and full-blown conversions. Arguably most famous of these is X3's Xtended mod, which impressed Egosoft so much that several elements (and the modders that developed them) were integrated into Terran Conflict, and Xtended is being remade for Terran Conflict.
    • It's worth mentioning that there are at least two mods that attempt to solve one of the game's worst problems: the extreme slowness of the ships, which is a source of all kinds of bad things. The result is completely different gameplay mechanics: waiting plays a much smaller part, fighting is much more dynamic and challenging and everything requires significantly less Willing Suspension of Disbelief to digest.
  • Gatling Good: The OTAS M3 Venti. Don't let the fact that it sounds like a coffee fool you: it has dual wing-mounted gatling lasers. And they even rotate when you fire.
  • Glass Cannon: arguably, some M5 scout ships. Most M5s do not count as they have fairly pitiful guns that restrict them to fighting at most M4 medium fighters if they hope to survive, but a few of them can mount fairly powerful medium missiles, and a rapid-fire barrage of those can be troublesome even for heavy fighters. On the other hand, they blow up if their pilot sneezes too hard...
    • The M7M missile frigates and M8 bombers introduced in Terran Conflict also fall into this category. Missile barrages from these ships can destroy virtually anything, but non-player-owned M7Ms and M8s are relatively easy to kill (at least from another warship's standpoint) because the AI by default does not use their greatest advantage effectively. Also, they are very sparse in point-defense, and in some cases have none at all.
    • The best defense is a good offense so in Albion Prelude missile frigates use... more missiles, firing swarms of countermissiles to intercept incoming missiles. While their ammo lasts.
  • Global Currency: All races use Credits, including the paranoid, isolationist Terrans who refuse to use any technology from the Commonwealth.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: The Argon Federation and the Boron Kingdom are generally considered the good guys, and the Split Dynasty and Paranid Empire are generally considered the bad guys. But there's a lot of gray involved, so this may be a subversion.
    • The only thing that really seems to make either side good or evil is that the last time the two sides went to war, the Split and Paranid were the aggressors.
    • Subverted by Albion Prelude. The Argon open the war with the 30th-century equivalent of 9/11, and the Paranid join up with the Terrans.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The Argon and Terrans, as Japanese apparently became the primary language of Earth before the series' start according to fluff. The Aldrin colony representatives you meet in the plot sometimes speak phrases in Japanese.
  • Great Offscreen War: The backstory includes the Terraformer War in the 2140s AD (some of which is shown in the Terran Conflict opening cinematic), during which insane terraforming robots wiped out all of Earth's extrasolar colonies and nearly destroyed Earth, too. A Terran warfleet managed to lure them through a jumpgate, which was then destroyed behind them; this fleet became the Argon race. About 200 years later, we had the First Xenon Conflict, where the terraformers reappeared, followed by the Boron Campaign, a more conventional interstellar war between the various superpowers.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Albion Prelude's war. The Terrans are paranoid jerkasses that give a big middle finger to the other races, while the Argon use weapons of mass destruction and effectively commit genocide every time they destroy a Terran station.
  • Guide Dang It: The manual and "flight school" tutorials are nearly useless for anything but the most basic gameplay.
    • There's about two dozen derelict ships floating around in Terran Conflict. You might find them by pure luck (one or two are within Triplex Scanner range of a jumpgate), but finding them all pretty much requires a web search.
    • The Hub plot in Terran Conflict. Nobody In-Universe warns you that you'll need to prepare your trade empire ahead of time in order to finish the Fetch Plot in a reasonable amount of time.


Tropes H-K[edit | hide]

  • Hemisphere Bias: Averted. The view of Earth from the Torus is centered on Ecuador rather than central Europe.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Terrans (Sol System humans) have far superior technology compared to the other races. The Paranid come in as a close second.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: Happens regularly, since fighters are often faster and more maneuverable than the missiles chasing them.
    • In fact, one of the most effective dogfight tactics is to use missiles as a distraction: you shoot a missile at the target and force him to evade or shoot it down, then make the kill with guns.
  • Hit Scan: Beam weapons, originally a Khaak exclusive but since used by other races as well, are supposed to be this. It's only after you look at the technical data that it turns out to be a subversion: the game engine treats beam weapons as very fast projectile ones. This is normally transparent to the player because the projectiles are invisible, but occasionally—typically while fighting very fast ships—it can happen that the beam graphic crosses your target but the projectile isn't there yet, resulting in an irritatingly damage-free enemy.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Xenon Terraformers and the Kha'ak hive.
  • Holier Than Thou: The Paranid, whose society is dominated by religion, and who invoke the trope in many of their communications with the player.
  • Hub Level: The aptly-named Gate Hub in Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude. Unlocked by doing a painfully long Fetch Quest in Terran Conflict (Albion Prelude has a short Fetch Quest), the Hub lets you modify the gate network - it has 3 pairs of gates which you can link to systems. This allows you to link opposite edges of the universe together, making it so that you need just one jump to reach a race's homeworld to their furthest colony.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: The Terrans have by far the most advanced technology, the capacity to build jump gates on their own (something only the Precursors could do), yet they've been doing the whole space-flight thing for less time than some of the other races.
  • Humans Are Average: The Argon ship design philosophy can be reasonably described as "jack of all trades, master of none". If you buy an Argon ship, you get a solid, well-rounded performer. The other Commonwealth races tend to focus on one leg of the speed-defense-offense design triangle.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The Terrans. They're radically isolationist, dislike or outright hate almost all the other races (including their lost colony, the Argon Federation), and they will invade other race's sectors without a worry as they can simply curb stomp the defending navy's ships using their superior technology. The Argon Federation is shown to be even worse than the Terrans in Albion Prelude's war. An Argon suicide bomber blows up the Torus Aeternal, killing millions instantly, then millions more as the debris rains down on Earth. The Terrans retaliate, then the Argon deploy reverse engineered Von Neumann ships (Xenon) against the Solar System. Every Terran station houses at least tens of thousands of people, so the Argon are committing atrocities with every station they blow up.
    • Emphatically averted in the case of the forum members. The Egosoft board is arguably the most noob-friendly forum on the whole Internet. Which is good, considering the games' near-vertical learning curve.
  • Humans Are Special: The Terrans were the first and only race (excluding the ancients) to make their own jumpgates without help, have the most powerful ships, the most high-tech weapons, and the largest fleet. Which is quite something when you realize that they weren't even a part of the game universe for much of its history, and just basically barged in and started pwning everyone when the Xenon chased them there.
    • The Argon are the only race without an easily defined Hat.
  • Humans by Any Other Name: The Argon, being a Lost Colony of the Terrans.
  • Hyperspace Lanes: Rebirth has "highways", which function similar to the trade lanes in Freelancer, allowing you to get between close locations in a system, while Jump Gates are used to get between systems.
  • Hyperspeed Escape: Played straight, at least for the player. The jumpdrive is very useful for this.
    • Also potentially subverted: there is a ten-second delay while the jumpdrive charges, not including the time it takes you to pick a destination. That's ten-plus seconds for the enemy to kill you anyway. And then there's the potential for Tele Frag as you exit a gate at the end of the jump.
    • The Unfocused Jumpdrive plays it straight and subverts it simultaneously. On the one hand, the UFJD is faster to bug out (no need to pick a destination). On the other hand, when you "return to the known universe", you'll be right back in the same position you left from, and any enemies will still be in the sector. Though it does give you an opportunity to recharge your shields.
  • Inferred Holocaust: After the events of X3: Albion Prelude. The Precursors shut down the entire Portal Network to contain the incredibly aggressive Xenon terraformer AI. Doing so on a small scale in the past has actually been a good solution to bad problems, but this means not only will the younger species be incapable of traveling or communicating with each other or their own colony planets, they won't even know where the other sectors actually are to try and contact each other for years. Many sectors have nothing but manned manufacturing plants, most of which aren't self-sustaining, and even many planetary sectors rely heavily on trade.
    • The shutdown is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you have the above. On the other hand, it also had the byproduct of stopping the Argon/Terran war in its tracks, which at this rate was going to end in one of the two sides being completely wiped out. Speaking of which, the faction that comes off best would be the Terrans. A, over two thirds of their sectors are in the Solar System, and they've got non-jumpgate technology for intrasystem travel. B, they do know where their other main sector is in space, and can reach it using jumpdrives. As for the other factions, planets are not villages. Aldrin survived 800 years with no contact with the outside world whatsoever, and it's just an airless rock. The One Product Sectors are screwed, but the ones with inhabited planets should be all right.
  • Infinite Stock for Sale: Averted. All stations have a limit to how much of a given ware they can stock. For instance, a station may be able to stock tens of thousands of units of energy cells, but only sixteen particle accelerator cannons.
    • Averted to an Egregious extent with Terran weapons in Terran Conflict: stations can only stock two of each gun. This is thankfully fixed in Albion Prelude.
  • Infinite Supplies: All ships have infinite fuel for their engines and weapons, and infinite food. The only things that run out are Energy Cells (from using the Jump Drive) and ammunition for bullet based weapons. The description for the Teladi Geochen in Albion Prelude however, mentions that it has a spacious cargo bay for food supplies on long voyages.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Springblossom corvette. It requires the completion of the Terran Conflict main plot, good Terran rank, ~20million credits for the corvette (more expensive than some of the station-transporting TL ships), and then hunting down the factories that produce the weapons for the ship (in a sector some 800 kilometers wide, with a huge asteroid blocking traffic through the center), then (usually) supplying the factories with the goods necessary to produce it because the sector has a pitiful amount of traders for its size. Once you've done all that, you've got what is effectively the best frigate, or best ship in the entire game. Crazy top speed (it outruns some scout ships!), crazy firepower, and a huge cargo bay equivalent to some transporter ships. The only time you'll ever need to use anything else is for some luxury taxi missions—it has enough cargo space to carry enough ammo to kill destroyer class ships if you can wedge it into their blind spot.
  • Informed Equipment: When you fit a gun to a slot on a ship, a cannon appears in a corresponding spot on the ship's model. It looks exactly the same no matter what gun you put there. Other equipment doesn't even do that much.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: The XTM mod for Reunion and the Xtended Terran Conflict mod for Terran Conflict adds the Shivan Dragon, which is a dragon that breathes in space, shoots lasers from its mouth, and attacks everything in sight.
  • Instant Death Radius: Phased Shockwave Generators on Paranid capital ships. Small range (about 1 kilometer), but they effectively instantly kill any fighter that gets inside the 1 kilometer bubble of doom.
  • Intrepid Merchant / Proud Merchant Race: The Teladi, whose society is borderline-obsessively mercantile in nature. Also includes the player with dangerous travels for a handful of credits on the earlier stages and then vast trading empires to build on the endgame.
  • Invisible Wall: Sectors are spherical, and there is an invisible barrier at the edge (which is ~4,000 kilometers out). Most evident in the Hub sector, where you can slip behind the gates, see out of the Hub, and butt up against an Invisible Waist High Fence.
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: Argon, Teladi, and Terran ships.
  • It's Up to You: The player is effectively the only thing preventing the Terran economy and the tiny Pirate and Yaki economies from collapsing.
  • Jack of All Stats: Interceptors amongst strike craft, as well as Argon ship designs as a whole. The Terran ships are the upscale version of the Jack of All Stats; they're very fast, very well shielded, have high cargo capacity, and very powerful. The only downside to Terran ships are their limited weapon selection, especially frustrating on fighters and frigates, and the scarcity of their weapons.
    • "Hauler" ship variants straddle the line between this and Mighty Glacier. They trade off some gun power for a larger cargo bay and sometimes tougher shields. Particularly with the Falcon Hauler, said larger cargo bay often allows players to rig them as missile boats.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Its language did, at least.
  • Joke Character: The OTAS Sirokos in Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude. It's a 20+ million credit M7M with two guns and the ability to only fire Mosquito missiles and Boarding Pods.
    • It's a victim of Crippling Overspecialization. It's purpose-built for boarding enemy ships and can carry ten more marines than the other M7Ms. Works fine for capturing TL-class ships, but since it has no offensive weaponry it can't really do anything else.
  • Justified Tutorial: X: Beyond the Frontier integrates the tutorial into Kyle Brennan's assignment to put the Xperimental Shuttle through its paces. Then the jumpdrive goes haywire and starts the plot.
    • Terran Conflict averts it with the flight school tutorial, but plays it straight with the initial Terran plot, which is effectively one long tutorial.
  • Killed Off for Real: If you play Dead-Is-Dead mode, the player gets Killed Off for Real if he dies. (The game deletes your save.)
    • Jesan Nadina, an Argon mercenary in Terran Conflict who recruits the Player Character for Operation Final Fury. He is then KIA offstage two missions into said plot.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Plasma Burst Generator, a rare pirate-only weapon that can be fit on nearly every M3 and M6 in the game. Does AOE Damage, meaning that it will hit every area of space in a cone in front of it—and almost always, the target ship will be big enough to count as being in several "spaces" at once, meaning they're going to take obscene amounts of damage—especially if they're one of the bigger (carrier, battleship) size ships. The only weapon to get a unique achievement -- "Turn up the Heat."
    • The Pirates also have the rare Incendiary Bomb Launcher, a frigate / capital ship weapon. It functions like the other capital ship weapons, except the projectiles are on fire (in space).
  • Kill Sat: Lasertowers. In Terran Conflict they're next to useless against anything bigger than fighters, especially in Out-Of-Sector combat, but they got a massive buff in Albion Prelude making them very effective defenses against larger ships.
    • Orbital Defense Platforms, which are stationary "ships" armed with a ton of capital-ship weapons and a huge payload of missiles to spam at anything outside gun range.
    • The Torus Aeternal in Terran Conflict may qualify (it's technically a Space Station), as its defensive weapons can one-shot an M2.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Sort of. Though the vast majority of weapons in the X-Universe are either energy- or explosive-based, the few kinetic weapons in the games usually have a feature that offsets having to stock ammunition. The strictly fighter-scale Mass Driver goes through shields, for instance.
    • Their chief advantage is that they don't drain the ship's energy reserves when fired. This grants ammo-using ships greater staying power in combat ... at least until their ammo runs out.
    • The Gauss cannon is very popular for player-piloted Teladi M7 Shrikes, because it can be mounted to the flank turrets, enabling it to duplicate the Panther's feat of taking on multiple heavy capitals. In Albion Prelude, Gauss Cannons got a major buff in that all ships have higher amounts of hull hitpoints - the Gauss Cannon has the highest damage per second against hull, whereas the other capital ship weapons have most of their damage devoted to killing shields - useful in previous games, not so much in Prelude.
  • The Kingdom: According to the X3TC manual, the Boron Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy akin to Great Britain in Real Life (i.e. Queen Atreus is a figurehead, with the real power in the hands of elected officials). Otherwise it fits the trope pretty much perfectly: it is generally considered good-aligned, controls the fewest sectors (among the Commonwealth races, anyway), and is constantly under threat from the Split. They're also the only people to develop ion weapons.
  • Know When to Fold'Em: Mostly averted. Usually the AI will continue fighting even if the battle is hopeless. But every once in a while, you'll encounter a foe that runs away from overwhelming force, such as the last M5 survivor of a pirate fighter squadron fleeing at top speed from an oncoming player-piloted frigate.
    • Also averted in the case of the "Surrender" option in dialogue with other ships (as in telling the other guy to surrender). It appears to do exactly nothing.


Tropes L-O[edit | hide]

  • Lampshade Hanging: Albion Prelude lampshades the Terran Conflicts HUB plot and its insane requirements—the scientists you transport to the HUB note that Mahi Ma filled the cargo hold with thousands upon thousands of microchips—from the 75000 microchip requirement in TC's plot. Afterwards, several crates of microchips are left floating around the HUB.
  • Laser Sight: Some ship mounted weapons have tiny laser sights mounted on them - however, unlike most videogame laser sights, they do not project a laser onto the target, and they fade out within a meter of the gun.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Quite a lot of planets with their crust blasted off, leaving behind molten red hellholes.
    • Albion in Albion Prelude takes it to another level, with massive fissures actually penetrating deep into the mantle of the planet.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • Terran ships, OTAS ships, and certain Split ships.
      • AGI Task Force ships, which are even more powerful than standard Terran ships.
    • "Vanguard" ship variants. They offer higher speed, weapon generators, and sometimes higher shields than "standard" ships, at the cost of some cargo space and being more expensive.
  • Lightning Gun: The Ion Disruptor.
  • Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: The X-Superbox. It contains very high-quality versions of the game's soundtrack, 3 fan-made soundtracks, the X-Encyclopedia, and every X-Universe game made - when Albion Prelude came out, owners of the Superbox got the normally $9.99 expansion pack for free.
  • Living Ship: Boron ships look the part with their wrinkled hulls and ribs which resemble gills, but it's never stated one way or another whether they're grown, built, or some combination of the above.
    • They're grown around an artificial skeleton. (Flavor text for Royal Boron Shipyards.)
  • Lizard Folk: The Teladi.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Sectors with loads of player assets (Large factory complexes, and fleets) tend to cause loading times to be 2 to 5 times longer than a regular sector (which is generally around 5 seconds to a minute, depending on your PC).
  • Loads And Loads Of Ships: There's well over one hundred ships, and that's before you get into the individual variants for each ship.
  • Lost Colony: The entire Argon race was created when a Terran fleet sealed itself in the X-universe gate system to protect Earth from the Xenon. The fleet's crews settled on Argon Prime, (named after their leader, Nathan R. Gunne) and slowly phased out all references to Earth, causing Earth's existance to become a fairy tale.
    • The Aldrin colony is one of Earth's original colonies, before the Xenon went crazy. It's separate from the X-universe gate system. The Terrans believed it was destroyed when the Xenon started attacking everything, though Aldrin is reunited with the Terrans at the end of the Terran plot in X3: Terran Conflict.
  • Luck-Based Mission: "Return Stolen Ship" involves an NPC asking the player to capture a ship stolen by a third party. Sheer probability dictates that the ship in question will be one that must be captured by making the pilot bail out (as opposed to one that can be boarded and captured) ... which is a completely random (and fairly rare) event.
    • Also in this category are corporate missions that require you to make a delivery of missiles. In many cases, at least one will be a missile that does not appear in the game's market, and is only available as random drops from destroyed enemies.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Terran Conflict introduces the M7M missile frigate class. These ships can hold hundreds of missiles and use Macross Missile Massacre as their only form of attack. They can launch dozens of missiles in a matter of seconds, and the anti-fighter missiles each split into 8 sub-missiles. They also Robotech in a spiral pattern. And they'll go after new targets if the original is destroyed while the missiles are en route.
    • The deadliest M7M of them all is the ATF Skirnir, which uses the Shadow missile (650k damage per warhead on an 8-warhead missile). Think Macross Missile Massacre taken Up to Eleven.
      • This typo in the missile data was fixed in Albion Prelude so the Skirnir actually has to earn it's salary.
    • Terran Conflict also introduces the M8 bomber, which is essentially the M7M lite.
    • Since the advent of missile spamming M7Ms and M8s, the Mosquito Missile Defense script (available in the free Bonus Pack) has become a whole lot more useful. What does it do? Spams even more missiles at the enemy missiles!
    • Albion Prelude gave the AI the ability to properly use M7M and M8 ships. This now means that invaders typically jump into a system and immediately get 50 "ALERT: INCOMING MISSILE" warnings. This includes the player. Be very afraid.
    • In Albion Prelude missile frigates got serious with the whole missile thing. Not only can (and will) they Macross Missile Massacre their enemies before they even get in visual range, they also fire swarms of countermissiles in a Macross Missile Defense to protect themselves and their allies against similiar attacks.
    • Even outside of M7Ms and M8s, triple-M is a pretty good tactic. One common use of the Falcon Hauler as a ]carrier-based fighter is to stuff its cavernous cargo bay with Tornado missiles and use it as a bomber against capital ships.
  • Mad Libs Dialogue: Hits generic information dialogue hard.
    • "The place which you seek is somewhere far behind the NORTH GATE. Good profit!"
    • "Attention, today there is a sale in the TOOL SHOP on level THREE. Don't miss the special offers :)"
      • The latter example is possibly justified by it being an actual computer. Betty (the ship's computer) has the same problem.
  • Magnetic Weapons: The Mass Driver, a fighter-class weapon which can bypass shields and damage the ship directly. You will learn to fear this weapon.
    • Also in this category is the Gauss Cannon, a Teladi capital ship weapon that fires metal slugs instead of the usual energy disco-balls of doom that other capital ship weapons fire.
  • Manual Misprint: X3: Reunion's manual was wrong in almost every way. X3: Terran Conflict's manual is more accurate, but some images are wrong (Boron ships with an Argon ship for the picture) and it talks about weapons that don't normally exist in the game.
  • Master of None: Boron fighters. Pathetic energy reserves, shielding equal to Split ships but with less speed, and very limited weapon selection - ironically, despite their tiny energy reserves, all their race-specific weapons require huge amounts of energy to fire (such as the Ion Disruptor).
    • Their size also makes them very good targets for fighter-jock-type players.
  • Mechanical Evolution: As the opening cinematic for Terran Conflict explains, terraformers are examples of a technology called artificial general intelligence, "mechanical minds capable of making themselves more intelligent, and again, and again, recursively forever." The intent was presumably to make the robots capable of adapting to unexpected events during the terraforming process, but somebody fouled up a software patch and they went haywire, turning into the Xenon.
  • The Metric System Is Here to Stay: Played straight for everything except time, which until TC used Teladi time units.
  • Mighty Glacier: Fighters amongst strike craft and Destroyers amongst capital ships, as well as some of their weapons (some capital ship guns fire projectiles that can be outrun by scouts).
    • This is also the design motif for the Teladi spaceships, which are horribly slow for their class, but (for the most part) have very strong shields, hulls, and cargo capacity.
      • There is an exception to this rule, though: the Teladi M5 Kestrel is the fastest ship in the game, and likely the most powerful member of the M5 class because of it (mostly on Out of Sector battles, where asteroid and ship collisions are disabled).
    • The Teladi M2 Phoenix gets outran by almost every ship in the game, but soaks up damage like a sponge and carries a massive weapons loadout.
    • "Sentinel" ship variants, which mount weaker engines in exchange for massive shield capacity. Taken to the extreme by Teladi Falcon Sentinel M3 fighter, which has the shielding of a corvette and a top speed barely higher than some carriers.
  • Mobile Factory: Xtended Terran Conflict has T0 mobile production ships, which can produce a huge variety of wares. There are variants for energy, food, technology (microchips, crystals, etc), ore processing, and military technology (weapons, shields, missiles).
  • Mook Maker: Drone Frigates in the Xtended Terran Conflict mod. They produce their own advanced combat drones on the spot, and manage them like a carrier would manage their fighter wings.
  • More Criminals Than Targets: Oddly averted. While there are a lot of Pirates and Yaki, they are far outnumbered by just the civilian traders of a single race. However, Pirates are usually heavily concentrated in a couple sectors that they own, so in those sectors, they usually outnumber traders 5 to 1 or even higher (like 100:1), in the case of the Pirate home area, Mercenaries' Rift.
  • More Dakka: Certain M6 and many M7 can mount a ridiculous number of flak weapons. One of the most popular loadouts for the otherwise underwhelming Terran Yokohama and ATF Aegir[4] is to put Starburst Shockwave Cannons everywhere possible. OOS, this lets them tear other frigates to shreds in seconds.
  • Mundane Utility: The Split Iguana from X2. This TP-class ship (think space bus) can compete with dedicated heavy fighters, in terms of shielding, speed and firepower.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Non-player owned ships have access to what is essentially a point-to-point jumpdrive. Ships in the plot will jump into empty space, and escort missions have swarms of enemy ships warping in scant kilometers away from the ship you're escorting. Player ships are limited to jumping to Jump Gates.
    • According to Word of God, this is Gameplay and Story Segregation: they decided to use the jumpdrive "flash" for enemies spawning. The official line is that only the Kha'ak have point-to-point jumpdrives, though the Xenon have jump beacons they can use if they know precise coordinates to send it to. The scene during the Terran plot where the fleet jumps to Aldrin involved a reverse-engineered jump beacon, so that technically doesn't count.
  • Nerf: The Split M2 Raptor was among the best destroyers in X3: Reunion. In Terran Conflict, its ability to mount flak weapons was removed, reducing it to using comparatively ineffective corvette guns for fighter defense.
    • The Terran Conflict 3.0 patch reduced the laser generator capacity of the Terran M1 Tokyo, a carrier that could previously fire its anticapital guns indefinitely.
    • The M7 Panther's laser generators were weakened in Albion Prelude to compensate for it having by far the largest fighter capacity of any M7.
  • NGO Superpower: Pirates and Yaki as of Terran Conflict have access to capital ships (and lots of them), despite having no government and no central organization. The corporations also have their own navies - OTAS in particular fields two to three of their Boreas destroyers, several dozen transporter ships, swarms of fighters, and multiple frigates.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When the Argon Federation is closing in on Sol System with their swarms of reverse engineered Xenon fighters, about to subjugate the Terrans, the jump gate system completely shuts down, isolating every system.
  • Nintendo Hard: Dead-Is-Dead mode. If you die, the game will delete your save game. This includes when the game is a bastard and teleports a capital ship onto your tiny fighter when you come out a jumpgate.
  • No Fair Cheating:
    • Using any kind of mods or scripts brands your save with an unremovable ***modified*** tag to keep you informed of this circumstance. Given the amount of bugs in the games, players tend not to care about it.
    • If you fail to complete a "Retrieve derelict ship" mission in X3TC and you still have the ship in your possesion, a squad of police heavy fighters or pirates will warp in, blow the ship to bits and then warp out. It's thus impossible to make any use of the ship except for selling it first.
      • Not true: the cops aren't invincible, so you can actually destroy them. There's a way to do it that will avoid reputation hits; it requires a spare jumpdrive and a good supply of energy cells. You see, the Space Police will only spawn once. See the trick in Enemy Mine above, or failing that, jump it to one side of a Xenon sector, wait for the police to spawn, and jump it to the sector on the other side of the Xenon sector. The police will follow and be attacked by the Xenon. On the off chance they survive, jump the ship back to the first sector.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Averted in Albion Prelude. The game mentions that debris from the Torus killed millions.
  • No Plot, No Problem: Though there is an over-arching narrative to the games, a lot of the replay value comes from the sandbox mode where you pick your starting circumstances and are dropped into the universe to run amok.
  • No Such Thing as Alien Pop Culture: In Terran Conflict: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it aversion. Randomly-picked flavor text for some Fetch Quests and bits of junk carried by certain NPC ships point to alien sports and advertising, among other things. Reunion had the Bulletin Board System, you'd get bits of news and culture in it (along with missions).
  • Nose Art: X2: The Threat allows you to import an image file from your computer that would be applied as nose art to all your ships and stations. It could be a pin-up, a coat of arms, whatever. (Game Spot's reviewer used a character from The Simpsons.)
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Partial: while nuclear weapons are fine, "large scale" nuclear reactors aren't, and stations and ships are forced to purchase energy cells produced at solar power plants in order to manufacture goods or use jumpdrives. "Large scale" apparently doesn't include battleship reactors with outputs capable of razing planet surfaces, strangely.
    • It leads to a bit of Fridge Logic when the player wonders how exactly does a spaceship generate enough energy to run all of its systems, but needs separately provided energy cells for the jumpdrive.
  • Nuke'Em: Terran "Hammerhead" missiles are effectively nukes in terms of firepower. A single Hammerhead can kill an entire wing of ships in loose formation.
  • Obvious Beta: The games tend to ship with a plethora of bugs, from annoying to game breaking. Reunion suffered from this in its plot (which was often impossible to complete), and Terran Conflict was a massive system hog for several months after release.
  • Old School Dogfighting: Played down to the letter. A character in the later parts of the game who flies into a Xenon sector to duke it out can bring in a few battleships and carriers, as well as combat drones, resulting in hundreds of ships battling, and dozens of dogfights going on at once.
    • Crazy furballs happen when the player is flying a slow ship and going against a faster one. For some reason, attacking ships seem to only fly at their maximum speed; as weapons are forward-firing, they tend do come at you guns blazing, then overshoot, turn back and repeat as long as necessary—god forbid they'd slow down and try to get on your tail. Flying a faster ship, or going against slower ones, makes dogfighting a lot more interesting.
    • Played with a la Babylon 5 in recent games. On certain fighters you can see brief puffs of propellant from maneuvering jets when you hit the rudder or whatever.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Xenon.
  • One Federation Limit: Argon Federation. Boron Kingdom. Split Dynasty. Paranid Empire. Teladi Space Company. And that's just the Commonwealth.
    • The Terrans have no named government, but their space operations are controlled by the United Space Command, and any operations dealing with A Is are run by the AGI Task Force
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Any ship in X: Beyond the Frontier and X: Tension, once stripped of its shields, will be blown away by its pilot sneezing.
  • One Product System: Mostly averted, but some systems specialize in producing only one or two types of goods. Asteroid Belt in Terran Conflict mostly produces just different types of minerals, for example.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: The Teladi Space Company. Their entire race is organized like one Mega Corp. The head honcho, the Chairman (his name is Ceo at the time of the games), and business and smaller companies are arranged like subsidies or divisions. However, they employ an actual police force and a proper military.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Battles you partake in are varied, frantic and involve quite a bit of tactics. However, Out-Of-Sector battles, which happen in sectors you are not in, are simulated under a different set of rules, and they usually boil down to shield capacity in first place and (large) numbers in second.
  • One World Order: Present in the games (aside from the Terrans and Argon; same race, but they had a couple hundred years separation), but the X-Encyclopedia describes how there are other factions, like the human Hatikvah Free League.
  • Opening Narration: Terran Conflict's opening cinematic:

"Almost a millennium has passed since the last great plague of humankind had been wiped out from the solar system and its precious blue pearl planet Earth.
"It was a plague so dangerous, a threat so grave, that it spread throughout the infinity of space and eternity of time almost effortlessly to infest the stars. It spread its pestilence to civilizations unknown, devastated the galaxy as if it was just an ordinary body made of flesh and bone falling prey to a mindless virus.
"And in a sense it was really a virus, a virus created by humankind. One made with the best of intentions, but a virus nevertheless.
"Von Neumann probes, self-replicating machines, Terraformers, Xenon, even the Enemy of God. But at its core, it was really only one thing.
"Artificial general intelligence, or AGI. Mechanical minds capable of making themselves even more intelligent, and then again, and again. Recursively forever. The greatest threat to biological life that ever existed throughout the whole universe. The Terraformers were cast out of the solar system by sheer luck, just barely, with billions upon billions dead in their wake. The Earth Jumpgate was dismantled, legislation was put in place never to allow AGI to be created again, ever.
"Humankind never forgot the lesson of AGI, never ventured to try out this concept once more, not in a thousand years, but then it was discovered that species from outside the solar system thought differently. The plague of AGI was being released on the universe once more. Again perhaps with the best of intentions and again however, with the deadliest of results. The government of Earth had to intervene, even if it meant cold war, even if it meant a cold war between brothers, and intervene Earth did.
"This escalating conflict would be given a name by historians. Terran Conflict."

  • Orange-Blue Contrast: The cover for X3: Reunion.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: All the races depend on the Lost Technology Jump Gates scattered around the universe to get around. They occasionally disconnect, separating colonies for hundreds of years, until they reconnect (if ever).
    • According to the X-Superbox Encyclopedia, the wormholes are only different by using exotic matter to power the wormhole, and by using magnetic forces to flatten the wormhole to allow travel. if those factors didn't occur, it would be the exact same as Real Life's theoretical wormholes.


Tropes P-S[edit | hide]

  • Pacifist Run: Possible in all the games, if you skip the plot. Some players go for an all-out "Cannot kill any enemy, at all", others go with "My other ships can kill enemies", or "I will only kill enemies required by the plot lines". The goal for these is to keep your combat rank at "Harmless"—getting one kill will bring the combat rank up, and it takes a long time for it to go back down to Harmless.
  • Painfully-Slow Projectile: Capital ship weapons. Special mention goes out to the Terrans' Point Singularity Projector, which is incredibly easy to avoid in almost any ship.
  • Pass Through the Rings: the very first game, X-BtF, has you do that in the opening intro, to test your ship's systems. Also, several missions in X3R and X3TC have you racing against other targets ships; you do not technically fly through rings, but you do have to pass through arbitrarily placed checkpoints.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Several weapons in the series (particularly the later games) fit this. Ion Disruptor, Ion Pulse Generator, Ion Cannon, Ion Shard Railgun, and Photon Pulse Cannon. Oh, and the Kha'ak use kyon emitters, which fire a fictitious particle. The names are normally fairly justified by Flavor Text; for instance, the ISR "fires ionised 'shards' of super-heated plasma, which are then accelerated to high speeds using magnets."
  • Planet of Hats: One of the series' major criticisms is its poor job of fleshing out characters and races.
  • Planet Terra: In X3, humans from the Sol System are referred to as "Terrans", but the planet is still called Earth.
  • Player Headquarters: The... Player Headquarters, first introduced in Reunion. You gain the Headquarters by doing a sub-plot in each game. The HQ lets you reverse engineer ships (to gain their blueprints), scrap ships (for resources), build ships (from learned blueprints and resources), repair ships (using some resources), and adjust the hue and saturation values for non-Boron ships - allowing you to make pink Split ships, or make the flames on your Pirate Nova bright blue. The HQ has a massive storage bay for storing all your crap, 12 external docking ports for capital ships, 20 external docking ports for freighters and corvettes, and a infinitely large internal docking bay for fighters, making it an excellent parking location for your unused ships.
  • Player Mooks: Any player-owned ship other than the one physically piloted by the player. You can give them named pilots by activating certain scripts (whereupon a name is generated based on the owner of the sector the ship is in), but you never interact with them at any deeper level than the command console.
  • Portal Network: The only way to get around the universe is by using jumpgates or a jumpdrive (which teleports you to a jumpgate of your choice).
  • Point Defenseless: Partially averted. Most ships (even some fighters) have at least one turret theoretically capable of shooting down incoming missiles. Some get through, some don't, depending on the loadout of the ship in question.
    • With the bonus pack scripts in X3, it may be almost completely averted ... for player-owned ships. One of the scripts in question is "Mosquito Missile Defense," which uses the fast, accurate, very weak Mosquito Missile to automatically intercept incoming missiles and fighter drones. It doesn't work on ships that can't equip Mosquito Missiles, however, making it annoyingly useless to the Terrans in Terran Conflict - in Albion Prelude, every ship in the game can fire Mosquito Missiles.
    • The Split M2 Python, one of the best destroyers in Reunion, became this in Terran Conflict because its ability to mount Flak Artillery Arrays was removed. It now has to rely on comparatively ineffective corvette weapons for fighter defense.
  • Police Are Useless: They and the Border Control ships seem to exist mainly to attack the player after friendly fire incidents, or when the player keeps a ship he's supposed to return as part of a mission.
  • Private Military Contractors: The Split Strong Arms. All the corporations maintain warships, but the Strong Arms are the only ones for whom they're not just for protecting their own supply chains.
  • Privateer: The governments of the Commonwealth offer "police licenses", which act like letters of marque. You're paid a preset bounty for destroying space pirates, Xenon, and Kha'ak, and destroying neutrals or allies costs you the license.
  • Product Placement: Nividium; aside from being extremely valuable, it's also a considerable plot point for X2 and X3.
    • This gets brought up a lot, and Egosoft has always said no. Cynics just say they're trying not to alienate ATI fans.
  • Promoted Fanboy: The developers of the X3 Xtended mod, who were later hired on by Egosoft for Terran Conflict.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Terrans are deathly afraid of artificially intelligent ships, because their own Terraformer ships were throwing asteroids at Earth because of a programming error.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Split race is basically a clone of the Klingons.
  • Quicksand Box: X: Beyond the Frontier through X3: Reunion hit this hit pretty hard. X3: Terran Conflict is a bit better at giving the player a goal.
  • Ramming Always Works: Ramming is the fastest way to kill enemies; just make sure you have more shields than they do. (Though you REALLY shouldn't do it at full speed, unless the target ship is a lot smaller than your ship.)
    • Actually, as long as you don't try to ram anything too big, the faster you're going, the less damage you take. In X2, a kitted out Split heavy transport could crush a Paranid battleship without taking a scratch.
    • Ramming has also the pleasant side effect of not angering the local sector police (unless you take too long to kill the target), a must if you need to eliminate a "friendly" ship without nuking the entire sector.
    • Inverted in the case of M5 scouts, wherein it is the fastest way to kill yourself. In particular, never fly a fully upgraded Kestrel on autopilot, as the ship is actually too fast for the AI. The "auto-pillock" is all but guaranteed to splatter you all over the vicinity.
  • Random Number God: Worshiping it is a Running Gag on the forums.
  • Real Trailer, Fake Movie: Nautilus.
  • Recursive Ammo: A wide variety of missiles, from the strictly fighter-to-fighter Wasp on up to the sector-obliterating Shadow, have multiple warheads. There's even a few unguided multiple-warhead missiles, although only one is actually of any use.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Split ships use rust red armor panels with gray/black backgrounds. Xenon ships are pitch black and gray with glowing red internals.
  • Regenerating Shield Static Health: Shields are held in the cargo bay and will regenerate constantly. Hull is non-regenerating, and once the hull reaches zero hitpoints, the ship will be destroyed.
  • Reporting Names: A justification for Earth-derived Arms and Armor Theme Naming of nonhuman-built ships. The Boron M1 Shark is unpronounceable in the original Boron, but the word used for it translates to "cartilaginous fish with lots of sharp teeth". Likewise, the Paranid M4 Pericles was probably named for a Paranid whose career paralleled that of the Athenian Pericles.
  • Restart At Level One: The Player Characters of X2: The Threat and X3: Reunion are the same guy (Julian Brennan).
  • Ridiculously-Fast Construction: HYPER averted. If you decided to build a ship instead of buying it, you have to wait as your headquarters puts it together. Capital ships like the Argon Colossus can take twenty hours in real time to build.
    • Played straight for building stations. They basically pop fully-formed out of your TL's cargo hold. Which enables the station-bombing combat trick.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Terrans in Albion Prelude. After the Torus Aeternal (a massive station wrapping around the Earth) is blown up by Saya Kho, they deploy their entire battlefleet to attack the Argon Federation.
  • Robot War: The Terraformer War, the First and Second Xenon Conflicts, and the constant low-level warfare against the Xenon. The Argon/Terran war probably takes the cake, though.
  • Rubber Forehead Aliens: The Split. In the games, they have red skin, tall and narrow heads, and large eyes that are very close together, but otherwise they are fairly human-like. Concept art makes them look like space elves.
  • Sapient Ship: Terraformer CPU ships.
  • Save Game Limits: Until you buy Salvage Insurance, you can only save when docked at stations. Salvage Insurance lets you save anywhere, but each time you save, you use up one Salvage Insurance. The player is also limited to ten save slots (and 3 autosave slots, which are made when you dock at stations).
  • Save Scumming: Almost a requirement when attempting to board enemy capital ships. Especially Xenon ships, where The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard—to the point where there is an achievement for capturing a Xenon frigate, something that people spend hours training their marines for.
  • Scavenger World: A released X:Rebirth screenshot shows a Split Python from Reunion gutted out for supplies, with power lines leading from the ship to a nearby installation - the collapse of the gate networks may have set off a dark age for small colony worlds.
  • Scenery Porn: Massive planets, huge stations, sleek spaceships... let's face it: the latest installments are Crysis IN SPACE. Taken Up to Eleven in X: Rebirth.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: The "Difficulty" shown on mission menus is based on your combat rank, and often seems completely random. At higher level combat ranks, an Escort Mission with a difficulty of "Easy" might end up spawning dozens of enemy frigates to kill a single freighter. Said freighter will outrun your own capital ships, forcing you into corvettes or fast frigates instead of a proper destroyer needed to deal with the swarms of enemies.
    • Yet another reason why players avoid escort missions like the plague.
    • In-Sector versus Out-Of-Sector combat. To save on processing power, OOS reduces combat to ships taking turns firing a single, point-blank[6] volley from all guns at once at a single target. All other variables (area-of-effect, weapons recharge, and so on) are taken out of the equation. This skews combat in favor of Wave Motion Guns to the point where recommended loadouts are often drastically different for IS and OOS.
    • Even scripted plot missions follow no clear difficulty slope. A combat mission with a supporting NPC squad against a pack of heavy fighters and a frigate can be easily followed by a "patrol" mission on your lonesome against several heavy carriers. And then it's back to killing fighter squads again.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: In all the games, maps are at most hundreds of kilometers across (I'm looking at you, Sol System). But the ships are so slow that they actually require a Time Dilation device to cross them in a reasonable amount of time. Unless the kilometer was redefined at some point, this suggests spaceships in the game are far, far slower than they have any right to be -- raising the interesting question of how any of the spacefaring races actually managed to become spacefaring races when they don't seem to have any ships that come anywhere near escape velocity for a planet with a mass similar to Earth.
    • Some of the slowest ships can actually be outrun by a basic passenger car, and that's before you account for air friction.
    • Oh, and your ability to hail other ships and stations is cut off abruptly at 25 kilometers.
    • The games also feature an energy example: their weapons and shields are much weaker than anything in a sci-fi setting has a right to be. Most transport ships and fighters as of Terran Conflict have no more than about 100 megajoules of shielding. Burning a gallon of gasoline releases about 130 MJ. There is, of course, a difference between releasing 130 MJ over the course of burning a gallon of gasoline, and releasing it all at once, but the point remains.
      • The most powerful weapon in the game, the nuclear-tipped Hammerhead missile, releases 1.2 gigajoules (enough to destroy fighter swarms and all but one M6). By contrast, Little Boy, the nuclear fission bomb that demolished Hiroshima in 1945, released somewhere between 54 and 75 terajoules (at least 45,000 times more). The major powers of the X-Universe would lose to modern-day Earth.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections: High reputation with a race lets you get away with an absurd amount of murders. You can capture their flagship, murder the crew, then sell the fighter pilots into slavery, and you'll often take only a minor reputation hit unless you started slaughtering everything else in the sector.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Some user-made scripts allow you to bribe enemy ships to make them neutral
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Experienced players often set these for themselves. They range from "I'm only allowed to use one faction's ships" to Pacifist Runs to going to war with a faction to wipe them out.
    • Nuklear-Slug wrote a thread about the exploits of Squiddy McSquid, a Boron playthrough whose Self-Imposed Challenge was to fly his starting ship deep into Terran space, then set the self-destruct and eject. He then floated his way to a shipyard to buy himself a new ship and started from there.
    • StarSword made it a goal to build an impenetrable blockade against all Xenon sectors, a strategy that involved devoting a considerable percentage of his profitsss to the construction and equipment of Osaka destroyers.
    • Spaceweed Adict wrote a thread chronicling a war he waged against the Terrans. He succeeded in taking and holding every sector save Earth, where The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard.
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop: The "main" game start in each game has gotten progressively easier (or less Earn Your Fun, depending on who you talk to). Beyond the Frontier starts you off in a painfully slow ship with no weapons or shields, The Threat starts you off in an upgraded Argon Discoverer scout ship, Reunion starts you off in a somewhat upgraded Argon Buster interceptor ship, Terran Conflict starts you off in either a Terran Sabre interceptor or an Argon Elite advanced interceptor. Albion Prelude starts you off in an Argon Enhanced Nova, and gives you a free 16 million credit corvette within the first hour of the plot.
    • Never mind the Enhanced Nova. The Terran start in Albion Prelude starts you off in a Katana corvette.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Arguably the Terran Conflict. As the Argon start The Big Push into Sol, the Ancients shut down the whole gate network, leaving everyone in the known universe trapped where they are.
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships: The Paranid ships are basically flying mirrors, and the Terran ships are blindingly white, more so if you have Glow/Bloom enabled in the options.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Xtended Terran Conflict mod has tons of shout-outs in sector descriptions:
      • One Teladi sector mentions how the capital city on a planet is made largely of recycled ship hulls, and travel is done through cable cars that use arms to swing between different cables. Another describes the ring around a planet in the background as being made up of thousands of small space stations, called the Rust Belt.
      • Almost all of the Aldrin sectors are named after the Apollo program astronauts - (Buzz) Aldrin, (Neil) Armstrong, (Pete) Conrad, (Dick) Gordon, (Alan) Bean.
  • Snipe Hunt: New players are often recommended to find the elusive UFO base, the source of the UFOs that players sometimes see flying around at high speeds. The UFO base allegedly sells every ware in the game (and especially the ones not in the game) and all ships at dirt cheap prices.
  • Space Battle: Ohh, maaan. Despite frequent cases of Artificial Stupidity, the games feature some spectacular fights. Special mention to the Battle of Aldrin (end of the Terran plot), Operation Final Fury, and the Aldrin Expansion in TC.
  • Space Clouds: Very dense nebulae show up in many sectors - in some sectors, visibility is less than 10 kilometers. Albion Prelude gets rid of most of the visibility restrictions on nebulae, instead making it an atmospheric effect that doesn't limit your vision.
  • Space Cold War: Terran Conflict. The Terrans distrust the Argon, and the Argon fear the Terrans' extremely advanced technology. Goes hot when the Argon blow up the jewel of the Solar System, Earth's Torus Aeternal in Albion Prelude.
  • Space Elves: The Goners are an odd version of Type II, being biologically human but otherwise largely fitting the trope. In particular, they insist that the Argon are not originally from the planet in the sector Brennan's Triumph, or from their current capital Argon Prime. They're mainly viewed as nutty, but harmless (the official Argon line is that Earth is a myth) ... until the events of X: Beyond the Frontier, when a test pilot from Earth becomes stranded in the X-Universe.
  • Space Flecks: In X3, which also features a variation in which star flecks are accompanied by region-themed clumps of other stuff, such as red nebula gas.
  • Space Fighter: All the races have their own set of Space Fighters. They have good speed, decent cargo bay, and can operate autonomously without the need for refueling or pilot rest. Most of the game starts have you start out in a fighter of some sort. Space Fighters come in several flavors:
    • M3+ Heavy Fighter: Like the M3, but slower with more guns and shields.
    • M3 Fighters: The most well rounded and arguably the most useful. They have good cargo capacity, mediocre speed, good firepower, and good protection, with the ability to mount jumpdrives.
    • M4+ Heavy Interceptors: Like M4s, but with a bit more firepower at the cost of speed. Bridges the gap between the M3 and M4
    • M4 Interceptors: Midway point between M3s and M5s. They don't have much firepower, but they have good speed and can mount jumpdrives.
    • M5 Scouts: Pathetic firepower and shielding, but ridiculously fast top speeds. Only a few are capable of mounting jumpdrives.
  • Space Friction: The universe has the viscosity of maple syrup.
    • Most Boron sectors also have the visibility of maple syrup.
  • Space Is Cold: Albion Prelude has a Steam achievement titled "It's Cold Outside" for forcing another pilot to eject.
  • Space Is Noisy: Weapons and explosions make noise (and a lot of it, too).
  • Space Madness: Flavor text for the Oort Cloud in Terran Conflict mentions that those who work there sometimes fall victim to "Oort's Curse", a madness with no known cause or cure.
  • Space Mines: In several flavors. SQUASH mines are your standard explosive mines, Ion mines deal damage only to shields, Tracker Mines... track stuff, and Matter/Antimatter mines are like SQUASH mines but with more boom. Except that in the game there is no difference between all of them beyond the name. None. One of the most effective tactics with mines is to get a huge swarm of enemies chasing you, drop all the mines, and order one of the mines to self-destruct. Big bada boom.
  • Space Police: All the main races have Border Patrol and Police ships. They buzz about, scanning ships for contraband, and they harass pirates (and loose terribly, because they have peashooter weapons.)
  • Space Pirates: Swarms of them, and they have space flamethrowers. The Pirates paint up their ships with spiffy flame paint jobs and graffiti, then start slapping on all sorts of weapons on them, such as the aforementioned flamethrower. Some of their communication portraits even have the stereotypical eye-patch. Composed of all the races (except for Terran).
  • Space Station: Loads and loads of them. There's mines, factories, solar power plants, military bases, shipyards, and warehouses, to name a few. And the player can build and own most of them.
    • They're the only thing in any of the games that the player can actually land at. Which sort of justifies the fact that none of the ships can reach escape velocity (as mentioned above).
  • Space Whale: Well, space flies, actually. Think golden insectoid Energy Beings which communicate through birdsong.
    • Xtended Terran Conflict adds several new life forms; a Space Dragon, a space rock-eating beetle thing, and space jellyfish that feed on energy cells.
  • Spam Attack: Fighter drone swarms. The player gathers hundreds or thousands of fighter drones into a freighter, flies into a enemy sector, drops every one of them into space and orders all of them to attack enemy capital ships. For the enemy, this counts as an almost-instant game over.
  • Spare Body Parts: Paranid have from 1 to 4 eyes (this even determines status and rank in their culture). Many of the Paranid the player talks to have 4 eyes in the communications video, however.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Xenon capital ships typically have dozens of spike-like antennas scattered across the surface of the black and red hull. Split capital ships also have a large mass of spike-like antenna mounted on the nose of the ship.
  • Spiritual Successor: The series has been described as one to Elite and Privateer.
  • Splash Damage Abuse: Area of Effect weapons deal damage based on how many of their damage "squares" touch enemy ships. In other words, larger ships take exponentially more damage than a small ship. As such, capital ships take absurd amounts of damage from Phased Shockwave Generators. The good news is, PSG are strictly short-range weapons (as well as capital-only from Terran Conflict on), so unless the player is at the controls of the PSG-armed ship, a ship with dedicated anticapital guns (PSPs or PPCs can keep them at arm's length long enough for this trope not to matter.
  • Squid People: The Boron.
  • Squishy Wizard: M8 Bombers and M7M Missile Frigates. Both have mediocre/bad amounts of shielding (for their size), mediocre speed, and pathetic point defenses (Boron M7Ms don't have any point defenses). However, both have the amazing ability to put out hundreds (or in the case of the frigate, thousands) of missiles which can easily wipe out sectors.
  • Sssssnaketalk: The Teladi, full stop.
  • Stalking Mission: One of the optional, randomly generated missions that players can take in Terran Conflict. A few pop up during the game plots, but they're usually mercifully short.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Scouts, Interceptors, Fighters, Corvettes, Frigates, Bombers, Destroyers, Carriers, and 4 different types of freighters (Space Trucker, Space Yacht, giant freighter that can carry entire stations, and freighters with most of the cargo bay ripped out fighter docking ports).
  • Standard Time Units: Time is measured in Sezuras (1.7 seconds) Mizuras (96 Sezuras; 2 minutes and 43 seconds) Stazuras (96 Mizuras; 4 hours and 21 minutes) Tazuras (7 Stazuras; 1.27 days) Wozuras (7 Tazuras; 8.89 days) Mazuras (7 Wozuras; 62.23 days) and Jazuras (8 Mazuras; 1.36 years). Many players did not like this, so X3: Reunion has a ratio to the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) units used in Real Life.
    • In Terran Conflict, the "-zura" based system was Dummied Out in favor of Earth time units.
      • The XTC Mod (Xtended for Terran Conflict) brought it back again.
  • Starfish Aliens:
    • The Boron. They're aquatic, squid-like aliens whose home planet has an atmosphere of ammonia.
    • The Paranid. They have three eyes, have a crazy religion based on three-dimensionality, have multiple genders, and have four arms.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Your wingman at the end of X2: The Threat, who rams the Kha'ak doomsday weapon to destroy it. All well and good, except that his kamikaze run doesn't seem quite as noble when you've got three capital ships, laden with multiple Wave Motion Guns and entire squadrons of fighters, sitting in firing range.
    • Or, y'know, if it wasn't actually possible to remotely control any ship you own even while extra-vehicular. Sure, by all means send your ship to its destruction, but there's nothing in the rules that states you have to be in the damn thing, y'know.
    • Saya Kho's destruction of the Torus - the colossal ring station around the entirety of Earth - in Albion Prelude intro may arguably fall into this category from a political standpoint. The Argon and Terrans are locked into a cold war with localized conflicts. The Torus was a hybrid military and civilian installation, providing defence for Earth, but it did not threaten Argon interests directly. Blowing it up constitutes something between Hiroshima bombing and 9/11 in space, as it had a staggeringly high casualty rate among both military and civilian personnel, not to mention those killed by debris falling to Earth. Naturally, this incident became the spark for a full scale war. Saya Kho is previously portrayed in the series as a reasonable person and is said to show remorse for the deed (she could evacuate the Torus in time but chose not to), but no justification is provided for her deed.
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: Many ships make use of "subspace compression" to store vast amounts of stuff in relatively tiny spaces. Special life-support units can make it possible to store living creatures in this manner (otherwise the compression is instantly fatal), but it's nevertheless quite unpleasant.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: any ship will attack you if you shoot it, even if you're in a superheavy prototype fighter and they're a tiny scout craft whose weapons caress your armor more than they hurt it. This can scale up to hilarious levels, with light fighters attacking your capital ship.
  • Super Prototype: "Prototype" ships in Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude are superior in almost every way to the standard production models. They can only be gained by capturing them, or by doing plots (such as the Corporation missions). Their rarity and power are usually handwaved as being too costly for mass production.
  • Superweapon Surprise: The Boron Campaign, the first time the Commonwealth governments had a full-scale war. The Split invaded Boron space and pushed the squids all the way back to their homeworld Kingdom End. Then the Argon, needing a new ally after having a falling-out with the Paranid, came to the aid of the Boron, throwing most of their fleet at the Split and driving them back.
    • By the time of the games, the Boron have become respectably badass by necessity. It's not uncommon to see a Split strike force enter a Boron sector and promptly get shredded.


Tropes T-W[edit | hide]

  • Technology Marches On: Real Life example for X3. During the first half of the 2000s, CPU processing power (the main limitation on the game engine) was jumping upwards rapidly, and apart from graphics the X3 engine had barely been updated since its original incarnation in X: Beyond the Frontier. If the trend of increasing processing power within a single core had continued, we'd have no problems with more player assets slowing games. Then the industry standard changed to increasing computer speed by way of multiple cores in a single CPU, cores that were often slower individually than the single cores the X3 engine worked best on. To make matters worse, the engine is 32-bit, meaning it can't take advantage of more than about 3 GB of RAM. These two factors make the restart point for an all-plots-finished Terran Conflict player not "whenever I get bored", but "whenever my installation becomes nearly unplayable".
    • The latter point in time even happens occasionally before the player finishes all the plots.
    • The change in industry trend has prompted Egosoft to build a new game engine from the ground up for X: Rebirth, one that is multicore- and 64-bit-compatible. This also gave them an excuse to advance the timeline by a thousand years.
  • Tele Frag: Ships travel between different sectors of space through jumpgates. Jumpgates are two-way, meaning that ships both enter and leave sectors from them. Meaning, you can use your jumpdrive to jump to a distant sector for a mission... right as a five-kilometer-long vessel is entering the jumpgate's event horizon (where you are). The Terran sectors in X3: Terran Conflict are notorious for this, as they have very active military patrols which fly between the smaller Terran gates very often.
    • The solution to this problem is using the autopilot to fly through gates whenever feasible (obviously this is not a good idea when under attack). The game features a "traffic light" system at each gate pair, and only the player has the ability to run a red, so to speak. The autopilot always waits for the light to turn green.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: A couple different varieties. The Portal Network allows interstellar travel. Meanwhile, ships can be equipped with a Transporter Device that allows you to transfer people and cargo from one ship to another (provided they're no more than five kilometers apart) without needing to dock both ships at a station.
  • Teleport Spam: Possible in the Xtended Terran Conflict mod for... Terran Conflict. Battleships / Motherships (M2+) mount Point-To-Point jumpdrives, which lets them jump anywhere in a sector after 10 seconds of charging. This allows players with enough energy cells to jump in circles around enemy ships, whittling them down while taking almost no damage.
  • Time Dilation: Every ship can mount a "Singularity Engine Time Accelerator" which can speed up the flow of time up to 10x, depending on the game settings. Activating the device at high settings is heavy on the CPU and tends to cause Artificial Stupidity.
    • In in-game lore, malfunctioning SETA drives can supposedly crank up the effect to several thousand times normal speed: back in the days of X2 and X3 when stations had bulletin boards that featured news articles, one story covered a pilot who lost a year's worth of time when his SETA device went haywire and took several hours for him to shut down.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Each race's military in Albion Prelude. In previous games, they'd sort of ignore the player unless he got very close to them. In Albion, they'll jump around the universe to respond to threats to their space. If you jump into a Split system and start blasting civilian ships and the stations, they'll send ships to kill you. The more damage you cause, the more likely they'll send something big to kill you, like a destroyer, or in the Terrans' case, the ATF Valhalla or USC Kyoto.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ships generally take the shortest route to their destination. Even if said route lies directly through a Xenon sector and they don't have a jumpdrive to hop over it with.
  • Tractor Beam: In X3: Reunion and later games, tractor beams are a player-usable weapon, used mainly for towing ships and moving stations around. In a symptom of those games' broken economy, the factories that create them sometimes disappear before the player can buy one, forcing one to build a factory for an item the player only ever needs one of.
    • Interestingly, tractor beams are programmed to be incapable of locking onto non-player-owned objects. This is mainly to prevent the obvious exploit where the player drags enemy vessels into stationary objects like asteroids.
  • Translation Convention: All the races speak in a version of Japanese (it's backwards), but the player hears them as English (or whatever language they have selected).
  • Try and Follow: A decent pilot with a small enough ship can invoke this trope. Simply fly through tight gaps in space stations (the bigger the station, the better), or (if the opportunity presents itself) make like Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back and fly through an Asteroid Thicket. The AI's collision avoidance software will force your pursuers to give the obstacles a wider berth, while you open the gap.
  • Twenty Bear Asses: One category of missions for the corporations randomly picks up to three types of missiles for you to deliver to them. About half the possible missiles are only available as random drops from destroyed ships.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The starship race course in X3: Reunion's plot, which in early versions was extremely buggy and difficult.
  • Unobtainium: Nividium is a valuable mineral mined from certain asteroids (rumored to be fragments of the Kha'ak homeworld). What the NPCs use it for is unclear.
    • Teladianium is a ceramic used mainly in structural components.
  • Used Future: Many of the Teladi and Pirate capital ships ships as well as some Pirate stations are crude and worn-down in appearance, and some look like random bits and bobs and ship hulls were duct-taped together. (In the case of most pirate ships and stations, they actually are.) Argon fighters use this to a lesser extent, as most of them have rust spots (in space) and scorch marks from welding, despite being bought brand-new from a shipyard...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Lampshaded by Mahi Ma at the end of the Hub plot. Said Big Dumb Object lets players link up to three gate pairs at their discretion, which lets them shorten the voyage between major regions of their trade empire. It also lets them give four Xenon sectors free passage to a populated area.
    • If another pilot ejects from his ship (whether because you bought it from him, or because a he offered his ship in exchange for you not finishing him off), they'll start floating towards the nearest Space Station in their spacesuits. You have the choice of leaving them alone, using them for target practice, or scooping them into your cargo bay and enslaving them at pirate bases.
    • A work-in-progress script allows you to utilize slaves for a variety of useful tasks, like ship repair. When they repair the ship, you eject the suited-up slaves into space, and they start repairing your ship with repair lasers - sometimes they'll break away and try to escape, and you can just slaughter them or kill them. You can extort slaves for money in exchange for their freedom - or you can just extort them, promising them freedom, then keep them anyways
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Very, very averted. The Plasma Burst Generator is a strictly short-range weapon, but range is everything that separates your target from a quick, crispy death.
    • Or as one forum member rather succinctly put it, "OMGWTFBBQ."
  • Video Game Long Runners: Counting the currently unreleased X: Rebirth, seven games spanning fourteen years.
  • We Buy Anything / We Sell Everything: Averted. Each station will only buy the resources for the products they manufacture, and will only sell these products (and that is if the owner allows trade for the station). Trade Stations are slightly more permisive, as they will buy and sell for the average price all wares in their stock list; the list varies greatly between host races and slightly between the stations of a given race.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: The Teladi backed the creation of the unified currency between the Commonwealth races. Prior to that each race used its own currency. The Terrans presumably changed to credits between the events of X3: Reunion and X3: Terran Conflict.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Hit non-hostile ships or stations enough times (whether accidentally or on purpose) and the sector police will warn you that if you keep it up, they'll attack. Continue, and you may get a message that sounds something like this:

Computer announcer: Fighter ships from the Argon Federation are now being launched. They have orders to kill.

The station or ship will turn hostile and the sector police will attack. This becomes fairly annoying during station defense missions, where friendly fire to the station you're protecting is a constant hazard.
    • And then you can usually prevent an encounter with the police by opening a comm channel with them and blaming the weapons' targetting system. Thankfully, stations gone hostile from friendly fire while you are protecting them become friendly after completing the mission.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Very wide open. So much so that the devs included options to disable the plot altogether, so the players can have their fun merely by interacting with the open universe. The X series is practically the very definition of this trope.
  • Word Salad Title: X3: Albion Prelude. "Albion" refers to the player ship of X: Rebirth, the Albion Skunk, while Prelude is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a prelude to the gate system shutdown that gave the dev team an excuse to do a major timeskip.


Tropes X-Z[edit | hide]

  • X Meets Y: Gameplay is typically described as "Freelancer [7] meets EVE Online [8] meets Elite[9]"—though the X-Universe series predates both Freelancer and EVE Online.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The 'X' stands for "Xperimental Shuttle," which was the name of your ship in the first game.
    • Many human names are recognizably modified from present-day names. One example from Terran Conflict is Jesan Nadina, whose first name appears derived from "Jason".
    • Torus Aeternal. 'Nuff said.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Played straight for Terran test pilot Kyle Brennan (the Player Character) in X: Beyond the Frontier. He is stranded in the X-Universe after the prototype gateless jumpdrive on the Xperimental Shuttle goes haywire.
    • In X3: Reunion, three games and several dozen years later, the Solar System is reconnected to the X-Universe's Portal Network at the end of the main plot. By this time, Kyle Brennan has a grown son in the X-Universe, is a war hero, and is the head of a multibillion-credit company (TerraCorp). At best, he'd likely be a Stranger in a Familiar Land.
      • At worst, He Still Can't Go Home Again, because Earth's government consists of xenophobic paranoids, and almost immediately enters a Space Cold War with the rest of the X-Universe. And then in Albion Prelude, his associate Saya Kho blows up the Torus Aeternal, putting another nail in the coffin.
    • The Xtended Terran Conflict mod takes place in an entirely new gate system—the only preexisting sector is Aldrin. The Terrans allow races to send their ships into the gate system, but they refuse to let them go back to the original gate network. As such, every ship in the new gate system can't go home again.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Wares can be broadly defined into Energy, Minerals, Bio, Food, Tech, Military (weapons, shields). There is also Secondary factories. Each race has their own unique Bio, Food, and Secondary wares, which are used by their own stations. Some Tech and Military factories are race-exclusive.
    • Energy is made by Solar Power Plants, which have no ware requirements to build Energy Cells (Except for player power plants, which need Crystals). All stations require energy cells.
    • Minerals (Ore, Silicon) are mined by breaking up asteroids and picking up the debris, or by placing a mining station on them. They only require Energy to work. Ice and Nividium asteroids are also present, but Ice is only used by the Terrans, and neither type has mining stations available to the player.
    • Bio (Meat, wheat, etc) are used only by Food and Secondary factories. They only require Energy to work.
    • Secondary factories (Warheads, food spices, etc) are usually not essential to the economy except for a few Tech factories. They need Energy and Bio to work.
    • Food (Space burgers, MREs, etc) requires Energy and Bio.
    • Tech (microchips, crystals, etc) requires Energy, Food, and Minerals. Some require a Secondary resource in place of Food.
    • Military (lasers, missiles, food) requires Energy, Food, and Minerals. Military equipment is bought by Equipment Docks or installed on ships.
  • Zerg Rush: Common Xenon and Kha'ak tactic. The Khaak Cluster is a self-contained Zerg Rush; upon approaching it breaks into about a dozen scout ships and a heavy fighter.
  1. due to the Precursors modifying the gate system to keep the Terrans isolated
  2. spaceweed is legal in Teladi space, however
  3. Though it takes a while; see Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale below.
  4. Underwhelming because the small Terran weapon selection limits their In-Sector tactics to either missile spam or pecking you to death with corvette-grade guns.
  5. Nobody's ever managed to talk to them. Or if they did, they didn't live to tell about it. All we know is that they seem to be a hive mind and that they have an affinity for nividium.
  6. 650 meters or thereabouts
  7. You actually pilot your ship, emphasis on side missions, silly physics
  8. being able to pilot any ship in the game, emphasis on the economy, Scenery Porn
  9. Wide Open Sandbox trading and combat.