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Not So MMO: X4 Foundations – Space Tips

Red Thomas Posted:
Columns Not So MMO 0

I haven’t had as much time to play X4: Foundations in the last week as I would have liked, but I’m still having a blast when I do get a chance to get into the game.  This last week for me has been mostly about completing a few missions and expanding my economic base.

I had a few early setbacks as trading ships were intercepted and destroyed by pirates, but then I realized that I’d not set them up with turrets and weapons correctly when building them early on.  That’s been corrected, and you can learn from my mistake.  When you purchase guns and turrets for a ship (or are scoping it out before building), look to the top-left and click on the numbers to ensure each position is filled.  I’d just been clicking on the highlighted positions on the right and clearly had missed a few that were hidden by the ship.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the last week that might help you streamline your own operations and avoid a few time-losing situations.

Changing Formation

One of the things I like to do is to queue up a series of commands for ships to explore sectors.  It’s faster to fly them in and give them “fly-to” orders that take them in spirals around the sector.  There could be some other benefits to having them just explore using the command, but it takes longer to map out the sector.  Flying them in circles reveals all the current stations quickly and lets you decide where to place your satellites for best coverage.

I had been doing this with a wing of ships I’d created and ran into a problem, though.  The ships got stuck at one of the points and didn’t seem to want to move away.  I gave them multiple move orders in different directions and cleared their existing orders several times, but they just wouldn’t move.

This picture is unrelated to the article. I just thought it was cool when I saw the aurora while flying past the planet and wanted to share.

Then, I gave them a new formation.  With the new formation, they shifted around and took off almost immediately.  That’s happened to me several times since then, and each time a formation change has corrected the problem.  My suspicion is that they’re flying into each other getting close enough that their collision avoidance won’t allow them to move because any direction would still be inside the minimum distance zone for all the ships.

Changing formation either ignores this or resets it.  Either way, the ships all shift and carry on every time.  I’ve started using the “Distance” formation, and that seems to have helped a bit.  It’s not conclusive because though I don’t think I’ve had any problems since setting them to that formation, I’ve also split the larger wing up into smaller wings.  Both are probably helping, so it’s hard to say which, if not both, has actually been the solution.

Wing Composition

While we’re on the subject of grouped craft, I’ve learned a few things about wing composition to consider.  This probably won’t hold true as I start moving into larger craft and larger formations, but I’ve found that a drone-laden Gorgon Vanguard and two Guillemot Vanguards seem to make for a good team.

Basically, it’s one medium-sized frigate and two fighters.  Putting multiple frigates together didn’t seem to be a problem, but they didn’t appear to handle lighter hostiles as easily.  Alternatively, throwing a pair of fighter escorts with each frigate has turned into a pretty decent element for patrols.

I had a fair amount of red craft around my player headquarters (PHQ) when I first started building.  I built two frigates and placed a pair of fighters with each, ordered them to patrol the area around my station, and it seems like the number of hostile ships has diminished quite a bit.

Scanning Stations

This is obvious, and you see it everywhere, but I’d still missed this one.  I’d scanned stations early on and felt like I got nothing out of it, but that was before I had the PHQ.  The first step is researching the modules “hacks” from your PHQ, which is partly what I missed when trying this initially.  I scanned several stations and never got anything for it, so I’d kind of given up.

Turns out there’s not just one, but two tricks to it.  First is the research that lets you collect modules on scan in the first place.  The second part is to look for the signals around stations when you’re scanning.  Analyzing the signals results in a random chance at getting a module unlock.  I’d initially missed out on both.

There are two types of signals, mission-giving ones and the ones that give you bonuses or blueprints. The blueprints come from these red signals with concentric circles.

Now, I periodically spend a little time in a slightly vegetative state while sliding amongst the protrusions of various stations scanning away with some periodicity.  It’s a good time-waster for those periods while you’re waiting on other ships to take care of other random tasks.  I’ve built a handful of scouts, which I outfit with satellites, probes, and good scanning gear.  I send them to various sectors and have them on standby for my scanning-moods when I’m not actively scouting with them.

I’ll hit a bunch of stations that are all near each other in an attempt to pick up mostly production modules, but also any other random modules I happen to get in the process.  The only ones that really matter that much are the habitation modules and the production modules, but everything you get from scanning saves you money from not having to buy it.

Station Location/Production

I’d also not paid much attention to early station location or production.  I just build everything randomly onto my PHQ and another station I started early on, but then I noticed that miners were wasting a lot of time hauling water to the second station and I was still buying more water from traders.

The problem was that the system I was in didn’t have much ice.  My PSQ didn’t have the same problem because the Grand Exchange system has a ton of ice.  Since then, I’ve done a lot of experimenting and playing around with stations and learned a bit more.

Energy production is a good early choice. Most modules need energy and it’s a production module you start with.

The first thing is placement of the station.  For stations creating basic components, that one is easy.  Get them close to the resources they need so that the miners don’t have to fly far.  The next consideration (and first for some stations) is how far from the super highways to build.  Closer improves trading potential, but plots get more expensive as you get close to the highways.

I’m still working on smaller stations now, but I suspect that as I start expanding in to the more advanced components that require resources from my other stations, I’ll push those advanced stations a little closer to the highways.

Rare Spices and Teleport

I’m kind of lumping the last two tips together because one makes the other a lot easier.   The gist of it is to keep rare spices on hand.  I’ve picked up a number of missions now asking for me to deliver the rare spices to a given NPC on a random station.

Earlier in the game, I just picked them up when I could find them and kept about 30 in my inventory.  That allowed me to complete several missions without any effort and netted a nice 100-150k each time.  It’s not just rare spices you should hold onto, though.

I sold a lot of those items you can create from the looted material that ends up in your personal inventory.  I didn’t think there was anything to do with them except collect enough random stuff to build something and then sell it.

It turns out those items are often needed for missions.  Besides the rare spices, I’ve also gotten missions for a lot of fine meals.  Being able to craft a few of each on demand opens up a lot of easy money for you, especially early on and I wish I’d have known.

That relates to teleporting, which is where the second part comes in.  The traders in a lot of the stations will have a few items here and there to sell and are worth checking but flying station to station is a pain.  Once you’ve researched teleport all the way up, that becomes much less of a problem because you can teleport directly to each station.

While scanning stations, take the chance to pop these weak ships that get flagged by the authority for 500 credits, some faction gain, and occasional loot.

So, now I have two time-wasting activities to engage in while I’m waiting on stations to build and ships to complete orders.  It works out pretty well because I can spend most of my time zooming around stations scanning, which gives me the chance to pick up a few extra missions.  When I get bored with it, I make a circuit of trading stations to pick up random wares from the traders, along with more random missions, and I often complete several by getting the items I need for fine meals and such.

More Ways to Do You

As I noted in my last article, X4 has so much to do and so many ways to accomplish any goal that you really just decide how you want to play and go to town.  What I’m finding as I continue to play is that getting deeper into the game exposes even more opportunities to tailor your time to whatever you find interesting.

I’m more of an industrial/strategy guy, so I spend a lot of my time staring at the map and relaying orders.  The chance to jump into ships and hunt signals or jump station to station hunting trade items is a great change of pace, though.  It’s even better because both activities directly further my goals and support my over-all plan.

The more I play, the more I really just find that X4: Foundations offers everything I’ve been wanting in a large-scale game and more.  If only I’d taken that offer to purchase my company a couple years ago…  I could be playing full time!


Red Thomas

A veteran of the US Army, raging geek, and avid gamer, Red Thomas is that cool uncle all the kids in the family like to spend their summers with. Red lives in San Antonio with his wife where he runs his company and works with the city government to promote geek culture.