X3: Albion Prelude

X3: Albion Prelude

500 ratings
Beginner's Mega Guide
By Rabcor
A passionately crafted guide written to make it easy for beginners to get used to the game. It covers how to start as a Bankrupt Assassin or Humble Merchant, Configuring and Optimizing the game, Choosing a start, The very first thing you should do after starting, Reputation and Ranks, Missions, Ship types and classes, Ship Upgrades, Equipment & Software as well as Commanding your owned ships, Selecting your combat vessel and knowing who to pick a fight with, Combat Tactics and Trading.

Although i wrote the guide with Albion Prelude in mind, about 95% of its contents is usable in Terran Conflict so if you intend to play terran conflict you might as well follow this guide. Except for stock exchange, a few ship classes and a piece of my Bankrupt Assassin guide (scavenging), all the content should apply to Terran Conflict as well.
This is a long guide (hence the name), so if you're interested in reading it i recommend grabbing a nice warm cup of coffee and keeping a pack of cigarettes handy if you're into that... Personally i myself would prefer a pizza and some instrumental music.

How to follow this guide

Although its completely up to you how to use this guide and it's viable to just read it from start to finish all in one go, i recommend you do things in the following order in the name of playing the game as much as possible whilst reading the guide.

Intro -> Configuration and Optimization -> Start new game as a Humble Merchant -> The Start -> Upgrades... -> Trading pt.1 -> Trading pt.2

then save your game, start a new game as a Bankrupt Assassin and read

Ships -> Races, Factions... -> Combat pt.1 -> Combat pt.2 -> Bankrupt Assassin Guide.

Then at that point you can either continue playing as a humble merchant or bankrupt assassin with all your well earned new knowledge of the game, or you can start an entirely new game as something else, but not before reading my section on "Selecting Your Start". The world shall be yours!


I decided to make this guide because this game has no such thing as a tutorial (you can't really count that flight tutorial that tells you to do stuff but not how to do it as a legit tutorial...)

It took me a long time to get into it, and i wish i had found a guide like this while starting off, but i could not. With this guide you'll be able to get into the game far enough to handle yourself on your own. But you may want to go a bit further and learn different styles to play later on. This guide for example will not (specifically) teach you any method to get really rich really fast. You'll only earn money at the rate the developers intended you to until you're skilled enough to earn it faster by either finding methods to do so yourself, or learning from others (through google). There are no exploits or dirty tricks in this guide.

Quick Tips

  • Docking at a stations allows you to save and autosaves into one of the 3 autosave slots. Use this function every chance you get when in the more dangerous parts of the game (Unknown Sectors and Pirate Areas) as well as every time you have acheived something (Like money or a new ship)

  • Use keyboard shortcuts, it's much better than using the mouse.

  • Press J for SETA to speed up time(Requires Singularity Engine Time Accelerator upgrade installed)

  • 1-4 changes weapon groups

  • Shift + E ejects your pilot into space in an EVA suit with a repair laser which can be used to repair your ships for free.

  • Q and E spin your ship. A,S,D,W make your ship strafe or go vertically up or down with RCS.

  • Shift+P or the Pause Break button pauses the game

  • Stock Exchange is an advanced feature introduced with Albion Prelude which you can earn boatloads of money with if you learn how to manipulate it.

  • Buy maximum Engine tuning and Rudder tuning for all your ships, speed is everything. These can be purchased at any equipment dock and most trading stations.

  • You can scavenge missiles and weapons floating in space in the war zones in the terran sectors, these can sell for a very good price.

  • Tab is full speed ahead, Backspace kills your engines.

  • C is the button you use to interact with NPCs

  • Spacebar locks the mouse to the nose of your spaceship (so moving the mouse moves the ship with it)

  • F1 changes camera modes and the Numpad keys can be used to rotate and spin the camera.

  • When in your EVA suit in space to repair your ship, you can use CTRL to fire the repair laser which is much more comfortable than holding Right Mouse.

  • You have weapon groups which you can select via 1-4 number keys. You can customize this in the lower right corner of your screen to maximize your combat efficiency (sometimes firing everything will just drain your energy too fast)

  • Shift + F can be used to match target's speed, useful in combat.

  • If you mod your game you get a "modified tag" in your pilot info menu, this does not happen however with the official bonus pack.

  • If you're running a lot of extra scripts/mods or just have a weak processor, your system may not be able to handle SETA on the x10 setting so you may have to leave it at x6 (that is why it is set to x6 by default, so that weaker systems can handle it) keep this in mind if you run into any problems with SETA.
Configuration and Optimization
(This information is going to be useful in customizing settings in other games too)

When you first start the game you get a small launcher, in it you can select Graphics Settings and Input Device settings, also EAX.

If you have an EAX compatible soundcard, enable EAX (If you don't know just leave it off)

After this, go to graphics settings, here you must configure the game to your preferences. i have a strong graphics card and can max everything out, but i still leave Antialiasing at 4x instead of 8x for guaranteed good performance. Leave the troubleshooting section of this settings screen alone unless you're given a specific reason to.

Here's a quick guide for graphical optimization.

For people that lag or have low-end graphics cards or are uncertain:

If you turn everything to low, disable Anisotropic Filtering, Antialiasing and Glow, as well as More Dynamic Light Sources and Ship Colour Variations then start the game and go play new game as something with a ship that goes faster than 200 m/s (bankrupt assassin works) fly around (learn to fly later in this guide) with SETA (press J) and try going through the nearest jumpgate and experiencing some combat to see how your computer performs. Watch if you see any lag. (You can use third party software like Fraps to see your framerate, an alternative can also be Overwolf)

Note: Large scale combat with the really big ships can cause lags even on the latest gaming rigs, this is due to bad game code optimization rather than bad computers. This is more related to the processor than the graphics card in these cases, and for example reduced view distance could help remedy this.

If you do not experience any lag and/or your framerate seems to be stable at 60 FPS you can try increasing the options. First you should increase Texture Quality to high, if no lag happens then enable ship colour variations and also set Shader quality to medium. If no lag happens again set Shader Quality to high. if you're still clear go ahead and set view distance to medium. as long as it wont cause you lag keep increasing the view distance. If you've maxed all of that out. next up is enabling anisotropic filtering (x16 usually wont be a problem) if that's still fine, enable More Dynamic Light Sources (this is very likely to cause lag)

Finally if you've done all that, enable glow.

By now you're supposed to have everything at it's maximum setting except for antialiasing. Antialiasing smooths edges making surfaces appear more smooth. This has for a long time been known to be a common cause for lags. Start by enabling it at 2x, if it doesn't cause lag go up to 4x. I do not recommend going higher than 4x but if you feel like it you can go up to 8x.

If you're still running the game at 60fps or without noticing any lag, you probably have a decent graphics card and processor.

If at any later time while playing the game you notice you're lagging uncomfortably, you can always in the reverse order of what i mentioned here reduce settings to lower quality (start by killing antialiasing but if that isn't enough disable glow, after that disable more dynamic light sources, etc)

For people with high-end gaming graphics cards:

Make sure that the Direct 3D Device setting is set to your dedicated graphics card (Nvidia something or AMD Radeon HD something)

Make sure that the Resolution is set to maximum and game is set to fullscreen (only drop the resolution if you want to be in windowed mode)

Set every option in quality to its maximum and enable all tickboxes, do the same in Effects but even if i have an nVidia GTX 670 which is a really expensive and strong GPU i like to leave Antialiasing set to only 4x rather than 8x to have guaranteed maximum graphical performance. If you lag this should be the first setting for you to disable or reduce.

After this you're good to go, make sure nothing is ticked in the troubleshooting section again before you press OK.

If you are using a controller (Joystick or Gamepad) you may want to adjust the settings in the Input Device menu from the launcher to your preferences. But if you're playing with a keyboard and mouse like i recommend configuring that should be completely unnecessary (i didn't touch these settings)

In-Game Settings:

Note: Many of these settings are bound to your saved game thus needing you to re-configure them every time you start a new game. Therefore i suggest you come back to this section after you have decided what starting profile you want to use in your first playthrough.

While in-game press the icon in the lower left corner of your screen and find Graphics, Audio, Gameplay and Controls menus.

  • Controls:
    Here is an image for your reference of the default controls. (Credits for image go to Seizewell.de)

    I dislike these controls however and have made my own custom ones. This guide assumes you use the default binds.

  • Gameplay:Here you can configure gameplay related settings. I recommend

  • SETA Factor: 10x (This will allow you to accelerate time up to 10x normal speed instead of 6x)

  • Confirmation on Eject: No (it wont give you a yes/no tickbox when you eject from ship.)

  • Disable War Reports: Yes (This will disable the annoying military dude barking status reports at you after storyline is started)

  • Run Game in Background: No (Default is no. If set to no your game will pause if you are doing something else in your computer while the game is running, if set to yes the game will not pause unless you specifically tell it to by pressing the Pause button.)

  • Audio:Set the volume for different sounds in the game. I recommend having effects set to 100%, voice 90% and music 80%, but this is all personal preference. You can also set music to 0% and just listen to your own music. But i personally like the soundtrack. You can also enable subtitles here, i always turn them on in every game available but again it is a personal preference.

  • Graphics: Here you can configure the gamma (similar to brightness) Post Processing Effects (Turn off if you lag, these are just extra effects, you can try toggling it on and off to check the visual difference, i think it enables Bloom lighting and depth of field but i'm uncertain) and field of view (how far to the sides you can see) default field of view is 90 (which is great, many games actually have it as low as 60) i like to set mine to 100 because i have a big monitor but increasing this value can cause a "fisheye" effect making it look like you're looking through a bowl rather than a flat screen. View Distance can also be configured here instead of in the graphical options menu from the launcher.
    Fast menu control allows you to browse through the menus by pressing Enter.

  • Ship Turret Configuration:
    Once you have a ship with side or rear turrets it is good to know how to place them, and how to automate them. You need an upgrade called Fight Command Software I and/or II to fully utilize this. Press G to access the weapons menu. You'll see "Laser Main" and below it "Bay 1, Bay 2..." these are the guns on the front of your ship, fired by pressing CTRL or Right Mouse. Some ships however (usually the bigger ones) also have other locations they can place guns. "Laser Turret Back", "Laser Turret Right" and "Laser Turret Left" If you have such a ship and the Fight Command Software upgrade needed, after placing a weapon in those slots you will get options to customize their automated actions in the Command Console for the ship. To access the Command Console press Shift+C. If you have rear or side turrets, there will be a turret control section in that menu where you can customize how the turret AI will work.
Selecting your start
First, Here is a list[www.x3wiki.com] of all available starting scenarios for future reference.

Terran starts in Albion Prelude do not get a storyline as their race is the main villain in AP's main storyline. If you want to play a main storyline as terran then you can do so in Terran Conflict which has more available main storylines than AP which has only one.

Race selection is unimportant, but just so you know something...

Argons are seemingly the dominant race in the game. They're direct descendants of Terrans and friendly towards most other races.

Terrans are paranoid and the most militarized of all the races, in Albion Prelude they play the role of villains.

Available to you will be:

  • Terran Defender: Basic Terran start

  • Terran Commander: Start with a reliable but a bit slow fighter vessel.

  • Argon Patriot: Basic Argon start

  • Humble Merchant: Start with everything needed to start trading and a good reputation among all factions.

  • Bankrupt Assassin: Start with one of the strongest fighters in the game with a terribly bad reputation among some factions in the toughest areas of the game with 0 Credits.

  • Nostalgic Argon: An alternative Argon start.

  • Suicidal Squid: Hardcore mode. (You can only save by exiting the game, and if you die your save is delted so you cannot re-load your game)

  • Custom: No storylines are available, this is pure sandbox.

I personally recommend starting as Bankrupt Assassin. Yes it's marked as hard, but you get the most combat capable ship out of all the available ones, and i recommend starting the game by getting used to the combat, and making money through combat as-well.

Alternatively if you want to just start by trading, you can start as a Humble Merchant, my first attempt at this game was as one, but later i found out that combat is a much better place to start.

As can be seen in that wiki link you can unlock new ways to start by playing. I will explain first how to play as a trader and then as a bankrupt asssassin, the humble merchant guide and how to do trading are in the same section. The game is built so that at later stages of it, you can't get away with fighting alone, you must do trading eventually, but i think its preferable to fight your way up to that point rather than trade your way there.
The Start: Basic Controls and Menu Navigation
No matter which start you take, you will start with a Flight School pilot nearby (usually it is your target)

To talk to him (or any other npc in the game) press C. you can now either use your mouse to click what you want to say, or press the number keys (1 to start the training)

I will walk you through the flight training

Accelerate: X/Mwheel up
Decelerate: Z/Mwheel down

To move to the flight instructors ship, since the flight school is a quest you will get orange arrows pointing towards him, and his ship (as your missions primary objective) will get orange target markings.

Note: Don't crash into him or anything else, it'll hurt like hell or might kill you.

To turn your ship: Hold left Mouse/Spacebar/Arrow Keys (whatever you prefer, i use mouse.)
To max throttle: Tab
To kill throttle: Backspace

Next he drops a crate and tells you to target it, you target things by clicking with your left mouse button. There are also keybinds for this but lets just stick with mouse for now. The crate he dropped is marked by the yellow mission colorings so it's easy to see (since everything else is blue(friendly) or red(hostile)

After targeting the crate he'll give you another objective. an excellent oppertunity to see that a non-mission related target will have a white box around it.

Next you're supposed to talk to the tutorial guy just like you did to start the tutorial (I know, he teaches you to talk to him after you had to learn that before you could even begin the tutorial!)

Next you're meant to dock at a station, you can left click the target station and click autopilot: dock at (or Shift + D) but this tutorial intends for you to dock manually. Press C and 1 to request docking permission.

A green circle will appear, move your ship as close to it as possible and make sure it's either moving slow or stationary while next to it (if you're stationary but it wont dock you're not close enough.) it's good to know how t odo this because autopilot docking takes much longer.

You will see a "Station Menu" once docked. Since we're here already let me teach you how to use it.

  • Info: Gives you detailed information about the station, it can be useful before you dock so you know for example what goods it has in stock. Hotkey: U (this hotkey works when you're not in the menus as well, so if you select a ship and press U you get detailed info about it.)

  • Trade: Well... you trade. Hotkey: D, get into this menu.

    Trading menu:
    Depending on station you will be able to buy different goods. manufacturing stations (like solar power plants) have Product, Primary Resource and Secondary Resources. You can only buy the Product and not the resources, you can however sell it resources (discussion for a later point in the guide)

    End & Home (Move slider to the End(Buy all) or Start (Sell All/Buy None))
    Enter (Buy/Sell)

    Exit the trading menu.

  • Bartering: Here you can buy/sell stuff to individuals on board the station.

  • Comms: Hotkey:C the same menu as you get if you target the station from the outside and press C, to tlak to the individuals on board.

  • Landed Ships: Here you can see all ships docked at the station (useful if you yourself have more than one ships docked so you can do freight exchange or go into the other ship)

  • Owned Ships: Ships owned by this station.

  • Display on Monitor: Show this station in upper left or upper right corner of your screen (fairly useless for stations, but this can also be used for enemy and friendly ships which can be quite useful)

Undock now, You can either press Esc (maybe twice) then Enter, or you can click the undock icon on the lower left side of your screen.

Next is combat training. Fly to the trainer's ship and he will tell you he ejected a crate somewhere for you to shoot. Fly near it and aim at it with your mouse, then shoot at it by right clicking. alternatively you can aim your ship directly at it (Hold left mouse, or press space to turn your ship) and press CTRL to fire straight.

If you have Fight Command Software mk. II you can use advanced auto aim (Auto Aim: On) toggled by K this is very useful. if you target the crate or any ship and have this turned on (or to semi) you will get a small icon that basically tells you where to shoot to hit the target if it continues on its current path.

The difference between Semi and On is that if it is in Semi you will get a boresight icon to aim at, if it's set to on and your mouse cursor is anywhere near the boresight your lasers will automatically aim directly at it.

Next up are missiles. he ejects another crate and tells you to kill it with missiles! press M to arm a missile (this can be used to switch between missile types as well. Then press L to launch it. Make sure to target the crate before you launch or you just might shoot something you didn't intend to.

That's it for basic flight training. Now it's menus.

I will be discussing the 4 menus at the top left of your screen.

Personal: your personal info.

  • Missions: Current missions, you can see their descriptions and time remaining here as well as activate guidance for them (mark their objectives as yellow targets)

  • My Property: This lists all the stuff you own. it's a great place to go if you intend to issue commands to ships that you own. Hotkey: R

  • My Pilot Status: Here you get to see all important info about your status in the world, such as Combat Rank, Trade Rank and faction reputations. Hotkey: P

  • My Wings: If you have many ships you may want to link some together into wings so that you can give them commands as whole groups rather than individual ships. This menu makes that possible.

    Note: I intentionally skipped 3 menus because they're fairly unimportant.

  • Advanced: Here you can access all kinds of useful stuff. Global commands for ships you own (all ships will by default use this), Encyclopedia (one of the most useful menus you'll ever get. it has detailed information on most objects in the game, and expands itself as you play.) Graphs will show you how well you're doing overall.
Navigation: Menus related to well... navigation.
  • Sector Map: A useful map that shows you all information known about your current sector. Hotkey: Period (.)

  • Universe Map: A universal map that shows you all sectors that you know about and gives you access to their sector maps. Hotkey: Comma (,)

    Note: Unless you have satellites or ships located in these sectors you will not see all the info you normally do.

  • Jumpdrive: Use this if you have a jump drive to use it for instant travel between sectors. through the universe map. This is the best fast travel system ever. Hotkey: Shift + J
Note: The other 2 menus will be covered in the trading section.

Current Ship: Menu for accessing info or giving commands to your current ship.

  • Info: Shows you all the info about your ship, including compatible weapons which is important. Current and Max upgradable speed, cargo and steering among other things.

  • Autopilot: Autopilot options if you don't want to play manually...

  • Freight: Your cargo and upgrades.

  • Advanced: Weapons menu (explained in the Configuration section of this guide) and Renaming menu.

  • Locate in Sector Map: Show the ship on the sector map (Useful for finding your owned ships in the same sector as you.)

Target: Gives you the same menu as left clicking target which is a similar menu to the Current Ship menu.

In the lower left part of your screen you see 3 buttons, the Undock button, The Eject button(Shift+E) and the Message button.

Shift + N will hide the sidebar.

In the lower left part of your screen you can adjust the positions of your weapons.
Races, Factions, Reputation, Rank & Missions
There are many factions[www.x3wiki.com] in the game, but some of them are directly linked (For example ATF rep is linked to Terran rep) to a Race's or another factions reputation.

Each faction has 16 different reputation stages. To see where you're at in game you can look at the race's page in the in-game encyclopedia. Your race reputation level is at the bottom and you can just count up from -5 up to 10 (0 counts too so a total of 16)

1 Neutral
5 Unfriendly
10 Friendly

1 or higher means that the race/faction likes you and will do business with you.
0 (Neutral) means you're in a safe spot and improving your relations with the faction is easier.
-1 allows you to land in border sectors
-2 they do not want to interact with you at all.
-3 means they hate you too much to allow you to pass through core sectors.
-4 means they really really hate you and may attack you (Hostile)
-5 means they hate you so much they will shoot you on sight. (Hostile)

The higher your reputation, the more accessible products from the faction in question will be. For example you need to be a Marshall of Mars (Reputation 4) with terrans to buy the fastest M3 fighter in the game, the Spitfyre. However to buy the fastest M6 corvette, Springblossom you need a Reputation of 5 as Warrior of Io. This system applies not only to ships but also to ship upgrades and weaponry as well as shields and certain other things. it also affects mission availability.

Each reputation increase takes 3 times the effort of the last reputation increase.

To increase your reputation with a faction ideally you do as many missions as you can for them.

If you're at a -1 rank it will get difficult to get missions for the factions however, so as an alternative you can kill their enemies in their sections, ideally this will be Xenon or Pirates. But some races hate other races, like Paranid will like you if you kill Argon in their home sector, but this will lose you rep with the argon which is bad.

Business transactions also increase reputation, but you need at least -1 rank to do those.

If you intend to do any trading in the game (and like i stated earlier the game is made so that you always eventually end up doing it) it is a really great idea to start your game by making sure all the factions like you. However playing as a pirate is also viable and to trade you don't need all races to like you although it is preferable, however it may be enough for you to have only one or two races like you. For example if pirates like you you can sell them ships that you have stolen through boarding.

You also have Combat and Trading ranks[www.x3wiki.com].

These ranks determine how difficult the game will be for you (higher combat rank means tougher enemies) and how rewarding (higher combat rank means better chances of well paying combat missions)

You can view your rank in your pilot info.

There are many kinds of missions but they are categorised mostly as the following.

  • Freight Scan: Scan other peoples cargo for illegal goods, recommended but not required to have a law enforcement license. Requires Freight Scanner

  • Scan Asteroids: As it says, you get hired for scanning specific asteroids, requires Asteroid Scanner.

  • Covert Ops: Stalk/Follow a ship to find out where it is going.

  • Return Ship: Go retrieve an abandoned ship

  • Return Stolen Ship: Go and fight a pilot of a stolen ship to retreive it.

  • Transport Passenger: Some of these missions require a passenger transport vessel while others just require cargo space and cargo life support upgrade (which can be hard to come by, terrans sell it.)

  • Offers: Station Hack (make unfriendly station Friendly), Buy Asteroid Information, Buy Sector Maps, Buy Used Ships, Buy Blueprints (Req: HQ)

  • Buy Used Ship:(Offer) often you can buy damaged ships for cheap, repair them and sell them expensive, or keep them. Requires: Good rep with faction.

  • Transport Cargo: Pick up cargo and transport it to a station.

  • Transport Passengers: Requires a cargo life support system but sometimes a TP class vessel.

  • Deliver a ship: Provide and deliver a ship of a specific type or model to the customer

  • Deliver Wares: Provide and deliver a specific amount of a specific product
  • Assassinate: Kill target, tends to pay well.

  • Patrol:Stay in a sector and kill at least one enemy spawned to get payment. Bonus Pay per Kill

  • Defend Station: Easy money missions, you can usually do this without killling anything. Bonus pay per kill.

  • Escort Convoy: Outrageously hard missions but good pay.

  • Destroy Convoy: Usually decent payment per ship destroyed, but also usually damages reputation.
  • Build Station: Buy and deliver a space station to a specific location for your customer.

  • These missions progress a storyline. Usually storylines have big rewards when you reach certain milestones within them (get far enough)

Missions are (seemingly) the designers planned ideal method of earning money early in the game. and it is brutally efficient compared to starting as a slow Energy Cell trader. Once you're far into the game you can get a number of millions as a reward for some missions. It's the ideal place to start making cash and it makes money-making through combat easier (as otherwise the only moneymaking would be selling captured ships and scavenged goods) it's also the fastest way to build a reputation.
You can see a ships model in its model name which can be seen in the upper right corner of the info window.

In-game the ships are only categorized as M1-M8 (no M3+ or M7M or similar) but on the wiki this is how they are categorized. The transports apart from TS+ are all in-game categories though and viewable in the encyclopedia.

The combat ships are ordered by strength in a descending order. The transport ships are ordered by price

Note: Many ships appear smaller than they are in the images below because of bad zoom.


  • M5 is the scout class, this category includes the fastest ships in the game, but also the weakest ones both in terms of shielding, hull strength and firepower.

  • M4 is the Interceptor class. these ships are decent in combat nad can take out other M4 and M5 class ships, and if you play your cards right they can also handle M3 ships with a bit of skill.

  • M4+ Ships are the light-fighter class. They're the middle ground between M3 and M4.

  • M3 is the standard Fighter class. These ships have the most comfortable balance between speed, shielding and hull strength as well as firepower out of all small ship classes. These ships are the ultimate weapon to fight off M5 and M4 ships and on a Spitfyre (Fastest M3) i have taken out many Xenon M6. (By exploiting their weakness of having no side turrets)

  • M3+ Heavy Fighters. They are a slower but slightly better equipped version of the M3

  • M8 are Bomber class vessels, they usually pack unique missiles (unusable by other classes) They tend to have heavier shielding than M3s and much bigger cargo bays to hold their missiles, at the cost of heavily reduced laser firepower and speed.

  • M6 Corvettes are usually used as patrol and escort ships, they are medium sized vessels that pack a decent punch and can take on small fighter squadrons composed of any of the above classes.

  • M6+ The heavy corvettes are usually stronger versions of the normal corvettes. They carry a comparable amount of shields although usually slightly higher than their M6 counterparts, but pack more firepower. However some M6+ models are unique, like the OTF Skiron. These ships are equipped well enough(barely) to fight capital ships and from experience i know they can handle M7.

Capital Ships:

  • M7C Light Carriers are comparable to the M6+ (except for the Griffon) Due to their size they tend to be slower and they also tend to have 1 more turret than an M6+. They also have a much thicker hull and bigger cargo bay. These ships are designed to carry and deploy large amounts of drones to assist with combat. They make for very good escort vessels.

  • M7 Frigates are a middle ground between the M2 destroyers and M6 Corvettes. These ships have in common with the corvettes that they are regarded to be capable of taking on any other ship in the game, but their large size makes them difficult to manouver around a dogfight and makes it an easy target for the devastating turrets of an M2.

  • M7M Missile Frigates are dedicated missile platforms. This ship class is the only one designed to fire huge missile barrages and these ships can launch 16 missiles simultaneously. These ships are considered to have the most devastating damage output in the game, but for their size they are slow and their reliance on missiles makes them expensive to supply. Not to mention the fact that the ships themselves are already expensive as all hell.

  • M1 Carriers can carry entire wings of M5, M4 and M3 fighters. This ship is mostly used for support and is considered to be able to hold its own against all classes up to the M6. Ideally they should stay away from other Capital class ships if they wish to survive.

  • M2 class ships are Destroyers. These are extremely deadly ships that pack a ridiculous amount of firepower (So much it cannot even be compared to any other ship in the game) unless you're confident that you're fast enough to dodge everything it shoots at you or equipped well enough to take it on (with equal or higher firepower and shielding, or a fleet) you should stay away from it if you don't want to get instantly vaporized.

  • M2+ Super Heavy Destroyers are the most expensive and heaviest buyable ships in the game, the most expensive one, ATF Valhalla costs over 200 million credits at more than double the price of the most expensive standard destroyer.

  • M0 Mothership is the heaviest ship class in the X universe. In X3 the remains of the Xenon M0 ship from X: Beyond The Frontier can be found in Xenon Sector 101. The Kha'ak M0 appeared in X2 in the battle for omicron lyrae
    in X3, the Valhalla (classed as an M2+) is canonically an M0 Mothership combining the firepower og a M2+ Destroyer with the force projection of a massive carrier.

  • TS is the standard trader vessel they have large sized cargo bays(bigger than any class named above), weak shields and slow speed and almost no firepower, but their key feature is that they are dirt cheap and fit for trading upon purchased(although it is highly recommended to upgrade the speed).

  • TP Personnel Transports are designed for carrying passangers, these ships can be used for VIP Passenger Transport missions (the ones that require a passenger ship) out of all transport ships these have the smallest cargo bay (it's about the same size as an M6) and they have M3 grade Hull and Shielding just like the TS, however they are also the fastest available transport ships.

  • TM These are military transport vessels, they can be shielded nearly as well as the M6 (but compared to M6 tend to have a weaker hull) and some of them can carry up to M4 grade weapons. They are capable of combat and are much faster than the TS vessels, they can also carry Fighters. However this comes at the price of heavily reduced cargo space. They are still however like the TS cheap.

  • TS+ is a heavy transport ship, these are even slower than the regular TS but with roughly 2-3x the cargo bay size. They have better shielding (although not as good as TM) and thicker hulls than any of the other previously mentioned transports.

  • TL are the largest transport ships in the game, they're the only ones big enough to carry stations with incredibly much bigger cargo holds compared to the other transports. For their size some of them can be surprisingly fast, the fastest one, the Split Elephant goes at 134m/s with 34k size cargo hold. They have M6+ grade shielding and roughly twice the hull strength. They can wield a comparable amount of weapons to the M6+ as-well but at only a fourth of the energy recharge rate and of course they're much much much less manouverable. These ships are big enough to supply energy, ammunition and missiles to an entire fleet and still have cargo space left over. Their drawback is that due to their size they can only dock at stations with Capital Ship docking clamps. If i were to choose one, i'd buy the Terran Atmospheric Lifter, however that one is unique in that it cannot use any guns (only missiles and carry around small fighters) but it has the biggest cargo bay in the game, best manouverability out of the TL's and very decent speed of 112.5 m/s which is even faster than a Mercury.
Now that the ships have been explained, even if M6+ is my current favorite ship to play, i still think that an M3 is the ideal ship to start with because it can do all sorts of fun combat missions, and come out of practically any situation alive. Also since at the lowest combat ranks you'll mostly just encounter M5 and M4 class ships, the M3 is strong enough to be useful until the time you can afford yourself an M6 and beyond that.

Even in my M6+ i still use my M3 Spitfyre from time to time to do anything that requires speed over extreme firepower. I always keep it flying around my corvette so that i can jump into it at any given time! and i have it on protect order, it's very fun to see it fight for me in battles.
Ship Upgrades, Equipment, Software & Command Console(Controlling Other Ships)
Ship upgrades
can be bought in many various stations, these include (but are not limited to)

Equipment Docks
Trading Stations
MIlitary Outposts
(Military) Bases

The most important and common 3 are

Engine Tuning (Increased speed and acceleration)
Rudder Optimisation (Increased manouverability)
Cargo Bay Extension (Increased Cargo capacity, this is the most expensive of the 3 in general)

These can be purchased in most places that sell any upgrades at all (Easiest to find are Equipment Docks and Trading Stations)
That's it for direct ship upgrades but when i say upgrades of course i also mean equipment.


  • Bioscanner (Purchasable at many military outposts) measure your marine(boarding crew) skill levels and scan enemy ships for life signs.

  • Cargo Life Support System (Rare, i've found it sold by Terran & Pirate bases) allows you to carry passengers in your cargo hold.

  • Duplex Scanner: Covers a wider area than standard ship scanner.

  • Triplex Scanner: (Purchasable at most military outposts) the scanner with the widest coverage

  • Jumpdrive: Fast Travel system. Consumes Energy Cells.

  • Freight Scanner: Allows you to scan targets cargo (Scanning is illegal without an enforcement license)

  • Mineral Scanner: Used to scan asteroids, requirement for asteroid scan missions which sometimes pay very well.

  • Ore Collector: Dig up rocks....

  • Spacefly Collector: Allows you to collect Spaceflies, these are considered illegal merchandise.

  • Law Enforcement Licenses: Allow you to legally perform freight scans in the sectors of the race from which you bought the license and also will grant you payment for destroying ships hostile to the faction which you got the license from within their sectors. Terrans do not offer police licenses.
Player Convenience:
These are upgrades whose sole purpose is to make your life easier.

  • Best Buys Locator: Lists the best prices for any product in the sector

  • Best Selling Price Locator: Lists the best places to sell your cargo

  • Docking Computer: Allows you to dock instantly to anything within 5km

  • Salvage Insurance: Allows you to save without docking

  • Singularity Engine Time Accelerator(SETA): Allows you to speed up time up to 10x

  • Trading System Extension: Allows you to use trade functions on ships you are not piloting and displays prices of products/resources in station info. (If you also have a BB/BS price locator it unlocks Remote Best Buy/Sell commands. BB/BS PLs require this equipment to function.)

  • Transporter Device: Allows 2 way teleportation of Yourself & Cargo on board owned ships within 5km

  • Turbo Booster(Bonus Pack): Increases speed and consumes energy, if no energy cells are on board it burns through your shields.

  • Video Enhancement Goggles: Zoom (key: ALT)

Unlock commands you can give to your AI controlled owned ships

  • Carrier Command Software: Allows you to launch a fighter attack from a carrier, or deploy fighters & retreat.

  • Commodity Logistics Software(Bonus Pack): enables scheduled supply round trips designed to keep space stations supplied with the required resources without micromanagement.

  • Explorer Command Software: Allows the Deploy Satellite Network, Scan Asteroids and Map Sector Commands.

  • Fight Command Software: Enables many combat related commands, Mk. II enables autoaim.

  • Navigation Command Software: Allows you to Jump to sector and on top of that issue a "fly to" command.

  • Patrol Command Software: Patrol related commands originally from Fight Command Software.

  • Software Signature Scrambler: Prevents police scans from detecting illegal software (currently onl SOS)

  • Special Command Software: Adds various miscellaneous commands to your command console.

  • Supply Command Software: Software for automated resupplying of friendly ships.

  • System Override Software: (Rare, Sold at Dukes HQ) Allows player to claim ship without exiting their own ship. (Illegal)

  • Trade Command Software: Enables trading related commands, MK3(Rare) allows Sector and Universe trading commands.

Now that you know about all the most important upgrades and equipment. you know much better what the game has to offer in ways of customization. The tricky part tends to be to actually find places where you can buy these upgrades. As a rule of thumb, if you're looking for something check the in-game Encyclopedia, as it lists all (known) places where you can buy the item in question. If it lists no place to buy it is:

A) Only available at stations you have not discovered, you'll have to explore/map more sectors
B) Not available for purchase (Some items are not really in the game, like a ship mounted repair laser)


Command Console

The command console is basically the menu that you use to issue commands to ships. Be it your current ship or ships you own but are not piloting.

The software named above will allow more commands to be added to the command console.The hotkey for it is C if a friendly target is selected and that you can access it on your current ship via shift + C.

If your selected ship is part of a Wing (Creatable by pressing P and going to "My Wings") you can issue one command to the entire wing, making it easier to control multiple ships.

Inside the console there is a Command menu, where you can issue Navigation, Combat and Trade commands, and broadcast a command to all ships of a specific class inside the target sector that you own.

There are also the Turret Controls in there and Configuration where you can set the ship to send you a message upon order completion, formation and how likely it is to fire its missiles at enemies.

Even lower in the menu you can set the jumpdrive options (Autojump so that it automatically jumps if its order requires it to go accros other sectors) and the Friend/Foe settings to determine who is marked as an enemy and who isn't. You can also down at the bottom set it to the global settings which can be configured through another menu, and choose whether or not it'll attack anything that has turned hostile towards you (for example, you got an assassination mission to kill a terran but are friendly to terrans and now many terran ships are attacking you, in this situation you generally want to run rather than kill them all.)

Thats it for the command console.

You can by pressing R to access the property menu issue quick commads to ship, as well as view their info, freight or anything else you may need. In the advanced menu you can also access some upgrades like the Best Buys and Best Selling price locators. As-well as Renaming it. The usual "Autopilot" menu is replaced with an "Order" menu where you can give it quick commands without actually accessing its command console. These usually include "Stop" "Follow Me" "Protect Me" and "Attack All Enemies" but is dependant on what software you have installed.

A useful thing to know is that you can rename your ships. Feel free to name them what you want but at later points in the game when you have many of them, you'll want descriptive names.

My naming theme is as follows

Class Type -Description- (If there is anything i need to describe)

Example: M3 Spitfyre
Example Sector Trader:TS+ Hayabusa -Empire's Edge-

That's it for how to control other ships in this guide.
Combat pt.1: Statistics and Picking Your Fights
I already explained how to configure your ship's side and rear turrets once you have a big ship with guns in those places at an early part of the guide. And you just learned how to command other ships. Now it's time to learn about actual combat.

I will only cover how to use Fighters in combat and lightly discuss the M6 Corvettes.

When buying or flying a fighter in combat, these things are to be considered (shown in ship info)

Speed: Speed is everything!!! I do not want to dogfight in anything that has less than 200 m/s speed, A rule of thum bis that you can kill any fighter vessel that is slower than you. You can also outrun anything that is slower than you (For example, Corvettes or Frigates) a slow fighter cannot intercept enemies efficiently, and usually needs to wait for the enemy to approach it whereas a fast ship can chase down and kill the enemy aggressively. Speed is required for good offense, but it is less important for defense as if you're defending something, attacking ships will usually fly in your general direction.

Steering: The speed at which your ship can turn, it is very important in close range dogfighting so that you can outmanouver enemy ships. this involves dodging their shots and staying in their blind spots (places where they can't shoot you, usually behind them is a good place to be)

Shielding: You want good shielding, it's a safety first kind of thing, sure... it's best not to get shot, but when you do get shot (and you will) if your shields are down and your hull starts taking damage you start to lose speed and steering capabilities depending on your HP, and you're at risk of having your equipment damaged (Including shields, weapons, scanners and anything else you can think of) shields are essentially the amount of time you have before you start worrying about death, and if you have enough shields you have more time to decide whether to fight or flee.

Laser Energy Reload Rate: This determines how long your vessel can sustain its fire. When equipping your ship or dividing your weapons into weapon groups it's good to consider this value. For example on my M6 i can limitlessly fire my weapons in group 3 which are 2 of them. for a very long time fire all my weapons in group 2 which are 4 of my installed lasers, but only for about 30-60 seconds continuously fire from weapon group 1 which is all 8 lasers. Bigger ships taking on fighters generally do not need to worry about this as they usually outclass the fighters in this area and have so much bigger guns they can kill the fighters before they need to worry about energy, but for fighters because they generally don't have very high reload rates, they need to be careful to not fire their weapons unless they know their shots are capable of hitting their targets. This just takes practice to master.

Compatible Lasers: You can only equip weapons listed here. Many ships are only compatible with a small number of weapons, for example the Aldrin Spitfyre is only compatible with EEMPC (Experimental Electro-Magnetic Plasma Cannons) and PAMLs (Prototype Matter/Anti-Matter Launchers (Tactical Nukes)) it's also supposedly compatible with (Non-Experimental) Electro-Magnetic Plasma Cannons but i couldn't equip those on the front of it, it's possible that they can be equipped in the ship's rear turret. That ship cannot equip any other weapon than these 3 listed for lore-based reasons. Keep this in mind when looking at ships.

Size is of course also very important because a bigger ship is without exception an easier target to hit.

Picking your Fights

M5: Stay away from combat. You have minimal shielding and a pathetic hull strength, any ship can kill you with only a few shots. Your only chance is to dodge every single bullet thrown at you with your highly superior speed, and you only have a chance to do so if you're flying at 400 m/s without ever slowing down for a second. (If you've played world of tanks, these little ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s are comparable to the light tank.) You can take on other M5s but attacking anything bigger is extremely risky.

M4: You have a chance to take out any M5, M4 or M3 class ship but don't risk attacking anything bigger than an M3 or you may find yourself in a world of pain. You can generally take on small groups of M4 ships and/or M5s, but if we're talking about M3s, you can only handle one of these at a time, and barely so. They have multiple times your Shielding, Hull and Firepower, but you tend to have speed over them which gives you a fighting chance. Stay away from pirate Novas because they have rear turrets.

M3: You can take out small groups of M5s (Because of their speed you may have a hard time hitting them and in large groups they can be a huge threat if you're not well armed enough or skilled enough to shoot them down in the first attack), bigger groups of M4s and small groups of M3s. If you're skilled enough and figure out how to stay in the blindspot and dodge the bullets, you're also capable of taking down single M6 vessels if you have a fast enough M3, however if they're guarded by other ships (M3/M4s) you shouldn't even try. For example, in a Spitfyre i took down a Xenon P without any extreme difficulties, the most fun fight i've had in the game so far.

M6: Since you can get an M6 early in the game through storyline, i'll briefly talk about this. The M6 if properly armed can take on other M6 vessels head on, if you shoot down its escorts before engaging the M6 itself, again doing so requires superior speed to the opposing M6 so that you can escape to recharge your shields after taking out the escorts. You can also take on medium sized groups of M3s and large groups of M4 or M5 if you just know how to deal with them and have enough firepower to do so. With a bit of skill it is capable of taking down M7 frigates.

When equipping your ship, use the in-game encyclopedia or the x3wiki or google guides to find out what weapon setup suits you best. Also keep in mind that although expensive (thus good to sell) missiles can easily turn the tides of battle to your favor, or against you if the enemy uses them. (On a fighter you're doomed if you get hit by some tactical nuke) Always make a rule of it in combat that if you have the second to spare you must shoot down any incoming missiles, you never know if it is that one type that kills you with one hit or not.
Combat pt.2: Tactics
General Tips

  • Shoot the slowest target first as it is the one easiest for you to hit.

  • Set Auto-Aim to "On" if possible but "Semi" if not possible, it is your best friend.

  • If your enemies are not yet near you, you can use the local sector map to see what you're up against and decide who you should kill first.

  • If you ram your ship into something, you will most likely die.

  • If you have a big ship it is generally great to own smaller ships that can protect it so fighter groups won't stand even a little bit of chance, its also just fun to look at them fight for you.

  • Look out for ships that are bigger than you or faster than you. Both tend to cause a great deal of grief to you if you don't take care of every other opponent first.

  • If your shields are breached and no enemy ship is faster than your own, run away to regenerate your shields (Before it is too late)

  • If your hull has been damaged in combat, repair the hull after wards by ejecting your pilot into space and shooting your ship with a repair laser before you keep playing. (On bigger vessels this method of repair can take a ridiculous amount of time.)

  • When fighting pirates or xenon, if you find military ships or outposts in your sector you can fly to them for assistance in the fight. If the pirates or xenon in question attack a station, a military rapid response ship will intervene, this can be quite the sight to see. so if you see ships bigger than you can handle just wait for them to attack a station.

  • To chase/intercept a ship faster than you, aim your ship's nose at the auto-aim boresight crosshair.

  • To stay behind a ship you need to be moving at the same speed as your target, or slower.

  • Reducing an enemy's hull to 85% or less can cause him to eject, leaving the ship to you.

  • Pilots that abandon their ships can be picked up and used or sold as slaves. (It's a harsh world...) But this requires a cargo life support system.

  • Ships that are flying towards you are generally much easier targets than those flying away from you. This particularily applies to ships faster than you.


The M5 is not considered a combat capable ship, it is generally a good idea to stay away from combat if you're piloting an M5, but if you have no choice then heres what you can try.

  • VS M5: Be faster than them, make sure to use your strafing (WASD) as it is the biggest advantage you get over other M5s. If you're fighting a small group of other M5s avoid flying straight towards them to make yourself a more difficult target, and do your best to pick them off one by one, if you get behind them and start chasing them you've gained an upper hand (as long as you are more capable of speed than they are) be it in a duel (1v1) or when trying to pick off a small group one by one. It is vital that you do not at any point stop flying at speeds at least as high as the enemy M5s. Stopping can easily prove to be lethal for an M5.

  • VS M4: This is relatively simple, but if the M4 has allies helping him you need to take them out first. If its M5s use the tactics i explained above. If it's M4s you can't take them on as they will very quickly kill you if they just manage to shoot you a few times. It is theoretically possible to deal with 2 or 3 M4s (if you can split them up) but unless you're feeling extra suicidal, don't try it. If the M4 is allied with M5s, the M5s most likely fly faster, you can use this to your advantage and lure the M5s away from the M4 and then pick them off one by one. However to do this you need to be faster than every enemy ship in the area or you'll be dead before you even get away from the group. If its a single M4 stay behind him and peck at his shields until you get through.

  • VS M3: Turn 180° and look for the nearest jumpgate. To take down an M3 would require similar tactics as taking down an M4, but combined with an immense amount of luck, since if you get in front of the M3 for long enough for it to shoot a few rounds of laser shots at you, consider yourself dead. The difficulty of this task is about as high as taking down an M6 in an M4. You just don't have enough firepower.

The weakest really combat capable ship. Avoid anything bigger than yourself like death, cus it just might be exactly that.

  • VS M5: These usually fly faster than you. Save them for last. You should have no problem killing these once you get your aim right and get them int oyour firing range, however if they are in groups they can be a risky opponent due to the increased number of guns that can shave down your shields. In those cases just proceed with caution and try not to engage them unless they are in an area where you have stations or asteroids to use for cover.

  • VS M4: This is the same class as you, as a general rule if you're faster you'll kill them, if they're faster you're gonna have a rough time dealing with them. The tactic is simply to stay behind them and shoot them in the butt until they either bail out or die. However if they are in a group you may end up with a second target behind you using this very same tactic against you. In those cases you should perform evasive manouvers rather than destroying your current target unless you are already through its shields.

  • VS M3: You can only kill one of these at a time, If he has allies nearby kill them first and then when you're down to a single M3 stay behind him and kill him. If you get into the situation where you're locked between 2 M3s even if you're through the shields of your current target you should immediately take evasive manouvers. You cannot endure continued fire from an M3 for more than a few seconds. Don't fight pirate Novas.

The strongest fighter class ship, it can take on anything smaller than itself and with a bit of skill and luck it can handle corvettes.

  • VS M5: These usually fly faster than you. The tactic is the same as with M4s except that you don't need to have a reliable cover nearby to fight groups of them as long as you're skilled enough to pick them off one by one (starting with the slowest of course)

  • VS M4: These are generally just worse equipped but slightly faster fighter ships than yuorself. They make easy targets for you but if they are indeed faster than you you should rather kill that M3 first than the M4. The M4 is only a trivial threat to you.

  • VS M3: Same as M4 vs M4.

  • VS M6: You need to stay in this ship's blind spot or fly around it fast enough so that its shots can't hit you. Blind spots are usually Underneath or Above the ship in question, and they usually have the weakest guns in their rear. Don't allow them to shoot you with their main cannons or you will get pulverized. This fight will take you a long time (because of the extremely thick shields) but it's doable only because you have higher speed and better manouverability than the M6. If the M6 is accompanied by a group of smaller fighters you most likely do not stand a chance however unless you can seperate them and kill the fighters first, then return to finish off the M6 when it's alone.

The Corvette easily kills anything smaller than itself if it just flies into range.

  • VS M5 & M4: Stop your ship and let your side and rear cannons kill them. These cannons AI generally aim better if your ship is not moving. If they're flying towards you only one or two shots from your main guns should pulverize them.

  •  VS M3: Quite simply shoot them in the face with your main weapons and they will die. If you're against a large group of them slow down and wait for them to come to you so it'll take them longer to pass you by, this way you may be able to take down 2 or 3 before they fly past you. With luck your side and rear turrets will finish off the rest. If it's a large group however you may end up in trouble.
Trading pt.1: Humble Merchant Start & Exploration(Mapping Sectors)
Trading is an essential skill in the X3 universe. There are many forms of trading.

Basically you want to buy cheap and sell expensive. The game uses a supply & demand mechanism.

What this means is that products in short supply have a higher demand thus higher price. Products that have already been well supplied are in low demand thus are cheaper.

Depending on the product it may unversally have a high or low demand. There's also a stock exchange in the game which i will not explain but the stocks are based on this trading system and can be manipulated through trading within systems included in the stock exchange earning you a nice amount of money on the side. In earlier versions of the game it was a viable option to make millions off stock exchange alone but this has been patched to be harder.

You do not require reputation (except high enough to actually conduct business) to sell anything, but you do require reputation to buy certain things (Such as Shields, Missiles and Weapons)

Instead of explaining all kinds of details about trading i will just give a basic guide for starting the game as a humble merchant.

You start with a Mercury TS class ship and a Discoverer M5 class ship and a handful of cash. I suggest the first thing you should do before mapping sectors on the M5 is to earn enough money to fully upgrade its engine speed and buy a triplex scanner. To do this quickly turn your ship to the right (North) and fly to Power Circle. There are 4 Solar Power Plants in the sector and i suggest you find one that is very nearly or completely fully stocked on Energy Cells. You can see their stock by pressing "U" (for Info). If you've flown next to all of the power plants you can view them in the sector map to find the one with the largest supply of energy cells. Dock at it (for me it was the one right next to the jumpgate to the left, by the time i had flown a circle around the system to map all the SPPs it was stocked enough to sell at the minimum price). You want to buy for 12-13 and sell for 17-19. You should avoid energy cells sold or bought at 14-16 unless you're buying for personal use.

Next find a place to sell it, find stations that use Energy Cells as a resource (through info window) and find one that is very poorly stocked, the less it has the more it'll pay. For me i could go right to Ore Mine M Alpha near the middle of Power Circle and sell for 18. Then i flew to SPP M Delta and bougt again as much as i could afford for 12, then sold again at the same ore mine for 19 (i was just so slow that they spent more than i could bring them. I repeated the process 1 more time with SPP M Delta and Ore Mine M Alpha leaving me at a total of 32K credits. Repeat this until you have roughly 58k credits (est: 5 trips). If you want to keep your discoverer (not sell it after mapping) keep doing it until you have 98k Credits(est: 8 trips). I recommend going 1 extra trip if you decide to keep the discoverer to make it easier to start trading again to be on the safer side.

You need roughly 36k Credits to buy a full cargo hold of Energy Cells for the minimum buying price selling it for the maximum price returns roughly 57k thus earning you a nice 21K credits through the mercury. It is not the best product to trade, but it is definetly the best place to start since it is guaranteed that everyone needs it and someone somewhere is going to have run out. It is considered the safest investment in the game.

On your last trip press R, click the discoverer, and order him to follow you. When you finish the trip and the discoverer is within 1km, order him to stop, fly as close to him as you can without crashing into him, and press Shift +E to eject before the ship flew past him. then target him and press shift +E again to get on board (need to be within 50m of ship) after that start flying to argon prime through herron's nebula and order the mercury to follow you. Once in argon prime, order the mercury to dock at the shipyard or equipment dock. (Equipment dock if you gathered 98k)

Now you have 2 options for sector mapping.

1: Manually do it yourself.

2: Make an AI do it for you.

With 2 you need to make your way to teladi space and find an equipment dock that sells Exploration Command Software.

With 1, which i recommend you do at this stage of the game just to learn how it works. you simply fly around the sector close enough to target every single object existing in it. The duplex scanner makes this task much easier, and a Triplex scanner which can be purchased at military outposts would make this even easier.

Start by docking your discoverer at the equipment dock in argon prime (If you gathered enough money to keep the discoverer, order your mercury to do so as well) and buying maximum Engine Tuning & Boost Extension & Trading System Extension (On both ships, + Rudder Tuning on the mercury.) Then quickly fly through Home of Light to Presidents End into Elena's Fortune and go dock at the Military Outpost to buy a Triplex scanner.

If you have 10k or more credits left over it's ideal to send your mercury on energy cell trips while you're mapping, this requires you to have Trading System Extension installed on your own ship and is much easier (as you can see pricing of produts if you also have it on the mercury through the info window of stations) If not you just need to finish the mapping on your M5 before selling it.

How (and what) to Map:

Press period (.) to open the local sector map, now activate your seta, and make your ship fly around the sector by clicking on the map until you've flown over the entire sector. After issuing the command to fly to a point on the map to your ship you can go out of the sector map and issue orders to the mercury if you are using it for trading while mapping.

Map in the following order:

Elena's Fortune -> Farnhams Legend -> Bala Gi's Joy.

Back to President's End -> Cloudbase SE -> Ore Belt -> Cloudbase SW -> Emperor Mines -> Cloudbase SW -> Red Light -> Home of Light -> Argon Prime -> The Wall -> Argon Prime -> Ringo Moon -> Cloudbase NW -> Three Worlds -> Power Circle -> Herron's Nebula

You can also Antigone Memorial after power circle before you end your trip.

You can also optionally map

Emperor Mines -> Paranid Prime -> Empires Edge -> Preacher's Void -> Duke's Vision (Big, can skip) -> Emperor's WIsdom (Big'n almost empty) -> Trinity Sanctum -> Pontifex' Realm -> Emperor's Ridge -> Priest's Pity -> Priest Rings -> Duke's Domain

Short -> Paranid Prime -> Priest Rings -> Priest's Pity -> Emperor's Ridge -> Duke's Domain -> Empire's Edge

To expand your business into Paranid territories.

This will take a while so you'd best make yourself comfortable while doing it.

You don't actually have to map this many sectors but it is advisable (for a bigger playground). You can make do with this however:

President's End -> Cloudbase SE -> Ore Belt -> Home of Light -> Argon Prime -> The Wall -> Argon Prime -> Ringo Moon -> Red Light -> Cloudbase SW -> Emperor Mines.

Now its time to put your focus on trading again.

If you have less than 60k credits and an unupgraded mercury: dock your mercury and discoverer in any shipyard (Argon Prime is good...) then go to landed ships -> click -> Advanced -> Freight Exchange and transfer all upgrades from discoverer to your mercury. Then do the same again but instead of Freight Exchange go to "Change Ship" then go to Trade and sell your discoverer. After that send your mercury to the equipment dock and buy the upgrades previously recommended.

If you have an upgraded mercury and 10k credits or more: You're good to go!

If you have an unupgraded mercury and 60k credits: Upgrade your mercury already!! but make sure you have at least 10k credits left over to start trading again. (preferably 36k)
Trading pt.2: Ore, Equipment and Automated Trading
The rest of the trading guide is mostly guidelines you may want to have by your side while trading, so if you at some point get bored just save your game and start a new one as a Bankrupt Assassin and go to the intro part of the guide to see which sections you should read next.

Start trading ore next, you need roughly 19k to buy a full cargo hold of it, buy it for around 50-70 at Ore Belt or Emperor Mines(buying @ emperor mines increases paranid rep), Sell it for 100-206 in the following sectors:

Ore Belt, Cloudbase SE, Red Light, Home of Light & Argon Prime

Note: Ore Belt has an SPP if you can't get ore for a good price just make a trip of selling energy cells. It's also good to have there so you can buy energy cells for your jumpdrive.

and if you mapped the paranid sectors:

Paranid Prime, Priest Rings, Empire's Edge & Priest's Pity

Note: Paranid Prime Has a station that can hold 1600 Ore and Empire's Edge Has an SPP so you can buy energy cells there and sell on your way back to Emperor Mines.

Ore is a very ideal resource to trade, as its price difference is so enormous. You can buy it for cheap 50 per ore at very many locations, and then sell for up to 206 per ore thats 156 difference, so you'll make 3x what you paid for each ore with luck.

If i calculate the max earnings, you can with 375 ore(Mercury's hold), you will pay 18750 credits for a full cargo hold, and sell it for 77250 credits, this earns you a total of 58500 per shipment which is a lot more than energy cells can earn you. I did the math and if you buy @ 50 and sell @ 106 you're getting the exact same profit as you would trading in energy.

(1 ore = 8 energy, max gain from 8 energy = 56cr and then 50+56 = 106)

You can carry 375 ore, you want about 6.5-7k cargo bay to hold about 800 ore or near 832 which is the max amount many stations can carry. This will require a new ship.

Cargo Bay Upgrades are so expensive it's usually cheaper to just buy a whole new ship + all the upgrades you already have. When you decide you need a new ship and have 2-4 million to do it, i highly recommend the Terran Hayabusa (sold at the Moon) or the OTF Mistral SF (sold at Legend's Home) alternatively you can look at Hauler variants of standard TS ships, these have bigger cargo than their normal versions, but are also much slower.

If you have a ship that can carry 800-ish ore and still has cargo space left over, i'd recommend buying a jump drive and spending the remaining cargo space on energy cells (can be purchased in ore belt) this will allow you to jump between sectors and you will earn money a lot faster.

You can buy a jumpdrive at Terracorp HQ (Home of Light). I also recommend investing in a Best Buys & Selling Price locators at Terracorp HQ, it will cost you roughly 40k to buy both. This will speed up your business by automatically showing you the best places to buy/sell cargo. If you are on board a ship equipped with these devices you can open their menus by pressing 5 & 6. When controlling traders that you own in other systems you can access these through the Advanced menu for the ship in question. I consider it an essential piece of equipment to use on all my traders.

It may be a good idea to invest in a TP personnel transport and maximize it's engine tuning so you can do the very well paid passenger transport missions while trading, or wait until you reach 2 or 3 millions and buy yourself an M3 or M4 ship to do combat missions. I hear a lot of people say that passenger transport missions give the best pay, i haven't seen this as truth myself, but i have seen some that pay extremely well.

Automated Trading

When you have about 3 million credits (4 if you get Hayabusa and 5 if you get Lotan) get yourself a TS+ class vessel. I would personally get the Hayabusa from the moon because of it's speed, but many favor the Mistral that can be bought in legends home. The reason i tell you to buy one is not because you actually need one, but because they're just more convenient than a standard TS class ship for automated trading thanks to their larger cargo bays.

Next you need to dock the ship at a Teladi trading dock and buy (500k) Trading Software Mk. III, this allows you to do automated trading. I suggest that next you jump the ship to Ore Belt (or a sector of your choice) and open the Command Console for it and go to "Trade" and select "Start Sector Trader" then select the sector (Ore Belt) you want it to do trades in. Once it reaches level 6 it can become a so called local trader, which is a sector trader but can expand its trades into all adjacent sectors (it asks you to set jump-range, thats how far it can go from the first sector) by lv 8, you can set the jump range to 2 or set it to universal trader (goes all over the universe to trade) at level 10 you can set the jump range to 3
lv 12 = 4
lv 16 = 8
lv 20 = 10

You can view the trader's rank at the top of your ship info menu under your ship's name.

If you get the bonus pack you can also blacklist sectors by going to Additional Ship Commands in the command console so the universal trader wont go there.

When selecting a sector you need to keep in mind that the AI trader will trade all available goods, as long as it'll grant a profit (once it reaches higher levels it'll get more efficient in this)

I recommend that you use a handful of ships to do this task, i have 3 Hayabusas doing sector trading all over the univers and 1 mercury hauler as well. This is earning me roughly 800k credits per hour of normal gameplay which by itself is of course not enough of an income.. Judging by that number you can estimate that each well placed ship can earn you about 200k credits per hour. Don't forget that you mustn't spend all your money as your traders need to have some to buy goods.

If you have spare M3s or M4s lying around either from buying them used or capturing them, it's generally a good idea to have 1 or 2 escorting your traders just in case. If you're doing universe trading you might even want to put an entire M6 up as an escort.

Also keep in mind that trading manually is probably going to spin you up a lot more cash than sector trading since you're bound to make a lot better decisions than the AI.

The best place i've found for sector trading is Empire's Edge, but you need alternatives if you want to have many sector/local traders like i do, so you can also try out:
Ore Belt
Power Circle
Ministry of Finance
Queen's Space
Profit Share
results may vary and some sectors are always going to be better than others, and that list probably doesn't even cover half of the good sector trading sectors. But at least it can get you started, and by the time you've used them all up you should have a decent idea of how to choose a sector for sector trading.

Once you've earned 30-ish million you should invest in a TL ship which will allow you to complete build missions. If you equip it with a jump drive it can also be used as mobile HQ. When you have even more moneys you can buy stations, place them in the TL ship and then deploy them in the universe where you deem fit for an even bigger source of income, i suggest your first station be Solar Power Plants or basically stations that do not require any resources to produce their product. Once you reach that point you're gonna start earning cash a lot faster.

That's it for my Trading guide! i hope you found it useful.
Bankrupt Assassin starting guide (Includes some small spoilers)
You start with a neutral or bad reputation with all factions, but notably the paranid and boron hate your guts. Since the Paranid live near your start, i recommend you start by going through Hatikvah's Faith into Clarity's End, a paranid border sector from the location you start.

Once there, you need to just sit around (i recommend doing this with your seta on) and wait for pirates to fly into the sector. just killing one pirate will give you a reputation increase, but the paranid hate you so much you need actually 3 increases so that the paranid wont want to shoot you on sight (you start with a -4) you need to get all the way down to -1 (Unholy Nomad) in order to be able to dock at their stations and do business with them (sell them stuff and buy stuff from them) to even faster increase your rep. if you go into a paranid core sector they will most definetly try to vaporize you. If you see anything named "Paranid Military" and doesn't end with "Transporter" stay as far away from that as you can, it'll blast you if you get close enough until you're -2. Now sitting around waiting for pirates, alternatively you can try to map the sector hwile waiting. Press period (.) to open the sector map, then press J to activate seta, with the sector map open you willl see on the right side all ships known to be in the area, which of course includes pirate ones. If you want to try to map the sector (Explained in Trading pt.1) you can do so but it will take a while using the ship's standard scanner.

If pirates just aren't showing up you can fly through Third Redemption (next to Clarity's End) into Perdition's End, chances of encountering pirates there are a lot higher. If you're still not getting enough pirates to kill you can fly through Desecrated Skies down to Priest's Refuge.
Note: Desecrated Skies is a pirate sector, therefore you will not get a reputation increase by killing pirates in there.

Now you know of 3 Suitable sectors to build your reputation with the Paranids, i recommend this being your first action as a Bankrupt Assassin because at a later point in the game most of the pirates will be pushed back into more isolated sectors far away from this area, When you've reached a satisfactory reputation (Neutral or better) the boron are next in line, and you have a few options. The ideal location for this task is Atreus' Clouds, but since that is very many sectors away from you, i suggest you go back to Third Redemption and try going into Rolk's Legacy, and repeat what you just did with the Paranids for the Boron.

If you're in an adventurous mood, you can instead fly down through Priest's Refuge into Cardinals Domain (A core sector, which you can safely access since you're neutral) or Spring of Belief (if you're not neutral yet) from there go to Friar's Retreat into Pontifex' Seclusion, after that head down to Heaven's Assertion which is a 4th sector where you can hunt pirates for paranids, after that head to Patriarch's Conclusion, a Split core sector. then go to the Contorted Dominion into Faded Dreams and bingo you're in another boron sector that is linked to a pirate sector where you can hunt pirates for Boron reputation.

After this reputation building has been done, you've prevented a lot of pain that's been heading your way for a later point in the game when you wish to do trading. You have a 0 or -1 reputation with all the other major races (Argon, Terran and Teladi) and by now most people don't hate you anymore. only the ones you hate yourself anyways.

(Pirates, Xenon, Duke's and Yaki)

Now you have several options.

I recommend the next move to be part of the Albion Prelude plotline to get yourself a nice M6 corvette for free. This requires an argon reputation of 4 as Accepted Advisor. In the quest Argon Commander Aron Derik orders you to go to Argon Sector M148 where the quest starts.

Since you're already at a neutral rep stage with the argon getting the right amount of rep will be relatively easy. You have three options to perform that task.

1: Go to the argon zones where you start as a humble merchant, it is the safest area in the game.

2: Go to the area where the AP quest is performed and the war zones.

3: Go to the location you started in. (Aladna Hill) and the nearby sectors (Legend's Home and Montalaar notably)

Naturally i recommend you going to the warzone areas since you need to go there anyways to complete the missions and build your Terran rep (you'll want to build your rep with the terrans before you kill them in the quests so that you can do business with them afterwards, this is because they sell some of the best ships available in the entire game)

Do not build terran rep until after you have received the main plotline mission to go to Argon Sector M148. The quest requires you to have 0 rep with them to start.

The quickest way is going through Montalaar into the teladi territories down to Eighteen Billion, then flying through the (Extremely) dangerous Xenon Sector 347 into Scale Plate Green. then go to Nyana's Hideout and you're there! in an argon sector and also right next to the warzones. But you'll most likely die if you take this route because of the Xenon.

A much safer route (and shorter if you're deep inside paranid territory) in my opinion is going through Cardinal's Domain (next to Priest's Refuge) into Sacred Relic, and from there you can go straight to Interworlds which is deep inside the argon territory next to the Warzones

Note: You can kill terrans to gain argon rep but don't do that. You don't want a bad terran rep.

I will assume you took the interworlds route, but once in an Argon controlled sector you basically want to fly around (map) all the Argon sectors, completing any missions given that you can complete and kill any xenon or pirates you bump into. A good place to be is the actual war zones (Wastelands -> Nathan's Voyage -> Black Hole Sun -> Treasure chest) because there will be an ongoing war between argon and terrans, i suggest you go to the front lines (normally Heretic's End through Omicron Lyrae and Circle of Labour) sit around and take any mission you get, keep your local sector map open and pick up any objects you find (Missiles and Weapons) these will sell often for a really good price and selling this junk is both an excellent method to earn quick money, and to earn reputation. Once you reach the desired rank (Accepted Advisor or higher) go to Argon Sector M148 (from interworlds it's Wastelands -> Nathan's Voyage -> Enduring Light -> Argon Sector M148)

The first mission will be to aid the war effort (Trial by Fire) in this mission you are expected to kill terrans. Before doing anything of the sort you need to repeat the task of reputation building in the Terran Sectors. The most effective way is to do missions of course, but i highly recommend just doing the same thing as you just did with the argon (scavenging spacejunk leftovers from the war and selling it to the terrans) you wont find any pirates in the terran sectors and rarely any Xenon, but you'll find lots of Argon, however you don't want bad argon rep so stay away from that method or you may end up stuck in the Terran sectors because the argons will fry you before you get out of the warzones and into the commonwealth again...

After you have a reasonably good terran rep (not naming any number, but 2 or 3 might be enough) you should head back to the argon warzones (Circle of Labour or Omicron Lyrae) and kill a few terrans until you get a message to return to the Argon Sector M148 and keep playing until they give you a Centaur M6 ship. After this point i want you to just decide what you want to do and how you want to play, i recommend just doing more missions and getting into trading as soon as you can.

An ideal way to make money is farming reputation for a specific race via missions. I'd do all combat missions you can get since it'll build your combat rank giving you better rewards.
End of Guide and Resource List
In light of that the Steam Guide system has a character limit I very much managed to cheat my way past for some of the sections of this guide, I will dump most late edits in here (hopefully there won't be many)

Update I forgot to mention the importance of strafing in combat, strafing in combat really throws off the AI's aim and makes you significantly harder to hit. Also, keep an eye out for Tornado missiles, as they can easily wreck large ships if they hit. Some weapons like mass drivers also bypass shields to do direct damage to yor hull which can also damage your equipment even if your shields are up.

Update: The M7C Light Carrier description is slightly off, what I mean by "drones" is smaller ships. The ship is comparable to the "M1" Carrier, think of it as a smaller variant.

This guide is now finally over! it was originally meant to be a short and easy guide to get into the game but look at how that turned out (Into the biggest wall of text i have written in my life...) but most importantly, this wasn't made by any expert player, it was made by a beginner for other beginners (What took me days to learn is all written here). On top of not expecting you to know anything about the game it should be completely idiotproof if you read it from top to bottom.

It is worth noting that this is actually the first full gameplay guide i've written for a game, and also the first guide i've written on steam (so do tell me if you'd like to see me make more guides)

Thanks for reading, and please remember to rate!

If you were wondering exactly how picture-heavy the guide is, it has 46 images in total, all of which have actually been edited one way or another by me :O but many images are re-used once or twice.

Some of the below resources helped me learn or are just sites i still use all the time, others just
cover areas that i did not. Before i get into the resources let me point out the very useful egosoft approved bonus pack that i recommend everyone gets!

Bonus Package[forum.egosoft.com]: Here is an official pack of community created mods put together by egosoft employees that fit seamlessly into the game without breaking any of the game's balance. Scroll up (within link) for the Terran Conflict bonus pack which includes fewer of the mods.


  • X3 Wiki[x3wiki.com]: The wiki although sometimes (sorely) lacking in information is a must have as it's an information database.

  • The Egosoft Forums[forum.egosoft.com]: The best place to get help and ask questions, also naturally one of the best to find answers with a bit of search.

  • Steam Community: Second only to egosoft's, the steam forums is the second-best place to ask questions and doesn't require a subscription (that you don't already have):

  • Roguey[roguey.co.uk]: A useful fan-made site, look in Guides, Help and Info & Media

  • Universal Map[www.seizewell.de]: This is very useful if you want to find out where to go to do whatever it is that you would like to do. Alternative map here

  • Argonopedia[www.argonopedia.org]: A fan-site with boatloads of content.

  • Modding site[forum.egosoft.com]: If you want to get into this game's awesome modding community, the egosoft forums are the place for you. I recommend learning to play and enjoying the game without mods initially, but sometimes you just need to fix something that bothers you with a mod and i won't blame you. Mod's also involve cheats such as scripts that just give you money, i know that that is SUPER tempting, but don't do that because from experience i know that cheating in games just makes them get boring faster.

  • The Ultimate Resource List[forum.egosoft.com]: Bring out the resources!!!
Other Guides

Steam Guides

Ivanov's Basic Boarding Guide
Although not as detailed as delray's guide, it covers the basics and does so well.

Stock Exchange Guide Covers the very basics of stock exchange, don't let the 12m number the writer puts in fool you, stock exchange has been patched to be harder to earn money from so you're not likely to make any millions from putting money into commodities alone unless you're manipulating the market by trading in the sector thus increasing or reducing the demands. A good way to do this is to use a TL class ship to hold all the resources purchased before you want to sell them again.

Bartering Guide A quick guide that covers an area of trading which i did not.

X3TC For Dummies A guide very much comparable to this one made for Terran Conflict. It covers mostly the same areas as this one. It does have detailed info about the races, and a comparable but shorter (and simpler) trading guide. And more details on station building and expanding your fleet size. Kudos to the creator for an extremely well written guide! I only just found it after writing this one.

Video Guides

CdrDave: He has many good tutorials for these games.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p73C60btBi8&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PL2BC4835802365FF1Humble Merchant 12 part Walkthrough for example (which by part 5 covers areas i did not, and expands after that into more advanced areas of trading and gameplay such as satellites)

William Ferrell: This guy is a X fanatic. Although he has been inactive since may, expect him to start making new videos when X: Rebirth is out. This guy has a huge collection of videos for X3 and most of them are one way or another guides.
< >
The Awakened Saxon Aug 2 @ 9:57am 
Nice guide, very helpful.
Jabbi Apr 20 @ 6:33am 
Thank you for creating this guide.
Rabcor  [author] Nov 14, 2017 @ 10:59am 
Yeah X3AP can indeed be very daunting at first, that's exactly why I wrote all this, partially just so I could remember all the things I'd learned, and partially just so others could use it all. It took me a long time to figure all this out whereas in comparison ED took me just a short while to get a grip on. My disappointment with it was that after getting a grip on it I didn't see any progression, I felt like it was a massive sandbox and the peak was just getting the biggest player available ship, which if I recall correctly isn't even the biggest ship in the game. I felt a little let down that there wasn't more to do. I'm guessing it's just not my kind of game, I felt like it had too little content.

After all, after I spend all that time getting a grip on the basics even if it was just a while, I expect there to be something more than the basics that comes next :P but I ended up just grinding until I got bored because I couldn't find anything else to do.
Nov 14, 2017 @ 10:07am 
I wouldn't say that ED is underdeveloped; It's just not the same genre as X3 is. ED is great for the immersion and combat it brings but you're not building massive industrial space empires and doing great trading; everything is smaller scale and the game reflects that. It's supposed to be easier to swallow, X3AP can be VERY daunting at first.
Rabcor  [author] Nov 14, 2017 @ 8:20am 
@ProudTiger actually I felt ED was a bit dry compared to this game after playing it, ED doesn't let you fly colossal ships that tower over stations, it doesn't allow you to buy build and own stations and it doesn't allow you to own and command an AI controlled fleet or re-use your old ships to supplement said fleet. X3 has it's flaws but when I played ED my description of it can be covered in just one word which is: underdeveloped.

I have some hopes for future developments of that game, I've also been hoping to see limit theory released in the meantime but right now X3 still holds firm as my favorite space sim by a mile.

Not that ED is particularly bad, I just feel like there's not much stuff to do in it after I finally got bored of grinding cash for bigger ships.
kecin25 Nov 13, 2017 @ 7:50pm 
@ProudTiger last time I checked ED does not let AI fly YOUR ships to make you profits while you sit back blowing stuff up. ED is a great game and so is X3 but X3 is much older but has a lot of diffrent more complex mechanics. It is like jumping into a MMO RPG game and saying it sucks beause you can't screw around for an hour and have top tier stuff.
ProudTiger Nov 13, 2017 @ 5:47pm 
X3 series of games come across very cold where ED is like a warm fire.
Just can't get into x3,one of the most overatted games in history imo.
ProudTiger Nov 13, 2017 @ 5:45pm 
Elite Dangerous does everything the X3 series does but you don't need to read a massive guide.

Elite Dangerous has nailed the space sim genre while games like X3 try to hard to be complicated .
Rabcor  [author] May 24, 2017 @ 7:36am 
Oh one other thing as stated in my guide, a rep of -1 allows you to land on stations in border sectors, if you find any terran owned border sectors then you can dock there, and I might be wrong but you should be able to trade some commodities as well which would build your rep.

And you're welcome.
Lolz May 24, 2017 @ 5:56am 
Thanks for your help. =) It helped a lot in getting started. So much to do!