Mechanics of X4's Map Design

Last modified by Daniel Turner on 2023/09/05 15:39

Stoats Not Goats/Manoeuvring with Difficulty


The Galaxy

Everything you see in X4 is located within the galaxy, its a bit like a canvas on which everything is created

Graphically, the galaxy looks a bit like this (only bigger)



Clusters are a bit harder to think about than the galaxy, they’re the next level below the galaxy  and are the framework that supports sectors. Often they are described as “the big hexagons” or “sectors connected by jumpgates” but this isn’t the most strict or correct definition (although the full definition is only more relevant to galaxy modders). What is often most important for players thinking about  a galaxy is “what on earth is a ‘jump’ ” and this is where understanding clusters is important  because a jump is defined as transiting from one cluster to another, this is achieved in practice through flying through a Jumpgate or Trans-Orbital Accelerator (which are mechanically identical).

Following from the presentation of the galaxy we can also represent clusters in the same way


Examples of clusters include:

  • Grand Exchange contains 3 Grand Exchange sectors
  • Silent Witness XI contains Silent Witness XI (sector)
  • Argon Prime contains Argon Prime (sector)


The notion of sectors is one well understood by players, its where all the action happens but there’s a bit more to it.
Clusters can contain at least one sector and can have up to four (although in Vanilla X4 there are no more than three). So sectors that
are just a sole big hexagon is actually a cluster with a single sector within and clusters like Grand Exchange contain multiple sectors.

We can again visualise this graphically


Examples of sectors include:

  • Grand Exchange I
  • Silent Witness XI
  • Argon Prime


Familiar to X Rebirth players zones are a subdivision of sectors that helps the game understand and work with the placement
of objects including:

  • Gates (which includes Trans-Orbital Accelerators)
  • Superhighways (using special tzones)
  • Local highways
  • Pre-designed stations (shipyards, wharves etc)
  • Procedural stations

Sectors often have 5-6 zones (excluding superhighway tzones) and in vanilla X4 they give the impression of a somewhat random placement.

In X Rebirth zones had a visible graphic presence in the map that looked somewhat like this:


Using the graphical presentation of X4’s system we can visualise zones within sectors as points within a sector and a variable sized region around them (the variability comes from avoiding conflicts with other zones):



The hierarchy of travel in X4 mimics the hierarchy of the game’s galaxy. At the top is Gates followed by Superhighways and finally local highways


Transport Type



Jumpgates and Trans Orbital Accelerators



Superhighways (internally referred to as "sechighways")



Local Highways (internally referred to as "zonehighways")


Further Reading