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Eternal X 1.3 preview 6

The Xeventh Project on 03/07/2024

Screenshot titled "We Met Once in the Garden"

Eternal is one of the largest scenarios ever created for Aleph One, initially created by Forrest Cameranesi (Pfhorrest) and subsequently revised and expanded by a massive team known as the Xeventh Project, which, as of this update (March 2024) now includes more than 40 people. Besides Tempus Irae, it may be the oldest scenario still being actively developed; it was first released in 2004 and has been refined and expanded almost continuously ever since. Features include, but are hardly limited to:

  • 52 levels, some revisiting familiar locations from the Marathon trilogy and some being among the largest ever created for the engine
  • An intricately layered plot featuring dense political and philosophical themes, a tragic romance, time travel, major events from the Marathon trilogy’s backstory, complex original characters, and returning faces from the trilogy’s cast
  • A huge, acclaimed soundtrack with unique music for every level, lasting more than seven hours total, and created by over a dozen composers and arrangers (significantly expanded in 1.3 previews 4 through 6)
  • Redesigns of most of the game’s familiar cast (new in 1.3), some old foes from Pathways into Darkness, and some new faces (some new in 1.3)
  • Hundreds of gorgeous terminal images (many added for 1.3 preview 4 through 6)
  • Five texture sets, encompassing 650 high-resolution textures, 12 detailed original landscape textures, and several separate human and alien environments
  • An in-game menu system (new in 1.3 preview 6) that toggles several optional features, including:
    • Simplified overhead map views in around twenty levels (new in 1.3 preview 6)
    • A secret tracking system (new in 1.3 preview 4)
    • Auto-save the game on level transition (new in 1.3)
    • An RPG-style monster health display (new in 1.3 preview 6)
    • Shared pickups between players in network games (new in 1.3 preview 6)
    • Disabled friendly fire between players in network games (new in 1.3 preview 6)
  • More than 360 sounds, remixed or remastered in CD quality, in stereo where possible (new in 1.3)
  • Atmospheric weather like rain and snow (new in 1.3)
  • A final boss battle of sorts (new in 1.3)
  • Detailed documentation including illustrated field guides to Eternal’s weaponry, aliens, and humans, detailed credits, a meta-history of Eternal, and technical notes on how its maps and scripts work (new in 1.3)

The current development release, 1.3 preview 6 (released on 2024-03-07), is perfectly playable despite still being incomplete; it is now our recommended way to play the game. We’ll refrain from estimating the release date of 1.3 final, as we’ve overshot too many estimates to count (thank you, feature creep). The current “stable” build, 1.2.1 (released on 2021-11-07), is missing several features listed above but is still an enjoyable game in its own right.

The screenshots seen on the right are from a development release from between 1.3 previews 4 and 5 and are a reasonable reflection of Eternal’s current appearance. Although they were taken on Normal (so as to show more monster types), we do recommend playing Eternal on the highest difficulty you can manage.

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Notes for version 1.3 preview 6:

Current development release. 1.3 incorporates several new features, many detailed above. New in 1.3 preview 6:

  • Hard requirement of Aleph One 1.7 or later.
  • An in-game menu system that toggles a ton of new optional scripts, including:
    • Hide irrelevant layers of the overhead map (a massive aid to navigation).
    • RPG-style monster health display.
    • Disable friendly fire in cooperative games.
    • Shared item pickups in cooperative games.
  • New drone and Juggernaut sprites in chapter four.
  • Fixes to dozens of physics inconsistencies.
  • Major music changes:
    • Every level now has at least one unique music track.
    • “We Met Once in the Garden” now uses multiple tracks that shift depending on in-game events, à la FTL or Cadence of Hyrule – to our knowledge, this is the first scenario to make use of Aleph One 1.7’s dynamic music features, though in a relatively simple fashion.
    • Seventeen of Craig Hardgrove’s tracks have been newly remastered or remixed from newly available, much higher-quality sources, some multiple times.
    • The game soundtrack is now encoded as Opus, the objectively best lossy music codec by every performance metric.
    • True obsessives may use an optional lossless FLAC version for the in-game soundtrack.
  • New (or newly accessible) areas in “Deja Vu All Over Again”, “Roots and Radicals”, “Core Done Blew”, “A Friend in Need”, “Frog Blast the Vent Core”, and “I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This”.

Additions to preview 5:

  • Fixes to several major bugs, including crashes in six different levels, the HUD messing up in non-16:9 aspect ratios, and problems in network games with the secret counter and map overlay.
  • Over an hour of new/updated music since preview 4.
  • New secrets in a few levels.
  • Jjaro sludge is no longer coloured like M1’s toxic Pfhor goo.

1,389 downloads, 2 reviews, 5 screenshots, 5.0 rating