The blog brought my attention to X3: Terran Conflict. Since I haven't played the predecessors but I'd like to know the whole story I wonder if there is a possibility to play them with X3TC's graphic engine instead of the rather ... nostalgic ... look of the original?
You can totally start your X3 experience with Terran Conflict. The background you need about the history of the universe is provided by the many informative texts in the game, if you want to read them all - but you can also skip them and still enjoy the game.
As has been said in the comments, X3's not Skyrim, it is much less focused on scenarized quests and universe history.