- What is Freelancer?
- When is the release date?
- What are the system requirements?
- Does Freelancer have multiplayer support?
- Who is developing Freelancer?
- What kind of missions are available?
- How many ships are we be able to fly?
- How many characters are in the game?
- Who do we play as?
- Can we choose our character's appearance?
- Are wingmen available for hire?
- How many missions are available?
- What kind of commodities are available?
- What weapons are available?
- How does the money system work?
- Can we play Freelancer after the story is completed?
- How do saved games work?
- How many systems are in the game?
- Can we really go anywhere we want?
- How dynamic is the universe?
- How does the interface work?
- So are we able to use a joystick?
- Can we eject?
- Are there black holes and other objects in Freelancer?
- Is there a demo?
- Where can I find further information?
Freelancer is an upcoming space flight-sim that intends to revolutionize and revitalize the flight sim market. Based in the dawn of the 30th century, humankind has explored and colonized the space surrounding the Sirius sector, where humankind fled months before a powerful alien vessel destroyed the Solar system. In Freelancer, you can trade commodities to make money, upgrade your ship, earn a reputation among the hundreds of characters in the game, and ultimately will discover the secret behind the Nomads* who destroyed the Solar system eight-hundred years ago!
*The actual storyline is an educated guess at this point!
Does Freelancer have multiplayer support?
Freelancer does indeed support multiplayer. Fortunately, there is CO-OP multiplayer, which allows players to fly within the same universe (exact limit as of the last showing of the game was 16, but not sure) and trade, fight, explore, and complete missions. The multiplayer is basically one persistant world (like a small MMO game), it could be run off of a dedicated server all the time, or saved and played when the players felt like logging on and playing. It would play like most games today, using one computer as the host of the game. Players can hook up using simple LAN-type play, and it is expected you could find games through Microsoft's own Zone online gaming service.
Who is developing Freelancer?
Freelancer is being developed by Digital Anvil, who also made Freelancer's prequel "Starlancer." Chris Roberts of Wing Commander fame was originally in charge of development, but left the company in late 2000 to form his own studio, PNR Films. When Chris left, then-Lead Designer Phil WattenBarger took over of Producer/Project Lead, and JÃ¶rg Neumann, who was working on the Digital Anvil game Loose Canon, decided to stay and take over Phil's old job of Lead Designer. Thankfully, little change was actually made in the higher-ups of the dev team, so Chris Roberts' absence should have little impact on his original vision of the game!
What kind of missions are available?
This is the exciting part! According to Digital Anvil, they design missions based on their sixteen mission "templates" (think "Escort," "Destroy," "Explore," and so on) that allows for up to forty different types of missions in the story line! Here is what Digital Anvil had to say:
The main consideration is that the missions need to be fun (obviously) - but they also have to make fictional sense. Freelancer features a total of 13 story chapters, which could each be seen as a single mission, but in reality are conglomerations of as many as 10 mission objectives. A given mission can take well over two hours to complete. But the real "meat" of the mission system lies in what we sometimes call "random missions." The universe supports about 3,000 different trade routes that are offered to the player as cargo missions and are used by transports and convoys to deliver their goods from base to base. Other mission types include patrols, assassination missions, and destroy missions. All in all, Freelancer has more than 5,000 different missions that can all be adjusted for various difficulty levels.
So with nearly unlimited missions, Freelancer has very good replayability!
How many ships can fly?
According to Digital Anvil last year, there are about twelve flyable spacecraft in the game, ranging from light fighters to small freighters (think Millenium Falcon). Each house is expected to have three classes of craft, with one type each: Standard, Elite, and Freighter. In addition, there are pirate ships, and civilian ships that you can fly. There are some ships where only one or two exist in the whole game!
However, according to more recent previews based on the recent demo at Microsoft's Internation Games Festival and GenCon 2002, there are up to twenty ships you are able to purchase. The game actually features around a total of 40-45 different ships, all of them you'll encounter at some point in the game. It's just that not all of them are flyable. But, as Digital Anvil has pushed, the game is still in development, and this number could always change. In terms of larger capitol ships, we have heard that you can land on some of them. Rumor has it that some missions will require you to interact with capitol ships. Although how this works yet remains a secret.
In addition to actual craft you can purchase, there are many upgrades you can purchase, from weapons, engines, shield generators, to neuronets. All this will make each craft unique, and the addition of upgradable components will make every ship almost one of a kind!
How many characters are in the game?
The exact figure of storyline characters in the game is not known. In fact, no word has been given at all! A recent preview from Computer Gaming World gave the number 1,200, but as of more recently Digital Anvil is now saying that 2,000 different NPCs, all with their own stories, prejudices, desires, and reputations that shape how they interact with you. If one character dislikes you enough, he may even become threatening! Using some credits to bribe him may convince him to like you a little more, though!
Who do we play as?
The character we play as in Freelancer is named Trent Edison, whose home and family were destroyed in a mysterious explosion. With nothing left but the clothes on his back and an old beat-up Ford Probe of a ship, you start your adventure in Liberty space as you begin the adventure in Freelancer!
Can we choose our character's appearance?"
No. According to Digital Anvil, it would be difficult to create an deep and involving storyline if the main character changes. This seems reasonable, as in games such as Wing Commander, you play a specific person with his own voice, looks, and attitude, while in games such as Dungeon Siege, your character is used very little.
Are wingmen available for hire?
Unfortunately, no. At this time, it is not possible to hire wingmen to escort you. You can however join formation with other vessels if they are going the same place as you and their attitude torwards you is friendly, and some storyline missions may require you to partner up with multiple other people. However, for most of the game you will be alone, with only yourself to keep you from joining the Vacuum Breather's club!
How many missions are available?
The latest word from Digital Anvil is thirteen storyline missions. This may seem like a small number, however many are spread over a period of time and into small chunks, to make them last. The game uses nearly 2 hours of in-game cinematic sequencesIn addition, there are literally thousands of non-storyline missions that you can play at the same time, if you wish, to add replayability.
What kind of commodities are available?
Digital Anvil has said the amount of commodities for trade should be around twenty different goods. A recent video confirms at least five commodities: Consumer Goods, Engine Components, Luxury Consumer Goods, Pharmaceuticals, and Water Ice, which appears to be the cheap "poor man" resource for when you're really in a bind! We expect to learn more as the game gets closer to release. Stay tuned!
What weapons are available?
Digital Anvil has said that they currently have plasma blasters, heavy ion blasters, lasers, mass drivers, railguns, proton blasters, gamma beamers, rad missiles, heat-seeking missiles, homing missiles, plasma mines, explosive mines, and so on. We suspect that there are more types, and certainly variations of each. So expect lots of different weapons!
How does the money system work?
Freelancer appears to use the standard sci-fi "credits" system. Money will be earned by completing missions from various NPCs, mining from planetary rings and nebula, and tracking criminals/persons down as a bounty hunter. Money will then be used to purchase commodities, repair your ship, buy parts, weapons, bribes, and just about any function you can think it would be useful for!
Freelancer's economy will be one of the most advanced yet in any game on the PC! Supply and demand will play a large part in the prices of goods in a given area, based on several factors. First, if a space station near a mining planet is selling ore, then you can expect prices there to be low. You can then purchase some and take it to a space station that has no mining planet nearby (nearby as in within one or two neighboring star systems) and where the demand is high (perhapse a manufacturing station) and sell it for a high price, and so on. Second, pirates raiding merchants (or not!) effects price. If a large convoy of freighters is raided on it's way to deliver food and supplies to an planet, and they are in need, you can expect prices to shoot up dramatically. So finding one or two lucrative trade routes will not last very long for a trader, seeing as how prices can fluctuate often!
Can we play Freelancer after the story is completed?
Fortunately, yes. There are many missions to play in Freelancer, and it is quite possible that most people will not play every last one of them. The sheer number of missions in Freelancer massively increases the replayability. It is also possible that Digital Anvil may release updates or small add-ons with even more missions, though it hasn't even been hinted at indirectly.
How do saved games work?
Saved games will work pretty much the same way they do in all games, except you will only be able to save on space stations and planets. This may upset some people, however it should greatly increase the "adrenaline" factor in Freelancer quite a bit. In many games, it is possible to save at any time, and many people save ever thirty seconds, which can really ruin the experiance as far as "rushing to the jump gate" while pirates whittle away your read shields, and so on.
How many systems are in the game?
As of GenCon 2002, Digital Anvil has said that there is exactly 43 star systems currently in the game. Each system boasts anywhere from at least 3 to as many as 10 different explorable areas. A current rough estimate puts the number of seperate explorable areas in the game at around 400! Each system has unique planets, stations, terrain, people, and commodity prices. The amount of work put into each is astonishing, considering the amount of systems. Travel is accomplished by flying through "trade lanes" that accelerate you to an extremely high speed to the other end of the lane. Pirates can disable these to stop ships in the middle of transit, and you can do the same. You can fly to planets and stations, manually (however you cannot land on stations manually) however it will take some time.
Travel between star systems is done by traditional jump gates, which carry you between the systems. Some gates may require "keys" to gain access to them, which may be acquired by completing certain missions.
Can we really go anywhere we want?
Yes! In many games, the background is decorated with a small blur of color, or a 2D bitmap of a planet or star. In Freelancer, each nebula, planet, star (not the little ones like you see in the sky at night), and object is rendered in 3D and you can fly up to it using the trade lanes or just pointing at it and going for a cruise. Even the star in the center of a system is rendered, and will damage (and destroy) you if you fly too close to it. Other terrains include badlands, asteroid fields, mine fields, debris fields, and more.
How dynamic is the universe?
Very! Digital Anvil has said that each time you play the game, something different will happen. A transport may come under attack and send a distress signal, or it may not. Prices for ore on Pittsburg may drop to all-time lows five minutes after you purchase a thousand credit's worth or not. Even Freelancer's version of the Air Traffic Controllers will say different things, depending on what ship is wanting to dock or pass through the area (or not!) at the time. Even NPCs change. One day we might walk into a bar and see a person offering a job to chart an asteroid field... or we may not!
How does the interface work?
The interface is primarily mouse driven, and is very clean and efficient. The various menus can be opened and tucked away to be hidden so as to not block your view. Instead of controlling your ship with a joystick (which should be an option) you will control it with your mouse via the neuronet. The neuronet is the system, which steers your ship. It performs maneuvers, goes where you tell it to, and allows you to target and "enjoy the view" while still requiring you to manage it. You can use the mouse to steer manually, and make speed adjustments, but during combat the neuronet will handle most of this, while you tell it to perform different maneuvers. For more information, you should read the excellent article on ship control here. A complete breakdown of how the NeuroNet system works can be found at this excellent preview over at Lancers Reactor.
So are we be able to use a joystick?
Right now joystick control in the game is most likely a no. The last betas of the game being shown off around trade shows have had no joystick option at all. Now well that can still be changed, it just doesn't seem to fit in with DA's plan for the game. Sadly for those joystick users out there, you're going to have to learn to stick with a mouse+keyboard combo.
Can we eject?
It is not known at this time whether or not the player can eject from his ship. Seeing as how in all the various gameplay videos we have seen of Freelancer, not once has a pilot ejected from his fighter. However, it might not be implemented at this time, so this is valid proof that we can or cannot eject. As always, we should know more closer to release.
Are there black holes and other objects in Freelancer?
Yes. Digital Anvil has said that there are various objects like black holes in Freelancer, and if you fly too close to one, something bad is bound to happen...
Is there a demo?
Yep, you can grab the demo here.
Where can I find further information?
There are several fansites devoted to Freelancer, and each of them has different information. Lancers Reactor and Lancer News are two of the best currently available, and are updated the most often. Definitely check them out if you want to read up some more on Freelancer!