Freelancer Official Guide

The official Freelancer guide was written by Doug Radcliffe and published in 2003 by Sybex. There are 10 sections to it which cover all the things you would expect which I’ll quickly run through.

Freelancer - Official Guide

It starts with a guide to all the planets and systems in the universe. This gives a background to each planet and system in much the same manner as all those new system descriptions that Loaf has been spamming my inbox with these last couple of weeks. The Star Citizen ones are more entertaining and detailed by comparison. The most useful information here is which ships can be bought where and what level of difficulty the random missions will be in that part of the universe. These go all the way up to level 43, which considering I finished the game on level 20 must mean it’s possible to spend a lot of time Freelancing once the story is up. Another point of interest is a short list of hidden items which can be found through rumours in bars but I never came across one in the time I was playing.

This is followed by a guide to all the numerous factions in the game. They don’t have a lot of history but it’s still good to have some knowledge on who they all are. Clearly one of the aims of the story was to introduce as many of these as possible, but there more than could ever have been covered.

We get onto the statistics heavy part after this with commodity trading info + ship and weapon specs all with bios. Finally it’s tactics all the way to the end starting with general hints and tips. This is obvious stuff on the whole but there are some useful tips. The next two chapters deal with the story missions. These cover the story itself but it’s more of a set of instructions and tips. There should be enough info here to get anyone through the game.

The section on random missions is extremely brief reflecting the simple nature of the missions themselves. These go all the way up to level 43 which pays an obscene amount of money for a single mission. I can only imagine how tough those must be and it has raised my curiosity as to how one of these missions would play.

This is an OK guide but it’s not all that entertaining in it’s own right and one of the less interesting I’ve looked at. It would no doubt help if I was more of a Freelancer fan but it’s now scanned and sat on the downloads page for anyone who wants to read it for themselves.

I’ll give a quick mention for Star Citizen while I’m posting which just hit $5.5 million as I type. I’ve been watching a little of the 24 hour live stream and was up in time to see Loaf fall asleep which is going to take some living down. Not long to hold out now at least. I’ve heard how tough running a Kickstarter campaign is from other developers and Star Citizen has been going on far longer than most. Apart from the issues with crashing webservers it’s been an incredibly well run campaign and I can’t believe how fast the total has been going up this last day. The Project Eternity fundraising record is a distant memory at this point and I expect this is going to take some beating.

Freelancer – Part 9

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The last mission I received in part 8 was to liberate an alien power supply. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the alien structure it’s housed in but it looks a little like a monumental satellite dish when it looms out of the nebula. This structure is supposed to be dead but that would be too simple and it springs into life shielding the entrance just before we arrive.

I have to take down several shield generators dotted around the exterior. The fighters more or less leave me alone while I do this but I do have to cope with turrets on the structure itself. My initial thought is to take these out first but they appear to be invulnerable scuppering that plan. With some trial and error I find there is always a spot where I’m relatively safe to sit still and keep firing.

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Once I’ve destroyed all the generators, the shield drops and I fly through the entrance. It’s not a smooth transition from exterior to interior and clearly loads up like a new level but it’s a minor complaint and I wasn’t expecting to get to fly around inside things in the first place. The ship interior looks great but there is no fighting to be done. I have to negotiate my way through a giant rotating fan trying not to get sliced, then tractor in the power source and fly out through another exit at the back.


Once out I make a run for the jump point mostly on afterburners and this part of the plan really wasn’t too hard for a suicide mission. The tricky bit is on the other side of the jump where we have to take down swarms of Nomad fighters. Individually these aren’t especially tough as they have no shields but there are loads of them and their alien guns sting. Getting through this battle took numerous attempts.

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When I’ve managed to survive this battle, I can at long last we can find out what the artefact does at The Order’s secret base. It turns out to be a map, which is a little dull after so much build up but it does show the location of the alien’s system of warp gates which speed people over far greater distances than our own jump gates. In turn this reveals how to get to the alien homeworld and the artefact will act as a key for these gates once we get it powered up.

I also learn that the Nomad’s are effectively just caretakers left behind by the long disappeared alien race. During part of the exposition we form a plan to get rid of the Nomad’s by turning on the warp gate system at the alien homeworld, which will somehow take power away from the Nomads and get rid of them. I may have not been paying enough attention when this was explained but this didn’t make any sense to me at the time or now I come to type it in. Maybe the guide will have some answers when I get to reading it.

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The Nomads choose this moment to attack and we all run for our ships. There is always time for shopping however, so I stroll off to the ship dealers who are all but giving away The Order’s standard equipment. I get myself a new ship, guns and everything else that is going cheap. This is the first ship where I can mount a turret which should help keep off some of the cover fighters.

Even with my new ship, this next mission still isn’t easy and I have to take down some Nomad capships more or less single-handed. There is an infinite supply of fighters so the best strategy here appeared to be to thin their number and try to get some capship hits in before the rest were killed off and a new wave spawned.

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After enough kills, I’m called back to base for a final briefing. We have the artefact up and running and are reading to head off to the warp gate. We soon outrun the battle with the Nomads, power up the alien gate and I fly through.


On the other side I’m greeted with an extremely unusual sight for a space sim of a never-ending plain in front of me. There is an obvious a gate in the middle which I head for but another shield pops up just like on the power cell mission. I have to take out more shield generators in each corner of the square trench surrounding it before I can fly though the gate.

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Once inside we learn that this is in fact a Dyson sphere, and if you don’t know what that is then you’ve watched less Star Trek than I have. Floating in the middle not far away is the complex that powers the alien warp gate system. I head straight for it only to be greeted with yet another shield. The final battle of the game involves taking down 2 of the generators which float around the complex. I didn’t find anywhere safe to sit and shoot for this one and it took several attempts. When I do manage it, I’ve only taken down one generator myself and can only assume my wingmen must have been responsible for the other.

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In the games climactic cutscene, the artefact powers up the gates when I approach and the remaining Nomad fighters are seemingly sucked into the vortex that this creates.

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I return to Manhattan to end the game, where Orillion tells me that this has only bought some time. He offers me the chance to continue to be his eyes and ears in this system, walks off before I can either accept or turn him down, and that ends the story missions. I can continue to take jobs but doing so from Manhattan wouldn’t be the best spot as it’s still offering me nothing but level 1 missions.

It wasn’t the greatest from a storyline point of view but Freelancer’s final missions were strong on spectacle and it was a fitting conclusion to what has been a decent game. I did fly around some unexplored systems after this but there doesn’t appear to be much incentive to carry on playing at this point.

After some misgivings early on, I’ve ended up liking Freelancer a whole lot more than I expected to. The visuals still hold up well, it has a fun plot and once it gets going the combat is relatively intense and compelling. For the money you can pick this up for these days, it’s easily worth the price of admission for these story missions. As an open-universe space sim, it suffers horribly through a lack of variety. There is nothing compelling enough about the gameplay or the universe to make me want to carry on playing this now the story has finished.

Outside of the main plot missions, Freelancer is a game that comes across to some extent as unfinished which can all be explained by its troubled development and the dropping of numerous features in order to get it released. Given all this it still turned out pretty well but the fact is that it’s outshone by Privateer 1 & 2, both of which had more complexity to their gameplay. This should be unforgivable in a game nearly a decade newer but space sims are few and far between and it’s still got enough of the original vision to be worthwhile. It’s easy to see what Robert’s was aiming for and this could have been something very special if development had gone more smoothly and all the initial promise fulfilled. I’d like to think this is where Star Citizen comes in which can do all that and more if it lives up to expectation. We’ll have to wait and see on that one, but right now I’m looking forward to it more than ever having finished this.

Freelancer – Part 8

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I went back for another go at the arch, this time following the advice to fly up through the middle of the asteroid in my approach. I have no idea why, but when doing this all the fighters completely ignore me leaving me to pick off the shield generators one at a time. I do have to run away several times to recover due to a battleship taking shots at me but the shield is soon down and I dock my ship.

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I find the Tome only to get immediately gassed and captured. This does mean we get to meet our adversary who in true supervillain style sends his lackeys off so he can talk to us alone.

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I foolishly point out that this means there is nothing to stop us going for him, and he decides to even the odds flinging a sword he has hidden up his sleeve for these occasions through my colleague. At this point his eyes start to glow, which I have to say I didn’t see coming. Hakkera choses this moment to fly in for the umpteenth last minute rescue so far and I jump into his ship to barely escape.

He fills me in on the plot at long last. Some aliens called Nomads are inhabiting the bodies of high level people throughout the galaxy. This started with Rheinland but has since spread. These aliens are trying to weaken humanity in an attempt to take over and want my artefact for some unknown reason. The Order, far from being a terrorist group, was set up to stop them. It’s about this point that the pace starts to pick up and it’s plot missions all the way from here on.

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My next task is to fly to Rheinland of all places to retrieve an informant called Von Claussen. General opinion seems to be that I should be relatively safe as a Bretonnian despite my most wanted status. We run into a large Rheinland fleet on the way but only have to take out some fighters before they lose interest and I can run for the jump point. I make it to New Berlin and have an extremely odd encounter with this pair in the bar but they do tell me where to fly next to find Von Claussen.

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I notice the ship dealer here has some really fancy equipment none of which I’m allowed to buy yet. I’m not a fan of this artificial boundary to buying things. If I want to run a really expensive ship with only one gun or the worst shields, etc.. I should be allowed to do it. I could well be back here later anyway but I have to leave them for now.

Von Claussen is a short flight away and is glad to come with me straight away. He says he has the plans to a new fighter which is decidedly alien in appearance. Here’s hoping I get to fly it before I’m done but first we have a mission involving destroying the shipyards where new forces are amassing.

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To get there we have to fly through the middle of an extremely dense minefield. To make this worse there is so much radiation, my ship is getting hammered the whole time. On the other side are some extremely different looking alien ships which are semi-transparent and glowing.

There are a whole lot of them to have to take out. I park myself on top of the nearest and keep firing until some time later it blows up. The fighters left me alone but most of my wingmen have bought it by now and common sense prevails and we retreat to warn others of this fleet. This means another trip through the radiation. My ship is barely holding on when I dock at the end of this mission.

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When I get there it’s like a big reunion party as nearly all of my colleagues from earlier in the game show up. We also get introduced to the leader of The Order who looks to have been heavily influenced by Laurence Fishburne in the Matrix. My Freelancing days appear to be behind me now as he immediately orders me on a suicidal mission to rescue the President from the Liberty maximum security prison.

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The first port of call is a navy spy satellite which needs blowing up to allow our capship to follow behind cloaked. We meet up with more old friends in the shape of Walker and his cruiser on the way. We then run the blockade to the prison which is seriously well guarded, including fighter ships with new alien weaponry that pack a mean punch. The really bad news is that it’s in a one way system so we will have to get out the way we came in which can only be harder. The prison looks extremely borg-like and menacing on approach when I finally make it there.

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It’s looking grimmer still inside for the President who is about to be converted to the Nomad cause. I get to carry out a last minute rescue of my own when we burst in through the door in the nick of time and drag her to safety.

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The trip out of the system proves to be as difficult as expected. The jump point is blocked off and after fighting waves of alien fighters, Walker goes Kamikaze on us taking out the two ships blocking the gate. We jump through where another fleet is waiting. The Order show up fairly quickly but docking in the middle of this battle must have taken me 4 or 5 attempts before I made it without being blown up.

You would think that I’d get my ship repairs paid for now I’ve gone full time but no such luck. I’m rewarded instead with another mission which will be extracting an alien power cell from one of their structures which we can then use with my artefact. Sounds like fun but I’ll have to save it for another day.

The plot all went a bit Star Trek today, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but stories like this are often more fun before the mystery is revealed. The in-game cutscenes keep on coming and while they are great for 2003, so many of them are just the characters walking in a room unconvincingly and standing around delivering lines. How this was progress from FMV I’ll never know but I’m clearly in the minority with that opinion. They still do their job well anyway and there is an impressive amount of game packed onto a single CD here.

The plot appears to be approaching a conclusion and I’m dying to find out what the artefact does after all this time. Expect all to be revealed in part 9.

Freelancer – Part 7

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My wish for a better ship from the last post is immediately granted when I head to the ship dealer and buy my first heavy fighter. This doesn’t obviously handle any differently from every other ship which begs the question what the distinction is between heavy and light fighters. It does allow for 6 guns simultaneously which certainly gives me more punch in combat and I’ve soon raised the money to get called back for the next story mission.

Junko (with the aid of the Blood Dragons) has found out that a senior figure is going to defect to Rheinland taking the Proteus Tome with him. We have to fly off to intercept the transport which is currently in dock.

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I’m tasked with taking out the weapons platforms around the base which don’t last long at all with my extra gun turrets. It’s the shortest and easiest story mission in some time in fact and we capture the transport and fly off with it to the fabled secret base of the Blood Dragons.

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Nothing is ever simple though. Our information was wrong and neither the Senator or Tome were on the ship. While the others try to find out more, I’m left to my own devices once again. I notice that this new base has loads of fancy equipment which I’m one level too low to buy. 3 or 4 mercenary missions later and I’ve advanced enough to get a new shield and some level 6 guns.

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In the bar I’m told that we have located the Senator at his fortified base which we are going to attack. I find out via the comms while flying over that Juni considers this a suicide run and given how my first attempt at it went, she may well be right.

The fortified base is a huge arch on an even bigger asteroid. I make it close and I’m tasked with docking with it. I haven’t quite figured out my tactics here though as I have to destroy 4 shield generators first and there are hordes of fighters around. I think I probably ought to thin out the fighters first rather than the suicidal assault I attempted. Suffice to say I get blown up and decided to come back and try this again tomorrow.

While I’m posting, I have to mention the Elite Dangerous Kickstarter that just launched in the last day or two. It’s a curious Kickstarter in that there is nothing in the incentives for any of the tiers that I would actually want except the already sold out £5,000 top level. There is also precious little detail about what the game will be so the whole basis as far as I can tell is are there enough people who liked Elite (and have maybe forgotten about it’s sequels) to raise £1.25 million for a new one. Looking at the total race up the answer could well be a resounding yes.I’ll certainly be putting some money in but not nearly as much as if there was more to go on or even just a level with a boxed version. I am without a doubt a sucker for games in cardboard boxes but at least the lack of that option will stop me spending money I should be saving for Christmas.

Freelancer – Part 6

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The weekend allowed no time for Freelancing but I’m back in business again beginning with finding a guy called Hovis, who allegedly is close to Quintaine. Like just about everyone else in this universe, he is hanging around in the bar. He wont give me any information unless I beat him in a race of all things.

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I was hoping for a footrace Decathlon style, but this being a space sim it’s the usual fly through hoops affair you always see in these games. This proves to be really, really easy to win even if my ship doesn’t look like its built for speed. He does pull a fast one at the end setting a load of gun turrets on me but I ignore them and fly on to win at a canter.

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I forgive and forget about the little gun turret incident and Hovis comes through with the information that Quintaine is on a space station so near I can pretty much see it from here. I fly over and he is already coming under attack from the pesky Rheinlanders who I see off before docking. After a more than frosty reception, Quintaine refrains from throwing me out of an airlock and agrees to come with me when I reveal that I have the artefact.

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It’s around this point that I start to come up against an increasing number of larger ships. A torpedo launcher of some description is looking like a good idea but so far I only ever buy the equipment I need after the fact. We still make it safely back to Leeds but there are yet more Rheinlanders poking about. Quintaine tells us how a mysterious figure called Kress warned him before going into hiding and gave a clue where to find him if he ever needed a safe haven. This looks like as good a time as any to take him up on that offer and we all head off, except for Tobias who is safer left out of it.

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There is a cutscene on launching showing us all flying to the jump gate. The detail on the ships is impressive and seeing the pilots on the inside I cant help but be reminded of Star Citizen. One of the real problems with the POV in this game is that all this detail in these ships is lost on me most of the time. The only ships I ever get a good look at are my own.

Predictably, given the cutscene, we are attacked at the jump gate when two Rheinlanders come out of cloak. We see off one but the other cloaks again and goes to get reinforcements. What follows after are a series of larger battles culminating in the jump gate out of system having a cruiser parked on it. Tobias decided we needed some help after all and shows up around this point to help in destroying it.

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After a lot more running and a pit stop on another station to get instructions as to Kress’ whereabouts, we are given some coordinates to head to. When we get there, it looks like the entire Rheinland fleet ever a step ahead had the same idea. We need another last-minute offer of help at this point, and as luck has it, Kress’ fleet shows up to lend a hand. This still doesn’t make life easy but we destroy every Rheinland ship, then fly off to meet Kress.

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His crew is about as pleased to see us as Quintaine was but Kress himself is far more helpful even if he is working for The Order who are in theory a terrorist group. He says he is on the side of peace and the news reports exaggerate the truth. Quintaine chooses to reveal at this time that he needs the Proteus Tome to complete his work translating our artefact. This sounds to be an alien Rosetta Stone and is in safekeeping in a museum. I turn down the offer of Kress letting his agent retrieve it and head there with Juni to do the work myself.

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The flight there is uneventful for once, but I do pass through possibly the best looking bit of space yet including a giant ringed purple planet. I’m curious to fly into the rings and see if they turn into asteroids but I’m running out of time so I leave it for now and meet up with The Order’s agent, Lord Hakkari. He basically tells me to wait for him to sort it out. We aren’t happy with this option and Juni decides to stay and work on getting the Tome herself leaving me once again to my own devices.

That was one long and convoluted mission with a lot more twists than I included in the write-up. If the purpose of the plot is a gradual tour of the Freelancer universe, it’s doing a good job of it.  Every one of these plot missions always leaves me feeling like I need a better ship. I have plenty of spare cash, maybe 70,000 at this point but I’m not seeing anything worth spending it on. Fingers crossed I can find a better ship/weapons dealer in this system.