So, what we have here is an old and effectively dead subscription MMOFPSRPG stopping the sub and making the game free to all to play (it had already been unofficially free for existing account holders for a while). There's no demand for money of any kind once your play, no cash shop or micro transactions - just a small gang of (presumably) volunteers making the game continue onwards.
The actual developers of the game, ReaKKtor went bust after the deal they signed with Gamigo for Black Prophecy didn't pan out so well for them.
I played Neocron for a good 3 years or so, and had an awful lot of fun in that time. I'm largely done with the game for a bunch of reasons, but I thought it may be of interest to some people. So I thought I'd talk about why you might (and why you might not be) interested in the game.
Why should you think of playing Neocron?
- It's Cyberpunk, if you like that sort of thing - and does a good job of the atmosphere too, even if it (like a lot of cyberpunk stuff) slightly misses on some of the core themes. It's also rather proud of it's gritty and future theme, once pushing a "no more elves" marketing campaign, that later got nixed by the studio owners who were pushy a very elvey game.
- It's post-apoc, if you like that sort of thing - cyberpunk is much more the core theme, but the game is set in a mutant filled, radiated wasteland where surivival outside of the remaining mega-cities isn't really a possibility.
- It's an FPSRPG - something you rarely ever see in the MMO space. I think the rather unusual Face of Mankind did something similar, and Darkfall probably did the FPS-ness better but was fantasy set so not that shooty. So if you don't like the standard cooldown and tab targeting MMORPG model, this provides and alternative.
- It's got a fantastically detailed skill system. In brief, you have 5 main stats (Strength, int, etc) which all level completely independently, and for each level, you get skill points you can spend improving your abilities.
- Vehicles, including tanks and a variety of aircraft
- Heavily customizable player-housing system - you buy an apartment of one from about 20 layouts, then fill it with furniture placed wherever you want. Some people make their spaces very, very different to the original.
- Strong player-territory owning system. A fairly deeply entrenched part of the game is the element that allows clans to own and to some extent control parts of the gameworld.
- Genuine classic MMO persistent world. There's no instancing worth speaking of, other than a few permanent instances (player housing). If you go somewhere that somebody else is, you will see them there (well, unless they are stealthing). If half the server descends somewhere, you'll see a crowded bunch of people complaining of lag. You're reasonably likely to encounter a bunch of players fighting while traveling somewhere, and if you enable PvP, don't be 100% surprised if someone tracks you down wherever you are and takes you out.
- PvP is possible pretty much everywhere (there are a few "safe" trading zones), with pretty much everyone, with one important exception: PvP is opt in. Those who don't want to take part, don't have to. Location and target effects consequences for kills.
- Player driven economy - good items are made by players, largely. Players act as fences for various illegal deals.
Why you may want to avoid this
- It's hella glitchy. Expect some of the weirdest bugs you've seen this side of Soldner, and some regular frustrations to do with changing areas. Some stuff just plain doesn't work.
- It's badly documented. The game Iwill often tell you things that were patched out long ago. It isn't new player (or indeed, just plain player) friendly. Handily however, players themselves have documented most things somewhere. In general, levelling is getting out there and doing stuff, rather than running quests - which can be a lot of fun, but does mean you have to find out what you should be doing yourself.
- It's hella ugly. This is a 2003 game that looked old and awkward at the time. It's core engine is some fork of Quake/Quake2. The art direction nails some of the cyberpunk city elements, but misses wildly in some other places.
- The FPS element is dissapointing. A relic of the time it was made, it doesn't use hitscan and projectiles the way you'd expect a true FPS to, instead using an odder system.
- The economy is screwed way out of original intentions by a combination of years of exploiting and just years of accumulating more wealth in fewer and fewer players. You'll probably get help for free initally, but to make any real amounts of money, you'll have to provide services for other players.
If anybody does want to pick it up, you can see the link at the top for how to create an account. For actually playing the game, you're really going to want to use http://www.techhaven.org and the attached wiki there. Many useful guides and the item database. Pick a heavy weapons using "tank" or a rifle or pistol using "spy" or "private eye" or a drone using "spy" for your first character, unless you really want to tradeskill. I'll also be available to answer any questions you may have, maybe even drop in game to give you a hand at some point (although I'm neither rich nor influential in game any more).
The definitive guide to getting in game